Harness All the Time

Elwood is sstarting to get used to how life will be. Some lab behaviors are popping out. For example: Elwood has a fondness for bananas. He pops up at the breakfast table when my neighbor gets hers. Today I had one. I had to resettle him several times during breakfast. At lunchtime, which is really dinner, Elwood kept bouncing up because we had fried chicken and macaroni and cheese. Settling a dog down with finger-licking-good hands is a challenge.

A note on the food: It’s good to be back in New Jersey. The hamberger came without mayo. It was jewish style cole slaw at dinner today. The staff is laughing at me. My instructor drives with NJ abandon. It’s good to spend some time back in my old environment.

Right now I am waiting for my instructor to come to oversee our first trip in the house with Elwood in harness. To date, I have been heeling him inside on just a leash. After tonight’s meal, we will go everywhere in harness except to our own lounge area since this is considered being at home.


Elwood is very hesitant in harness in the house. In fact, he semed to be quite shocked that he was expected to work inside as I have been heeling him to the door. Unfortunately, we don’t have the right tention on the harness when he walks slowly–a definite no-no. Dinner was fairly uneventful. I did get a coffee cup with a large nose on it that stuck out which had to make the rounds of the table to show everyone. On our way back, we had some problems. I was focused on the route. The instrucgtor still on hall monitor duty kept reminding me of all Elwood’s infractions and my inattention to them. Hey! I was trying to keep track of how I was holding the handle (which is different than I was holding it before) and keeping the tention, or at least trying to.

After we got back to our room, I took the shopping bag with Elwood’s grooming tools and we went down into the basement where the grooming room is. (We are not allowed to groom the dogs anywhere else.) We had some difficulty finding the room and doing the clearances right so correct and repeat.

The grooming room has a bench running around the outside so the dogs can stand there while you stand on the floor. There are windows to the hallway. I stood on the bench to find the hooks for the harness. They are at the ceiling. Elwood must have thought it was quite peculiar to be told to sit on the floor while I climbed up. Then I called him to me and jumped down. The bag being a nuisance, crinkly sounding and a hindrance to hand signals, I ditched it and put the tools in my pockets for the return journey. And yes, it’s a journey! Each landing is a stop and forward and there are two landings per staircase.

The van is high. There are several steps to get up into it. There are no straps, no arm rests to hang onto. This morning, while I was getting up into the back in preparation for calling Elwood to me, I slipped and ended up sitting on the van’s floor. No carpet either! The other student and I laughed and laughed. I wasn’t hurt. I was coming back down because Elwood wasn’t sitting at rest. Each time he gets up, I have to come back and resettle him.

We worked in pairs this afternoon. This means two students walking the same route at the same time. We meet at the curbs and then the other one takes the lead. We were doing okay. We were waiting for our traffic check. The class supervisor pulled into the driveway ahead of me, bumper scraping the ground. I jumped. Elwood remained calm, stopping. Good dog!

2 replies on “Harness All the Time”


I’m getting to like this dog. He likes bananas and fried chicken, and doesn’t want to sit quietly just because some person told him he is supposed to. Shows he has independence and curiosity – but is still a good Seeing Eye Dog if he stops and remains calm in a traffic situation. Good job.


new partners take getting used to

Hey Merrill, reminds me of how you needed to train me to be a working partner at FLC. It may seem like things are still at the fits and starts stage but you are a great handler and have a huge heart and Elwood will respond to that…especially if you keep having to settle him with good tasting fingers. Keep up the good work.



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