The anticipation of meeting Hope was bigger than the actual meeting. I think, in my mind, I imagined her waiting for me as the elevator doors opened: Standing on her hind legs waiting to extend her paw and gaze into my eyes with a look that said, “I am about to make everything easier.” Of course, I didn’t imagine her talking…I’m not delusional. I just expected her to be some super-dog from another planet that would fix everything.
The reality was that, as I came downstairs to meet Kati, the trainer, I didn’t know if Hope would be with her or not. In fact, it took me a minute to realize that Hope was sitting beneath Kati’s chair at the table in the lobby. I resisted the urge to fall to my knees and squeeze her sweet face. The dog behavior books that were assigned reading before I arrived warned me not to exhibit such behavior. Instead, I just squeezed Kati (not her face, just a regular hug).
The rest of the day was a bit of a blur. Kati and I walked around the city and a mall and had lunch and sat and talked for many hours. We both had a lot of questions for each other. Hope just followed along calmly. My job today was to observe and learn by example. I tried to listen carefully to all the explanations of Kati’s actions and commands. I continued to squelch the urge to reach out and touch Hope with a friendly rub. There was a pull in my chest the whole day that made me want to grab her and roll around on the floor with that sweet dog.
On the practical side, it is now time to realize that MANY things in our lives are about to change. I still have faith that they will change for the better, but it is clear to me that there will be a lot of work and new habits to build before we get to the new life that I imagine with our service dog. I will not be bringing her home and just getting back to my normal crazy life. My life is going to be different now. The life of our whole family will be different. I’m a little scared of that.