One year ago today, I was preparing for another ordinary day of school, and doing my usual check of my e-mails to make sure that I received all of the assignments my teachers send me for my morning classes. But in the process of checking my e-mails, it would become clear that for me, this would not be just another ordinary day.
     A few weeks earlier, I had asked my vision teacher if she had heard back from the guide dog school, and if the dog trainer could at least reveal the names of dogs they had in mind for me. When I am extremely excited about a new addition to the family, be it a new baby cousin (I got to experience the excited anticipation of a baby cousin four times), or in this case, a guide dog, there is something wonderful about simply hearing the name of the baby or the dog, and just saying their name allows me to bond with them before I even meet them. My vision teacher said she had not heard back from the trainer about a dog for me, and pointed out with an understanding smile in her tone of voice that the dog trainer might not want to give me a name until he was sure the dog would work out so I wouldn’t start getting attached to the dog, and then be devastated if that dog didn’t work out. I had a bad case of dog fever (smile).

     Back in February, I would visit the school’s website, where they posted brief profiles of all of the puppies in the program, but I had not allowed myself to visit the wevsite too often because I quickly discovered that reading about puppies would only make my case of dog fever worse (smile). Besides, when I first visited the website, there was only one dog in training; the other dogs were still living with puppy raisers. Therefore, I was trying to mentally prepare myself for the strong possibility that there may not be a suitable dog for me, and I may have to begin college with a cane. So as you can imagine, I could barely contain my joy, when one year ago today, I received an e-mail from the guide dog school, saying that they think they found the perfect dog for me, and his name was Gilbert!
     Of course, the next line of the e-mail said that I shouldn’t get too excited because there was still a chance he might not work out for me. The trainer thought Gilbert was absolutely perfect for my personality because he was extremely mellow for a puppy, and he walked slow, but he still had to complete traffic training. Many dogs who do wonderfully through most of the formal guide dog training cannot handle the pressure of traffic, and thus are unable to become guide dogs. But by the time I reached this line of caution, I was already so far gone with excitement that I completely disregarded this line, and I remember shouting to my parents, “my guide dog’s name is going to be Gilbert!” My dad immediately went on to the website, and pulled up Gilbert’s profile, which also included a picture of him. He was a yellow lab, and my mom told me he was adorable! That day at school, I found myself opening up this e-mail whenever there was downtime in class, wanting to relive this wonderful news, and I told all my favorite teachers about it. I found myself whispering his name to myself every time I had moments alone, and thinking “what an awesome name for a dog!”
     Four days later, I would get to meet Gilbert, and walk with him at a fundraiser, and I knew that after this, I would be hopelessly in love with him (smile). Though a small part of me feared Gilbert wouldn’t work out, somehow, I just knew he would.


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