This morning the trainer came to see Nala and I. Originally, we had planned tow work on our route to the mall, but considering our past problems, we went back to the tricky crossing and worked on that. He arrived bright and early-not as early as he had intended because I accidentally slept through my alarm. I think all of the excitement of yesterday, coupled with being at university for seven hours took its toll.
Mr. K and I had a pleasant breakfast at the cafe and the trainer met me there. We spent the next half hour or so discussing what I thought had happened and our plan of attack. He kind of thought that perhaps I should have taken a taxi to classes those days since there was snow cover, but I still stand by my decision to do the route. I understand his viewpoint that we're new and the less mistakes we make now the better, but life doesn't work that way. If there's snow, rain, sunshine, construction, other people with dogs, people with prams...you carry on and face those obstacles as they come. We were never in danger and I'm glad we did it because we never would have known that that crossing was a problem.
After our chat, we headed over to the problem area. After running through it once, I began to realise that our mistake was more than likely my fault; which I had always suspected. I thought the crossing point was further along than it is and probably didn't tell Nala early enough to find the pole. The other problem is that there are all of these little, waist height poles set along the pavement to keep cars off. If I say "find the pole" she has a tendency to find one of those close to the crossing instead of the crossing button. You can't blame her. They are at her level and also come up before the actual crossing. We repeated that particular section a few times, getting Nala to find the pole with me standing inches from it and then slowly backing off. Finally, we walked the entire length of the sidewalk from the up curb to the pole over and over, to help her understand that it was that pole I wanted and not the shorter, non-useful ones. She did very well and I think she gets it. In fact, while I was waiting for the "green man" to come up, she kept trying to find the pole instead of sitting at my side.
Perhaps we trained it too well. :)
Repeating the location of the pole helped me too because it gave me a better idea of how far down it is. Also, it made me aware of just how cluttered that fifty metres of sidewalk is and how well she does. There are all of those short poles spaced about two to three feet apart running the whole way along; There are a few grates that she likes to avoid and broken sidewalk that she sees as an obstacle as well. Once she moves around one grate there is a phone box right in her path and she has to veer back to the right which then puts the corner of a building right in our path. She moves left and automatically has to avoid another grate. Then she has to be focusing on finding the pole that I want because it is not far off. I have no doubts that we'll get it, but learning about everything she moves around and has to contend with makes me appreciate her more. All of those stationary objects don't even take into account other pedestrians, prams, kids and dogs. There is also a door of a shop close to the crossing that seemed very busy this morning and she looked at the door a few times, probably wondering if we were supposed to be entering the open door. It's a lot in a very short space and because we're so new, all of those factors are even more compounded.
However, we did some good work this morning. I was really happy with her dog distraction which seemed to peak when we got home, but has since decreased again. I think she was probably a bit over stimulated when she first arrived and everything was incredibly exciting. We walked past a bunch of dogs this morning and I didn't even know.; just like when we were in training in the hotel. When we first came home, she had a tendency to growl at them and that was starting to concern me, but now it's not an issue. This just indicates to me that she's really starting to settle in and it's only been two weeks.
I'll practice the route to the bus stop in the next week so that when Monday rolls around we'll be ready. Practising the route when there aren't any time constraints or responsibilities to worry about is a good idea.
As for the cranky bus driver and the other one who didn't know where I wanted to be let off: I have two plans.
1. L, our friend that Glacier is living with, suggested an Ap for my phone that will speak directions both during walking and public transit. You can "mark" specific areas and I thought to mark the stop prior to mine. That way, it will let me know and I can ring the bell for my stop.
2. The stop that I was originally going to was the second stop on the street. If I get off on the first one instead, there should be less confusion. If the drivers don't know where the first stop is on this particular street, then they should be fired because it is a very popular and busy street. I don't mind walking the extra 100 metres or so that it would tack on to the trip. It's less than walking than if I were to get deposited somewhere strange again.
Moral of the story: everything is better with some good sleep, good breakfast, a little work and a little sunshine instead of snow. :)