Starting Anew

It’s the beginning of a new year and for me, it’s the beginning of a new chapter.

I spent eight and a half years working with my guide dog, Pippi. Prior to Pippi, I never had a dog… because I was afraid of them all my life! Through Pippi I learned the joy of a constant companion who not only loved me but who was there to keep me safe while walking in the world. I learned some other things from Pippi:

  1. You can never vacuum up all the dog hair they shed.
  2. You should never leave the house with only ONE poop bag.
  3. You will never get over the pain of saying goodbye to your first guide, even when they are going to live with some dear friends.

I have lived without a guide dog for nearly six months and while my life didn’t need a regular routine schedule ( as it does with a guide), I have not had a regular routine. At all. And a kind of missed it. Without the routine, I didn’t get outside 4x a day. Sure I didn’t have to walk in the pouring rain or pick up poop. But I also didn’t socialize with other residents and their dogs. I don’t know who lives here still and who has moved.

That all ends this Monday! Monday I get to start anew with another guide dog. It’s another female but a yellow Lab instead of a black Lab. Unfortunately, I cannot mention her name until next Friday. The Guide School asks you to wait until the end of the first week of training before saying the name on social media in case the match between person and dog isn’t a good fit. Yes, I have told some friends her name but not on social media!

I assumed this new training would be “routine” since I did it all in 2014. But like the rest of the world, guide training has had some changes–equipment changes, additional commands, new hand signals. And even though my brain is almost a decade older, those synapses will need to fire just as quickly to learn new stuff!

I thought I was prepared for my new girl–food, crate, soft fleecy beds, toys– and then the School emailed the link to the recorded class sessions I would have attended at school. I don’t have to listen to them all before training start next Tuesday. Thank goodness because there are 40 of them! Okay, they are about 15-20 minutes long and class sessions were an hour long. But remember, my decade-older brain doesn’t process as quickly and my sight is greatly diminished so I can’t take a lot of written notes (in 2014, I filled every page in a speckled-cover composition notebook). So I guess I’ll have to listen to the recordings two or three times which is the same as sitting in class for an hour.

Can you tell I’m a little nervous??? Wish me luck!

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