Oh my oh my, what a thing it does!
The service the Foundation provides is highly visible - at least to the sighted, and as I'm getting to contemplate it, I notice it causing me to ask a question about Arcosanti:
If you could invite anyone at all to commit to serve on Cosanti Foundation's Board of Trustees, whom would you ask? Who do you believe would do the project the most good? Who'd be on your "dream team" of a Board?
How to think about this? The job of a non-profit's Board is spozedta be a short list of meaningful tasks. Two-and-a-half tasks, in fact. Number one: Set policy. Number two: Raise money. Number a-half is: Hire an Executive Director (CEO) to carry out the policy and manage the money.
Determining who Cosanti's Board should be, in the best of all possible worlds, might not be rocket science but that doesn't make it easy as pie. Pie ain't easy until and unless you learn how to do it. Ask any bloke or gal who's tried to roll out a perfect pie crust with no instruction if it came out exactly as desired the first time. Not talking mudpies here. Pie crust, we're talking. Ice- cold water. Very cold fat. Cold flour. (Cold choice!)
So for the Board thing, I'm seeing the evidence that the GDF, the Guide Dog Foundation, knows what it's doing. The operation is smooth, to say the least. Every dog's dependability is nothing short of amazing. Each student is matched with a dog which somehow suits the particular student it gets matched to. It's practically uncanny how well dog and dog-handler are matched.
How does it (the GDF) do it? In my case, my dog - a Standard Poodle - is so temperamentally "right" for me, I'm still pinching myself. It's a revolution in my consciousness, as I was sure it could/should/would be. An inner one as well as an outer one.
I wanted a Guide Dog when I learned I'm legally blind, which is now twenty years ago. An administrative decision was made by people in the agency under whose care I fell and I was told - no dog. When I relocated, the policy was different; there was no problem: if I wanted a dog, I could apply. If I qualified, I'd get a dog. If it didn't work out, the dog would go to someone else.
I applied, I qualified: here I am. There are nine of us together for this February training, each one of us with a different type and degree of visual impairment. All of us are legally blind. A few have lost virtually all sight, the others have some. Two are vets although they are here as GuideDog recipients rather than as Vet Dogs recipients. Some have had at least one Guide Dog in the past. A few, like me, have never had a Guide Dog before. One fellow has never had a dog before at all, period, not even as a pet; but even if his learning curve may be a particularly steep one, everyone is learning something new during the training and from the training.
Over the course of our stay, the Foundation's staff trainers carefully prepare the dogs and their handlers (us) to manage our new lives as companions. A service dog and its human are able virtually always to travel together. Everywhere. By all means available. I and my Guide have gone: Walking. Riding on a bus, a train, a subway, an airplane. A ferry boat. (I throw out the suggestion of hot air balloons and tricycles to our trainers but neither they nor I are sure if I'm seriously asking or if I'm jesting.)
We learn when and how to feed and water our dogs, when and how to take them out to defecate and urinate (the euphemism for which is, delicately, "busying"), how to clean up after them. Guide dogs are not exempt from civic poop-scoop regulations or ordinances. Nor do our dogs refrain from dog antics, given opportunity. But having a Guide Dog is stunningly gratifying.
As I said, although I wanted one from the day nearly 20 years ago on which I learned I am legally blind, because I have some sight, people in the association for the blind in the city in which the mid-winter MVA occurred were reluctant to let me apply for one. When I relocated, there was no such antipathy. I could apply; if I qualified and was accepted, I could be given a dog. So I applied. I qualified. I was accepted. Then - I waited. Waited some more. Until - now.
I'm still pinching myself. But not far from me right now is a lovely, lovely dog. When I call her, she stirs, wags her tail, stretches Downward Dog, wags her tail some more. She's ready, ready to go.
Leash, halter, busy bags: ready. Boots, gloves, hat: ready. ID. Ready. back pack. Ready. We're on our way.