Finally, after only talking about it for ages and ages, I’ve gotten Hilda onto an escalator. My intention was to do it before we went on our trip to Austin for the AccessU conference/seminars, and time started getting short. Amazing how that happens.
Well, we had an adventure even getting there. Missed the first bus we tried to catch, so went to another corner to catch a different bus. This particular corner, it turns out, is kind of icky. It’s all flat, for one, with little to no definition between the sidewalk and the street. It’s also like a five or so way intersection.
So the bus comes, and for some reason, I can’t tell exactly where it is. In part because the engine’s in the back, in part because the street is quite noisy, in part because, I don’t know, because. So we find…something…which I believe is sitting in the middle of the sidewalk, but I had no clue what it was. Next thing I know, there are people coming up and asking if I need help crossing the street. No, I just need to catch this bus. Thought I heard one, where is it? It’s behind me? What the actual hell? Yeah, I think what I found before was the bike rack on the front of the bus. How totally embarrassing. So this person waves the bus to stop, because he’s fixing to leave, and walks me around the front of the bus to get on. I get on and then hear someone calling me. “Hey Buddy! Where you going?!” It’s Sharon, Hilda’s breeder, who just happened by. And she’s going my way and offers us a lift.
We got to the mall, and Hilda zooms up to the door. When we got in, we had to rework racks of clothes that she kept walking me into because this is all so new and exciting. Eventually, I hear an escalator and go that way. We heel on, we heel off, we go back down, and it all goes very well.
“Sir, are you OK?” asks the lady who I assume works there.
“Umm. Yeah, I’m OK.”
“Because the security guard doesn’t want you riding the escalator with your dog. You should really be taking the elevator.”
“Oh really?! Why?”
“He doesn’t want your dog’spaws to get caught in the escalator.”
So I assure her it’s going to be fine, and anyway, better that I teach her on these escalators than on the escalator at the airport between flights. Funny thing, I never heard from that security guard directly, and anyway, I wasn’t doing anything wrong, so we went up and down a couple more times.
Hilda was reluctant to approach the escalator after we got off the first round. She whined a little, too. The important thing, howeger, is that she did it anyway, even though she was clearly a little afraid of the thing, and definitely nervous about it.
And here’s the thing, and it’s a thing you never hear about at guide dog school. You always hear “Follow your dog”, “Trust your dog”, and things like that. Absolutely, all very important. You never hear anything about your dog trusting you, which is just as important.
It hit me like a ton of bricks though. Here’s Hilda, who is definitely afraid of this new thing she hasn’t seen before. It moves. It probably feels funny under her feet. She doesn’t like it. She even whined a little while riding it. But she swallowed her fear and did it anyway. That, dear friends and others, is trust. And it’s really pretty amazing.
The rest of the trip was pretty anticlimactic. Just a lot of walking around the mall, and a hamburger, then a walk home after a bus ride.
This trip to Austin, with her first airplane flight and a long day of traveling, is going to be interesting.