Day 7 – Training with Ike my new guide dog

Happy days are here again.

Ike is standing with the ragger in his mouth.  the frilly bits are sticking out each end.  Darragh has a hold of one side. Ike is giving it all he's got trying to pull it back.
So, this morning started like the usual morning. I won’t go into it in much detail. Fortunately we got both a solid and a liquid spend from the dog. Basically, he both pee’d and poo’d. The first walk was around a shopping centre. We worked around a busy super market, up and down elevators or lifts depending on what part of the world you are reading this in and we also did some normal work on a few quiet streets. It went very well until a short time after we left the shopping centre. When unfortunately, we had a problem. He decided that he needed to spend again. By making him sit every few minutes we made him back to the bus and let him spend right away when we returned to the training centre. He of course had a different idea. When we got back he had a liquid spend but it was two hours later when he decided to let out the solid one. It worked out quite well though because this may actually work out to be his spending routine every day. One solid and liquid spend in the morning, another solid and liquid spend at lunch and then for the rest of the day he should just have liquid spends. That would make things very manageable when we get home and return to work as at 1PM I will bring him to a local park where he can relieve himself before returning for the afternoon. I know I’ve mention the schedule that the dog will hopefully adopt to relieve him self on three posts now so I think I should explain. If the dogs spending rutine is not regular and reasonably stable then there could be a possibility that the dog would need to spend while working. As you can probably understand, this would be less than desireable.

For the time between walks I gave him plenty of attention and ensured he was very relaxed. We did a lot of playing and because he likes giving me a toy when someone comes to the door or when I get him worked up I put the Kong away and left the ragger out. I’ve been very careful with him for the past week to ensure he doesn’t chew the material out of the ragger but he seems to be very happy sitting with it after a play session. I have had two people verify this for me just in case. Now, I still think I will leave the Kong with him when he’s on his own instead of the ragger simply because if he gets stressed due to being on his own, he may decide to take it out on the ragger. Having the Kong to chew would be safer because it’s more durable. You may ask why use the ragger instead of the Kong for playing? It’s just personal preference. I prefer it because I find it easier to find when it’s in the dogs mouth and it’s easier to pull off them when their playing and Ike loves it because he really enjoys a good vicious game of tug of war.

On the second walk, he had to navigate me around a lot of obstacles. We were in an area heavily populated by students. It was also right after lunch time so in a small area there were some remains of food and or wrappers. It was also bin day so He had a lot of work to do to ensure I didn’t walk into anything. In fairness to him, he did a fantastic job. We brushed against a few bins but he knew they were there and he was very cautious while approaching them and even stopped before I confirmed that he could continue on so his work here was really very good. I find that he judges right shoulder work very well. To explain, right shoulder work is where the dog needs to assess where your right shoulder is and how much space he requires to comfortably clear the object or objects ahead.

Most important during this walk was the change in Ike’s attitude. This was definitely a fantastic change for me because I think it will solve a lot of issues that we’ve had up to now. Instead of looking to the trainer for praise or reassurance when his confidence dipped he started looking over at me. It didn’t happen right away on the walk but it wasn’t even five minutes in before he started. I’m sure we’ll regress into the dog looking for Simon tomorrow or even for a few walks during the week but at least the process has started.

A funny thing that I had to handle today is something Emma knows all too well. When standing at a crossing, I really hate it when people stand in front of me. Every time a car comes our direction I cringe. If I am at the edge of the path surely there on the road? Or, even if their shoulder is just sticking out, this is enough to cause a serious injury. I have been saying this to Emma for years now and to be fair, she no longer stands in front of me when we’re talking while waiting for the lights to change to allow us to cross. Today, I had to ask the trainer to do the same. I’m sorry to anyone who does it when I’m around but it’s something I can’t help. I really just hate it. When you’re with me, just stand normally when you’re talking to me while waiting to cross a road. Please Please Please don’t stand in front of me. Thanks….

Since the walk today, we haven’t been up to much. I now have instruments down here so I’m spending my time playing with Ike, giving him plenty of walks and obedience reminders and of course, I’m writing this post. The evenings here are very quiet so the explanation of the activities has already been written in previous posts.

Just to recap, I’m happy with Ike’s progress now. We’re improving a lot slower than I’d like but we’re improving and that’s something that I’m really glad about. I can certainly see a day where we’re relaxed while walking to the train station in Dublin ready to go home for the night and I’m looking forward to it.

Do any of you have any questions or comments? Please feel free to contact me.