Monday, December 28, 2015

Two weeks until guide dog school!

After last night's (early this morning) anxiety post, I'm back just a few hours later to say TWO WEEKS UNTIL GUIDE DOG SCHOOL!

Harlem's puppy raiser posted this picture of him nine days ago on Facebook (don't worry, I didn't use my mad stalking skills to access her account, this is a public photo). Gosh, he's so lovely!

I'm still anxious about becoming a handler. I have stomach pains from the anxiety - a sort of cramping around my diaphragm, this happened when I presented at the conference in New Zealand as well. I've been trying (all night, next to no sleep) to focus on the good stuff - the not scary or intimidating stuff - like having so much more independence. I've seen a few videos of handlers with their dogs and they get about so confidently. They walk so fast and with confidence, not second guessing every step. I'll be able to go to new places with feeling like I might trip and fall at every step.

Losing my vision has been so taxing. Literally every step requires my full concentration - it is easier in places I know well. There is constantly new construction everywhere. Melbourne has gone mad with new construction so, often, even familiar place become a obstacle course to be puzzled out. With Harlem I'll be able to tell him to 'find the way' and he will find the best way around an obstacle and he will know where I can't get through. The number of times I've walked into a fenced off dead end at Uni, or on local footpaths is really not funny.

I'll have a lot more confidence crossing roads, knowing that even when I think the way is clear and instruction Harlem to cross, he'll see when there is traffic I can't see or hear, and he'll refuse to move (this is known as intelligent disobedience).

Also, there is the companionship. The agoraphobia I suffer means I feel very uncomfortable alone in public. I don't feel lonely - I quite like my own company - but unless I have a distinct errand to run, I often feel like a nuisance. I feel like I'm taking up space I'm not entitled to. This stems from walking into people, or being in people's way because I can't see them trying to get past me. With Harlem, with him acting as my eyes, I will navigate through public spaces with crashing into people or being in people's way. And people will see me because they'll see him. I realised recently that part of the reason I wear so many bright colours or, previously, 'odd' alternative clothing is because it meant I as conspicuous. People would move out of my way because they couldn't miss seeing me.

I need to get Harlem a few items - he comes with a bed, a bowl, a harness, a lead, a toileting harness, some grooming tools, food, and heartworming tablet (I think, or flee treatment, one or the other). So, I need to get him boots for when the pavements are very hot in summer. I'm getting these:

Ruff wear summit
He will also need a raincoat for winter:

Dapper dog raincoat
And, of course, he'll need a nice collar (okay, he comes with a good collar, this is just about me). I'm considering these:

These are all from Collar Mania - the place we got Jacob's collar a few years ago - the quality of the last collar we bought there has been great! I'm leaning towards the last one. I bought him a second bed in one of those teal/turquoise colours.

Sadly, I have to wait to order any of these because I need all kinds of measurements. Oh, the tedious agony of having to be patient. Two more weeks!

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Good Job!