Today was the start of the Guide Dog Users Inc. conference! Before the conference started, we wandered around making new friends and meeting old. It was great to see people!
The first official activity was a session on surviving the conference for newbies or first timers. We went to the session and agreed with everything that was said. Everyone gave great advice, especially about keeping your service dog safe in a place with so many other service dogs. We talked about elevator etiquette (SO hard when you have a bunch of blind people with canes and guides!), not stopping in doorways, trusting your dog, spending time to the side recovering with your dog, and all kinds of things. It seemed like a very helpful session for newbies!
During the session, there were some door prizes given away, and Hestia won one! It is a glittery box with some rhinestone-covered collar charms. I put a crown charm on her vest, and it even has a bell (very useful on dogs in the guide dog world, I have learned!).
We went to the exhibition hall and got to see our friend Jenine with Roger!!! We were so happy to see them! But Hestia wasn’t feeling that great, so we went back to the room for a while.
After relaxing, we went to the GDUI board meet and greet in the Barkalounge. I walked over to Penny, as she was close to the stuffed Hestia sized dogs with harnesses that are in the raffle! I was excited to see the dogs and figure out which harness might fit Hestia. I really hope we win the raffle!
When I approached Penny, I said hello and Dana from Delta was happy to see me. Jenine had talked with her before, and told her about Brad and me. She was especially happy to see Brad! She and Brad started talking shop, and Jenine came in so I brought her over to be part of the conversation. On the way over, a woman named Maria with a chocolate lab guide stopped me and was SUPER nice! But I had to get Jenine to the Delta conversation.
After a bit, Maria came over and we had a really good time talking. I really hope we get to share a meal or something, because she is really great. Her dog was a little worried about Hestia at first, but once he figured out Hestia was in fact a dog, he was fine with her! Too funny!
Hestia’s been doing so well maneuvering around the guides (many of whom want to say hello!) that I had her on the ground more. When it was time to leave the room, there was a mass of guide dogs near the door hanging out. We had to walk through them, and lead Jenine with Roger and another team through them, too! It was mayhem! But Hestia handled it like a champ! She let all like 7 dogs sniff her at the same time and walked right through with her head held high.
While the potty area at the hotel is grass, there is also a potty area at the convention center. It is maintained by Scoopmaster, which travels around and does this for conventions. They had a GREAT potty area! It is wood chips covered by mesh. So the dogs can see and smell and feel the wood chips, and the pee soaks through the mesh. But the poop stays on top of the mesh and easy to pick up! It is GREAT! And the wood chips even smelled good!
We met up again with Jenine and Roger for dinner (pulled pork on gluten free bread!), and then went to the auction. Andrea did a GREAT job leading the auction, and keeping us all entertained. But after a while, I just got too tired and had to go lie down. So we didn’t stay to see the end. They had some great stuff, though!
Brad and I went back up to the room and crashed out on the bed and looked at pics. Brad got some great ones! I am uploading all of them below, enjoy! In the meantime, I will potty Hestia and head to bed. We are meeting Andrea at 7AM for breakfast!