Friday, February 11, 2011

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Anatomy of an Interview

On Tuesday, I got an email request from a very polite 5th grader for an interview. There were three of them and they wanted to interview me about Her Royal Highness Berkeley. Would I be available on Wednesday?

I said, Of course. I mentioned to Christina who was coming to interview me and she said, "You are going to love them. They are so cute and vivacious!" She said the little girl who had been coordinating the interviews and who seemed to be in charge was especially delightful and was a real charmer. "You'll really like her."

They showed up promptly at 2 pm in the library and I brought them over to say hello to Christina who gave them all hugs before I brought them into my office. I shut the door and had the girls all take a seat. Then I took HRH's coat off.

"Oh, we weren't going to pet with the coat on!" They seemed a bit shocked that I had taken it off. "We knew not to pet her."

"I knew that. I just figured you might like to have some fun with her since you came for an interview." HRH started to walk around under the table, knocking them about with her tail.

"Her tail just hit me!" One of the girls said and laughed. The other girl just held her hands under the table and waited for HRH to walk by her. It didn't take long for them all to start laughing. They were a pretty cheerful bunch.

Then they started in on their questions:

"Why did you start raising guide dogs?"
(We wanted to do something together and we knew it had to be something we both loved and we both love dogs.)

"What is the hardest thing to teach her?"
(Right now, stay and no noise.)

"Has she learned more commands than Bingo?"
(Short answer, YES.)

"Does she go everywhere with you?" Which led to "Do you take her to the bathroom with you?"
(Yes. I then told them about how HRH loves toilet paper, especially as you are pulling it off the roll. So, it can be a little embarrassing to be in a public toilet and all of a sudden you hear someone yelling, "NO! NO!" They thought that was pretty funny.)

"When she goes to a blind person, what will she be able to do for them?"
(I told them about the find the elevator command, about the concept of intelligent disobedience where they would stop a blind person from crossing a street if there was a car coming even if the blind person said to cross and how they were trained to look up and protect their person from getting hit in the head.)

Then there were some off topic questions about blind people that I did my best to field such as,

"How does the blind person get the dog food in the bowl and not spill it on the floor?" and its follow-up, "And if they do, would Berkeley just eat the food up off the floor?"
(I talked about how blind people live on their own and eat meals just like we do. That they learn special tricks for pouring things into bowls and glasses so they don't spill. But, I said, if something were to fall on the floor, HRH would probably eat it up.)

"How does the blind person know when the dog has to go to the bathroom?"
(I told them that HRH has a very strict schedule about when she gets fed and when she goes out to the bathroom. That helps prevent accidents.)

Then before they left, I asked them if they wanted their photo with her Highness. They said yes.

Here HRH is giving the leader a very special kiss instead of sitting down like she is supposed to do.

And then they all got really silly, including HRH and started laughing.

Finally, I had to get a cookie and hold it in my mouth to get HRH to pay attention. She was having too much fun with the papparazzi. She's such a sucker for the press. But then, they love her!

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