Towards the end of October, i had a call about a potential match with a guide dog and was asked if i would like to go for a walk. i really wasn’t expecting this call yet and prepared myself for the fact that it could be up to a year before i could get that call so needless to say, I was more than a little surprised to be hearing something so soon.
an instructor came out to see me the next morning with a potential dog for me. She was a little black lab. This girl was nice and had a good temprament, but she was ever so slightly on her toes in that she was nearly moving before you’d even thought of the “forward” command. It wasn’t a huge difference with her tention, but i think over time i’d have noticed her speed and may have struggled with the tention. The instructor happened to have another little girlie in the car but she really didn’t think they would be good for me as she can take a little while to get confident. I said i would give her a try anyway and i’m glad I did.
As soon as she was braught out of the car to meet me, she went nuts. She started bouncing around me and running in between my legs wagging away to herself. I was beginning to wonder if this would be such a good idea given how lively she was. Once we put the harness on her though, she calmed right down which was a good sign. I decided to do a 20 minute block walk to see what her speed and tention in the harness was like. Immidiatly i knew through the harness that this was a much nicer tention. She was very responsive to my commands and given that we’d never done this route with her, she was pretty good at it.
Once we’d finished the walk, we decided that it would be a good idea to walk her on a route that she knew, so i got the train up to Holywood roughly a week later to walk with her again. This time was a lot calmer when she greeted me which was good to see. She was still very wiggly out of harness, but she wasn’t bouncing or running in between my legs which was a relief. Again, once the harness went on, she was very calm and focused. There wasn’t much difference in her speed which was good and she was stepping out nicely. We went for a coffee after the walk so that i could see what her social behaviour was like and again, she didn’t disappoint. She lay quietly under the table and fell asleep for a while which was brilliant as i like a dog to know that even though they are not working, i still expect them to lie quietly and not be disruptive.
I did another couple of walks last week and at the start of this week with her and she was brilliant. She can take a while to get her confidence up, but the instructors have told me that this will come in time and not to pile too much on her for a while. She is very confident in busy conditions and gets a lot of her confidence from whoever is working her. She is very mature when she is working and doesn’t like to get things wrong. This was totally different with Ushi who really dug her heels in and needed me to be quite firm at times. Sometimes, the walks did feel a little disjointed or something, but i had worked Ushi for 7 and a half years, so this is starting from scratch.
Now that the IS have been dotted and the Ts crossed, i will start training on the 26th November with Vivvy. I realy can’t wait and at least this time i will know what to expect in a way. I will be training at the La Mon again for two weeks before starting my home routes. I really do think she will be another great match and in time we will be out flying again. It still hasn’t really sunken in yet though as i honestly thought i’d be waiting at least a year before another dog that could cope with my expanding work load was found but it is quicker than i thought. Here are two more photos to finish. She is looking at me in all of them. Here’s to the next chapter of guide dog ownership 🙂