The first free run – Training with Ike my new guide dog

Running wild!

Ike sitts at the top of some wooden steps looking like royalty.

On Saturday I took Ike on his first free run. Free runs are where the dog gets to forget about work for a while. All training and commands basically go out the window for an hour or so. Guide dogs ordinarily get a free run every week to let them burn off some steam but because I was working hard on getting Ike’s routine settled he hadn’t had one for two and a half weeks. This is something that most guide dog users need to do after qualifying. It’s not usually a good idea to free run the dog too soon after leaving the centre

Shows Ike with the boyne beside him.
I took Ike to a place called Townly hall in Drogheda. It’s a forest with defined paths and walking routes and all dogs love it. It’s very quiet and out of the way and there is a lot for dogs to run around and sniff. There are paths that have a hundred feet drop to the road on one side so it’s not somewhere I’d walk around on my own but the walk areas are about three feet wide so their reasonably safe. Ike had no problems with it. He wasn’t silly enough to chance going too far over to the edge as I expected. It made for some great pictures though. As always, Emma had the camera at hand to catch pictures that thought my blog readers would appreciate. I’m also hoping to send a few of these to Ike’s puppy walker to show that he’s enjoying his new life here and to also show my appreciation for the fantastic work she has done.

Before Ike went on his free run I had a favour to do for someone. I had to give people a hand move some furniture, carpets and a large chest freezer from a shed back into the house. Ike let me down here. I wasn’t happy with him at all but this is because it’s hard to not have certain expectations. I could trust Freddie to sit at one side or at most follow me while I was doing whatever it was that needed to be done. Ike instead decided to go tearing into a field. I understand he saw the open spaces and he thought it was a perfect opportunity to go running off but this is unacceptable. I understand he wasn’t officially working however he should at least have been obedient. If this doesn’t improve I don’t know how I’ll handle him in these kinds of situations. I’m not use to paying a dog attention or locking him away when I have physical work to do. Locking him away somewhere doesn’t seem fair. I need him to understand that he can have freedom but he has to come back when I call him. Yesterday when I called him back he ignored me. When he eventually came back he just wanted to play. This isn’t like him either. When he’s free running his recall is fantastic! I tried to explain yesterday that this was completely out of character for him but I was trying to convince myself more than anyone else though.

Anyway. That’s all done and over with. It has me a bit worried because there are a number of situations I find I can’t trust him in as much as I could trust Freddie but I’ll keep it up and see how it gets on.

Ike is fighting with the branch of a tree.
As you’ll see from the pictures Ike really enjoyed himself. For those who can’t, take my word for it. He got to run around like a crazy thing. He stuck his nose in everything and he got to play with a tree. Yes. A tree. I don’t know why he decided to pull out of a tree branch. The branch obviously annoyed him in some way so he decided it needed to be grabbed and pulled. When it comes to this kind of thing. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s probably better to ask less questions and just let him get on with it.

For those who have been keeping up with these posts, you may be happy to read that since last Tuesday he has not spent on a walk once. He has relieved himself twice a day. Once in the morning and once again in the afternoon. Because the free run would have messed up his routine I’m a little concerned about Monday but I’m hopeful at the same time.

Ike looks at a fallen tree bridging a gap. "To cross or not to cross. that is the question..."
Ike crosses a wooden bridge. There's a waterfall on one side and a large drop on the other.
There's loads of interesting things to sniff here.
I'm almost on my knees. Ike is sitting beside me and you can see the river Boyne in the distance
They got me in one.
Ike decided he wasn't finished walking so was off to do another nature walk when we were on the way back.
Ike decided he wasn't finished.