Take a tour of the guide dog campus with Aerial Gilbert, her guide dog Hedda and a group of visually impaired children.
Aerial: 'would you guys like to go down and see the puppies before we do anything else?'
Aerial: 'When the puppies are born we start all the names with the same letter so in Hedda's litter they were...the puppies were Hedda, Halette, Hazel, Haggerty...'
Aerial: 'Good girl'
Instructor: 'When we're doing the Juno work, which means imaginary dog, okay, we're gonna be actually pulling you and it's going to feel like very similar to like when the dog's actually pulling you. You're going to be holding the harness handle just like you will be when the dog's actually in the harness.'
Instructor: 'Just like this. You're going to tell me to go forward. Ready? Okay, let's give it a try.'
Instructor: 'You want to try?'
Instructor: 'Just pet him in a circle, just like that. Perfect! He will give kisses. Yes, he does.' (laughter)
Visitor: 'Well I'd like to ask her, what is it like to have a guide dog?'
Aerial: 'Well for me, it's getting to walk at a pace and a feel that's much more like what I did when I could see, and I get to have my best friend by my side all the time. People come up and ask me about her and they want to know what kind of dog she is so then I get to connect with the public in a way I never did when I had the cane.'
Visitor: 'But isn't it a lot of work to have a guide dog?'
Aerial: 'It is. There's a lot of things like I have to groom her every day and feed her and pick up after her, but we also get to have a lot of fun and play together too.'
Visitor: 'What does your Guide Dog do for you?'
Aerial: 'Well, she takes me around obstacles, things like garbage cans and things like that, and she also shows me stairs and curbs, and she makes sure that I don't bump into anything.'
Visitor: 'Does she like to work?'
Aerial: 'Hedda loves to work because she likes to win lots and lots of praise for what she does. And it's easy for me to do because she's so special and I love to give her lots of praise.'
Visitor: 'That's cool.'
Visitor: 'Can I have him?'
For more information, contact Guide Dogs for the Blind: 800 295 4050 and on the web at www.guidedogs.com.