At 10 am Monday, I walked through the doors of Leader Dogs For The Blind to pick up Bolo- at last! As I awaited her arrival, one of the team members sat with me to review all of the important information and first steps. My heart was pounding- seriously, this feeling is reminiscent of those moments prior to giving birth to Abby. While Bolo was getting bathed and prepped, I met with the puppy development team to leave them with some gifts, thank them, and say good-bye. In true Gila fashion, the tears welled up as I promised them I would do good by this puppy and that Dog is Good would ensure that thousands of people the world over, who had no idea what the Leader Dog organization was about, would soon learn about their mission. I get emotional over the things I am most passionate about- this moment was no different.
Finally, without warning, Bolo made her appearance. Anyone that has seen an adorable lab puppy knows exactly how the heart melts. With her now in my arms, a sweet kiss on my nose, and puppy breath permeating the air I was ready to begin the adventure. First stop- a trip to Marshall’s Home Store. Despite my efforts to fully prepare, I forgot to buy a small mat to use in the event I needed to put her down somewhere. I put on her little bandana which says “Future Leader dog for the blind”, carried her into the store, and politely asked the manager if I was allowed to come in with her to make my purchase. “Absolutely!” was the answer. In puppy-raising class I was told she would be a magnet for crazed dog lovers…and indeed she was already. Considering we were just across the street from the Leader Dog campus, most people were familiar with the program and were incredibly respectful of her space as she laid in my arms.
Once out of the store, it was time for that potty break….or in the new language I am learning from Leader Dogs, it was time for her to PARK. When I first learned this was the term I was to use for house-training purposes I thought “hmmm, so odd- I’ve never thought to say something like this to a dog who needs to “go potty” or “do its business”. When I was asked to consider PARK spelled backwards….it all became very clear.
Bolo excelled with our first walk together. Using her afternoon meal for training reward, we did some basic leash work and greeted a few people. I marveled at her easy temperament. Easy right now, I know – but I know I’m in the “honeymoon” phase.
My dear friend Christy had been with me this entire trip and I could not have been more thankful than I was trying to navigate travel with all the “puppy paraphernalia” and my suitcases. She always has a great way of taking care of me, keeping me organized, and helping me stay on task. This day, her skillful way of handling all situations was elevated to a whole new level.
As we made our way to the airport Bolo took all the new sights and sounds in stride. Getting through security was a breeze. Bolo slept a bit and woke up at the perfect time for me to give her a small ration of water, play a little, and go to the “family bathroom” to let her relieve herself. Apparently there is no grass or gravel in an airport, go figure! My proudest moment so far??? Timing my delivery of the puppy pad perfectly…. capturing two pees and a poop before take off.