Each trainer worked with three or four human-guide teams. One at a time they taught their charges the basics of walking with the dog, leash correction, and proper stance, called the “master position.” When my turn came, Ashley told me to take my harness by the handle.
“Are you going to wear it?”
“No. I’m going to hold the top piece in my hand.”
“Too bad. I thought maybe the harness was the latest fashion trend in Rochester.”
A number of aspects of the way they train struck me as odd, starting with that. I’ve trained two of my own guides and a dozen varying kinds of service dog, but I never imagined teaching people how to handle it this way. But it worked fine.
I couldn’t believe how she wanted me to walk to a corner and make a right turn. My previous dogs knew that if I said, right,” they should take the next possible turn unless stairs or doors were involved. I could tell by traffic sounds and other cues when I approached a cross street. Ashley told me to walk right up to the curb, praise my Juno (her, this time), then do this special footwork to back up past the grass and make the turn. Weird.
“Is this just for the first few days?”
“No,” she said, puzzlement evident in her tone.
Okay, so another thing that would change at home. My Juno will be able to get on the bed and couch, play with whatever toys she wants, and make sensible turns without going out of our way only to backtrack.
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