#GuideDogDiaries Day 6

Today is the day that Gary and Ida meet for the first time, I can’t tell who is more excited me or Gary!
Since being in the hotel I have video called Gary, but Ida clearly didn’t understand the concept so wasn’t interested!

In the morning we set off toward some countryside, both girls were having their free run.
A free run is where you take your Guide Dog to a safe and open environment for the dog to run around, let off steam, and really have some down time being a proper dog.

Ida absolutely loved it! Thankfully the weather was dry so it gave me plenty of time to enjoy her wondering around, running and playing with other dogs.
She managed to source out a pond and decided to go for a little splash… So when she came back needless to say she was rather soggy!

Although I was with Mikyla, it’s a good idea to keep walking, that way your dog is very likely to follow because they don’t want to stray too far away from you.

When I wanted Ida to return I gave 3 short sharp blows to my whistle to get her attention and get her to come back to me.
As you use the whistle to signal permission for your Guide Dog to eat their breakfast/ dinner, they will then come back to you on a free run after you have blown the whistle because they associate the whistle with food.

As Guide dogs are on a very controlled diet giving them food every time they do return to you on a free run is not the best idea, but it’s ok to do this once in a while.
Dogs in general feed of praise and positive reinforcement, so giving them fuss and saying good girl when you blow the whistle and they return, they will thrive off that positive response and continue good behaviour and obedience.

I had so much fun watching Ida go a bit crazy, especially playing and chasing other dogs.She really fed off the fun and interactions with them! 🙂

Guide Dogs the charity are against throwing balls or sticks for dogs, as they can choke on either, and the stick could splinter and get lodged in their mouth.
If you want to throw something for your Guide Dog it’s suggested that you bring a toy that is safe and throw that, or bring along the type of toy that they can play tug of war with.
In most instances Guide Dogs have so much energy that they actually prefer just running around and going wild, and of course playing with other dogs. 🙂

After their free run, and with 2 wet dogs in the car, we set off towards the city centre.
The goal was to experience walking through a busy shopping mall, and giving Ida that opportunity to guide me through people and navigate.

Ida and Mikyla have been training in this particular shopping centre, so she has a rough idea of where she is going.
As a Guide Dog owner it’s your duty to give them the correct commands on where you would like them to go.
With this situation Ida had a very clear route in her mind, so it was just a case of her taking the lead and allowing me to relax and give that control over to her.

We walked around in a big block and apart from her wanting to pop into Greggs for some lunch, she pretty much stayed in control and steered me the whole way.
She took me through the crowds with great ease and even took me to the toilet,: the larger cubical of the womens’’ toilets.
I want to emphasise that Ida is a very intelligent dog. but she has been doing this route with Mikyla. She is not some superdog; with a built in Sat Nav, she has had to learn the route, and still take commands from me to steer her in the correct direction.

I was amazed at how smoothly she moved us through the busy mall, avoiding people, buggies and furniture.
It was a Saturday morning, so you can imagine just how hectic it was!

We did have one incident with an idiotic member of the public… As you can guess there was lots of human traffic everywhere, crossing in-front and behind us, so Ida really had to concentrate to get me through it.
There was one woman who decided to walk directly at us. Ida moved left as far as she could without walking us into more people, but this still didn’t stop me walking full pelt into this dozy bint.
Mikyla said she saw the woman clocking us but just didn’t bother stopping or moving across.
When I walked full front into her I gave her a glare and very loudly said: “Excuse me!!”
This made many heads turn and Mikyla giggle.
Maybe next time the dozy git will know not to walk straight at and into a blind person and their Guide Dog!
I would like to clarify that yes, she did see me, and yes she had plenty of space to move across and get out of the way. She just chose not to.
So in all cases I will make a scene and make you look a fool.

Apart from that minor incident we got through the mall unscathed and Ida even managed to take me all the way back to the car.
I couldn’t have been more proud of my little pup!
Her natural intelligence is evident, but I do have to say a massive thank you to the puppy walker, and most importantly Mikyla for their fantastic training, because without them Ida would not be half the Guide Dog she is! 🙂

We had just finished lunch as Gary arrived. Ida instantly got very excited and interested in this new person.
She was on her gentle leader so I got her settled very quickly and then Gary gave her some love and attention.
Gary and I had talked at length beforehand about their first interaction.His very calm and relaxed manner made Ida instantly at ease, and she settled very quickly.
This is very important to any interaction with a Guide Dog, but specifically your first time.

I’m extremely happy to report that Ida dotes on Gary, just as much as I do! 🙂
When we got back to the hotel room, they had a proper chance to spend lots of downtime together. It was so wonderful seeing them play together and have lots of cuddles.
Back in the room I stayed in the background so-to-speak to give them time to bond. It was cute to see Ida looking at me for guidance, or popping to check I was still there. 🙂
Gary did a brilliant job of keeping Ida relaxed, even during play time. He used commands such as “leave it” and “good girl” when they played.
This helped her understand the boundaries and have a respect for him.

They definitely are a match made in heaven, and I can’t wait for us to go home next week and become a proper family unit! 🙂

Things Ive Learned.

•Recall is a great way of encouraging positive behavior and obedience.
•When I did blow the whistle and Ida returned, I put her on the lead for about a minute, and walked along with her before letting her off the lead to go and play again.
This is a positive way of communicating to Ida that just because the lead is on, does not mean we are automatically leaving.
This also means that she will keep coming back when recalled because it isn’t the end of her fun.

•When you recall your Guide Dog and they are speeding towards you:: slightly bending your knees, hold your hand out like a stop sign, and, saying steady will get them to slow down so they don’t come crashing into you at full speed.
Ida definitely needs this! 😉

•When a guide Dog is in a familiar area and doing a familiar route, you can relax a lot more and give them that scope to get you around safely and smoothly.

•As long as it is in within their sight, and not in a dangerous place, you can give your Guide Dog the command to “find the car” and they will take you to it! 🙂

I really hope you are enjoying our journey, and that I am giving you some insight into how we are fairing together, and how much of a clever cookie she is! Until tomorrow!

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