I’m writing this having just got home from our first bus trip and shopping trip and I feel a little emotional. Its the first time I have ever gone into town on my own (well with Fable but without relying on another person), without using a taxi! There were several times when I thought I was going to cry; once again I totally underestimated how stressful this first new experience was going to be.We had been on a bus during our training and had visited a shopping centre but this was kind of a new route for us, although I was familiar with most of the shopping centre.
Its funny, after writing the last blog post I’ve really started to realise this week just how small and limited my world really was. If it wasn’t for my amazing friends and family I really wouldn’t have done anything with my life. Over the years I have spend a small fortune avoiding the things I found difficult (like getting into town on my own) or relying on others to go with me or simply avoiding things. I think I just assumed this was how my life was meant to be and got on with it. Now I am beginning to see that with a lot of hard work and having the courage to step that bit further out of my comfort zone, I will be able to enjoy some much needed independence.
So our trip didn’t start too well. We made it to the bus stop and were patiently waiting while people were getting on and off another bus. Then I noticed that the bus I wanted had just driven around the bus stopped at the bus stop!! I checked with someone and sure enough it was the one I wanted; I don’t think that stop is even a request stop so I’m not impressed to say the least! Anyway another one arrived and we got on. There were no accessible seats free and all the others had one person taking up 2 seats so I had to ask someone to move as I needed 2 seats to get Fable safely out of the way.
When we arrived at the shopping centre my opt out option was to go straight to meet my lovely friend and her baby who I was meeting for lunch. I had a few bits to buy and she had offered to do this with me after lunch if I needed her to her. However, I decided that I was going to be brave and do it with Fable. So off we went, this was completely new to Fable; we had visited part of the shopping centre in training but not this sections or shops. She did a brilliant job of following my commands, finding steps and doors. She was well behaved while I looked around a couple of shops. In one of the shops a very helpful assistant asked if I needed any help; I gratefully accepted as it meant I didn’t need to make Fable walk up and down the aisles looking for stuff, another first for me as I would never have accepted or asked for help like this before. . We made it through the shopping centre; Fable is really good at this kind of work and expertly avoids even those people not paying attention to what is in front of them, found the stairs and met my friend.
We had a lovely lunch but Fable was a little unsettled to begin with. She literally licked the floor continually for a few minutes. There wasn’t any actual food and I wasn’t sure if I should correct her for this, although I did tell her to leave it a couple of times, so will be checking with my Guide Dog Mobility Instructor; I have a feeling it might be a bit of a response to stress (mine was to order chips and a burger)! She did settle well in the end though.
After lunch we walked back through the shopping centre with my friend and I actually managed a bit of a chat with her while working with Fable. I wouldn’t want to be discussing anything important and I’m sure I was little vague but its the first time I have been able to even contemplate this, and my friend was very understanding when I suddenly said “find right” and started tapping my right thigh mid conversation.
We found a little park where Fable was able to relieve herself. The only thing about this was that once she had seen the park she became a bit distracted by the potential for a free run (it wouldn’t have been safe to let her off lead anyway but she didn’t know this). Once she was park obsessed keeping her focused became a bit difficult for a few minutes, a few stern corrections of “get on” were used to try and regain her focus. It didn’t take long before she was back in the room again though.
The bus journey home was almost perfect apart form a slightly eccentric older lady who kept trying to talk to Fable even though I had asked her not to distract her. I don’t think she meant any harm but it made it really hard keeping Fable under my feet. I hate correcting Fable for her behaviour when I know its someone else’s fault.
So Team Mable are feeling emotionally drained today; Fable is asleep and I’m a bit tired and emotional but overall I am feeling proud of us. Onwards and upwards from here 🙂