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

After he had his shake I asked Wiley to ‘find Belconnen’. This is his command to take me to the bay where the buses out to Belconnen depart.  He looked around to see where the bus had dropped us off and then guided me to the closest kerb.

The civic interchange is a challenging place to get around. There is often idling buses which masks other traffic sounds. Consequently it is very difficult to determine a safe time to cross. On this occasion a lovely person asked if I needed a hand crossing the road. I asked them to let me know when it would be safe to cross and then gave Wiley the forward command. He took me across the road around the corner and stopped at the correct bay. He got more praise and a little cuddle while I waited for the bus.

When the bus turned up we made our way to the door so I could check with the driver that it was the right bus.  I asked him to let me know when we reached the stop closest to the depot. We repeated the bus embarkation routine but this time there were fewer people so Wiley was able to stretch out a little more.

As it happened the bus was terminating inside the depot so the driver let me stay on the bus. When we stopped I put on my high vis vest and then told Wiley to get off the bus.  This was going to test Wiley’s initiative as we hadn’t found the training room from this position before. The driver asked if I needed help but when I asked Wiley to ‘find the training room’ he walked forward with determination which is an indication he knows where to go so I told the driver we would be fine.

Wiley did a 180 degree turn and took me up a kerb and onto a path. We walked along the path until he stopped at the kerb again. I told him to go ‘find the way’ and he stepped off walked parallel and then stepped up again. It turned out that a car had parked on the path blocking our way.

Once we were back on the path he found the stairs we normally climb to get to the training room. He put his front feet in the first step and after I gave the forward command we walked up the stairs. At the top we made a sharp right, sharp left and another sharp left turn. This took us to the locked door to the building housing the training room. I gave him lots of praise and a small treat as I like to reinforce when he successfully uses his initiative.

I called my contact and he opened the door for us.  As we were early Wiley followed the trainer into the office where he rested while I chatted to some of the staff. When the trainees were ready for us Wiley guided me out of the office and into the training room. As per usual he took me around the tables to the front of the room where I give the presentation.

I put him in a down stay and dropped the harness and lead, he is very good at sleeping through all my presentations. I gave my lesson, only disturbing Wiley when I wanted him to stand up so I could give a quick demonstration on how a Guide Dog works and to show the trainees how to recognize a Guide Dog by the equipment (harness) they wear.

At the end of the talk I took WiIey’s harness off so the class participants could say hello. They were amazed at how different his body language and demeanour was as soon as the harness came off.  He had a big stretch, a quick shake and then looked around wagging his tail as people came up to give him a pat. I explained that the harness is Wiley’s signal that he is working and that when working he is serious, focused and will ignore distractions, whereas out of harness he knows he is off duty and can, with my permission, say hi to anyone that wants to give him some attention.

After everyone had a chance to meet Wiley I put him back in harness. I asked him to ‘find the bus’  and we made our way out of training room, through and out of the depot, across two roads until we reached the closest bus stop. He got lots more praise for a job well done.

We had a short wait for a bus which took us back into the city. When we arrived I checked my phone and found out we had a 25 minute wait for our bus home. By this time it was gone 11:30 so I knew Wiley might need a comfort stop. I asked him to find the grass and he took me about 500m to his usual civic tolieting spot. I took his harness off, gave the ‘quick, quick’ command and he did a long wee.

I put him back in harness and asked him to ‘find home bus’, the command to take me to the bay were our local bus departs from. He strode off, weaving his way through the busy lunchtime crowds. It took a while as we kept having to slow down to get around people but eventually we reached the correct bay.  He got more praise and another cuddle while we waited the five or so minutes for our bus to arrive.

End of Part 2

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