We hit the ground running today at 6 AM with an obedience training session in the lecture hall. During the training, an instructor acted like an imaginary dog “Juno,” and showed us one-on-one how to command the dog to heel, sit, lie down, and stay. After the training session, I had a few minutes to finish getting ready for the day, and then it was time for breakfast – a delicious meal of eggs, bacon, and fruit.
When breakfast was finished, I gathered my things and made a quick pit stop for coffee, and then it was off to the van to load up for a trip into White Plains. After a 30ish minute ride, we unloaded at the Lounge, and were given the schedule for the day. We would go out with the instructors in pairs and take a “Juno Walk,” which is a dog simulation walk with only a harness and the instructor pulling you along, and then….we would get to take a real dog for a spin!
I was third in line, so while I waited I took a tour of the Lounge, which has several comfortable sitting rooms, a large balcony, dining area (complete with another awesome coffee machine), and an outdoor area where the dogs will relieve themselves. After the tour, I sat and chatted with my lovely classmates while I waited for my turn.
About an hour or so later, my name was called, and off I went. My instructor coached me in the proper way to hold the harness/leash combo, how to stand, and how to give the forward command. Then we began the walk. It was stressed that students should walk their normal pace so the instructors can get a feel for our style. I walked briskly down the road, guided by the instructor, who was pulling the harness. We came to a few curbs, and I learned how to find the curb, turn left, and cross the road. We traveled a bit farther, and I learned how to turn right. After this (or maybe right before the right turn, I can’t remember), I was handed off to the other instructor, who guided me down a block or two.
And then… she went and got a real, live dog! I greeted the little yellow lab, who returned my affection with a quick lick on the face. After the little love fest, I was set into position, and upon instruction, gave the dog the forward command, and we were rockin’!
It was truly an amazing experience feeling this four legged creature lead me exactly to every curb, guide me around obstacles, and follow my commands. After every successful command, I gave the dog a treat, which she inhaled out of my hand, leaving a residue of saliva. Although I’ve never been a fan of dog slime, I didn’t mind so much this squirmy bundle of energy leaving me a little wet. Besides, there’s always hand washing and sanitizer.
Once our walk was finished, I headed back into the lounge, buzzing with excitement. Boy, that dog was absolutely adorable! None of us were told the dogs’ names, nor will we ever be told if the dog we end up getting is the same one we walked with today…but I really hope I get that one, and I feel like, somehow, I will know it’s her.
Lunch was at 12:00, and then I basically lounged with the other folks who had already gone out until all the others had their walks, and we loaded back into the vans and headed back to Yorktown Heights.
We had a meet and greet with the staff in the afternoon, then dinner was served, followed by a lecture full of information about the dogs, and what we will be doing tomorrow…
And what is tomorrow? DOG DAY! Yep, starting tomorrow, I will be the proud new companion to my new guide dog: D
I’m just chilling for the rest of the night. We’ve been warned many times that after tomorrow, there won’t be much chill time, as we’ll be learning to live with our new friends. I’m really excited, but really nervous. There was a ton of info covered, and right now, I’m not sure how I’ll remember it all. But, I’m sure I will.