Dog Day meet "Gerard"
From the very moment my feet hit the floor Wednesday, Dog day, morning all I could think about is "Who would be here with me when I went to bed? Got up this time tomorrow? What would it really be like to have a real live dog?"
My family had had dogs ever sense before I was born but all I remembered of them is that they were outside dogs that lived in the kennel slash dog run in our back yard.
We had two dogs I could remember. "Mork 'n Mindy" called "Mindy" for short... I named her myself. Hey, I was three or four and loved that show. She was a blonde Cocker. She was with us until she passed away... I was 14 when this happened. My Freshman year of high school we got Maggie Mae, a tri-colored beigle who passed away in June of 2005. Prior to that my folks had dogs but I don't remember anything about them. So this would be the first inside dogI'd ever have.
Of corse I had worries galore... "What if this dog didn't like me?" or "What if it turned hostile?" I was fairly sure that it wouldn't be in a gang...and I was fairly sure the dog wouldn't be demented. At least at the start. I could not say anytthing of the end of our relationship, but having me as it's owner, becoming slightely demented was a very likely thing.
In all honesty though, what if this didn't, for some reason, work out? What if I wasn' t good enough to do whatever it was working with a real dog required? What if I didn't like the dog they picked for me? Gaah! "when would we get ur dogs anyway? This afternoon yes but when?
I got dressed, and as I stepped out, I saw one of our trainers.
They must deal with this every class. Class in and class out. Because they all of them ahd a smart elic joking answer every time any of us asked "So what is our dog going to be?"
I pounced on the poor trainer. "So, what dog did you pick for me???"
"One with four legs."
"Gee thanks..." I laughed.
"We'll tell you about your dogs after lunch."
After lunch! I thought. That's forever away! I'll never make it.
To be honest I do not remember breakfast. I know we ate, or tried to eat but what it was or what we talked about was beyond me.
The morning was spent doing more Juno work. About a hundred sits, downs, and leash corrections later, we started talking about getting our dogs. Staff had gone to each room to put down the fleeses that our dogs would sleep on and the tiedown cable that would attach them to the wall. So they wouldn't rome around at will.
"After lunch we will all meet back in here in the loading lounge and read off everyone's name and what breed, sex and name of the dog everyone is getting. Then you guys will go to your rooms and we'll come and get you one by one and take you to the music room, day room or trainers office. Then we'll bring in your dog and give you the harness and have you harness up your dog. Then you'll take the harness off and take your dog back to your room. You'll need to bring your leash with you."
In disbelief that there could actually be any dog related things in my room I zipped back in right before lunch.
There it was. A fluffy white dog fleese and a tiedown cable hooked to the wall. O my Gosh! It is true. I am hours away from meeting my dog...
Needless to say lunch took for ever. Then the time after lunch until our meeting at 1 in the afternoon took forever... I couldn't focus on anything. I tried reading, and that didn't work. I tried napping. That didn't work. I was afraid I'd oversleep and miss the meeting completley. I didn't want to ring anyone because I needed to preserve my calling card time for the post meeting my dog calls I owed heaps of people.
Finally it was time to g. I went back to the loading lounge and sat down. Other cllassmates came in and we waited and waited and waited and waited and waited and waited. The trainers took for-ev-er. I kept hearing them going up and down the hall from some closet thing and then off to other parts of the building. I heard chain collars chinking together. What in the world was taking them soooooooooooo long to get here? Finally they started coming in. They had to wait until all the trainers were there. I think one or two had gone over to the kennels to get our dogs.
Our dogs had spent the morning getting bathed and brushed and prettied up for our big day and we were told they still might be a bit damp. Who caredz!!!
They started reading out the list of people. My heart sank straight away as one of the two goldens in our class went to a man who's last name was near the front of the alphabet. Then labs were handed out left and right.
As K came closer and closer I started to prepair myself to hear lab...
"Jenny, you are getting a male..." "oh no a male? Gah!!! As if I didn't have enough males in my life to deal with... Okay okay, let's get on with it.." I glumly thought...
"What? What kind of name is Gerard?! Well? It isn't as bad as it could be I guess..." I was stopped in mid mental grumble by the next thing I was told..
"...a golden retriever..."
"Oh a la... What!"
Over the past several months and for sure the past several days I had wondered how I'd react to finding out about my dog. Would I burst into tears? Would I jump up and down clapping and screaming like one of those old dumy housewifes on let's make a deal after they won a new washer and dryer?
I did neither of these. In fact me reaction was rather anti-climactic. I just sat there. I said nothing. A huge smile came over my face and I just sat there.
The rest of the class got labs. I did not care. I was happy for them but as far as I thought I already had the best dog in class.
We all retired to our rooms to do yep. You guessed it, more waiting. and waiting and waiting and waiting. Along with a lot of walking, I would soon find out that at guide dog school hurry up and wait.
I looked at the clock, just a bit past half one in the afternoon. Soon. They'll be coming soon. I'll read. Half one. Soon they'll be here soon. I can't focus on reading. I'll sleep. fifteen 'til two. Oh I can't sleep... Time felt like it was going in reverse!
I heard people being called and taken off and returning with th e sound of a jangeling collar, their dogs.
I got up and leaned out the door. Maybe they forgot about me. Maybe if I hung out this door long enough they'd get tired of seeing me? Worth a try... I saw the back end of a golden going into the trainers' office. Who's golden? Mine or the other guy's?
Just as I thought this, the other guy leaned out his door across the hall from me.
"Hey, one of our goldens just went into the office." I said.
"Do you think they'll be by soon?" The other guy said.
"I don't know. Maybe. I mean I've heard a lot of people come and go. Each trainer I guess is taking a person, like there are like three different meetings going on at once. Surely they'll fetch us soon. Right? Like there's what? 24 of us? Something like that. and if there are three meeting places going. That's like three meetings at a time. and it's already been half an hour. I'd guess they are over half way through everyone...." I pondered aloud.
Just then a trainer went past.
"Me? Me? Pick me next?" I pleaded. I tried to look, I hoped, pethetic. I'm not good at looking anything and more than likely just looked one of the versions of stupid I've perfected over the years.
"Soon..." the trainer said.
I stepped out in the hall in front of my door and sat. This was the bay area... Not a stranger to a sit in. So I sat. In my doorway. Then fearing this would make the trainers mad at me, making my wait longer I got up and moped around the room.
Finally. A knock on the doorframe.
I grabbed my leash and fairly flew across the hall. The butterfly effect again.
As I entered the office I looked around for a sign of my Gerard.
The trainers in the room described my golden boy. A golden color turning into a peachy cream on his paws, tummy, feathering and tail... Then. They brought Gerard in from the dog run.
I heard him at first before i saw him. He walked up to me and thrust his broad golden head into my hands. lick lick lick lick lick. wag wag wag wag wag wag.
"Hi there, so you're the one stuck with me for the next little while? I'm so glad to see you. And then I kissed his cold wet nose and clipped my leash to his collar.
They handed me Gerard's harness and I harnessed him up and then unharnessed him. One of the trainers walked me back across the hall, Gerard at heel and harness over my right shoulder. I walked into the room. A guide dog user. Mostly.
I showed Gerard around the room. I showed him his bed. And then my bed. I pointed at it and said "That is my bed. You aren't to get on it. Then I whispered in his golden ear. but when we get home, that will be a different story. shshshshsh, don't tell anybody though. I pointed at his bed. That is where you hang out.
"Gerard. Okay I think it only fair if I told you what you're in for. We are going to go to a place called college. It is very very big. There are a load of people there. We have to do dull stuff like go to class. It isn't like here. I gestured around the room, where there is fun stuff going on all the time. You'll just lay around and listen to lots of old people blither on and on about stuff. So, as I think of it, will I.
I couldn't stop looking at Gerard. My guide dog. I sat at the end of my bed on the floor, having moved nearer to the window to get a look at him. Gerard walked up next to me, sat, put a huge golden paw on my shoulder and gave me a huge lick across the face.
I got up a while later and had him lay down near my chair. I then started the round of phone calls back home.
Later that afternoon we did heeling work up and down the long hall. Trainers were stationed every so often in the center of the hall and we just walked around and around talking to our dogs telling them to heel and praising them a lot.
On one of our endless spinns around the hall my mind went completely blank and I forgot Gerard's name.
"Good boy Gardine... Picard, Gorden. George." I called him everything I could think of. Thankfully we passed by a trainer.
"What is this dog called again? I've completely forgot and have been calling him Girdine..."
"Gerard. G-e-r-a-r-d." the trainer said.
"g-e-r-a-r-d. Gerard" I said over and over to myself. When our room passed by I nicked in right quick to write this down.
We watered, fed watered and then put our dogs out into the run to releave.
That next day our real lives together would begin as we'd have our first walks with our new dogs.