Wednesday morning we each received our dogs. Some people were giddy with anticipation, but for me, cautious reserve was probably a more apt description. I had resolved to get beyond my longing for another golden or golden cross (shorthand for golden retriever/Labrador cross) and have an open heart and mind to the dog these experts had chosen for me.
When Autumn arrived in my room, my first thought was, “She’s so little!” And little she is – little and pixie-like and quite adorable. She’s a shiny black Labrador, only 51 pounds, 21 inches tall. She immediately wanted to get on the bed, but almost seemed to wink at me when I pulled her back down – as though she were checking to see whether or not I knew the rules, too. Since I did and there would be no jumping on the bed, well, it was worth a try.
Her obedience was perfect. We do a sequence of sits and downs, have the dog stay and wait for you to return to it, and have the dog stay again and call it to you. It’s brief and precise, and a great way of cuing the dog that you, too, are lovable but know the drill.
Wednesday afternoon was the real moment of truth: we loaded into the Guide Dog bus and headed for the downtown lounge ( facility used for working out of, with comfortable places for students to hang out while waiting a turn with an instructor). From there, Autumn and I had our first real walk.
Much of it was fabulous. She crosses streets perfectly, and loves the food rewards. She kept stopping, though, especially in the last block, stopping abruptly with no reason and needing encouragement to continue.
For our first day together, I’d say we’re both happy with our progress.