On The ‘Path to nowhere’

Greetings one and all.  As always, a very warm welcome back to the blog.

In my local area we have a few strange situations regarding things like tactile paving which isn’t quite where it’s supposed to be, and a disturbing lack of crossings especially on a rather busy road, which as a result I take every measure to avoid.  But perhaps one of the most unusual features of the local area is, what I like to call, the ‘path to nowhere’.

Some time ago the local doctors surgery, and their accompanying chemist moved to a new location, from the high street to land formerly used by a local Primary school.  Although this is actually closer to us it meant that they had to make some alterations to the roads; and as a result the paths to allow pedestrian access.

However as so often happens with design, I think someone didn’t quite think all of these paths through as thoroughly as they perhaps could have.  The upshot is that if you head to the doctors or the chemist on foot, as I have to do every now and then to pick up new eye drops, then you need to negotiate a few new paths in order to do it.  One of these is the ‘path to nowhere’, which is literally a small bit of path, a few meters long, which goes around on a curve, just to add an extra level of complication to it, but which ultimately leads nowhere.  If you stay on it too long then you end up on grass.  I’m quite sure it’s purpose is to allow crossing between what would otherwise be a large area of road, but I can’t help but think that if they had thought it through then they could have come up with something a bit better.

As I have mentioned before, part of the pre-guide dog training involves selecting routes that will if all goes well be routes we will take on a regular or semi-regular basis with our new dogs.  Since it is likely that I will require eye drops for the foreseeable future then the route to the chemist seemed like a good one to include.  However as a result of dealing with the ‘path to nowhere’, along with the fact that on the return route there is no kind of clue as to when you need to cross the road, to get onto the path opposite the doctors and chemist, once you have left the chemist and are heading home; the route was far more complicated than it first appeared. Like a lot of other routes now on my list, it was especially challenging when using the cane.

Commando and I have made this trip a few times, and have run into difficulties on a few occasions because of these problems.  Getting to the chemist isn’t too tricky anymore because Commando knows where he’s going, and isn’t too fazed by the path to nowhere.  However the lack of tactile paving on the return route from the chemist has caused us a few problems in the past.

However recently I needed to restock on eye drops, and it so happened that I needed to do it on a day when I wasn’t at College, so that meant that Commando and I could deal with it ourselves.  So a trip was scheduled in for that day.  However, this particular day proved to be a rather busy one for Commando and myself.  As well as that trip to the chemist I had arranged to meet one of my friends from my time training in Edinburgh at the Metro Centre, and earlier that morning I realised that I had something that needed posting.

So, first things first, we headed off to the post box to do the posting, and since we had a little time we took the scenic route home.  We weren’t home long before we had to head out again to the Metro Centre.  This is one of the shortest turnaround times Commando has had between needing to work, but eager worker that he is he didn’t have any problems with that arrangement and was wagging enthusiastically, eager to head back out again.

As regular readers will know, Commando and I have done the Metro centre a few times during our partnership.  In fact now I think about it I have been to the Metro centre more regularly since I was partnered with Commando than I ever had before.  Also as regular readers will know, Commando has a certain speed increase when he’s in new areas or those he’s just getting used to.  However this time he was perfect in the Metro centre.  His speed was nice and steady and his directions were perfect every time.  Whilst we were waiting for my friend I was talking to a young child, who was brimming with questions about Commando, as well as taking the opportunity to pet and stroke my boy.  Once my friend arrived, we headed off for our coffee, and again Commando was text book in his performance, although he was trying to get his head just in front of my friend’s guide dog Annie, even though I pointed out to him that Annie was the one who actually knew where she was going, rather than Commando.  Once we reached the café though both dogs settled and behaved perfectly, although unsurprisingly they did attract some attention from other customers.

So once my friend and I were ready to head our separate ways Commando was once again on top of his game doing some outstanding crowd work to get us out of the building.

We arrived home, and I was adamant that I would give Commando a good while to rest up after the Metro centre work.  However it’s almost as though he knew there was still work to be done.  I was doing some work at my desk, and as soon as I shut the computer down Commando came bounding over, as he usually does when he knows we are heading out somewhere.  Since he was just so keen I thought that we may as well head out on our last job that day, and venture out to the ‘path to nowhere’.

So off we went, and as usual we managed to deal with the path on our way to the chemist, made it there and picked up the prescription.  We headed out, and I was trying to work out where would be the best time to cross the road so that we would find path rather than grass.  However, as usual my boy was on the ball, knowing somehow what I wanted.  We were walking along, when he started to turn towards the curb.  Figuring that this was as good a place as any to cross I decided that we would make the crossing and hope for the best…

So we ventured forward, with me wondering for the few seconds it would take to cross, what we would find, would it be path or had Commando decided that it would be nice to walk on the grass instead?  My boy had decided that he should put my needs first, and we found ourselves walking nicely up onto the path we needed.  So we proceeded along the path with me ready to gauge when we would once again cross onto the ‘path to nowhere’.  Once again Commando moved towards the curb at around the time I was about to direct him to do so, and once again we crossed.  It was at this point that I became aware of the sound of the traffic on the main road, alongside which we walk when we are on the main route around our local area, and which we should have first had to negotiate the ‘path to nowhere’.  After a few seconds of slight confusion I realised that somehow, and I’m still not entirely sure how, Commando had found a slightly different route home which removed the need for the ‘path to nowhere’.  So we continued on our route, arrived home and Commando was rewarded with the usual heaping of prays and a nice little kibble for his troubles.

Even thinking about it now I still can’t quite work out how Commando managed that rather useful short cut.  So I suppose I’ll chalk it up to a mix of the peculiar road and path design of my local area and the ingenuity of my, oh so clever boy.


Sheila, 11:23am Mon 15 Sep 2014:

He's a good boy for you craig Neil is the same

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Craig And Commando

Craig is in his early thirties and completely blind. His blog details the day-to-day adventures he experiences with his first guide dog, Commando.

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