Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Great things about being blind. The guide dog who taught me the most.

Today is the birthday of my second guide dog yellow lab Margaret.  She is no longer with us.
She is the guide dog who was the hardest to work with but probably taught me more than all of the others.
I received her six weeks after losing my first guide to cancer.
In class, she started going crazy for other creatures.  Dragged me out across the floor to see a dog.  Interested in squirrels, dogs, a chicken.  Any creature that moved.
I was offered a dog switch but said I wanted to try working with her.
Even though we only worked together for 3.5 years, I'm glad I did it.
As a dog, Margaret was a real one person dog.  She stuck right beside me all of the time and was very loving and effectionate.
She had excellent house manners and was generally calm and quiet except when she saw other creatures.
Then, she would jump at them to play.
Once she got in one sniff and got them excited, she would stop and pretend she had nothing to do with the situation.
I worked and worked to minimize the animal distractedness of her.
It did improve somewhat but never went away but I learned so much about training methods and obedience and my guide dog school was so supportive and helpful.
Margaret had chronic ear infections.  We found out they were caused by food allergies.  Through this, I learned what is in dog foods.  How to analyse good ones from not so good ones.  A lot about allergies.
Margaret was a worryer.  If she bumped you into something one day, she wouldn't want to walk past that place the next day.
So, that needed some work too.
She started showing me in no uncertain terms, that it was time to retire.
She didn't want to get on the bus.
She didn't want to cross certain streets.
After retirement, I tried keeping her but it didn't work out so I gave her to a friend and she had a wonderful life as a very spoiled pet.
I thank her for all she taught me that has made me a much better dog handler.
Happy birthday Margaret.

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