There are not enough words to describe the emotions racing through my body. They warned us in our binder we were required to read before we arrived that this would be an emotional experience and boy, they weren't joking! On numerous occasions throughout the day I have held back tears of joy, been so proud of Cam, felt so bad for those that were trying so hard to no avail, felt frustration in myself when I wasn't getting a command right (thus confusing the dog), happy to be a part of this experience.......I could go on and on, but I will save you the long, long list of my feelings. Overall as we were driving back after class and our first field trip we all agreed that this is the best experience of our lives to this point. I expected it to be fun and exciting, like getting a new puppy, but in reality it is so much more. I guess I could relate it to the feeling that someone experiences when going to meet a newly adopted child. All of this anticipation of what will it be like, what will the dog be like, will she fit in with us, how will my routine change.......comes to a head when you are paired with this amazing "working" animal that will forever be a part of your life and continue to forever change the life of your child. We have a lot of learning to do and by no stretch of the imagination are we using Victoria to her full potential, but just in learning the basics we have all been tremendously moved by this experience and can see a change in Cameron's behavior, outlook and view on his ability to do things. He remains very focused in class with clear goals in his mind, and anyone that knows Cam like we do, knows that nothing will stop him from getting what he wants out of this incredible opportunity. He has bonded with Victoria in a way that I cannot even put into words, when you see him with her you will understand. His smile is different, he is expressing his feelings differently, he looks to her and her to him like they were meant to be together and know what the other needs in that moment. Last night was the first night I can remember that Cam never once wanted to be on his computer or put his headphones on. He sat with us and joined in the conversation all night long, never more than 6" from Victoria. He even expressed feelings that I'm not sure have ever come out of his mouth before.......As we were watching the Olympics he very openly said "I mean I like watching the Olympics because they're cool, but I don't because it's all stuff that I can never do." Kevin and I sat silently looking at each other, unsure of whether to cry from sadness because it was heartbreaking to hear or cry from joy that he expressed it so bluntly or cry from pride that this experience has made him comfortable enough to just put it out there without a second thought. Even almost 24 hours later I'm still not sure what to do........I guess all of the above seems appropriate.
During class we sit through lectures and demonstrations on taking care of the dog, what's OK and what's not, new commands, daily routines and a lot of information. Following the lectures we are given time to practice as a group and individually. For the most part Cam and Victoria nail it every time! Today we took our first field trip to Meijer and they did great. We walked through the entire store and she never lost focus on her job and responded instantly to Cam's every command. Next week we move into advanced learning where we take the basic commands and expand on them to work in our world. Today we worked on get and give for retrieving items and next week we will take the basic command and use it for things that Cam will use such as getting his pencil off the floor if he drops it, getting his xbox controller from the couch (the important things) :)
As much as I'm looking forward to a day off, I am more excited to get back to class Monday morning!!
Tomorrow we have the day off and will spend the day relaxing with Victoria and maybe venturing out to the mall and dinner. We will keep you all up to date through pictures on facebook and can't wait for everyone to meet her.
Our new family :)