And yes before you ask I did catch myself singing this to Fable one morning on our way to work 🙂 Apparently chatting to your Guide Dog helps with bonding and builds their confidence; if that is the case we must be inseparable by now and Fable will be the most confident Guide Dog ever and I don’t care if people thing I’m mad!
Its been a tiring week for us both, I went back to work on Wednesday and by this afternoon I was completely exhausted, not so much by work but by having to think about other things at the same time as making sure Fable is ok. My Manager and my colleagues have been amazing; I’m really lucky. I share an office with four other people and one of them bought in an old cot mattress for Fable and when she didn’t seem to be settling under my desk (she kept creeping out so that I was in danger of running over her paws with my office chair), they suggested moving some filing cabinets so she had a bit more space. As you can see from the photos I think she has the best workstation in our office now!
She has settled well and has had some fuss some a few of my colleagues, I’m trying to keep this to a minimum while she settles in, and only when she is on her lead rather than on her bed, as she needs to learn that she won’t get attention every time someone comes into the office; we do need to work after all!
For me one of the hardest things about going back to work is that so many lovely people have stopped to try and chat and ask how I’m doing as we move around the hospital, they have been so good about not distracting Fable while she’s working but the funny thing is its me who doesn’t seem to be able to multitask. I have had to say to people that I can’t talk and work with Fable at the same time. I hope they don’t think I’m being rude though. Not that I’d know but apparently its like learning to drive, to begin with you have to think about every move but as it becomes more natural you find you can hold a conversation too. When I’m working with Fable I have to make sure my foot position, hand gestures, posture and voice are consistent for her. I also have to reward her when she does something brilliant (which she does on a regular basis) and watch out for her sniffing and scavenging behaviours so that I can effectively correct her. Just getting me and Fable out of the house and to work on time feels like a major achievement at the moment.
Fable has done a brilliant job this week; she surprises me regularly how she spots things I haven’t. Her right shoulder work (this is where she takes into account objects on my right side even though she is on my left), and overhead obstacle avoidance is almost flawless. Yesterday she slowed just before we got to wheelie bin which had been there all week so I was expecting it,but she stopped too soon. I praised her for stopping, had a look around and was ready with a forward when suddenly a child on a bike came towards us on the path! With my level of functional vision this kind of thing is going to make such a huge difference to me.
The other thing I noticed yesterday was just how good she is at working through the busy hospital corridors; she even speeds up and slows down depending on how busy it is.
Walking home last night with the sun shining, I also noticed that as we were walking into the sun I wasn’t screwing my eyes up or having to shied my eyes in order to be able to see (being an albino makes my eyes very sensitive to sunlight so this used to be a real issue for me), however, I suddenly realised that I was walking along with my head up completely trusting Fable; it was a really special moment for me 🙂
I tried another play session in the garden with Fable today, the first since her naughty refusa; to come in last Saturday. I had discussed this my Guide Dog Mobility Instructor on the phone yesterday and we agreed that doing this after work would be the best idea. Fable will be nearly ready for dinner so if recall fails I can at least tempt her with a small dinner and then give her rest when she has calmed down. I will also have enough time to allow her to play and get tired and it will mean that she has the opportunity to use up some pent up energy after a hard day at work. you’ll be pleased to hear it all went very well! I played with her when she bought me her toy but made no attempt to try and get it. I came in and out, sat in a chair in the sun and watered the plants etc. In the end she came to me with her toy which I rewarded with a biscuit. We played a bit of tug and she went a bit crazy. Then when she calmed down I was able to take the toy, tell her to wait while I put it inside and then she came to me on command and I gave her a biscuit – success!
I also had a lovely email from Fable’s Puppy Walker in response to my thank you card. It was so lovely to hear some stories about Fable as a pup and she sent me some cute baby photos 🙂 The really spooky thing is that we are both physiotherapists, how weird is that?! This lady has done a wonderful job and I’m very grateful to her; Fable is a beautiful, affectionate, bright .dog who is going to change my life – I hope she is very proud of Fable
So getting back to normal life has been good; we needed to get into a routine but it has been much harder that I had expected. In our little bubble Fable and I are a brilliant team and now its time for the next challenge; we need to be able to integrate our partnership into every day life.