Its only been two weeks since my last post but it feels like so much has happened….
I was beginning to feel as if Fable was getting bored of the same old route to work and the gym; she was doing much more sniffing and her low head posture seemed to be getting more consistent, not that it affected her work but it was something my Guide Dog Mobility Instructor had suggested I should try to stop as it could mean she is more likely to scavenge. So I have started changing the route to work slightly; for me this just shows how confident I’m beginning to feel with Fable as I’m normally one for routine, and anything different used to make me feel anxious so I would avoid it but now it makes things more enjoyable for both of us.
Whilst this slight change of route did help there is only so much you can change without adding a lot of extra time to an already long route (it takes about 45 minutes to an hour to walk to and from work). So I spoke to my GDMI this week who suggested adding in some obedience work while working in harness. I hadn’t thought of this but its a great idea and it worked a treat; Fable was much more focused on me and we both enjoy the chance to have fun and she gets lots of praise.
Also it was as if the universe was listening this week; we had several off kerb obstacles, curtsey of some very inconvenient pavement parking, to deal with. Fable handled it like a pro and its really obvious to me now that she thrives on a challenge. I think I had been trying to protect her from too much stress but in fact she loves it; the more obstacles and people the better.
We have also done lots of new things in the last two weeks: We went to the dentist (well I did), this is something I have never done without needing to ask my parents for a lift so it was a big moment for me. it was also a brand new route for both of us and we coped brilliantly. Fable was also a star in the dentist, she waited patiently and quietly while I had a check up and deep clean. The staff were lovely and access was never questioned.
Last weekend we had our first night away from home, we stayed at my parents and Fable settled so well in their kitchen. It was once again me who was worried; their kitchen seemed so far away from my bedroom compared to my little flat. So I decided to use their baby monitor; its ok you are allowed to laugh at me, most people have but I have to say it really worked well and meant that I didn’t spend the whole night thinking was she ok, could I hear her etc.
Yesterday we did our first train trip to meet one of my oldest friends from university in Reading for lunch. I booked assistance for the journey which is something I have never done before and again is a big step for me; its another one of those examples of accepting that its ok for me to ask for help. The service was excellent; they met us at the entrance of the station, got us on the train, met us at Reading and took us to the exit, I was really impressed and now wonder why I didn’t do this before; it really helped make the journey less stressful; in the past I have stood on a platform, hoping firstly that its the right one and dreading the announcement of a platform change. The train was really busy which was unusual for a Saturday and I had a tough time containing Fable within the seat area, her tail and paws kept sticking out and I was worried someone might tread on them. I think next time I need to make sure she lies down in the space next to me but she wouldn’t stay there and seemed to want to be under my feet rather than next to me. maybe another question for me GDMI.
Anyway we got to Reading and met my friend, It was really strange as I have never walked through the shopping centre at Reading without needing to take her arm, this time she offered and I said thank you but no thank you, I have Fable now. And what an amazing job she did; it was incredibly busy and I didn’t really know where anything was so it was extra hard for Fable listening to my late commands and sometimes changing my mind at the last minute. I think my friend was impressed; she did say that if we could cope with that we could cope with anything and I think she might be right. I am reminded again how lucky I am to have such awesome friends; I have known this lovely lady for about 24 years, we went though a lot together at University and we don’t see that much of each other these days but when we do its like we have seen each other last week. When I got home she sent me a lovely message saying that she had underestimated the “journey” I was on since contacting Guide Dogs a year ago; I’m really grateful that my friends are able to recognise this and give me the support I need at the moment.
One of the things I have been thinking about recently is just how resilient Guide Dog Owners and our Dogs need to be, especially in the early days of a new partnership. This week I have had to deal with some appalling behaviour from the general public but I’ve also experienced some incredibly kind and helpful people. This week Fable and I were walking to the gym, it was 7am and dark. We had stopped at a side road and I could hear a car engine and see headlights of a car which seemed to be stopped right at the junction of this side road. I was sure it was stopped so asked Fable forward; she refused rightly as the engine was running. I tried to strain to look but couldn’t tell if there was anyone in the car or what the driver was doing. There was no one around to ask so I placed Fable’s handle down and waited. Then I heard shouting but due to the heavy traffic I couldn’t hear what was being said. Then a lady got out of the car and yelled at me “I was waving you across, you can go”! I politely pointed that I had a Guide Dog which meant I couldn’t see and if I could see her waving then I wouldn’t need Fable! Some people are just so unaware! I explained that Fable wouldn’t move forward while her engine was running and asked if she would turn it off. reluctantly she did.
The other really horrible thing that happened to us this week was on the way out of the hospital. A small child, accompanied by her mother or carer threw a handful of stones at Fable and I! Fable jumped but didn’t seem to be injured. I have to say I was really upset and did shout at the lady saying that her child had just thrown stones at my Guide Dog and that this could affect her ability to be a working Guide Dog. I was astonished at this and still can’t believe how parents can let their children behave like this. I have reported the incident in case there is repeat or Fable is affected but thankfully she seems to be resilient too.
Fortunately people like this seem to be in the minority and I have had some lovely offers of help across roads and around pavement obstacles this week. Fable does seem to be a hit with most people which I love but it can make things a bit harder if people distract her while she is working or resting under a table in restaurants. I do think its very strange that people think they can just touch her without asking permission from me first; even before I had Fable I wouldn’t ever have approached a dog, working or not, and stroked it without asking the owner first. Some people are lovely though; earlier this week a lady walked past us on the way to work and said “what a beautiful dog and she looks so happy, her tail is wagging so much, you can tell she enjoys her work”.
So we have risen to the challenge this week; new routes achieved and now its onwards and upwards. In fact I was talking to a colleague the other day and saying I have so many things I want to do with Fable but not enough time. Life has just really opened up for me; before Fable I was quite happy in my little world of work and the gym but now there is so many exciting things to do. Now that’s a LifeChanger – thank you Fabes x