This post is going to give you a glimpse into the characteristics, likes and dislikes of my guide dog Izzy both on and off harness because there’s more to her then guiding.
On Harness: Izzy Loves The “Find” Command
Izzy could “find” things for me all day if I needed her to. From elevators, to escalators, to chairs, counters, sidewalks, steps, doors etc. to “finding the way” when we get ourselves into situations with lots of obstacles, or get ourselves lost- she loves to find things. I think “finding” things is her favourite part of her job, or sassing me when I tell her that she’s going the wrong way and then later finding out that she was in fact going exactly where I wanted her to go. It’s always awkward and fun to get proven wrong by your dog. I’ve also taught her to find some additional things that they don’t teach during guide dog training.
Off Harness; Izzy Loves “Where’s Your Toy”
If Izzy’s off harness and I say “where’s your toy” she gets so excited and will bring her toys to me. Sometimes she’ll put more than one toy in her mouth and run around with her tail in the air. I love it when she does this.
On Harness: Liver Treats
Need I say more? Typically when Izzy gets treats I am only allowed to use her own kibble, However, for certain situations, or if she’s getting a bit bored to spice things up a little, I’ll either use multiple pieces of her own kibble, or liver treats. On the occasion(s) she gets liver treats I can literally feel the extra spring in her step, the triumph mount, or the reluctance fade depending on the situation. Liver treats are her favourite.
Off Harness: Carrots
Izzy is not allowed human food ever as I have stressed many times, however on rare occasion, sometimes a special treat is in order. On those rate occasions, or if we’re doing off harness basic obedience commands (brushing up on the sit, stay, down, come etc.) which guide dog schools encourage us to do, I like to give her carrots. She loves carrots and it really cute to hear her crunch on them.
On Harness: Stopping at Steps and Curbs
We are pretty busy and we’re always on the move, but sometimes when Izzy stops at a step, or a curb we are able to share a special moment together. This includes me bending down to tell her what a good girl she is and her showering me with kisses. Most of the time when she stops at curbs, or steps, she gets a quick verbal “good girl,” a butt scratch (another favourite) and a “good girl”, or a treat and a “good girl”. However, when I think of it, I like to bend down and tell her how awesome she is and get showed with kisses in return. She also always looks up at me when she stops at curbs, steps, or any other obstacle as if to say “did I do it right?”
Off Harness: Blankets
If there’s a blanket made out of a certain soft material, she will go to any lengths to get it and claim it as her own. She likes to curl up on soft blankets and either sleep in a pretzel style with her nose tucked neatly behind her tail, or all sprawled out on her side. However, she has material preferences. The blanket can’t be a soft sheet type, it has to have a velvet soft feel to it. She’s picky, but she has a cute and fun personality.
A Genera Dislike: Getting In and Riding In Cars
Over two years ago, Izzy and I got into a car accident. In the months following the accident, Izzy was quite hesitant and showed signs of nervousness when getting in and riding in cars. We conquered this with lots of her favourite liver treats and excessive praise when she got in the car. While it has been over two years and Izzy rarely shows signs of hesitancy anymore, sometimes you can still tell that she is not a fan of getting in and riding in cars. Remember, car accidents don’t just affect humans, they effect pets and service dogs too.
A General Dislike: Working In The Rain
Izzy always tends to slow down in the rain when she’s working. I can only imagine her facial expressions when’s she’s soaked from head to paw by the rain. she still does a great job with her work, but you can tell she’s not very impressed with the weather as she doodles along the sidewalk at her own pace because “I’m not going to walk fast when you’re the one making me work in this wet weather.”
That’s all for now, but there’s so much more to Izzy then just being a guide dog. She is not a robot and whether her harness is on, or off she has likes, dislikes and preferences. Most importantly, she has a seriously strong personality and that’s just one of the many things I love about her.
Keely Grossman, BrockU student, guide dog user, activist and writer. Founder of A.B.L.E (Awareness Breaks Limits For Equality) @ABL4Equality
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