A while back I wrote about playing seeing eye dog for a… well, a dog. Toby isn’t thrilled with the idea of learning new tricks at his age; he keeps trying to convince me he’s far older than ten! But despite his disinclination, he’s learning.
One thing that’s helped in working with a blind dog is wearing bells on my hip. I took several bells and tied them to a carabiner, and whenever I go to work with him I clip them onto my belt loop. It lets him know where I’m at, when I’ve stopped, and if he’s about to run into me! I didn’t realize how much it was helping until I forgot it one day, and he was all over the place.
He’s also figured out how snug his collar should be, rather than simply pulling on me all the time. He now walks so that it’s loose but still snug enough that he can tell my direction, should I change direction. He’s figured out that when it pulls to one side or the other he should walk in that direction, and when it stops and pulls up he should stop and sit down.
Best of all, he’s learned two really helpful commands: “step and “get in the car.” He knows that if I say “step” the next step will be either up or down, and he’s learning to take his time about figure out which it is! If I say, “Let’s get in the car,” he’ll go where I lead him (toward the car), then check it out with his head until he knows just how high it is. He’s hesitant about jumping in (I would be too!), but he’ll put his front feet up so I can lift the back end easier.
Yesterday we went on a walk that included a LONG flight of stairs. There must have been fifty of them! For the first third, when he realized it was a flight, he tried to charge down. For the last two thirds, he stopped and listened to me every step of the way, taking one at a time and waiting for my cue. It was fabulous!
In short, being a seeing eye human isn’t half bad, and Toby’s doing fantastic. Hooray for collars, leashes, and bells!