Now that we are home, learning our neighborhood is very important. My first seeing-eye dog, Velda, passed away two-and-a-half years before I got Thelma, so learning the neighborhood together with Thelma is a new adventure for both of us.
It was a sultry Saturday afternoon. We decided to start learning my route to work. This is a 16-block route, and there are some interesting irregularities on it. We walked down our street, turned right and crossed the corner. Thelma saw the wide expanse of a concrete patio in front of a store and, understandably, treated the whole thing like a sidewalk. Since I didn’t actually want to go into this particular store, I had to show her where I wanted to end up after crossing the street. So we went back across the street and repeated the process, reinforcing to her where the real sidewalk was.
My husband, Ray walked a few feet behind my right shoulder and alerted me to anything he thought I should beware of, such as cracks in the sidewalk caused by a root; construction; lime bikes, etc. Thelma skirted around most of these obstacles or took me past them without difficulty.
A few times I had to stop, show her the obstacle and praise her for seeing it, then take a few steps back and have her walk past it again to reinforce the learning. Then we encountered construction, and it seemed we might need to cross the street to avoid it. After traveling about eight blocks, we decided not to walk to my new office, but instead to turn left and walk to our friends’ house. They were working in their yard when we got there.
We talked for a while and then started the trek home. About three blocks from our house, the rain came and so did the thunder and lightning. Thelma just kept walking without a hitch, and I picked up my pace beside her. Ray almost had to run to keep up with us! When we finally arrived home, we were drenched… but we were safe.
I was glad to know that my dog wasn’t afraid of a little rainstorm. Thelma had already proven that several times in the short time we’d know each other. This was actually the sixth downpour we had traveled through together since our training began three weeks earlier.
We all dried off as best as we could, got a refreshing drink of water, and continued our day. I realized I was truly beginning to trust this four-footed friend of mine more and more. Most of all, though, I trusted in the Lord to keep us safe during our adventures as we learned more about each other’s traveling habits. And I did forget to thank the Lord for my faithful husband, who also invested time in this training.
After that eventful walk, Thelma and I had grown closer together and came away another fun adventure to share with our friends.
Judy⠠⠚⠥⠙⠽ and Thelma 🐾