Nyle at Class
When I recently enrolled on a History class I faced a mobility challenge. The class was held outside Walthamstow, in Wanstead, an area unfamiliar to us.
For the first time in a while then, my Guide Dog Nyle had to learn a completely new route.
Sue, my wife, helped us by accompanying us on a test route survey. We failed though, unfortunately, to remember the first rule of route planning. Survey the route completely before training your dog.
In order to reach our return Bus Stop Nyle needed to Guide me across the A12 where it crosses Wanstead High Street. . This is obviously a busy and major crossing with traffic traversing at high speed. We focussed over much on this busy crossing, failing to spot a further difficult crossing beyond the A12. We discovered that going this first route presented risks.
We eventually worked out that by adjusting our route to a different crossing point we could use a longer but safer route. The problem was that Nyle obviously did not agree and insisted on guiding me to the original unsafe crossing point. He could tell it was the quicker of the available routes.
We reached an impasse. However a phone call to Guide Dogs trainer Dave Watson elicited some useful advice. The next week, armed with a tube of Primula soft cheese we returned to the problematic crossing. Sue placed a big lump of cheese on the required Pelican pole and we walked back a few paces. Nyle was suddenly much more interested in finding this crossing. We gradually worked our way back, each time placing cheese on the pole. Nyle assessed us as eccentric, placing food for him on a pole but he did not complain. Eventually he lost complete interest in the original unsafe crossing.
The only problem then was the confusion of pedestrians on the day, one of whom was obviously bewildered, attempting to remove the cheese as Nyle and I were arriving on a test run.
Since then it has been pretty much plain sailing and Nyle has guided me home safely on many occasions.
However, the first class contained drama of a different kind. On arrival we discovered that another Guide Dog, May, was attending the class with her owner Chris.
After initial excitement we thought our dogs would settle in the normal way. Surprisingly May cried and whimpered throughout this first class.
We were both a little mortified, thinking Nyle had somehow unsettled May. However what transpired was that all our assumptions were completely wrong. May’s cries were nothing to do with Nyle. She was actually unwell with stomach pains. Happily a visit to the Vets resolved this for May and since then they have behaved immaculately in the class, obviously jointly fascinated in hearing the accounts of Victorian London.
So Nyle has eventually gained another of his multitude of strings for his Guiding bow. It is a sobering reflection that without his help there is no practical chance that I would even have considered attempting to attend this class in an unfamiliar area. Another indication of the precious treasure that is our Guide Dogs.