Saturday, January 9, 2010

Stories from GDB

So now I have Egypt, and wow what a dog she is. I have never met a dog that is so calm, obedient, and not stupid in my life. From minute one I knew we were a good match. So the first few hours we got to bond, and we had a few lectures on how to keep up with their hygiene and other tide bits about care. Then after a day or so we were issued our harness and essential equipment for work. Then we went to downtown San Rafael to learn basics and the feel of our dogs. Egypt blew me away the first minute I told her forward, she took me down the hall and to the exit doors to await the bus. We got outside she showed me the stairs and took me straight to the bus' doors. It was a slow ride simply because the anticipation of the new adventure was too great. But eventually we got there. When it came my turn to make my voyage I was nervous, but I knew I'd be alright because I had Egypt, and an instructor to keep me from getting lost. And we were off!!! Honestly if you were watching from the side you would probably get bored, we don't walk fast huh. It was thrilling for me though, so many new doors were opened for me, I know all i was doing was walking to the curb, but if I was somewhere else with a different destination it would be the best thing ever.
Egypt's work was amazing she showed me every curb, could care less about other people cooing at her, and kept a close eye on me. we walked a few city blocks and then went back to the downtown campus.
The next few days are pretty similar to this so we could get more accustomed to our dogs and signals they give us. It was still fun though.
My all-time favorite training scenario was the chase scenario.
Our instructor gets into the donated hybrid vehicle and try to run us over. Just kidding, but the urge to dive out of the way was always in the back of my head. So what they do is they will have the guide team walk across a driveway type entrance on a sidewalk, and the instructor will be waiting in that driveway for us to pass. Then they back up and pretend they were a driver backing up and they don't see us. Now of course they aren't going to run us over (they'd lose their driver's license), but the dogs don't know this. So here is where Egypt comes in. She notices that car coming and she rockets out of the way. This caught me and my instructor by surprise because we have never seen her move that fast. So I was still holding the handle by some miracle and she tugged me to what she felt was a safe distance. I though it was kinda funny that she almost ripped my arm out of the socket, but it was comforting to know if that should ever happen she'll drag me out of harms way.
Also during that bit of training they would have us start crossing the street and pull up in front of us to see how much distance the dogs would give us between the cars and ourselves. The dogs could back up if they wanted to or just stop and wait for the car to stop moving and for our cue to resume walking. Egypt and I had the furthest buffer. We had roughly 12 feet in between us and the cars, and everyone else averaged 6 feet.
It is great knowing that I have a dog the watches out for me, yeah right she just doesn't want to get run over.

I just wanted to say I am going to put a paws (spelled p a w s) on my guide dog school stories for right now. I have a friend heading to GDB next month and I don't want to spoil any surprises for her. Sorry friend I know you want to hear more stories, but I promise I'll put more stuff up when you're at the school so we can compare notes huh.


Mimi and CC Cabana said...

Hey, thanks for posting, Darrell! So great to hear about how wonderful Egypt is with you and your safety. It must be an amazing experience to get your dog and have the world open up to you.

Ro said...

Awww, I was hoping to get more hints as to what I'll be doing lol! I can't wait to experience the hybrid car. I've not experienced those yet. Egypst sounds so incredible. I've heard most people talk about their dogs running them off of curbs when they first start working. Sounds like you really did get the perfect match!