Sunday, 29 November 2009

Guide Dog Training: Week 2

And the exhaustion continues! Last night I felt so ill and today I'm no better. I'm completely run down. Here's this week's summary day by day.

The morning was spent walking to the post box, newsagents and post office rewarding Calvin with treats when he found the doors and box. Spoilt paws was slow on the way home again, which was frustrating and it was decided I was going to have to learn a new route home.

Later we got to do off curb obstacles in the pouring rain. Calvin was great at it, not even walking into the traps, but it wasn't very enjoyable. The delight of wet dog. Urgh!

We still stayed in the village, but did the route to the co-op instead of the newsagents and then went around to the post office. Instead of turning back on ourselves we continued round in order for spoilt paws not to slow down. It worked, but it was hard for me learning a new route when I don't rate my mobility.

After arriving home I was taught how to groom again. I'm fine with the brushing side of things, but get all girly when it comes to checking his eyes, nose and paws!

There's nothing like a nice long walk to Narborough train station, Oasis Health and Beauty where I get my massages done and waxing and then onto the doctor's. I was pretty impressed on the way there, but on the return route I was tired and found it difficult to locate where to cross over on a couple of roads. Spoilt paws wasn't much help either slowing down yet again on the way home and I was struggling to stay hyper with my 'hup ups' and 'find the way'! However, I will give Calvin brownie points for treating horse muck as an off curb obstacle! He was intrigued by the sheep we passed, but not amused by the staring goats.

The lovely walk back to Narborough train station and this time we got onto the train heading for Leicester. I was discouraged to discover that Calvin couldn't distinguish where the closed doors were and isn't able to find seats on trains. He squeezed in between the seats though and had fun scavenging for food.

On arrival we walked to the Adult Education Centre where I have my tutorials for my OU degree. He worked well in the crowds and found the crossing boxes well, but insisted on trying to take me into an insurance firm and recruitment agency. Do you think he's trying to tell me something?! Yet of course he tries to take me everywhere except the place I need! I'm not exactly sure where the door is down the street as there are no clues, so I was told it is unlikely he'll be able to find the place. Brilliant and the point of having a Guide Dog is…?

When we arrived back at Narborough train station Mitch said we had to walk to Oasis and the Doctor's again before returning home. God I was just sooooo tired.

The walkie-talkies came out and Mitch was now going to follow us from a greater distance. We were heading back to the Adult Education Centre. By the time we got to the train station I was ready to ring Calvin's neck! He just kept looking back for Mitch, stopping, slowing down, taking me onto the grass, lots of sniffing and generally being a nightmare. I didn't expect it to be so tough. Since he was misbehaving it was disorientating for me too.

I had to take my cane to find the train doors and felt like a muppet with a dog and a cane. Calvin couldn't locate the doors to the Adult Education Centre again and on the way home got me lost in a car park. Oh yeah he couldn't resist the grass either and decided to do a busy.

A new day, forget about the struggles before and everything will go smoothly. In your dreams Selina! We had the walkie-talkies again and were just staying in the village. I cued Calvin in to find the post box and did he heck! He found the newsagents, but then I swear I was saying find the door for the post office forever and he didn't even attempt to find any door never mind the post office. I felt really lost doing the new route home, but was too stubborn to ask for help and managed to find the way. Every dog in Cosby was out to get me, barking at Calvin, which was awful. Then I had the usual of Calvin looking back to see where Mitch was, slowing down, stopping and sniffing. I corrected him so hard at one point the walkie-talkie went flying off me into the road! Whoops!

I'm feeling ill, but can't ignore my duties to the dog. I feel like I've had quite a stressful week and instead of going forward feel like I've gone 10 paces backwards! They say the first year is the hardest. Well on the bright side only 50 more weeks to go!


Anonymous said...

Oh Selina! I didn't think Calven would be such a handful for you! Has your instructor given you any other tips and tricks on how to improve this yet? It's not very convenient for a guide dog to be this way, especially if he's been trained to guide the blind. Let's hope that thigs improve for you over this first year with him; it may simply be teething problems. Troy was terrible with doing busies when I first got him. He treated them like petty time, interupting his work on purpose to go to the toilet, even on the footpath! He occasionally tries it still, but he's about 90% better with all that now! For he his work was always good with rarely atrocious behaviour and the occasional work error, but every guide dog is of course very different. Hopefully Calven is just at the extreme end of the sprectrum of being a handful, because it would be nice for you two to have a lovely life together as he improves his mannerisms.

His trouble guiding you around effectively may just be him trying to get used to you too. Some guide dogs really have a hard time trying to guide a new person around, even if they can guide their instructors almost perfectly with a blind fold on! I guess they're like us: some of us go to Uni or other education centres and learn how to do a job, but when it comes to it a percentage of of us still do atrocious work for a fair while before most of us smooth out the teething issues! Sometimes things don't work out that well, but I believe with your positive attitude and the way you obviously try everything to help and encourage Calven, it should work out, slowly but surely. Sorry, but I had to say that. It's a pity that you and I weren't the lucky handlers to say, "Hey everybody! My first guide dog has gotten his work down pat and all the teething issues have gone away and it's only been three months since I got him!" Something like that.

All the best,


Torie said...

Selina (hope that's spelt right), Calvan seems like a really hard dog to be working with. Have they said that he will always be like this? Have they offered to show you how to manage him better when he's being a brat?

I really hope that things improve, and it really doesn't give me much confidence when it comes to eventually being paired up with my match.

I think he is just testing you to see how far he can get.

My friend told me that he was working his dog one day, and they were in a restaurant, and the dog took a lick at some ladies soup!!!!!!!! That's minor to the problems you are having though!!!!!

Take care, xoxox. Good luck with the rest of this week.

Roshni said...

Oh Celina that’s tough man! Feel so bad for you having to go through so many hurdles after being so excited and optimistic about getting a dog! I myself am in 2 minds about whether or not to have one, for all kinds of reasons, but I love the very frank, open and honest way you are writing about your experiences: I am a huge fan of your blog any way, but this personal, realistic, no-frills style really helps in getting an accurate picture of what having a dog would be like. Keep up the good work! All thoughts, prayers and positive vibes are with you!

Lena Welch said...

Hello Selina

Keep At it things will improve I can tell you the first year is the hardest and Calvin may well be a big dog but again you are only still training and both getting used to each other dont be put off he will get better honestly in a years time you will look back on that blog and think was he ever like that, you will be perfect for each other it was the same with me and Pearce problems crop up from time to time and you have to work together make the effort and at the end of the first year you will be the perfect match so keep up the good work, you are both only finding your feet xxx Lena