Today has been a very, very busy day for my classmates and myself.
This morning, we went through what I like to call 6 AM sleepy Obedience Time, then chatted and went to breakfast where many of us chatted all the more. Have I mentioned just how much I appreciate my classmates? They are supportive, friendly, and just plain hilarious. They constantly keep the laughs coming.
The anticipation and excitement was palpable as we counted down the minutes until we would know the name, breed, and gender of our dogs.
This morning’s lecture concerned our plans for the rest of the day and what we would do once we met our dogs. It was once again reiterated that we go in to this partnership with reasonable expectations. While we are a team, it doesn’t mean that the dog would do everything that we said and we could be given higher level commands. This time of bonding would be critical and so we all needed reminders of what to expect and how to react. The instructors are so good about talking us through these things every step of the way.
after that, the instructors came in, calling us by name and letting us know the name of our dogs.
“Meka, you will be receiving a…”
Sorry, no details until I’m given the all clear on that. Let me just say, though, that Guide Dog 4.0 has a fantastic name.
I don’t know that I can adequately describe how I felt as I waited for the instructors to bring 4.0 to my room, but when they arrived, I was very excited.
There are a lot of new things with 4.0 that I have never experienced with other dogs. Previous dogs have been all over me, wagging their bodies in to my arms and practically crawling all over me, ready to give me all of the love in their sweet doggie hearts. 4.0 spent times both ignoring me and occasionally giving me a small lean as though to say, “I don’t know about you yet, and this is just the first date.”
It has taken some adjustment for me. I am finding that I am having to be just a tad more reserved than I usually might, but we’re going to get there. These introductory stages are crucial and they are new for all of us. New guide dog handler and retrain alike are on the same page as we attempt to figure it all out together as we learn our dogs.
After receiving our dogs, we had quality alone time with them. I was able to love on 4.0, allowing them to sniff around the room and get used to me. When they came in to the room, I made certain there was music playing in the background as that is pretty much the default in my house. It was very good to have that quality time even if I felt a little lost about how to best engage with 4.0..
The first meal time with my dog reminded me of what I clearly forgot all about over the years. Imagine twelve students sitting at tables, and then twelve dogs who all know each other very well. Imagine then trying to have all of those dogs lying down nicely.
It was like a crazy game of Simon Says, where I’d tell 4.0 to lie down repeatedly. I am reminded of a song from Empire called ‘you’re so Beautiful.’
“You go up down up down, up down
You go up down up down up.”
Lunch was exactly like that. Up down up down up down sit down sit! Throw in a lot of attempts of me trying to sneak bites of my lunch before having to tell 4.0 what I wanted them to do again. It was most certainly an adventure for sure!
By the time lunch was over, I was pretty shocked that I was tired!
We took a small walk today and I was very pleased. Tomorrow, we go back to White plains to walk actual routes. I cannot even tell you how happy I am to have a guide dog again. My muscles, however, are totally protesting!
We had a lecture tonight on food rewards and more about expectations and how it is important to go at our own pace and not compare ourselves to what others may be doing.
I can tell you that it is very exciting around here and I look forward to seeing what 4.0 and I will do together. already, I feel our connection deepening in small, yet meaningful ways. It is not the destination but the journey.
I realized during lecture that my mindset has changed. I am not thinking about home and beyond, but focusing on getting through one day at a time.
Happy dog day!
Breakfast: Omelette with ham, cheese, onion, and peppers
Lunch: Grilled chicken salad until I just asked for a grilled cheese so I could eat quickly and one-handed
Dinner: Tenderloin with fried rice and grilled zucchini and an M&M cookie. I needed the treat this time!