It’s quite amazing when you think about it.

Ike is now almost at the end of his sixth week out of the training centre for Irish guide dogs in Cork. Already he has done a lot even though I’ve been taking it very easy and I have been trying to keep his routine very stagnant. Look at some of the routes he’s been guide me through.

From home to work. That’s a combination of very narrow paths, rounded kerbs, main roads and controlled and uncontrolled crossings. He does this twice a day every day from Monday to Friday and I think he could do it in his sleep at this stage.

From Pearce street station to work. It’s less than a ten minute walk but he has controlled and uncontrolled crossings, massive crowds going in every direction and some really tight turns.

From work to Stephens green. This is less than a ten minute walk as well but parts of it are really crowded and there is a high volume of traffic on one of the uncontrolled crossings. There are also some very narrow paths and he has to walk past a place where people eat outside so it can’t be easy on him. Because there’s so much going on he seems to love this route.

That’s the Monday to Friday routes out of the way. The other things he’s learning are:

From home into the centre of town in Drogheda.

From Home to my parents house.

From home to the local Pub….. What can I say…
From home to the bus station.

I have tried not to work him more than I absolutely have to outside his normal routes so I haven’t walked to any friends houses in the area because he has a hell of a lot to learn and take in. Giving him too much too soon would do a lot more harm than good. At the moment he’s enjoying the Monday to Friday routes. The other places we go to are more to give Ike the idea that we don’t always go to the same place over and over again and we’ll regularly go places that he won’t have been to before and he’ll have to take his directions from me.

For example, last week we had to go to a specific gate in Dublin castle. I wasn’t entirely sure where I was going but I had a good idea. I used the GPS to get turn by turn instructions and although we actually ended up at the gate after the one I had intended to stop at, Ike took the instructions I gave to him perfectly.

We’ve also been to buildings around this area, into crampt basements and really noisy server rooms but Ike has taken it all in his stride. So much so that he now knows that he’s better off just sitting beside the room UPS’s because it’s nice and warm in that part of the room so I can go into the adjoining server room to do whatever I need to do. When I come out he’s usually a sleep so I have to spend a minute waking him up. Seriously! I don’t mean to sound bad but this dog is the laziest animal I have ever come across in my life! When he’s a sleep it takes a rocket up his behind to get him moving again! I’m not bothered though. It’s nice that he relaxes so easily.

Ike has also travelled with me to Carlow, he’s sat through two long days in a recording studio and he’s already worked through six different train stations. Are you keeping in mind that I’m taking it easy at the moment? I haven’t even given him a quarter of what he’ll be expected to do every day yet. I’m only doing the essentials with him but he’s very easy going and doesn’t mind when I throw something new his direction.

Because his ability to work through crowds and safely find paths between people I’ve also done a few walks through Grafton Street at lunch times. I generally only do one walk through there a week but it’s been a great way of helping him understand what I want from him. I’m not in any hurry so I can give him time to find the comfortable way through it. I can also stop and reassure him and give loads of praise when he needs it. As a result, he now does exactly what I want. He understands when I point towards the right then he should walk that way so I’m along the shop fronts on the right or if I point left then we should walk down that side of the road. This makes it nice and easy when I’m trying to find a specific shop. It’s pointless letting him walk down the right if the shop I want to find isn’t there. When I got him first he only wanted to walk down the left and even when I crossed over to the other side he wasn’t completely happy. Oh. He also kept trying to pull me into Stephens green shopping centre. I wonder if his puppy walker took him in there? He seems to know that area a little. For example he has taken me up to the crossing at the Stephens green end of Grafton Street without me giving him a clear command or a clear direction. In fact, I had been disorientated at the time by people collecting somewhere because they were generating a lot of noise, there wasn’t much traffic on the road at the time and there was a very large crowd of people moving in every direction. Given a few minutes I’m sure I would have figured it out but it was nice that Ike was able to confidently take over.

I was asked this morning from 0 to 100 how I rank Ike’s work. I had to say 98. Considering we have only been working together for just under two months that’s incredible!

There is one lingering issue though that is driving me crazy and it simply has to stop. He is continuing to relieve himself while working. This is something I have asked the centre about and in fairness to them they are actively giving me advice and they have had discussions among the trainers however I’m still encountering this problem almost every day. It’s horrible when sometimes you just don’t want to go out because you know your dog is going to embarrass you by taking a dump on the foot path.