Thursday, April 21, 2011

Retraining Day 11: Learn From Your Mistakes

I can't say today went perfectly because it did not, but I can say that the mistakes were mine and that it made us stronger. We went to the down town centre both this morning and this afternoon. Some students traveled into Detroit, but as I am comfortable with the "people mover" and large crowds, I thought working with Glacier one on one would be the best option. If I had gone into Detroit then the trainers would follow me throughout the route giving me directions and I wanted to work with Glacier alone since we are heading home tomorrow.
The morning was crisp, but the sun finally decided to grace us with its presence. I picked the P route again as we had difficulty with it a few days ago. I also don't know that route as well as the others and I wanted to put stress on both of us in order to test our working abilities. It worked and I learned that we are pretty strong together. The route started off well with Glacier expertly guiding me around the objects the trainers had set out on the sidewalks for obstacle practice. Glacier did very well with distractions of other dogs, people and birds. The mistake that was made was mine and I realised it almost too late.
At the top of the P route there is a cemetery and let's just say, Glacier and I went to pay our respects. Instead of having him turn left at the street that is before the graveyard, I had him cross the street and carry on. I thought it was one of the apartment's driveways that we nearly turned down last time we did this route. As I walked along I knew something was not  right. First of all, it was way too quiet. There were not any traffic sounds at all. I stopped Glacier and swept my foot in front of him and to his side to check what we were walking along; turns out it was the shoulder of a road, which was indicator number two. I was supposed to be on a sidewalk not walking along the shoulder of the road. The good thing was that Glacier hugged that shoulder and did not have me wandering out in the middle of the street, even if it was only the cemetery's road. :)
I turned us back around and slowly started making my way back to the street that I wanted to turn down. Glacier was a bit unsure, but kept working for me and didn't shut down. That was a relief. As I was approaching a grassy shoreline, D showed up in the van and gave me verbal directions to get out of the cemetery and back on the right track. Glacier was great about following my cues and we made it back to the correct sidewalk.
Our next mistake was again mine. When we reached a street we should have turned down, I crossed it. I'm not sure why I did, but as soon as I reached the opposite curb, or the "up curb" in guide dog language, I knew I had made a mistake. I turned Glacier back around, and waited for an opening in the traffic to cross back to  the correct side. It took a while, but we finally were able to cross and made our way back to the centre; successfully navigating the obstacles again.
I learned from the morning that we can definitely get lost, or make mistakes, and will be able to get ourselves where we mean to be...eventually. :)
The afternoon's routes were short, but had six large obstacles we had to work around. Glacier did great, but was hesitant to turning when I asked him to go back to the centre. I think he was annoyed that our walks were so short. That said, he guided me very carefully past a group of little kids playing on the sidewalk without any sniffing or veering. We did skip one curb, but it was my fault as I said "hop up" very happily and did my leash directional pointing thing as we approached the curb, which caused Glacier to think it was okay to go and he crossed the street. He did pause at the up curb though and we carried on. Other than our little curb hopping, this afternoon's work was very good, but I can tell Glacier's ready to go home. He is a bit unfocused and silly. His focus was great yesterday and I think doing the same routes, or routes that are similar, every day has become boring for him. D even said that she thinks he's ready to get out of here after our working session this afternoon. She said that we did very well. It's nice to know that my instructors have faith in me. J told me the other day that I am a "very competent handler," and that "it comes naturally to me." J has known since Saturday that we were ready to go home together, but I needed the last couple of days to know it for myself and I am definitely ready now.
Tomorrow we leave LDB at 9 AM and I hope it's at least another six years before I am back here getting a new dog. :)


Frankie Furter said...

Great job!!! Congratulations to BOTH of you!

browndogcbr said...

Oh Jess, I am so happy for you and Mr. G!

BrownDog's Momma

L^2 said...

I'm late with reading (again), but I hope you two had a good trip home this morning. *hugs*

Kolchak Puggle said...

Yaaaaaaay Glacier and Yaaaaaaaay You!