Few months ago I applied for a guide dog for Sebastian at Dog Guides Canada. they processed our application very promptly, and last Wednesday we had a visit from Melba the dog and two lovely ladies who came to interview me and see Sebastian and see if our dwellings are suitable for a dog.
We sat in the yard and chatted for over an hour. I was telling our story again. I do not like our story. When I say it I have the same feeling when you gossip about someone, and say some harsh words about them that maybe even truth and well set in reality but unkind. There is that uneasy feeling inside trying to stop me from saying critical remarks. I usually silence it by thinking to myself that it is the truth, I am not making it up. Yet I always feel bad when I finish my unkind comments. When I tell our story about what happened to us I similar wave washes over me. I do not want to think about it or remember the pain and despair we were going through for so long. I want to change it. I want to change our story. But how can I change something that already happen? I can think of only one way; by adding the happy ending. Don't you think so? Even the worst story when it has the happy end ends up being a good and uplifting one. So that is what I am working on. Wish me luck.
During our meeting I have learned a lot about the guide dogs program, and I will admit that incorporating the dog to a family is a big commitment. Since our family is so small it would be a big change and adjustment for us. I was never involved in training dogs, and all I know about it is from watching "The Dog Whisperer" show. I adore Cesar. So I have a lot to learn. But I believe the effort is very much worth it. And I truly believe that ti would be great for Sebastian.
We were talking about all the details of the process of getting the dog, and then there was mention that if we qualified we would be then put on waiting list that is now about three years long. Sebastian is seven now. So he would be getting his dog when he is ten. "..but autistic children are used to long waiting lists..." our interviewer said. She talks to many families of autistic children, and that is what she was hearing from them. Autistic children are used to waiting lists. Well autistic children do not even know that they are on waiting lists. And yet they are waiting. Patiently. For the rest of us to acknowledge they they are important enough to receive services that they need. But they do not have the power. They often do not even have words like my son. Their exhausted and stressed parents often do not have the resources or strength or time to fight for them. I want to change and stop telling that sad and sorry story too.
During our conversation about guide dogs, we have learned about something that will gave us little more hope. Guide dogs are super dogs. They have to behave perfectly in every situation. They have to be fearless and show self restrain in all circumstances. They have to resist temptations of chasing squirrels of sniffing other dogs in public places. They have to be calm. Not all the dogs can do this. Some of them in spite of training stick to their doggy behaviours and have so called "flaws" and can not pass the dog guide standards. And those dogs are still very good dogs and are available as "companion dogs". And the waiting list is not that long for them. But they do not have the status or privileges of guide dog. That means they are not allowed in all public places dog guides are. I am thinking now may be something can be done about it. May be those dogs can be given some special passes that would help them accompany the children in more places. But regardless, I think it is quite good option for many families. Dogs are excellent, and well trained, and child receives all the benefits of the love only dog can give.