Sunday, February 18, 2018
In typical island style, I actually left home yesterday and stayed in town overnight so that I could be at the airport at 4:30 a.m. What can I say about travel besides SNOW!! First flight delayed; connecting flights missed; rebooked flights; arrived 4 hours later than expected. I was met by a Leader Dog volunteer for a 1-hour drive to the school in Rochester, Michigan.
I will meet my classmates tomorrow, as I am just now settling in and it is past midnight. Luckily, I remember much of the residence layout from last time back in 2011.
There are 5 trainers plus 1 lead instructor, so the trainer/student ratio is very good. We will meet the trainers tomorrow morning.
The Polk Center student residence can accommodate up to 24 students, but we have only 14 in this winter class – There are two Canadians, several foreign Spanish speakers with their interpreter, and the rest are from the United States.
Rooms are private, and each room includes a tie-down area and sleeping mat for the dog, and a separate outside door that leads directly to each student’s assigned “park” area. There is a gym, grooming room, dining room, snack area, laundry facilities in each student wing, and various student lounges throughout the building for recreational use and evening lectures. Seating in the various lounges is configured differently so that the dogs get accustomed to different seating styles. If the weather is decent, students can enjoy relaxing in the outside pavilion or walk on the beginner practice course. A very nice facility!
There is a separate Leader Dog lounge facility in downtown Rochester, from which many of the training routes are worked. Like the residence, it has various seating configurations, a coffee station, and outside benches for when the weather is nice.
Here is the typical schedule we will be following:
Monday – Saturday:
6:30 am — Park and water dogs – (”park” refers to the dog’s relief time) [and what does “park time” spelled backwards spell?] lol
7:30 am — Breakfast. Morning feed dog – as agreed with your instructor
8:15 am — Park dog
8:30 am — Depart for training session
11:15 am — Return from training (park and water dog)
12:00 pm — Lunch
12:45 pm— Park dog
1:00 pm — Depart for training session
4:15 pm — Return from training (park and water dog)
5:00 pm — Feed dog
5:30 pm —Dinner (water dog after dinner)
6:30 pm — Informational session and/or obedience session
8:00 pm — Park dog (no more water after this park)
8:15 pm— Free time (park dog as needed)
11:00 pm — Quiet time
Evening activities may include informational sessions, obedience sessions, night time training sessions and an opportunity to meet puppy raisers.
Sunday is a day off from training, but dog care stays the same. This rest day is important to allow both dogs and students to adjust and absorb the many changes that each is going through.
In our “free time,” we are expected to do dog grooming, practice obedience, walk the residence halls for heeling practice, and review lecture material before lectures. We are expected to take advantage of various seating configurations located throughout both the residence and downtown training lounge so our dogs get used to sitting quietly beside chairs, under chairs, beside high stools, under tables, in booths, in airplane-type seating, etc. If the weather is good, we can also take advantage of the outdoor dog play pens; play with our dogs is also important and encouraged!
The dogs stay with us 24-7. The only time we put them on tie-down is if we are in the washroom or sleeping. A tie-down cable is a short, chew-proof cable that keeps the dog safe and out of trouble; they are long enough to allow comfortable movement, but short enough that the dogs can’t get themselves tangled.
Tomorrow is Juno. The first few training sessions are called “Juno” training. This is when the trainer plays the role of a dog, referred to as “Juno.” “Juno” helps the training team learn more about each student so they can select the best dog match.
Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning is DOG ISSUE! Once I have my dog, I will have a lot less time for Facebook posts! I might change to a more abbreviated style with summaries and point form tidbits. I’ll see how it goes …
So, busy times ahead!