[nagdu] Pilot Dogs

Criminal Justice Major Extraordinaire orleans24 at comcast.net
Wed Aug 10 22:48:21 UTC 2011

Hi, Tracy,
Both times I was at Pilot, I did have a good experience there.
Columbus doesn't have any subways or monarails, but they do have bus service 
I'll try my best to describe how the building is designed.
There are two day rooms on each side of the building.
One has a small kitchen and a television set and radio it it while the 
second one is the same, but somewhat smaller.
In each day room, there are seating booths connected to a table where you 
can practice putting your dog down and under.
There as a set of rooms on one side of the building while there's another 
wing with rooms on the other side that goes toward the laundry room and 
exercising room.
Each side has a room for bathing and feeding.
They do have a brailler and typewriter that can be used during off training 
hoursand videos to watch as well as braille reading material like books or 
In the lobby area of the school, there's a church pew to practice putting 
your dog down and under as well, a large dining room and staff offices 
toward the back and another room which is used for retrains or first timers 
to meet in with an instructor for going over things in class like the 
achievement walk.
The achievement walk is where an instructor can observe to see how you and 
your dog work together as a team upon that you and your guide can safely 
travel together.
They usually do a route directly from the school to the Columbus shopping 
mall or even a Deli along with a CBS store.
The bedrooms have double occupancy with two beds, a double wooden wardrobe 
to hang clothes up and store shoes in.
In between the two wooden wardrobes are some dresser drawers to store socks 
or other private matters in: a total of four drawers, a small table with 
drawers,two chairs on each side, phone, radio and bathroom with shower.
The lobby is large upon  having two sets of doors.
Outtside the lobby doors is a courtyard where students feed their dogs or 
can do grooming and a small flat concreete like relieving area.
In the center of the courtyard is some grass and a tall tree.
For students who do need to have a quick smoke break, they would go out into 
the same area.
There are ashtrays as well as buckets to throw dog hair away in once 
grooming has been done.
Sometimes, instructors will have students do obedience training in the 
In the first week of training like other schools or rather similar, you are 
given initial equipment like leash, harness or other training things like a 
tie down, bowl for feeding and watering, haulty, prong or smart collar and a 
regular slip training collar.
They used to have a hook in the wall for connecting a tie down to, but they 
now have kennels for the dogs to go into.
Once partnered with your dog, handler, instructor and dog go for a walk 
around the block and then bathing process happens.
The bathing part is to help you and your dog with bonding.
An instructor is there to assist if you need help.
The school has a small park that you can go out to for relaxing on some 
binches and enjoying the outtdoors.
The laundry room has three washers and three dryers.
You don't have to put quarters in either machine to wash or dry.
They are all like a regular washer and dryer that you'd have at home.
You can wash your own laundry or have a custodian worker do it for you.
In the beginning of training, you start off with a used leash and harness 
and at the end, you're given a new harness and leash to go home with.
They have two different styles of harness now where as in the beginning, 
they only had an American style.
Now, they also have the martingail style too.
I like their working leash as it has an adjustable buckle, two clasps, two D 
rings and an area that has a snap on it if you need to create a temporary 
muzzle out of the leash directly.
Only thing I didn agree with during training and I hope this has changed is 
that when we used the city buses, the dog were required to be muzzled at all 
I don't know if it was the rule of COTA Columbus Transportation Authority or 
the school's policy directly.
My whole experience wasn't negative but a positive one to say at least.
When my second guide dog but the first one from Pilot Freedom david Berry 
didn't work out, the staff took responsibility for insuring I was matched 
with a successor dog that would work out for me.
Freedom David Berry was scared of trafic, stressed out and very aggressive 
toward men.
I suspected he was raised in a female prison setting where some bad things 
happened and he had to witness them upon probably getting hit by a man.
I'll probably never know the real truth behind it all.
The executive directo of Pilot told me during training when I got Odie was 
that Freedom should never have been put out as a guide dog and that problems 
with him could have been caught sooner during training.
Odie and I had some minor things in the beginning that need to be worked 
out, but we happily worked as a team for five and a half years.
In all, the food was fantastic and I found all but one staff member who were 
very supportive.
Odie Harley Davidson retired early because of degenerative disc disease in 
his lower back.
He's now a medical alert service dog and wears a vest which specifies his 
working task.
I'd like to go back to Pilot for another guide, but because of my medical 
circumstances, I'm having to go to another school like GDF.
Right now, I'm working on trying to get Vocational Rehab out here in 
Colorado to help me refresh my orientation and mobility as GDF claimed they 
were good enough and they wouldn't accept me.
Sometimes, I wonder if it is more because of  my ballance as I can admit 
that I do tend to woddle from one side to the other.
They wanted me to go through Vocational Rehab to do more mobility.
Although I have rumitory arthritis, chronic severe asthma and a convulsive 
grandmal seizure disorder, neither of that deminishes me getting out and 
having to travel or do what I need to.
I do have to use a support cane or a walker at times.
Still, I'm not going to give up, despite how much pain I can be in on a 
daily basis.
Pilot doesn't train the dogs to guide someone who uses a walker or a 
I asked why that wasn't an ideal for training and was told it would stress 
the dog out too much.
Things may be different now from the times I've been there.
I was hoping to go to GDF though to where I can have a guide dog that is 
crossed trained to not only guide me, but also help with ballance upon upon 
being able to handle guiding me at times when I do have to use the support 
cane or walker.
Amnot sure how much longer that battle will go on with them, but I'm sure 
I'll wint it.
Sorry that this email is extremely long and I didn't mind sharing my 
experiences with Pilot Dogs.
Bibi and retired Odie
the happy spirited bounty labra wolf 

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