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Laughter the best medicine

They say laughter is the best medicine for us all. This story took place ten years ago while I was training with my second guide dog, Sunset.

I knew I wanted a change of scenery for the time I was in class at Guide Dogs for the Blind to receive my second guide dog. Going from sunny California to cold, wet Oregon was most definitely a change for me. The day I arrived in Oregon it was raining. Right then and there I knew that I had not brought enough warm pants and other items to keep from being soaked the whole time I was there. I was determined to get through and really all I cared about was getting my new dog.

It was so exciting having the instructor come to my door to take me where I would meet my new bundle of fur. Heather guided me to a chair where she had me wait while she went to get my dog. I remember the whole dorm was quiet accept for the sound of the rain as I sat in that big room all alone wondering about my dog. “Would he or she like me? Would I like my dog? What color was the dog?” All sorts of questions went through my head as I waited. Since I have some vision I entertained myself with using what little vision I had to look around at the room I was in.

Then I heard the door open and the jingle of dog tags and doggie feet walking on the tile floor. I turned to the right to see the most beautiful yellow lab coming around the corner with Heather. This fantastic dog was wagging its tail so hard that the tail was spinning like a helicopter propeller.

"Mary Beth, this is Sunset." I was told.

”WOW! What a beautiful name!” I thought as I opened my arms to let Sunset know that I wanted her to come over to me. She did not hesitate at all. The next thing I knew this wonderful dog was putting her head in my lap and looking up at me with happy anticipation. I was so happy at this point that I was beginning to cry. I held it back as best as I could so that Heather could tell me all about Sunset before letting me go back to my room with her.

As soon as we were in the room with the door closed I sat on the floor crying and loving Sunset up for an hour. I was missing my previous guide dog that had died just three weeks before. Knowing that Sunset had willingly come to me ready to embrace a new life with me just made me the happiest person in the whole world. By the time I went on that first walk with Sunset I felt as though we had been together for years. I also found out really fast that Sunset was not big on getting wet.

One of the routes we did involved us starting our walk from the bus and working the dog to the lounge. It was raining as usual when we parked so I prepared as best as I could to get to the lounge without being overly wet in the process.

I was the second to last person to leave the bus. I kept going over the route in my mind so I would not forget where I needed to go. One of the instructors came to the bus after the first person had left to let us know that at this one corner there was a high curb, and we should be prepared for that. "Ok", I thought as I waited. Then the instructor came back a second time after person number two had left the bus to tell us that the dogs might angle to the right some because of the configuration of the street crossing. Again I was thinking, "Ok" as I waited. Finally, the instructor came back a third time to tell us that there was this pole at the up curb to watch out for. Once again, I filed this piece of information in my mind. Finally it was my turn.

I got off the bus, paused before picking up the handle, and then I gave the "forward" command to Sunset. At this point it had not been raining too badly but as we walked along it started raining harder and harder. I was smiling at the fact that it had stopped raining while I was on the bus but now here I was out walking and the skies were opening up and letting all the water out. In the part of California where I live, I don't see the amount of rain I was now experiencing as I walked down the street.

Finally I made it to the corner about which I had been told all those things. As Sunset stopped at the curb I praised her and reminded myself to be careful of the high curb. I told Sunset "forward" once I determined that it was ok to cross the street. As we started across I remembered that this was an odd crossing and that pole. Sunset suddenly stopped! I had no idea why. All I heard was rain.

Using skills I was taught I checked to make sure there was nothing I could run into. When I didn't find anything I told Sunset to "hop up", a command given to keep moving. She would not go. So I listened to see if there was a car. There was nothing. Finally, I decided that I would take a step forward to see if this would get Sunset moving. As soon as I took that step I landed knee deep in water.

"Oh gees! It is cold!" I yelled. At this point, I really started using my vision to figure out where I was in relation to the curb. This is not a good thing to do regularly, but I knew we were in the street and needed to get out of there and onto the sidewalk. I could not see the curb but knew it had to be out there somewhere. At this point I totally forgot about the pole we’d been told about. All I knew was I was soaked from the knees down. I just kept moving and in the mean time Sunset was not following. I finally found the curb and got onto the sidewalk. I turned around with the leash in my hand and was begging and pleading with Sunset to come to the curb. Sunset was thinking, “Absolutely no dice! I’m not wading through that mess!” She wanted nothing to do with that lake of water. She gave me this look of horror! As if to say, "are you crazy"? "I am not coming through that water for anything".

At this point I realized that someone was calling my name. I looked up while trying to get my dog on the sidewalk. Suddenly, I started laughing for no good reason I could think of. All at once several things happened. An instructor was running to get to us from a block away. Sunset finally decided to get onto the sidewalk. Her version of doing this was to jump from the street to the curb. Unfortunately for her she did not make it and landed chest-deep in the water. She was now soaking wet! I was now laughing even harder because I knew Sunset really wanted nothing to do with that lake in the street to start with. She finally came up on the curb to my left, which, by the way, ended up wrapping us both around that pole we were to avoid. By this time, however, I had totally forgotten about the pole again.

The instructor came up to me at this point to ask if he could help me get the rest of the way to the lounge. I was so beside myself with laughing that I could not even answer yes or no. Finally, I was calm enough to tell him that I was going to finish this route even if it killed me! We were so wet that all the towels they had did not make a dent in drying Sunset and I off once we got to the lounge.

To this day when I cuddle with Sunset I fondly remember this story. And every time it rains I have to laugh a little because I know that when it is time to relieve the dogs that I am going to have to take Sunset out in that rain.

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( 3 Paw Prints — Leave your Paw Print )
Nov. 15th, 2009 12:45 am (UTC)
Great story!
Yeah Mary Beth & Sunset! Great story! -Emily Simone
Nov. 15th, 2009 01:17 am (UTC)
LOL, great story !! Sunset sounds like a wonderful dog and you have a great sense of fun !!!
Nov. 15th, 2009 11:56 am (UTC)
First of all, I love the description of how you got your dog. Second of all, the rest of the story is very funny. Especially because I don't like getting wet at all.
( 3 Paw Prints — Leave your Paw Print )