We were greeted by an army of employees (empleos) with a command of English sufficient enough to take food orders and tell the amount owed on your check. So when confronted with a situation which they didn't know how to deal with and couldn't therefore find an English phrase to combat it, they just kept saying "No, No, No" over and over again referring to Velvet enterring the premises. I told them that they had to allow me, but for some reason I wasn't in Spanish mode, so we tried to tell them about the laws, but they basically said that I couldn't come in, that they were sorry. I told them that that was fine, but that I'd be calling the police to sort it out. I've never had to deal with something like this, and I really didn't want to cause a scene, but I (a) really wanted to eat there and (b) wanted to educate them on how to deal with people with a dog guide. The manager came outside a bit after I called the police--who said they would be there in a minute--and it was obvious that she'd called either the owner or her boss. I switched to full Spanish mode at that point, and told her that I'd called the police, She told me that she needed to talk to her boss, but that we could come in now, that she really didn't know what to do. By this time, a few people had gathered and were watching.
By the time the police came, we had it all organized that I was welcome there. They really didn't want me going outside to talk to the police when they actually came, but I just wanted to tell them that everything was ok. They told me that they couldn't force the restaurant to accept or let in myself and Velvet, but that I could sue them if I wanted to. I'm not sure about this, but The Seeing Eye is working on seeing what the actual law states here in Arkansas. I'm just glad that they let me in, and that I was able to communicate, if only in a rudimentary way, how it all worked. I was kind of frazzled at the time, so looking back on the whole deal, I wished I'd explained dog guides, the harness, etc.
When we got in there, we got amazing service, and had cheese dip at the table when we sat down, something that they usually don't do for free. We both had chimichangas, and I was fully prepared to pay for it, but when we got up to pay, the lady who dealt with the register said "El habla espanol" to my Mom which meant "He speaks Spanish." So in Spanish, she told me that she had no idea that Velvet was working. She kept saying that she was really sorry, but she'd never come across this before. Whe she told me that I didn't need to pay, for my trouble, I asked her if she was sure, and she said yes. So--yay for me, and her--we got a free lunch, and the people at that particular restaurant.
I really don't like to create scenes when I'm disallowed access or not given adequate accomodation, but I didn't want ot just roll over and go to a new place. If I'd done that, they wouldn't have learned, and other service animals might have the same problem. We are given these access cards to carry with us, that we're supposed to carry at all times, but for some reason (probably because I'd never encountered this situation before), I didn't have one. I didn't have the card in Spanish, so it probably wouldn't have helped, but still ... I'm working on getting a Spanish version of the card, and if I get one, I'm taking that puppy wherever I go, especially when I go to a Mexican restaurant.
Velvet's done really good work here in the building. She's now pretty patterned to going through the cafeteria completely rather than going into the serving line. On the way to the office, I had a clearance issue with a row of desks that was in the hall, but we reworked it a couple of times, and she finally avoided it well.
In the room, Velvet has a tennis ball of her own that she's been playing with. I let her off the leash here in the room for the first time to run a bit and be supervised by my Mom, and she continues to be fascinated by the tennis balls put on the bottom of the chair legs to dampen scraping noises on the concrete floor. Those balls haven't dampened her spirit enough to keep trying to wrench a ball off of one of the chairs, but having all of these balls around does confuse her a bit when she plays with her ball and she loses it. She just has a lot of balls to choose from, and it's hilarious to watch her try to find tge ball that isn't mysteriously stationary. When we come into my Mom's room, she always wants to try to go into the first door we come to from the front door. I found out today that that door leads to the inschool suspension room. I don't know what Velvet's trying to tell me, but there's got to be a veiled message in there somewhere that I can infer right? Silly puppy!
My security clearance paperwork is finally done. I spent most of yesterday finishing all of the form fields and going back and forth with the security person at DSCR (Defense Supply Center Richmond), and we believe that now, it's correct. My errors weren't huge, but I was mismatching some dates, and that would have caused problems with the screening process, especially with my eployments running for example from 2007 to 2005 when I really should have entered the dates from 2005 to 2007. So now my life can continue, or not, since I'll be just waiting to hear back from DLA to determine when the clearance has completed. At least I'm not trying to get a secret or a top secret clearance--those can take up to 3 years to complete. So, at most, I'll be waiting for six months. This seems like a long time, but I think I can handle it. If I can make sure to find places to work Velvet, I'll be ok that is, because working on the road where I live is, at this point, still not possible.
Church on Sunday went well. I have most of the people there trained to not pet the new dog, but people were definitely curious about her. All of this adjustment process is education not only for handler and dog, but it's an education process for the public as well. I just look at these things as a few more fun challenges.
As promised, a brief recounting of my last two days of training. We had four trips to end out the training. On Tuesday, we did a country trip in the morning, and part of the infamous high school route in the afternoon. I swore that I wouldn't do any of that route, not because it's a particularly hard route, but mostly because it's long and has a few slight hills. We both did well on both trips however, and I didn't perish on the afternoon trip, so that was a good thing.
Wednesday was a really busy day for me, mostly because I had to not only finish packing, but fit in two trips as well. In the morning, we went on a really long (about two miles) route in a residential district in a neighboring town. In the afternoon, we were tasked to solo a trip, given a few directions, to an ice cream store in town. The afternoon trip was slightly difficult, mostly because Velvet has some problems finding a cub cut due to a mistake that I made, and also because of a few traffic issues, but otherwise we did great and the ice cream was good too.
As we know now, I did get packed and we made it to the airport in time for me to catch my flight. Velvet hadn't used the bathroom--number two style--in about thirty six hours, and because I didn't need to deal with accidents on the plane, we took her outside and gave her an opportunity to go to the bathroom. Sometimes, when plagued with a time constraint and a doggy who doesn't want to go, we have to help them out. So Jim went in search of a match to help the process along. In this day of lighters, it took us asking several people before we found a suitable match. You don't light the match to "move things along", that would be painful for the dog, but you do--how do I say this delicately?--stick it "up there". You don't want to do this very often, but in situations like the one I was in, I was glad that we "matched" her. Two minutes after docking to stardock 2 Velvet, out came the match and the prize, the Holy Grale, we were seeking. The guy who gave us the match watched us and smiled, especially when we explained why we needed the match to him.
And that ended this experience at The Seeing Eye. It was a good one and I learned a lot, but mine and Velvet's training is far from over. The Seeing Eye is only a phone call or a visit away, and I'm grateful for that. It's especially been neat to be able to write about this experience in such detail. I'm looking forward to reading about it later when the memory has faded from the technicolor that it is now to vague hints of color. Things will always stick out to me--I'll always remember every dog I work with--but I'm glad I've actually kept the promise to myself to journal my activities this time.