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!
I mentioned in
About the first assistance dog blog carnival that
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!
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Unfortunately over the last couple of days it has gotten much colder. This has braught home the fact that the old snow and ice will be on the way soon..
I hated how bad it was last year. It was totally horrible!! I am kind of dreading it this year, because the more snow/ice the less I can work Ushi, which I don’t want at all!!!
My friend baught a pair of “yaktrax” last year. These are rubber things that slip on over your regular shoes. They have little coils of metal or something on them to give you a better grip on the ice. The coils are curly so they don’t harm a doggies paws. Sorry this is just a brief description, but
Might tell you more. (Or else I could get my friend to email me about them and put it up here!). I think the website will give you more info though.
What I am really wondering about is have any of you guys used these? Are they worth paying the £20 for? Are they effective?
I’m seriously considering investing in a pair, but i’m just looking on oppinions first.
Thanks, and while you’re at it, does anyone own a “B type” guide dog harness? It has a wide handle? I just ask because I was a bit bored last night and took off my handle. I’m not sure if i put it on the right way (didn’t work Ushi today). I think the bend goes to the left? Thanks again guys.
Well here is the post about the assistance dog blog carnival. I hope you like it.
“firsts” has so many options to write about. I thought I would write about the first time I saw a guide dog (I didn’t like it though), right up to getting Ushi, my first, and current guide dog. Alot of you will have read this about Ushi, but here it is for new readers. I’m sure there is something that you haven’t read before lol.
I think I was about 4 years old at the time. Our local army baricks held an open day for families to come down, and it was just fun and stuff. It was the only open day that was held. Guide dogs were invited to have a stand there. My friend, let’s call her J, was helping out at the stand. (she is a guide dog owner). I am just going on what my mum has told me for the next part by the way.
We were having a fabulous time. Mum and dad must have gone to the guide dogs stand. J had asked if I wanted to feel the dogs fur and ears. I hated the thought of that, as I didn’t like things that were furry. (thankfully I have outgrown that one). I prefered to have something that was hard rather than furry. I don’t know if it was just that it was too soft or what, but I hated fur!!!!
I was still at the stage where I “wished I could see”. Shortly after this encounter with J and the dog, my socialworker started teaching me how to use a cane. It wasn’t propperly with a long cane, rather a simble cane, which had bells attached to make it more fun. I loved that cane. That was just to teach me basic basic orientation skills, and I didn’t really use it outside that much. I called it Annabell (the bells, and she was my classroom assistant at nursery). I wonder often if my socialworker still has that cane. She is probably berried in a box somewhere lol.
I gradually started to like furry things (thank god). I heard somewhere that you could apply for a guide dog at the age of 16 (that’s now unlimitted), so I would often say “such and such more years until I am eligible for a guide dog”. I had no idea of what it entailed, though.
Mum one day joked that she had seen a “guide eel”. I thought this would be class, and wanted one! Unfortunately, I was later to find out that they didn’t really exist.
One day shortly before christmas in 2002, I was told that a “man or woman would be coming out to see me to teach me some mobility”, or words to that affect. I was so excited. I had no idea of what it was, and wanted to know more. I was about 12 at the time. So on the 16th December 2002, I met a lovely man who is currently my rehab worker. I remember that first meeting quite clearly. We had just baught a Playstation 2, and I was looking at it while my rehab worker talked. He told me all about the different types of canes that you could get (Simble cane which you hold diagonally across your body to indicate to passers by that you are visually impaired. You do not put it on the ground. Guide cane, which I think you hold out in front of you to help you find steps and stuff. I think it is used if you have some vision. And finally you have our friend the long cane, which you use by sweeping the ground, or diagonally across your body if you are indoors.).
Over the next few weeks, we went out to where he worked, and started to explore the building, or rather one corridor, first just by “trailing” the walls, which is where you make your hand into like a loose fist, and then you trail it along the wall. It helps you know where you are going, and to find doors and stuff. You don’t need to use it that much, but it is good to know.
We gradually increased our routes, and started doing more and more outside work. And here we are nearly 8 years later!
My rehab worker was the one who initially asked me if I wanted to apply for a guide dog. He came out one Wednesday night in 2008. The amount of questions I had for him that night. He tried to answer them the best he could, but he just said that he wouldn’t push for me getting the dog. I’m so glad he did!!!! Who would have thought that nearly two and a half years later I would have a guide dog!
Those first few months were full of lots of excitement. First of all, I had what was called an “enquiry visit”. This took place within the first couple of weeks of my application. This was where my faithful rehab worker came out to fill in paperwork and such, and was a chance for me to ask loads of questions. Next, my mobility was assessed in the “mobility assessment” stage of the game.
A couple of months later, a person called a “guide dog mobility instructor”, or GDMI, came out to test my walking speed and that. This was called the “guide dog assessment”. This was where I held on to a thing called the “short handle”, which is basically a harness, only instead of having a dog at one end, you have the instructor. Next, it was what is called a “further guide dog assessment”, which again is done by the GDMI. I needed this, as they wanted to see how I would be with a dog and that, as I wasn’t very confident using my voice then. I was then put on the guide dogs waiting list, which is a list of all applicants and replacements. It is from 6 months to a year but it can be shorter or longer. I waited approximately 15 months.
On the 28 July this year, I was heading up for a meeting in Belfast. My rehab worker was going to take me anyway. On that Monday, he emailed me telling me that a guide dog mobility instructor just happened to be in the area, and wondered if I would like a dog walk. Of course I jumped at the chance! That was the day I met my beautiful Ushi. I hadn’t been matched with her yet, but we were just having a good dog walk and filling in some details that day.
By the Friday of that week, I got a call from the instructor saying that they would come out the following Monday, as they wanted to try me with the wider harness handle. (there are two types:a “top fitting” handle, or a “A type”, or a “side fitting/B type”.). The “top fitting” one was the one I used on that Wednesday. I found I couldn’t really feel the tention in that handle. The wider handle is like something that would go on a horse and cart, and the dog fits in between the two sides of the handle. The handle rests just on her rump. I was beginning to wonder “Is this a good thing” when they phoned.
Well the Monday went well, and I found out that more dogs were coming over in September (as they told me that Ushi was still in training).
On Tuesday afternoon, I got a call saying that Ushi was a “potential” match, and that they were coming out on the Wednesday to do a “matching visit”. I was scared to get excited in case it wasn’t a match! I found out that it was, and that I would be going on class on the 30th August!! This is my birthday, so I was chuffed that this was my birthday present! What an awesome one at that!
I went on two weeks training up at a hotel in Belfast. After this I did a couple of weeks training at home, and then qualified on the 29th September!
So now I am just finding my feet in my new partnership, and just trying to work things out. My team are always there at the end of a phone, and wwill be coming out regularly for a while, before they leave me for approximately 6 weeks, then every three months, and then every 6 months, and then once a year! They are always there if i need a new route taught to me or something.
We are having our fair share of little teething troubles, but I am hoping that these will sort themselves out.
I hope you have enjoyed finding out about my “first times” in regards to me getting my first guide dog, and hopefully it wasn’t boring for you!
I will post the carnival when it is released, and look forward to reading all your latest posts on the subject. Remember the deadline for submissions is Tuesday the 19th of October. Read my last entry to see the rules for posting.
Oh, and forgot to say, if you want to follow the rest of my journey with Ushi, then my blog URL is:
I read about this idea on Ro’s blog (sorry Ro, can’t be bothered getting your link), and thought I would first of all give you all the details, then write my post!
The assistance dog blog carnival is for anyone who has an assistance dog of any kind. This can be guide, hearing, autism, diabetic, or epilepsy dogs. Basically any dog that “assists” you. I think anyone can post, as long as they have a blog, and are connected in some way to assistance dogs. I think this includes puppy walkers/raisers, trainers, instructors, or anyone else really.
The theme for this carnival is “firsts”. This can be anything really. The deadline for submission is the 19th October (on Tuesday).
For more details, check out
This blogs Post
I’m off to write my first post!!! I orriginally wasn’t going to sign up, but I may as well!!!
Good luck to anyone writing!