The first days back at work – Training with Mr Banks my new guide dog

So far so good.

I am really trying not to say that things are going brilliantly because the day I do that I know something will go wrong but at this stage, what I will say is, “so far so good”. It was a running joke between the instructor and I actually. Every bit of positive feedback he’d give was supplemented by “to date”. It was the same as what I’m doing now. Things are going well but this is still the start of this partnership. I am still open to the possibility that something might crop up that must be worked around.

This week his spending routine seems to have become much more established. Once in the morning and once late at night. This is brilliant because I was a little concerned about this for a day or two. Not because anything happened but because I was a little on edge after some previous experiences. To be completely honest, I’m still living in constant dread that it will happen again but I know logically that what happened before wasn’t my fault and the situation is completely different this time so I have no grounds to base my irrational worries on. The illogical part of my head can’t help worrying though. Nama is putting my mind at ease with each day though. He gets up in the morning, jumps around the place like a mad thing, plays for a while, relieves himself, plays for another few minutes then it’s straight to work. To the train or bus, into Dublin, to the office and then a sleep. During Lunch he easily negotiates the route to Stephen’s green, relieves himself again then it’s back to the office for another sleep before it’s time to go home. Now, as things get a bit busier we’ll spend more time out of the office in other buildings however for the moment I’m keeping things a little more straight forward. When our evening routine hasn’t been set yet though. I don’t want to overdo it yet but I’m looking forward to getting out of here at night. With the time of year it is I’m not particularly bothered by being stuck in the house though so it’s a nice time to have a new dog. He’s spending a lot of time playing and generally getting lodes of contact with me. He runs around the front garden a bit, plays with the Cong or ragger and tries to eat my clothes. Yes. You read that right. He is a really mouthy dog. It only seems to be with me though. He grabs onto my clothes when he’s playing. I don’t know how he manages it but he never actually grabs my hands or arms intentionally and if for some reason he misses his target he lets go astonishingly quickly. It’s just all part of the way he plays. Absolutely everything here at the moment is fair game. If it’s left down and he can pick it up then it’s likely that he’ll run off with it. He doesn’t chew anything but he likes to bring things around with him. Fortunately I’ve been able to restrict his carrying to a bone or his Cong because that could get very irritating but in the morning when he’s really giddy he can run off with some socks quite easily. It’s very funny really. You get clothes out to get dressed and within seconds they’ve been pinched and you can hear him out on the landing wagging his tail. As soon as I walk over he drops them. It’s just a silly way of getting attention. I know that he’ll stop it shortly when he realises it doesn’t go his way. It’s very funny but although I know he’s just playing he needs to know what’s acceptable.

There’s just one minor problem with his work but I’ll get this sorted over the next few days. When we go to the park during lunch he doesn’t want to return to the office afterword. The instructor thought this was that the path at the top of Dawson Street was too busy and narrow and he was getting a little uncertain but I’m not so sure any more. Think of this. We go out of the park and turn right. The crossing is on our left. Although he has now found this crossing at least eight times now, he never does it the first time. When he eventually finds it we cross over and then we need to take a kind of left turn down Dawson Street. No. He wants to turn right. I’ve tried talking to him, giving him very specific directions, going forward toward his head to strengthen the direction that he should go in, I’ve sat him down for a quick chat and I’ve even tried a gentle correction. No. He just doesn’t want to go that way. He will do it eventually but it’s easy to pick up the signs that he would rather be somewhere else. Same when we try to turn right onto Molesworth Street. We go straight to the crossing then do a right turn. No. He wants to go back up Dawson Street! So, we do a formal left turn and that gives him no choice. He has to go that way. Again, for the first few steps he doesn’t want to be there at all. Then we need to cross Molesworth Street to south Fredrick Street. Do you think he’ll go to the curb right away? Not on your life! We walk a good twenty steps more than we actually need to before he’ll finally find the curb. This is just silly! We find the curb and instead of going down south Fredrick Street he wants to continue down Molesworth Street. We finally get to the office and he finds the steps as if it was his idea to go this way all along. The tail is wagging as he installs himself under the floating window desk, the walk is confident and the tension through the harness is fantastic. Now, I’m imposing human emotions and psychology onto a dog and I am aware that there are a number of factors on this route that may also contribute to the exhibited behaviour. At the crossing outside Stephens green there are a lot of leaves. These may be putting him off. At the top of Dawson Street there are a lot of restaurants, people eating and people walking in every direction. At the Dawson Street side of Molesworth Street there are also a lot of leaves on the ground and finally, crossing MolesWorth Street, cars seem to be parking on a bad area of the foot path. However, all of these obstructions and distractions should be easy enough for him to handle as after all, he navigates them all with ease going the other direction. There are a few things I’m going to do to try to resolve this. I’ll give him a treat of food when we get to the mention house on Dawson Street. This should help give some encouragement for that area. I know he’s driven by food and he’s probably trying not to be distracted by the restaurants that we’re passing so this will give him something to work toward. Finally, when we get into work after lunch I’m going to get a few of the dog lovers to make a fuss of him. This added reward when he gets back to the office will be a huge source of positivity for him because although I am and will be the main source of attention, he loves to walk around to talk to other people when I provide permission.

He’s great while in the office. He hardly moves at all. If I get up to talk to someone he follows me around but that’s absolutely fine. In meetings he has to learn that he needs to stay down but with some more experience he’ll pick up on this. I was a bit concerned at what his behaviour would be like while in the office because he’s always such an interactive dog that likes so much attention. I was afraid that he’d continue to demand that attention while in the office. I’m really happy to see that he associates the office as a social environment where he must behave accordingly.

He’s still my little shadow while at home. As soon as I get up from a chair he’s up beside me waiting to go. Even if it’s just out to the kitchen, bathroom, or to the washing machine he wants to be involved with everything! Again, when in a new environment this is quite normal and I will start to control it a little as time goes on if it doesn’t subside naturally. At least now, he lets me close the door to the bathroom without crying! That’s a nice start anyway.


2 Responses to The first days back at work – Training with Mr Banks my new guide dog

  1. He is a grand little fella and it was great meeting him on Saturday. Orrin certainly enjoyed the company and I think that getting out and about and meeting people and dogs is doing her the world of good. She is sensitive in ways that you may not be use to unless you had a dog like that but I think that, your previous experience will give you some ideas as to what I am talking about. We don’t mind though and we are getting stronger as a unit together. I think its great that you are thinking of why he may be expressing a lack of confidence or just a lack of clarity with a route. In order to get to the but of a problem you need to be able to think of all possibilities, and I think that while some people may think you are over analysing I think this is good. It may be just a little stubbern thing though so just watch that you don’t over do it. All in all, I think he has done superb given the time he has had with you so far.

  2. I wouldn’t blame him for not wanting to go back to an office. I know how he feels!