It's gonna be a great day! I woke up and popped right out of bed 30 minutes before parktime! I like it when I have plenty of time for writing after Loretta does her thing!
Yesterday morning, I kept doing things that were just a bit off. I gave Loretta a few minutes of off-leash time after the morning relief time since she had done a great duty to the world. However, I nearly forgot to restrain her while I went to the shower. I walked into the bathroom and realized that she was lying nicely on her bed--with no tie down clipped to her. I did a couple of other abbsent-minded things that are not at all normal for me, and I realized that if I had my gray kitty here she would be meowing to the heavens to make me climb back in my bed because the seizure was a-coming. At breakfast, I spoke to Pete about it. I couldn't go to bed, but I would need extra monitoring on my traffic work due to my tendency to be disoriented. It did occur to me to try taking a Xanax. The only problem with this is that it is mildly sedating, and I didn't really want it. I brought it specifically for this purpose of handling emergency situations, and I hoped it would just sit in the med cabinet like it does at home.
I decided to inform the nurse of what I was doing, and while walking to her office I thought that it might be a good idea to ask her to watch me so that I knew that I took the right thing. The good thing that I learned from all this is that my dog is extremely cautious on stairs during the phase when my gait is unsteady, speech is not so intelligible, etc. Unfortunately, I discovered that when I am fatigued afterward, she will try to take advantage of the situation. I difn't really recover from the fatigue until the afternoon, and I didn't quite feel like myself all day.
The trips went very well yesterday. In the afternoon, Pete left me alone except to tell me when we had encountered the barrier. Loretta worked like an old pro, and I felt like I was really working a real guide dog again. It felt wonderful! I can't wait to get her home and work my own routes!
My going-home plans are going to be interesting. I arrive home on Friday, June 8. That afternoon, we will just get re-acclimated to the home atmosphere. There is quite enough to do there: meet Meg, meet Alexis, meet Dad, meet kitties, unpack, set up "places," etc. On Saturday, I'm hoping to go over to campus and do some quiet work with clearance of obstacles, etc. Perhaps we will go down into the residential neighborhoods. My normal routes are all in busy areas with major crossings, so I can't walk them until the instructor comes. I'm taking her home a week early, so this is a very different scenario than what the rest of the class will be doing with their dogs or what I did with Meg.
On Sunday, we will go to Sunday school in the old North Anderson Church of God building, but she will just be heeling and not working. The idea is simply to expose her and allow me to go about life. On Monday, I'll taxi to AU, and she can work on campus in the morning, and the instructor will arrive in the afternoon and we'll figure out some schedule for the week. Loretta and I will be a fully trained team as of June 14. Whether or not we will attend the new Madison Park church services depends on how our general bonding process is going and my comfort with the building. It is likely that we will wait a few weeks and do some additional practices in the building so that she is not terribly stressed by the atmosphere or my confusion.
I was thinking yesterday about something we talked about in my pastoral theology course: the idea of creating hospitality... I remember that this was something I struggled with when I came to train with Dori. I really did not know how to make space in my heart for her, even though I wanted to. When I came for Meg, I had been through such grief with Dori, and I knew how essential a dog was to me. I needed to make space for Meg, and somehow I did. Hospitality is really about showing interest; and it was easy to show interest in Meg. She was tiny and yellow and nothing like Elli or Dori. I had to make a completely new frame of reference for her--the "Meg frame." When I came this time, I made another new frame. I called it "N.D." Eventually I began pronouncing it "Endie," and it became a running joke at home that when we did Juno walks I would say, "Endie, forward." (I just said, "Dog, forward." For several weeks, Endie became a sort of hollow image waiting to be filled.
On Monday afternoon, Pete brought this panting thing to my room. She was bigger than I would have expected if I had allowed any real image to take shape. But Endie could have been anything: a little Meg or a bigger Elli ... hopefully not some 25-inch thing! "Endie" melted away and became Loretta, who leaned into me and accepted my hugs and chin scratches. She rewarded me by giving me her paw, a quite dainty little paw for her size!
The only antidote for my Meg grief is to create hospitality for two--and sometimes I must do it daily. Sometimes, in fact, I must create hospitality for four as I still grieve for all the things I never did with Elli or Dori. The best thing I can do now is do all of the things I can with Loretta, not waste one moment, so that when her guiding days are done I am satisfied with how they have been spent.