A Fun Morning, Sort Of

A couple of days ago, my rehab worker asked if I would like to come to the local branch fundraising meeting today (Thursday). I sent him an email saying that as long as it was okay with the team I would go. (We are not allowed to actively fundraise with our dogs until we are at least 6 months qualified). My rehab worker works for Guidedogs, so he understands this. He explained that it was just a planning meeting, and that he wouldn’t put me in a position where we could both get into bother. So I agreed to come. Normally it would be in a restaurant or something, but it was at my rehab workers house today.

So this morning, I decided to work Ushi before going to the meeting. (I tried to anyway). It was a little icey as I took Ushi out to spend, but thought it wouldn’t be as icey around the estate. How wrong was I! I was going to do the route to the shops, but on going out, decided not to. I got to my first down kerb, and decided that it was just far too slippy to go out. We kept sliding, so it was “steady” all the way. I would have worn my Yaktrax, but since I was going to go into a shopping centre, I didn’t think that would be a good idea. Ushi was really good and tried to guide me past the ice onto a less icyer part. In fact, getting past some obsticles was not really going to happen, because there was a more icyer part, and Ushi didn’t want me walking on it. Good girl! When I went to slide, she stopped dead and looked at me until I told her it was okay to go forward, slowly.

So when we got to our first down kerb, I just turned and went back home. We then waited for my rehab worker to get here.

When we got to his house, Ushi was rather excited. She kept rushing about, and just wouldn’t lie down to settle. (Not like her at all). I didn’t put her on harness as it was just to someone’s house. My rehab worker suggested that I just let her wonder about, as they have a dog (he was in the back yard the whole meeting), and Ushi was probably smelling him. So I let her off, and she wondered around for a bit, before lying down again. Of course she had to get loads of attention from all the members who arrived.

It was a very productive meeting, I thought. Again I can’t actually attend the events that were planned due to me not being allowed to fundraise yet. I’m okay with that though. It is quite sensible really. I mean our bond is quite new, and if we did decided to, say, do a street collection, then it could be very stressful and could ruen all the good work we had put in over the last couple of months. The time will come though when i’m ready though.

It wasn’t Ushi’s best day really as normally she would be so settled. I explained to my rehab worker that I wouldn’t normally do that, and if we were anywhere else, it just wouldn’t have happened where I let her wonder around, but since it was someone’s house I thought it might settle her down a bit. Do you think this was right for me to do this though? I might take the harness next time though, just to calm her down a bit, and so she knows it’s still work time. Plus if I do go to the next meeting, then it would be in a sports hall, or something, so she would have to be on harness.

My rehab worker was all proud of how I was able to “problem solve” with the ice, and that a guidedog owner should be doing that. So at least that was a good thing.

In other news, we took my phone into the shop where I got the new power button attached last year. They had a look at the phone, and think that the underpad of the keyboard needs replaced. They will ring with a price when they order in the part. Hope that helps the phone.

I also hope that the ice and stuff isn’t too bad on Monday as i’ve got aftercare!

New Route, And Getting Lost!

I was going to be learning a new route yesterday, but my instructor was sick. I went out in the morning anyway for our usual walk.

Everything and anything had to be a distraction for Ushi. First it was a little dog, and she went round me in a circle while I tried to control her. She got a major correction for not obeying me, and for being so wild!

We then went on, and I don’t have a clue what distracted her next. I told her just to “get on with it”, but I think one of her paws got stuck under my foot as I stepped. (She was still distracted but I was trying to get her going again). She gave a massive yelp. I felt a bit guilty, but at the end of the day, she shouldn’t have been so distracted!

She was a little distracted near the end of the route, but not as wild. I don’t know what was wrong at all with her. It had been rather stormy the night before, so that could have done it.

Today I was nakard for some reason. I had to stay up though since my instructor was coming today.

I decided to do a walk first, just to tire Ushi out a bit before going into the shopping centre and all. I wished I hadn’t!

On our route, there is this path with grass on our right. It is part of the main route to get to basically anywhere from our estate. Normally we do it grand, but something small must have distracted her slightly. There are apparently a couple of paths that go around the grassy part up to near some flats. The next thing I knew, I was up near those flats! There was nobody there to ask, or no traffic to orientate me! So I kept getting Ushi to go back, and to find a kerb, but there just seemed to be more grass. I eventually called my mum and explained the situation. She knew roughly where I was, so I said that I would try and work it out until she came to get me (luckily we live pritty near the grass part which is good). I tried to get a bit further on on the path I was on which was really narrow. There was grass on my left, but there was also a tree. I ended up going over the grass, until I felt the path again on my left. This was a good sign. And I could also hear traffic! That sounded bliss! I turned around towards it, and by this point, my mum was calling to me. I just had to go straight on, and there I was, back at the kerb I needed to be at in the first place! Thank god for mobile phones!! I don’t know what the problem was, but I thought that it was good that this has been the first time I have really really really got lost. It was still bad though! I didn’t even know those other paths existed!

So I went off to the shop as usual. Well I hadn’t been there for over a week. I don’t like going in there too often, since I hardly buy anything! It’s just a little corner shop type thing though so I suppose that’s good.

When I was coming home though, I must have corrected too hard, because the little identification disk that Ushi has attached to her collar came off! Luckily a nice kind man came to my rescue and gave me it.

I got home just in time to find my instructor waiting! She had called about 5 minutes before but I wasn’t back yet.

I explained to the instructor about getting lost, and she said that it was good that I was able to get home again, and that I didn’t panick! I panicked a bit, but nothing majorly.

We decided to leave Ushi at home for the first familiarisation of the new route. We didn’t want to confuse her by doing it wrong constantly. My instructor also gave me a ring with my identification disk for Ushi’s collar which was good.

We parked up at the shop, and then first of all walked the route on the instructors arm, then on the short handle. The route is quite simple really. You go straight down from the shop, and you come to a rounded kerb at the bottom, where there is a Zebra crossing. You then outdent on the up kerb, and you are on a street with loads of bollards and stuff. You then come to a big slope wwhich is the entrance to an alley way. It has no deffinete down kerb. You then go straight on, then two right turns, and then straight for a bit, then “find the shops”. I found a coffee shop so that if i am meeting someone, for example, we can go there.

The instructor says that I can get my dad to show me where other shops are, so that if I am out with him, and I take Ushi, I can work her. She says that they want to give me my freedom, it’s just a case of me getting more confident. I explained to her about our
Little shopping issue
And she suggested that I don’t work her around shops for now if I think she hasn’t gone. She says that it’s even embarrassing for her when she is training dogs. I’m glad it wasn’t just me!

I got dropped off at my house for a bit, before the instructor was going to return so that we could try the route with Ushi.

I have to say she worked like a total champ! She found the shop first time, and was able to pay attention to me even though there was all those people! The instructor says it doesn’t matter if a place has a few people. I was worried in case you couldn’t work a dog in a crowd of people lol. She said that there wouldn’t be very many guide dogs if they couldn’t work with people!

We went back to the house after that. My instructor says that I have really improved in my confidence. She says that if she had said to me couple of weeks ago that we would be in a shopping centre, I would have probably not liked it! I had to agree! Everything seems so much like second nature now. I think that’s a good thing!

My instructor is coming back on Thursday and Friday. She said that tomorrow I can walk the route with dad if I want, but i’ll see how he feels. I sort of want to try it myself, but think i’ll wait for a bit just in case something horrible goes wrong lol.

I hope I don’t get lost tomorrow! I’m so glad that i’m learning something new! Ushi’s tail was wagging loads today. It wags very gently on our other routes, but today it was really going! That was a good sign.

When we were in the car, I said about putting on the smaller collar. The instructor says that is more effective. She says that if you are to jerk back, but not release, it chokes the dog, and toughens their neck or something. What does that mean? I always when correcting just flick and release. They say it’s more effective that way.

I can’t wait to go further! I’m so pleased that I am doing more routes!

Stop, Start, Stop, Start…

Sorry for another post in the last two days, but I just have something to write about….

I decided that yesterday I would start taking Ushi on two walks a day, as this might release some of that excess energy she has got. Before I went on my first walk though, one of the instructors had phoned me. I had contacted her on Tuesday to discuss the person I refered to in
My last post,
And also her lack of sitting at her kerbs. Anyway the instructor phoned me yesterday morning. She said that some dogs don’t like to sit at kerbs, and as long as she is stopping at them (which she is), that it is okay just to let her stand at them. She said that as long as you tell her to wait, then there should be no problem. I asked if that would confuse her, but she said it wouldn’t, and that she would pick up quite quickly that she is allowed to stand. Plus it will mean that it will flow much better if she just stands, so that I am not having to fight with her all the time. She is going to come out next week to see how things are going, which will be good.

Things indeed did flow much smoother, but there was one point where she stopped dead. She could hear our local recycling van up ahead (it was on the opposite side of the road just ticking over). She wouldn’t move at all. I asked someone if there was anything in my way, but there was nothing. I firmly told her “straight on”. So I don’t know what the craic was with that.

When we got home, we had a massive play session. I started throwing her stuffed elephant toy along our hall and in our room, but soon got bored of that. So I thought “I wonder can I throw it down the stairs?”. So I opened our top stair gate, and made sure the bottom one was closed. She had a wale of a time, running up and down the stairs. I was thinking though that that might be bad, as she might fall down them lol. It seemed to really tire her out.

I decided to go out for my second walk last night at about 6 o’clock. It was only getting dark, and I thought it would be good, and since I hadn’t done the second walk yet, I wanted to get it done.

Well everything was going swimmingly when I first of all came across a car parked on the pavement. There was no room for me to get around it, so I was going to do an “off kerb” obsticle. The only problem was, there was quite a bit of traffic on the road, so I thought “I better get sighted assistance”. Typically though, there was nobody around to offer me that assistance when I needed it! If I didn’t need it, loads of people would have offered me it lol. So after asking thin air for a while, I decided to wait until the traffic was quiet before doing my “off kerb”. So I did that, and got promptly back up on the kerb. We were grand until we met a couple of kids. They kept trying to feed Ushi, and she got more and more excited, and put her paws up on a kid at one point (he had crisps or something). I quickly corrected her, while telling the kids that she could not have any food at all, and had to be on a special diet. I then said that I had to go because my dinner was ready (it would be lol). They seemed to just stand in the way, so I got Ushi around them, but they kept following me for a bit. I just had to say quite firmly that no, Ushi could. not. and would not be having any of their food. I Kept correcting Ushi when she went to sniff at them. Whatever happened, I ended up totally disorientated, and ended up going up a driveway. I quickly told Ushi to “find the kerb”, and then we could carry on our way. Thankfully the kids disappeared which was good.

We got to our kerb, and walked on for about 20 steps, when suddenly Ushi stops. I tried encouraging her, then gave her a correction, as I thought she was maybe distracted. I then took the lead in my right hand, and then tried encouraging her forward again. I could only get her to go a couple of steps. I then tried getting her up to the kerb, as it was a straight pavement, but I thought there could have been an obsticle, but there wasn’t. She wouldn’t go up to the kerb at all. I then did a “back” turn, and she did that no problem. I then got her up to the spot again, and she still wouldn’t go. I stuck my foot out, and couldn’t feel anything. I then told her to “find home”, and she did move off then. I phoned my mum to say that I would be a bit late coming back, and she sent my dad out to see if something had happened. I met him shortly afterwards, and got Ushi to sit. I explained what had happened, and asked him to check her paws in case she had stepped on something. She hadn’t. I then went on home after that.

It was rather strange. I spent about 10 minutes trying to get her to go forward. There had been a barrier put up earlier in the week as there was a fire in one of the buildings. It was cleared away yesterday morning though. There was a very very very distant firework in the distance as we waited, but it was ages and ages away. I don’t know what was there at all. My dad said that maybe Ushi could smell the smoke of the firework, or where the fire had been, but then she wouldn’t have gone forward at all previously. I then thought that maybe she couldn’t see in the dark, but apparently dogs can see in the dark. I’ll probably never know what happened to make her stop for so long.

The point was that we got home, which was the main thing.

I was naughty and only managed one walk today. I had a big play with Ushi in the morning though. Again, she loved it.
Ushi decided to stop at a different spot than yesterday on the walk. There was a car ticking over on the road, and she just stopped and wouldn’t go. Is she maybe scared of traffic? Or else she is really anticipating that the car might drive out in front of us. She didn’t stop for as long this time, and once I told her “straight on”, she went on. There was one point where there was a bit obsticle in my way. I told Ushi “straight on”, and she took me around it, or tried to. I thought we were going up a driveway, so got her back to the kerb, with some persuasion. I asked for assistance (I got it this time), and it must have been a pritty big obsticle. We went round something, then had to go out onto the road, and walk for a while until we were past it. I thanked the woman and went on my way. It turned out that Ushi was trying to take me the right way! I just wasn’t trusting her. I think I need to work on that lol. I just thought that because it was what felt like a driveway that we were going up, that it must be wrong.

We had another stop near to the house. I asked someone again if there was an obsticle, but there wasn’t. I had to really encourage her to go straight on. I found my left side of my handle kept going up into the reflective slieve at the front of the harness. I thought that might have been why she stopped, so I ajusted it. At our next kerb, she was very hesitant to go forward. There was no traffic coming, but she wouldn’t go at all. Again, I had to really encourage her to go forward. She did this at a couple of her kerbs. Is there something wrong? Why could she be doing this? I don’t want to ask the instructor as I am seeing her next week anyway. Am I being too hard on her? Am I not trusting her enough?

I’ll see what sort of day tomorrow is. Maybe it is just a case of her being a bizzim and just testing me.

I can now see why it takes 6 months to a year for the partnership to really work! Let’s hope tomorrow is a better day. If it is no better tomorrow, then I will ask the instructor again.

The Past Few Days

I haven’t updated in a while, as I was just doing the same old thing. I’ll write it all in one post though.

On Monday morning, the instructors came out at about 10 o’clock. I said that I wanted to do the route to the shop, as I still felt a bit unsure of the crossings and that. So we agreed and off we went.

The walk went alright. When we got back to the house, they told me they wanted to see it “flow” a bit more. Basically because i stopped before getting her to go “over” and continue on the same straight line (for outdenting for example), I stopped as if it was a propper turn. This could cause her to get distracted, the longer I stood there. They also said that they want to leave me for a few days just until I got my confidence up. The only way I would get confident doing the shop route would be to actually do it. They wanted it to flow, and they wanted me to gain confidence. They said they couldn’t really progress if I wasn’t confident on the basic routes.

Apart from that, the walk was great.

Before we went on the walk,however, Ushi was being a total madam. I had put her back on the lead for spending, as over the weekend, she had started to dig again. Well she just stood there. I don’t think she had gone for her last spend on Sunday night either, as at about 5 o’clock that morning, she was up pacing around loads. I just pretended that I didn’t know she was up, and she soon lay down. The instructors don’t want me to get up with her in the middle of the night, as they will quickly learn that they will get up at that time. This will then cause them to start to hold on until that time. So unless she has the runs or something, she shouldn’t really go out to spend after her last opportunity at night, which is at around half 9.

So I was panicking in case she did an accident on the walk, but she was clean.

I mentioned the digging and all to the instructors, and they have said there is nothing really they can do, apart from just really shouting at her when she does try to dig. I have also started to actually walk her down on the lead to where the grass of our garden starts (it’s concrete for quite a long part, and then the grass is at the bottom). This way I can catch her more easily, whereas before I let her off from the house, so she could go behind the hedge and start to dig. As soon as I let her off the lead she went no problem!! Total madam!

The instructors also suggested that she is worked at least twice a day. It doesn’t matter if she is only worked once a day, but it would need to be a good leg stretch of a route, rather than just a 10 minute walk. That might help her to get rid of her built up energy, which means less digging, and a more relaxed doggy. A free run would also do that, but they say that you shouldn’t really free run the dog more than once a week for the free run, as they will then be only thinking about when they will get their next run.

So I chilled for a while, until the next walk. I just decided to do the matching walk.

Our walk was alright, until the corner at the church, opposite the park, where she usually dawdles along. She was nearly at a complete stop. I had to really hold the lead out in front of me to get her to go. I didn’t have to drag her, but it was close to that point. Of course she happened to see a dog across the road, so I could hardly get her moving at all! A kind gentleman came across the road, and offered to help me. I got Ushi to sit, and explained that she was very distracted. He then said that he would let me know when the dog was in the park, so that I could keep going. That was nice of him. I just kept Ushi sitting and waiting until she had calmed down. His little kid must have been a bit scared of Ushi though, as she kept asking her dad to take her across the road. So I said that Ushi was a special dog, and she wouldn’t hurt her. I then went on my way.

Ushi decided to be rather distracted for most of the way home after that, so I really had to get onto her. She was just being a total madam!!!

I don’t think she seems to like Mondays lol, as they seem to be our worst days lol. The past couple of weeks, all the bad things seem to happen on a Monday lol.

I just chilled for the rest of the evening.

On Tuesday, I decided to do the route to the shop again. It was grand, and as I crossed over my zebra crossings, I thought “I just crossed those with no problem! Yay!”. We had no problems again until we got to near the church. There is quite a bit of rough ground, with some slopes down. I stumbled a bit at one part, and stepped on one of Ushi’s paws. She scooted to the right, so I got her to wait, and dropped my handle, to reapproach it, all the while telling her it was okay. I felt awful! Luckily we weren’t far from a down kerb, so when we reached it, I bent down and gave Ushi a big pat. Poor girl.

I put on a more excited voice when I got to the corner where she always dawdles. She soon quickened her step!!! I just told her to “find the way” in that “find home” voice. She was a little distracted on the way home, but it was manageable.

I only did the one walk for the rest of the week-I know i was a slacker!

On Tuesday night at about half 2 in the morning (I was in bed), my sister said that Ushi was at the door of my room (I share with my sister), looking at it, and whining. Why was she doing this I wonder? I didn’t hear her at all. Normally she paces when she needs to spend, which I ignore unless she would happen to be ill, but she apparently just whined. Pritty strange.

Wednesday was “bin day”, so lots of obsticles to avoid. It was probably the best day of the week. She avoided loads of obsticles, and stopped at each one. Good girl!! She even slowed down at each bit of rough ground or slope lol since i stumbled yesterday. I didn’t think it would have affected her so much. So it was like “straight on”, “good girl to wait”. This went on for a while, as there are rough bits of ground for quite a few steps. Poor girl. At least she was being cautious though which was good.

Ushi was hardly distracted today too!!! It felt awesomely awesome. I really enjoyed it. I enjoy all my walks, but this one was special.

At one point I was all prepared to do an “off kerb” obsticle. There was a car parked, so I couldn’t go forward. I had just got Ushi up to the kerb, when the driver of the car decided to start the thing!! Damn it, I was all ready for an off kerb!! I got help around it, which I appreciated.

I didn’t do much for the rest of the day, apart from depriing my girl of water! I have a pair of slipper socks, which sit on the table next to where Ushi’s water is. I went to empty the water, as I always do just after the night time spend. I picked up the water bowl, and found my socks sticking out of the top of it! What was worse was that they were like sponges, and they just absorbed all the water! Damn it!!! No wonder I hadn’t heard her drinking at all. I felt absolutely horrible! I filled her a bowl just to ease my mind, but she didn’t drink it at all. I felt like a terrible mother!!

Yesterday wasn’t as good though. First of all she got distracted by a little puppy half way down our street on the route to the shop. I was able to sort that out, then a guy came over and said “my car is here”. That was grand as Ushi had stopped. So I quietly told her straight on, but then the guy was like “straight on, straight on, come on.”. I knew she couldn’t go straight on, as we were close to the kerb. He then was like “maybe if i walk away she’ll do it”, so I said she might. I think he was having a huff then, cause i heard his door close lol. I got her round the other side of it no problem. It kind of pissed me off though. She was slightly distracted today. She still hesitated at every little slope though which was good!! Nice to see she was being cautious!
Today the other instructor arrived just to check how we were getting on. It was my last day on Monday seeing my instructor until after christmas, as she is off to do more of her training to become a fully qualified guide dog mobility instructor. We just did the matching walk again. I told the instructor about how we were getting on, and about how Ushi would hesitate at each slope and rough piece of ground. I also told her about what I was trying on the corner opposite the park, and she said that was fine. She wanted me to try different things.

Ushi must have known that the instructors were about, as on our second last down kerb, she would normally go straight across the road. Instead, she took me into another estate! I thought I was in the guiding road, but I wasn’t. I just stood there after trying to get her to go “in”, but then realised i was lost. I phoned my instructor, or was about to, when she came over. She explained that it could have been that there was a cat or anything that had distracted her ever so slightly. She was very slow to sit at the down kerb too, so that wasn’t good. When we got to the kerb again, we found out that there is a speed bump. I want to cross just in the middle of the bump, as crossing to the right would take me across the guiding road, and crossing to the left would take me into another estate. When we got back to my house, we put her in the car, and did the part on the short handle. Wow how useful that thing is. We went through it loads of times, as we wanted to get it right. We also did if we had gone too far and that round the corner. If we had done that loads with Ushi, it could have confused her alot, so she got to lie on a nice new bed lol in the back of the car.

The instructor says she can see improvements in my confidence, but wants to leave me for a couple of weeks, just to make sure i’m totally totally comfy with the three routes. Then she will come back and we will learn a route to a coffee shop so that I can meet my friends for a chat and lunch maybe!

So hopefully nothing too terrible happens. The instructor says that if i have any problems, I shouldn’t be afraid to text her or anything.

I have just been chilling ever since. I was quite tired today for some reason. Let’s hope next week won’t be too bad!