Training My Own Guide Dog

Training My Own Guide Dog: Sagan, Almost 13 Months Old

This last week was wet and rainy. We did manage to have one play date with a Shiloh Shepherd. The two of them got along great. After his playing hard, we took him to my chiropractic appointment. This is the office where he tends to get vocal. He was so tired though this time, he stayed quiet. It was such a nice day out we decided to push the edge and take him to an outdoor restaurant. There was another dog there but we managed to keep Sagan out of view for the most part. He did very well.

The two pictures above show Susie the trainer, her Shiloh Shepherd Heidi, and Sagan outside walking in the field. 

Thursday we went with our trainer to a large department store that was virtually empty. It was a perfect place for practicing all kinds of tasks. I have been checking off tasks that he needs to be proficient in for public access. He had to lie quietly on the floor when food was dropped in front of him. We banged metal carts all around which required him to back up in a straight line. At first, he was a little confused but after a few tries, he did it very well. He was able to follow along with me holding on to the cart with a loose leash and stand quietly while Stu walked away from his sight. He found seats. I also took him into a bathroom that he had never seen before and where he found the toilet and sink for me. All of this needs more practice but for a first go-round, I was very pleased.

Our biggest challenge now is that on rainy days especially he gets vocal and anxious about fast cars and sounds in general. I think the wet surfaces freak him out. Once he gets into the store he turns into another dog. I am not sure how to address this problem so I am open to suggestions.

I am so bummed out because I learned that the ball field where we have been running the dogs will be liberally sprayed with pesticides next week. After my experience with my previous guide dog dying of kidney and liver disease induced by pesticide exposure in our neighborhood, I am not willing to let Sagan play there again. Supposedly, pesticides are safe after they have dried but I am quite certain this is not the case. There is no way to know for sure exactly when the products were applied and I am not willing to chance Sagan having skin problems and cancer later in life. I urge all of you to be very aware of where your dogs are walking and playing particularly this time of year. Lawn companies are out in droves now poisoning everything they can think of. So, as of now, we have no good place for Sagan to run and play.

Sagan got to experience me really crying this week. My knee was doing so well until yesterday. It went out again and I had trouble getting it to return to the correct alignment. I was so upset about it that I let loose with an ugly cry. Sagan was concerned. He came over and put his head on my lap. Then he jumped up beside me and licked my face. He was very sweet and it helped me get my mind off my pity party. I hope to find out this week what will be the solution for getting my knees back to stability.

For the longest-lasting toy report, there is only one that still stands the test of time and teeth. It is a food dispensing toy that we use almost every day for breakfast. I thought you might like to know. It is the PetSafe Busy Buddy Tug-a-jug Dog Treat Dispensing Toy. It keeps him busy and I also use it for training impulse training, hide and seek, tug, and I will sometimes put a little peanut butter around the top and let him sit in my lap while he licks it off. It seems indestructible. The link to the toy is  I wish I had another similar toy for the sake of variety. If you know of one, please let me know.

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