March 15, 2011 Where the Sidewalk Ends
Hi y’all! Today we walked ALOT and Sophie and I are very tired. But it is a good tired that comes with a full day of work and accomplishment. Sophie was a STAR today! We were doing routes all on our own and walked in what is called “country setting”. That is anywhere there are no sidewalks -just a shoulder of the road. The commands are different since you have no curbs etc. Sophie and I had a great day of it and I was particularly pleased because we don’t have sidewalks in PTC. Toward the end of the afternoon, Sophie demonstrated the highest skill a guide dog can have-it is called “intelligent disobedience” and she did it for me…to keep me safe! We were at a corner and I gave her the command to cross the street. A truck was rolling up to a stop sign and I assumed it would stop, but it did not…it rolled through the stop sign and Sophie refused the “forward” command I gave. Wow!! It was a beautiful moment! My confidence in her grew in leaps and bounds….she is proving to be a talented guide. And this is unusual at such a young age still. Things are going very well…I am sleeping well and they are feeding us very healthy meals. Everyone is so attentive to our needs. It is an impressive program and facility. I am so happy with the whole experience and feel grateful that I could come to Leader Dogs. I hope you are all well…and I do miss you! I feel like I have been gone a long time and that I am on another planet! Everything revolves around Sophie! But she does not act like the center of the universe…she is very quiet and unassuming…You all will love her…hugs to my loved ones! Audrey
March 16, 2011 Pedigree is Everything!
It was a very full day! We learned about our dog’s puppy days, pedigree and puppy raisers. Sophie’s mother is named Risa and her father is Takota. Apparently this is a winning combination!! Sophie has FOUR sisters in my same class which is impressive that so many from the same litter would make it all the way in the program to become guides! Her sisters are Bonnie, June Bug, Zera, and Eppy. They were all born on Oct. 8th 2009. Sophie’s puppy raiser is in South Dakota and so I will not get to meet them…I am the only one who will not get to meet their raiser on Saturday…I’m really sad about that…they said I may get a letter and photos from them and I can write to them as well. Of course, I will do that.
We walked with partners today…we were sent out 2 by 2…my partner was a man from Spain and we spoke Spanish together. By the end of the route, i was giving commands to Sophie in Spanish and so now she is bilingual!! Ha ha ha. There are 5 students here from Spain…they are a lot of fun and very boisterous. After lunch, we went to a mid-sized town to walk the main street and to train on railroad tracks. Some of us wanted to stay later and keep walking and so one of the instructors stayed with us. She took the Americans to an ice cream parlor and she took the Spaniards to a bar for Happy Hour!!!! We said hey-whats up with that??? and so we all ended up at the bar with the dogs in tow of course and she said she would “look the other way” so she didn’t see what we were all drinking!! ha-I don’t think LD would have approved….several drank a couple of beers and then it was like herding kittens back on the bus when it was time to go! Hilarious! The ride back to LD was wild and crazy with the radio cranked up, everyone singing Elton John songs at the top of their lungs and clapping and drumming-it was a lot of fun! The dogs were actually quite calm…nothing seems to rattle them. We were late to dinner tonight and everyone else wanted to know where we were…my lips are sealed! Tonight we learned how to give meds, treat fleas and brush our dogs teeth. Sophie will have a physical tomorrow with the vet and they will teach us about how to exam the dog for managing a proper weight, checking for injuries etc. These dogs have been examined and handled so much that they will let you do anything to them without a fuss-they are so compliant and easy going. That is all the news from Planet Leader Dogs-it was another great day! Love and miss you!! Mom/Audrey
Hi , loved reading all about you and your lovely dog, I am a guide dog owner here in the UK and remember our training together well.my dog is a male golden lab called Zebedee ,he will be three in June and we will soon be having our first anniversary together. Good luck , I am sure everything will work out wonderful.
Hi Patricia thanks for your interest in the blog. Congratulations on your upcoming anniversary. These posts were a retrospective of our training together. I posted them in honor
Of our third anniversary together. Sophie is a wonderful girl!!In fact we are out of town in a city she has never been in before and she’s doing a marvelous job guiding me. Don’t you just love a new adventure?
I just finished getting caught up on your blog. I read it a few weeks ago when Leader Dog posted a link on their Facebook page and they had another today with your anniversary posts. They come at the perfect time, we are a puppy raising family and our second puppy was issued this week! We are so excited for her and her new partner. We are proud to say our first puppy is currently working in Spain. We picked up our third puppy a week and a half ago.
Your insights about what happens and your feelings and experiences during your stay and training at Leader Dog provide a look into the process we’ve never had. Thank you for sharing your very personal emails.
Congratulations to you, Sophie and your entire family on three years of teamwork and love. Hearing the stories of those entrusted to the care of the puppies we raise reinforce why we do it.
Steve-thank you for the amazing work you do raising puppies for LD. It has to be both rewarding and heart wrenching. But be assured that these puppies change lives! Be sure to follow the blog for more highlights from guide dog school. I’m out of town right now so I have not been able to post but I will complete the series soon. Best wishes to you and your family!