I’m up, ready to greet the day…and my dog. I roll over, grab my phone, open FaceBook and post:
“Does anybody know what day it is???”
“IT’S DOG DAY!!!”
I shower, put on a pair of jeans and my favorite purple t-shirt, and make my way to breakfast. As I walk rhythmically down the hall—the tapping of my cane announcing each corresponding step, I can’t help but smile to myself, remembering that this is my last morning (for a very long time) to be responsible for just Me.
We report to group lectures at 8:00 AM, where we meet our instructors face-to-face for the first time. Morning lectures reinforce our reading assignments from the prior evening, and each of the instructors take turns both presenting and soliciting interactive feedback from us. There are two students per instructor,so on this first day we all learn who we’ll be paired with for the experiential part of class. Michelle and I are assigned to Larissa; Kimi and Bonnie are with Leo; Sharon and Stephen have Jeff.
After our lecture, the instructors break off into separate rooms. Michelle and I take turns showing Larissa (and demonstrating for one another) the techniques we learned in class, with the help of Wheeler (a cloth-covered, life-sized dog on wheels, used to teach appropriate leash correction technique), and Juno (a training technique mentioned in an earlier post,in which the trainer pulls the harness, mimicking movements and behaviors of a real guide dog).
Such basic guide-work steps are critical to the success of any team. I need to become fluent In them so my soon-to-be partner and me can maximize our potential. As I practice giving Wheeler corrections, Larissa ensures that my movements utilize my wrist—to avoid potential injury—and that they are focused enough to grab a real dog’s attention.
We remain in the classroom during a short instruction break. Michelle and I express that we are beside ourselves with anticipation about meeting our dogs after lunch. Despite our best attempts to remain focused on learning the tasks at hand, we’d each admittedly rather learn something about our dogs.
Larissa is a pro. She’s been through this too many times before to spoil our later dog day surprises. She won’t budge with any real details—not even gender. She does finally appease us by telling us the first letters of each of our dog’s names. Michelle’s begins with an “n””and mine with a “W”.
“W”? Really? I’d hoped to get a dog with a name that I love…Right now, I’m sitting here, racking my brain, trying to come up with a “W” name that I love.
“Hmmm, is it Winifred?”
“Oh, I know… You guys are giving me WHEELER,”I say with a smile. We all laugh.
“You’ll never guess in a million years,” says Larissa. “Even if you got it right, I wouldn’t tell you. You’ll just have to stay in suspense until afternoon.”
(To be continued)
Copyright (C) 2015 Donna Mack Anderson. All rights reserved.