>Do you know what today is? Believe it or not, today is the first anniversary of the day that Trixie came into my life. I know I wrote a journal entry for the day, but so much was going on that I couldn’t capture the amount of detail that I wanted to. So now that a year has gone by, I’ll try again.
I think I was able to convey the apprehension I was feeling when I wrote that morning. It was my new start, but would I be able to do it right this time? I had told myself I could, but now that it came down to it, could I?
All morning the instructors were teasing us. They knew how badly we wanted our dogs, so they kept saying later and later times when they would come. Of course we knew the truth, because the schedule said so, so we knew they were just yanking our chains, har har. They kept joking that they hadn’t taught them certain commands, so we were in trouble, that they weren’t in the kennels, that they forgot them somewhere, just to play with us. Those jerks!
I can’t even remember what lunch was that day. I did write it down, but you can tell that wasn’t the first thing on my mind. I remember how Frank was late and we were all so ancy.
At the very last second before I got her, I thought the dumbest things. What if it had a name of one of my relatives? What if, fluke of flukes, they named it Steve? A dog named Steve would be weird, but you never know. Or worse, what if it had a hideous name and I had to walk around for 8 or 9 years calling it something truly stupid? Then another part of me slapped myself and said stop being such an enormous tool. Whatever its name is, it will be great and you’ll love it because it’s your guide dog.
Finally, they started giving us the names. I couldn’t believe mine came first! The way they’re written down on that entry is how they were given. “carin,” they said. “You will be receiving a female blakc lab and her name is Trixie. T r i x i e.”
As soon as mine was spoken, all the air in the room suddenly felt thicker in my lungs. It was hard to breathe, and harder to concentrate enough to write down the other puppies’ names. Trixie! Trixie is my guide dog.
I had to grin, because both dogs I’d had did have a connection to friends of mine. Some people had nicknamed Barb Babs, and Jen had a cat named Trixie. So Trixie is it. I thought to myself, that’s a pretty cute name. I can deal with Trixie.
I can’t really remember much after the names were stated. I think they told us all to go back to our rooms and they would come and get us and take us individually to either the music room or the library to meet our dogs. They wanted us to meet our dogs in a separate place than our bedroom so we could meet the dog privately without our room-mate being there, I guess in case we might cry or something.
So, I went back to the room in a complete fog. I think I picked up the phone and called at least Steve and Barb. I don’t think I called my parents because they wouldn’t have been home to hear the news. But whoever I called, I don’t think I made much sense and there was a lot of sputtering and stammering and talk of how hard I was shaking and how I couldn’t breathe. Maybe Steve can fill in the gaps in my foggy memory.
After what seemed like an eternity, but I don’t think it was as long as I waited for Babs, they came for…autumn! Doh! I had to wait longer. I’m pretty sure Autumn came back to the room with a very waggly-tailed Beauty first. I waited, and I waited, and I saw how well beauty sat and heeled, and I prayed I would have the same luck.
Then they came for me! The journey to the music room was a very short one because I was moving so fast. As I passed the nurse at lightning speed, she said, “So Carin, you’re off to get your chihuahua, eh? Didn’t they tell you you’re getting a chihuahua?” Har har, hadn’t I heard that one before. Everyone joked I was going to get a chihuahua or a shih tzu, or on the other end of the spectrum, a great dane that I could ride. A St. Bernard was also a popular choice of saddle up and ride type dog.
I walked into the music room and sat down on one of the couches, so excited. I had my leash with me, and over came Trixie on another leash. You know what’s sad? I can’t even remember which instructor gave her to me. I just remember her saying “This is trixie.” She described her height, weight, birthday, and a few other details like the texture of her fur and how it got curly in spots. We then put my leash on her, and Trixie lay down in front of me and showed me her belly!
At first I didn’t know what to do. I was scared, because Trixie was slightly heavier than Babs, and I knew how hard Babs could pull. I was trying not to be too excited, since Trixie didn’t know me from anywhere, and I didn’t want to scare her. The instructor finally said “Are you happy with her?” Of course I said yes! I was happy. Scared of this new beginning, but happy! But I was paranoid even before we left the room. She started moving her head and I thought she was licking the floor, and I started to check if she had something. I didn’t open her mouth, I wasn’t ready for that yet, just checked where it was going. It turns out she was licking her own belly, but I was sure she was trying to eat. I remember the instructor saying “That’s good that you’re monitoring her head!” Well, after Babs, wouldn’t you?
The next few minutes are another fog for me. I left the music room, walked back to my room, and sat on the floor with Trixie. I petted her and talked to her…but she just kept staring into the hall! I forget why I didn’t shut my door. That would have been a way to remove some of that distraction. but I didn’t, and she would stare into the hall. She would stare and whine, whine and stare. I think I finally did shut the dor, but then she would just stare at it, it and Beauty, and whine some more. I was terrified she didn’t care about me at all. Well, why would she? I was just some random person. How would she know she was coming home with me? Plus, she’s such a curious dog that of course she had to have her eyes on everything.
After we had all had some bonding time with our new dogs, they came for us to take us out one by one to do heeling practice down the hall. They never did that in Ottawa. That seems to be a familiar refrain this week. I remember when they took Trixie and I out, there was no leash burn! Every time she’d get a little fast, we would stop, say “heel”, give a correction, and back she’d come. I remember being amazed at how good the collars were compared to my experience with Babs. This was a full training collar, where Babs’s collar was something called a Martingale collar I think. So half was chain and half was cloth. No wonder the corrections were no good!
I don’t have clear memories of the evening. I remember I fed her, and she ate slower than Babs who made it look like I was starving her by the speed at which she wolfed her food. She relieved and did it quickly, much quicker than Babs. There was much chattering on the phone. Did I send the big email yet? I don’t remember. Yes, yes I did. I did manage to write that down in the journal. I know I went to visit Amy, and Trixie threw herself at Dynamo. I know I walked to the nurse’s office for something for Autumn. What was it? I honestly don’t remember. I think that all happened the first night. And that was a year ago today.
Back when I bought the Musher’s Secret, I bought a special toy that I was going to present to her today. Well, I did, and in true Trixie fashion, she’s already mangled one end of it! Lord! At least it’s not completely destroyed, I’ve just learned a few things. She did enjoy it though, so I guess that’s all that matters.
Happy first anniversary together, Trixter. Although it’s not the first anniversary of us being a team, I still think dog day is a pretty special landmark. I hope we have many more of these.