Wow! What a long day of work! My brain and feet are very tired, but I feel good.
This morning, we met as a group and learned obedience and guide work commands. When I am only holding the leash, the commands I give are called obedience commands, but when I am holding onto the harness, it is guide work. Usually, the dog is wearing both, but if I want her to guide me, I have to be holding the harness handle. Get it?
Then, we found out the name, gender and breed of dog we would receive, and after lunch, I met my new buddy. She is a black Lab named Nadine. Now, I was thinking I’d get a dog with some cute fluffy name, and when I learned her name was Nadine, I have to admit I was disappointed. I mean, really? Nadine?
However, when the instructor brought her to me, she was so happy and greeted me with excitement. I mean the dog, not the instructor. She is adorable. We spent the next 8 hours getting to know each other, and doing both obedience and guide work. Nadine tested the limits to see what I’d let her get away with, and I had to really work on my corrections. That means not allowing her to be in charge. There are certain ways of communicating with the dog through appropriate corrections with the leash.
Guide dogs walk on the left side and the handling is most often done with the left hand. I’m finding that my left arm is very weak, and my muscles are sore. I’m sure I’ll be so buff when I get home.
I have five other classmates- all women. We get along great and have a lot of fun together. Three of the ladies are retraining. This means they have had guide dogs in the past, and are getting another one. The other three of us are just a bit clueless and very brave.
Tomorrow, we’re up early, and off to work all day down town Portland. Wish me luck!