Update from Kate: Canine Challenges and Tandem TripsBy Kate Bosley -
Well, how are we getting on? On the whole very, very well. My guide dog Phoenix is good at travelling and guiding me appropriately. However, there have been a few challenges. In the early months she didn't always like me being so active. I tend to walk a lot each day and she found it hard to keep up. Not because she physically couldn't keep up with me but for a guide dog, leading and guiding is mentally hard work. This is especially the case for a young dog who can find it tiring, often requiring some time out. She seemed tired and would often refuse to lead me; she just sat down! I felt myself panic. I had grown to like her a lot but she wasn't guiding me well. I couldn't have a guide dog who wouldn't guide!
I decided to get in touch with the Guide Dogs staff who were good, offering me support and setting up a plan. They felt she wasn't used to my activity and the mental work was tiring her. She needed to rest along with a plan which was activated with an aim to build up her stamina.
So we started cutting back activities and rewarding her when she guided me well. It seems to have worked! She is better now and appears to enjoy guiding me. It was a scary time though; I felt I had built a strong relationship with her but that she was going to have to go back! Thankfully, this wasn't the case.
Another update is that I have just returned from a cycling holiday across the Pyrenees in France. Poor sight and cycling don't go together unless you use a Tandem. The Tandem has made such a difference to me. It has allowed me to achieve the same as everyone else, feeling confident that I can achieve anything when pedaling!
I know I am lucky as I have always been able to cycle, just in a slightly different way. I guess achievement with a disability is different but I have found a way of adapting the skills I had before the accident and using them in a new way. Of course, I am lucky as I have a husband who is my pilot!
On reflection, one of my biggest challenges is that Phoenix can't ride a bike!