I’m counting down the days to meeting Olaf, the guide dog who has been matched with me as a possible working partner.
It’s as nerve-wracking as a first date. What do I wear? Should I bring a gift?
Should I be ashamed that I have actually looked on line to see if there is a Walt Disney Olaf the Snowman toy available in a dog friendly range? You’ll be relieved to hear there is not.
I am trying too hard. I know this, but I’m a sucker when it comes to Furballs.
Would guide dog shaped cookies be over kill? Should I have a t shirt; may be ‘Welcome Olaf’ written in paw prints?
No, I know you’re right. These things a meaningful relationship will not make. So. If everything goes to plan he will fly in with his trainer.
We will go into town to try us out as a unit. Then we will meet the Newfoundlands on neutral territory. A good romp should be the order of the day. Then supper on his own. I guess he’ll be pooped. He’s still awfully young.
If it’s a good dynamic then we will start training together as soon as possible. That in itself is mind-blowing after such a significant wait.
Breathe. Plan B. Calm, gentle relaxed meeting with the emphasis on connecting with Olaf’s trainer rather than with him. This is cool body language in doggy terms. The more important you are in a pack the less you pay attention to those lower down the pecking order. (It’s very similar to working for the Church really.)
Connect gently through affirmation when we work together. His primary bond is with his trainer. So is mine to begin with. She will be our pack leader. We will both do what she says when she says it.
The trainer will then make a decision after discussion about whether we’re a match. It’s an inexact science but a lot of it is focused on whether we will make a safe working partnership. Just like a new job – can we listen to each other; spot strengths and weaknesses and compensate in ways that build the relationship? Can we do down time?
Whatever the outcome it will be great. If I get a new guide dog – yipppppeeeeee! If I get a better understanding of what I need and Olaf isn’t the best match then that’s good too. We know what we’re looking for.
Yes, I’m nervous. Yes this is a big ask for all concerned but it’s out there – it’s an achievable reality.
I’m delighted. Let’s hope Olaf is also thrilled. I’m guessing he’ll love the Newfies. They’re a pushover. I wonder if he’d like to swim?
Should I embroider his name on a towel?