This morning Bingo and I attended a SEGD meeting without Cheryl, who stayed home to nurse a cold. Normally we would have taken Bingo on a nice, long walk before a meeting like this, just to shave off the edge of his natural exuberance, but we've had a steady rain since before sunrise, so Bingo was wound up pretty tight by the 10am meeting.
As you might guess, these meetings are full of very nice people (without exception) and very well-behaved dogs (mostly), including many young puppies, sitting or lying down, waiting patiently (mostly).
Debbie, an area coordinator who is partially blind, was there with her new guide dog, and she showed us how happy he was to get into his harness, how dedicated he was to her and to doing his job, how completely focused he was. Someday Bingo will be like this. Someday, but not today.
As we all practiced walking in a circle, Bingo jumped and lunged at the other dogs and generally burned up his energy (perfect timing, right?) despite my efforts to control him. He is completely fascinated with the other dogs and completely distracted by them. I made excuses, saying that he has been walking so well here at home, which is true, but the real world is full of distractions, and we have to work with Bingo on these.
Of course, by the end of the meeting he was all tired out. Cheryl had texted me to ask if I would stop by the grocery store on the way home, smiling to herself, I'm sure, because Bingo was more than a little distracted by smells on our first visit to Publix. But on the drive home from the meeting he gave me a sweet look--I don't know, maybe it was a promise to be good from now on.
I took him in and picked up a basket instead of a big cart (smart). The store was filled with people and children, a sea of unrestrained children, more temptation than any puppy should have to endure. But this is the real world for a blind person.
This morning Debbie said that you transfer your emotions to your dog through the leash: if you are unsure or hesitant or fearful, the dog will sense it. So I walked ahead as though we were out on our normal walk through the neighborhood. He pranced along beside me like a pro and was not even distracted when a little girl rushed at him and attempted to tackle him.
On the way out I heard him laugh when I asked, Why couldn't you do this in the meeting today?