As my training came to a close I was excited to be on our own and terrified to be on our own. This week was something that was invaluable to me. Danson and I flew home with a trainer from Ottawa and that was amazing. To have someone there with you, to help support you so that if something went wrong you were not alone, was something that I am just so thankful for.
It may seem a little weird that I am so thankful for the week of training and someone to accompany me home when I had already qualified as a team with Danson. The thing is that Danson and I did our training in a unfamiliar environment and although we spent 2 weeks together I didn’t know him that well. I did not know how he would react on a flight and in a busy airport. Same with when we got home I had no idea how he would fit in to our home and would he settle in well. There were so many unknowns.
Danson was a great flier and he did so well. The sandwich myself and the trainer bought at the Toronto airport for $15 each was not terrific at all but Danson made up for that disgusting sandwich. (I can not express how gross this sandwich was). We had two flights one was an hour and the other was three hours and on both he did really well.
Once we landed in our home city and met up with my husband the real work started. Danson was excited to be off the plane and get to go pee. Once we got home he did really well with my three children and seemed to settle in pretty well for the night. The trainer accompanied us to my house to make sure that the first meetings went well and he started to settle.
In the morning myself and the trainers did some routes around my home and it felt really good to be in our home area and working. I could feel the freedom and confidence building with each step.
The week was full of lots of work with the trainer and my orientation and mobility specialist to make sure that we knew our routes to places like work, my kids school, and some other places I frequent regularly. There were times when I was in my head and felt lost and other times when I felt like I had this and we were rocking it. Having those times when I felt like I was lost and not doing great and questioning everything was such a blessing to have the trainer and my O&M with me, supporting me and reassuring me.
As the week came to a close and we were packing a bag to attend our graduation in Toronto and then fly off to a work event in Vancouver I was nervous knowing there were going to be times when it was hard, but I was excited that we had finished it and made it through all of the emotion good and bad together.
It is hard to go through such a roller coaster of emotion with a dog and not come out of it feeling like he is truly a part of you. Through the good and the bad he will be there by my side guiding me through it all.
I am beyond grateful for all of the support of the CNIB and the CNIB Guide Dog team. The success of myself and Danson is because of the support that we received along the way.
We are now on our own and will be updating you on our adventures as they come, the good the bad and the ugly. And I am sure there will be some of all.
Until Next Time !
Ashley and Danson