My little red tether is my anchor in running with my friends. A beautiful guide dog has been my tether/anchor in mobility and independence for 17 years: 1. Pantera 2. Cricket, and now my beautiful 3. Georgina (Georgie). A life of family and friends is my joy and anchor in life.

The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it. CC Scott

Sunday, September 5, 2010

All in a Guide Dog's Day, #6

I think a shopping experience at Costco on a Saturday challenges many of a guide dog's (and persons) skills. As we walked in, this man was walking towards us and said can I say hi! Steve and I both said, hi to him - hoping he meant us. He was focused on Cricket and bent down and began to pet her and try to get her all excited. Steve said nicely, she's working so please don't pet her. He continued on and we realized our best option was to walk (run) away. Costco is so crowded on Saturdays so Cricket has many opportunities to use her skill of maneuvering around crowds. She knows 'follow' and is able to follow Steve through the store. **This is a command that we must be careful with because the intent is not for a guide dog to simply follow someone. Cricket needs to be listening to me. So, as she is aware she is following Steve may also clue me in on an "L" or a "R" so that I can tell Cricket which way to go. If it is super busy, another option is to drop her harness and I can hold on to the cart. Cricket knows the distinction between when I am holding the harness and not. An important skill for a guide dog is to be able to not only be aware of her own space but my space also. When she is maneuvering, she needs to make sure there is space for both of us. This is challenging when people are coming in at her from many different directions when it is crowded. Then, there is the challenge of all the food that is dropped on the floor. Cricket is trained to be able to walk past something that has dropped on the floor. As you can imagine, if she lunges for that dropped sample of chicken, she steers me off in a different direction. She's not perfect (me neither, of course) but is a good girl and works through much temptation on the floor in a place like Costco. I generally have a few kibble in my pocket so that I can if I am aware, praise her for her willpower! Parking lots can be tricky and often it is best to drop her harness and walk sighted guide with someone. If we are alone or she is guiding, she will walk in a straight line on the edge of the parked cars. This is another time she is on high alert and busy watching for cars that are coming from all directions.
Our office expansion is SO close to being complete! In the picture above, Cricket is surrounded by plants. In our office, I try to keep live plants as a message of life, hope, and resilience. I choose really easy ones to keep alive. We are having an open house this Thursday. If you live in our area, and would like details: email me at


Reddunappy said...

The challange of large box stores!!
Yes the worst experience I have had with Dublin is at Lowes. The salesman in the appliences just would not keep his hands off of him! I had his puppy jacket on, of course, and didnt want to be really rude to the guy, we needed a fridge badley at the time, ours had quit. Dublin was so good though and didnt get excited.
I find the parents with their kids are the most curteous, they are always telling the kids that "that is a working dog, and we cant pet it" What happend to the adults? Are the kids these days just more exposed to working animals? And we have been asked "where to buy a guide puppy jacket" too, sigh, "They are not for sale" I had to repeat it to the lady several times! I couldnt believe it, this was inside a Fred Meyer store. I dont know if more exposure is making it worse or better, havnt figured that one out.
LOL sorry for the long post! Its just that as little puppy raisers we do have to deal with this a lot!
And you always have to be courteous, to be good representatives for Guide Dogs!

Becky said...

Yes, I agree -- there are so many great parents that are educating their kids. I try to make sure I tell them thank you! Wow, good boy, Dublin at Lowes, too.

Alphini's Puppy Raiser said...

What a great dogs really do have their "paws full" in those big box stores & parking lots! Good job Cricket. I agree, there are many parents who are doing a good job educating their children. It's hard when someone doesn't respect the working harness or jacket.

Grandma & Grandpa said...

I can't believe the rudeness of that man who wouldn't listen to your asking him not to pet Cricket! Honestly! Good luck on your Open House. It sounds like it looks wonderful and I'm sure will be a great event!

Lisa, Ellie and Hosta said...

Way to go Cricket! You do an amazing job of keeping your mom safe.

Ro said...

I forgot to write it in the Melting Pot post, but I was sitting there at my table and I hear, no you can't pet it, see how nicely it's laying there? See how well behaved it is? No, you can't pet it.

It's funny how with all the noise of a restaurant, I'll always hear people talking about my dog. B started to tell me about the kids and I was like, I know, lol. The staff and everyone there were so knowledgeable and not one person asked to pet him. We haven't gone to Costco. Yikes! ;)