I forgot to mention in my previous post that one night during my first week of training, a yoga class was offered and it was fabulous! The stretching felt so good after all the walking we had been doing. Susanne, the yoga instructor is also amazing at describing the poses verbally. On Sunday evening, massages were offered, $1 per minute, and it was the most amazing massage I have ever had! This got me all ready and loosened up for week number two. The only down side of my massage was that I thought the massage therapist was totally blind, so I decided to just wear my PJ’s, well he was totally sighted, and what a sight I was in my plaid flannel pajama bottoms and long sleeve T!
This is the week where I think all the fun stuff happens, we get free access to the play paddocks so we can cut loose with our dogs, we get to go on escalators if we choose, ride the buses and trains, and we work more customized routes which are meant to simulate our home environments. We also worked with the dog booties on; I love the "clop, clop, clop" sound of their shoes when walking around! I chose to work a route over to the mall which is across the street from GDB, and I also learned an exercise route through a neighborhood that is also across from GDB. My classmate wanted more exposure to busy intersections, buses, and trains, so she and Carol the instructor would go off and work those areas. Another student in class lives in a busy urban city, so she and her trainer spent several days in a row working in the beautiful city of San Francisco.
Throughout this time, we also got all of our grooming kits and Carol went over brushing, teeth brushing, and ear cleaning. We also received our Heartgard and Frontline which of course is provided FREE of charge to you for the life of your dog, but now it is even easier because all you have to do is call the support center and it will be mailed directly to your house! We then learned “fun things about our dogs,” visited the vet clinic and received the health history on our dogs, and took our group class and individual ID photos. Some people in class even began receiving calls from their puppy raisers, and I think they all made it to graduation, so that is exciting! Those of us who had been through the four week training program in the past or even the three week training were questioning how we did it? We were all so tired, but energized at the same time! Not to mention I know that I was carrying around at least five extra pounds from all the yummy food!
If I had to highlight some things about my two week training and the New Student Residence, here is what I would say, and in no particular order:
- There is still down time (much needed), but a lot more one-on-one time with your instructor!
- Training staff seems more relaxed and easy going, they don’t seemed rushed
- The food rewards really makes a huge difference in the work my guide dog would do, it kept him engaged and motivated!!
- Traveling around in mini vans is much more efficient, and again the one-on-one time with the instructor and the one other student is great!
- Having access to the relieving patio directly out your own door is fabulous - there is still a relieving schedule, but it is a bit more flexible.
- The food of course!
- The nursing staff is awesome and so supportive.
- Having my own room was really nice, and the coffee pot in the room was great, thanks Theresa!
- Meeting new people from around the country.
- As a re-train, watching those getting their first dog and the emotions involved with this is priceless.
- The adult learning approach is awesome.
- Instructors were constantly checking in with me to see how things were going, positives/negatives, and coming up with solutions if need be.
- Such a supportive, energetic, and encouraging training staff - it is so obvious that they love what they do, thank you!
I know there are still a lot of people out there skeptical about this two week training approach, especially for those getting their first dog. Some of the main reasons GDB was able to shorten the time is because of the 2:1 student instructor ratio, using mini vans for transportation, and the class lectures being provided ahead of time. If anything you are getting much more one-on-one hands-on instruction in the two weeks than you ever did in the four or three week program, and I went through both of these. Because of this, the instructors are much more thorough and a lot more material can be covered. Not to mention the customization of the program; getting to work in areas that are going to be most appropriate to you in your particular home environment.
If you have any questions or would like to speak to me directly, you can call me at 800-295-4050 Ext. 4176 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org - I would be happy to chat with you any time!