Friday, January 13, 2012

Striding Along

Today was a busy day for Glacier and I. . I include Glacier because when I have things to do, that means Glacier has things to do. There aren't many places I go without my big, Yellow Fellow striding along at my side and today was no exception. Our first stop, the gym.
We left the flat around 12:40, fighting the lunch crowd clogging the sidewalks. The sun was shining this afternoon, the first time in probably a month and the weather was mild. People probably wanted to soak up as much Vitamin D as they could. I can't lie, I probably would have enjoyed staying out longer and running outside instead of at the gym if I had the means. The sun felt good soaking into my skin as Glacier and I made our way to the gym.
I had left the flat a bit jittery as there is a crossing just two blocks from the gym that makes me incredibly nervous. The crossing is very busy with buses and cars turning and I've nearly been hit by a bus there. There isn't a way to control the traffic and so you have to wait to hear a lull in the traffic and then run across. Not my idea of safe. I got myself so worked up into a tizzy, I barely noticed the sunshine at first or the crowds of people. Glacier and I made our third crossing, a busy intersection that is currently under construction, and in my nervousness I steered us in the wrong direction. I couldn't tell you where I made the mistake and I can't tell you how we got out of it, but at the time I knew how to get back to the street we were actually supposed to be walking down. The jolt of getting lost, momentarily, made me realise that fretting about the crossing that was still far off was not going to get us there safely. I started paying attention, noticing the sun finally, the people bustling about and Glacier's easy, comfortable trot. I began to enjoy myself.
We arrived at the gym without incident. At the crossing that had befuddled me so early on in our walk, an older gentleman assisted me across the road. He was very nice and asked if I was crossing before telling me it was safe. I appreciated his unassuming demeanor and that he asked. Once across that street, it was smooth sailing.
After pounding out over 5 K on the treadmill, I collected Glacier from the office and we were off again. I was impressed at his composure when we passed a playground filled with screaming, squawking, crying, laughing pre-school kids. Some of them were even riding little toys that made a racket and even though Glacier glanced at the madness behind the fence, he didn't flinch, despite the overwhelming noise.
We made it back across the dreaded crossing with the assistance of the same gentleman and met Tenie and Carmen at our specified meeting location. Then, it was on the bus for us to stop at the girls' Letting Agency, to the bank and then a stop for a bite to eat for the humans. Glacier was a super star ignoring the hordes of people out and about and curled up and behaved himself on the bus rides and at the little Italian restaurant we stopped in at. Can I just say, delicious!
On the ride home, I was impressed to discover that the bus we were taking talked to its passengers, letting them know where they were and what stop was coming up. Apparently, all of the UK is working towards making all of the fleets of buses talk, which would make my life so much easier. Taking the city bus means asking the driver which bus it is before getting on and then asking the driver to let you know when you reach your stop. It is easy to worry the whole ride whether the driver will remember or not, or if you will even hear him/her over the noise of the bus and its passengers. The talking buses are fantastic and I'm glad to see them finally being put out on the roads.
The four of us, hopped off at a different stop so that we could stop in at the vet. Guide dogs that are registered with The Guide Dog Association here have their medical expenses covered. In order for that to happen, a health book is used to document the dogs' medical information and any procedures/vaccinations Etc that may have occurred. Glacier and Roscoe's books had come in just before Christmas and we had to get them to the vet's office so that the vet could actually get paid for caring for the boys.
It was home time after that quick visit. Glacier had met a little puppy named Charlie who liked to whack Glacier in the face with his paws. At one point, Glacier popped Charlie on the head, the way he used to do with Baloo, but I put a stop to that. I don't care if Glacier whacks my dogs on the head, but he should not be bopping other people's puppies; unless he knows them of course.
We walked part of the way home with Tenie and Carmen, chatting away. We eventually reached the corner where we go our separate ways and Glacier guided me safely home. His curb work was excellent and I made sure to give the correct directions this time. I think I've said this before, but it is amazing to me what a little patience and consistency has done for Glacier and I.
In October I thought I would have to retire him. Our independent travel was definitely unsafe and Glacier seemed disinterested in keeping the two of us safe. It's something he and I have struggled with since day one, but the last couple of months he's come a very long way. I know now that his nervous/anxious reaction to big changes is to shut down, but knowing that allows me to give him what he needs to get back on his paws, so to speak. Traveling around a big city, such as Edinburgh, is so much easier for me with a guide dog and I am just glad Glacier and I were finally able to figure each other out and continue to work together.
I think Glacier enjoyed his day out as much as I did, but after I showered, fed him and Roscoe, took them out and  got the Sugar Gliders' food ready, we're both crashed out on the couch; settled in for the night. Being a guide dog isn't easy, I would think; especially if you are my guide dog and i get myself so worked up about something trivial and get us temporarily misplaced. They never truly rest when we're out in public even if they are just lying under a table at a cafe. Glacier stays on alert for when I get up and when we're walking, it's his job to be watching for the both of us.  I can't blame him for needing a nap after all of that.


Frankie Furter and Ernie said...

That is unusual to meet the Same Gentleman on the same Corner that way.
I wonder if he has had some experience with someone who has a guide dog? He seemed to have done everything correctly.

Jess and Glacier said...

Frankie: I thought the same thing at the time, but then wondered if he might be a crossing guard for the school kids? Either that or he likes hanging out at the pub on the corner and helping pretty, young girls across the road. ;)

Amber DaWeenie said...

I must say you are certainly a lot braver than I am about being out with just Glacier. He is one fantastic dog and I see you trust him completely. Of course he needs a rest after a long day like that.

Have a great weekend!

Jen said...

Glacier sounds like such an amazing worker. you are lucky!
I could see so much of myself in that post, when you described the things you worry about. It really doesn't do our pups any good when we're thinking about something for ages before we even come close to it.