So Team Mable have been qualified 11 weeks now and its been a week of highs and lows. I’m told its very normal to be a bit of an emotional wreck and that has definitely been the case for me this week.
I’ve taken Fable to a couple of meetings at workrecently and its been a bit difficult getting her to lie still and not lick or sniff the floor. I think I might need some help from my Guide Dog Mobility Instructor with this one so I have left her a message. My instincts are telling me that it’ll get better the more she does it, using the haulti may help (although she did does chew this and try to get if off so it might make her more unsettled) or I might be able to reward her with some treats for good behaviour, but I think getting some advice would be best so that it doesn’t become a bigger problem.
I’ve been really tired this week, I’m not sure why, but I decided on Thursday that I needed an extra hour of sleep more than I needed my early morning gym session. So Fable and I set off for work just after 8am, it was a lovely sunny morning but this meant that I was not really able to see very much, and as we approached an infant school on our normal route I could sense it was really busy. We got to the crossroads which we need to cross and the full extend of the chaos became apparent! There were screaming children, scooters, pushchairs and cars everywhere. The road we needed to cross was basically grid locked and people started shouting that I could cross as the cars were letting me go. I tried to explain that I couldn’t ask Fable to go that close to a car with its engine running otherwise she would learn that this was ok and it would weaken her traffic work. Finally a lovely lady offered to help us so I could lower Fable’s handle and accept sighted assistance across the road between the cars. With Fable’s handle down she knows that she is not responsible for us anymore and its ok to let me take control of this situation. Once across the other side of the road we were in the middle of all the children, bikes, scooters, pushchairs etc so Fable just stopped and we waited until there was a safe space for us to move forward. She did brilliantly as the sun was really bright and I was struggling to see anything. I think it was one of the first times where I actually became aware of the fact that she really was looking after me and I felt really out of control, which for those of you know me will know this is not a comfortable place for me 🙂 Anyway we both held it together and made it to work. Once we arrived I got really emotional and had a big cry (thank goodness for my lovely work colleagues and friends who looked after me). Fable seemed to be a bit concerned about me too as during the morning she kept coming and resting her head on my leg while I worked at my desk, this is not something she normally does so she obviously knew I was having a difficult day.
By the end of the day I was so tired that I spoke to manager and we agreed that having a day of Annual leave would be a good idea so that I could have a relaxing day and get my head together. I have to say it was absolutely the right decision; I think Fable and I needed some Team Mable time.
We used our time wisely and took the next big step on our journey; we went over to my Mum and Dads on the bus. This is a massive achievement as I have never had the confidence to do this on my own and they have always come to pick me up. In our training we had done part of this route with my GDMI but not all of it. I have never seen Fable so focused and she was smiling all the way, as you can see from the photos of her waiting at the bus stop in her harness. She was fast but still my brilliant guide, avoiding obstacles and she behaved so well on the bus. I think this has shown me that Fable is ready for the next challenge and we need to start stepping out of our comfort zone and start doing more new and different routes. At my parents her reward was a play in the garden as you can see from the photos.
Unfortunately, yesterday she had a dodgy tummy; this is thankfully the first time I have had to deal with this little delight; I’m blaming the strawberries we think she ate in Mum and Dad’s garden! She seemed fine in herself but as this was the first time I had had to deal with a dog with an upset stomach, I phoned the Out of Hours Guide Dog number for advice and was put through to the Welfare Officer on call. He advice what to do in terms of her food and to have a quite weekend but that if all was well to return to normal on Monday.
Unfortunately this meant that Fable couldn’t go to the Fundraising Guide Dogs Ball which was held to mark the end of Guide Dogs week. I was sad that she couldn’t come but pleased that my Mum and Dad were able to dog sit for me so that I could go. This was another important first for us as I hadn’t left her with anyone before. She was fine and even did a little busy for my Dad and kept my Mum’s feet warm. Knowing that my parents are able to look after Fable has made me feel much better as I was getting a bit worried about what might happen if I needed to go somewhere I couldn’t take her or if I was unwell. So that’s another hurdle crossed 🙂
The ball was brilliant; I met some lovely people and fellow Guide Dog Owners, one of whom did a very inspiration speech which I have to say brought a tear to my eye as he summed up perfectly what a difference Fable has made to my life in just 3 months. Whilst I was a little overwhelmed by our stressful walk to work I realised that 3 months ago I wouldn’t have even been in that situation, I would have avoided it completely. I did realise though that Fable not being able to go to the ball was probably the right thing for her, I don’t think it would have been fair or enjoyable for either of us as its too early in our partnership. Guide Dog Owners are advised not to do too many big fundraising or campaigning events for about 6 months and last night I understood the reason for this; I think we will start small and maybe begin with a little coffee morning 🙂
I’m really proud of myself and Fable this week; and that’s not something I have ever really felt before. Going to new places is something I have never done but now with Fable I have the confidence to try, this week she has shown me that its time for Team Mable to take the next step…..