Day 1- I Wanna Go Home (Monday September 25th, 2006)

Why won’t they let me go home…yeah yeah..this is the worst trip, I’ve ever been on….Valerie, one of the trainers picked me up at 6am; I’d returned from Camp Isabella (Jewish organic farm/spiritual retreat center) where we went for Rosh Hashana late Sunday night.  I found myself packing for most of the night and doing what I needed to get ready and there was no time for sleep.

She took me to a supermarket to get water and munchies I’d want/need to make this place more palatable (yes pun intended).  She then oriented me to the building.  I was the only one at breakfast since most of the group arrived on Sunday. I was anxious to see the offerings, since on their form I checked off vegetarian and gluten-free diet.

It was then I realized they not only had no clue what gluten-free was or vegetarian, when they offered me chicken noodle soup and a tuna fish sandwich.  Luckily I was so exhausted I couldn’t eat anyway. 

Tim was then going to do some “Juno walks” with me to see if the dog they’d selected was still the right fit.  At this point I’d been awake 28 hours and was feeling dizzy.  They had mercy and let me take a nap. The rest is a blur; I just remember Tim saying they didn’t need to re-test me since they were sure the dog they had was the right match for me. 

Day 2 - Love at First “Sight” (Tuesday September 26th)

Today I got my dog named “Bill.”  They knocked on my door, told me to sit down, and then brought him in.  He was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen (besides my kids of course).  I just kept petting him and telling him what a good boy he was and how beautiful he was and started singing, “You’re Beautiful.”  He gave me his paw, and later he gave both, as if to give me a hug and let me know he loved me too.

I told him about his new sibs he would soon meet (thinking how ecstatic the kids would be to meet him) and wished I’d had recent pictures to show him, but knew he’d meet them soon enough and would be so grateful to have them as part of his new family.

He rested and slept a lot today; after tonight’s lecture he jumped up on me with both paws which I’d never, in all the 10 hours I’d known him, seen him do.  After we took him out to “break” him or “water” him he came back and slept some more.  He just jumped up and really looked like he wanted to play desperately, but they seem to discourage that, so I just hugged him a bit.

I’m very sleepy and we have to get up at 6ish and I have to water, feed and take him out by 7am, so I better get some rest.I feel so lucky to have gotten this incredibly wonderful dog, and I know my family will too!

Some additional thoughts….
“Bill” is such an amazing dog that he was able to find my door to my room the very first time we headed back together, after having just met.  The trainer told me he was taken away from his previous guardian who mistreated him.  I feel sad for him, but happy that I got him as a result and heartened knowing he was in great hands now with me and his soon to be new loving family.

We did some training around the building, teaching him to find doors and stop at each one, and find meeting areas and find my chair.  Then we took them for “breaks” to pee or poop outside and he has to find the curb before the sidewalk, then the next curb, then we tell him to “go out front” below the curb and we say to them “busy, busy, busy” which means they should do their business. He gets fed and watered before 7am and takes 2 scoops of dry kibble, and then again at 4.

At night Tim, the head of training and my personal instructor gave a talk on all sorts of things about having and using a guide dog.  I can’t remember everything now, but he said for those who take the subways in NYC we will be going to the city for 2 days to learn safe travel with our dog.  He said the subway is very dangerous and does not recommend anyone go unless you use the subway, and will be using it very soon.  He also doesn’t like escalators, as he’s seen the dogs paws get stuck in the grates and bleed.  Luckily I don’t need to use escalators very often.


Day 3- Don’t (Ever) Let Him Go (Wednesday September 27, 2006)

My mellow dog who’s very quiet and rests a lot jumped up this morning upon our wake up call at 6am.  He was all excited and really wanted to play!  We were told to keep him tied up or on leash at all times. 

I thought since Tim had said that my dog was “more mature” than the others, I’d save time and get dressed while he ate.  Well, before I knew it, there he was, lying in my bed, all comfy and content, like he was a prince. 

Not only that, he refused my prompts to get off my bed.  I had to get a trainer to get him off, who also pointed out an empty soap wrapper that he could’ve eaten.

Then we took our student bus to our first outing which was a quiet countryish bike path.  Again, we were warned to hold onto the leash even on the bus to keep a hold on it with our foot.  I had my foot on it the whole ride there but must’ve let go for a split second cos as I stood up to get off the bus doggie was not there and Tim came on the bus and said, “Karen, Where’s your dog?”  He’d run off the bus and apparently Tim caught him before he ran away, or maybe ran after him.

Today’s lesson:  Keep him on the leash and don’t ever let him go or out of my “sight!!!”