GEORGIA ON MY MIND

It was New Year’s Eve, and my friend and I decided to head to a cafe downtown for a mid-afternoon pick me up, or as I like to call it, ‘My Favorite Part of the Day’. We’ll save my coffee addiction/obsession/infatuation for a later post.

“Did you ever hear back from them?” he asked as we drove down the highway. I disappointingly answered no and figured I’d try again after the holiday. After all, people’s lives get super carried away at this time of year, so I understood why I hadn’t heard back- it just wasn’t helping with my impatience and obvious anticipation. Yet, little did I know that as I spoke those words, my phone was ringing in his pocket with the call I was ever so anxiously awaiting.


 

When Fred passed away in the summer of 2014, I swore I would never get another service dog. That’s right, never. The pain of losing my best friend was just too unbearable, and with my heart in a trillion pieces, there was no way I would ever go through this again. Fred held a special place in my heart that no one had ever held before, and I wasn’t about to go replace him with another service dog that might not live up to my expectations the way Fred did. However, in the days following his passing, I felt as though something was missing. I missed having a companion. I missed how safe and comfortable I felt with him around. I missed everything about having a service dog, and I knew I had to move on.

A few weeks after his passing, my parents went away for the night to celebrate their anniversary. With my brother and his fiancé asleep in the other room and my nurse getting my 8 bajillion medications (okay maybe that was a slight exaggeration) and other things ready for my nightly routine, I found myself laying on the couch and toying with the idea of another service dog. “Maybe I’ll just briefly look into the application process,” I thought as I perused the Canine Assistants website. This was where I had gotten Fred, and with much impulsivity, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to just send in my application.

So, there I was, filling out a 10-page application and growing more and more excited with each question I answered. (Fun fact: I am one cool dog mom and was determined to make that very clear in my application.) Once I finished, which was well past my old lady bedtime, I decided it’d be in my best interest to just keep this whole process to myself in case I wouldn’t be accepted into the program for another 5 years. Five years may seem like a bit of an exaggeration, but the waiting list at Canine Assistants is anywhere between 1-6 years, depending on the severity of your needs. It’s also probably because this organization is incredibly great at knowing how to bring a lifetime supply of happiness into people’s lives.

Putting the waiting list aside, we had just gotten an eight week old puppy, Vince, and I’m pretty sure the last thing my parents wanted to hear was, “Oh hey you guys. I know you’re not getting any sleep with a newborn puppy in the house, so I figured I’d throw another dog into the mix to add to the chaos of which I call our lives. Why the heck not, right?” So, with the exception of my nurse and friend who took me to the post office to send it off, I decided to keep the entire application process under wraps for my own safety.

About a month or so later, I received an email from the organization saying I was ready for the second round of the application process. This included personality questionnaires to be filled out by my peers and a series of videos in which I had to answer a list of questions and give a tour of my home and its surroundings. So, in other words, there was absolutely no way I’d be keeping this a secret for much longer. What’s that you say, mom? Why am I casually going through the house and filming a virtual tour with my iPhone like I’m on MTV Cribs? There really was no way around this one.

golden retriever
Vince- part-time model, full-time heartbreaker

So, there I was with my parents at dinner one night when I finally explained everything. Even the part where I went to my doctors and requested a doctor’s form while successfully avoiding any germs as though it was the bubonic plague. Instead of getting the reaction along the lines of “Um, TWO dogs?! “, I remember my father saying, “I told you to apply.” This was not the response I was anticipating; however, it was much better than expected. In Fred’s final days, even months, he suggested several times that I apply to Canine Assistants. To him, this meant being proactive, but to me, it meant betraying Fred, and I would never do it. As it turns out, my father (and my mother) knows me better than I know myself and was incredibly happy that I went forth with the application. Vince was turning into a scholarly teen that had many furry friends, my life post-Fred was getting back to normal, and I was eager to begin new adventures with a new canine. But, in an attempt to not let myself get too excited, I double- and triple-reminded myself that this wouldn’t be happening for a few more years.

Fast-forward a few months later to New Year’s Eve, and I’m sitting in this cafe going to check my phone. There was one new voicemail from a number I didn’t recognize, but then I looked at the location listed underneath: Alpharetta, Georgia. “OH MY GOD THIS IS IT. THIS IS THE PHONE CALL I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR. AM I TOO EXCITED RIGHT NOW? IS THIS WHY PEOPLE ARE STARING? DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT’S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW?!” My excitement was essentially equivalent to those commercials where children find out they’re going to Disney World for the first time: loud, giddy, and totally not appropriate for a little Italian cafe. Also, I’m pretty sure I was a little embarrassing to my friend. Actually, now that I’m writing this, I’m realizing that we haven’t been back since which is probably a good indication that he was a little embarrassed.

I returned home, replayed the voicemail about seven times, tried my best to contain my excitement and finally made that phone call. I was greeted by a woman whose southern accent could literally brighten anyone’s day which only added to my level of giddiness, and to my surprise, she asked if I’d be willing to head down to Georgia for camp on September 27th…as in the upcoming year…as in, you know, ten months. *jaw drop* I happily accepted, hung up, and realized how incredibly amazing 2015 was going to be.

Now, here I am, four days out from my trip and feeling so many emotions. As it turns out, I’m a little nervous. What if none of the dogs like me and I’m the lone person in the group who ends up going home dog-less and feeling unwanted? Okay, so that most definitely will not happen, but I have the tendency to create these extreme scenarios in my head that end up feeling all too real. It’s one of my flaws, and I promise I’m working on it.

Despite this feeling that I’m having, the amount of excitement I have for a dog that isn’t even mine yet is borderline unhealthy. We are going to create amazing memories together, and he/she is going to help me in more ways than I can imagine- be it with physical tasks or even emotional support. I’d like to think I lead a pretty remarkable life, and now I can’t wait to share it with one of the best companions to mankind. Welcome to the crazy world of Alyssa K. Silva, new pup. Hope you’re ready for a remarkable life.

Want to follow along with my journey to getting a service dog? Follow me on my blog, Instagram, and Facebook for more updates throughout next week.

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