This is part 2 of my entry about Dog Day, that is, the day I got to meet my new guide dog. You can find the first post here.
We went out for a brief walk on the residential street near campus after lunch. Padawan threw herself into the harness and guided with incredible confidence and ease. This particular street does not have sidewalks, and while my trainer said I did not have to worry about shore lining the left side of the road, Padawan knew exactly what she was doing and did it naturally anyway. On our return to the building, she slowed and stopped to show me a parked car on the side of the road. When I gave the “forward” command, she went smoothly around it and returned to the shoreline on the left. Beautiful work!
Back in our room, she conked out for about 10 minutes so I got some good petting time in, but her energy was quickly replenished and she was soon up whining at the door again. I kept petting, talking, and singing as I had earlier, until we made it to feed, water, and park time and afternoon lecture. Lecture was surprisingly uneventful. There was some barking from another dog, and Padawan did try to belly crawl and fraternize with her neighbors a few times, but she is a pro at the “close” command. “Close” means the dog must swing their rear end around and tuck themselves between your feet under a chair. I have never seen a dog perform that command with such drama and enthusiasm. She is fabulous.
Dinner was another struggle to stay settled, but there was definite progress from lunch. I will say eating ribs on the first day with your new guide dog is a bit challenging, but Padawan enjoyed licking my fingers afterword, even after I had used a napkin to clean up. Looks like she likes barbecue. She’s a Nashville girl for sure…
I hung out with a few of my classmates after dinner in the lobby, but Padawan was very upset by the in and out presence of her trainers and eventually threw herself on the ground in a very loud temper tantrum, so we called it a night early. Poor babe. As time goes on and our bond begins to solidify, things will get better.
We didn’t snuggle that morning, but later that evening, it finally happened! After some more pacing and carrying on, she plopped herself close beside me and nuzzled into my leg. I didn’t move for a long, long time. It was a precious hour for the both of us, I think.
Thursday we will have our first two official routes in White Plains. After a day of working with this dog, I can easily say I adore her. Her spunk and pizazz are irresistible, and her brilliance and motivation are impossible to miss. I am already imagining life in down town Nashville with her at my side. We will take Nashville by storm, no doubt about it. Still, we have a long road of training and bonding ahead. We should get a better idea of what that process might be like tomorrow on our walks in town. Until then…