Saturday, September 29, 2012

Walks To Remember

Some of the routes we walk here at Pilot Dogs are very similar. Some have rough sidewalks, some have smoother ones. Some include street crossings with traffic lights and sometimes we cross streets with stop signs. Sometimes we go alone with a trainer, and other times we go with a second person or in a group. Sometimes the walks are uneventful and begin to run together in my mind. But, on Thursday and Friday such was not to be. Thursday morning was rainy, so the trainers set up an obstacle coarse in one of the hallways. We held our dogs’ harness handles and told them forward. The dogs were to lead us through that obstacle coarse and keep us from running in to whatever was there. Our jobs were to follow where the dog lead and pay attention to the signals coming from the harnesses. I can’t speak for anyone else, but my pup and I did it perfectly both times. In the afternoon, the rain seemed to have moved out, so my trainer said to get ready; we were taking the bus down town. I made sure there was a small plastic bag in my pocket in case my girl had an accident and headed with my trainer out the front door. We walked to the bus stop and sat down on a bench to wait. So far, so good. The bus came, and I told the driver where I wanted to get off at. And, in case you are wondering, my trainer told me what to say, because I don’t know down town Columbus. lol Anyway, while riding the bus, my trainer showed me how to turn my leash in to a muzzle. Poor puppy, I thought she felt shamed in front of everyone, but thankfully our stop came then, and I got to take the muzzle off. With buses going to and fro, people passing and talking, traffic heading here and there, sirenes blaring all over the place it was not what you’d call a peaceful walk. We crossed busy streets, wound our way through over a hundred people out on the sidewalks, and were doing well until... All of a sudden, my dog starts acting funny. She kept pulling me to the right and then the left. She was nervous and quivery, and I couldn’t figure out what the deal was. Then, right there in the middle of that crowd of over a hundred, she hunkered down and laid a nice, big, smelly pile on to the sidewalk. Remembering the days from my first dog, I quickly placed my foot near her butt, reached in my pocket for a baggie, and when she stood up, used the baggie like a glove and picked it up. I gave my doggie’s present to my trainer who through it away for me. Then, I wiped the perspiration from my face and began walking again. “We’re coming up on Broad Street,” my trainer said a minute or 2 later. “That’s the one that has 6 lanes. Right?” “Yep,” he said, “but you can do it.” “You hope,” I thought, praying silently to myself. Standing at Broad Street, which btw is a broad street, it began to rain. It was a light rain, but it was rain all the same. I waited, listening to the traffic in front of me and to my left. When I felt it was safe, I told my dog forward and we headed out. Six lanes later, we made it to the otherside, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I was going to live to tell the tale. We went in to a CVS, where my girl tried to take me to the prescription counter and ran me in to a case of something that thankfully did not tip over. When we came out of there, we went to another curb and waited for the light to change. I was about to go, when I heard a fire truck and another sirene which was probably an ambulance. So, I waited. They past right by us, and my poor little girl shook her head a couple of times. You know it had to be hurting her ears, but she never showed anymore signs of distress. When the sirenes were gone, we crossed and boarded another bus. By this time, the rain was coming down a bit heavier, and I was glad for the driness of the bus. I was dropped off about 3 streets away from Pilot dogs and had to walk down some broken sidewalks in order to get back. This was a route I had done before, so it was not hard, but about 2 blocks from the school, the rain came pouring down. Then, just as I was crossing the last street, I stepped in a big mud puddle and got both feet wet. My girl stopped in the middle of the street to shake, and I almost fell. Fshew! Was I glad to get back all in one piece! On Friday morning we had a test. We were given a set of directions and were expected to follow them and come back to the school. I did well. The route was about 6 blocks, and the trainer even said what a good job I was doing. When I got back, a trainer asked if I wanted to take another walk. Of course, I said yes, and he paired me with another student. This student uses a walking cane for balance, as well as a dog to lead him, so how could I say no, when my challenges are not as many as his? Our walk was good, but similar to the test that morning. After lunch, another trainer asked if my partner and I wanted to go to a convenience store. Again, we said yes. Some of the worst crossings are up that way, but we did it. The store is about 7 blocks away, which means to go there and back, we walked about 14 blocks. I bought some doughnuts while there, and my pup only sniffed a little. :) We got back, and I was thinking that my legs were aching from all that walking, when the director of Pilot Dogs asked if I’d do some walking in the park outside, because there was a film crew wanting some background footage. Well, y’all, of course I didn’t say no. Ha! So, for about 20 minutes, another student and I walked back and forth through the school’s alumni park. Then and only then was my walking over for the day. Walks to remember? You betcha! This afternoon, I’m told we’re going to WalMart, so it should be interesting. The entire class is going as a group, so I’m looking for a good time. I think we’re allowed to buy some stuff for our dogs, so we’ll see. It should be another memorable trip. Wow, 2 more days until I go home. I’m excited, and nervous, too. Missing my family a whole lot, but i’ve met some wonderful folks up here, and I’m going to miss them, as well. Well, it’s about 30 minutes before lunch and I’d like to post this if I can. So, until next time, keep on keeping on. :)

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