Posted by: arnoldoneal | August 21, 2011

Brody goes Idol

Summer is coming to a close, the days are getting shorter, the heat is not as brutal and Taylor, our 16 year old, has started back to school.  It’s been a great summer for Brody, he has had many adventures.  We spent a week in a cabin at Myrtle Beach with my family from Cooleemee, NC. The group included my mom and dad, my brother, my sister and her daughters Amanda and Bethany, and my son Taylor. We had a great time, although Brody didn’t care much for the ocean.  I took him to the beach the first day and he was doing fine until we went down to the water.  As we were standing on the sand he was watching the waves with curiosity.  Then one of the waves reached where we were standing and he was not at all happy.  I always thought Labs liked water, but not this one. When the small wave washed over his paws he jumped like his paws were on fire, he couldn’t get away fast enough.  I felt reallt bad, I didn’t mean to scare him.

It was interesting to walk down the beach with Brody in his harness.  People aren’t used to seeing guide dogs on the beach.  One day we were taking a leisurely stroll down the beach and a lifeguard came running up to us.  In a thick French accent she informed me that I could not be on the beach with a dog.  I told her that he was a guide dog and she told me to wait while she called her supervisor.  After a brief conversation with someone over a radio, she asked me if I had a license for the dog.  “Sure”, I replied, “I have all kinds of paperwork and an ID card to prove that he is a guide dog, but I don’t carry them with me to the beach”.  “Hmm”, she said, “Well we are going to pretend that I saw your license for the dog, so that you can go on your way”.  I’m glad the she had a good imagination and saw my pretend paperwork, otherwise who knows what could have happened. I would hate to get arrested by a little French lifeguard.

Another highlight of our summer, was Taylor’s audition for American Idol.   Idol came to Charleston to hold auditions for the upcoming season.  Taylor, who sings in the Show Choir at Wando High School, wanted to audition.  On the first day we went to the coliseum to get our wrist bands that allow you to get in on the day of the auditions.  If you are a minor you must have a guardian with you when you audition. Bobbi Jo was out of town, so that left me and Brody.  We heard that the lines to register for a wrist band where 3-4 hours long and outside in the blistering heat.  I was not happy about doing this, but it was important to Taylor, so off we went.

When we got to the coliseum just after noon, there was no line at all but then we found out that we had to be back there at 5 o’clock the next morning.  I am a morning person, but this was pushing it!  The next morning we got up early and headed back to the coliseum.  When we arrived it was crazy, there were thousands of people getting in line to get into the building.  The Idol staff were on megaphones instructing people to “get in line, find your space, spread out, and get comfortable.  It’s going to be a hot day, and a long time before anything happens, don’t panic” they said.  I’m thinking, “Shoot me now!”. Why did I agree to wait in line for several hours so that Taylor could sing three notes to a judge who would most likely send him home anyway?  Not that I don’t believe in Taylor, but lets face it, it’s a long shot when you are auditioning with ten thousand others.  So Brody and I took our seats on the pavement and began the long wait. It was still dark, so it was not terribly hot….yet, and since Taylor forgot to tell me that they told him to bring something to sit on, the pavement was getting real hard, real quick.  After about 4 hours of waiting the line finally started to move. The only thing that made the wait tolerable was that it was a carnival atmosphere. People all around were singing and playing guitars, and most of them were very good.  Also, many people wanted to talk to me about Brody, he was a big hit.

After the line moved a little, we came to check point where the staff was directing the crowd up a ramp into the building. I asked a staffer if I could get out of line to let my guide dog “do his business”?  When he saw Brody, he said to come back to the check point after we were finished, and he would take us straight into the coliseum.
This was great! It saved us another hour of waiting in line.

When we were in the building, we were making our way up to the nose bleed section of the coliseum to our assigned seats, when another staffer spotted Brody and asked us where we were sitting?  “Up there”, I answered and pointed to the upper levels.  “Come with me” she told us.  She put us on the elevator and took us down to the floor of the arena where the crew was.  You gotta love it!  Being blind and having a cool guide dog certainly has its advantages.

The staffer gave us all access passes, and we were right there where Ryan Seacrest made his big entrance to greet the crowd. I am sure we made some of the camera shots, so watch American Idol this season, maybe you will see Brody on TV.

Being down front allowed Taylor to audition early, saving us another 2-3 hour wait.  Unfortunately he did not get the Golden Ticket and make it through but he did a great job and had a lot of fun.

People always ask me about the training that Brody and I went through together.  So, in my next post I will share a little about my time at Southeastern Guide Dog School.

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