Its been a really tough weekend for Team Mable! I didn’t’ really want to write this blog because its going to have a few low points but I feel I owe it to my myself and anyone reading this to be honest about the highs and lows of this process.
I was feeling so positive on Friday; Fable and I had a lovely and very successful day. I went out for a couple of glasses of bubbles with my colleagues and it was lovely to catch up with them all after being away from work for nearly 4 weeks. I’m really lucky to have so much support from my team at work. Fable was happy enough when I got home after 3 hours and we had a few cuddles after I let her out for a wee.
Yesterday afternoon we went for a free run in the local common, the same place we had been with our GDMI> I went with one of my oldest and best friends and we walked there with Fable on her hauti lead. It was a beautiful walk and we practiced some obedience work and a couple of excellent recalls on lead before I let her “go free”.My GDMI had advised to avoid children playing with balls and lots of people with picnics and had suggested if I was on my own to chose a path with trees rather than the open area. Here was my first mistake; the open area didn’t look busy and so I decided to try letting her off here as I had my friend with me to keep an eye on her. Within a couple of minutes a man came over and said she had got his sons ball and burst it, I apologised and he was really nice about it. I recalled her with the whistle and cheese and she came immediately. I put the lead back on and we left the area. She was so quick we didn’t even see her get the ball but clearly I need to listen to my GDMI and completely avoid this kind of situation as her natural dog behaviour will mean she does chase balls if she sees them and I can’t see well enough to anticipate this situation. Not something I want to repeat in a hurry that’s for sure! The rest of the free run was really lovely and we went for a coffee with my friend; Fable was really well behaved and sat under the table while we chatted.
Just before bed I let Fable out for a “busy” as usual. She relieved herself but this time she didn’t come in as usual with me calling “come fable” from the doorway. I showed her the treat bag as this usually works but she just stood there looking defiantly at me. I went inside for a few minutes but she just looked at me through the window as if to say “I know you’re still there and haven’t left me”. I kept trying with the biscuit a few times but with no success. I then tried to get her to come for one of her toys but again she was too quick for me and got it and took it away. At this point I started to get a bit stressed which I know is the worst thing I could do but I couldn’t help it. I left her there again for a couple of minutes but as my garden is not secure, (from the perspective of people passing and stealing her than her escaping), I didn’t want to take my eyes off her, which of course she was well aware of. So at this point I resorted to the whistle and cheese which never fails on a free run, however, this time nothing!! I was starting to get upset at this point and came in, I was crying and as I sat down on the arm of the sofa in despair in the came in with her toy full of affection and love. I gave her lots of attention and cuddles and we went to bed.
I had a fairly sleepless night wondering what I was going to do. I kept thinking what would my GDMI say? I emailed her but didn’t call as clearly it wasn’t urgent and decided by the morning that I was going to go back to taking her out on the lead to spend and that we weren’t going to play in the garden anymore. I think I may be paying the price for our lovely play session out there on Friday and Saturday morning. My instincts were telling me that I needed to re-establish the rules and that I had given her an inch and she had taken a mile. So that’s what’s happened today I’m afraid. I feel a bit sad about the fact that she has to spend on the lead and can’t play in the garden but I knew I couldn’t cope with another event like last night and that if I got stressed out she would too. I have had a reply from my GDMI and I’m relieved to say she said I had been right to follow my instincts – phew 🙂
On a more positive note we went to the gym this morning for my first training session in 4 weeks! She settled really well in the office with the Manager, who has been really supportive and is really keen to do the right things to support me returning to the gym with Fable. I only did half an hour and designed a programme that allowed me to have long enough rest periods to keep popping back to check on her. She has a blanket, a water bowl, a tie line and I made a little sign asking people not to disturb her. The walk there and back on harness was really good.
We went to a pub for lunch with my Mum and Dad and she was very well behaved under the table while we ate.
This afternoon I popped to the local shop with Fable on harness and she did a great bit of work stopping for a car coming out of the car park, she found the shop, the door and stopped when she noticed a narrow gap between some bins and oncoming pedestrians. I often think Fable is at her happiest when she is working, which is good as when we return to work this week she will have a 2 mile walk morning and evening.
All in all a weekend of highs and lows and I have to admin last night I did wonder for a brief second why I had done this as its so hard not knowing if you’re doing the right thing or not. I have had a lot of support from other Guide Dog Owners, puppy walkers etc via a social media group and I really appreciate my GDMI replying to my email so quickly. Apparently this is all very normal. I’m feeling a lot happier tonight though and looking forward to gradually getting back to a routine this week; I think Fable needs it too.
It came as a bit of a shock this weekend but I think this is where the real work begins!