At 10am this morning I waited in my hotel room for the arrival of my new guide dog. Even though I had met him two weeks previously, nothing will ever replace that feeling when you get the a new dog delivered to your room for the first time.
It reminds me of when I received my first ever guide dog over 25 years ago, I remember then sitting on the edge of my bed full of anticipation and excitement listening for the sound of a dog coming down the corridor, and here I am again quarter of a century later....feeling exactly the same. People who have never owned/used a guide dog will never appreciate the emotions it brings to the surface. After all, for the next 8 years this dog will go every where with me, to work, to the pub, on the train, to a concert, to conferences, holidays, guide me to the taxi door...this dog will enable me to move quickly and independently through all my environments. This is a BIG DEAL.
Over these first few days I will get to know the dogs personality, likes, dislikes, paw strides, shape of ears, wag of tail....shape of head......but going back to this morning
At 10am the instructor knocked on the hotel room door and when I opened it in strode a large and I mean large German Shepard......but he is extremely gentle
The dog and I were left together in the room for a short time, (a quiet time to get to know each other) and later the instructor told me more about the dogs' character. She had brought a bag full of toys to help with the bonding process and before she left, she let me know one hugely important thing - he loves being hugged. Initially Renton wasn’t that interested in me or the toys and he , paced around the hotel room wondering who I was. Then I got down on the floor beside him to see what he would do. I picked up a toy, now he was interested. Then I found the game he liked most. Substitute hugs for wrestling. I was pinned to the floor in a half nelson.Now this is a dog who weighs over 7 stone so it felt like I was the one who was being hugged. As the day has gone on he really is a laid back German Shepard with a lovely gentle nature.
So on to tomorrow when we’ll get our first walk with Renton in his guide Dog harness. A tough day guiding me around all kinds of obstacles - bring it on.