International Association of
Assistance Dog Partners


Assistance Dog Partners Initiate "Working Weekend" forGuide Dogs

7 November 1996

Dear Joan:

Here by I send you a story about my working weekend with my guide dog, Elmer. Our organization for guide dog owners in Holland has organized a weekend for guide dogs and their partners. It takes place in Helvoirt, a beautiful little place near by Den Bosch.

On Friday, my black Labrador, Elmer, and I traveled to Helvoirt where we met with other people who came with their guide dogs. We had a wonderful meal and afterwards, people showed me where my room was. I learned I would be sharing the room with another girl named Kim and her guide dog, a long haired American/Canadian white Shepard named Chero. I didn't meet Kim till late in the evening as she was always out walking with her dog. In the hotel there were 36 dogs. The oldest was 14 and the youngest dog had only been with his partner for six weeks.

On Saturday we took a long walk with all the dogs by the Drunnense Duinen. This is a place that looks like you are walking in the Sahara. There is only sand. But it is not as hot as the Sahara. After that walk, we did a sort of obedience training with trainers from a local dog training club. The first thing Elmer had to do was take a apport [retrieve?] out of the water. Elmer did it like a good Labrador must do. After that, we must do an apport with a strange object that your dog never played with before and Elmer did it very well. Then we did two things from Agility - the tunnel and the seesaw.

After dinner on Saturday there came an animal shop with all the new products they have so we could take everything in our hands for a good look at all the products. Then a vet came to talk to us about the differences between the breeds, the Golden Retriever and the German Shepard. She told us why the guide dog schools sometimes take a Retriever as a guide dog and why a German Shepard. It was very interesting.

On Sunday we played a game with groups of partners and their dogs. The first thing my group had to do was walk a route on cassette to find an object. It was a key. The second thing was to walk as quick as you can with your dog to a certain person and then back. Then we must walk with our dog along a route with different obstacles. The dogs have to work very hard as we don't want to miss one of the obstacles. Another game was to walk with your dog and a spoon in your hand with a tennis ball on it, as quickly as possible up a flight of stairs and back. We also had to answer questions about how big your dog is, how long his tail is and what is his bodysize. The group who answered the questions best won the prize. Our group was fourth place.

During this weekend I met different types of guide dog breeds. There was one Rottweiler, Border Collies, a Dutch Shepard and Border Collie "cross", and American/Canadian white Shepards - or so we call that type of dog here. And of course there were Labradors and Goldens and Cross breeds of the two retriever types.

I hope they do next year the same thing.

I hope you like my story of my working weekend from Elmer and me.

Many greetings,

Esther Vos and Elmer Purmerend, Holland

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