Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Guide Dogs For the Blind Home Visit.

Last Monday was a big day for me. I first applied to the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association here in California to be considered for a dog at the end of last year.

Monday was the long awaited home visit portion of the application. 

The home visitor was very nice, arriving on the strike of nine in the morning as we had agreed a couple of weeks ago. As we live in a semi-rural area I was expecting her to be several minutes late, but no, she was right on time.

After a few minutes chatting over introductions the home visitor went through my application. We talked about the reasons I had chosen to apply for a guide dog, my experience with dogs in the past,  having had German Shepherd dogs for the last thirty years two of which lived to sixteen and eighteen years respectively raised an eyebrow as one doesn't expect those dogs to be so long lived. We also talked about my personal preferences, color, breed, and gender. I am pretty open, I wouldn't want to disregard a good dog just because it didn't co-ordinate with my wardrobe  or something like that. Being flexible allows the Guide Dogs assessors to make an easier fit too. I was also asked if I have a preference as to the campus where I would train, San Rafael CA or Boring Oregon. I said that either would be fine, again multiplying possible allocated training options.

Following this portion of the interview the really hard work began. I had to walk with my cane to my workplace, coming back would be with the empty "Juno" harness, pretending I was following a dog.

On the route out, the visitor noted several danger spots and so we altered the route slightly, which was not at all easy, but she had an iPhone with an app which showed sidewalks. Wow there's an app for that!

Coming back we took a slightly different route again making adjustments for danger areas. 

We also checked out my directional awareness, the visitor leading mean a spiral and asking me what the original direction of travel had been and how to get back to the original route. Dogs will, take you of course sometimes and it is up to you to know how to get unlost.

After this two hour exercise we got back to my house and finished on a what next portion.

She was concerned about danger areas on the route, butt would suggest retraining with my white cane trainer, in the meantime putting forward my application for a dog.

The report which she makes will go on to a selection board to be examined. Because of my earlier choices as to breed and campus I could receive a placement more quickly, but the process is currently filling spaces in about five months time. Maybe November 2013.

I am glad that portion is now over. I will be waiting for several more weeks to see if the selection board have accepted the visitors recommendation.

Patience is a virtue they say.