Sunday was our seventh day of retraining and it was a day of rest. Glacier and I spent the day pretty much hanging out in the Piano Lounge or our room. I had found a copy of the seventh Harry Potter book in braille in the library and even though I have listened to it, I wanted to read it for myself; so that is pretty much what I did all day. The book is ten volumes long as braille takes up way more room than print does, and I am already working on the sixth volume. I loved the book the first time I read it, but I am very much enjoying reading it for myself. I also made sure to do a few obedience sessions with Glacier in various rooms to ensure he stayed sharp.
Monday, our eighth day of retraining, was a bit of a nutty day. We headed down for breakfast as usual and were told that it was snowing. Snowing?! We went to the down town building for the morning's work and Glacier and I went out twice.
The first route was quite short-only about six blocks. Despite the slippery, wet sidewalks Glacier did a fantastic job. When we first exited the building he pranced along-I think the snow felt strange under his paws-but after the first block he settled into his loping trot that I am used to feeling. His guiding was great. We didn't miss any curbs and made it back to the building in no time.
The next route we worked in doubles. I had told J at our Sunday meeting that working doubles was something I wanted Glacier to be able to do safely. I wanted to make sure that he could focus on me and be responsible for my safety instead of relying on the other person/dog to look after us. Our match was quite a bit slower than us since no one here walks as fast as Glacier and I do. My shoulder was incredibly sore by the end of the sixteen block route because I had to slow him down as not to lose our partner, or run her over. Other than that, it was a very enjoyable trip. Glacier was spot on and was good at refocusing when a "kissy noise" and a "leave it" were issued from me. J also tried to get a few traffic checks in (that is when the instructor drives in front of you on purpose and the dog is supposed to stop), but the slippery conditions made it hard for him to cut sharply in front of us without endangering us. So, the traffic checks were more like obstacle work. J had to pull in front of us so far in advanced that Glacier approached the parked van slowly and showed me it was there. As if to say,
"look Mom, the sidewalk's blocked. Which way should I go?"
I still praised him because he was careful and waited for my cue as to what direction I wanted him to take around the van. J said we'd try traffic checking when the weather conditions were better.
Upon returning to the campus, I changed my jeans and socks and put my running shoes on the heater to dry them for the afternoon's excursion. My pants were soaked clear up to my knees on both legs and both feet were drenched from the slushy snow we had been walking through.
The afternoon was spent at a different location about a 25 minute drive from the campus. Glacier and I did the route three times as it was quite short and we had a mishap on the second time around. The first time was good. One block is crowded with planters, light posts, benches and whatever else merchants have plopped out along the curb. I am happy to report that despite all of the clutter, Glacier did not even brush me up against anything. This is even more impressive considering he had to navigate around other working teams. Our mistake on the second round should be really considered my mistake.
There used to be a road about half way down the block, but a park was built and the road was closed. The annoying part is that they left tactile markers in the pavement, which used to indicate a curb. On our way back to the bus, I mistook one of those tactile strips as our curb and turned Glacier into the park. He was more than happy to oblige. I realised my mistake about twelve feet into the park because I could hear women in high heels walking in a chaotic fashion around us. If we were on a sidewalk, the sound of their feet would have a more organised pattern. Recognising my mistake, I turned Glacier back around and was about three feet from the sidewalk when a trainer from a different team training dogs yelled at me from across the park to turn around. Our instructors were busy dealing with other students having far more trouble than I was and I don't think they even noticed that I had strayed from the sidewalk. I started taking his shouted directions, but quickly realised that he probably couldn't see me properly as he was sending me all over the place and getting me even more lost. Thankfully, one of our trainers noticed and came and rescued me. I decided that once back on the sidewalk that Glacier and I would be doing that route again to impress up on him that we were to stay on the sidewalk and to make sure I didn't make the same mistake again. The third time around was a breeze and I felt much better when he found the bus door for me for the last time that day.
That night the other students had a lecture about sighted guide and guide dogs in the workplace, but since I've heard it twice already in my life and my head felt like it was going to explode with a horrible headache, I headed back to my room and spent the majority of the evening tucked under the covers. Thankfully, I woke up feeling great this morning and Glacier and I were able to have a very productive day thus far.
Stay tuned for today's recap. :)