I ordered a chicken burrito for lunch today and it brought back memories of training with my second guide dog, Bailey. No, he didn’t eat it, for those of you who know my dog. It made me think of how far we have come since last year and I can say I am past the second dog symdrome so many handlers fall into when making the transition from dog one to dog two.
In April last year the instructor, whom I call Jo, and I walked to the Spanish deli and got the chicken burritos and I worked Bailey back to the training lounge a few blocks away. We ate, talked, and then back tracked to my office, about 5 blocks away. I still wasn’t 100%, having a nasty respiratory infection and my stamina was quite depleted.
We entered the office and finished up the training walk for the day, setting up the next home visit to complete the training. I was still getting used to Bailey, he had made a few errors since I’d gotten him back after I had recovered from the worst of the RSV infection.
We also planned the dredded night walk, which I wanted to complete to gain some added confidence while working Bailey past dog and scent distractions.
Today, as I ate the yummy repast, I reflected on how far we have come and how much we have bonded. Bailey is an independent thinker, extremely interested in his environment, has the drive to work hard and not slow down, and has a personality matching his big, beautiful face and head. In fact, all of him is big, paw to toenail. The best part is his big, doggie heart and spirit.
This is how independent he is: Jerry and I went shopping to Gander Mountain. As we entered the stor, I said to bailey, let’s find the toys. Well, he looked around a bit, followed Jerry as we shopped, then, as we moved farther into the store, he began pulling harder, wanting to look into each aisle, and I could feel him sniffing the air, too. I thought, Holy Cow, he’s looking for the toys. As we turned into an isle, he pulled me around the corner, wagging his tail, and Jerry said he was putting his nose on a toy. It was a bright orange rubber Frisbee. I laughed, petting him. So, folks, dogs do have purposeful memories and can make decisions about which toys they prefer.
I will end this by saying I welcome these memories, especially when the memory is connected to my dogs and good food.