Go for a walk? Seriously? When you live in an apartment, or when you have a dog guide, you still have to walk the dog, even when there is ice and snow. Fortunately for me, Pippen has no interest in going for a walk at the age of 11, and fortunately for us both, she has a nice fenced in yard for taking care of natures calls. Still, even an 11-year-old dog needs exercise, as do I.
I friend who lives in Wisconsin, where deep snow throughout the winter is the norm, gave me an idea for getting in winter walking without having to climb over mountains of snow left from snow plows. His wife drives him to the local Home Depot, and he and his Seeing eye dog walk up and down the aisles and around the perimeter of the store. I took this idea and incorporated it into a learning experience for a couple of OhioState students.
Three years ago, I agreed to have 2 students shadow me, as part of their social work curriculum. Because I worked from my home, I had to be a bit creative with finding activities for them to observe. I mean, watching me make a cup of tea and take it up to my office is not exactly fascinating, nor is sitting at the computer. However, we managed to fill several hours, one of which was marching around the Home Depot.
It was a January day, much like today, and it was bitterly cold and icy. Pippen and I hadnt had a good walk in several days. When the girls arrived, we drove to the local store for a lesson in how dog guides work. They walked slightly behind me, observing how I gave Pippen verbal commands along with hand gestures, such as forward, right, left, and hup up. They got to see how she negotiated displays in the middle of the aisles and made sure we cleared the shopping carts and shoppers. We even did a little shopping. We talked about the benefits of having a dog guide and how mobility differs when using a white cane. It felt good to stretch our legs and walk with confidence, and it felt good to use that experience to educate 2 students about working a dog guide. And Pippen thought the working conditions were a whole lot better than trying to figure out where the sidewalks were under that blanket of white stuff and climbing over shoulder-high mounds of snow. Its not easy when youre only 21 inches tall.