Block Walk

Hello one and all.

It’s important that we can work our dogs whenever possible, both to keep their skills sharp and to provide them and us with the exercise we need. With this in mind, something that is usually developed and worked on during initial guide dog training is the Block Walk. A Block Walk is usually a nice little leg-stretching route that will give our dogs and us a nice route to work on if we don’t have anywhere specific to go, or we just fancy a stroll for its own sake. Of course, in such situations we are free to go wherever we like, but I suspect every guide dog owner likely has a route that will serve as their Block Walk.

For Commando and me, our block Walk takes us around 25-30 minutes, depending on traffic. The route is usually reasonably quiet when we use it for Block Walk, although this is by design on my part, as for quite some part of it we are walking along by a road with an extremely high volume of traffic. Fortunately, we don’t have to cross that particular road. The route does have some challenges though, or at least they were challenging at the start of our journey together.

There are a number of very small down-curbs, in fairly quick succession. No doubt this proved very handy in the early days when Commando, and I, were getting used to working together and stopping at each down-curb. Not far after those down-curbs, we have something that I still take extra care over. A petrol station forecourt to cross.

The forecourt, along with the numerous down-curbs, combined with a high level of traffic on the main road alongside us, can certainly make things interesting. As always though, Commando took it in his stride from day one. He has always done very well taking us across the forecourt, and did exceptionally well when one day we found that someone had actually parked on the small bit of foot path between the entry and exit roads! Fortunately, once we are past the petrol station things become a little simpler with a nice long straight run until we get to the top of the high street, at which point it’s a turn towards the general direction of home.

As often happens with our routes, there are some actual destinations we occasionally use on the Block Walk route. These include Commando’s vet and a barbershop, where I will usually pop in for a haircut when necessary. Naturally, Commando has made a note of each of these destinations and will slow, and turn his head towards them as we approach to let me know we are nearing a possible point of interest. A cane cannot do that! Naturally, once I let him know that we don’t require either of those locations we continue on our way. Although I will use this route to go to specific destinations such as the vets whenever that may be necessary, my personal favourite time to take the actual uninterrupted Block Walk is usually at times when I know the area will be nice and quiet. It’s really quite a nice experience to be walking along past the busy road, when there’s barely a car to be heard, and naturally the petrol station is usually nice and quiet as an added bonus. Just thinking through the route of the Block Walk I also realise that we only ever turn in one direction, from the start to the end of the journey. In fact, whether by design or by coincidence, the shape of the route is almost square!

Although daunting at first, for obvious reasons, the Block Walk is now a rather enjoyable little leg-stretcher for both Commando and I. The times of day when we use it usually guarantee that we won’t have too many problems to deal with. Although there was one morning, when we had a dog take it upon himself to follow us for a sizable portion of the route, every now and then trying to distract Commando. Fortunately though, he eventually gave up and lost interest in us.

Recently some major road works meant that we couldn’t actually undertake our block walk for several weeks as the area was more-or-less impassable. During this time we needed to get to one of the destinations for which I would usually use the Block Walk route. Since this couldn’t be done I decided that we’d try an approach from a different direction. I’ll admit that I wasn’t entirely sure how smoothly this would go, as Commando and I are both creatures of habit and I wasn’t sure what Commando would make of this new approach to the route. But, as usual, I needn’t have worried. Commando took it all in stride and once he heard the command indicating that we’d be needing a door he found the correct one on his first go.

Needless to say, once the road works had been finished and the area re-opened Commando and I took our Block Walk at the earliest opportunity, and I think it’s fair to say that Commando was quite happy to be able to walk that route once again.

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Craig And Commando

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

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