Training My Own Guide Dog

Training My Own Guide Dog: Sagan, 13 3/4 Months Old

I am so impatient I could scream! Sagan is doing great but I still can’t walk with him myself. My knee is healing nicely or so I am told but I want it healed right this minute!!! I feel like a three-year-old who wants all the candy at one time. I haven’t cried any though.

Stu has been walking him every day. They go all over the town and local parks. Sagan is being exposed to elevators, loud trucks, construction in progress, and so many other situations. Stu gives me detailed reports when he gets home so I know what is going on mostly. He and Susie took Sagan out last week with the body only of his new harness. They said it did not bother him one bit. I am so wanting to get my hands on that harness handle to start the real guide training. I suspect this forced waiting for me is a good thing. Sagan probably needs to mature more and me starting to work with him in harness will stress him out. I am choosing to believe that there is a purpose to needing to hang on a little longer. I still might throw a quiet tantrum from time to time to shake off my own impatience. Meantime, we will take him to my physical therapy appointments so he can have the experience of waiting quietly for me.

The picture above shows Sagan on the bed after being groomed. 

My son is getting married at the end of May. It is a trip of about six hours by car and we will be staying in an Airbnb. We are working to get Sagan ready for this big new experience. He has a crate in the car now and we take longer rides. Sometimes we just sit in the car while he has a bone in his crate. We discovered that covering the crate like a bird cage works well to keep down overstimulation. That will need to be removed over time because it will be too hot for him and he just needs to be able to settle by himself. I am not exactly sure how to wean him off the covering so if there are suggestions, I am eager to hear them. We are looking into backup plans in case we feel Sagan isn’t ready to be put in this situation.

The picture above shows Mel and Sagan on the couch. Sagan is relaxing, laying his head on Mel's leg.

I am spending much of my downtime reading dog training books. There is a great book written by an actual guide dog trainer. I read it early in this experiment and was very impressed. Now I am reading it again for detail. It serves to crank up my enthusiasm to get Sagan truly working. It also makes me feel somewhat overwhelmed by the task ahead. I am back to meditation and breathing practices to help me stay calm and focused. It truly helps. My hope is that Sagan will meditate with me like Jingles used to do. I would always let Jingles sit in my lap for a few minutes so she could get her massage meditation. It was the time each day when I would massage her all over. She could never get enough. Sagan is learning to like the massage part. I am sure that over time he will be able to hang out with me.

The book I spoke about is called Forward Together by Cristie Bane. Here is the link

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