It has been a long time since I posted here. It feels like a life time. J is happy in his new home. He is a wonderful boy and I miss him.
Frankie and I met a few weeks before being invited to class for training with him. The trainers brought him and his brother to visit and test walk. We talked about speed, level of activity and compatibility. I was so fortunate to be able to have a match so fast. I am so thankful to have my new boy. He is a flat Coated Retriever. Feel free to look them up. I found him interesting to train with. It is a different experience than training with a lab.
First, Frankie is a smaller dog, but He is tall. Second, he walks faster. Thirdly he has the softest fir. He is also shiny. He has a long snout and long ears. I do love him. He is so sweet. He is not afraid of anything and seems to be like the energiser bunny.
I should back up and say a little about training at the Lions Foundation for Dog Guides. On the first day we arrived, we had room assignments and unpacking. For some, there was orientation. I actually needed it as the last time I was there would have been exactly 6 years ago. We then had dinner and relaxed, but not before signing many documents.
The next day was spent doing walks without the dogs. This was to get us used to commands and corrections. We also spent time softening our new leashes. New leather is painful on your hands. We were also very excited as the next day would be dog day! I think all of us did not sleep well. It was like Christmas. I was the only one who had met the dogs. I knew what breed they would be and who I would be getting. I should have used it a little to my advantage, but I was kind and said nothing. Keeping quiet was hard.
I think I should describe dog day. We got up and did the morning routine. After breakfast, we all went to our own rooms. We had to clear everything off the floor. The trainers then brought our dogs to us. We got a few minutes to meet them and let them sniff around. We then took them down to do some training. The first few walks are without harnesses. We did get our harnesses on the Friday. That day was very difficult for me. Here is where I noticed differences between labs and Flatties. A lab will go with anyone. Flats do not. He simply did not want to take orders from me. I thought that strange as he had worked for me like magic when he did the test walk. They’re more of a one person dog. We eventually sorted out our issues.
From then on, we did 2 – 4 walks per day. Some in a group and others were individual. For the first few days, my dog refused to poop. He was under a high amount of stress. Change does not come easily for them. But it turns out that he did not want to use the nice clean and indoor relieving area. He would stand there and cry. It was heartbreaking.
The next week and a half went by in a blur. I felt very exhausted. I just wanted sleep. Having a new dog is like having a new child in the house. More on that another day.
Our training took us on long and short walks, buses, trains, and street cars. We did escalators, elevators, stairs and construction areas. We crossed small and large streets. The trainers drove around in a car attempting to run us down. This was called traffic checking. The dogs normally love it. Flatties know the tricks. Frankie would stop when he heard the car. Yes he knew the car.
Training is a very busy and tiring exercise, but most definitely worth it. The safety of a dog to help find the way is priceless. Oh and big bonus, I can walk for hours again without getting too tired. To learn about the process, adopt a puppy, foster a puppy, or make a donation, visit: http://www.dogguides.com
Feel free to ask any questions. I am happy to share.