I qualified today!!!! It totally hasn’t sunk in at all. Me? Qualified? It’s like wow!
Let’s start from the beginning though….
My instructors came at about 10 o’clock again. They left the harness as usual.
I only went into the guiding road very slightly at my second down kerb. I was able to correct it though, before I drifted too far. I just wanted to make sure that I was on the right path, so I asked a woman who was approaching me. She confirmed that there was grass on my right, which was what i asked. I said i was okay from here. The woman kept talking to me, and I politely said I was grand. I went on my way, and whenever I got down to near my Zebra crossing, the woman was still there. She accompanied me over the road, and at the other side, kind of gave me a bit of an lecture. She said to me to make sure that I crossed the roads safely, and that I was to make sure that my dog “did what i told it”. She eventually left me on my way, after asking if i could get back alright. She was a nice woman, but she just didn’t leave me alone at all! Lol. It was really nice of her though.
I carried on with my walk after that.
When i got to my last kerb, (the one before the road to my house), I made sure to indent quite far down. I wasn’t sure that I was in the right place, so I got her to go left, then I still wasn’t satisfied, so I did a “back” turn, and worked her up to the orriginal position at the kerb. I then stood for ages just waiting for traffic and waiting to make sure it was the right road. I then thought “I could be here all day”, so took a chance, and walked straight across the road. I was on the right up kerb! I then got Ushi to “find home”, and she found it no problem. Typical though-mum went and baught wind chimes yesterday, but since then Ushi has found the door no problem!
When I got to the house, I handed the harness over to the instructors, and they were like “do you have somewhere to hang it?”, so I put it on my shoulder like I would do if I was carrying it before I would put it on. The other instructor then said to me “You’re qualified!”. My instructor then gave me a big hug. I couldn’t believe it!
I explained to them about Ushi and the grass throwing game she decided to have, and they said that she probably just had alot of extra energy, and to try playing with her before a spend. They said it was fine to keep her on the long lead as i had been doing, but they didn’t want me to be making a habbit of it. We went into the house after that to go through all the qualification paperwork and that.
First of all, I signed the “guide dog owner agreement”, which is basically a legal document saying that I will basically keep to wat I have been taught and such things. I had to sign two copies, as they gave me one and kept another for their records. We then went through our “qualification pack” that every guide dog owner gets. It contains a couple of booklets concerning what to do when feeding and such, a copy of the “guide dog owner agreement” that I signed, my puppy walkers details, a copy of the “guide dog owner report”, incase I want to fill in the first one in print, a sheet containing all the details about ordering her food, a information sheet that I could take to somewhere like the Cedar foundation, explaining about not feeding the dog titbits, which i thought was very useful, an envelope with a window sticker for a shop or somewhere that says “guide dogs and assistance dogs welcome”, a sticker for a car which says “guide dog on board”, which you could use if you got a taxi regularly somewhere, or a lift, a card tat says “your help welcome”, incase you need sighted assistance, but nobody is around on the pavement, and a wallet containing my Identification card, which I use if i am refused access to a restaurant. It has my photo on it, and it says that I am a registered guide dog owner. It also has a number on the back that they can phone, which explains the law and guide dogs. There is also my district team managers number, the dog care and welfare advisors number, the fundraising lady, and I think that is all. I think that my guide dog mobility instructor for the area was on it, but am not sure. At the back, is a badge that we can wear if we want, which has the guide dogs logo, and says “guide dog owner” underneath. I also got a CD with useful phone numbers and that.
After that, we went upstairs as i wanted the instructors to check to see how much food I had left, just so i didn’t get caught short. They want me to order a bag next week, just to make sure I have some. I have about half a bag there, but they just want me to be prepared. I then handed over my 50 pence, and got another hug from both of them. I was so happy! They are coming out on Friday to take me to the vets, to get Ushi a health check, and just to weigh her and all. Slightly nervous about the weight. I hope I’m still feeding her the right amount. I know i am, but i’m just paranoid lol.
They left after that.
I chilled for a while, and then decided to go for a short walk just around my estate. It was only about 10 minutes. Everything was going grand, until we came to a house with what sounded like 2 or three little dogs outside it. I don’t rememer them being there before when i started my home training. Anyway they were really yappy dogs, and I heard their feet scraping across the ground towards me. My first thought was “I don’t want to go this way. What do i do if these dogs attack Ushi? How do i get them off her?”, so i stopped, and turned around really quickly, and told Ushi to go “straight on!”. She wouldn’t move, and I could hear the dogs coming still. Thankfully, there was a car that had just pulled up (the owners of the house maybe), and I asked them where the dogs were. I was that disorientated that I was in a driveway lol. I asked them a couple of times if the dogs were locked in, and one of the men that was in the car said that he was positive that the dogs were locked behind a gate. I thanked them, and went on my way. Ushi was really distracted by this point, and rushed by the gate. I slowed her down, telling her it was alright, and to “steady”. I think my reaction didn’t help much either. How do I deal with something like that if it happens again? I don’t want to panick all the time.
I got home again, and Ushi has no problem finding the house now, which is good. I just chilled for the rest of the day.
We discovered last night that Ushi was a little madam and was digging in the garden. I have just kept her on the lead at the moment, as i don’t want her running round the garden, and since she is digging, i want to know why she is doing it. We have filled in the hole, but i don’t want to keep her on the lead all the time for spending. Any suggestions as to why she could be digging and how to stop it? I will talk to the instructors on Friday as they are coming to take me to the vets, for Ushi’s monthly weigh in and all.
I read the information I got from my qualification pack, and although I know alot of it, seeing it written down was like jesus! I was exhausted after reading it! I need to get the second part of the third section, as they only gave me the first part, and the other part is quite big I think. It has alot of useful information in it, such as how to deal with fireworks, and dog attacks and stuff. Very useful indeed!
I still can’t quite believe that I am qualified! I thought that because of Monday and Tuesday that I wouldn’t qualify for at least a week!
I will let you all know how tomorrow goes.
I felt fine this morning, but after I had breakfast, i just wanted to crawl back into bed! Unfortunately, I couldn’t do that though.
My instructor left the harness at the door again at about a quarter past 10. We set off, as usual.
I managed to get to the shop with no problems. She seemed rather distracted though. I quickly sorted that out though with a flick of the harness.
When I got to the shop, I chatted for a while with one of the ladies who runs it. I then asked Ushi to “find the door” and we were on our way. When we came out, Ushi just didn’t seem to be going straight. She didn’t walk me round a lamp post either, so I got her to re work it. I went back to the door of the sho, when a guy came up to me. He said that he knew my dad, and that. He said that i was doing really well and all. He asked if i would like some help, and i just said that Ushi was a pain, so i was getting her to do it again. She went on grand, but i wasn’t sure exactly where I was, so i asked if there was a slope going up to my left, as this was the slope i needed to use. He said there was, so I was like oh good! We went on without a hitch.
There were loads of people who offered me sighted assistance, which was nice. I politely told them that i was grand though-although some of them just ssaid that it was safe to cross, so I thanked them, and went on my way. One man came up to me and was like “would you like me to help you across the road as your dog doesn’t seem to be doing what it is told”. (she was sitting waiting like a good girl at the kerb). I couldn’t be bothered explaining that yes she was doing her job, so I just said i was fine, and said “forward” rather forcefully before thanking him. Some people are just weird.
I managed to stay out of the road for this walk which was good. Ushi found home no problem!!!!! Good girl!!
At about 12 o’clock, my instructors came back to do the matching walk. It also went grand, and Ushi wasn’t as distracted, which was good.
We were doing wonderfully until the kerb just before the road to our house. I indent on this kerb, and I usually do it until i get brushed by a hedge that is always there. So i got my brush, and then told Ushi “Up to the kerb”. I crossed as normal, thinking that nothing was wrong. I forgot that my guiding road was on my right, and started to pull Ushi to the right with my lead. Well I didn’t pull her, just gently encouraged her to the right. I couldn’t find my up kerb, and panicked. I thought “there must be a kerb to the right of me”, so I kept going. I found a car parked, and got round it, then told her “In” and “find the step”. I thought I would go on for a couple of steps, to see if i could work out where I was. The other instructor stepped out, and i was like “shit!”. She was like “no shit, we’re going to work this out.”. What had happened was that she had actually straightened herself up, but I had pulled her right. There is a speed bump in the middle of the road, and i should have been on the flat part of the bump, but i was on the part that sloped to the right. We re worked it, and after that we were grand. Again, we found home no bother.
When I got to my door, my rehab worker came over to me to say hi. Apparently he was going down through the estate anyway, and happened to bump into my instructors. He saw all the route!! Damn why did he have to be there when I wondered out into the road! lol. He said that I was doing grand, and to keep up the work and that. It was nice to see him again. In fact, he came round shortly after the walk too, just for a catch up really. He says he is going to come out when we qualify, and we can meet up for a coffee or something. I wasn’t expecting to see him for a while lol.
I didn’t really do much for the rest of the day. We had one problem when i took her out for her spends though. We recently cut our grass, and behind her favourite hedge, where she does her business, it is all kind of in clumps. She then decided to go chasing the grass, and each time i went to get her (when she stops i usually come over and take her collar), and run round the garden throwing grass in the air. She was a total mare, and i gave her a huge correction when I got her. I ended up that i just put her on a long lead and let her spend that way. I only did this for the last spend, because it was raining, and i didn’t want to chase her all night. I will have to have a word with the instructors to see what the craic is. Any suggestions as to how to stop her doing this?
I hope that tomorrow I don’t end up going across the guiding road! It was a minor mistake though, but I did it twice in a row, at different points. I hope it doesn’t happen though! I want to have two really good walks tomorrow, so here’s hoping!
It was quite a crisp morning outside today when I took Ushi out for her morning spend.
The instructors rang me at about 10 o’clock, just to say that they had left the harness outside the door. This was so that Ushi wouldn’t see them, and to give me a bit of confidence in myself and the route, and my confidence in her.
As I was heading out the door, I stepped on the harness lol. Oops. I was sort of dreading the walk a bit because I wouldn’t have the instructors, but as soon as I gave that “forward” command, we were off.
There was one point where she got really really distracted by a little dog running about on the grassy bit beside me. She was really wild. I told her to “pay attention” and corrected her with the harness. She still was pritty out of control, so I took the lead, and chucked back on the lead, telling her to “leave it” and “straight on”. I held the lead in my right hand for a while afterwards, just to make sure that she didn’t get distracted again. My instructor told me after the walk that that will be as distracted as she will get, where she is really excited and pulling and that, but she won’t be any more distracted if you know what I mean. That was good to know.
The rest of the walk carried on as normal, until she got a bit more distracted by something, but it wasn’t as major as the first distraction.
We just walked on as normal after that, and I even got offered sighted assistance at one point. It is this part further up from a roundabout. I was just standing there, waiting for it to go quiet. A woman with a buggy came up and asked if i needed to get help crossing the road. I just said that I was just waiting for it to go quiet, but thanks anyway. As I walked across the road, I thanked her again, and went on my way.
At this next part, I think I told Ushi to go too far “In”, as i could feel the edge of the wall with my foot. I then just walked on, and we found our straight line.
I got to the shop shortly afterwards. I went in and found the counter, and then waited a minute until I was sure that the instructors weren’t there wanting me to stay in the shop or whatever, and then told Ushi to “find the door”. We then headed back the way we came, with no incident whatsoever.
The only thing was that when we were near home, Ushi couldn’t find it, even though I asked her to “find home” and “where was it” and all. We went round the corner again, so i stopped, and did a “back” turn, while still asking her to “find home”. She stopped outside a door, so I encouraged her to “find the door”, only to realise that there was a fence or something to the side of the door. I thought that maybe the instructors had put something there, but they told me later they hadn’t. So I did a “back” turn, and went up to the kerb. I was so tempted to ask the instructors for help, but I thought “No i’ll work this out”. So I did a “left in front” which is where you stand facing her and do the “over” command, and then told her to “find home” again. We eventually found it lol. The instructors said that if mum pokes her head out to let me know if i am going past the door or something. She is also going to get me windchimes for the door, so that I will know if that is ours. No one else has windchimes up, so that will be good. They say to give her a treat each time we get to “Home”, and then she will deffinetly get me there.
It was an awesome walk, and they said that I handled Ushi perfectly, and that I was able to keep her moving after the distractions, which was good.
I chilled for a bit, until about 12 o’clock when we were heading out for our second walk. The harness was left on the door again. I managed not to step on it this time lol.
We just did the matching walk again. It went without a hitch, and I remembered to do my “left behind” that I forgot yesterday! On this mornings walk, she went up a path that I didn’t want her to go up, but she didn’t do this on the second walk which was great.
I phoned mum once I was on our road just to let her know that I was on the way, and could she stick her head out. We found it no problem!!
It was a really great walk again. They said that technically they could qualify me today, but want me to do those two routes again for a couple more days just to make sure I am totally comfy with everything. So hopefully by Wednesday they said that I should be qualified!! Oh yeah! At the start of the walks I felt kind of worried, but now i’m like “let’s go”! It’s so hard to beliee how far I have come since the start of class to now! I have Ushi for nearly 4 weeks already!
When we got back to the house, the instructor showed me how to put the Halty on. Basically, you put the spongy part on her nose, then clip it round her neck like a collar. You then clip it to her collar, and finally you take the lead off her collar and attach it to the halty. This means that she can’t really pull when she is going for a free run. I only use it until we get to wherever I am free running her. They have allowed me to free run her over the weekend. I am going to have someone sighted with me for the first while, just to make sure that i am cool with getting to where we free run etc. We are going to change the route slightly as we pass the park on our matching walk, so we don’t want her thinking that she is going for a free run each time we do that walk.
I am going to take her for a run on Saturday or sunday. I am thinking more Sunday, so that she is nice and relaxed before work on Monday. Plus it’s great getting in touch with nature on a Sunday!
It was a great end to a week, and I still can’t believe how far I have come. From those very early days, to now. I am not saying that Ushi is perfect, but as I get more confident, I find she doesn’t get so distracted, and whenever she is distracted, I can handle it. Each day our partnership is growing I feel. Maybe i’m wrong by saying this so early on, but I am not as nervous about qualifying as I was before. It prob will be the first time I do it on my own, but tecnically I am doing it already!
Maybe once I am qualified, Ushi can introduce herself on the blog! Depends if she is a good girl lol.
Have a good weekend, and hopefully the weather stays good for the free run!
I felt nice and fresh this morning, which was good.
My instructors came at about half 9 again. The other instructor joined us again.
We first of all headed up to the shop again. I am starting to get more comfortable with the zebra crossings, and know that now the cars deffinetly do stop.
I was able to get up to the shop fine!!! The only thing was, that she was a bit distracted at one part, cause there was grass on one side and some birds. I just told her to “pay attention” and “straight on”. She seemed very sluggish at one point, but then quickened up when I changed my voice.
I found the shop no problem today. She got lots of praise, and a treat.
On the way back, she kept going straight on when I asked her “over” and “find the way”. You do this when you come out of the shop, so that you don’t have to stop and do a turn all the time. We carried on as normal after this, and got back to “home” in no time. I thought that it was pritty cool that I could do it!
I chilled for about half an hour, before my instructor came out again. My dad was joining us on this walk, as they wanted one of my parents just to see how the dog was supposed to behave out on the street. We just did the matching walk again.
At our first kerb that we had to cross, she got a little distracted by a little puppy on the other side of the road. Ushi stopped just before the up kerb, and I started to wonder why. But that was what the craic was. I thought maybe I had stopped her, but I hadn’t.
The walk went great after that, although she was still a bit hesitant at some points. There was one point where she was really really distracted, because she could see the instructors and my dad behind her. I gave her a chuck with the lead, and told her “Straight on” in a firm voice. I kept hold of the lead for a bit, to make sure that she did go straight on. My instructors really backed off after that.
It all went good until one point where I got to a kerb, after the corner for the church. I forgot to do the “left behind”, and instead, just crossed the road, and ended up going diagonally across my “guiding road”. Luckily there were no cars coming. I heard my instructor dash across the road, but she didn’t interrupt me. After that, we got home safely.
Those were the only two mistakes, thank god. I completely forgot about the “left behind” though!! I just wondered as i crossed the road “why is this pavement so wide?” and that was the reason for it. That’ll teach me though!!
Tomorrow they are going to leave the harness at the door, so that Ushi doesn’t see the instructors, and I think to give me a bit of confidence, since I didn’t need them at all today. Oh my god it sounds scarey! They asked if i would feel happy for them to do this, but I said yes, because I would rather do it, rather than worrying all weekend about it. Een still though-talk about nervous! I really hope that everything goes okay, and it’ll really prove that I will be able to qualify eventually! They reckon it won’t be that long until qualification. Scarey times!!
Alot can happen since
Which was a rather bad day. Well it was a “learning day” as the instructors put it. I have learnt alot though in such a short time. I mean I would still be probably making the same mistakes if it wasn’t for Monday to teach me so much!!!
My instructors are so patient. Thank you guys!!
I will let you know how tomorrow goes-time is flying in now with a guide dog!
I totally could have had a duvet day today! I was just so tired! Oh well-you still have to get up and take care of the morning routine, otherwise we would have a very annoyed doggy!
My instructor came at about half 9 again today. We first of all went in the car down to where we did the new part yesterday with the short handle. My instructor got me to take my cane just to look at some of the kerbs, just to see if i could see how wide they were and that.
We first of all got Ushi out of the car, and walked her down the new bit that we had learned yesterday and Monday. There was one point where I was on the zebra crossing, but wasn’t on the tactile. Apparently it doesn’t matter, as long as i’m sure that this is the right crossing. Apparently as soon as you step on any part of the crossing, the cars are meant to stop. The only other problem I had was getting Ushi to “find the shop”. I got her nearly up to it, but she went a bit past it. My instructor suggested that I slow her right down once I feel the rough ground undnerfoot. Then when I tell her to “find the shop”, she should have no bother with it at all.
We headed back to the car after this, and stuck Ushi in the boot while we took out my cane and the short handle. Before anyone thinks that it was an actual boot, it wasn’t-it was an estate car, with the seats in the boot. Only the seats were taken out, and a big duvet was spread out for the dogs to lie on.
I first of all went down the first corner at the church with my cane, first using the inner shoreline, and then following the kerb. The pavement was about 16 paces wide from the wall to the kerb. This was only at the corner, otherwise it was just the width of a normal kerb. I had tensed up my arm always at that point, as i didn’t want to miss my opportunity to go “up to the kerb”. The instructor said that that was pushing her left a bit, and it was really hard for her to move. (We demonstrated this later with the short handle). I basically have to relax my left arm as much as possible, and learn to trust her a bit. It is hard to do though, as as soon as i am not sure of something I tense, without knowing i am, sometimes. Because I was tensing up, Ushi had to practically cling to the kerb, when there could have been room for us to get by just fine in the middle of the pavement. My instructor suggested that I tell Ushi “In” and “straight on” once I got to the corner.
We decided that since Ushi was so distracted yesterday on the corner, that instead of going to the kerb, I would just carry on straight on, until I came to another corner. I would go up to the kerb as usual, but I would do a “left behind”, which is where you tap the side of your leg, and the dog sort of goes around in a half circle kind of. You do this kind of left at a kerb, so that you don’t fall off it, and so that if something drives past, you won’t get hit or brushed by it. On an up kerb you just stand facing her, and telling her “over” and doing the forward motion with your arm. We were kind of going back on ourselves until we came to the corner where we just indented, and then told her “Up to the kerb”. This was like the top of a “T junction”. We would then cross over, and be on the home stretch.
It was quite easy to do after a while, which was good.
We then did the two other kerbs before the house, and then we used the short handle to practice the new corner and that.
After that, we went back to the car as my instructor wanted to explain about how the small block route that we started with joined onto the matching visit walk. We first demonstrated it by using treats simulating the shape of the route without all the kerbs and such. They moved too much, so we used spare collars and leads. They were more stirdy, and it was easier to follow. I started to understand it a bit better then. My instructor is so creative!
We headed back to the car after this. Before we drove home, my instructor showed me on the short handle how difficult it is for Ushi whenever I tense up. I discovered that it was really hard to move, but when i was relaxed, she moved rather nicely.
We got back to the house for a quick break before we decided to go out and do the matching visit walk.
Ushi was a little madam when I went to get her from spending. She started running round the garden each time I went to get her! Calling her wouldn’t work either, so I had to get a little cross. She eventually stopped, and I put the lead on her, and gave her a correction, as she went to run around again on lead. Naughty girl!! Don’t know what was wrong with her!
Well I only had two mistakes on this walk. One was where I wasn’t far enough round the corner on a “rounded kerb”, so I did a left behind, and then went on further round. Ushi was then trying to guide me, but I stopped her. My instructor said that I need to let her do her job, or else confidently tell her where to go to. So I did a “back turn”, and re approached the corner. Once I got that, I could cross no bother. The second mistake was that we went past our house!!! Ushi was sniffing and all, and usually she finds the door, so I walked on until I got to the corner at the bottom of our street. I did a “back turn” again, and my instructor started saying to me to tell her to “find home” in a really excited voice. She practically raced home! It was a great walk-I just need to remember to stay confident and give her directions, and be aware of my orientation.
My dad is going to accompany us tomorrow for the second walk, just to observe us working, and so that he feels a bit more relaxed about me going out on my own. (it might be a different story for me though!). Don’t tell anyone though-but i have a little feeling that maybe I will qualify tomorrow. I don’t know for sure, but I just got the feeling earlier. Will let you know what happens though!
I am pleased to say that today was a much much better walk than yesterday.
My instructor came at about half 9. The other instructor was away somewhere else.
We first of all drove down to the new part of the route we learned yesterday, to do it on the short handle. We just did this part, and didn’t start back at the house. I learnt that at one point there is a “zebra crossing”, and that cars are meant to stop there, and if they don’t, they can get into trouble. I just wanted to make sure that the cars would stop, and it wasn’t just a case of them sometimes stopping.
We went through some of the bits I had trouble with yesterday too, before going back to the car to get Ushi.
We just concentrated on the new bit, and the only real problem we had was that I told her to “find the shop” and she took me up an entrance way which was just beside where the door was. I think I told her too early lol. I then missed where I was meant to tell her “Over” as we were going up a slope, and I wanted her to find the right part of the slope. Apart from that, it was a really good walk.
We headed back to the house for about half an hour, so that we could chill before we did the full walk that we did yesterday. We weren’t going to the shop this time, just continuing straight on. It was g great! Up until the last corner before we would cross over. She saw a rather playful dog. I thought that she had stopped because there was an obsticle, so I got her to go up to the kerb. I tried asking her to go straight on a couple of times, but she wouldn’t go, so the kerb was the next option. She was still really distracted, and my instructor said to give her a major correction for that. I did, and was quite firm with her all the rest of the way home, which wasn’t that long. I was then crossing at one point, and crossed over, but i think I had the lead in my right hand, and she was going right a bit too much. She ended up going on a speed bump, so I got really nervous, as I couldn’t find my kerb. I got her to go up to the kerb, and I tried to work out what the craic was. I had a listen to my traffic, and eventually with my instructors help, got her to do a right turn, and we were on the home straight. I think though that I just need to only hold the lead out slightly when I am using it, as it keeps her straighter.
Both walks were brilliant up until the point where she got all distracted. I thought “Ya had to go and ruen it!”. It’s a good job guide dogs can’t read our thoughts lol.
I am so glad that today was a much better day. I think too that yesterday was so horrible was that I was thinking a bit too far ahead, rather than getting to each down kerb. Oh well. I think because I was thinking about the kerb where I had to keep Ushi “In” threw me a bit.
The instructors said that yesterday was a “learning day”. I still didn’t think it was, but they would rather I made mistakes now rather than when I qualify.
Here’s hoping that tomorrow is a better day too!!. It feels so great to finally have all the days written, and not having to backdate any more. Thanks again guys for all the lovely comments.