Hello and as always, a very warm welcome back to the blog.

In the very early days of this blog, when I was telling you all about Commando and our journey to qualification as a fully-fledged Guide dog partnership, I mentioned how much I disliked the cane and that the qualification walk was similar in nature to sitting an exam.

Now, I haven’t actually had to sit an exam for quite some time. In fact the last time I sat an exam I still had some vision to work with, which came in handy, both for revision and for actually reading the exam paper.

Upon starting my degree top-up year at University however, I learned that one of the subjects was to be assessed by an exam! This was, as far as I was concerned, not good news. Up to that point all of the assessments I had carried out were coursework based. In my opinion this was easier to deal with as revision was not required, which was my main concern as I wasn’t entirely sure how well I would retain information at the required levels to pass an exam, especially as I would be getting this information via screen reader. Later in the term however, we were informed that we would be able to bring some information into the exam with us, specifically four sides of A4 papers. Since the exam was on accounting this was extremely welcome news. In my case it meant that there would be no need to try to memorise some complex calculation formulas, as I could just write them down step by step and take them in with me. So as the exam loomed I became a little less nervous about it. I then found out exactly when we would be having this exam.

Now, dear readers, my personal preference for these kind of things is to get them over and done with, preferably in the mornings, as I’m sure that my brain is more alert in the morning. It is in the morning in fact when Commando and I take the majority of our walks, as I’m very much a morning person. In this case however, the exam didn’t actually start until very late afternoon and ran well into the evening. From my point of view this was a double blow. I had an exam at a time that wasn’t morning, but such things happen; more to the point though, the time of this exam would mean that, shock horror my friends, Commando’s evening meal would be much later than he was used to!

Now, regular readers may recall that although Commando is a lab/retriever, he doesn’t react too badly to changes in feeding routine. Last year after-all, when he had to miss breakfast because of his hospital tests, it’s not as if he tried to eat me instead. But I am a worrier and so I wasn’t sure how he’d take this delay in feeding. So, on the exam day I decided to hedge my bets, and swapped his feeding quantities around, giving him what would normally be evening meal portions at breakfast, and he would get breakfast portions when we got home.

So with this compromise in place we arrived for the exam. Since I use a screen reader, and as a fail-safe would have someone to read the information to me if it was needed, coupled with the fact that I have extra time in the exam, we were ready and set up in our own room, with an invigilator, naturally. Since the room was a large class room, and it turned out the invigilator was pro-dog, I decided that it would probably be ok to let Commando wander the room whilst I got on with the three-and-a-half-hour exam. It just seemed fairer for him than having to sit under the desk for all that time. Plus I thought it would take his mind off the fact that we were in university around the time when he should most certainly be tucking into his evening meal.

Now, I have mentioned before, just how perceptive Commando is, and I think it’s a trait of many dogs in general. They always seem to know more about what’s going on than we think they do. On this occasion it was as if he knew that I was involved in some very important work and that he must not under any circumstances interrupt me. Often when he meets new people he’ll say hello and be his usual charming friendly self, but at regular intervals he’ll come back to me and ask for fuss as if to say “well it’s nice to meet a new person, but I still love you the most”. But on this occasion he didn’t make any attempt at all to get my attention. There was only one exception when I had to move so that I could plug in my laptop as the battery was running low. Naturally, the second Commando realised that I was moving he was at my side ready to guide if it was needed. But once I was sitting down, and working again Commando melted back into his surroundings. He was so good at this that I have no idea how he was amusing himself for those three and a half hours. But I do know that not once did he express any outward displeasure at the delay of his evening meal, even though I’m quite sure he knew it was late, and exactly how late it was.

Of course, as soon as the exam was over he was at my side wanting some fuss, which he of course received. Not only was it well deserved, but it helped no-end in winding down after the mental exertions of an exam.

Regular readers may also recall that in a very early post I pointed out that I felt that using the cane for any protracted period could be more draining than sitting an exam. After actually sitting an exam I feel that this statement is still quite valid, at least it is in my opinion.

So now all I have to do is sit and wait for the result of the exam to come in. Oh, and of course, You’ll all be pleased to know that Commando had his evening meal as soon as we were home, and is once again on his regular feeding schedule.


Vicky, 12:01am Thu 22 Jan 2015:

Love this blog and wish you well with your exam results. Think you should get top score for ensuring your Commando was relaxed too! If that had been me, I would have tried plugging my guide dog's lead into plug socket instead of laptop.

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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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