April 26th, 2008

Fiona and me in the snow

Morristown, arrived!

I'm really tired, and need to unpack, so this won't be long, but I have arrived in Morristown, NJ to start on my new adventure of getting my new dog. It wasn't easy leaving Fiona there this morning, knowing that she wouldn't be being my guide dog, and it definitelyu wasn't easy putting her harness into my bag so that I could return it back to the guys here at the school. It's not necessary to return it, meaning, it's not required, but I think that it's best that I give it back to them. I don't see a real advantage in keeping harnesses from my previous dogs. I think that what will help me most in moving on is doing this, plus I'm a big proponent of recycling, and they recycle parts of the old harnesses to be used by others. I'm sure that Fiona won't mind--I hope she doesn't :(.

We left the house at 5:30, and were at the airport at 6:00. The flight left at 7:10, and I arrived at Newark at around aa:00. I had a bit of a problem finding the guy that was supposed to pick me up, so I had to call them to make sure that they knew where I was in that huge behemoth that is Liberty International.

I met up with the limousine service's driver, Eduardo (Ed for short) and all went well until I tried to connect up my seat belt. For some odd reason, the housing on the outside of the buckle didn't exist. Being an engineer, I decided I would try to make it work, so I fitted the buckle into the metal fastener. I didn't realize that along with the buckle housing must exist a button to undo said fastener, but alas, the damage was done. So before we left the parking lot, I mentioned to Ed that there might be a problem with the buckle. We couldn't get it unfastened, so I had to extend it to its fullest, and basically extricate myself from it by pulling it over my head and slithering out. Needless to say, Ed moved me to the front, and being that I'm writing here, we made it ok. No Jaws of Life were needed.

My instructor's name is Jim. He seems to be a nice guy, and definitely willing to listen to my concerns about getting a new dog. I found out today that before being a Seeing Eye instructor, he was in banking. Turns out that he decided to move from the banking sector and into dog training because he was about a block away from the World Trade Center when the first plane hit. He had just travelled through the station at the WTC ten minutes before. I think he made a wise choice, even though I haven't worked with him one on one very much.

The first step in matching a person to a new dog is the Juneau Walk. Basically you walk with the instructor whose acting as if they are the dog by holding onto the harness. They test your likes and dislikes as to how fast you want to walk, how hard you want the dog to pull on the harness, etc. Through a series of these, the instructor can go through his catalog of dogs that he's trained, and find your "perfect" dog. Dogs and humans are not perfect, and that's why I'm here--to figure out what I'm doing wrong, what the dog is doing wrong, and how I can fix all of these things.

I went on my first Juneau walk today, and Jim seems to think that he's understanding more of what I might need in a dog. Tonight, we'll have dinner and lectures, and then I'm most likely going to go to bed, seeing as I haven't made this entry a short one.

My classmates seem to be pretty nice. There's Ray, a guy whose now going for his fifth dog, Matt (a first timer), myself, and a lady named Linda, who I don't know much at all. Most everyone I've met so far is from this area (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, etc., but I'm sure I'll get to know more people as they are still coming in. Everyone continues to wonder how I actually do chemical engineering, and that's good because maybe I can convince others to do it as well.

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Dinner's almost here, and sadly, I'm not hugely hungry. I just ate lunch at like 1, and I ate a lot there. Either I'm going to have to respect my stomach and eat until I feel like stopping, or I might need a wheelchair by the time my two and a half weeks ago. It was nice to be greeted with a tuna sandwich, vegetable soup, chips, a freakin huge pickle, and a frigorifically large ice cream sandwich straight after I got there. It was also a nice touch for my arrival to be heralded by my instructor to the people who were already there.

Well, I take that back about not being hungry, writing about this food makes me want more. This is not a good thing, not good at all.

More when I have it.