Day 12! Last Day – Going Home…

Alamo wearing a silver rhinestone tiara

Alamo wearing a silver rhinestone tiara

EXCITEMENT! We get to go out today! We’re sprung. No new snow.

So, we got up at the usual time and did the usual morning routine. At 7:30 we headed off to breakfast. Candace and crew were there to tell us that we would spend the day in Gresham!

At 8:15 we met, as usual, in the Fireplace room. This morning we went over the graduation procedure which is straight forward. Then we were given our binders with all the info about our new partners including medical records, puppy raiser notes and lots of other stuff we can discuss later.

At 9:10 we’re off to Gresham. The desire was to get as much work in since we had little chance earlier in the week and since this was our last day. Continue reading

Day 11!

Alamo on his bed with his paw holding his bone

Happy day! No snow last night. We did have a bit of a modified day, but much better than the past few days. Staff came in at 10AM so we got a bit of a late start.

At 9:30AM we met in the Fireplace room to go over the “theory test” Candace sent us yesterday. The purpose of the 20-question test was to see if we consistently answered any question incorrectly which would indicate that the instructors needed to go into more detail on a subject. Also, if many people throughout several classes missed a question then even more there would be an indication that something needed better coverage in the curriculum.

After going over the test we traveled again the route around the school. This time we had a terrific dog distraction awaiting us on our way to the Kennel kitchen. Nancy brought her 5-year old great Dane, Jeep, to try to distract us. There wasn’t much doubt of Jeep’s ability to distract. The only question was how difficult it would be to have our dogs regain their focus. Jeep loves to interact with other dogs and is quite energetic compared to many dogs. Alamo did well. After being distracted he refocused and was able to work past Jeep and go on his/our way. Good boy Alamo. Continue reading

Day 10!

Alamo next to Katie's snow dog

Alamo next to Katie’s snow dog

Isn’t the weather a wonderful thing? We had another modified day today due to the snow fall from Tuesday. The roads were simply not safe enough to drive and thus out door travel on sidewalks and such was out of the question. Now, some may say that only a few inches of snow shouldn’t be all that big of a problem. Well, for us with new guides and since some of us in class have little, if any, experience in walking through inclement conditions I think the decision was a good one. Besides, we did have some good adventures.

After breakfast, held at the usual time of 7:30, we met in the Fireplace room to discuss the day’s activities. Nancy, my instructor was stuck at home unable to get out. (See what I mean about the conditions?) We did spend a bit of time talking about her since we learned the day before that she had seven, count them, seven bars near her house. When Candace texted Nancy for us asking which bar, she planned on visiting first we did not get a substantive answer. Seriously, Nancy does live at a high enough elevation to warrant staying home. Continue reading

Day 9!

Class Picture taken in the snow.

Is this class lucky or what? It snowed again this morning. We expected snow tonight, but the weather pundits were off by twelve hours and we began getting snow at around 6AM this morning. We got enough by breakfast that the schedule again was thrown out the window. No travels to Portland or to Gresham. GDB leadership all the way to the top of the Oregon campus, Susan Armstrong, decided that it would not be safe to leave campus. For my part, I agree. Sidewalks were treacherous.

So, we stayed here and did a number of activities on campus. The first thing we did was to take a class photo. When I get it I will pass it along.

The next activity was a series of obedience games. Task one was to put our dogs in a sit-stay position and see how long they would stay without moving. The process was that we told our dogs to “heal” which meant, as you now know, to come around on our left sides and sit. We put our leashes into the long configuration and walked away from our pups while telling them to “stay. Continue reading

Day 8!

Mike and his new guide dog Alamo in front of the fireplace

Mike and his new guide dog Alamo in front of the fireplace

We did not get the four inches of snow everyone talked about yesterday. WE GOT SEVEN INCHES! This meant that many of the Guide Dogs staff were not able to come into work on time or at all today. For our parts as students, we were up at the regular time. Dogs were fed, watered and relieved by 7:30 when we went to breakfast. Our dedicated chef stayed the night and had another GREAT breakfast ready for us. Candace, our training supervisor, and Katie Anderson, one of our trainers, were at breakfast with us. The rest of the crowd of trainers were not present. Katie and Candace huddled at one table deciding upon our class schedule for the day. Laura, our ill class mate was feeling better and joined us. She joined us for dinner last evening and it was great to see her for two meals in a row. Continue reading

Day 7

Alamo laying down looking at a bug

I guess I really needed the sleep. I didn’t wake up until 7:30AM. So, I got a good ten hours of sleep. Alamo seemed not to be bothered by getting extra sleeping hours either. After rising, feeding and relieving Alamo we did sneak down and get a muffin

At 10 we hustled down to the dining room for a made-to-order omelet. WONDERFUL! Alamo and I then went back to the room and played for a half hour. Outside it was cold and the snow had begun to fall. Already there were rumblings about a modified class schedule for Monday, especially if some of the staff could not get into work. Continue reading

Day 6! Escalator Training…

Escalators Going Up

Escalators Going Up

OK! Let’s get the dirty stuff out of the way first. Remember how I described Puppy’s relieving habits as less than Stellar? Well, that now is a thing of the past. He is doing fine in the relieving arena thank you very much.

Now for more happy news. PUPPY’S NAME IS ALAMO! The word is out and so GDB agrees there is no need to keep names confidential, especially since both of Alamo’s puppy raisers and I have talked. Ceci and Andrea will both be traveling from Colorado Springs to see our graduation next Saturday. THAT’S GREEAT.

Today we travel to Portland. For me the plan is to do lots of escalator work at a mall. After a short lecture on building work it is off to Portland by 9AM. Of course, we first had a wonderful breakfast. By the way, I am not going to give you all the menus. Suffice it to say that GDB feeds us well, often and with more food than we really need, but who is complaining?

We arrive at the Portland Lounge around 9:45AM. The building is a converted gallery with space for meetings downstairs and good sitting room upstairs. Continue reading

Day 5!

Mike-and-Tiffany-seated-Alamo-looking-sideways-and-Perla-head-down

It is hard to believe that I have known my new pup now for almost a week. In some ways he is different than all previous dogs and, in some ways, there are tremendous similarities. It all goes to show progress I guess.

Similarities include basic command structure and footwork. When telling a guide dog to go “forward” the user moves the left foot out to near the front of the dog to provide a good body cue for the dog. Then as the handler gestures forward with the right hand the command “forward” is given. Of course, the user is holding the harness and leash in the left hand. Especially with new dogs they snap right out and briskly go down the street or wherever. Of course, every dog is different. Some move out faster than others depending upon the pace of the person and thus the dog.

As I write this I am sure some are asking “what about left-handed people where the harness would thus probably go in the right hand”? Good observation. Some dogs are indeed trained to walk on the right side of the person. It’s all in the training, but the appropriate footwork and operations are adapted. Continue reading

Day 4!

Alamo Looking Straight ahead

Alamo Looking Straight ahead

Here it is the day after Valentines day and all is pretty good with our world. I won’t comment on the world as a whole; too many crazy things going on.

We were up at the usual 0 dark 30, (6AM) to get ready for the day. I think Puppy and I are settling into a good routine. He is eating a bit faster even with the stuff GDB is putting into the afternoon feeding to prevent loose stool. Even so, he is not the eating terror I see in Fantasia and Africa. When I get home, I suspect I will feed him separately from Fantasia just to keep his intake pace at a moderate level and thus not permit him to become fearful that the other dog will grab his food. Continue reading