To continue the theme of food in titles this week…
Thursday was our country-travel/picture day. Country travel is the term we use to refer to traveling on roads without sidewalks. Our dogs are trained to walk on the left side of the road, but with no specific borderline on the other side it is easy to accidentally drift into the middle of the road from time to time. So, we use a technique called “shore-lining”, which means my dog does her best to keep the curb line directly on our left, and every once in a while (or when I hear a car coming) I check our distance from the curb or grass line by telling her “Wait. Left, to the curb.” When we arrive at the curb, whether that be one step later or five, she gets an enthusiastic “yes” and a treat.
Prim did fabulously. There were no distractions, and most times when I asked her to go to the curb, we were right on top of it. She showed me a big truck in our way at one point and we went around it then returned to the shoreline. She was pulling like crazy, so we did have to work on steady some, because my arm was hurting haha. Again, a problem I am okay with having.
In the afternoon, Prim and I got “gussied up”, as one of my instructors put it, for our ID and class pictures. The class picture was interesting, with 13 humans and their 13 dogs as well as six instructors attempted to get in the frame and get settled.
“Say pizza!” our photographer told us… so we all called out “pizza!” at random intervals while he snapped photo after photo. I found the whole thing very entertaining. After that, we trooped into the hallway to wait for our individual pictures with our dogs. I was second to go, so it wasn’t long before Prim and I got to hop onto the table together and pose for our photo op. Prim sat very primly and looked right at the camera. She is super photogenic. I think it came out well.
To close out our day of training, we had a traffic check activity followed by lecture. For the traffic check activity, the trainers set up a narrow isle that could only fit one guide dog team at a time. At one end was the opening entrance, and at the other a door, which served as motivation for the dogs to continue down the shoot. The first time we went down, we simply told our dogs forward, arrived at the door, and treated our dogs. When we returned to the entrance, we instructed our dogs to walk forward into the shoot, and one of the trainers pushed a cart directly at us. The only safe response in that situation is for the dog to back up to a safe distance, wait for the cart to clear away, and then continue down the isle way. Prim did so beautifully. The third time we walked through, a trainer drove the cart in front of us horizontally. In that case, the dog must stop, wait for the cart to pass, and then continue to the door. Again, Prim executed it perfectly. Given this activity and several real life situations where we have had traffic checks, I feel very safe with Prim in traffic, and in grocery stores… which is good, because drivers of both cars and carts are crazy in Nashville. You can handle’m Prim!