The dining room held special excitement that evening: a harness. Hand-made locally, it would empower my Juno to guide me safely through all life’s adventures. I studied every inch of it. Jessica, our lead trainer introduced herself to me.
She noticed me fingering the digits etched into the hard leather. “That’s your Juno’s ID number.”
“I want my Juno now,” I told her. “Tuesday is a long way off.”
She smiled. “I know you do. It will be here faster than you think.”
No, it won’t. This was day one of my three-day eternity after months of longing for my new guide dog. That soft fur under my hand couldn’t come soon enough.
Our first dinner of spaghetti with flavorless marinara left me hoping food would get better. Each of the giant round tables featured a spinning center on which the staff placed incidentals for that meal. This made it easier to pass items like salad dressing amongst blind and visually impaired people. Slick system.
Strangely, they had no welcome ceremony or opening remarks. Jessica announced that after dinner a volunteer would show us each around and make sure we knew where to find everything in our room. I’m an explorer, willing to wander around without fear, but not everyone is that way. The Lions Club volunteers loved meeting the clients. Lions founded the school over seventy-five years ago, so they have a keen interest. I enjoyed meeting my helper, and I got help finding a few things I hadn’t yet located, like the essential pick-up bags.
”Are we getting guide dogs or dinosaurs?” I quipped. This being my third guide dog, I was well familiar with cleaning up the loads. A year’s supply awaited my homecoming in Missouri. These doggy doo bags came on a gigantic roll and were as wide as a gallon zipper storage bag but longer. I came across the mega-roll earlier, but I didn’t know what it was.
“You’ll be glad they’re that big,” Jessica assured me.
Really? “If my Juno lays a pile the size of this bag, I’ll be calling the vet.” They wanted us to carry three at all times. I could barely fit them into a pocket without one slipping free.
We all had the same seats for every meal. My table mates included a blond-haired trainer, a couple of orientation and mobility interns and their cane travel clients, and Dawn, who I met online as we commented on Leader Dog’s posts. I was glad to have my new friend, but I really wish we had more dog students and less staff.
Ashley introduced herself and said to me and Dawn, “I trained both your Junos.”
“What breed did they give me,” Dawn asked.
“Can’t tell you that, but your Juno snores.” She told me, “and your Juno has an amazing work ethic.”
“I want my Juno now,” I announced, knowing I wouldn’t get him or her until Tuesday afternoon.
“You’ll have to wait.”
Ashley shared a few more tidbits. “Your Juno loves to watch everything and she wags a lot.”
Torture. Pure torture.
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