Wow, time to catch up again…I’m behind by three days! Since it’s been so long, I’ll try to condense the activities so that this post doesn’t become a book.
Thursday was “country walk” day. This is when there are no sidewalks or curbs to go by, only roads. The technique would be most useful on rural routes (hence country walk), but is also useful in parks, on subway platforms, and really anywhere else you’d trail the side of a path. So, for a country walk, you follow the left side of the road, facing oncoming traffic. Every so often you’ll have the dog stop, and then you turn left and have it find the edge of the road. Once you’ve found the edge, you continue walking. This is to ensure you remain on the left side of the road, as the dog/you can drift towards the center of the road at times. Another interesting thing about country travel is crossing intersecting roads. When you come to an intersection, you walk about 15 paces in, check the edge, then about face, and if no traffic, cross the road and continue traveling. This is good for safety and orientation.
Another awesome thing I learned Thursday is how to landmark. Utilizing rewards, you target an item, such as a mailbox or post, or even an indistinguishable place in the road. You give the dog a reward several times at the spot, and then back up, have the dog find it, and when it does, make a big fuss, tap the object and reward. The dog will then associate good things with the landmarked item and stop there to show you it. So cool!
Oh, and one more thing about Thursday…Jingles and I were practicing heeling with her little shoes on, so that she’s comfortable with them for when she needs to use them. We were walking up and down the hallway near my room, and Jingles was doing the funniest thing. When we’d walk up the hall, she’d heel perfectly, but when we’d turn to go the other direction (which faces an outside door), she’d only army crawl. The moment I turned and we walked back the other way, she’d be fine again. Turn again, and it was the army crawl. Haha, funny puppy. We’ll have to try that again before I leave.
Friday was insanely busy, which is why I’m so behind in my writing. First, we went off to a nearby small town to practice walking on crappy sidewalks. Jingles and I did pretty well, minus a few hang ups here and there. After the small town walk, it was back to the school to get ready for class pictures. Class pictures were quite the feat! Imagine trying to position 11 spunky dogs and their newbie owners in an organized fashion. But, the instructors with their magic touch were able to get all people and canines cooperating for a great photo 😀 We also got individual photos with our dogs taken, and many of us requested special photos of our dogs alone, so a picture of Jingles will soon be hanging in our house.
After class photos were vet visits. Each of us guessed our dog’s own weight before it was put on the scale. I was torn between 53 and 54 lbs. for Jingles’ weight, but guessed 54…and she weighs 53! Wow…can’t believe how close I came. Also, her birthday is Oct. 11, and she will be 2 next month. I thought she’d be a December baby with the name, but she’s an autumn girl I also found out who her dog parents are. After the physical, I am happy to say that Jingles is in tiptop shape! After the physicals was a lecture about vet care and the dogs’ health needs. It was incredibly interesting and full of valuable information. This brought us to dinner.
Afterwards, we waited for a bit, and then it was back to the small town for a night time walk. The walk was awesome! It was so great being able to comfortably walk in the pitch black, knowing my dog would alert me to curbs and follow along the sidewalk. Amazing That wrapped up Friday.
Today, we were back in White Plains. It was ridiculously hot outside, but we all still managed to get two routes in. One of the things we focused on was the “traffic check.” This is where the dog has to stop for a car, should it cut in front of you. This is done in a controlled fashion, with one of the instructors driving in front of you without warning. Jingles stopped immediately. How amazing that she should protect me from being hit by a vehicle!
While I was on one of my routes, it finally dawned on me…I had just avoided people, cars, poles, and followed the transition from wide to narrow sidewalks seamlessly while walking my normal, quick pace, thanks to Jingles. I can’t even believe it. With bob (stick), that block would’ve been torturous, but with Jingles, it was a breeze. I am in awe.
This evening, we began talking about graduation. I can’t believe in only one week, I will be finished here. Time has flown…