Thursday, April 14, 2011

Retraining Day 4: Walking Wednesday

Apparently I am not good at waiting for the alarm because I was up twenty minutes before it again. Despite discovering that I had an extra half an hour of Z's, my body snapped awake at two minutes to six. Glacier was stirring on his little doggie mat in the corner and I think he was ready for the day to start too. I have always been a morning person and find that I am way more alert and focused than after six PM. As Enzo's Mama said,
"she expires at six." She's so right. :)
We did our usual morning routine of parking for Glacier and then breakfast for him. A shower for me and then some water for Mr. G. I talked to Mr. K this morning as well, which isn't part of our usual morning, but it was nice to talk to  him before our day officially started. Breakfast was a bit disappointing. It was breakfast sausage with waffles, but the waffles had sat and they were cold and hard. I also managed to pour half and half into my coffee instead of Irish Cream coffee creamer, but I fixed that on the second cup by opening the package and smelling it before I dumped it in.
Most things are labelled in both braille and large print at LDB, but the creamer container on the gigantic Lazy Susan in the middle of the table is not. I love the Lazy Susan. Anything you could possibly want is arranged there for easy access. If you want butter and it is on the other side of the table, you just spin the Lazy Susan and it will soon arrive right in front of you. If I had a huge family I would have a table like that made...I'd need an enormous dining room to fit it in, but you know. :)
After breakfast I stood just outside the doors and put Glacier through is obedience routine. I wanted distractions and boy did I get them. There were students in the dining room eating, some leaving and trainers coming and going from the office that is located just inside the dining room doors. He did all right, but it's definitely something we need to work on with distractions. In our room I can do an obedience routine with him leash free, but get him out there where there are dogs, people and food and he is all over the place. We'll keep working on it.
When we got to the down town training centre this morning, we were greeted with a group obedience session. Glacier was doing well until J came out with a tennis ball. Glacier didn't freak out, but he sure was interested. At one point, J bounced the ball in front of Glacier and Mr. G lifted his bum from his "sit stay," but after a verbal correction he quickly dropped his rump. Again, something for us to practice.
This morning's route was short, but filled with distractions. It was such a nice day here today that everyone and their brother was out walking. There were also classmates and their dogs and trainers from different classes training potential Leader dogs everywhere. Glacier did very well with his confidence and skipped one curb. He jumped it after I "hopped" him up past a trainer and a crazy young dog in training. After a verbal correction and a reworking of the curb, he didn't jump another one for the whole trip. I was proud of him. J said he was impressed with his dog distractions. Glacier would look and think about sniffing and greeting, but with my direction he could be brought back to where he needed to be. J and I talked about it in our little chat after our walk and he explained that most dogs will not completely ignore other dogs: it's almost too hard to fight that instinct. He was happy with Glacier's level of responsiveness to me and said that it would be something we would keep working on.
Glacier's people distraction issues were also quite good. Again, not perfect as he tried to do a drive by sniff of a woman, but again with direction from me we were off on our merry way. During our chat J told me that he thinks Glacier is doing very well. He also told me that he would love to have a dog like Glacier for his students as he is a solid worker. This made me feel good.
This afternoon was a longer drive out to a busier area. Again, pedestrians and pet dogs were out in full force. The sun was shining and it was quite warm for a Michigan April day. I spent most of my wait time sitting on a lawn soaking in the rays, but realised my behind was wet from the damp grass and moved on to the bus.
J took Glacier and I on a route that was a bit different than the other students in order to address some of my concerns-oh, and also because the dude had to "park" himself. We headed out like everyone else, but when we reached the nearest intersection, we turned into a community college building. Glacier found all sets of doors with no problems even though a few were on strange angles. He walked along the wide, open hallway with no hesitations. The rest of the route was spent outside on sidewalks and finding train tracks. Most guide dog schools teach their dogs to pause or slow down at train tracks. It's been a while since Glacier has had to do this, but he paused assertively at each set we came to. He jumped one curb again, probably out of excitement more than anything, but guided me safely past joggers, pet dogs, other working teams and spilled ice cream all without me knowing. He got some big praise when he "found the bus" when I asked him. J and I had a long chat after that walk and he said that he is happy with Glacier's progress. Again, we visited the realistic possibility that his improvements could be due to the structured environment, but as one of you fabulous readers said,
"where there's a will there's a way," and if Glacier still wants to work safely, then I will put that harness on him.
J informed me that some time later this week, we will be taking a trip to the mall where he will set Glacier and I loose and I am to follow Glacier wherever his little heart desires. J will be watching to make sure nothing happens, but this exercise is to teach me to follow Glacier's lead instead of trying to give him directions all of the time and also to give Glacier the opportunity to make decisions on his own and gain confidence from them. I am sure I will have plenty of stories for you that day, but for now, I say good night as I am past my expiry date. :)


browndogcbr said...

Hi Y'all,

Keep believing! Y'all can do it!

Hawk aka BrownDog and his Human

Torie said...

I'm so glad things are looking up :).

I would hate to be let loose in a shopping centre just to follow the dog. God knows where you would end up! I would rather give directions as it means that you're on the ball in case something horrible happens.

I would find it really embarrassing "kissing" at Ushi lol. And not using the lead to correct? Wow that sounds hard.

Take care, and keep it up :). Xxx.

L^2 said...

Glad to hear you have had another successful day.

Hope you guys have fun in the mall. When I did that with Jack at GDA he took me through the mall doing only right turns until we couldn't go right any more. LOL