As I sit in my room after a long night of travel and a long day of screwing up my sleeping schedule, I find myself contemplating how prepared I feel in some ways about training for a new guide dog, and how out of my depth I feel in others.
But wait, who are you anyway?
My name is Meka and a few years ago I decided that I should create a blog for reviewing and discussing books, mainly in the romance genre. I set things up, but have only recently been bitten by the blogging bug enough to really make a splash in the water.
I also have had the privilege of working three dog guides and am currently at Guiding Eyes for the Blind to train for Guide Dog 4.0. I am originally from Georgia but reside in the beautiful state of Washington. I am passionate about music and books, and both of these things take a starring role in my life.
I have decided to chronicle my time here so that I can look back and see how far I have come and be able to capture wonderful, treasured memories.
After retiring my third guide dog, a black lab named Lester, I found it difficult to return to the school for a successor guide. So fast forward about two years and here I am!
Why a guide dog?
When I received my first guide in 2002, I was not really a dog person. I went in to that class wondering if I would be a good candidate. I had wonderful experiences with friends who owned guide dogs but at that time, I was still in the ‘ewww dogs’ phase. It is amazing concerning how quickly my mind was changed.
I am a competent, confident cane traveler, which is how many blind people navigate their environment. I wanted to be able to try something new and so the seed of guide dogs was planted in my head. It is a very personal choice. Many do not want to have a guide dog. There are so many responsibilities and changes that need to be carefully considered. For me, the responsibility was totally worth it. I wanted to be able to walk around obstacles like other guide dog handlers. I wanted to know how that close bond with a dog operated. So, I got my first dog and never looked back! It has been an incredibly rewarding decision.
Okay, but what about your day today?
I took a red Eye flight from Seattle to New York, and honestly, I barely remember the morning. I was so tired. Even so, there has been this low level anticipation that has been in the background because in just a couple of days, I will be introduced to my new dog guide.
I think that it is more challenging in some respects to enter class as a retrain student as opposed to someone who is receiving their guide dog for the first time. At the very least, it is challenging in different ways. I have picked up some habits and quirks from working with Lester that I need to correct. I am very familiar with how to care for a guide dog and so I need to make sure that I am still paying attention to lectures and not trying to jump ahead. I am filled with thoughts about comparisons and contrasts. Lester was the best dog guide I have ever had and I constantly have to remind myself that I need to be open to the process. Instead of operating from a blank canvas, I have to turn the page and build on the previous ones and not be frustrated with myself. The new dog will not be Lester and so I need to remind myself that we can build this partnership brick by painstaking brick.
This is a rewarding opportunity, but it is also very difficult at times and can be very stressful, which is why it is so great that this school is like a home away from home. The rooms are spacious with comfortable beds, there is a large writing desk, TV, phone, nightstand, and closets. There is a living room, exercise room, and what will surely be my favorite, a coffee machine. This has nothing to do with the coffee and everything to do with the hot chocolate that this machine is going to provide for me.
Our instructors are friendly and I can’t wait to get to know more about my classmates.
I did some unpacking and organizing and took another nap. Didn’t I mention that screwed up sleeping schedule?
After dinner, we had a lecture about the rules and regulations and discussed equipment. The instructors passed around a leash that now belongs to us for when we receive our new partners. It always comes as a surprise when I touch a brand new leash that has hardly any give. I have to remind myself that yes, actually, the leash for Lester started out this way.
Now, I am going to do a little more unpacking and try to get some much needed sleep. I know that right now, my blog is wordy but as we go through the process, I will try very hard not to shorten it due to the exhaustion that I am sure is to come. Also, dog day is Wednesday!
And now for the second most important part, particularly of interest to guide dog school grads everywhere.
Breakfast: Bacon and toast
Lunch: tuna fish on whole wheat, chips, and a cookie
Dinner: Grilled chicken, potatoes, asparagus, and a strawberry shortcake ice cream thing on a stick
If you have questions, you should be able to comment and I will address them. Until tomorrow!