Practice makes permanent

Wiley and I are generally quite busy. Work, catching up with friends, shopping and running errands means we are out and about most days. So it is really nice when we have a couple of days with no commitments.

On Saturday I headed off to my parents to spend a few days at their place. Once there I didn’t have to go anywhere in particular. I still wanted to head out as Wiley is a fairly new Guide Dog and I like him to have regular work to keep up his guiding skills.

Different situations require different skills. For example being in the city means catching a bus, working in crowds and busy environments. Whereas if we walk to the local shops Wiley needs to be careful of driveway traffic and cope with the inevitable distraction of other dogs.

Going to the city involves bursts of work with breaks for Wiley to rest in between – snoozing on the bus, at a coffee shop, bus stop etc. Working in my local area requires a longer duration of work without breaks.

Over summer we have done a lot of bus travel and city work as it has been too hot to do prolonged local walks. He has also had heaps of practice of lying quietly – during talks, on the bus, at cafes etc. Whereas we haven’t done a great deal of suburban walks, to the local shops etc.

So with a few days to ourselves and some beautiful autumn weather I thought it would be a great time to do some suburban walks. I lived with my parents for a while after my divorce so I am very familiar with the area but Wiley has never lived there, so it was all new to him. This was great as it meant I could give Wiley clear directions on where he needed to go.

Our first trip was to the local shops and Wiley performed flawlessly. We didn’t have anyone pulling into or out of driveways but he seemed very aware of his surroundings so I am sure he would have stopped if needed. We came across several other dogs (thankfully on lead) and Wiley ignored them all.

The next day we headed off to a local club. Most of the walk there was along bike paths which are frequented by lots of dogs.  He was occasionally a little distracted by some nice smelling bush but quickly regained his focus. On the way back we took a different path so we could once again practice driveway work – although yet again there was no one pulling in or out.

Working for a longer period didn’t seem to bother Wiley, he was as jaunty at the end as he was at the beginning. I think our regular recreational walks have helped maintain his fitness.

I was so pleased with Wiley, he did some good work and I really enjoyed being out with him without time restrictions or other commitments.

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