We ran two runs of the Elm Street Route, and they went ok. The morning run seemed to go better than the afternoon, but that was not because I didn't understand where I was going, but because we had some unscripted traffic checkes in a crazy intersection, and that made Velvet extra-cautious. There were portions in the afternoon route where I had to coax Velvet into the intersection to get her to cross. This whole coaxing thing is really a hard call to make though for this reason. The dogs are taught to intelligently disobey the "forward" command, or the command that makes the dog go forward. If it doesn't look safe from the dog's point of view to cross--if the dog is concerned with traffic--they just won't plain cross. Since the instructor was there and since I thought it was safe, we knew that she was just a bit shy about the busy street, so we coaxed her onto the crossing. This whole process is very hard for Velvet to deal with, so I used a lot of hugs, pats, and praise to lift her spirits so that she would work for me effectively and not grudgingly. I know that once we finish the solo on this route tomorrow and go to freelance, she'll pick up her step and prick up her ears simply because we'll be going to new places and not just retracing our steps over and over again. It's boring for the humans, and boring for our canine friends too. It's a necessary part of the process though, so we'll tolerate it.
I got a call from DSCR today on the way back from first trip. They wanted forms filled out and filled out quickly plus they wanted a transcript. I can't figure out why they needed a transcript, but I sent it aby email anyway. The nurse on duty was nice enough to help me fill out the simple "are you a criminal? etc. etc." forms, and then she was nice enough to fax them to the main headquarters of HR. Man, the people here at The Seeing Eye are so nice. Anything that they can do to keep you happy and productive in class, they'll do it, even if it has nothing to do with dogs. I think I'm one step closer to getting an offer, at least I hope that's the case.
I haven't mentioned it yet, but last week midway through class, the place on my face that sometimes gets numb without notice got numb. It's not a good time for it to do this, because I don't want something medically screwy to happen to me while I'm training because I want to go home on time and with my dog. The numbness radiates from the upper top right lip and into my right nostril. It doesn't effect my work at all, but it's highly annoying, and I feel like I'm slobbering out of the right side of my mouth. Envision being numbed by your dentist 24 hours a day. The numbmess this time versus last, is being accompanied by a slight tooth ache. If I were home, I'd go to the dentist, but I think it's more trouble than it's worth for now. They didn't figure out what was causing it before, so I hope next week when I go home that I can get some answers. Anyway, my mouth is still numb, and my tooth still hurts, so it's very annoying and painful.
Anyway, back to dogs. I was so tired this afternoon, that I almost wished I hadn't decided to accept the invitation to speak to the Orientation and Mobility instructors, but it turned out well. The three of us fellow class members talked for about an hour or so about why we got our dogs and why we chose The Seeing Eye. I thought about writing about why I chose The Seeing Eye and to get a dog, but I'm getting to the point where I am getting too tired to type, so I think I'll forgo that for another day. They didn't ask too many questions, but I think that the three of us did enjoy the whole thing. Tomorrow they will be able to actually work a dog, and from what I've heard from other instructors I've talked to, that's a really neat experience.
I'll start by talking about the good parts of dinner. We had stuffed chicken breast, sauteed vegetables with a dinner roll. Concentrate if you will on THE DINNER ROLL. Usually, we work our dogs down to the dining room and our particular tables with our harnesses. When we get to our table, we push our dogs under the table, and put their noses facing outward from the table. I was having issues with getting Velvet under, so it took me longer than usual to push her under. Apparently, she saw the dinner roll on the bread plate on the table because as I was turning her around to push her under, she decided she really wanted that roll. The next thing I knew, she had her front feet on the table and the whole roll was in her mouth. Ten years of managing a dog has given me really quick hands, so I was able to get the roll out before she ate it, but I was still pretty shaken, because I've never had a dog do that to me when I was holding her leash. Fiona's always been really sneaky, but Veltet? No. I scolded her, and one of the instructors said I did good, and that I didn't let her win, and that it was ok. He came over a bit after and told me to go down and give her love and hugs because she looked very very sad. Dogs are amazing, because once I petted her and got on the floor with her, she was all waggy and happy. I just hope she learned a lesson because paws on the table will not be allowed at my house.
So I've been asked how I pick up after my dog. Basically, I take her out and she circles arouund me, searching for the perfect spot. I can tell when she stops moving, so when she does, I follow the leash to her neck. I very lightly feel down her back to tell if I need to pick up or not. If it feels like she's sitting down, if the back is in a straight line, then she's peeing. Male dogs are different, but I haven't had a male dog, so don't know for sure. If she's pooping, then the back is arched into a hump, and I then quickly walk to her tail, and then when she gets up, I can put a plastic bag on my hand and feel down where I think it should be. If you position yourself right, then it's not easy to find. You pick up your present in the bag, turn it inside out, and tie up the bag ... all without touching anything that too gross. You get used to it after a while.
We got our new harnesses tonight. We're supposed to oil the leather much like you do with saddles, but we thing I've got the wrong size of harness for my dog, so I have to wait to get the right side before I oil and clean it. It will take three coats of oil, so I hope to get it sooner rather than later. The harness I'm using now with Velvet is an old one that's been used before by other dogs. They give us old harnesses so that we can work our dogs quickly rather than being harnessless for a while. They are simple to put together, but they take time to "break in". I still ahven't given up Fiona's harness, so I have three harnesses hanging on my door. It looks like a tack room here in my room. I think I'll be able to handle giving up Fiona's harness soon, but I just can't do it yet. It's just hard.
So that's about all I can think of or have energy enough to write about. Perhaps with starting freelance, I'll feel better tomorrow night. I hope my tooth gets better over time ... if it gets worse, I'll be forced to see a dentist here. More soon.
Breakfast: fried eggs hash browned potatoes
lunch: an open faced roast beef sandwich with gravy. French fries. Dessert was a toffy chocolate blondie. Very tasty.
Dinner: stuffed chicken breast, sauteed vegetables, and dessert was a chocolate rollian (chocolate cake in a roll with shaved raspberry chocolate and chocolate in the middle. Very very rich, and something that might cost you $5 at a normal restaurant.
I don't think I'm getting fat but still. This food is sinfull.