Ok my guide dog is the best and that’s all there is to it haha!
Dave and I have had to get a little creative in the route to the store because the initial way we tried things, what looked like the best way, just wasn’t the best way at all. Jayden hated it and I couldn’t figure out why until I did it with my cane. When you’re thinking about a route from a cane user’s perspective, there’s not as much space to consider. But when I did while heeling Jayden and thinking about the space on the left side of my body, I instantly knew it was a no go.
We had to make a right turn into a driveway. We had to shoreline a curb and unfortunately there was no way to not walk in the driveway. It’s a fairly narrow driveway, really only enough room for a car to leave or come in. I remember trying to go into the driveway when a car was coming out and it was a really tight fit. So right turners trying to go into that driveway are right on top of you if you’re walking it. To make matters worse, the roade there is huge with lots of traffic and when that light is green, the cars are going fast. You’ve got people avoiding backed up cars by squeezing into what will eventually be the right turn lane and people trying to drive in and out of that driveway there. It’s pretty crazy. So after I did it with the cane while heeling Jayden, there was no way I was going to risk him being on the left of me there. Sound is deafened as soon as you make the right and he can’t see behind us. Not gonna do it. Nope. Agreeing with Jayden on this one.
So Dave went and scoped it out and the only other good option was to cross that driveway and continue up to the intersection, making a moving right and coming in the other driveway on the other side of the store. It adds a good distance to the walk, but it’s much safer.
So we spent a lesson patterning it, just doing sighted guide while I heeled Jayden. As a sightie, Dave saw what he thought was the best way to tackle it from that direction, so we practiced that. What Dave saw was coming up a sidewalk then crossing the parking lot to a little island thing with a wheel chair ramp. It’s great for a wheelchair, but it’s a really narrow little path with about five inches on either side.
Today we did it and let Jayden work it. We drove down there and walked up the road back towards home then turned around. I was a little worried about this spot near the intersection that has some textured rock because when we patterned it, Jayden dragged on it. We set off and Jayden thought I’d want to make that right turn so he hesitated until he figured out I didn’t want to go that way and then he was like sweet! Haha! So we crossed the driveway and went towards the intersection. I wish I could describe this thing to do it justice. I’ll just say that when Don came from GDB he took one look at it and said, “I don’t want a guide dog in that intersection.” He was relieved when I told him it wasn’t a necessary crossing. So that might help you imagine how loud it is. If Don was like yeah no, there’s a good reason. The thing is huge and traffic moves incredibly fast. It’s LOUD.
So we get to that textured rock and Jayden did fine. He was hesitant until he knew that was what I wanted and we continued around the bend. It’s a really gradual right turn. We reached the second driveway and here there’s a sidewalk, so you’re not stuck making the right in the driveway. There’s a steep ramp after a hard right. Jayden remembered the spot from the patterning and made the right but he took it really fast and I kinda wobbled when my foot tried to fall off the sidewalk. So we reworked it after I showed him the spot and told him careful. We came up on it and he stopped and angled his body right, making sure I’d clear it. Wow.
We continued on and instead of going to that island Dave thought was a good idea, Jayden went to the upcurb and stopped. Dave said that was fine, but coming back might be tricky to get the right spot.
Walking on the side of the store, there’s poles and signs and such. Jayden stopped at every one to make sure I kenw it was there. Then we made the left and he took me right to the doors.
Words cannot describe how happy I was and the kind of praise he got along with the kibble lol. We went inside briefly and then made our way back.
Dave tried to get us to walk down the island but Jayden wouldn’t have it. He literally put his body in front of me. Dave had me take his arm so we could walk it and when you get to the end, you have to veer left instead of just the nice straight shot from the curb. I didn’t like it and I know Jayden didn’t. Dave came around, realizing that if Jayden or I make a mistake, I could fall off that island and break and ankle. So we went back to the door and worked on targeting the spot on the down curb that is a straight shot across the parking lot to our sidewalk. Then we went back to the doors and let Jayden see if he knew where to go.
He freakin nailed it! Now, there’s nothing there, no landmark, nothing for me to know this is where we need to cross the parking lot. I showed him once and when I felt him veer left and I stuck out my foot, we were on the down curb and Dave said it was the perfect spot.
Again we had a big celebration haha!
So we crossed the parking lot and did our zig to the sidewalk and back to the steep decline. When we come off that it’s a hard left but Jayden wanted to keep going. Um, no honey, that’s the road. So I halted and did a left and he took me back the way we came just perfectly.
I was so incredibly impressed with him today. It was only the second time he’d seen that route and only the first time he’d worked it and he did great. He is so smart, choosing the better way, the way that niether Dave nor I would have guessed. Jayden will do something and Dave’s like, yeah that makes more sense.
He is so freakin smart and we are just clicking more and more. Will I ever stop being amazed?
I need to figure out how to contact my instructers at school. They each played a part, but my main guy, Gary, is the one I owe the most credit too. He’s the one who worked with me most, he’s the one who taught me how to handle Jayden. Gary along with Pete and Ben. Thank you!! I think I’ve got a reader from GDB, so if you can let me know how to reach those guys, I’d really appreciate it.
Ok, I think that’s about it for now, just really had to brag on my boy. We’re handling the heat pretty well. We just have to do our walks pretty early so we don’t die.
Oh and the frozen Kong is so perfect to give him when we get home. He has to work on it, so it cools him off and keeps him from running to the water. All he wants is that frozen Kong when we get back, so he ignores the water for a bit so by the time he drinks, he’s not chugging it which is good.
Ok, really done now.