It was Dog Day at The Seeing Eye on May 29. That was the day that the dogs were handed over to the students in the May 27th class. It was a Wednesday morning, and we had been in class for a day and a half. The anticipation was much like that of brand new parents, eagerly awaiting the appearance of their babies. I had told my instructor that I preferred a small female Golden Retriever, but if she had the perfect dog that was on the big side, a male, or not a Golden, I could love anybody, as long as the dog was affectionate and was a good worker. In other words, I wanted the perfect dog. Hes not exactly what I asked for, but after a rocky start, Im confident that this will be the best dog for me.
Cisco is 20 months old, about 25 inches tall at the shoulders, weighs about 60 pounds, and is a gorgeous reddish color. I have to admit that after 9 years with my little gal, Pippen, I was worried how I would manage such a tall and long, very long dog. My concerns were affirmed on the first day of training, and by the end of the day, I was so miserable that I questioned why I had even come to get a replacement dog guide. All day, I struggled to make him sit and lie down between our walks. His size would not have been a problem if he had been responsive to my verbal commands, but because he was so attached to his trainer, who also was my instructor, he kept popping up and refusing to stay down, just because he was expecting her to return any moment. When she was in the room, he was completely obnoxious, whining and pulling toward her. When my words wouldnt control him, I had to resort to physically pushing his big body into a sitting position or lying down. By the end of the day, I was exhausted and depressed, and my back was killing me. If it hadnt been for the pain, I believe I would have been able to handle it better, but I had serious doubts about this match. Maybe I just couldnt handle a dog guide anymore. Maybe I had tried to come too soon after back surgery. Maybe, emotionally, I wasnt ready to accept a new dog.
Then my trainer, in her brusk New York style, chewed me out for dwelling on the negatives and forgetting about the positives. Think about all he has done for you so far, She said. He has guided you around obstacles. He has gotten you across the street safely. He did a traffic check this morning beautifully. Easy for her to say. She hadnt just had back surgery. She hadnt wrestled all day with a 60-pound animal that did not want to behave. But that gave me pause. She was right. It made me reflect on all the relationships in my life. Dwelling on the negatives ruins a relationship that might not be perfect, but is, nevertheless, good.
Finally, on the third day, after some severe leash corrections, he began to get it that I was not going to go away and leave him with our trainer, the love of his life. I loved him immediately, even though he pined for her. Slowly and gradually, he turned to me for comfort. He would lay his big sweet head in my lap and bring me his toy. He would lie down when I told him to. He even tried to get in my lap when Id sit on the floor beside him. If he couldnt have her, he guessed Id do. As one of my classmates said, As soon as you get that other woman out of your mans life, youll be fine. And sure enough, as the days have flown by, he has become my big handsome best friend. I think Once Im home with him, and his devotion is transferred to me, our lives will be Golden.