Alan and Velvet
Guide Dog Training Part Two
Training at Home
Firstly a few notes about the weekend.
Friday afternoon and Saturday I spent recovering, I was very tired, and also felt quite lost.
After being on class for 2 weeks and the week before that, we were on holiday, so for the past 3 weeks there has been a minimum of 5 people and 4 dogs, reaching a peak of 14 people and 8 dogs, so when I got home and it was just the 4 of us it was so quiet, I was rather grumpy.
The little Miss Velvet would not go out for a wee on Friday night, so thought I would get up to a pool on Sat, must say she did not make any mess.
Saturday she was up at 6, but got her to go back to bed.
Sunday was much the same, however it was a great sunny day so I got out our hot tub and spent the afternoon lying about in bubbles.
So to today, my birthday.
My early birthday gift gets the chance to go out today.
Trainer should come sometime about lunch time.
First time we have been out since coming home from hotel.
We had a walk in the sun, visited some of our local shops.
Including the dentists, which is not a great place to get in.
Firstly, there are 2 sets of doors to get in.
While getting Velvet to sit at the door, people kept coming in and out.
So we got through the first door, to then have the problem with the second door.
And that was the easy part.
On our way out.
We have to sit at the door.
When the door opens Velvet has to move so she does not get hit with the door as it opens, I then have to get her to sit again before asking her to come through it.
So we got through the first door then had to do it all again.
It is such a pain having to make a dog sit twice at each door.
Having said that, it helps with the training and ensuring that the dog does not rush in or out of a building where there could be an accident waiting to happen.
It only needs someone not too firm on their feet and we just go charging through the door and knock someone over and put them in hospital.
I would feel so bad then and ask myself why does my dog pull me through doors.
So by enforcing the sit, does have an end purpose.
It is just so frustrating at times.
Spent the afternoon in the hot tub again after playing and grooming Velvet.
Oh yes heard the second part of the radio diary broadcast, sounds good.
I am recording them to try and put on the website linked into this document.
Just need to get web developer to make the suitable pages.
Had a rough night, we had a fox calling most of the night, but dogs slept through it.
So Velvet was up at 5.
We had rain most of the day, got dripping wet.
Our walk was a round trip including my local bus stops.
The walk started down the hill, through the park and along the main road, Velvet found the chair at the bus stop and then onto the tool shop, where we crossed over to come back to the bus stop where we would get off the bus when coming out of town.
We then walked up the back road and round to our home.
On our return we got out a towel to dry Velvet as she was rather wet. After which we found some dog toys and found one that both Mindi and Velvet would play with.
The trainer asked if I was happy for Velvets puppy walkers to come and see us on a walk.
We said yes as if it was not for all the help and early training that puppy walkers do, guide dogs would not be such well trained and robust dogs to put up with the hustle and bustle of working on the busy city streets.
The trainer is going to arrange a date with the puppy walkers.
Tomorrow we are going to find a local supermarket.
This morning we pretended to be sleeping when she came up at 6.
The only thing was, she settled on the top of the stairs where she could see us in bed.
So every time we moved a foot or hand she was back, whimpering to get us out of bed.
At 6.50 I did tell her to go and settle.
And when the radio alarm came on I jumped out of bed and said good morning and fussed her, so she may get the idea that she gets a fuss and we get up when the radio comes on.
I had to go out without her this morning, as I had to pop into town.
Sandra was left dog sitting.
We had 2 trainers visit today for our visit to the supermarket.
Whilst out walking I told them I had been out to buy lots of cheese.
So they raided the fridge to see how much on our return.
I was asked why so much, my reply was we are going to a cheese and wine evening tomorrow.
On leaving our garden gate and walking along our garden fence Velvet stopped walking and then turned around.
This was because there was a car parked on the pavement, so she did what is called an off kerb obstacle.
Why people have to park leaving no room between a fence or wall and their car.
The law should be enforced as it is illegal to park on the pavement while not leaving enough room for a person to pass with a double buggy.
Once we got around this ignorant person’s car we continued to the shops.
Just look at the space in this photo:
The law states that there should be 1m between the car and the fixed object.
The white stick you can see on the floor is 70cm and this passes beyond the side of the car.
If the car is still there tomorrow I will take a photo as I did not think of this until after dark.
Whilst in the shop we got some milk, also wanted some cocktail sticks but they did not have any.
A dry walk, so no towels needed.
Near where we live there is a house that makes the one on the TV program ‘The Adams Family’, look quite modern, there are lots of cats live there but Velvet did show lots of self-control when passing them.
Made plans for a visit to the vets on Friday, but we are going to do the walk tomorrow so Velvet knows where to go.
We will find out how much she weighs.
Velvet stands a little taller than Mindi and may be about the same weight.
At tea time I was laying on my bed listening to a story when Velvet was barking for her tea. Such a madam.
Must say both dogs do settle in the evening so I can get on with computer work.
Velvet got up at 5.30 this morning. We ignored her so she went back downstairs and went to sleep for a while.
She then came and slept on our halfway landing.
When the radio came on I called out good morning, her name and when she came I fussed her.
Our walk to day included a bus ride to visit the vets, this was just a visit to show her where to go, we then got on a bus back home, however as busses were quick we got off the bus and went back to the supermarket.
Then back up the hill home.
Our garden gate and fence are almost the same colour and design so she has not been finding the gate. However, we sorted that this morning.
We took one of her toys out that has a squeak in it.
Let her play with it before we left and let her see that we put it on the fence where the gate opens.
So on our return I asked her to find the toy.
She found it, I made it squeak so she knew she was at the right place.
Then we had a quick play with it.
Will try that again to ensure she finds the gate and where she lives.
Whilst writing she is leaning on my legs to see what I am up to.
Well an update to last night.
I had to go out to a meeting where I was delivering a talk.
So Sandra, Mindi, Velvet and myself went door to door in a taxi.
Meeting went good.
However, getting home was an interesting adventure.
So Velvets first trip out to a meeting she ended up getting a taxi driver suspended.
Our taxi home refused to take us, which did get sorted with a phone call and 3 taxi drivers later, we got home.
So this morning we rang to report the incident, which the driver was suspended from work until he had an interview with one of the managers.
All we could do is tell Velvet that on her first outing for work, for EYECAN, she got a driver banned from work.
Had to confess to trainer what we did and what took place, she was ok with it as there was no new actions for Velvet as she had already visited the venue.
So to today’s walk.
A good walk to the bus, then a ride on the bus, with a walk to the vets.
Got flea treatment, and found out how much she weighs, just over 30Kg.
A walk and bus ride home.
A good walk but did find 2 cats, which the little madam was very interested in.
Just cleared with the trainer a visit to my mum and dad’s sometime this weekend.
This visit will also be via a taxi so let’s see what the result is then.
My next report will be on Monday 16th as we can chill for the weekend.
An easy weekend, took velvet to meet my mum and dad on Sunday.
Velvet loves guinea pigs, all she could do was watch them, she even stood on her back legs when there was a high run, what was funny was when they went in their house Velvet ran around the back of the run to see where they were.
So to today.
A lunch time walk to the post office, the doctors and then to the dentist.
A good walk around the block in the sun.
When passing the co-op there was a lady with 5 small dogs in a bunch, Velvet did not even bat an eyelid, however the lady asked if her dogs could say hello, we said not whilst she was still training.
We let them go on, to only find them at the post office, Velvet worked in and out of the shop not even noting the dogs were there.
As we passed the bus stop Velvet wanted to get on the bus, and then she wanted to find the chair at the shelter, however there was the remains of an apple left on the chair so do not know what she wanted, the trainer saw what she was up to, so stopped her from eating it.
Tomorrow we are off to Lidl again, which will be interesting as they are digging up the road, after all, this is why we have guide dogs to help us get around day to day changes safely.
I am so ready to qualify with my new dog; it is almost a month since I started working with my new dog. This is quite a long time to take out of anyone’s life, especially someone who is self-employed and has to travel around the country for work, it is a good job we had a productive work load before training or we would now be having problems paying the mortgage and buying food.
Yes, this time was extended because we also had a week’s holiday but that had been booked for 4 months before finding out about the training.
In the old days we used to go away for 3 weeks but were then qualified on leaving the centre, now it can be 4 or 5 weeks and for some it is even longer.
Ready to start living life like we used to, having said that life will not be the same for a while as Velvet has to learn all the routes we have built up over the past few years, good job I know where to go when moving between cities.
Trainer is coming later this afternoon today.
We had a walk to the shops, this walk was done with the use of 2-way radio’s, the trainer kept out of sight so Velvet would not get distracted by her, keeping at a distance. She had a radio and I had one too, if I needed help or if she thought we were doing something wrong she could call us up and say if something was wrong.
Had to go out and leave Velvet with Sandra this evening, a friend called and said that a tree was being taken down and was blocking a private road, so could we go and remove it.
So we have made 2 trips with logs and about 4 more to do in the next day or so.
Ready for a shower and bed after all that exercise.
Velvet was still sleeping at 7 when the radio came on, so I called her upstairs.
She might be getting the idea or just the thought of all them logs that I moved last night.
Today we took a Braille machine to the post office, our first real walk for work.
Velvet did it so good, because I had one of my trolley’s, I was only able to give voice directions and foot positioning signs, not able to give hand signs as I had my hand full.
She was so good, she had done the walk to the shop before, but she had not done the walk back home, as we have made it a walk past the dentist in the past, but today it was just a return trip.
I was so pleased with her.
Other things today that we were doing was making plans for a show on the 30th may at a local museum, this is part of the collectors club I run.
You can see more details here.
Also went to move the rest of the tree this evening.
So off to bed now and hope little miss waits till 7 again.
Well it was 6.30 when we heard the sound of bells and feet pattering upstairs.
Did not go out until this afternoon.
We walked to Lidl and back, an interesting walk as it is bin day, however I must say that the blue bin crew are much better at returning bins than the black bin one.
When we got back home another instructor came knocking on the door.
To be told we had qualified.
Photo of Velvet in her harness:
An instructor who had not had any input into our training has to do the assessment.
So we can now go out as a working partnership, so long as we take it careful, only going to places that Velvet knows for a few days.
I then need to slowly introduce her to new places, making the route as calm and enjoyable as possible.
I will be uploading a photo that I have just taken of Velvet in harness.
Tomorrow we are taking both dogs for a free run after a tandem walk, this is where both dogs go out with 1 following the other, we are used to this as we used to do it with my old dog Zimba and Sandra with Mindi. I think Velvet will take the lead and Mindi will follow just like before.
After tomorrow I will only be posting special events such as first visit to the sea-side and Christmas, so thank you for reading, hope you have found it informative.
And last thing to say for now is we will be making our recording for Radio Sheffield sometime next week, once I have all the recordings I will get links to them on this blog.
Just adding our first independent walk was to the kebab shop, in the rain.
I was happy with this walk, Velvet even found the shop door once I asked her to find it.
This morning we had a phone call from Radio Sheffield, not about our training but about a news item for next week.
Guide dogs has sent out a press release about assistance dogs and taxi’s.
As they are following our training story and saw we had a problem last week they called us to talk about issues we have.
Did a sound bite for early on Monday morning and they are sending out a radio car so we can be interviewed on air.
Now back to our dogs.
Been for a free run in the park.
A free run is where dogs are just dogs, they run around the park sniffing and pouncing on each other, we then have to get them back, both were good and came back when called.
They ran and ran, the old girl was out of breath and now are both sleeping in their beds.
Photo of Velvet and Mindi in the park:
And to close this chapter in our story we may be going towards the end of next week for the last part of our audio diary for the radio.
Once again I will put links on the first page once I have the recordings.
To follow our full story visit