A day in the life of a Guide Dog – Part One

I thought it might be fun to look in more detail at a typical working day for Wiley. The day I am recounting is last Friday when we had an education session to run for new bus drivers at 10AM and an after school talk at 4PM.

The day started early, I awoke around 4AM and took Wiley out for his first wee wee break of the day. When we got back Wiley enjoyed his breakfast of mince and chicken necks stuffed in a kong.

Around 6AM we headed out the door for a recreational walk. As it has rained very heavily the night before I knew the dirt tracks would be muddy and slippery. So instead of heading up the bush as usual, we did Wiley’s favourite walk around local streets. He loves catching up on the pee mail left by other dogs. Wiley did his daily poo and two more wees on the walk.

We got back home around 7AM.  I groomed Wiley and let him rest while I attended to my morning routine of showering/breakfast etc.

At 8:15 I put Wiley’s harness on and we head out the door. I gave him the command to ‘find the bus’.

Wiley immediately turned right guiding me to the end of my road, down a lane way with two barking dogs behind a fence and up to the kerb on a very busy road. When I couldn’t hear any traffic I gave Wiley the ‘forward’ command, he stepped off and took me to the median strip. He stopped and once again when I thought it was safe I gave him the ‘forward’ command.

This time instead of taking me straight across the road he veered left. It was a little disconcerting as he had never done that before. The determination of his forward motion told me he had a reason to not go straight across so I followed him despite it meaning we had to stay on the road longer than usual. (If he gets distracted by something the feel and pull of the harness is different to when he is concentrating on his guiding).

We eventually reached the up kerb and found the path we normally walk along. He guided me down the path, only leaving it to take me around an overhanging tree branch. When we were opposite the bus stop we left the path, crossed a nature strip (as there is no path), and stopped at the kerb of another road. I gave him the command to go ‘forward‘ – this time we walked straight across the road, reached the up kerb and turned right. He then took me to the seat of the bus shelter where he was given lots of praise and a little treat.

I heard someone walk up so I asked them if there was a reason why Wiley hadn’t gone straight across the road.  They told me a tree had fallen across the path. Needless to say I was very impressed with my beautiful boy for doing his job so well 🙂

When the bus arrived Wiley took me to the door, I gave him the ‘forward’ command to enter the bus. I asked him to ‘find a seat’ . He walked me over to an empty seat in the accessible seating area. Once I was seated I tucked him under the seat so he was out of the way of the other passengers. He promptly put his head down and started to snooze.

Traveling in peak hour is always tricky as the bus quickly fills up with other passengers. Even tucked up and out of the way Wiley takes up a lot of floor room so anyone traveling next to us has to be a little careful where they put their feet. I often manoeuvre my legs into some very strange and contorted positions in an effort to protect Wiley’s legs and tail from being trodden on.

As is fairly typical I struck up a conversation with the people sharing the accessible seating area. I ended up spending the whole trip answering questions about Wiley and what it is like having a Guide Dog.

After the bus arrived in the city we waited for everyone else to depart, then I told Wiley, ‘Off we go’. He guided me to the top of the stairs at the bus door, I gave him the ‘forward’ command and we exited the bus.

Once we were clear of the platform I got Wiley to ‘stop‘ and ‘shake’. He usually likes to a shake himself after lying down but I don’t want him shaking in an enclosed space like the interior of a bus or anywhere close to where food is begin served. The only way I could stop him shaking where I didn’t want was to give him a command to shake where I want. It was surprisingly easy to teach using treats.

Stage one of our trip was done, next we had to find our way to the training room at the Belconnen bus depot

End of part one.

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