It has been another busy week for Wiley and I. This time a work trip to Sydney kept us occupied Wednesday through Friday. Earlier in the week I had a taxi talk and on Tuesday I needed to head into the office to assist in getting JAWS working on the Guide Dog server. This is still a work in progress but things are going in the right direction.
The Sydney trip was a lot more hectic than the one to the coast last week. I headed up with our regional manager and the person sharing the Client Liaison Officer position. We were doing orientation and training for our new role.
We drove up (the company was awesome which made for a drive that passed quickly), and we arrived at the Chatswood office mid afternoon on Wednesday. We had a busy schedule for the next few days learning lots of different policies, procedures and systems. I was also fortunate to spend time with another employee who uses JAWS. She is amazing, I learned more from her in a little over an hour than the many hours spent going through the tutorials.
On Thursday we were joined by another person who had recently started as the Client Liaison office in another region. Having a few of us doing the training was great as we could chat amongst ourselves between sessions. It was very reassuring to hear the others were finding in hard to retain all the new information, it wasn’t just me.
Where we stayed was within walking distance to the office so my colleague and I walked in and out everyday. I had forgotten just how busy, frantic and constantly noisy Sydney is. It makes navigating the streets a lot more stressful for both Wiley and I. It was wonderful having company as that took away a lot of my anxiety.
Wiley’s performance the whole time was amazing, it never ceases to amaze me how calmly he accepts everything. Changes to his work environment, where we stay and what we do – he handles them all with ease. I knew it was hard work for him so made sure he had lots of time to chill out and relax and chew his nylabone which is a great stress reliever.
I had a few issues at the hotel as the doors shut between 10PM and 6AM. As per our usual schedule I wanted to take Wiley for a recreational walk each morning. I needed to do this around 5AM. The first hiccup was trying to locate the button to push to open the doors so we could leave the lobby. Once I figured that out I took off Wiley’s harness, changed his working collar over to the his recreational one, took out my cane and started to walk. My plan was to walk the block, I though if I kept turning left I couldn’t get lost. This was good in theory but in practice didn’t work. We ended up walking onto a road, according to my plan we needed to head left, Wiley was insistent we turned right (he wasn’t working but still turned to the right with a great deal of purpose). I have learned from previous experience it is always best to follow my dog so we turned right. Sure enough that took us up to the road the hotel was on.
Getting back into the hotel was even more problematic. I did a lot of feeling around but couldn’t locate a button to push. I did feel a phone but was unable to read the number that I expected it said to call. I kept running my fingers over the wall until I eventually located a small box with a plastic cover over a slot. I tried putting my room key card into the slot and low and behold it opened – phew!
The next morning I thought I would make it easy on myself and go the same way as the day before. Although I thought I was doing that about half way through I realised we had at some point taken a different path. So once again I got disorientated and once again Wiley took us in the right direction – he really is remarkable.
Despite the trip being quite tiring and challenging at times it was a wonderful experience. My travel companions are amazing and fun to be around plus i met lots of people in person that I usually only get to talk with over the phone. I was also able to sort out a couple of things for upcoming speaker jobs and workshops.
Everybody that I met for the first time or caught up with were so lovely, it seems Guide Dogs attracts great people and I am honoured to be part of the team.