It occurred to me that my journey with Wiley actually started before we even met. So lets call this entry a preface to the Wiley and Jo story 🙂
It isn’t as simple as waiting to your name to get to the top of the list and then being given the next graduating Guide Dog. For a Guide Dog handler team to be successful they need to be compatible.
For Wiley and I it all began when I put in my application and was assessed by a Guide Dog instructor. They asked me lots of questions and came out on a walk with me to see how quickly I walked, my orientation skills etc. The aim is to find a dog that will be a good match with the handler and their lifestyle.
I needed a dog that would cope with novel environments. My job takes me all over Canberra so Wiley and I frequently work in unfamiliar places. My dog also had to have a really good off switch. When I am giving talks or presentations he has to lie quietly sometimes for several hours at a time.
I requested a dog that would be happy in a small unit with no garden and be comfortable always toileting on lead. I also asked for a dog that enjoyed human attention, whereas another handler may have preferred a more aloof dog.
The Instructor determined I needed a dog that would walk quickly. I was happy to work with either a reserved and shy or outgoing dog. I could have requested a particular sex and breed but if you do that then you are limiting your potential matches.
There were quite a few other questions most of which i have forgotten now.
Once my application for a Guide Dog was approved I was put on the waiting list and the instructor who performed the interview sent in a report with all the information to help in the matching process. This is kept on file for when it comes time to assign the newly trained dog to a handler.
During their training the Guide Dog trainer gets to really know each of the dogs, their personalities, strengths and weaknesses. They use this information to pair up each dog with someone on the waiting list who will be a good fit for that dog.
I have to say they got the match spot on with Wiley and I, he is all I could have ever wished for in a dog and more. Not only is he a great Guide Dog but he is also a wonderful laid back boy at home which makes living with him incredibly easy. I am thankful each and every day that we ended up together.