Sunday, August 12, 2012

Diesel: The Dog Who Continues My Independence

A year ago today, I flew home with Diesel, my new and very energetic second guide dog. At that time Diesel and I were still trying to figure each other out. One thing I knew for certain was that life with Diesel was not going to be dull. And I have been right about that.

Diesel was only eighteen months when I received him from Pilot Dogs. When he was first given to me, he was very difficult to handle. He did not know who I was and as a result acted like a wild animal. Thankfully, a lot of his out of control behavior diminished some after a few days of being together.

Once we got home last summer, we immediately had to begin working on my college campus. A new dog and a difficult path to a class meant that I had a difficult and interesting few weeks.

The biggest challenge however, was not the new school year, but adjusting to Diesel. He is so different than my first guide dog. Bristol was so calm. Diesel has a lot more energy and has a tendency to get over-excited. But with time, some of that over exuberant behavior has calmed down.

A year later I am beginning to enjoy working with him. The bond was slow to come this time. I know that part of that stems from losing Bristol so suddenly. I didn’t have time to grieve before I had to begin training with Diesel. My heart was not in it at first.

In fact, I questioned last summer whether I was ready for another dog. But I knew that without a dog, my life would be more difficult. A guide dog gives me so much more freedom than a cane does. My friend Jill has helped me to understand that I have to think of the positive aspects. Yes, I will inevitably have to go through another devastating loss. I hope that that is years from now. The reward of having a guide dog is stronger than the painful loss though. I know that throughout my life, I will have many dogs to keep my life interesting and fun.

So how has Diesel changed in the last year? As I’ve already said, he is calmer. When I first came home with him, I couldn’t touch him without him going crazy with excitement. Today I am able to sit down beside him and pet him without being jumped on. He has also become more loving. At first his excitement level prevented much affection between us. Now I can reach down and hug him.

One thing that has not changed, and I’m glad it hasn’t, is his fun personality. Ever heard of the class clown? That is Diesel wherever he goes!

The last year with Diesel has certainly been a fun one. We both have changed in so many ways. I hope to have many more anniversaries with Diesel on August twelfth.

1 comment: