I'm starting something a smidge intimidating tomorrow. I'm going to be in a wheelchair for most of two weeks, bonding and training with a service dog. There will also be some real clients there getting training with their new dogs, so that won't be awkward at all. "Hey this pretending to be handicapped during the day, except for when I have to go to the bathroom, this is hard!"
I'm looking forward to it, though. It's supposed to be very eye-opening, and I'm glad to finally get some training with the dogs, after 2.5 years of hanging around the joint! So, during the days this week, we'll have classwork- some lectures, lots of practice. Then, starting Saturday, the dreaded field trips. Going on a bus, to the movies, out to eat, to the mall, etc. There is a final exam in the mall, which I've been a spy/judge for before. No pressure.
Starting Wednesday, I'll be bringing a dog home with me, and I'm supposed to be the only one to feed, look at, touch the dog, etc. That's for creating that intense bond and starting life as a team. I'm not sure how much I'll be expected to do that. I'm supposed to be tied to the dog 24/7, minus showers. We'll see.
We'll see how Tootsie reacts to a big dog in her house, and how hard it will be for me to bond with a dog and then let it not actually be mine. But I can always see him/her at work. If I get paired with my favorite dog, though, there's going to be a showdown about giving her back, I tell you.
Why are non-handicapped people paired with dogs and going through this training? It's so that both our students and the dogs can get as much practice with this as possible. I'm probably going to have 2 of the seminar students (they're learning how to train the service dogs and start their own organization) as my teaching team during the two weeks. And it's a learning experience- to get a tiny taste of what life in a chair is like, how people see you. Joy(?).
Hopefully, I'll get some pictures to put up. I'll let you know how it goes.