Those of you who know me will be aware that I am a bit of a coffee addict and costa is a regular haunt, so going for a coffee with Fable was another important first for us. It also showed me how well she will behave when we go out for dinner with friends (another favourite thing of mine).
Before I could indulge in a coffee and cake we walked to work which is just over 2 miles. I had started doing this recently with my long cane but its so much more enjoyable with my new friend. Our Guide Dog Mobility Instructor stayed out of our way today and stalked us from a distance to see if we were safe and independent (I’ve realised that being a competent stalker seems to be a skill of all those working for Guide Dogs) 🙂 We did really well apparently; there were some minor corrections in terms of my commands but our GMDI said my handling skills were really improved over the last few days and we were safe and independent today.
I have managed to get Fable’s slow faffing and sniffing under control by using her lead and some up beat verbal encouragement so she keeps a good pace now. There were a couple of instances where she was showing some scavenging behaviour and on one occasion I noticed just in the nick of time something hanging our of her mouth which I was able to grab before she inhaled it; it was a piece of bread! She is so quick you have to be constantly aware of what she’s up to! Our GDMI explained how important it is to get any food she picks up out of her mouth before she swallows it; this is because if she does ingest it she will get a reward and this increases her desire to do this, which is not something you want from a guide dog as it could distract them and slow down the journey, as well as being a bit anti-social and it might cause stomach problems which are best avoided! My next challenge is to be able to give her a firm correction, both verbally and using the harness or lead. I think I’ve been a bit scared to hurt her but our GDMI assures me I won’t and has taught me the correct technique; I just need to be firmer now. So if you ever see a Guide Dog Owner firmly correcting their guide dog with he harness or lead, don’t be alarmed, obviously they shouldn’t be physically abusing their dog but a short sharp correction using the harness or lead is acceptable and won’t harm the dog as long as their good behaviour is rewarded and encouraged positively too. I was thinking to myself today as I walked along telling Fable how good she was and encouraging her to keep her trotting pace up that if anyone heard me they would think I was mad. However, our GDMI said that she had noticed how many people we passed smiled at us because of my warm positive encouragement; I’m really glad this comes across to people because I really am amazed by Fable!
I seem to have spent a lot of time describing the behaviour of some irresponsible dog owners, so I thought I should tell you a positive experience. I didn’t actually see this but apparently there was a lady walking with 4 or 5 dogs who had spotted Fable and I crossing the road. She paused far enough away for her dogs not to bother Fable and let us get on our way before continuing. I’d like to thank this lady and her dogs, it just goes to show that with the right training and owner attitude one person can effectively control more than 1 dog.
We went into work and Fable settled under my desk again. She was so good that she was able to say hello to my manger who gave her some fuss. It will be nice for Fable to be able to get some fuss and love from my colleagues when we get to work but its important that this is when she is up and on her lead with me, not when she is resting on her bed under my desk as she needs to rest and stay settled to allow me to do my job.
Our trip to Costa was also a success and we had another good journey home.
I probably don’t need to tell what Fable is doing as I write this; yes that’s right she is asleep 🙂