Hello! As promised, here is my recap of the goings-ons of dog school over the weekend
Yesterday (Day 7)
Saturday was a fairly relaxed day. We worked the dogs (working= in harness) in the campus building, but did not go out on route anywhere. The first exercise was how to follow your dog past obstacles in your path (such as a road block). A series of obstacles were set up in the hallway. First we found the obstacles with our canes, and then we brought the dog through. While I was working the obstacles with the stick aka Bob, the class supervisor was holding Jingles. When I first got her, she lunged for him every time I walked past him. This time, when I came back towards her, she barked excitedly because I was returning. The instructors commented “boy, someone likes you,” and her reaction to my presence warmed my heart. Jingles soared through the obstacles with ease. After the obstacle course, I got to “long line” play with Jingles. This is when your dog is basically on a really long leash in an enclosed area, and gets to play and be a dog. There was a box of toys that either I or Jingles could pick from. She seemed to especially like a soft plasticy (is that even a word?) rubber frog. I threw it for her a bunch and began teaching her to fetch, and man, was she cute! We had a ball, literally.
After lunch, it was on to overhead obstacles. It was explained that guide dogs struggle with overhead obstacles. Even though they have incredible vision, they are constantly watching out in front of them, and don’t necessarily look for high obstacles. A few high obstacles, covered in foam, were set up in the hallway along with the waist high obstacles. It was expected that the dog would lead around the short obstacles and then miss the high ones. From there, the student would be taught how to show the dog how to avoid the obstacle. Well…my dog did not miss one, meaning she did not cause me to hit even one overhead obstacle. She soared through the second course like a rock star. The instructor thought she may hit one going the opposite direction, but nope, sailed past them again, causing the instructor to remark that “you’ve got a really smart dog,” (go Jingles!). She went thought the obstacles 4 times with complete ease, and then we learned how to go through a revolving door, which entails positioning the dog a certain way, and slowly entering so neither you or the dog risks injury.
The rest of the day was devoted to relaxing, and so we did.
Today (Day 8):
Today was a complete relaxation day. The only thing we were required to do was play with our dogs (such a terrible requirement *sarcasm*). During our play time, Jingles picked out the rubber frog again, and a big ball made of the same material. I think I know her favorite toy now! Anyway, I played with her for a while teaching her to fetch. She is so smart, she catches on extremely quickly. For instance, when she would come back without the toy, it didn’t take her long to understand what I meant when I said “go get your toy,” or “where’s your toy?” It was a blast.
This afternoon, I got to visit with my second cousin on my mom’s side. We’d not met in person before, and it was really cool connecting with another part of my family: D We chatted for a while, and enjoyed a lovely time together!
That’s really basically it. I did realize a couple things today that I thought were worth noting:
1. This is silly, but when I first met Jingles, even though she had just had a bath, I still noticed how much she smelled like, well, a dog. As dog wasn’t my favorite smell in the past, I wondered how I was going to get used to the smell of a dog. Well, today I was sitting in lecture with Jingles curled under my chair and got a little whiff of her scent, and I thought to myself “Aww, sweet little dog.” The smell is actual endearing now.
2. Giving the dog commands works better when I am NOT looking at her, contrary to normal dog training…interesting
3. The dogs were trained in hand signals for a reason. I was taught them, but keep forgetting them. Today I remembered to start doing a couple, to amazingly better results. *slaps forehead*
Apparently Jingles is still training me! Haha