Active guides sometimes need to navigate busy streets while avoiding obstacles and distractions. Our group walked Clement Street in the Inner Richmond district during a break in the winter storms. We encountered fresh fruit stands, meat markets, and crowded sidewalk on a busy Saturday morning. Our puppies visited a nearby Smart & Final to practice navigating supermarket aisles full of people and shopping carts.
The holiday shopping season attracts large crowds to shopping areas including San Francisco’s Union Square. Our puppies navigated through and around busy shoppers and their shopping bags on our way to visit holiday decorations at the Westin St. Francis hotel and the Palace hotel. We stopped at the flagship Apple Store near Union Square to test our puppies’ abilities to walk on glass stairs.
November’s group outing included a ride on the Muni subway to Union Square and a streetcar ride to Fisherman’s Wharf before visiting Musée Mécanique at Pier 45. Puppies avoided pigeon, seagull, and tourist distractions. Our puppies were tested by the spooky laugh of Laffing Sal, an automated funhouse character from the 1930s.
Safely riding public transit is an important part of Guide Dog training. Each month we introduce our puppies to public transit around San Francisco in a group setting. This month we rode Muni from Candlestick Park to North Beach, placing our puppies in between fishermen and their poles, large shopping bags, and a generally bumpy eight-mile ride.
Once in North Beach we climbed Telegraph Hill to Coit Tower. Group leaders walked behind our puppies to evaluate gait and stair climbing abilities. A few potential puppy raisers were able to take the leash for a walk around Pioneer Park, enjoying a puppy and a view of the San Francisco skyline.
Our puppies, raisers, and group leaders travelled to the west end of Golden Gate Park this month for exposure to large and unfamiliar animals. Puppies in training passed by geese, seagulls, pigeons, and a few off-leash dogs around Spreckels Lake. We visited the San Francisco Police Department’s horse stables next to the Polo Fields for an up-close encounter with another animal used to navigating through city crowds. Our dogs also had a chance to view the many bicycles of the Tour de Fat festival riding through the park and even spotted a few bison in their pen.