On the second day at the Guide Dog Foundation, one receives their guide dogs. When I learned that my guide dog resembled a previous family dog of mine, my heart leaped for joy. This reaction was unexpected for me, mirroring similar feelings a child expresses at Christmas time to learning that my wife was expecting our daughter. Up until this point, the notion of guide dog in my life existed only as a concept to ponder and not a definitive state. Learning the dog’s name, gender, and breed changed this entire perception instantly. For purposes of blogging, I will refer to my guide dog not by its name, but the name of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Calvary Division with whom I was assigned to in Iraq, Black Jack.
The presentation of the dog’s information and the initial introduction occurs at two separate times. The previous scene happened in a common area prior to lunch, while the next part occurred after lunch.
The guide dog is presented to the recipient inside their room. This minimizes the number of distractions, while affording the new guide dog and handler team to create the extremely crucial initial bond. Prior to this, we received guidance to remain seated on the bed as we call the dog by its name towards us. Waiting for this to transpire required much patience. Imagine sitting peacefully on the corner of a bed as you hear knocks on other doors signifying the delivery or a new guide dog to your neighbor. No amount of meditation can fully stave off the anticipation for the next knock to be at your door.
When the trainer rapped upon my door, it took me by surprise. We were informed to use a confident and strong voice to call our guide dog towards us. The idea is to create a first impression similar to one you might make with a new partner, strong but not overbearing. However, I believe my voice seemed a bit more flat and feeble rather than an impressionable command.
Black Jack appeared to be precisely how I imagined he would be, an energetic young dog filled with playfulness and love. Black Jack came to me very easily, immediately trying to lick my face and playing with my arms. Some of the maneuvers and reactions of Black Jack emulated the same ones employed by my previous family dog, bringing feelings of happiness and fondness immediately out for Black Jack.