Shop Til Ya Drop

I took Ushi out to town again today just like I did
Last time
Only this time, we had a little incident….

I was going to free run her today, but thought that might not be such a good idea because of all the fireworks and that, and didn’t want to risk it. There were none going off but still.

I decided to work her since our
Seems to have stopped thank god! So off me and her went, and we would meet dad and sis and little bro at the shop. I had explained to bro that he had to be a bit behind Ushi so as not to distract her. He was cool with that.

The walk went beautifully which was fab.

Our first stop after the shop was to get some chocolate, and sit down and basically kill time. She was grand and lay down. She did sniff a couple of times, but I corrected her. We were going to head into our local shopping centre after this. Ushi started pulling a bit as we were walking, but I thought it was more an excited pull. So i just told her to “steady” and eventually she walked nice and calmly again.

We were walking along nicely. It was slightly more busier than last time, but nothing major. We were just casually walking along, when I felt Ushi pull to the left like she was distracted. I told her to “leave it”, then dad announced that she was er, dropping her load. I didn’t correct her, but just sounded kind of disappointed and embarrassed! It was right outside a shop too, and in the middle of the centre! I was so so so embarrassed. We had to go get house keeping and all as we forgot to bring bags. (she is usually clean). My sister said that it wasn’t a normal colour, and that it was of a watery consistancy. Sorry if that’s too much info lol. So once it was cleaned up (I couldn’t help but appologise), me and my sister took her outside to some concrete out of the way (there was no grass), to see if she would go. She didn’t go at all though.

We decided that we would go home after this as I didn’t want another incident happening. On our way home we found some grass, so I popped her on the longer lead and let her see if she needed to go. There was a bit of a slope down, so I kind of pulled back on the lead as I didn’t really know where I was going and how steep the slope was. She just did a pee though.

I worked her for a bit on the way home, and she seemed grand. I took her out even when we got home just to see if she would do some more, but nothing. So I don’t know what was up with that little incident. It really just felt like a distraction, but it was her going. I don’t think she had gone this morning, but I don’t think it would have been that quick even if she didn’t go, and sometimes she doesn’t go but she is grand. I maybe thought that cause it was a longer walk, but she didn’t go last time. I gave her an opportunity before we went out to go.

Any thoughts on why this might have happened? I feel terrible. Did i give her enough time to go? Should I have taken her off the lead? (I kept her on as we were just about to go out). I’ll probably never know what the problem was, but I will deffinetly bring some bags with me!!!

On another note, I hope all guide dogs are doing okay with the fireworks. Ushi has just slept the intire time they have been going off. I would remind people though just to think of us guide dog owners, even if our doggies aren’t affected.

I would really appreciate some feedback on my little issue though. Still a bit sad really. I will deffinetly look for a spending spot just before we set off again after we are lying down or anything. But typically though there is no grass right in the middle of town!!

I’m taking her for her monthly weigh in tomorrow hopefully. (they recommend for the first 6 months to weigh the dog each month). And plus it has to go on the “guide dog owner report” I have to fill in each month and send to the district team. I will let you know what this week brings (regular instructor is coming out for an aftercare visit).

Thanks for any help though.

A Visit From The District Team Manager

I know that title might sound scarey to some, but it really isn’t….

I said in
A previous post,
That we were having problems with Ushi stopping loads on our route. I decided that enough was enough, and phoned the district team yesterday. I explained what was happening, and the guide dog mobility instructor didn’t know what the problem was. She said she would have a chat to some of her colleagues, to see what was up. She rang me back a couple of minutes later, and said that the district team manager would come out tomorrow (today) to see what the craic was. I was slightly nervous at this fact, but the manager is also a guide dog mobility instructor which is good. It still made me nervous though, since he was the manager and all, and I guess I was worried about what could be happening with Ushi, and that I was just worried in case I was doing something wrong or anything.

So I got up bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready for the day today. I got Ushi nice and spruced up too, giving her a really good groom just to make her look lovely. I groomed her last night too, so she must have been wondering what was up, since I usually groom every other day.

So at about half 10, the manager arrived. I will call him the instructor from now on, since he still is an instructor, just one who also happens to manage the team! Ushi got very very hyper, and started jumping up at him (she hasn’t really done that before). He said to just ignore that, but correct her when she did that. I think because he was a man (she reeeeeeally likes men) that that was why she did that.

I told him exactly what the problem was, and he said that some dogs do stop sometimes. He said that it probably wasn’t my fault, (which I was so glad to hear!). She was being a pain though and trying to lie away from me. He said to give her a jerk back, then when she was where I wanted her, just to praise her and ignore her. He then asked what Ushi did when I corrected her, and I said that sometimes she did a little whiny thing. It was hard to explain.

So we decided to actually go for a walk. I didn’t really know how far we would get to be honest, so decided to play it by ear. When we get out of the house, we would usually go to the kerb, but the instructor suggested that we just do a right turn as soon as the path started to widen as this was when we were out of our driveway. So we did our right turn, and we had a stoppage. The instructor suggested that I lengthen the lead, keeping it relaxed, and giving it a flick forward, which got her to go. She had her bounce back in her step. I managed to get her to do the big walk!!!!! I was so happy!!! She did try to stop, but we weren’t waiting as long as we were before!!! I hope though that she doesn’t decide to do that whole stopping thing tomorrow like last week though!

The instructor says that it won’t get better overnight, and that if it continues, then that they might have to encourage me to use maybe a treat or that, just to keep her going, and if she is getting bored. He will discuss it with the other instructors first though which is good. He also said that when I am telling her to “pay attention” I usually flick the handle down. He said that that isn’t really effective on that type of harness. I said to him that I like that harness, and he said they weren’t going to change the type I used which was good. It was just because that handle is at the side of the harness she might not feel it as well. He said though to keep doing what I was doing, and that I could even get her up on to one of the up kerbs, and that I could drop my handle, and get her to come in beside me and really really go to town with the praise. He said that would keep her motivation up too.

I was so pleased though. He is going to chat to my other instructor, and I will see her sometime next week anyway.

I am so pleased with how today went, and that I wasn’t doing anything wrong which was a huge huge relief.

Here’s hoping the next few days are better!!!!

On a side note:we are getting our kitchen done up after christmas. They are basically extending the kitchen, and knocking down a wall and that to do that. I am just worried about how the noise of the men working will effect the pooch. Any ideas? Have any of you had your house worked on with a guide dog? Thanks!

The First Assistance Dog Blog Carnival Submissions

I mentioned in
This post
About the first assistance dog blog carnival that
After Gadget
Compiled. In fact, she came up with the idea of it. It is hosted every three months I think by different assistance dog blogs. It’s really exciting!!! Rather than linking to each post individually, i’ll just put the link to the post so you can read it yourself. So
Here Ya go

Enjoy!, and thanks Sharren for coming up with the idea!

For Tania

My blogging friend
Was recently saying that she uses a screen reader called Hal, but that it won’t let her access older posts. I thought that I would post all the links of training here. She said she wanted to know more about the guide dog training, and could only see the most recent ones. So now Tania all you will hae to do is click on each link of training. I hope this helps! I’ll do right from where I met Ushi. Enjoy, and sorry everyone for having to read these again. Here goes………

Another Guide Dog Walk
In which I meet Ushi for the first time.
Another Walk With A Wider Harness
In which I try a different harness with Ushi.
26 Days!
In which I found out that I was matched with Ushi.
Still Hasn’t Sunk In
In which I talk about how i still can’t believe that I have been matched with Ushi.
Hotel Orientation
In which I learn the layout of the hotel.
Last Minute Thoughts…
Some last minute thoughts before class.
First Day Of Guide Dog Class
Second Day Of Guide Dog Class
Third Day Of Guide Dog Class
Fourth Day Of Guide Dog Class
Fifth Day Of Guide Dog Class
6th Day Of Guide Dog Class
7th Day Of Guide Dog Class
8th Day Of Guide Dog Class
9th Day Of Guide Dog Class
10th Day Of Guide Dog Class
11th Day Of Guide Dog Class
Final Day Of Guide Dog Class

Shopping And Stopping

Since my
Aftercare Visit
Last week, I thought things would have improved regarding Ushi’s
Little Stops
Well they didn’t really….

On Tuesday I was feeling quite positive, and decided to do the big church route again, just to make sure we were both comfy and that we would have no stops. We got along fine, until we reached our usual stopping point, and wham, a stoppage. So instead of being all gruff and cross with her, I got my really positive voice on, and tried to get her to carry on. Meanwhile across the road, there were kids playing football, and
Those Kids Who tried to feed Ushi
Came running towards me. So I quickly tried to get her to go straight on. Another girl came up and asked if she could pet Ushi, which I said yes, then heard those other kids coming. So I just said that Ushi was being a bad girl and had to keep her moving. (she does this wee dance thing on her back legs when she gets distracted by kids and other dogs). We got further on, and she decided to keep going up a persons driveway, so I kept having to correct her for that. She was still very hesitant at her kerbs though. When we got to one kerb, I decided to put my foot into the gutter (would never never do this with traffic but it was quiet), just to see if she would go forward. She eventually went forward which was good.

On the part of the route where we would be opposite the park, Ushi kept seeing another dog, and was like “Ooooooh that looks interesting!”, so I had to keep telling her to “Leave it!”. An elerdly woman who had the other dog was like “my dog is being a bad boy too. Can we go past?”. I didn’t fancy Ushi getting distracted in the road, so asked her if it was okay for me to go across first. She said that was fine, and it meant that me and Ushi would be further along in the opposite direction from the woman who was going to the park.

We had no further problems. I was a bit puzzled about why she was still so hesitant at her kerbs, but put it down to my praise not being that good.

On Wednesday when we went out for our walk, it was bucketing down. Ushi kept wanting to go back inside, but I tried to keep her moving, but she just kept heading for the house. So we went back inside until it stopped raining.

After it stopped, I got her out and up to our first kerb outside our house. I tried to get her to turn right, but she just stopped. She eventually went when she saw someone walking ahead of us. I thought nothing really of it, until she stopped again at the corner of our estate where there is usually a big dog who barks at us. It was shortly after this actually when she stopped. We have passed that dog loads of times before, so I don’t know what the problem was. It took me ages to finally get her up to her down kerb where we would cross for going to the shop and most other routes lol. I decided that there was no point going any further, and that we would just do the block route around our estate, since she was just stopping. I mean she has never stopped at that point before. I don’t know what had happened. I met my dad, and he went in front of me. I then told him to stay behind me where Ushi wouldn’t see him. We did eventually get around that little route, but it was rather strange!!!

Thursday was no better really. I could barely get her to go right after our first down kerb. I turned round, to see if she would go the other way around the block, and she did up until she saw a cat. I kept correcting her, but all she was interested in was that cat. I eventually got her past the cat, but then we had a stoppage again. There has been no obsticles at all when she has stopped. I would have no problem if it was an “off kerb” obsticle for instance. Usually though she sort of slows down before those though, whereas when she stopped it was just a dead stop. I just did a “back” turn then, and took her back home. I was starting to get a bit worried about why this was happening. My dad was saying that she could need to be retrained because she was so distracted and all, but I said that all guide dogs get distracted and all, and I didn’t want to admit that she could need retrained. But my friend said that I wouldn’t have been qualified if she did need to be retrained.

The bonus was though that my friend was up doing hotel orientation, as she is going off on class soon. My rehab worker was going to pop in to see me, and my friend wanted to see Ushi, so it was awesome! So at about 4 o’clock, they came round.

I braught Ushi down, and gave the lead to my friend to hold. I was so pleased with Ushi. There was a bit of waggy tails, but she just lay down at my friends feet! I was expecting her not to settle as she just loves people, but she was grand!!! I took Ushi back upstairs again, after my friend had said her hellos, as my little brother wanted to hold one of our guinny pigs. (the team said that Ushi might not really like them, so not to hold them in front of her).

My rehab worker asked me how I was getting on, and I said about the stops. He said that it is hard, but to keep persivereing with her. I said about not wanting to run to the team all the time, but he said that was their job. He just said to keep at it. I said that I felt as though I didn’t want to be qualified because this week was kind of bad, but my rehab worker says that of course I should be qualified, and that it wasn’t bad at all. He said to ring the team if it didn’t get any better.

My friend and my rehab worker soon left after that.

On Friday, I spent ages on the small block route trying my hardest to get Ushi going. I managed to get her to the corner with the barking dog, but no further. So I did a “back” turn, and only got her so far. There was a car, and she spent ages at it, so I thought that it was maybe going to be a “Off kerb” obsticle. But she wouldn’t go off the kerb, so I kept getting her to go back up to the car, and she eventually went around it (there was space at the other side of it). I told her to find home, then tried to do the route again, but she wouldn’t go. But it was gradual progress. I was still quite worried though.

On Friday night, I took her downstairs. For some reason the guinny pigs were extremely noisy. Ushi normally doesn’t bother with them, but was right at the cage whining a little. I thought they were maybe annoying her, so was going to put her on the long lead, but she eventually came over and just lay down. My sister said that she couldn’t see what was making the noise, so that was probably what was annoying her.

Yesterday I think we made huge strides with the stops. I managed to get her halfway round the little block which was great. She was more crawling than actually stopping, which was good. I would have kept going on the block route, but we got to where the
Yappy dogs
Were that I encountered after I qualified. There was a car parked, and I figured that we might have been too close for comfort to where the dogs were, and didn’t want Ushi getting agitated or anything. So I just casually did a “back” turn. A few minutes later, the owner of the dogs came up, and explained that there was a tube lying on the ground (Ushi had stopped again). I said that the dogs were a bit scary, but then felt terrible as these were her dogs! I appologised for saying that they were scary, and she completely understood. She explained that they bark at everyone, but that there were too many for Ushi, and that was why she was maybe scared. She was a lovely woman. I really enjoyed talking to her. We went on our way after that.

Ushi was taking me around a car, and I sort of took the lead just gently. These kids were like “what are you doing?”, and I just said that she was taking me around a car. I felt like saying inside though “what does it look like!” but refrained lol. As I went home, they casually came up on the road on their little scooters, and started making dog noises! I just told Ushi to “Pay attention!” and to find home. The kids eventually got bored I think. I wasn’t as worried yesterday.

Today was really good. I decided to take Ushi into town with my dad guiding me. I put her harness on, but just held dads arm and the harness was on her back. I just held the lead. I wanted to get her used to being in town, without actually having to work it. She was fabulous!!! She only ocasionally looked at children (she loves children), and people, but didn’t get massively distracted. Even when we took her into our local Tescos (it was a little one), she was grand. We decided to sit on a bench and eat some chocolate (we do this every day just to kill time really). I was going to have her sit in front of us, but then thought cause we were eating it would be better to have her lie down. She just lay there! I didn’t take her harness off cause we were only there for about 5 minutes. She did look around, but stayed lying down which was fab. I felt so proud of her!!!

I don’t think she liked the wooden floor in Waterstones though, as she kind of rushed over it lol. I think because it made a different sound than the tiles and such, and it was shiney wood. She was grand though the whole day!!!!!

I didn’t actually work her today, but I wanted her to get used to town while it was quiet, and so that she wouldn’t have to deal with the stress of working it.

I am so pleased with today. I hope it will help her with her stops. I will still ring the team tomorrow just to get some advice really in case the stops continue. Hopefully they won’t though!!

She is lying behind me now as I type lol. Earlier mum said she was just watching me type earlier. I thought that was cute lol.

We had our first major frost this morning. I thought Ushi wouldn’t spend, but she was grand. I think she wanted to chase it afterwards though as she did a little run around. I corrected her though. I don’t want to jinx it, but when I have let her off lead around the garden, she hasn’t dug, or played chasies with me. I got her a tug toy last week and bring it out, and when she sees it, she comes running!!! I have decided to keep her on lead for her first spend and last spend (as in the morning i’m not really awake lol). But if it is raining, then I keep her on all the time just so she doesn’t play silly billies.

I’ll let you know what the team say tomorrow though. I hope you don’t get bored of these entries. I just thought i’d let you all know how everything is going.

Blogging Love

My friend
Has just bitten the bullet and decided to get a blog!!!! He is only starting out, but has written three entries so far. On his blog he says that he will write about blind and visual impairments, and his life really. He is only starting out, so isn’t really sure what to write, and is totally new to the blogging world, but I think that if we share some love and go and read the blog, it might boost his confidence to know that people are reading. I hated not knowing if people were reading or not when I first started out, but now I just tell myself that you never know who’s reading!

So go on, go check out his blog!

Encouraging Aftercare

I got a call yesterday from the instructor asking if i wanted her to come down today.  I explained that that would be really helpful, and then explained about her stopping loads and all.   She said she would see what Ushi was up to.  Orriginally she was just coming down for a regular aftercare.
So at 10 o’clock this morning, we set out bright eyed and bushy tailed.  We agreed that the instructor would only step in if I really really really needed it.
When we got to our first down kerb, that was when the problems started.  She was very slow to go right.  There is a barking dog we go past all the time, but she is usually grand with it.  When we got to our first road crossing, she wouldn’t go forward at all.  My instructor then came, and told me to really be positive with my voice.  Yes I would correct if she needed it, but basically to be much more positive.  She then quickly got on with it.
The instructor says that when she stops for no apparent reason, to give a little jerk forward on the lead with your right hand, and again talk in a really positive voice.
I found the walk flowed a hell of alot more, and she just walked perfectly.
The instructor says that she was probably stopping because she remembered there was an obsticle.  I didn’t think that would bother her, but apparently they will remember.
The instructor also says that she will pick up if i am frustrated or anything, so just to make sure that the walk is fun for her, but that you are firm at some points if you need to be.
There was one point where I was telling Ushi to “let’s go”,  but you should only use the “forward” after a stop.  It’s either “forward” or “straight on” for when she is moving.
When we got back to the house, I explained that I had baught Ushi a new toy, and that we had a good pull on it loads.  She says that that could also help her when working too.  I explained that I was thinking of going up to Belfast sometime before christmas, but she says that it would be better for Ushi if she was left at home.  She would enjoy that much more than if she had to contend with busy streets of Belfast.  She says that I can start taking Ushi on the lead out to more places in town.  Just to get her used to the area for when we do start working it.   I can either keep the harness on or just have the lead.  I think I will just keep the harness on though.  I must make sure that dad brings me up to the correct kerbs, and that he tells me what way we are turning etc.  (I will be doing it with my dad).  He is not actually teaching me the route, just preparing me for when we work it, and to make Ushi a bit more comfy with doing more work further afield.  The instructor says there is no rush though.  What we can do is I can work Ushi up to the shop, and then take dads arm.  That will be cool.
I can’t believe that all I needed to do was put on a more positive voice!  I was getting really worried over nothing as usual!  I really hope that this week is much more positive than last week.  Last week was deffinetly a rough one.  Thanks so much for all your encouragement.  I know it will come right in time, it’s just getting there that’s the hard part.