Alan and Velvet
Guide Dog Training part one
Training at the hotel
Arrived at hotel.
Got settled in my room.
And then went into the carpark to hear the recorded BBC Radio Sheffield interview from last Friday.
I hope I got a recording on my digital recorder, will check it out later.
Now off for lunch.
Well no lunch yet.
Just had mobility and orientation on our floor of the hotel.
Photo of the corridor:
Instructor said she saw I had already been out, as I went out into the carpark to record the radio interview.
I should have waited to be shown the way.
But in my own defence, I did train here 5 years back and I did ask one of the instructors if I could go out to get a better reception.
So I knew where to go.
Got told off for walking too fast.
And reminded the techniques for trailing, but had to have my arm at full stretch, not my usual way.
We did find some laundry on the corridor floor outside a room.
I have to do it right as my instructor is a trainee being assessed.
Now hoping to eat soon, rather hungry.
Had lunch, met the other people.
We had a welcome and introduced ourselves.
Just been to reception to get a web key and look at the dining area.
After that looked at the route out to the spending area. Now to chill while others do the same things.
Oh yes silly little cups, good job I brought my own mug.
Got connected to the net, got emails.
Should be able upload this later.
Sitting here at my desk, thinking there is a strange smell.
Opened the bottom draw, and it has a bag of dog food in it.
What a stink.
Just back from dinner.
Chill out time until breakfast tomorrow.
Just got up with a headache, did not drink enough yesterday I think.
So had breakfast.
Had first group talk, we were given the equipment that is needed for working and playing with our dogs.
The new hi-vis tops are good; however, I need a larger one.
It fits now but with a coat under it, it may not zip up.
So now off to work the leather harness and lead.
We also received grooming brush and comb, a whistle, your help welcome card and a ragger rope.
Back from being part of a lead and obedience session, this work is to give us some insight into how to keep our dogs under control and helps us to develop the close working partnership.
Next thing for me is a group meeting at 12.00.
Now back in my room, waiting for dogs to be delivered.
Had the talk that prepares us for the arrival.
How to greet our new best friends and what to do to make their welcome as stress free as possible.
So now sat and have butterflies until they arrive.
At about 2.30 Velvet arrived.
Above is a pic or two
We have been getting to know each other.
She likes her own space, happy to lay down while I am in one place, but as soon as I move she is up and ready to look at what I am doing.
We have been for a short walk to take Velvet for a wee.
All went well on our little walk, only out into the carpark but we did not get blasted with rain or snow.
Velvet had her tea at about 6, took her back out and then went for our tea.
After that we had another talk about the overnight plans and to arrange times for bed time wee.
So that is about it for today and look forward to updating you in the morning.
Was woke up at 3.15 with the bed moving.
Went to look, and there was a dog chin and paw on the end of the bed.
Told her to go back to sleep.
There was a whine at 6.15, again asked her to go back to sleep.
Got up at 7.
Velvet had breakfast and went for a poo.
I am now off to eat myself.
Just been out for a short handle walk.
For those that do not know what a short handle walk is.
We use a handle that is used with a guide dog, however it is the instructor that acts as a dog.
This is so we can learn the hand signals, voice commands and foot positions.
We have to talk to the instructor telling them where we need to go. Such as left right and straight on.
The other group is going out now and when they get back we are having a class on grooming and caring for a dog.
So I will update you later as to how this goes.
So we had a demonstration on grooming and caring for our dogs.
Then we had to answer questions why we groom our dogs.
How to undertake a health check, things to look out for and how to recognise signs of our dogs not being in tip-top condition.
Then after lunch.
We went out on the streets of Sheffield with our dogs in harness.
We had to work from one street corner to the next using the prompts that we were shown this morning.
Pic of the area we took our first steps.
We had sun, rain and sleet whilst walking out and about.
Just got back and now have to give Velvet a groom and play to show it is not all work.
We have had our teas, sitting here trying to keep my eyes open, pooch is sleeping over by the door.
That is it until tomorrow. So will now try and upload this.
Well little madam would not go for a bed time wee.
Velvet woke me up again.
I told her it was time to sleep.
She was at it again.
So I got up to take her out as she did not do anything last night.
She was a good girl and did both.
Was able to have a cup of tea as my personal fridge arrived so I can keep milk fresh. What a luxury.
When we go home I can see that there will be arguments between Velvet and Mindi.
Mindi is a sun worshiper and it looks like Velvet is too.
The sun is shining through the window and as it moves across the floor Velvet is moving with it.
So we may have to have larger windows fitted so there is more sun.
So today we have been out on 2 long walks.
Both walks were on the same route, however one was in the sun and the second in the rain.
With a new dog these different conditions make such a difference to how they work.
I hope she sleeps through tonight; will let you know in the morning.
Tonight is the first night that there are no trainers at the hotel.
Plus, they have forecast snow for tomorrow.
Velvet got me up again, however she did need to go out, not just pulling my leg.
This morning we have been out in the cold wind.
It is also bin day so we had to work our way through bins left out on the pavements.
It may look as though we get lots of free time, however there are so many things to do between going out on walks.
We have to groom, play, work on obedience and build up that strong relationship with our dogs, that shows when we are out and about, living and working in our day to day lives.
I hope by reading these notes you will have a glance into what and how intense guide dog training is.
It does take over a person’s lives for at least 4 solid weeks, and then each day for the rest of the working partnership we have to spend time ensuring that we work as a team.
So so so different to having a pet dog.
It will be after lunch when we are next out.
Looking forward to this evening as Sandra is making a visit, got to introduce Velvet and Mindi and let them have time together, as they have only met for 10 mins so far.
Now back from afternoon walk.
We had a good walk, no rain or snow, wind has stopped and sun came out.
Velvet and I had a great walk. We did find some cats, which we did work past.
When we got out of the car to start our walk, someone opened the door to the house we were parked outside of and Velvet thought they were welcoming her into their home, she gave a little whimper when they closed the door on us.
I have also just sent our trainer a text saying.
I love my pretend Shepherd.
Just rang Sandra and she will be on her way in half an hour.
So the 2 black labs will meet.
I will try and get a photo of them both.
Well both dogs got on great.
Once we had let them say hello and get used to each other they just started play bowing.
They both played in the same bed.
Looks like they are going to be best friends.
Here you can see a photo of both dogs:
Velvet is at the front.
As to the colour of both Velvet and Mindi.
I thought Velvet was not dark black.
So looking at both together mindi is dark black and velvet looks grey or even a very dark brown. Well that is how it looks to someone who has to use a dog to get about.
This morning is a better time to get up.
Sun is out so let’s see what today brings.
We revisited one of yesterday’s routes, had to work round bins and things.
Had a talk about how man has domesticated dogs and how they use body language to signal to each other, this leads on to how we work with our dogs when giving our hand and foot gestures.
We are shown many ways to tell our dogs what we need them to do.
We give voice commands, but if we lose our voices, or are in noisy environments we need other ways to tell the dog what we need.
So we use hand signs, but once again if we are carrying shopping bags how else can we pass on the right information.
So we have foot positioning signs.
Using a mix of all these ways of telling our dogs what we need from them helps us get out and about in a safe way.
We are off out on another walk this afternoon, where we are going shopping.
Well back from shopping trip.
We did not buy anything as this was an exercise in working our dogs up and down shop aisles, moving between trollies and people that do not look where they are going.
Moving around displays and all those great smells, such as dog and cat food, things on the cleaning aisle and the fresh meat fridges.
All went well and now going to have a cup of tea, much needed after being dragged around a shop by a female.
You men should know what torcher this is.
Velvet has got the idea.
Did not get me out of bed until 7.
Perhaps she knows it is a Sunday
This morning we worked up and down one of the main shopping streets here in Sheffield.
We did almost a figure of 8, walking down one side of the road, crossing and coming back, then crossing and walking the other way.
After lunch we went down a few streets and then through some public gardens.
We were working in relays.
From one car to another, while the person in the other then walked back to the car we started from.
So there I was sitting in the car.
When the alarm started sounding.
So I was sat in a car outside a house with the alarm making such a racket.
I could only sit there with my fingers in my ears, I hope Velvet had the sense to put her paws over hers.
When we got back to the hotel, Velvet would not sit at the kerb.
I had to tell her a few times.
Perhaps she was deafened and could not hear me telling her what to do.
Well that is the excuse I gave the trainer.
Sandra is on her way so we can catch up this evening.
Will report more tomorrow, we are taking the dogs for a run.
Velvet now knows we get up at 7
I did not get any cold noses under the covers this morning.
Back from a free run.
No rain, a good breeze and a great day to be out.
Dogs had a run and play, met other dogs in the park.
Got them to come back to us, no jumping in pools, a very enjoyable morning.
Taking Vel into lunch, did forget to say last night I took her to the restaurant, so we could use our dogs just like we were going out for a meal.
Not sure what is taking place after lunch but it has been forecast for heavy rain, looks like we are going to get wet again.
We went out to do something that is called traffic.
This is where under very controlled conditions we are shown how to use our dogs and how the dogs will react if we get it wrong and tell our dogs to cross a road when a car is coming along it.
As I said, it is very controlled with 4 trainers watching cars, driving a car who knows how the dogs react and one there to assist if we have problems.
All done slowly and carefully, not like real life when people break the speed limit.
Another great day.
The rest of us students are having such fun, we are playing out our own version of Downton Abbey.
I have been given the role of stable boy.
More traffic work tomorrow and a talk.
After dinner went to room and crashed.
And strange for me, I could not eat all my dinner, I must have left about half of the main course.
Got a knock on room door some time about 11pm, Sandra had been trying to call, my phone had gone flat, she did try on skype but I did not hear it.
Got up when the radio came on.
Got some business work to do today, it is some Braille for a wedding, some short notice work.
So between walks I need to get it done.
Just back from more traffic work, yesterday we only covered far traffic approaching.
So today we looked at far traffic, from behind and approaching.
We then did some near traffic.
A small group of us are talking about going to visit the pool later, depending on the time we finish.
We did talk about it the other day but when we got there the pool was full.
Lots of kids, so no good for us when we cannot see where they are.
Now back from pool, we had half an hour there.
Sat in steam room, stomach feels a little better, but not yet eaten today.
Going for tea soon.
This afternoon we did off kerb work.
This is when the footpath is blocked with bins, cars and building works amongst many other things.
We are going to do some work tomorrow on busses,
Got up after a good sleep.
I feel better after my light dinner.
So this morning we have been out.
But not on busses, that is tomorrow.
We have had a walk in Sheffield town centre.
Along Division Street.
Then added a little more onto the end of the route to include Sheffield Royal Society for the blind.
A route that both dog and trainer have not done.
It was good as I knew it well and saw how Velvet reacts on routes she has not been trained on.
After lunch we are out again looking at more off kerb work.
We had a talk about fundraising, the range of activities and where we can help.
Late afternoon we all went out for a real street walk, with obstacles, shops with goods on the footpath, spilt chips and the like.
There was an interesting road rage section on my walk.
We stopped at a kerb to cross, we have been taught not to cross if there is a car engine running.
So there was a car parked on the pavement, a second car was across both sides of the road.
The 2 drivers were having a chat.
My trainer asked what they were doing.
The second car driver gave some grief back, asking what it had to do with us.
Trainer replied that cars were wanting to pass.
As there was now a third car wanting to come down the road.
Just at that time a 4th car came in the other direction.
So we had gridlock.
The second car did move to allow cars 3 and 4 to pass, then he drove up to us and asked if he had to tell us everything he was doing.
Once he had gone the first car driver did say sorry and let us cross.
The next road crossing we were stood waiting to cross, cars were moving both ways.
When and I will give the name of a woman driver came out of a shop.
Got in a car that was parked almost on the corner, to the right side of me, then she put the car in reverse and backed up to me, with only a small space available, moved forward, and reversed back again to make it a 3 point turn to get out of the line of parked traffic.
Throughout all this time cars were passing up and down the street.
She then pulled out in front of another car.
Once she had gone we then continued to cross the street.
It makes me wonder on what planet some car drivers are on, as I was stood with a hi-vis jacket on and with my guide dog and 2 trainers stood at the side of the road, but she was in so much of a rush that she made it hard for herself by not letting us move first.
Just remember you drivers, if you hit a person that is clearly standing still with hi-vis clothing, you are responsible and perhaps could lose your driving licence.
We had a great laugh telling the rest of the group about our stupid driver’s actions.
Up this morning with blurry eyes.
Last day, one more sleep before we go home.
Took dogs out this morning half asleep, in the middle of a delivery of beer barrels to the hotel.
Banging and clattering.
Today we have had a walk down a busy street, went into a café for a drink, then caught the bus back to the cars.
As there are 8 of us, 4 went into the café whilst the trainers went to get the next group. As they arrived we moved out and got the bus whilst the second group had a drink
Just got back, but too early for lunch so now writing this up.
This afternoon I am not sure what is taking place, but later Radio Sheffield are coming to do the next chapter of the story.
I will ask if they know when it is due to go out on air.
This afternoon started with a walk down a busy street with shops and carparks, then we turned off the main road and into a park area.
I had to work Velvet around the park and out back onto the main road.
Got back just in time to record part 2 of my radio interview for Radio Sheffield.
It may be going out on air on Monday.
Now starting to pack as we go home in the morning.
We are all having a get together in the bar this evening.
The exchange of telephone numbers.
I have so many things to take home.
There is my Braille machine, as I had to do some work for a wedding whilst here, my fridge that I had sent in so I could keep milk fresh, as I do not like that long life stuff.
There is my dog, the main reason for being here.
Should be going home about 10am, so should be home not much later as the hotel is only a mile and a half from home.
I will make a few notes tomorrow on this blog then start the next section on Monday when we start again but working from home.
I will also get someone who can see to find the best photos and upload them.
Well today we go home.
Packed up our room, took bags to meeting room and went outside.
Sat on kerb edge of carpark, others slowly came out and stood around talking until we loaded up the cars.
I have found a volunteer job for myself and a friend that the trainers like the sound of.
So will set this up for future training.
Velvet and Mindi are looking like bookends, getting on great, had a play but sleeping in beds at the side of each other.
Velvet keeps getting up and having a look around her new home.
She must feel so confused, firstly living with puppy walker, then a new person for each stage of training and now coming here after a stay in a hotel.
I hope she likes it here.
I am unpacking bags which she keeps putting her nose in.
The next test is bed time and going out for a wee.
Not to do anything but play and make her feel at home until trainer comes on Monday.
So that will be my next entry.
This is the end of part one of our training.
Part two starts on 09 May
To continue following our story visit this link: