Hi everyone! It’s Thursday! I need to write this because I’ve been swearing up and down that it’s Friday and not wine o’clock. Sadly, like most 2000s Lifetime movies, that only seems to happen on Fridays after 5. So, instead,
here I am on a Thursday afternoon with my cup of coffee and reminiscing on my partnership (in crime), with Dodson.
It is hard to believe that in one and a half short months, it will be the anniversary of Dodson and I being paired together on the lovely San Rafael campus of Guide Dogs for the Blind. I know that earlier in this blog, I wrote about meeting Dodson, which I will link at the end of this post. What I didn’t write about all the mischief and the things they DIDN’T teach me at guide dog school. Please note: this post is meant in great fun and joy. Guide Dogs for the Blind takes the training of their dogs very seriously and my experiences happen to be just that, wholly mine.
From the get-go, I should have known Dodson was trouble. It wasn’t for the fact that he was the only male golden retriever in the class, or that he refused to do his business for the first few days. It wasn’t even because he required eyedrops every day, twice a day, like I did for much of my life. What tipped me off to Dodson being trouble was when, unbeknownst to me, he swiped my phone from the bed while on his tie down. I was not in the room, having left to do laundry, but no one, not even the trainers, could exactly explain how my dog, who seemed so cool, calm, and collected, managed to nab my phone from the center of the bed from his limited space. That wasn’t the main thing that caught my attention about this dog, though. What immediately caught my amusement, and the instructors’ bemusement, was when I found him calmly keeping my phone company and flicking through song selections with his nose. He paused, played, and even skipped a few tracks, until he found something that had caught his. If I think on it, I’m pretty sure it was some song called “Electric Church”.
Another instance of Dodson’s super dog ability was the time during the second week of training, when again, unbeknownst to me, he snatched my Airpods case and thoroughly enjoyed himself a new chew toy. While he did puncture the hard plastic case, managing to lose a piece in the process, he didn’t get hurt. In fact, he seemed to relish in his new fun. It wasn’t until later when I discovered the broken pieces, along with some mysteriously reappeared socks, that I was worried. I was afraid he was displaying signs of unhappiness or distress being with a crazy nerd like me. It took a lot of reassurance from both my instructor and class supervisor that we were perfectly fine. After all, Dodson was a puppy, and who said these dogs weren’t without their faults. It took a few days of reworking a particular curb approach, ignoring paper napkins, straw wrappers, and tasty crumbs on the coffee shop floor, but we graduated. He was silly and goofy through and through, still withholding the true Dodson within. And I truly mean, within.
In the time I have spent with my beloved golden retriever, he has managed to escape his locked kennel multiple times, snuggle under my blankets and pillows on my bed the way only a human can, take more trips to the vet than any of my previous pet dogs, and exasperate, infuriate, and bring me to tears of worry more than once. What I truly was not prepared for was discovering, the hard way, that my dog had a sensitive GI tract. This was an involved process, I tell you. Running outside at odd hours of the night so he can do his business, waking up to vomiting almost daily, the tests that vets ran and always found nothing… it was a lot to deal with. But I did it. I do it still, to this day and I don’t regret any second of it.
It’s taken two food changes over the past two years, but I’m not entirely convinced we’re out of the woods yet. What I will say, however, is that through it all, Dodson has never once not been happy, wiggly, and full of energy. You could have told him he’d never eat chicken again and he would not have cared either way, just if you were his friend. It truly takes a village to raise a pup, and especially one as high maintenance as Dodson. Shout out and endless gratitude, as always, goes to my mom, who cleaned up after Dodson’s midnight runs to the restroom, sacrificed a lot of time to take us to and from the vets, and for accepting that no matter what, there was going to be dog fur everywhere. GDB may not have told me that I would get to know the very intimate workings of my dog’s stomach, but they also didn’t tell me just how much I’d love my dog and how quickly we’d become inseparable. The thought of going anywhere without my trusty ray of sunshine is improbable. He goes, or I don’t. It’s as simple as that, and I’m happy. I’d do it all over again if I had to.
So yeah, guide dog school may not always have all the answers, but they provide you with all the resources, tools, and support to literally become a loving handler and fur parent to their dogs. You learn to accept their quirks, love their personalities, and endure the worst smelling parts of them. But they’re your baby at the end of the day, and at least for me, it was very worth it.
If you’d like to read about how I met Dodson and the tense moments leading up to it, read it here!