Flashback Friday: Prada and the Thunderstorm

East Coast and Southeastern thunderstorms always remind me of a wonderful family vacation I took back in 2004. Where I grew up thunderstorms were few and far between, short and sharp and cold. But on that trip we sojourned in Virginia in mid-May and encountered long, lazy rumbles over warm, muggy afternoons.

Now I live at what can be called the intersection between Hurricane Lane and Tornado Alley. Having service dogs be scared of thunder would greatly impede my ability to travel. I’m quite grateful it’s a problem I’ve never encountered.

Original Post Date; 6/9/2022

A wonderfully dramatic thunderstorm woke me up around 3am Eastern this morning! I love a good thunderstorm. The waves of sound coming from wind and rain and kinetically charged air makes for splendid writing weather! But what about Miss Prada? I half-expected to have a frantic German shepherd jump into bed with me because of the giant outside!

Prada got up, certainly. She meandered over to the water bowl, took a drink, and then curled back up in her grate. I guess I won’t have to worry about that when e get back to UAH! And it means I won’t have to give up my writing time to console her, too, which is a nice blessing.

The storm disrupted our training schedule a little. Instead of taking us on the planned “country work,” the trainers drove us to a grocery store to work indoors. We continued practicing indoor navigation and ignoring food distraction, which is the fastest way to disqualify a service dog. More on that in another post.

I saw no evidence of Prada’s back-sliding from Yesterday. She was on-point and pointy-eared the whole time. I’m told this isn’t uncommon in training, so I’m not too worried by our ups and downs now.

This kind of temporary dip in progress is apparently normal in both humans and dogs. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had nice long streaks on Duolingo, only to have an easy lesson flummox me for no reason. And I’ve also begun to recognize that, when Greta and I have a rough trip, she’s about to make some kind of break-through in her rehabilitation. I don’t understand this phenomenon, but I’ve seen it enough to recognize it now, and take it as a good sign.

This is also a phenomenon that I’ve observed in writing. When my co-author and I find ourselves unmotivated to write, or having to re-write the same scene or chapter multiple times, we know it’s because we’re about to have a lightbulb moment revealing some new character arc or plot twist. It’s the genius fluttering around desperately in search of a place to land. Best to take a break and clear the runway rather than continuing to try and net it by sheer force of will.

And on the subject of storms, this wouldn’t be a true guide-dog blog if I didn’t share at least one story where my dog protected me from potential harm. So let’s talk about Prada and tornados.

I could always tell whether or not I needed to heed the tornado siren by watching Prada. If she slept through the mechanical wailing then I could carry on as normal. But if she came and poked me, then circled to a door, it was probably time to go downstairs in search of superior structural integrity.

Many inhabitants of the southeastern United States still remember the devastating super-cluster of storms that swept across ten states on April 27, 2011. I was at UAH at the time, watching reflected lightning strikes in the windows of the building opposite ours. Lightning struck our building’s lightning rods, and we could see — well, they could, anyway — the show mirrored at us from across the field.

Yes, in the midst of the storms, we brilliant adolescents were standing in front of a wall of windows. Prada lay at my feet until she suddenly decided she didn’t want to be in that room anymore. We obediently followed our shepherding chaperone into the back hallway where there were no windows and waited.

There was no shattering of glass, no tremendous crashes or screaming metal. The rain got louder, the wind howled, Prada went to sleep. Then things quieted, and she asked to go outside. As I walked her out my friends exclaimed in subdued amazement over the shrubs and branches piled knee-high along the window wall we’d been standing at just 20 minutes before.

The nearness of the destruction was a lesson we might have learned at far greater cost. Pay Attention to the Shepherd. So many more people than I could count lostloved ones, livelihoods, and property to devastating effect in that hour that its aftermath can still be seen in flattened forests and hushed counseling offices.

One really wonderful thing came out of that day for me, though. As part of the recovery effort, Prada and I met my future husband!

Today your favorite blindfluencer asks you to remember and share a time when you felt as if you were making no progress in life. What did you learn through that time?

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