For some people it wouldn't be a big deal. They don't really understand, and, really how can I expect them to? For most people, walking into an unknown building and acting like you are capable and know where you are going isn't an act. You pull up, see that there stairs up, a door, more stairs and the counter you need is not only straight ahead, but to your right and facing a different direction. You wouldn't give it two thoughts, or two glances for that matter. You just go right up to the counter and hand in your job application and walk back out. For me, conquering an unknown building in order to hand in a job application is half the battle. If I have any dream of getting that job, I better appear to have everything under control. Part of that is getting to where I need to be without assistance or as little interference from the people around me as possible. Trying to explain how impressed and grateful I was for Nala today doesn't seem to quite hit the mark. However, for me, her work today is the exact reason why I call her my "super star" or my "little worker bee.
The whole exchange probably took under seven minutes from leaving my mom's SUV to our return, but it was a crucial seven minutes. I had no idea where I was going. Neither Nala nor I had ever been to the building before. So, she had no idea where she was going either.
"Is the counter right inside?" I asked Mom as I harnessed Nala up. She confirmed my suspicions. There really wasn't much more time to convey anymore of the layout of the building. We were already trotting up the sidewalk to the front of the building. Plus, I'm sure Mom really didn't know what exactly it looked like inside either. I could hear us nearing the building, my footsteps echoing back to me from the nearing walls.
"Find the door." I told Nala, repeating the cue a few times before she stopped dead. I know her well enough now and stuck my foot out only to have it hit the bottom of some cement stairs.
"Good. Forward." I told her. She enthusiastically moved up the stairs and stopped dead again. She had found the doors.
What amazed me about this whole exchange was that I told her to find a door which she did, but she knew to find and stop at the stairs first. She didn't just plough up them to the object I had asked her to find initially.
We went through our first set of doors and she paused at another. Mom verbally warned me that there were more stairs as I pushed through the doors, but I don't think I would have needed the notification. Nala was all over it. No sooner had we stepped through the doors and she had stopped again; more stairs up. Another "forward" from me and we were moving up them. As my foot hit the second step I heard a woman greet another. I knew I was there to find the reception desk and assumed that I needed to go where the voices were.
"Right." I told Nala as we hit the top of the stairs. Originally, I had thought the counter was straight ahead, but the voices told me differently.
She swung right.
"straight on, find the counter." I told her, not realising that the counter would end up parallel to us instead of straight in front. The conversation stopped and I berated them in my head. If they had kept talking, locating the desk would have been a cake walk. Now that they had stopped, I'd have to figure out where it was by myself. Then again, I wasn't by myself. Not knowing exactly which direction the desk was facing I asked Nala to find the counter again. She side stepped, gracefully moving me perfectly in front of the desk. Thankfully at that point one of the women piped up that Nala was beautiful and that gave me the cue that I needed.
"Good girl." I told Nala. She had done what I had asked, despite the counter being on a strange angle. The woman's voice was all I needed to confirm my location. I felt a lot of tension leave my body. We had made it.
I handed in the application package, had a few short words about how Nala was great and that she shed a lot. Then, I stepped back and told Nala "right." She went without hesitation.
"Find the stairs." I chimed as she trotted forward.
Dead stop and I knew we were there. Praise, move down stairs and we were through the doors. I don't think I breathed completely until we were outside and down the sidewalk. Nala's exit had been as flawless as her entry. This is even more impressive. Sometimes when you ask a guide dog to retrace its steps, the dog becomes confused and it takes some coaxing to get them going. She never once faltered. She just did her job, doing what I asked. Regardless of how short the trip was, it makes you feel like you and your beasty can take on the world.
and, maybe just maybe you'll get that job too.