What is it like to receive a guide dog?
Well, it is like nothing that has ever happened to me before. I arrived at Guide Dogs of America on a Sunday and moved into the dorms. Instantly I developed a close bond with my fellow classmates. Together we learned commands and procedures that had been taught to our future guide dogs.
After days of learning, careful selection by trainers, and pure wonder of what it would be like, it was time for me to meet my new guide dog partner! I had heard that there was a perfect match waiting for me, but the reality of this partnership was like nothing I had experienced aside from giving birth to my children. The trainers said to our class, “It is time for you to meet your dogs!” My heart jumped and I couldn’t wait! We returned to our individual rooms and patiently waited. I began to hear paws on the hallway floors, door knocks and doors opening. I could even feel the energy coming from the rooms next to mine as my new friends were meeting their new guiding eyes for the first time. My heart began to beat faster and faster as I heard paw steps coming close to my door. Then, the knock. I opened the door with great anticipation, and my trainer said, “Jill, meet Kirby.” The energy, the wiggles, the love all entered my room at once! My heart was racing and so was his. We said hello with kisses, hugs, and belly rubs that became a peaceful and calm security that had only been a dream!
Next, it was time to put to practice what I had learned. I picked up the harness, bent down, and Kirby stepped into his harness. Wow! Then I opened the door. It was happening! I said, “Kirby, forward!” It happened. Kirby moved forward and began guiding me through the halls and on to adventures that have changed my life.
These new eyes and this relationship restored my confidence and gave me back my independence! Thank you Kirby and thank you GDA for the perfect match for me. I am forever grateful.
Editor’s Note: This blog was written by recent graduate Jill Anderson of class #400. She will be continually keeping us up to date on her new journey with her guide Kirby, appropriately named team “Jirby.” Be sure to check back for more updates on team Jirby as the adventures continue on.