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August 9th, 2007

10:34 pm
Happy Dog Day!

I have a guide dog!!! Woo hoo!!! I don’t even know where to start. This whole day has been so amazing. I guess I should start by introducing my new dog. She is a yellow lab named Cinnabar. The name is kind of goofy, but it is growing on me already. She is 22 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs 57 pounds. She will turn 2 on September 24. She is very lively and curious. She wants to sniff everything and everyone she sees. I have been having to give her lots of corrections, but I can already tell that she is starting to respond to me and understand what is expected of her. She seems really smart, but that’s to be expected of a guide. She is very soft and affectionate. She licks me on the face every chance she gets.

My time at GDB so far has been great. It has been kind of intense, but the staff is really patient and supportive and has made the learning process as easy as possible. It has been really hard to focus during the first few days because I have been giddy with anticipation about getting my dog. I didn’t think Dog Day would ever get here. It has been much worse than waiting for Christmas. I haven’t been able to sit still and when I was finally able to get to sleep, my dreams were all about dogs. It’s been torture, but it was worth the wait.

Dog Day has been crazy. We had breakfast, morning lectures, some obedience practice and then we went to downtown San Rafael for a Juno walk. (Juno is an imaginary dog that they use to teach the basic commands. It is either an instructor holding the dog’s end of an empty harness or an instructor carrying a rolled up rug with a collar attached to it. I have to admit, I felt kind of silly giving commands to an empty harness while walking around town, but I guess you have to learn somehow.) We came back for lunch then had a lecture about what to do when we met our dogs. After that, they announced the dog matches and I learned that I was getting Cinnabar. I wasn’t crazy about the name and was kind of jealous of my classmate who got a black lab named Jackson, but it wasn’t long before the name started to sound better to me.

After the announcements, we all waited in our rooms for an instructor to take us to meet our dogs. They came for my roommate first and I was just going insane. I paced back and forth until she got back and they finally came for me. I sat in a room while I waited for my dog to come in. I didn’t know what to expect and I was shaking I was so excited. She finally barreled into the room and immediately jumped up on me and slobbered all over my face. I was totally surprised by that. I wasn’t expecting such an energetic dog. She was all over the place sniffing and squirming. It was overwhelming. Then I got my wits about me and attached my leash to her collar. I walked her back to my room and sat on the floor with her for a while to pet her and get to know her a little bit. She was very curious about her new surroundings and took a little while to settle down. We spent some good quality time together, then I practiced walking down the hall with her heeling at my side. The instructors were creating all kinds of distractions and I had to give her several corrections to get her attention. But it didn’t take long before I noticed that she was getting the message that I was in charge.

After our walk, I fed her and gave her some water. Then we headed outside for our first relieving trip. She wasn’t too interested in relieving on our first trip and only peed a tiny bit, but I’m happy to report that on our last relieving opportunity tonight, Cinnabar gave birth to a brown baby boy. Her first little gift came at about 8:37 PM Pacific time. I’m sure you all really wanted to know about that. It’s no big deal right now because the instructors are just shoveling it up for now, but soon, I’ll be introduced to the joys of picking up dog doo. It’s a small price to pay for having such an amazing animal.

After dinner we had a seminar about grooming and I brushed her for the first time. She was very squirmy and didn’t seem too interested in being groomed, but I think she will enjoy it more once she gets to know me.

So that was basically my day. I don’t think words really do it justice. She is now laying here at my side while I type. She seems a little impatient about being here so long, but I think she will get used to it eventually. It is so weird to think about how my life just completely changed today. I will have this fuzzy little body by me everywhere I go for a long time. She will depend on me as much as I will depend on her. It’s kind of scary thinking about the responsibility I have just taken on, but at the same time it’s just mind-blowing and thrilling to be starting this new life. I can’t wait to harness her up for the first time and start learning how to work as a team. I’m kind of overwhelmed by it all.

So, that’s Dog Day. Cinnabar and I are off to bed. We have to get up early for the morning relieving opportunity. My days of sleeping in are officially over. Now it’s rise and shine at 6:30 a.m. to feed, water and relieve. We’ll check back in from California as soon as possible. Stay tuned.