Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Other Side of Portland

March 22
Boy, do I have one tired pooch. We’ve worked another full day of unknown situations. This morning, we worked on traffic encounters. This is watching how Nadine reacts to cars stopping in front of her, backing out of driveways, making it around parked cars, etc. Nadine guided me on the sidewalk around several blocks and an instructor let me know when the class supervisor was coming in a car and from what angle. Nadine did perfectly. She kept me safe and showed that she knew just what to do.
Unfortunately, she got nervous in the afternoon on our route in an area without sidewalks. She would stop at every parked car and didn’t want to go around them. She was keeping me safe by keeping her distance. The instructors said that the dogs would be effected after their traffic encounters that morning. It was my job to be a good leader and keep up my confidence and encouragement so she could work through it. Unless I move to NYC, we won’t have that many traffic encounters in one route again. She did great in the sidewalk less area despite shying away from the parked cars. I learned the techniques necessary to get around safely without a sidewalk, which will help in my area on some busy streets.
We also were tested on dog encounters. As Nadine and I made our way on a route, my supervisor stood off to our left with his big dog. Nadine didn’t give him the time of day. She just cruised on by just like she was supposed to. My trainer was so proud.
We went to see the vet today, and got information on keeping them healthy as well as their health history. Nadine had pneumonia as a pup and a few other problems, but is completely healthy now. There is a dog run here with lots of grass that we can take the dogs to and let them run. Labs have this particular run that they call scooting. It’s where they tuck in their bum and race around like crazy. She loves to run in there, and it’s so good for her to work out her anxiety and to relax and just be a dog. We played tug of war with a rubber tug ring, and she’d pull it away and race around the dog run. Then, when I called for it, she’d bring it back and I’d give her food. She did great at this game until it was time to go and she would not bring it back. So, we had to leave it there and someone else brought it to me. She was a stinker, but had a blast. I hope our backyard grass can handle her racing.
Finally, I had a 40 minute massage by a therapist who comes in to work on the staff and students. It was heavenly! Of course, she barely got started when my time was up, but it did help a lot.
Now, I’ve put sleepy Nadine in her kennel and I’m headed for an early night’s sleep. Another day filled with learning and some fun too.

March 23
I just came in from our last dog relieving session of the night in the pouring down rain. Poor pooches. Who wants to do their private business in the rain? Furthermore, who wants to stand in the rain and encourage their poor poochie to do their business in the rain?
Today was spent working 2 routes in Portland. The first was to find the building my friend’s husband works in so that I could return the purse she left at my dorm Sunday. Nadine was gun shy on this route. She usually nails every curb, but today was hesitant about going up and down curbs. I’m sure it was left over trauma from yesterday’s traffic exercise. So, I really worked on keeping her confidence up. My class supervisor coached me on that route, and helped me with keeping a straight line on sidewalks. There is a certain position to maintain which allows the dog to drive forward, and I wasn’t consistent with that position. To tell you the truth, I am afraid sometimes if there is a lot going on along the sidewalk. I don’t want to bang into things, so I hang back. But, don’t worry. That has been corrected.
The afternoon route was a doubles route. That means that I and another girl –one that I don’t normally work with- traveled on the same route with only one instructor. Nadine did much better on the curbs, but tried to keep up with the other dog team instead of listen to me. So, that took work too.
We worked to a famous doughnut shop here in Portland that happens to be in a more run down part of town. We went past some strip clubs and had a dog encounter with a homeless woman’s rat terrier. Nadine wanted to eat her, I think- the dog, I mean. There were lots of street musicians and some pan handlers, but no one seems to need money from the blind ladies. Hmm. I guess there are some perks.
We met with the graduate services lady today, and learned all about the support we receive when we go back home. We had periodic home visits and such to ensure both student and dog are safe and working well together. GDB really does so much to make sure we have a successful experience.
It was nice to have a few hours off this evening. The nurse took me and another student to the store, and I bought a back pack. It’s not that I want to be like Dora; Nadine just gets a bit testy when my purse falls off my shoulder and hits her. So, I’ve now made the switch to a pack for a while. There seems to be so much to juggle all the time while working the dog. Hopefully, this will help.
Gotta go switch my laundry. Thanks again for all your comments and support. It sure helps. I’m on the countdown to graduation and home coming.


Becky said...

Graduation is coming! Exciting. Love your reference to Dora - so true. Cheering you and Nadine on.

Ms. Clickety Clack said...

Nadine can find donut shops? Thats awesome! You will have to teach her the command - "Nadine: Kneaders!" Of course, you'll have to stop at the Taylors on your way there... and you won't have to worry about strip clubs because there isn't one between here and there (thank goodness). We are so excited to see you and get to meet Nadine - hope Nadine is ready to meet all of us!

Donna said...

This is such an amazing experience you are having! Can't wait to meet Nadine. How do you think Lucy is going to respond to her?

Sandrelle said...

You are doing so great! Maybe Tyson and Nadine can be friends. I've been taking Tyson to a free doggie socialization class every Saturday and he loves it. I could pick you guys up if you ever want to go too. Can't wait to see you when you get back and I'll give you a massage too!