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