Can you believe that six months ago today, Jayden and I flew home from GDB? Wow. Six months we’ve been home now. It’s kind of hard to believe!
I hadn’t had a post planned, not a specific topic anyway. I knew I’d write something, but wasn’t sure just what. Then I got an e-mail from Beth Fink asking if any of us have written a post about a typical day with a guide dog. Someone had asked her about it for help with a research project. So, since today is six months since Jayden and I have been home, and since it’s already been an eventful day, I thought I’d write about it, filling in the later part of the day with what’s typical for us.
As Beth pointed out in the e-mail, there’s never a “typical” day with a guide dog. This is most definitely true for me, since I never know when a fatigue will hit, disrupting our plans, or when a burst of energy will hit, causing us to do something different. Maybe a friend calls with sudden plans, or maybe a storm comes through and cools things off so we’ll take a walk, or maybe something comes along that makes me change the feeding and relieving schedule. You just never know, so a typical day is only typical after it’s done and we say good night.
Here are the questions she asked.
“Can you describe your daily like routine? Such as waking up by using
alarm, going shower, prepare food for both you and your dog….etc. Do you spend your time with your dog 24/7? Does the dog sleep in your room?”
During the week, I set an alarm. I had tried getting up and going for a walk in the mornings, but it was already too hot and wasn’t good for the start to my day. The alarm goes off at 7am on most days, except for today. Since I’ve been having early lessons with Dave on Tuesdays, the alarm goes off at 6am, yuck haha!
Jayden indeed sleeps in my room, on his comforter next to my bed. As soon as I sit up, he stands and waits by the bed. I change into a tank top and comfy pants. I check the spots where Timmy the cat might be sleeping so that I can put him in the spare room when I take Jayden outside. Jayden follows me all over the house while I set down my phone and such and look for the cat. If I don’t find the cat right away, I give up. I shuffle into the kitchen and flip the switch on the coffee pot. B gets it ready at night for me, what a guy.
I use the restroom and then walk into the kitchen again and Jayden starts getting excited. I grab is food bowl and go to his food container. He sits patiently next to me as I scoop his food and as soon as he hears it, he lets out a little squeal. He follows me into the kitchen and waits while I add some water and set the food down. He must sit before I set it down and he does this automatically. He waits for me to say “ok” before he begins to wolf it down.
I go and slip on my Crocs and grab a bag. He’s done eating in about two minutes. I rinse out the bowl and walk to the counter where his collar is. I put it on, attach the leash, and step outside.
If I haven’t found Timmy, I sweep the door with my cane as Jayden and I go outside. I prop the cane up by the door and take him to his spot. I don’t need to harness him up for this. He goes and if Timmy is out of the room, he stands by the door meowing. As we approach the door, I grab the cane, open the door a crack, and sweep the cat out of the way with the cane, telling Jayden go go go, like a military guy haha!
I take off his leash and he pretty much instantly goes into the living room and gets on his spot on the couch, right next to wear I sit at my laptop. He’s got the routine down. I get my coffee and get online to continue waking up. Jayden takes his morning snooze. Most mornings I start getting ready about an hour or so after this, for whatever the daily plans are. B gets up and goes to work sometime between when I get up and when I leave. On days where nothing is planned, I stay in my comfy pants. 🙂
If I start getting dressed, Jayden takes notice, because it means we’re doing something. He’ll follow me around most of the time, except for Tuesdays. I start getting dressed while he’s still taking his morning snooze.
On later days, I take him to relieve again before we go anywhere. Usually I can find the cat pretty easily, since after I make the bed, he goes to his spot.
I harness Jayden about five minutes before the ride will be here and he goes into work mode, laying down to wait for the ride. When the ride comes, I attach his leash and we are on our way.
This morning we went back to campus to work on the route to the gym where goalball will be. Jayden did great. He had only seen the route once, but he pretty much nailed it today. He kept showing me the ladies’ room, just in case, which he got big time praise for hehe. We worked these funky steps a few times. He did great!
Whenever we get home from being out working, I relieve him and then give him his frozen Kong treat. He knows he gets this every time so he’s always happy to take me to my door. This helps too, because since he’s occupied by that, I can decompress and get changed and cool off. I always call Gamma when I get home from anywhere, so I sit and chat with her.
I get on my computer while Jayden works on his Kong. When he’s done with it, he walks over to me. I tell him to go get it. He stares at me. I sit back and type. He goes and gets the Kong and drops it at my feet and anxiously waits for my praise and a piece of kibble. I rinse it off and go back to my computer and he settles in on the couch or at my feet for his after work nap.
Afternoons you never know what we’ll do. This will change when it cools off, but for now, it’s all inside. I’ll do my thing on the computer, or crochet or whatever. It’s really similar to one who would work. Except Jayden is home and can do as he pleases. Sometimes I turn obedience into a game of hide and seek. Sometimes we’ll play with the Cuz or tug rope. Today I have an empty rinsed out milk jug that we’ll play with until he destroys it in about ten minutes.
If no plans are in the way, he gets fed at 4:30pm. At about 3:30, he starts to tell me he’s hungry. If I move, he thinks I might feed him. He’ll walk up and put his head on my leg. Finally he gives up and takes a nap or chews a bone. When it’s time, he knows for sure, because I put on my excited voice and ask if he’s hungry.
Afternoon feedings are much more eventful than morning feedings. I’m awake so I’m all silly with him and he hops as he follows me to get his bowl and then to the food. Then he hops into the kitchen panting, and we do the same as we do in the mornings. I take him out and then we settle in to a baseball game, for now.
When B gets home Jayden greets him happily. When we have dinner, Jayden lays down on my left, right by my side. I told him he didn’t have to anymore, but he still does.
After dinner, I chill for a bit, B and I talk about our days and do our thing on our computers in the living room. Jayden has bonded with him now too, and will go lay by him, or lick his face if he’s laying on the couch. For now, I’m usually finishing up a baseball game.
By 8pm, I’m pretty much spent. I need some time relaxing in bed with the tv before I sleep. I’m so grateful Jayden is cool with being in bed for a good ten to eleven hours every night. Before bed,we have a romp fest. Sometimes with the Cuz, or the rope, or just me. Jayden never knows what will happen. I like to switch things up, even though we’ve got a pretty set routine. At 8:30, I take him out for nightly relieving and now that it’s nice in the evenings, B comes out too and we hang out for a bit, sometimes letting Jayden leash guide me around a bit.
We come in and I ask for Jayden’s collar. He walks to me, knowing it’s bedtime. I remove the collar. I do this because the tags jingling in the night was a bother, and I think Jayden likes being naked at night. 😉
After the collar is removed, Jayden goes and stands by the treat pouch. I ask him if he wants his good night snack and he follows me happily into my room and gets on his bed. He gets seriously excited over four pieces of kibble haha! He gets kibble because when he was sleeping the kennel, I gave him kibble when he went inside to keep it positive, and it’s just carried over. After he’s had his kibble, I hug him and pet him, he licks my face, I climb into bed to watch tv and he promptly begins snoring, ever so lightly. He dream yips and wags every night, so I know he’s a happy dog. I reach over quite often before I’m asleep and give him a pat, and he usually responds with a little happy grunt, especially when I find him on his back and give him a belly rub.
Lather, rince, repeat. The days vary depending on the activity, but that’s pretty much how it goes. Weekends everything is done a bit later since I don’t set an alarm.
I should sum up by saying that the dog is matched to the person, depending on their circumstances. GDB was aware of the fact that my blindness is not my primary disability. I have MS, so that is the main thing that tends to control my days. I told GDB I’d need a dog who would be fine on days where I’m pretty much useless. They couldn’t have matched us better.
Now that we’ve been home six months, Jayden just knows when it’s his time and when it’s my time. As I’ve been writing this post, we’ve been home about an hour. He knows that when I get home, I have to chill a bit before another possible burst of energy. He started off at my feet and now he’s on the couch next to me.
It’s perfect that Jayden has adjusted to my lifestyle. He’s totally cool with a quick ten minute play fest followed by a few hours of recovery time. He can spend an entire day lounging around. He gets tons of love and affection, and returns it with gusto.
So, since there is no “typical” person, there is no “typical” day for a guide dog team.
In a nutshell, this is what a day is like for us. I’ll have to do what the day is like when we go to Gamma’s too, because it’s so adorable how he knows what the routines are there, as well.
There’s nothing like the freedom I have today. There’s nothing like going to the gym twice a week and just following him as he gets me there. There’s nothing like showing him a new route and watching him get it so quickly. There’s nothing like knowing I can start something new, like goalball, in a completely foreign place and know we’ll be just fine. There’s nothing like knowing he’s watching my every move and looking out for my best interests. He knows when I’m getting fatigued and actually slows his pace and is extra careful.
There’s nothing like having a constant companion and friend. Yes, we are together all the time, to finally answer that question. We may not always interact, but we are always together. And he snaps to attention the second I call him and grab the leash. When he sees my shoes go on, he waits patiently and happily accepts the harness, waiting to run off into our next adventure.
I absolutely adore my guide dog!