While I continue to train with the long cane I am also incredibly interested in using a guide dog. I love dogs and really like the idea of having a little buddy with me when I go out.
To progress through the process I attended an introduction day where you get to handle a guide dog and have a little chat with a reasonably new guide down owner.
I arrived at the centre and was met by an enormous german shepherd; quite rare in the guide dog world. It was the largest german shepherd I had seen and we used to have them as family pets! As we waiting for another person to arrive we chatted about guide dogs in general and their capabilities.
After the other guest arrived we headed out to have a trial run with Lola the german shepherd. I was nominated to go first. The instructor had chose an incredibly busy street with a number of obstacles to demonstrate what the dog was capable of and see if I was willing to allow the dog to lead. In order to keep it safer the instructor also had the dog on a leash while I held the harness handle.
With a simply instruction of forward we were off. The first 20m or so felt so strange, the dog moved at a fast pace, far faster than I could navigate alone. The dog weaved in and out of the pedestrians and obstacles and I quickly found it easy to understand the dogs movements and follow along.
The one thing I seemed to keep forgetting to do was praise the dog, you have to constantly reward the dog be it verbally or through a treat to let it know its doing a good job. But apart from that I felt I was doing incredibly well. After a few more basic commands and crossing a couple of roads the instructor decided to release the leash and let me have a go solo.
The dog picked up the pace and we were off zooming down the high street. Lola was able to identify possible obstacles in the distance and noticeable slowed as she calculated the best route. The dog overall performed excellent right up till we returned to the car. As Lola spotted the car she bolted and pulled me along!
I really enjoyed my experience with a guide dog and look forward to hopefully passing my final assessment next week. Then its a case of waiting a long period of time (upto 18 months) to be matched with a dog.
8 thoughts on “Demo Dog Day”
Sounds awesome mate, it’d be cool if you could get a German Shepard.
I just want to say that I read your interview on healthytippingpoint, and you are truly an inspiration!
Cheers! Appreciate the compliment!
I stumbled upon your blog after reading an interview you did with Caitlin from healthy tipping point, and have to comment on this post!
I have raised three Seeing-eye dogs in the past, from they were 7 weeks to 1 1/2 years old and I am so passionate about the organization. My most recent puppy is in training now and almost ready to be matched. Those dogs are the BEST companions in the world, and raising them has changed my perspective on life so much. Best of luck! I really hope you get one!!
Hi there, I really hope I et a dog too. Long waiting list though, but it is understandable with how long they take to train.
Puppy trainers play an essential so a big thanks to people like you!
Hi! I just found your blog through Healthy Tipping Point. I’m looking forward to going back through your posts and learning about more about how you live with being blind. I am so impressed that you are able to run – and such long distances. I run as well, and to be honest I have trouble not tripping over and I can see! It takes real strength of character to do what you’re doing – keep it up!
It sounds like a guide dog will be a wonderful asset to your running and life in general – not to mention that dogs are wonderful companions!
Hi Simon! I was inspired by you and your life story! Keep rockin’ and this is pretty cool~I’ve never heard or in this case read about the process of training a dog! I hope all works out well. Take care! 🙂
Thanks for the comments!