#GuideDogDiaries Day 5
Today has been full of fun and new adventures,well aside from the 06:00 AM alarm in the form of Ida barking!
I know she isn’t barking to be naughty, she’s either giving the noise a warning or she’s unhappy about the noise.
It wasn’t until I spoke with Adam later on that Ida barking had set off Hope… Ooops!
Our walk this morning was in a shopping centre type building, Ida and Mikyla have been training there so it was a chance for me to see how pro-active she is when she is on harness and knows exactly where she is going!
We walked through a carpark with her stopping at each kerb even if it wasn’t necessary for her to do so.
She veered off to the left and walked through automatic doors. As it was indoors the floor was lovely and smooth so it made the walk even more enjoyable and relaxing for me.
She weaved through people, past objects and furniture, and when she got to the end of the route she went straight to the automatic doors and headed left, back in the direction towards the carpark!
I was seriously impressed! If this is what she is like on a familiar route, I cannot wait for us to do routes together in places I actually know!
She is such a confident dog on harness and i’m so proud of her work ethic and minuscule distractions!
Before we headed back out for our second walk Mikyla taught me how to tackle stairs with Ida.
You get the dog to find the stairs and she put her front 2 paws on the first step and waits. This is so you can find the step, step up and then judge the depth of the step itself.
When you are comfortable you tell the dog to set off and you use the lead to control the speed you want your Guide Dog to go.
On the way down Ida sat at the edge of the stairs and waited, this gave me a chance to find the handrail and stairs.
I then stepped down onto the first step and asked her to come when I was ready for her to join me.
Her pace was fine until we got to the last 3 steps, she decided to go a little faster, and as the handrail stopped 2 steps before the stairs finished this made me really unsteady and uncomfortable.
Mikyla said that this happens with all dogs because they get into a rhythm, and I am just to hold the lead firmly and tell her to steady if I need her to slow down.
She wants to make sure that I am comfortable and confident to use stairs safely.
I’m going to definitely practise with Ida more tomorrow. 🙂
In the afternoon we headed towards the area we have been working in previously, this is so that both you and your Guide Dog can tackle a familiar route together and it gives you time to work the dog.
For this walk Mikyla reduced the tension on her support leader giving me a chance
to really steer ida on my own.
it definitely felt different; there was more tension in the harness as we walked and if I needed to make her steady or pay attention I would do a small jerk of the handle, to add a bit more dominance to her through the harness.
This isn’t painful to the dog, it’s a bit like a friend giving you a nudge if you were to fall asleep in lectures.
I did have to do this twice.
Once because Ida walked me into a wheeliebin.
I corrected her by taking her back to the setting off position and as we approached the bin I did a flick of the harness and said over.
Ida is so switched on that she did automatically move over this time, but it’s good practise for both of us to remind her that she needs to be aware of our width together.
The way Mikyla explained it to me was that Ida is still learning our width together and as this is very different to the width of her and Mikyla, she is having to readjust.
This also happened because Mikyla had allowed me to take full control of Ida on harness instead of steering her gently with the support lead.
The second time happened when we were approaching a down sloping kerb.
Mikyla had previously mentioned if I felt Ida going off to the left or right, I should flick the harness and tell her to go straight on.
As we approached the kerb I felt Ida veering off to the left. I flicked the harness and said no, straight on.She followed my direction and then stopped.
I bent down to give Ida a fuss for listening and as I did so my hood slightly grazed a stone bollard.
The reason Ida was going off to the left was to avoid the bollard and get me to a safe part of the kerb to cross.
Mikyla said she had an inclination to what would happen but she wanted to see what would happen if I would correct her. Which I did.
Immediately I felt terrible, Ida was doing the right thing and I made her go off course.
Mikyla said that sometimes things like that will happen, especially in environments I don’t know. She said I did the right thing by correcting Ida, because I thought she was going wrong, and when it does happen just give Ida praise for paying attention and doing as she was told, even when she knew which way to go.
A massive highlight of the day has to be when Ida took me into the Co-Op.
This is a route she has been learning with Mikyla, and wow was she amazing!
She found he automatic doors, turned right as we got into the shop, found a smaller set of doors and sat by them so I could judge the width and tell her to go.
She then took me through thee aisles without me catching anything. She stopped infant of a queue of people until there was a gap in the crowd and she gently manoeuvred us both through the queue.
She then stopped just after,, by the Irn Bru was, Mikyla has been training her to stop at. And then I gave the command to find the door, and she took us out the doors.
She did it so gracefully it was absolutely easy going and relaxed!
I don’t think i’ll ever forget that moment. It was so beautifully executed; ida was totally in control and utterly confident.
I’ll never forget the calmness that fell over me even though I had absolutely no clue where she was going!
On the way back to the hotel we popped into Pets At Home for a nosey; wow they like to hike up the prices for things don’t they?
But it was good to see the sort of things I can get for Ida. 🙂
Also, we saw a rabbit that was flat out on it’s side and fast asleep, but it looked eerily like it was dead!
And another rabbit who had one floppy ear and one stiff ear sticking straight up!
When we came back I decided to groom Ida, i’m really glad she likes being groomed, it’s good to see her so relaxed and zone out. 🙂
At dinner, Ida was great. There was a few distractions but she listened to me when I wanted her to settle down.
Oh boy, I actually had tears streaming down my face when it was time to go back to the room.
The bit of the harness that sits over her mouth and nose had come loose, and because I was all fingers and thumbs trying to put it back on I removed the lead so I could put it back on correctly.
This was when she decided to wonder off and wouldn’t come back to me when i called her (she was only about 2 foot away but still). I had to go over to her, I tried to get her to sit so I could put the gentle leader back on but the combination of her being on a tiled floor and her not being interested she started slipping about.
I guided her back to the carpet and got her to sit. She was completely uninterested and thought it would be fun to collapse on a heap on the floor.
At this point I was already giggling, but that ramped up to shoulders shaking kind of laughter… I put the gentle leader over my hand and guided it towards her nose, just as I got to her mouth she stuck out her tongue and licked the inside of my hand.
I removed my hand and repeated the process, but she just kept on sticking her little tongue out every time it was about to be placed over her mouth and nose.
After she snuck under the chair I managed to slip it on.
Maybe this isn’t as funny on paper, but honestly at the time I couldn’t stop crying!
Even Adam laughed along with me, telling me to never give up my sense of humour, because it’s good practise for the future when she wants to be be difficult!
As soon as the gentle leader was on, she went back to good dog mode! 🙂
I love her cheeky side, her character is just brilliant.
Her happiness and cheekiness is magnetising 🙂
Things I’ve Learned.
•Learning how to go up and down stairs with a guide dog, I definitely need more practice!
•I cannot leave empty food bags on the bed and then leave the room: ida rips them to shreds!
Clearly the smell of food is far too tempting for her not to jump onto the bed and grab it down.
I think she thinks i’m depriving her of food!
•She is so good at direction and knowing our routine within the hotel she now knows how far away to sit from each door so I can open it to get us both through, not only this but she finds the door when I ask her to.
Technically when a Guide Dog is on a gentle leader she is not guiding you so you shouldn’t ask her to find things but I think it’s good practise for her listening to me, plus she gets a massive fuss every time she is right! 🙂
•She enjoys being mischievous but will snap back into good dog mode when the gentle leader is back on.
•She loves company but also enjoys her own company; every time we come back from somewhere and have had some playtime together she takes herself off to her bed and entertains herself.
It’s great knowing that she’s not needy and will come see me when she wants attention 🙂
I’m so excited for tomorrow, we are heading to a proper shopping centre, AND Gary is coming to visit!
I can’t wait for them to meet, I can tell Ida is going to be a proper little flirt!
And of course, I shall let you know all about it! 🙂