Our day starts at 6:00am with a wake-up call from the instructors over the intercom asking us to park, feed, water and park our dogs. I typically get out of bed around 5:45am or so, brush my teeth, and start putting on my jeans and boots by the time the wake-up call arrives. At 6:00am sharp, I take Bubbles off the tie-down chain and take her out on leash --he back door of the dorm room opens out into the space where we relieve the dogs. I have Bubbles stay while I open the door, and then take her out making sure the door doesn't hit her as it shuts. She typically relieves herself immediately, and I bring her back in at once. Once back in the room, I put her back on her tie down chain, put the leash in the closet, and walk down the hallway to pick up her food. She waits eagerly for the food and gobbles it up in about a minute; she then drinks some water. Soon as she is done drinking her water, I put the dishes in the sink, pick up her leash from the closet and take her off the tie-down. I take her out the back door once again and let her relieve herself. Once she started relieving herself on command, all this would be done before 6:10am.
I put Bubbles back on her tie-down and go take my usual long shower. I am done and dressed by between 6:30 and 6:40am --on some days I used the time before breakfast to go down to the computer room with my laptop (and Bubbles on leash) to read email.
Breakfast starts at 7:30 --and is called over the intercom. I go up to breakfast with Bubbles --except on some days during the final week of class when we left our dogs in room for some meals so they got used to being without us. Breakfast is probably the best meal at Guiding-Eyes --all the meals are good though extremely bland. I typically have some toast and eggs along with juice and coffee --pancakes or waffles if available. Breakfast ends at 8:00am; as we finish breakfast and walk out of the dining room, the instructors watch us as we approach the stairs to make sure the dogs stop correctly. During the two weeks there, Bubbles consistently stopped for the down-step --the only trouble used to be that she would be more interested in running over to see her dear friend Caroline rather than go towards the steps.
Breakfast over, we gather in the Campbell lounge downstairs for doing obedience. We do obedience exercises one at a time initially; later we do it in pairs, and towards the end do do obedience exercises with all 12 students standing in a circle around the lounge.
Obedience over, we get ready for going out for the day. Most of the training happens in White Plains; GEB is in the process of refurbishing its lounge in White Plains, and in the interim they are once again using a classroom in St. Matthews Church in White Plains. (10 years ago, we went to the same place on one day for working on escalators). The drive to White Plains takes about 35 minutes; we load up in two vans for the trip. The vans are 11seater Dodge vehicles; Caroline and Chrissie each drive a van, with the class supervisor in one van and and Instructors Assistant (IA) in the other an navigating. There are three rows of seats in the van --each capable of seating three; we typically sit 2 per seat so there is room for all the dogs on the floor. The dogs are kept sitting during this drive so they get used to sitting in vehicles; this is because when taking buses and trains, it is not safe for the dog to be lying down. The dog's instinct is of course to lie down, so we typically end up having to bring them back up to a sit several times during the drive.
We typically get in to White Plains by 9:30 or so; the instructors pull up in front of the Church at the side door on Waller. Having parked, Chrissie and Caroline help us unload and work our way up to the classroom in the church where we wait.
The church has a goofy floor layout with many odd doors and stairs --we orient ourselves to the portions of the place we need to use on our first day in White Plains (the day of the Juno walks).
We all end up in the classroom by about 9:45 or so --we have tables set up where we can sit while we wait. The surroundings are a bit cramped --but nothing to complain about --we have a coffee machine there to get coffee or hot chocolate --along with cold milk and juice while we wait.
The instructors then start working the students after we first hear an overview of the day from the class supervisor Rick Connell.
The morning trips get done by about 12:30 or so; the kitchen staff from Guiding Eyes drive over by noon with packed lunches. We have lunch in the class room, and continue to wait for our afternoon walk.
The afternoon trips are all typically done by around 3:15pm at the latest; the instructors then load us back into the vans --and we leave White Plains by 3:30pm at the latest.
We drive back to the school --getting in by 4:00pm --just in time to feed, water and park the dogs.
Bubbles is typically done eating and relieving herself by about 4:10pm; I use the time before dinner to make any work-related phone calls and time permitting take her over to the grooming room and brush her.
Dinner is at 5:00pm and is called over the intercom; we go up to dinner with our dogs with the instructors watching. I typically get done with dinner by around 5:40pm or so --and go down to the lounge to wait for the 6:00pm evening lecture where Caroline typically summarizes what we will be working on the next day.
Evening lecture gets done by 6:45 to 7:00pm on most days --earlier sometimes. I typically used the remaining time until 7:30pm to either watch CNN in the lounge or to groom Bubbles if I hadn't managed to do so before dinner. At 7:30pm the instructors call us out to park our dogs --the day officially ends at this point and we now have a couple of hours free before we go to sleep. I take Bubbles on leash to the computer room where the only analogue phone line in the building is located, and read my email on my laptop. Bubbles lies at my feet most days --though she wants to play more than lie down. I get done with email by 8:15pm or so, and return to my room to eve the computer there. I then go over to the lounge and watch CNN for a little while --typically sitting on the floor with Bubbles head on my lap. I try and stay awake till 9:00pm or so --we need to park the dog once before we go to bed and 9:00pm is the earliest we may do so. I park Bubbles around 9:10pm, put her on her tie down and go to bed.
The instructor for the class is Caroline Sandler and the second instructor is Christina (Chrissie) Anderson.
During our walks I outlined my mobility needs and described my normal work pattern. I have asked for a dog with a strong pull and one who will be able to work in many different environments. Caroline mentions that she can think of one dog who is extremely intelligent but at present a bit of a handful to control; she asks me if I think I can handle that. I answer yes. She also mentions that she can think of another dog who is just as good but also a bit more mature and settled and asks for my preference amongst the two; I say given the choice I would pick the more mature one, pointing out that though Aster pulled hard, she was almost 3 and therefore well settled when I got her.
We spent the morning with guide-dogs that are still in training; each of us was given a dog for about half an hour. We settled the dogs down in the Campbell lounge, took them up to the dining room and had them sit at table, and finally came back down to the lobby where we put the dogs under our chairs. I had a frisky male black Lab called Mack followed by another dog whose name I cannot now remember.
Got Emerald Labrador at around 14:00 EST on Thursday, February 10, 2000. We went into the coffee room to meet our dogs, and then gathered four at a time in the Campbell lounge to settle them down. We I went to my room with Emerald once she settled down.
Emerald looks healthy and happy, and I spent a couple of hours in the room with her before feeding and watering her for the first time. She is a dark yellow Labrador. She clearly missed the trainers and whined pitifully every time she heard them walk by; but she settled down a bit after having her dinner, and later that evening even lay quietly beside me while I worked on my laptop in the computer room.
I finally manage to connect to the IBM network after many problems.
The news when I returned from dinner with Emerald was not good --under the slide, the samples they had taken from the lump indicated that it might be a mass tumor --and determining if it was malignant would require it to be first removed --involving surgery. The surgery would of course in the very least prevent Emerald from being in class; in the very worst case the tumor might indeed prove malignant. Given all this, the school decided to replace Emerald with another dog --especially given that I had had her only for a day at that point.
Unlike Emerald, Hubbell is a light-colored yellow Labrador --but she feels just as soft and smooth as Aster did. She is a strong dog --though slightly slimmer around the waist than Emerald. She looks like a happy dog --and has her tail up and wagging all the time --in this regard she reminds me a lot more of Aster. She is also a handful to control --and spent all evening walking up my chest and licking my face.
It turned out that Hubbell was in fact the other dog that Caroline had mentioned to me during our Juno walks.
All in all things eventually did work out well. Bubbles was good in harness --and pulled mightily --and cleared well; the only negative was that during the morning trip she ended up stopping to take a dump while working --which except on the first day would have been considered a problem. On our walk in the afternoon she appeared far more settled and cleared obstacles very well. On the other hand, she is still a handful to control on leash --and is extremely playful.
We each took turns at going into the Campbell lounge with our dog to let them play. Caroline and Chrissie were with us throughout. I put a long-line (30 foot cotton leash) on Hubbell, and then threw a chew toy for her. She raced off after it and ran round and round the room with joy. The purpose of the play exercise was to have us call the dog back while playing --rather than as a command-- and have them come back. The advantage of the long-line is that you can reel your dog in if she does not come back. Hubbell enjoyed her game thoroughly and came racing back to me when I called her --she even let go of the toy when I grabbed it and asked her to leave it. She played this game about 10 times in all before finally dropping the toy on the floor. I took her back to my room and gave her water, though she refused to relieve herself once again. Bubbles is still having trouble settling into a regular schedule when she relieves herself; still worry some for now. Other than this, she is proving to be a good frisky Labrador and feels wonderful to the touch.
Turn right and walk up MeMaranack to the down curb on Maple --this is light controlled with a 7 second turning arrow. Cross Maple and walk up to East Post. Cross East Post and walk half-way up the block before coming back.
Hubbell did well on the street crossing, her crossings looked quite straight. She is stopping well for the down curb but has a tendency to zip up the up-curb unless checked.
We did this trip twice this day, once in the morning, and once in the afternoon. There is a lot of waiting around, since the instructors are working us in singles; i.e. each instructor takes out a student at a time.
Hubbell still not relieving herself in the park area, but holding it. She pulled to the side while working in harness and went when allowed to go.
She did her crossings and curb approaches well, and looked a little more relaxed once she had relieved herself.
I finally resolved my sleeping troubles. I spoke to my room mate and gave him the option of either coming in for the night before 11:00pm or finding himself another room. He said he had come in the previous night at 11:00pm --I said that that was fine, and if he would do so every day he could stay. Later that morning he found himself another roommate --one of the other students was in a room by himself. So after this day, I was in room 8 by myself --this was a great blessing since I could now sleep well.
My solo walk went fine -- Hubbell stopped well for each down-curb and did her crossings well. However, she failed to stop half-way up the block after crossing East Post --but instead blazed ahead and stopped at the next down curb. I turned back and signalled her to look for the door --she took me into a shop that turned out to be a hair-dressers saloon.
On the way back, I ended up almost paying an uncalled visit to a diner. The sidewalk had a little spur leading to the diner; Hubbell headed off down that spur and I picked it up too late. I had to reorient myself by listening to the traffic on the street --which in itself was easy; however things were made more interesting by a passer-by who thought me completely lost and wanted to take me wherever I wanted to go. Hubbell of course was bubbling away in the meantime trying to make friends with the passer-by; I managed to entangle myself and completed the walk with no trouble.
In the afternoon, we work a slightly longer route --walking on the opposite side of MeMaranack Avenue and went to a 7-11 store.
Hubbell held it all day long; when we came back to the school, I parked her immediately --and with no other dogs there, she went immediately. We decide to park her henceforth before other dogs show up.
We do a longer route in White Plains. Hubbell is veering slightly to the left while crossing. I pointed out to Caroline that I had a slight left-bias in the way I walked --she said that if that was the case Hubbell would adjust to it over time and pull straight rather than veering.
We see a car crash in the afternoon. Thursday night our first snow storm arrives.
We come back to GEB for lunch, and then have vet exams followed by the vet lecture. Hubbell is 83lb --I had guessed 74. Friday evening would have been our night trip, but this gets canceled and moved to Monday night because of the weather.
We also started working the dogs in harness to dinner. Hubbell is again very distracted and consistently fails to stop on the up-step --she seems to do better going down.
We got a 90 minute lecture on therapeutic dog massage in the evening -this was outstanding. Bubbles enjoyed her massage thoroughly and was stretching and snoring 15 minutes into the massage. We had not learnt this last time around and though I petted Aster a lot, I did not know how to give her a massage.
We work in harness to dinner and Hubbell once again blows the up-step --I'm now beginning to get worried. I think back to all the things we learns in class with Aster 10 years ago and get a small panic attack when I realize that I only have another week at GEB this time around. I go back to the calendar for 10 years ago, and find that in fact we are on the same schedule as 10 years ago --this makes me a little less panicky.
We have traffic check lecture in the evening. The main point is that the responsibility of when to cross is mine; once I decide to cross and Hubbell has started pulling, I should go with her. The guide-dogs are all trained to watch for bad drivers who cut in front of you etc. they will either backup, stop or walk around depending on the situation. Of course, this does not mean one tries to cross without listening for the traffic.
We have our Manhattan lecture at 4:30 and go to the Lions Club dinner at an Italian restaurant at 7:00. Hubbell stayed peacefully under the table though I did have to keep a close check on her leash. She would pop up every time someone clapped.
We did souvenir and vet supplies shoping in the afternoon and got our going home lecture in the evening. I get another anxiety attack about how the first week back home with Hubbell will work out. Things are likely to be difficult in the first few days because I wont be able to work her in harness for the first day. Also, I dont know my way around the new apartment complex at all; so all in all it will be a hard few days.
We get dropped off at the mall in the afternoon and walk around on our own for about an hour. I work out a good sweat with Hubbell by wandering around Sears. Hubbell and I also pay an unexpected visit to the movie theater inside the mall.
Graduation goes well, Hubbell's puppy raiser is there with her twins. She has driven all the way from Virginia to see Hubbell graduate; I have a good time exchanging Hubbell stories and pictures with them. I take Laurie Rosenblat and her twin daughters to dinner at Grandmas and come back by 7:00. I've already done one round of packing, and finally finish up packing --off for CA tomorrow.
Moorthy and Raghu pick me up and help me settle down with Hubbell --they leave around 10:30pm.