As part of Noelle’s service dog training, we decided it was time for her first vacation to Vancouver living with another volunteer.
BC Guide Dog Services encourages “doggy sleepovers” so Noelle learns to listen to new people. This experience helps prepare her for the day when she moves into her “forever home” with a blind person or child with autism.
It was very sad for me to watch her looking out the car window as we waved goodbye. But we knew it was important for Noelle to be exposed to the big city, its traffic, its noises, and its famous Granville Island Market. By all accounts, she had a wonderful time and never missed us enough to lose her appetite.
Noelle came back to us visibly matured, with more self-confidence.
She got a glowing report card from her summer host although we are still working on some skills. For one thing, she loves riding in the car so much that she is reluctant to get out. Another issue is that she scavenges for food and sticks during her walks.
Instead, Noelle needs to focus on keeping her partner safe.
Guide dogs are taught by using positive reinforcement rather than punitive methods so I definitely have a challenge ahead of me.
As Noelle might play a significant role in society she needs to be well trained. If any readers have suggestions regarding her penchant for scavenging for food on her walks, I would love to hear them.
– Tara Douglas is fostering and training Noelle for B.C. Guide Dog Services