We got up this morning slow again. I'm finding more and more I'm just worn out and dragging from the emotional and mental drain of everything. The trainers have been great about working with us and such but still, there's a lot of work to this and it's hard work.
We started off by taking the dogs out to break and then going in and having another amazing breakfast from Kevin. We all gathered in the gathering room to load up on the bus and found out we were going to the Horseshoe walk and learn how to do rounded curbs. This was another new item for me, and ask Barb explained, many people don't realize they even have rounded curbs in their neighborhoods until they go through training and get home with their dogs and begin to walk their neighborhoods.
The rounded curb is a curb that is just that, rounded. When you like up straight to the opposite curb/path of walking, depending on which way you are approaching the rounded curb, either you or the dog will encounter the rounded curb first. When you are walking and the rounded corner of the curb is on the teams left side, the dog will come to the edge of the curb first and when the dog stops, the handler is to step forward and investigate with the left foot to find the edge of the curb. For this situation, the handler finds the edge of the curb and then steps back to place themselves at the dogs shoulders, angle slightly to the right to help line up straighter, and.also getting the feet in position with the left foot ahead of the right (known as the starting position) and when you step off with the right foot, it will still be on the curb and the left foot will step down off the curb and continue walking.
If the team approaches and the rounded corner of the curb is on the teams right side, the dog will come to the edge of the curb first and the handler will then advance their position and do what the trainers call: "Feet in the Street". The handler steps forward and literally put both feet in the street with their heels against the edge of the curb, to keep the straight line position as needed to cross the street.
So after we got to the Horseshoe, Barb worked with each of her students individually and I honestly didn't fee like fussing with Boomer this morning about being good and laying down on the bus, so we went outside and sat in the chairs. It wasn't long that it started to get really overcast and it began tThe
Boomer and I were often the last team to work with Barb, but we were the fastest walking team on the class, so we often made up time needed. :) We worked down the street doing numerous rounded curbs and past an elementary school with a bunch of scarecrows that the kids must have decorated for Halloween. Boomer stopped perfectly at all the curbs as we worked our way down and back.
After we got back, there was still enough time and the rain had let up, so Barb asked if anyone wanted to do a solo walk around the Horseshoe route as we'd be doing the night walk there on Friday night. Boomer and I took off around the walk and it was nice to take off and be on our own and just feel him out and open up and stretch out the legs and walk at a good, strong, fast pace again. :) We made our way around the route and got back on the bus as others were coming back too.
We all loaded back up on the bus and made our way back to GDF for lunch of soup and sandwiches. We also had some special guests join us for lunch and the afternoon, as the breeding manager/geneticist and training manager from the Australian Guide Dog School had come to the U.S. and was looking at GDF's dogs in hopes of some new breeding stock and in how the program was ran. The breeding manager had asked before arrival to join the class for the afternoon, but after meeting Boomer and the other golden on class, she definitely was interested in going out with the class and asked if she could video the two goldens and the poodle on class working to take back to their school. Apparently, she liked Boomer soooo well, that she actually told the trainers that she wished he hadn't been neutered, as she would have really, really liked to have had him in her breeding program. Thus was checking out his bloodlines to see if there may be other dogs available for breeding purposes. :)
So after lunch, we met back up in the gathering room again to load up and go to St. James to do country walks. There in St. James is a little coffee shop, called the Tic Toc. A very nice little place that supports GDF too. Since a good handful of the students in this class liked coffee and tea, the trainers worked each of us down to the coffee shop to allow us to sit there and enjoy our coffee/tea while they worked with the other students.!
And this is where the fun began. There was three of us sitting at a table, another student sitting beside me and it was a wooden bench with a back and open space between the ends/legs of the bench underneath. The trainers were both out working with other students as we sat in the place enjoying a coffee and talking to each other. I had Boomer laying down all still, with his head facing backward towards the door/entryway that our bench was backing up to. I figured he'd be less likely to be stepped on if he could see who was coming and his tail not right in the walk way of the entry.
I'm pretty attentive to movement in the leash and twice he lunged forward and I immediately respond with the command LEAVE IT I look around don't see anything on the floor both times just to make sure there isn't some dropped food or something and there's nothing there. The next thing I know, Boomer lunges to my left and I see a piece of bagel at the end of the bench at the table next to me and i'm like LEAVE IT! and I immediately turn him around so his head is facing inward and moved up so he's not in the walk way either, but he's also not within reach of the food on the floor either.
A few minutes later he makes another lunge to my left again! But I knew he didn't go far enough that he could get to where that food was and then he is chomping on something. I am bewildered at what he could have gotten and look down and the piece of food is gone! I look up to my left and there is an old man standing there with this big ole grin on his face. I look at him sternly and say DON.T FEED THE DOG! and he walks off ignoring me. And I'm telling my companions what's going on and try to locate him again and where he went. I realize he's standing just outside the door of the shop and the trainers come up with the students they are working with and he follows them back into the coffee shop.
I tell Barb to keep an eye on this guy, he is throwing food to the dogs, that Boomer kept diving for stuff and he kicked food over to him. Barb says OK good to know, and takes the student up to get his coffee and seats him and then she goes up to the guy. She says to him very calmly and politely although in her stern voice, "Don't be feeding the dogs. These are guide dogs and their handlers have to be able to go into restaurants with their dogs and if you are throwing food to the dogs, they will start diving for food and also start trying to take food of of people's plates. Then they will get kicked out of the restaurant. And besides, when you throw food to the dogs, they have to correct their dogs for going for it and that is your fault. The dogs get treats and food when they are at home and don't need you feeding them."
The old man looked at her and said "You're a meanie!" Barb calmly says, "And for a good reason!" and turns and walks away and comes to me and we go outside and she tells me, the other trainer, an the breeding manager from the Australian Guide Dog school what had happened. She said the guy is there in this shop all the time. Several of the apprentices later told us that this guy seems to have a personal agenda to distract the dogs and says that he feels he has to spoil the dogs since they are made to work.
However, the result of this was it really messed with Boomer's head. in the first two blocks after we left the coffee shop, he blatantly ran me into a bush and completely blew a curb (meaning he didn't stop at the curb/street crossing) when he was supposed to. This made it every clear how important it is that people don't distract and feed guide dogs, as his mind was still on searching for food on the floor of that coffee shop!
Thankfully he straightened out after a correction for blowing the curb and we made a right and began our work on country walks which is streets without sidewalks. We worked as a team here and Barb and Steve both worked with us and the breeding manager videoed Boomer and I as we made our way around the corners to cross the street. Doing a country walk, we walk on the left side of the road and before crossing a street, we follow the corner around the corner and in about 6 feet to get us away from the very corner of the intersection and to be able to assess the parallel traffic. Steve showed us a method he'd learned at a different school, where once you stopped, as you were on the left side and facing towards the oncoming traffic, to do a right and an immediate halt. Thus you were facing the curb that you were walking straight to and making yourself perpendicular to the traffic, thus making it easier to access the traffic coming from both sides, instead of trying to access the traffic from behind you. Then once across and you've located the edge of the road, you do a left and follow the corner around again and either continue on straight or halt and cross again.
We continued this and worked our way down a good long street and made a big rectangular square bringing us back up to the main street just before the block with the Tick Toc and back to the supermarket parking lot where the bus was parked. Trainer Jody got on the bus with me and Barb and Steve walked back to the Tic Toc to start working the other students out of the coffee shop while Jody started up the bus and we drove to pick them up in front of the shop. :)
We headed back to GDF for a delicious dinner and lecture that evening. I crashed hard pretty soon after going down to the groom room and brushing down Boomer really well. I came back up and crashed hard!