Friday, November 1, 2013

Day 4 - Halloween! Oct. 31st


We started the morning off with feeding and watering our dogs on our own this time and then going out to the break areas by ourselves.   Boomer did well, though he is testing to see if he can get by some doors without having to stop for them.   So we've made a couple of abouts and re-working them.   We did this as we headed out to the break area this m morning and he again surprised me, quickly doing his business.

Upon going inside, we went down to the dining room and in mood of Halloween, Chef Kevin came out to tell us the menu for the day- consisting of grits, bacon, eggs and ham.   For lunch would be chicken noodle soup (cant remember what he called them) and gooey brains on  bread (ham and cheese sandwich),and for dinner:  wrapped children's fingers ( Pigs in blanket), Something and worms (fish and chips),

Barb continued throughout the day with some quite hilarious and comical impersonations of witch voices and ghoulish sayings as we worked through the day. :)   Love having her as my trainer as she is so friendly and fun but so capable and understanding to teach the right way to learn how to effectively handle your guide dog.
After finishing breakfast, we were gathered into the leather lobby and the group was split in half, all of Jody's students working on the stairs, elevators, and then obedience.   The other half, all of Barb's students worked on getting on and off the bus and vans with the dogs, and walking around the block outside, and then lastly obedience as well.  

Barb came and got me when it was my turn and said to meet her in the gathering area.   We met up there and went out the doors and worked our way outside then around the building, along the sidewalks to the back area and "block" that is there for practices.   We worked around the block doing the right and left turns and then moving turns too.   We worked on the abouts and halts too.   I'm finding the footwork to be getting easier and easier as I go and keep doing it, occasionally I'll get turned around on it and totally flub it up but for the most part have been doing pretty good with it.  

We finished with the outdoor walk and then made our way back up towards the front of the building and then worked on getting in and out of the van/bus.   First was onto the bus and off the bus, having Boomer follow me on and off with a regular leash, walking beside me.   For the van, they had a new rear facing seat in the back of the van, so had a set of steps to navigate up and down.   I was fine until coming down and I heard Barb say "STAY!" so I turned a bit and caught my foot, thus losing my balance coming down. Not sure I want to sit in the back of the van. LOL!   Then I got in and out of the back seat of the van from the side door, where we tell the dog to sit and stay, then make a long leash and we climb in, then call the dog in with us.  

Then Barb sight guided me out towards the middle of the drive and we worked some obedience, doing a sit and stay, down and stay, up-sit, and then the recall.    Boomer does really well with the down & stay, but going to have to work with him on the sit & stay.   He sits instantly when I tell him to sit, but likes to pop back up quickly, which I believe is because he is so anxious to work, that he anticipates moving and trys to pop up to be ready to go.  So we are working on that with various obedience sessions.   Once done here, It was time to water and break the dogs before lunch and head to the dining room.

I went back to the room and watered the big boy.   We then work out to the break area and he quickly does both right away so we head back inside and I ditch the coat in my room and head down to the dining room where we have the ham and cheese sandwiches and chicken noodle soup.   Lunch was good and before we knew it, it was time to head to the gathering room again for the afternoon session, in which the two groups were to switch in what we were doing.

Barb grabbed me first and we went to the stairs where she showed me how she trained Boomer on step refusal- that he was to not go forward until my left foot is entirely on the first step down and I say the forward command.   If I swing out my right foot or step down with the right foot, he should not move forward.   However, she did say that we will need to practice this on a regular basis in order to keep the skill sharp.    Plus, with Boomer, he wants to work so badly he anticipates things and will rush it if I let him.   

Barb explained that she has also taught the dogs to stop at the last step in a set of stairs, so that we can know when the last step is there.    We worked up and down the two flights of stairs twice, as the first time was her explaining stuff to me and then the second time I was able to direct him most of the way.   The step refusal is only for the going down steps, not upward steps.

Once we finished with the stairs, we then moved to the elevators and worked through these.  I was surprised to see that Barb has taught her dogs to find the elevators and then has taught them separately to find the buttons too. :)   So we worked our way downstairs and back up on the elevator.   After finishing th elevators, I hung out in the leather lobby  until Barb was ready to do group obedience with all of us.  All of us in our group gather up and she has each student go out into the middle of the rug and go through the motions, switching them up from the order we'd done in the morning.   We each have our turn of working with the dogs in a sit & stay, the down & stay, up-sit, and recall.

Both groups finished pretty quickly, so the decision was made with the Communications manager, Bill Krohl, to have the Media lecture at 4pm there in the leather lobby.    Before this lecture, I was in my room and Barb came and knocked on the door with a mini - CD that had duct tape rolled in a roll on the back of it.   she grabbed a few pieces of kibble and said that they had worked on him alerting her by touching this disk forcefully.    She said she needed me to practice this with him a few times before they started the next step with me.   

We then came back and met up in the Gathering room and as Bill spoke, the dogs were so well behaved, still, and laying down by each of the handlers.  He gave his talk about the media policies and speaking opportunities that we as graduates can sign up to be a part of if the bond with the dog and length of time that the team has been together allows for it.

Dinner quickly came up with Fish & chips and pigs in a blanket as the "children's fingers" for laughs and giggles.   The dogs do so well, even in close proximity of each other.   Boomer is the only one that is ready to play and popping up occasionally.  

After dinner, we had our straight line and approved toys lecture.   Trainer Maria explained how the dogs are trained to walk down the imaginary center line of the sidewalks and are to deviate to the left if possible when something obstructs this line.   She explained that they start out by stopping and moving the dogs in the appropriate directions and after several months of this training they start "stepping back" and gradually letting the dogs take the lead on what to do and praising them huge when the do things correctly, but correcting when they do it incorrectly.   This reinforces the appropriate behaviour that is desired.  

Then we took the dogs back to our rooms and put them on tie down to go downstairs and have the playtime/toy lecture.   Maria showed the class the Kong, nylabones, and sterilized bones.   She explained that with the dogs, we have to be cautious of not giving anything that they can destroy easily, as most labs do chew most dog toys up very easily.   The goldens can sometimes be easier on their toys, but it depends by dog.     Rawhide bones/chews/etc are absolutely out as they swell in the dog's stomach and when soaked, become stretchy and dangerous.   They also are often bleached to "clean" them and treated with chemicals that are often not safe for dogs as well as since they smell like leather, they promote chewing of leather and this can carry over to your leather shoes, the leather leash/, the leather harness, or anything else that smells like leather.

We then had our last break time at 8:30 and once again the big boy did his business quickly. :)