Sarah Blake LaRose (3kitties) wrote,
Sarah Blake LaRose

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finishing the thought: incidental education and life with a dog

I posted my unfinished post this morning on purpose. I wanted to capture the image of things left undone. It's a perfect text image of life at the seeing Eye--what I call life at warp speed. Thoughts get interrupted in midstream, and I hope that I will be able to recapture them later in my journal. That's what I'm going to try now.

I just left a comment for someone about "people issues" in training. We have 24 people in class here from many different walks of life, ethnic backgrounds, etc. They range from age 19 to at least 70. At times it really feels like I live in an unnatural community, nothing like home. At times, it is a perfect training ground for home...

I am writing about some aspects of life here that have been and continue to be educational for me. These are things that are not planned. There are a few things that are voluntary and are set up for educational purposes... There are social activities in the evenings which are optional and provide opportunities to learn to control your dog in a setting where there is casual munching and chit chat. There is an exercise room set up in the basement so you can both work out and practice dealing with your dog in that setting. There are donated airplane seats so that you can work on seating your dog. One day they set the dining room up like a buffet so that you get that experience... But there are other things that are quite incidental, and I doubt that anyone would ever think of them. In fact, some of these things go directly against what people have always suggested to me. So what is behind the cut is strictly my own philosophy.

It is easy for me to slip into the mindset that I am here to learn to work with my dog, and that's it, to refuse to deal with any kind of "real life" drama because the new dog needs all of my attention. In an ideal world, that might work. But if I am honest with myself, there are problems with this kind of idealistic living. I spend two, three, or four weeks focusing entirely on Loretta and Loretta's needs, and then I go home to my everyday life and expect her to jump into my world; and often without realizing it, I have unrealistic expectations that life will return to "normal," especially if I have had previous dogs. It isn't fair to me or to Loretta.

Having 24 people in training here is certainly advantageous to the people and to the school; but there are more advantages than simply graduating more teams in a year. I am practicing the juggling of "real life" situations with dog care and attention. The world will never revolve around loretta, and it shouldn't. The world simply revolves, and Loretta becomes a part of my life in it. Loretta is becoming part of a particular lifestyle, and it is best that she ease into it and not suddenly be plunged into it after she has already begun to become used to the school lifestyle. Changing activities is one thing. Changing activities and levels of attention is something completely different. If I play with her all the time here, she will continue to expect it at home and be very confused if we return home and I expect her to sit under a desk all day. Likewise, if I have never talked on the phone here and then go home and sit on the phone for hours, it will also confuse her. If I manage my emotions nicely here and then fall apart regularly at home, she will be exposed to a significant amount of stress.

All this means that I have begun to approach "class drama" and other things that I don't like in training with an entirely different attitude from what I used to have. During the last year, as I've gone through various things in seminary, I have thought that I needed to embrace things. I need to embrace all of these conflicts and annoyances as learning opportunities and chances to give Loretta support as she learns to live as a part of my world because I will react to these things just as I react to similar situations in my life at home. I have also been making a point to do normal ratios of socializing vs. personal writing, etc. When I have done my Hebrew, I've stuck her under the desk just as I would at school. This allows Loretta to have reasonable exposure to my expectations even if the timing of those expectations changes later.

I certainly don't want to stress myself by overexposing myself to other people's difficulties while I am here; but at the same time, I also don't want to hibernate or deactivate myself from people's lives. My life is going to go on when I return home; and unless I plan to hold myself back from people following my return, I can't do it now on account of Loretta. I remember my relationships suffering greatly after my return with Dori because my phone calls were often punctuated with dog commands as Dori tried to take advantage of the situation. My own physical tiredness is another thing--we do keep long schedules here, and those who have attempted to keep good relationships going with me while I've been in my seminary classes know that fatigue is nothing new to me. I will have to learn to work Loretta's needs, which are quite different from Meg's, into a quite busy schedule; and that will take a good bit of juggling. In that respect, the simple fact of the busyness of the schedule here is educational for me. Trying to work a bit of my "personal stuff" into the Seeing Eye's schedule is part of that education.


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