...a total disruption of your personal life, but also the single most rewarding part of the job and the reason you DO this job to begin with.
...a time warp in which you feel like you've only just begun and yet at the same time you feel like you've been doing it for an eternity already.
...a showcase of the best and worst moments in a guide dog team's life. The lesson when it all clicks and the team starts to work together smoothly, or they master that difficult turn that has defeated them every time up until now, but also the moment when you and they and the dog have done everything possible to make it work and it becomes solidly clear that this time it isn't going to work.
...the feeling that you get at random moments in class, like when you're watching clients come into the dining room or showing someone how to work through a problem, that this is the absolute best thing on earth to be doing and there is nothing else you would rather be doing, nothing!
...the feeling that you would give a paycheck for an hour's nap in the middle of the day, but settling for five minutes after lunch and before afternoon trips.
...telling someone that they've got to stop comparing this new dog to their last dog while KNOWING that you would be nonstop comparing your new dog to the last dog if you were in the client's place.
...going out to work with a client who has a totally different personality, sensitivity level, expectations, and work style than both the client you just finished working with five minutes ago, and the one you're going to work with half an hour from now.
...patting yourself on the back when you see the perfect match you made working out even better than you had dared to hope for.
...wondering where exactly you screwed up when making this particular match... did you misread the dog? or did you misunderstand the client's capabilities? Either way, you screwed up.
...thinking back to the cushy and much-better-paying government job you gave up to do this instead and wondering, was that crazy?
...watching a dog that you trained step up and do 80% of the work in the new partnership instead of the 50% it's supposed to be doing. (And knowing that that was not really something you could train or take credit for; it's just something that is or isn't in the dog.)
...waking up to the sound of rain pounding on the roof (or snowplows scraping the parking lot) for the fifth day in a row and thinking, "Oh, man, not another day of this.."
...gratitude -- SO much gratitude -- for nice weather!
...hanging out with your teammates in pajamas at 10:00 at night in the office, and learning more than you ever wanted to know about each other.
...that last week when things start to fall into place and you know you can send this team home and still be able to sleep at night.