Guide Dog School 3: Taking Care Of Business

A service dog waits to cross the street until it's safe.

This is part three of Brian Fischler’s ongoing series about meeting and learning to work with his guide dog, Nash.

Walking with a Guide Dog

Today was the first day that we went out into the streets with our guide dogs. Our instructors were attached to our dogs so we weren’t flying solo. My instructor had a leash also attached to Nash’s collar; that way she could control the dog and ease me into commanding him. I was holding onto his harness to get accustomed to walking with him.

We worked on right and left turns. The difficult thing about being a first-time guide dog handler is you are really learning a completely new way of getting around. I cannot imagine how difficult rehab is for someone with a spine injury, and relearning how to walk, but that is the only thing that I can think of that compares to this new way of getting around.

Walking with a Guide Dog vs. Using the Cane

It amazes me how much faster I walk with Nash than I do with a cane. In fact, he walks a little too fast for me, but I am sure that is something I will get used to. My instructor did tell me that Nash was walking a little faster than his normal pace would be, as he hadn’t been worked out in a few days.

Still, it will be nice not to take an hour to walk a New York City block. Again today, we got another comment from the White Plains peanut gallery as we were walking. Someone yelled out what a cute dog Nash is. I think Nash might be a real lady killer.

Bonding with My Guide Dog

Nash and I have been together for 24 hours, and so far only one poop. Maybe I got lucky and he will not go that much. We still don’t have to pick up after our dogs, as our trainers handle that. The poop pick-up is one lesson I am not really looking forward to learning.

Nash and I still haven’t connected on all of our commands. I think he is still testing me, and feeling me out. I am sure he is wondering who the heck is this guy giving me commands. Well, I am the Pack Leader, as I feed him!

I am amazed at how well-behaved Nash is around all of the other dogs. He seems to have a very low dog distraction level. We have evening meetings, and there are fourteen dogs in the room, and Nash sits very quietly.

I do think he gets a little bored during the meetings, as he will turn onto his back and want a belly rub. Too cute. Nash seems to prefer people over dogs, and I think he is going to be a really social guy once we get back to New York City.

Our dogs are pretty much attached to us at the hip. It helps create the bond, as they will be going everywhere with us, and that includes the bathroom. Today, Nash and I had our first experience going into the bathroom together, and let’s just say that I am really, really glad that he likes me because this is one room where I wouldn’t want him biting me!

Going to the Bathroom with a Guide Dog

We went into the bathroom, and I gave Nash the command to sit, I unzip and am standing there waiting to do my business. All of a sudden I feel something pop up between my legs! Hello, Nash. Luckily I had not started to go, or I would have peed right on his head.

Wow, what a lucky guy, talk about a commercial in the making for all those bladder-control drugs. I couldn’t stop laughing at how cute and silly Nash is, and I learned a very valuable lesson: From now on when we go into the bathroom, I will stand on Nash’s leash.

Part two | Part four

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