I always knew that having a dog had made my life one thousand times easier in regard to getting around. I’m not saying I’m a terrible cane user, I’m actually pretty OK but I enjoy the level of freedom the dog gives me and the ease of getting around.
Yesterday was a prime example of how much awesomeness having a guide dog brings to my life. Although you could argue, if I didn’t have a dog I wouldn’t have needed to do this very thing but walking is good to right?
So, there’s a really nice park where you can take dogs for a nice off lead run. People are always in this park with their children or dogs and Bailey absolutely loves this place. The two tricky parts are that it’s a twenty minute walk with a dog, maybe a little less and there are several ways to get in and out of the park.
When Bailey was working, it was easy. We’d walk to the park, he knew exactly where we were going and would always get us in and out just fine.
So I knew I’d have to do this journey with the cane and pup on his lead at some point. If and when I get a new dog, [feeling very pessimistic of this fact at the moment], I hope to free run them together. I figure it might be good bonding time for them to play with one another and yet I know I’ll have to use the cane to then as you can’t work a dog and have another dog on the lead. That’s logical in my head but it does mean the cane will be necessary if I run the dogs on my own which I’m OK with doing.
So yesterday, I decided it was time to just bite the bullet and head to the park. I figured I’d get the bus as it stops just across the road and would leave out a huge chunk of cane work for me. Lazy? I don’t think so, it’s stressful for me to use a cane, I don’t enjoy it and if I was going to attempt a new route with the cane I should minimise my stress levels.
I crossed at the same place we always do and Bailey was very excited. We haven’t been to the park in ages because of my fear of using the cane. He’s been running but my parents have taken him. I always enjoy seeing him run and play so was looking forward to getting him into the park.
I knew I had to walk past the children’s play area and across a little car park. Finding the gate was not too hard. I missed it but realised I’d gone too far to the right so moved back left and found the gate where two ladies’ were chatting. I asked if this was the entrance to the park and they said it was so hurray, I made it.
I tried to pick up on landmarks whilst walking through but I wasn’t sure this would do me any good as even with Bailey we’ve seemed to have taken different routes out from time to time. But now it was all on me.
We found the bit of wall that I let Bailey off at and also lead him back up later and off he went for a lovely play.
Once Bailey had had his run and he was very well behaved yesterday, I put him back on his lead and headed back onto the path.
Now, if I’ve deduced this correctly, there must be smaller paths leading to the main one on the way in and out. The path I came in on had a bench just after I turned onto what I thought was the big path which I thought, oh that’s a good landmark. When you use a cane, you have to go on landmarks as opposed to depending on a dog’s intelligence.
So we eventually found some steps leading up which I think lead out of the park to but wasn’t one hundred percent sure. So I did what all good mobility students are taught and retraced my steps a little.
I realised after a few minutes we were walking around the playground. There is a circle of grass and a path circling the fenced off playground so I knew at some point we’d find the gate.
And we did.
I was happy enough and hadn’t got stressed and had figured my way out but I’d rather things were not as complicated every time so have asked my sighted sister to help me find a good way out. Looks like Bailey could get another free run. 😉