Getting a guide dog, especially for the first time, is no easy task.. Really, I should say its no easy journey. However, it’s more rewarding than one can describe.
I bring this up tonight because even though Makiko and I already have a strong bond and we work really well together already, we are still learning to communicate. One person told me six months, another told me a year, for the time it takes to really get things down solid.
She tries to tell me things and I’m still learning to tell what she means. When she had a stomach problem and had to go really bad at wee hours of the morning she would make noises and stand right by the door. That was obvious. Sometimes now she will stand by the front door if we are in the living room if she has to go pee. Although sometimes she will also just go sit there because she likes the mats. That gets a bit confusing. I give her many many opportunities to go relieve so she isn’t often needing to go. However, there are times like tonight when I knew in the back of my head she was probably trying to tell me something but didn’t process it quick enough. We were walking and the police had decided to put barricades in the middle of the sidewalk and it was an adventure/nightmare. So Makiko took me around them, which required going into the grass. This was after class was over and she had relieved about an hour before that during a break. Well, the grass stimulated her quite a bit and when we walked on it for a while it really made her have to go. So she was trying to tell me that and when I finally realized it I said “okay guys I think we need to stop,” but I think all Makiko heard was “ok” and started to go. I took her harness off immediately. That wasn’t ideal of how it was supposed to go, but oh well. Again, we are still learning each other and signs.
Playtime is another thing we are learning. I have plenty of toys for her and I actually ordered a few more. She will be playing and then come up to me and I’m like “what?” I think she wants to be played with/rubbed hard so I do. Sometimes that seems to satisfy her, sometimes not. Sometimes I think she just wants to cuddle. Still learning these signs too.
However I do know that she IS happy and IS an amazing guide, so we will work out all the details. It takes a lot of time, patience, and energy when you first get a guide dog to form that bond and the expectations and learn each other. But as I said at the beginning of the post, it is so incredibly rewarding!