Monday was a very enjoyable but exhausting day.
In the morning I gave 6 talks to different classes of primary school children from Kindergarten to Grade 4. I also had the opportunity to meet up with some of the special needs children. I spoke in my projected speakers voice for three hours. By the end my throat was sore and my voice a little husky. A slight concern as I still had a taxi Talk to do in the afternoon.
The children in every session were very respectful of myself and Wiley. They were extremely quiet when we entered the venue (hall or library) as they didn’t want to disturb Wiley. Their teachers had done a wonderful job of telling them before hand that they mustn’t talk to, pat or distract Wiley as he was working.
I tried to slightly adjust the content of each talk to suit the age group of the children I was talking to. With the Kindy and grade one classes we started with their teacher reading a lovely book called Pogo and Sooty, Dogs with Special Jobs. It is a picture story book about Guide Dogs.
I made sure that every class learned why they shouldn’t distract a guide dog, how you can tell if a dog is a Guide Dog and why you will see Guide Dogs places that dogs don’t normally go.
I explained Wiley and I work together as a team, that I know where I am and where I am going and Wiley gets me there safely. I demonstrated some of the commands he knows and how he keeps me safe. I also showed them how I use a long cane.
I briefly told them how a dog becomes a Guide dog, all the training involved and a little bit about the services provided by Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.
At the end of each talk I asked if anyone had questions. There was plenty from every class which let me expand on things the class was most interested in. I was very impressed with the questions the students asked as they were thoughtful and showed they had been listening to what I was saying.
I didn’t have time to answer all the questions so I left my email address with the lovely teacher who had chaperoned me for the morning. I told her if she wanted each class to send me their questions I would send a reply.
After my last talk I was presented with a box of chocolates, some liver treats for Wiley and a school mug. Some lovely and thoughtful gifts that were greatly appreciated.
I didn’t have much time to get from the school to the Taxi talk so my parents picked me up and dropped me off as it was much quicker than catching a bus and cheaper than getting a taxi.
We made it to the Taxi talk just in time and gave my usual presentation to the students. Thankfully my voiced lasted for the whole lesson, but once I left I don’t think I spoke more than a dozen words for the rest of the day. I also enjoyed a bowl of icy cold raspberry sorbet when I got home, it was oh so nice on my sore throat.
Wiley was an absolute star all day. He performed each demonstration flawlessly and laid quietly when I was speaking. During the first talk a bird entered the hall and he did a great job of ignoring it as it flew around, at least until I took his harness off (to show the students) when he became a little more interested. But as soon as I put the harness back on he laid down quietly at my feet again.
I made sure he had a couple of opportunities between talks to have a wee and gave him some treats to reward him for being such a good boy. Honestly he amazes me each and every day with how suited he is to his job as my Guide and fellow PR presenter 🙂