Prada and I only once visited a store classy enough for her name. It was an enormous Prada store in Honolulu. Most of our shopping trips together involved Wal Mart and thrift stores and craft stores. But she always turned heads, wherever we went!
Original Post Date: 6/8/2022
Today Prada and I practiced working in more common indoor environments, like corner drug stores and department stores. I went Occluded through a Walgreen’s, and had some trouble following the instructors right-left directions. When I have enough time to think about it, like coming up to a street corner, I have no trouble. But rapid direction-changes reveal I don’t instinctively know right from left, and store aisles end far too quickly for my contemplative nature…
In the department store Century 21 we practiced escalators. These moving hillsides don’t make much sense to dogs, so they require a little bit of training. Here’s how a dog guide team safely navigates an escalator:
1. Work the dog onto the apron of the escalator. The dog will stop before setting paw on the moving part.
2. Drop the handle (NOT the leash!) and command the dog to heel.
3. Reach out with the right hand to find the right-hand rail and use it to guide yourself and the dog forward. The dog may hop uncertainly over the point at which the stairs emerge from the apron. This is ok.
4. Heel the dog up two or three steps, then stop. Lay a hand on the back strap of the harness and command the dog to “rest’ while you take one more step, putting yourself ahead of the dog.
5. Slide the right hand along the rail as far forward s is comfortable to reach. When you feel the slope curve toward the flat landing, command the dog to heel and walk the last few steps. Again, the dog may hop over the apron joint. This is ok, and really cute!
You may now pick up the harness handle and resume your trip.
The most important part of this is to ensure the dog is moving when boarding and disembarking an escalator. Movement ensures puppy paws don’t get caught in the works, which will ruin everyone’s day!
I was told that most dog guide teams avoid escalators because of their inherent danger to dogs. Prada never seemed to mind them, and Greta LOVES them. She points out every escalator we encounter with great eagerness.
Our trip through Century 21 is what TSE trainers call a “bad trip.” They happen to everyone, trainers and retrains and rookies alike. For whatever reason the dog isn’t focused, or feeling her oats, or anxious or grumpy or the stars aren’t aligned properly, and the majority of the trip is spent correcting issues that have already been dealt with.
Prada got corrected every five-ten steps for looking over her shoulder at Shannon and Brian, determined to keep the pack together and stay with her preferred handler. She handled the escalators like a pro, but walking thorugh the store and to and from the van were just really frustrating for all involved.
I really appreciate how all the trainers and retrains talked about this as a normal experience. Given how evident my anxiety is in the original versions of these posts, I’m surprised to find myself lacking in self-blame when writing about this.
Today your favorite blindfluencer asks you to share a little victory from a recent frustrating day.