Friday, 29 June 2012

Training Diary - Day Four

I am pleased to say I am writing this in my bedroom with Laila next to me! We are sitting on the dog cushion and I am relieved that she seems to quite like the contents of my iTunes playlists! We are just chilling to some Biffy Clyro at the moment. Today when Tracey picked me up from school we nipped across the road to register Laila with the vets, this went well and I found out that Laila was puppy walked in Liverpool which is nice.

Then we went home and went through the paper work with Mum and talked about feeding. I have to feed her twice a day at roughly the same time. So her tea time is about seven and breakfast shall be at seven in the morning. Tracey again told us how Laila is very sensitive because of the amount of change she has had in her life recently and how we shouldn't be surprised if she is restless, doesn't eat or spend because it is all stress. Laila has surprised us all by being impeccable since Tracey left: eating, spending and even sleeping like a good 'un! She and my Dog, Grace, have been playing together in the garden and at the moment everything seems very very lovely. I can't believe she is really here!

Training Diary - Preparations!

Today I had no training but Mum and I had the mammoth task of tidying my bedroom in preparation for Miss Laila's arrival. We got rid of my not-so-productive-full-of-rubbish desk and replaced it with a much skinnier book case. Lots of small print books which I have clung to for so long are being cast out and teddies are being banished to the loft. New beginnings. We've put Laila's bed in my room now and sterilised her bowls, it all seems so real and I can't believe tomorrow is my last day without a guide dog. I'm getting a bit nervous in case it doesn't work out but I just need to get some sleep... zzzzz....

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Training Diary- Day Three

Today was really good, before training I had a pretty much all day french exam followed by a french lesson so I was all frenched out, luckily Laila doesn't parle en fran├žais...
I met Tracey outside school as usual and we went home and she showed me how to effectively groom Laila, going against the grain of her coat and then the right way. It was very strange because I had to sniff her ears, but this is to make sure they are healthy. Then we went on the walk to the primary school and back again, but on the way back, when Laila overstepped the curb, I realised Tracey wasn't on the other end of a lead! This was really awesome and scary at the same time!

Exciting stuff!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Training Diary- Day Two

I am really tired so excuse any mistakes. Today I had a three hour graphics exam before training but it still went well (I hope). I saw the lovely Miss Laila again and she seemed a lot calmer in the house. I seem to be getting the hang of moving through the door with her and she tends to be listening to me a little more! She spent again in the garden and then we set off on one of my routes (to Brownies). Laila walked there and then guided me back, it was great and I can't wait to be guided every day! A group of primary school children were getting off the coach and the teachers quickly said "Don't stroke the dog!!" I guess I'll have to get used to that wherever I go now! A few Brownies who go to the same school got excited to see 'Loopy Owl' (my leader name at Brownies) with her guide dog too, they can't wait to meet Laila properly. In the garden I played with one of Laila's toys to show her that good things happen with the harness on too. When we got back inside we talked about feeding procedure, I have to blow on a whistle three times to signal she can eat. Tracey thought that there was very little chance of Laila eating as she was so picky anyway, but she did! Then had a drink... then spent... again...! But hey it's a good sign :)

Then Richard, another guide dog person but with a different job, which I can't remember at the moment, came and gave me a bag of goodies. I got a Sam Browne belt so cars can see me (can't miss me as light bounces of me it's so fluorescent), two collars (one for home, one for out and about), bells for the collars (so I know where Laila is), a lead, grooming equipment, a whistle and of course most importantly the harness! I have two handles because we don't know which is best for me at the moment, but tomorrow the harness will be taken away until I qualify - they don't want me having a manic test drive! It's all very exciting!

Monday, 25 June 2012

Training Diary- Day One

I got picked up from school an hour early by my Guide Dogs trainer, Tracey. I was so excited! In the car Tracey explained how the training will take place and how Laila (I have been spelling her name wrong!) is a very sensitive little dog so we need to take things slowly. She told me how I will learn three routes during the training and will add more in a few months. I became worried and asked if I can only ever do routes with Laila, and if I know the way to a place can I do it without prior training. It was a relief for her to say that yes, eventually me and Laila's relationship and our understanding of each other will be will be strong enough to do any adventure as long as I know the route! Of course I need to learn all the commands first though...

We went back to my house and put my little dog Gracie in the conservatory while we talked. Tracey explained that over the next week she will show me the basic 'nitty gritty' bits of having a guide dog: grooming, playing, commands, spending (toileting) and obedience. We will also talk about the three routes I need the most which I have decided are: from the supermarket to the main pedestrian shopping area in my local town, home to Brownies so I can get there every wednesday and where my Mum drops me off in the mornings to school. Then poor Laila has to cope with me giving commands to get from room to room during the school day (poor thing!). I showed Tracey my reasonably tidy bedroom where Laila will be sleeping and she agreed that I need to move my desk and draws into the spare room so there is room for Laila and her bed. She also pointed out a few assorted teddies which she said I'd have to move if I don't want Laila to make friends with them!

Then Laila came in to explore the living room, she was sniffing around madly and it sounded more like a dinosaur had come for a visit- not a golden retriever cross! She did an amazing high leap to try and catch a fly and then I gave her some cuddles once she'd calmed down. Tracey explained that Laila was panting because she was a bit stressed, not majorly stressed, but just the same amount that I was probably feeling. I learnt how to take Laila through a door, asking her to sit, wait, opening the door with my back to it and then saying "Off you go!"...well I think that was it anyway... Possibly not the best house manners but Laila spent quite soon after getting into the garden, which I'm assured is a good sign she is feeling OK. We introduced our family dog Gracie to Laila and they seemed to get on well once Grace had made it clear she was here first.

Then I learnt how to tell Laila to lie down just like I want her to do when we go to school, this weekend I will have to put her on the lead in the house to practice this when I am reading or doing something that doesn't involve movement. I am really really happy. Bring on tomorrow!! 

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Moving On

So- tomorrow I begin training with my beautiful guide dog Layla. I can't wait! The training lasts approximately two weeks and then it's just me and her with the skills to navigate and stay safe in the big wide world together (hopefully) . My school, after a short delay, have agreed to let me leave school a lesson early in order to train with Layla, providing I catch up in time. So tomorrow at 2.30pm I am going to head to the school reception and see Layla and my trainer Tracey again! I have been told the training is pretty tough and that I can expect to have some days where I just want to give up, but in the end I think it will be 100% worth it. I can't even begin to think about the post-Layla opportunities; being able to get the bus to school, going into town for some shopping without being guided by people, not being avoided because of my cane (the shield of awkwardness), and having a beautiful companion by my side.

I'm really excited but also apprehensive. What if the training doesn't go well? What if Layla doesn't like me? All stupid things but niggling little night time thoughts. My main worry is school. I think trying to stop 800+ girls stroking my dog as I go past is going to be somewhat a challenge. But Hey Ho!
I went to buy a bed, bowls, and toys for Layla today- it was exciting!

I have decided to do daily blogs when I have finished a days training with Layla or when she is generally doing something with me. It can be like a 'Guide Dog Diary'. You can follow this through the widget at the side "Follow mine and Layla's Journey' and click on the guide dogs link below. :]
Wish me luck and I'll blog tomorrow :D

Me on Layla's massive bed at home!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Meeting Layla

I was very excited yesterday because I was due to meet my future guide dog, Layla. Layla had been selected for me due to my walking speed, personality, and leg gate. Myself and Mum went to Lincoln to meet my guide dog trainer Tracey and the dog we had heard so much about.

Layla is a beautiful Golden Retriever Labrador cross, though she has a short coat more like a labrador. She is golden and yellow patchy and quite small. She is two and a half years old and was previously a guide dog for someone else but it didn't work out. I went for a walk with Tracey and Layla and I was instantly completely and utterly in love with her. Tracey seemed pleased with us, and confirmed that Layla was a match for me. I can't wait for another taste of the freedom Layla can bring me!

Then we went for coffee and talked about training and plans for what comes next and a Plan A and Plan B have been formulated, but either way I should be at home with Layla before the summer holidays.

To be continued.