Training My Own Guide Dog

Training My Own Guide Dog: Sagan, 18 Months 1 Week Old

I did what I set out to do this week and I am proud. Sagan is taking his work seriously and I am pushing both of us to be more adventurous. We went to a mall twice to work because of the heat which was fun even though malls are not my favorite place. I don’t think I have been to a mall since I trained with my last guide dog at a school. We also took our first train ride and then out to eat. Getting on the train was scary because I did not think it through before trying to get up the stairs. Sagan lost track of his back legs and he faltered. Stu saved us and then he took Sagan to rework the steps up. I need some advice on how to do this better. Over all I feel good about this week though I am emotionally tender.

The goals for working in the mall were to work on pace and pull in a place that feels safer for me. The mall was almost empty which made it perfect for learning to get into a smooth rhythm with each other. There is nothing like the feeling of walking with confidence while avoiding people and other obstacles. He handled moving obstacles like people and carts gracefully. He found seats and even the bathroom when asked. I am very proud of his bathroom skills. I think one of the best things about having a guide dog is going into a huge public bathroom and navigating them with ease. He was a super star today.

The picture above shows Mel working with Sagan at the Montgmomeryville Mall.

The train adventure was not as fun as the mall. Sagan stayed down and under the seat very well and he did not seem to be ruffled by the train noises at all. I am so grateful that he seems to take things in stride. If he is stressed out by something, he shakes it off and gets back to work. The hardest part about the train trip was that we were going to a place I had never been before and it was noisy with cars and strange intersections. Stu and I had trouble communicating because it was loud. I became very frightened and disoriented. Sagan was great the whole time but I was a nervous wreck. We only had to walk two blocks to a restaurant so it was short lived. Sagan settled under the table like a good boy while I relaxed with a beer and good food. The trip home was easier. I think the next time will be more familiar and more confidence building for me.

The picture above shows Sagan suavely crossing his legs while relaxing on the bed. 

We accomplished so much this week. My plan is to continue to gradually put both of us into situations that challenge our teamwork and that will provide more opportunities for more focus on his part. My work is to learn to stay calm and to shake it off like he does. We have much to teach each other. I could not ask for a better dog. Stu and Suzy have been such amazing supports for this grand project. I feel certain Sagan and I will be the kind of team that works for my lifestyle.

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