We had the chance to have our annual follow-up visit from Guide Dogs for the Blind recently. I love and appreciate this organization SO much. I grew up with a beloved cat, Tupi, then was bit by a dog at age 8 and so my experience with dogs was very little as a child and not real fun! We brought a dog into the family when our kids were young -- a dalmation that was super cute but not a good fit for our family. So after giving it to our kids, a few months later we found a good home for 'Spot'. I remember worrying so much about if we were 'damaging our children' but knew this high energy dog was not a good fit for our family. Sad, still remember the day Spot was picked up by a very happy man that had lots of land for Spot to run and run and run! Natalie then did 'research' to find us the ideal small dog for us: a pug. Huggy joined our family (who sadly only lived for one year with a liver disease) and then Missy came into our lives and has been part of the family for 14 years. Thanks to Missy, I opened up about the possibility of a guide dog when the time was right. (Missy doesn't get all the credit -- I had some friends who had guides that also really influence my decision - but Missy helped)The whole training with a dog was a new experience for me. I laugh remembering one of the trainers at GDB telling me with Pantera - you can't correct her while you are petting her and speaking in this sweet voice. Do you think they were surprised when we were able to be a team for nine years! So, for over 13 years, I am amazed at what I learn from the trainers each time they visit. And, with two guides with very different personalities, the minor issues that we have worked through are very different. Cricket is soft and gentle and has a little bit of situational anxiety. The trainer that came this year was so helpful. We walk a long a trail that has a lot of cyclists (ironically, when we ride our tandem this is a trail we are often on). Cricket had become a little concerned about these bikes and then when she saw a bike near a bus stop that was parked she didn't want to walk past it. The trainer was so helpful in giving me the tips to work her through her concerns. Lots of praise and kibble at the right time. It was SO cold here, brrrr, that there were only a couple cyclists that we passed today but she did fabulous and love celebrating her good work. Remember her texture issue? Now is no big deal. Similar, a little anxiety over cyclists (do you know a good therapist for Cricket?) that she had built up in her mind. Per trainer recommendation, she will get the opportunity to visit some bike shops, walk around some bikes and walk back on the trail during less busy times to help her know bikes are fun and happy! Speaking of which, Steve and I will be going on our first tandem bike ride next Saturday (SL Marathon) -- can't wait!
Also, Cricket is SO very happy when the doorbell rings - she does the Cricker dance. Its very cute but can get a little wild. The trainer helped me with the tips on having that be a little more calm event. I'm excited to practice for a few with the clicker, kibble and rewards. As he was demonstrating with us, Cricket was so excited. We will be practicing so hopefully the next time you come to visit, Cricket greets you a little more calmly. She is such a great guide, and I appreciate so much Guide Dogs for the Blind's support. Their follow-up and support is incredible.