Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Good Training Ground

Mom has been going to a physical therapist at Texas Women's hospital in Houston about once per week.  Dad and I accompany her (cause Dad's the best driver).  Hospitals are usually not considered fun places.  However, it gives us the opportunity to do some training.  There are lots of neat things to see and walk on there.  I get to work doors, elevators, parking garages, handicap ramps, waiting rooms, cars, sirens, benches, traffic and get exposure to lot of different walking surfaces.

The first time I went to that hospital, I was just a little guy (4 months old).  I saw a VERY shiny, slippery floor in the lobby that had a ramp with an upward incline.  It kind of freaked me out to walk on that floor so I decided I didn't really like that place. 

Since then, I have been back to the hospital about three or four times and I've got to admit's a pretty cool place.  I like it mostly because I get lots of questions from people asking why I'm there, and I get lots of looks and smiles from everyone.  Dad likes it because we get to see a lot of things that we don't normally see where we live, and, we get to work on a lot of different commands.  It is always an adventure for me to go the 4th largest city in the US (Houston) and I get to go quite often... enough that I am getting used to all the people and all the traffic.

Dad, try to remember where we parked this time

The first exposure that I'm getting used to is the parking garage.  It feels like a roller coaster ride -- all that driving around... trying to find a parking place and then get settled in.  It's dark in the garage and there are lots of echoes, but I don't mind it too much.

Next, we find the elevator.  I am working on my "Find The..." commands, one of which is "Find The Elevator".  Elevator is an awfully big word for a puppy.  I am much better with my other "Find The.." commands, because they are much smaller words.  Besides... there are no elevators in my small town, so I don't get all that much practice in elevators.

Once in the elevator, we take Mom up to the physical therapist, which is way up on the 11th floor -- a long ride in the elevator.  Sometimes we have to stop on the way up and let other people get in.  I can handle it when people get into the elevator with me (sometimes better than other people handle me being in the elevator with them), and sometimes it does get a little crowded. 

I like watching the fish swim around in the aquarium...Dad likes to snooze.

We settle into the waiting room for a little "chillin time" until Mom is called in for her treatment. Once Mom leaves us, Dad and I hit the bricks for about an hour of exposure time on the hospital grounds.

Bricked sidewalk

There are a lot of different walking surfaces around here.  This is great, because when I am in my coat I have a lot of things to focus on (eg. not pulling, not jumping, not sniffing, not pulling to greet people and about 100 other NOTS). Sometimes with all that focusing on the NOTS, a change in footing will freak me out a little.  When this happens, Dad lets me sniff the change in the floor and then we do it again.  Sometimes there are a lot of DO OVERS.

Walking across this grating used to scare me, but NOT ANYMORE!

There is Red Bumpy Stuff

There is yellow Bumpy Stuff

A manhole cover

(Dad calls this a manhole cover...but  I don't see any man!)

A grate venting steam.

Look at this cool thing we found! A grate with some steam coming out of it.  This is TOTALLY weird so Dad let me check this out for a long time.  The first time the wind blew a little of that steam on me, I didn't know what was happening!  I sniffed the metal part and it wasn't really hot...but let's just say I don't want to sniff it again...


We cross Fannin, a very busy street near the hospital complex.  

Wonder if anybody will mind if I track a little mud into the hospital ?

It seems to me that the mayor needs to put a little money into sidewalk repair around here!  This is a virtual obstacle course with a scrap of board, some mud, a manhole cover, and a big crack in the sidewalk.  Trust me when I say, there are a LOT of DO OVERS on this path.

Hey buddy, where is your blue jacket ?

It's about time to meet up with Mom and head for home.  In the gift shop, they have this black dog for sale that looks a little like me.  Well, at least he was black...and about my size.  I tried to get to know him a little, but he didn't have a lot to say.  Mom embarrasses me when she starts singing "how much is that doggie in the window?" Ruff Ruff

Find the Chair

As we are getting ready to head back home, I get to work on my other "Find The..." commands.  Remember? I told you that the smaller words are much easier for me.  "Find The Chair" is easy.

Find the Steps

But Dad has to remember that it the proper command is "Find the Steps", not "Find the Stairs".  Stairs and Chairs kind of sound alike to a little guy like me.

Finally, FIND THE CAR.

Yay, it's finally time to head for home. 
Isn't it almost my chow time, dad?  I'm getting hungry!

Patience is a virtue

It figures. First, the humans get to eat!  Not me! I have to lay still under the table while they eat.  Not only that, but I have to wait another two hours before it is MY meal time.  Something is wrong with this picture .  I do all the work, and THEY get to EAT.  Wonder what they would think if they had to lay under the table while I ate?

It was not a bad day, tho. It's fun to practice and learn my commands. I want to grow up and be the best guide-dog ever!


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