Let me preface by saying that I really do not handle long-term uncertainty well. I am a planner. If I have a plan, even if it's a horrible plan, I can cope with pretty much anything that life throws at me.
Usually I handle uncertainty by making contingency plans: if situation A, then plan 1; if situation B, then plan 2. (I go through a lot of alphabets that way.) In the case of Alex's service dog, the plans were relatively easy to lay out. When we know the dog is coming, we need to prepare the school, we will need to look for a larger family car, we will need to purchase dog supplies (a bed, food, dishes, leash, toys, etc.), and we will need to prepare Alex that the dog is coming now (as opposed to the general preparations we have been doing all along).
There are some variables: how will we handle Nathan so that the dog bonds with Alex. The options on the table include loading up Nathan's schedule with activities and playdates to keep him out of the house as much as possible, getting Nathan a pet of his own (probably a kitten), and borrowing a pet for Nathan to take care of (we've had offers of cats, dogs and one hamster). Other variables include: where will the dog sleep, what is the ratio of downtime to working time, how gradually will we introduce the dog to Alex, etc. Those are all issues I expect to get some guidance on when we do the parent training.
The challenging variable is that I have no idea when the dog will arrive or where we stand in the process. I've been dealing with a lot of people who have donated money towards the dog and are frustrated that the dog has not arrived. I've refuted suspicions that we will be refused for a dog or that we will be kept perennially on the waitlist. It's been difficult, particularly when also trying to cope with my own anxiety for the unknown.
In my dark moments, I also wonder: what if they can't provide a dog for Alex? Most children who get service dogs are significantly younger than he is. I don't know what the criteria are for placement and so I have no idea if we're close or laughably impossible. I like to believe that National Service Dogs would tell us if that was the case so that we could pursue other options. Everything I've read and heard about them tells me that they are a decent group who genuinely care about both their animals and the children they help.
In September, it will be two years since we were approved, almost 3 years since we began the process of application. That's a long time to wait and wonder and even though they were honest that most families wait 18 months to 2 years, I'm having a harder time with it as the weeks creep onward.
Hopefully this summer will bring the call telling us that we can plan our trip for parent training and as the leaves turn, Alex will finally meet his companion.
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