Soon, Ill be off to Morristown, NJ, to train with my next dog guide. I thought you might like to read parts of a letter they send out to news students. Although I am a returning student, affectionately known as a retread, it will give you a picture of my life in training.
During the three and a half week class you and your dog will get to know and become comfortable with each other. We call this process the bond. Each dog guide is an individual with strengths and weaknesses ~ just like each of us. Although the dogs have been thoroughly trained each is accustomed to working with his or her own instructor, and will spend many weeks getting used to you and wanting to work for you. With the proper balance of affection and discipline, this bond will develop and you will, in time, experience the same wondrous mobility that others have experienced since 1929.
The students who comprise your class come from all parts of the United States and Canada. Your group will be instructed by five or six instructors and a class supervisor. The entire group of students in residence will number between 18 and 24. Your individual group will be anywhere from three to six students. You will each have a private room with a bathroom
When you arrive on Monday, you will be greeted by Pauline Alexander and your class instructors. Most of this day will be spent on orientation. Tuesday we will travel into Morristown to give you an idea how your dog will work. This will also give us an opportunity to get to know you better so that we can choose the dog that will be the best match for you. On Wednesday morning you will receive your dog.
Although there will be many other details, the general schedule for weekdays will be:
- Arise at 5:30 am to feed and park your dog (park time is the name we give to the process of leash relieving your dog)
- Breakfast at 7 am
- A half-hour to one-hour lesson in town sometime between 8 am and 11 am
- Parktime late morning
- Lunch at 12:10 pm
- A half-hour to one-hour lesson in town sometime between 1 pm and 4 pm
- Feed your dog and park at 4:30 pm
- Suppertime at 5:10 pm
- Evening discussions between 6:30 and 8pm
- Last park at 8pm
It is a busy day, but there will be plenty of downtime to read, groom your dog, study, or visit with your classmates. This downtime in the dormitory is just as important as learning to work with your dog in town. Your dog will be lying at your feet learning that you are the new, most important being in its life.