Picture
Hector’s work is coming along nicely. I also started one of the most important parts of my job, matching:

Matching
I have just started looking
for suitable families for each of my dogs. In this process I will match each dog under a number of criteria to ensure the highest chance of a successful outcome.  The factors taken into  consideration are as follows;




1 The Dog: 
-The type of dog.
-The size of the dog.
-The walking pace of the dog.
-The dogs distraction levels in regards to scent distraction, bird/dog/cat distraction, livestock distraction.
-The dogs sensitivities: does the dog like physical contact, does the dog get very excited or stressed by loud noises, how mentally strong is the dog.
-Is the dog more suited to country, suburban or urban living.

2 The Child:
- What are his/her particular sensitivities?
- If the child has hearing sensitivity I will not match them with a vocal dog.
- If the child has touch  sensitivity, for example if he or she likes the feel of the coat and the thud of  the wagging tail but does not like the feel of the wetness of the tongue then I will match them with a dog who likes physical contact but who is not a particularly licky dog.
- If the child has body sensitivity and does not like physical contact I will match them with a dog who does not seek too much physical contact.
- If the child loves physical contact I will make sure I do not match them with a dog with body sensitivity or a dog who gets too excited by body contact.
- If the child is a toe walker (walks on his/her toes rather than on the flat of the foot to reduce the feedback that he/she gets from the surface of the ground) then there is a higher chance that the child will stumble a lot more so I will match them with a dog that will not mind the child leaning a little bit on the dogs back for balance.

3 The Handler: (This will be the person who will work the dog usually either a parent or guardian of the child)
- Will the primary handler be male or female?
- What pace do they walk?
- How physically strong are they?
- How physically fit are they? 
- Do they use different tones in their voice?
- Does the handler like dogs? 
- Does the handler have any fear of dogs?
- Who will the second handler be?

4 The Family:
- How many in the family?
- Any toddlers/babies? 
- Are any of the family afraid of dogs?
- Any other disabilities in the house?
- Any pets in the house? 
- Any other relevant adult in the home, eg au pair, relations etc?
- If both parents work, who will look after the dog during the day?

5 The Environment:
- Do the family live in the country/suburbs/town/city.
- Do they live in a house, apartment etc .
- Is the spending (toileting area) grass or concrete.
- Do they use public transport.
- If they commute for school/work, how long is the commute.
- If they live in the country, is there livestock around the home.
- Are there safe routes to work a dog from home or will every walk have to be from the car.
- Do they travel abroad a lot.

These are just some of the things I take into consideration when matching my dogs. We have a waiting list at present.  When matching I start at the top of the waiting list in order to give priority to those who are waiting the longest.  However, if the dog that I have does not suit the family I will move onto the next family on the list. It is a tough thing to do, knowing that that family have to wait longer for a dog, but if the match is not right then choosing them will be futile. An incorrect match will only make life more difficult for a family in the long run which is not what we aim to achieve.  

Picture
Hector having a nose
Picture
Susan (who you will remember from writing this blog before me) and her daughter Chloe along with her son Philip.
While considering all of the matches I am still working Hector and my other dogs in a variety of areas.  Practicing routes and getting them used to challenging environments.  I do as many attachments as I can with children both with Autism and without.   

When doing attachments we try to keep the child on the inside away from the traffic. The handler will change position depending on the environment. If the area is nice and safe such as a park, then the handler may drop back behind the child and dog.  If the area is more dangerous such as near a main road, the handler will be right up by the dogs shoulder in line with the dog and child.

I'll have more for you soon
Aileen


 


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At the present wind break and lily flowers. Holding cup of home life, and hi no noise.

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Wow....I knew matching was an involved process, but this is breath-taking. Best of luck! XXX

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    About this Blog

    Welcome to Puppy Hector's Blog:
    Follow RTE 2fm's "Breakfast with Hector" adopted pup's progress as he trains to become a guide dog for a person living with sight loss or an assistance dog for families of children with autism.

    RTE 2fm & Hector Ó hEochagáin:
      RTE 2fm's Breakfast Show Crew and host Hector ÓhEochagáin have been supporting pup Hector since adopting him at 8 weeks of age. During the last year, they have been helping us create awareness about our work and just what goes into into training a guide dog. Their support has been invaluable and has helped to raise much needed funds towards Hector's training. 


    About the Blog Authors, Susan Turtle and Michele Munnelly:
    Susan Turtle has been with Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind as a trainer for over
    13 years. Puppy Hector joined her in January this year to commence Early
    Training. She'll be keeping you posted on his progress over the next few months. Prior to January, Hector was with Volunteer Puppy Walker, Michele Munnelly who helped him get started
    on his journey to becoming a guide or assistance dog.  
      

    About Puppy Hector:
    Hector was born on 17 October 2010 and is German Shepherd x Golden Retriever. He is an intelligent, lively dog destined to become a life changing partner to a person living with sight loss or a family of a child with autism.   

    The role of a Puppy Walker:
    A Volunteer PW fosters a pup
    from 8 weeks of age to 12 months. During this time, the
    pup becomes part of their lives
    at home. A PW cares for and trains the pup to become a well rounded, confident, calm, willing, mannerly and socially acceptable dog.  The main focus
    is on obedience and socialisation, ensuring the pup is comfortable in many different environments like shops, restaurants, buses, trains, busy streets and malls etc.  Also the dog must get on with and not be distracted by people and other animals.  All of this provides the pup with a solid foundation for their future training and role as a guide or assistance dog. All training is done through positive reinforcement, learning should
    be fun, "a happy pup is a willing pup".

    Supported by PW Supervisors:
    Volunteer PWs are supported by our PW Supervisors who provide training and ongoing guidance. This is done through practical Puppy Training Classes, home visits and one‐on‐one training in supermarkets, shops, train
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    Come on and become a Puppy Walker for Irish Guide Dogs!
    It is a commitment but one that is rewarding and great fun!
    Go to www.guidedogs.ie to apply!

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guidehector@gmail.com www.puppyhector.weebly.com Hector having a snooze in his cozy dog crate after our walk and bus ride this morning