Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Guide Dogs - Day 2

I arrived at the centre today at 9am and Mark came to reception to pick me up. I met 2 of his dogs which we loaded into one of the Guide Dog vans and drove to Warwick. We walked his dogs around Warwick to get them used to being in a busy town centre and around lots of people, making sure that the dogs sat at kerbs, waited to be told before walking on. After those 2 dogs have been walked we went back to the centre to pick up 2 other of Marks dogs. We repeated the same thing with those 2 and walked around Warwick again. After Warwick we drove to Leamington to walk around the shops. We took the dogs in the shops and the shop keepers were more than happy for us to be there.
Back at the centre we had an hour for lunch and watched a bit of TV in the staff room.
Simon came to pick me up from the staff room at 2, and we went to kennels to see Claire and her dogs. Simon is teaching Claire to be a trainer which is all hands on training for 1 year on the job. She then has a one day assessment working with the dogs and does a written test, if she passes she will get a City & Guilds qualification and will be a qualified trainer. We drove to Leamington and took 2 dogs with us, we went around the shops again and then into the park. I had a go at walking one of the dogs with a harness on. There are 2 types of harnesses, the A and B, which are fitted to the dog and the dog walks on the left hand side of the owner, so that the right hand can be used for other things. it sounds strange but you could really feel the movement of the dog through the harness and could tell if the dog was standing still or sat down. If an owner is left handed there are some dogs which are trained to walk on the right hand side.
I swapped dogs and walked the other one on the harness. The dogs are taught to walk in the centre of the pavement, away from the road or bushes on the other side, and at any obstacles they sit down, you can feel
Back at the centre and after a 10 minute tea break we went for a walk around the block and I took a dog with us, just on a lead. Simon and Claire had some paperwork to do so I went on the computers and read a bit about the dogs. When the puppies are born they are kept with their mother at the breeding centre or someones house for the first few weeks, and then a puppy walker looks after them. The puppy walker has to take them places like the train, in shops, around children in school and also get them used to the vacuum cleaner and household things like that. When they go to the toilet they have to say 'busy busy' so the dog associates it with going to the toilet and can go when told to.
I left just after 5.

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