Good morning campbellsworld visitors, and readers everywhere.
I’d like to share one of my favorite chapters from my first book, Campbell’s Rambles: How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life.
To all of you out there considering going to get a Guide Dog of your own, let this chapter serve as a lesson in what not, to do during training. 😊
Make sure you read all the way to the end for information on where to find the book, as well as a whole lot more about Campbell and me.
Thanks in advance for reading, liking, commenting, and sharing if you do.
Learning the Hard Way
On Friday of that horrible week, we all got together upstairs in the common lounge after lecture. There was one student playing the guitar and another playing the piano, and some of us were singing. I had bought a six-pack of beer, and another student had brought some wine from home. It was homemade wine, and so even though I’d already had two beers, I decided I’d try the wine. I felt okay, not even the least bit tipsy. I had gotten up to get both beers, so I felt okay to drink some wine.
Well, when we went to pour it, we realized that we had only tumbler-sized plastic glasses, the kind that soda would go in at a picnic. But that didn’t stop us; no way! We were celebrating getting through one of the hardest weeks we would face, and we were all hyper and happy. I, for one, was not thinking about later on, about what consequences there might be as a result of my decision to drink wine out of a glass meant for soda, one that probably held something like 12 or 16 ounces.
Well, the wine was so very good that I decided that if one glass was good, another had to be better. Drew and other instructors had been coming and going, in and out of the lounge all evening. Drew finally stopped by my table.
“I believe you’ve had about enough, young lady.”
I looked up at him and laughed. “Aw, come on! I’m okay to operate my canine!”
He stood quietly for a minute, and then said, “Okay, let’s see you walk.”
I laughed again. “I don’t know who ya think you’re talkin’ to, Yankee. I can drink with the best of ‘em.” I was, however, starting to feel a little lightheaded and just a little too warm. I stood up and leaned over to reach for Campbell’s harness. As I did, I just kept going. I went right on over, ass over tea kettle.
Drew laughed; I’m sure he couldn’t help it. He reached down to help me up. “So, you can drink with the best of them, huh? Looks like you can fall with the best of them, too.”
I sat there for a minute. Then, very determinedly, I said, “Well, wait a minute. Let me get my balance. I can do this.” I tried to get my feet under me, but the shoes I had on were the kind that you were supposed to exercise in; they had rocker bottoms on them. Drew had helped me pick them out a couple of days before. Buying those shoes had been one of the worst mistakes of my life, but I had refused to admit it, because I was embarrassed. I still denied it even when Sue had teased me about them, saying, “So when I see you lying on your bed with your feet propped on the headboard, it’s not because those shoes are killing you?”
In the meantime, I couldn’t manage to get and stay on my feet. Drew finally laughed so hard he sounded as though he might cry.
“Come on, redneck, time for you to get to bed.”
He helped me up and led me down the hall, telling me to heel my dog. He was still laughing when we got to the elevator. He had decided there was no way he was taking me down two flights of stairs. At that time, the elevator was one that looked as though it been around since World War Two. It was pretty small, and it had one of those metal gates that close in front of you, so Drew, Campbell, and I couldn’t all fit in there.
Drew put Campbell and me inside and closed us up. He told me he’d meet me downstairs. He started the elevator and sent us on our way, then ran down the stairs to meet us. On his way down, though, he ran into someone and started talking to them. In the meantime, the elevator had come to the first floor and stopped, but I had no idea how to get out. I was starting to not feel so hot, and I could hear Drew and the person he’d run into out there talking.
I knocked on the wall beside me. “Hello? I want out!”
Drew called to me. “Hmm? I have you right where I want you now, ha, ha!” He laughed an evil-sounding laugh.
I knocked again. I was starting to really feel the effects of the alcohol, and I wanted to go to my room. “Please? Let me out!” I was sweating and starting to feel more than a little upset.
Drew came quickly and opened the door. “It’s okay,” he said gently. “I’m just messin’ with you. Here, take my arm.”
He continued to keep his voice low and calm and gently placed my right hand in the crook of his elbow. He led me and Campbell out of the elevator and down to our room. We passed his room and went on down the hall to mine. At the door, he asked me if I was okay.
Feeling a bit out of sorts, I said, “I think so….”
He opened the door, and Campbell and I stepped through.
“Goodnight,” I said, turning away from him. I was crying, and I didn’t know why. I felt emotionally disoriented.
He laid a gentle hand on my arm. “Get some sleep. Early day tomorrow, and you, young lady, have had just a little too much to drink.”
I smiled a bit and wiped my eyes. Turning toward him, I said, “What was your first clue?” He gave me a gentle push on into the room.
“Goodnight. See you in the morning. Don’t make me come get you,” he teased, shutting the door as he walked away.
When I woke, I had one of the most horrible hangovers I’ve ever had. Between the beer and wine, plus my nighttime medication and the pizza I’d eaten, I could barely stand the smell of Campbell’s food when I gave him his breakfast.
The next problem was getting him out to park time and then getting myself able to go to breakfast. I could not imagine eating; that just seemed like a very bad idea, and as I thought about it, I suddenly felt very sick. Campbell was eating, and I stepped into the bathroom to see if I could just wash my face a little and catch my breath.
I finally got myself together, and then I heard them paging me. I was late getting Campbell outside, and I knew I’d better step it up if I didn’t want to be in trouble. I finally made my way down to the park area.
As I stepped outside, Drew called to me. “Hey, how ya doing this morning?”
I put my hand up and said, “Shhh! Not so loud, please!”
He laughed, and so did the rest of the instructors standing beside him. One of the others called to me. “Rough night?”
I just smiled and said, “Don’t wanna talk about it.”
Everyone around me laughed, and I simply went on with what I was doing, hoping I could get done and back to my room without passing out or throwing up right there in the middle of all those dogs doing their business. Finally, Campbell was done, and I realized I was going to have to pick up after him. Now, I pride myself on the fact that nothing much at all bothers my stomach. But that’s under normal circumstances, and there was not one thing normal about how I was feeling on this morning of hangover horrors.
I held my breath, put the bag on my hand, and leaned over to pick up Campbell’s leavings. To this day, I do not know how on earth I managed to keep from being sick. Before that day, I had never had anything bother me as much as picking up after Campbell did. I held my breath as I picked it up, thanking all the gods and goddesses in the universe and beyond for plastic baggies. Somehow, I managed to get it picked up and bagged and in the trash—or the “honey pot,” as we lovingly called it—and then got back inside and up to my room.
Drew found me there lying in bed, hidden under the covers. He knocked on the door, and I softly said, “Come in.”
He opened the door just a little and asked me if I was okay. I peeked my head out from under the covers and told him I thought I’d have to rest and get better before I could die.
He laughed. “Twenty minutes till breakfast!”
I sat up, “Breakfast? Sir, you don’t really think I’m going to eat, do you?”
He was not laughing when he said, “You’d best try, young lady! You’re scheduled to go out on First Trip this morning.”
Now I was horrified. “First Trip?” I sat there curled up in the middle of my bed, holding onto my covers. “First Trip?” I repeated.
“Yes, young lady, First Trip, and don’t be late!”
“Sir…?” I called after him, but he shut the door and walked away, once again whistling that annoying little whistle. I don’t think he even knows he does that, but I cannot be the only one who notices or hates it.
As the sound of his whistling went away down the hall, I leaned over the side of the bed, picked up one of my shoes, and threw it at the door after him. “Damn stupid Yankee! Breakfast and First Trip? Seriously?”
I lay back down and pulled the covers back over my head, trying to will myself well. I have to laugh now when I think back to that morning. I really did feel awful, but I did end up getting up and going to breakfast, and I did end up going out on First Trip. I never have been sure of how I got through that morning, but I can sure tell you how glad I was to know that my normally kind and caring instructor, who had suddenly turned into a mean, unfeeling, horrible monster, would be getting off duty at 12:00 and going away.
He cut me no slack that entire morning, and the one and only time I complained about it, all he had to say was, “You will either learn to be more careful about when and how much you drink, or you’ll pay the consequences for your irresponsibility. Now back to it, young lady.” And that was that. That’s just how he did things. You could play and kid around with him, but training was training, and you either had your shit together or you didn’t make it in his world.