Saturday, GDA held their final graduation for 2015. Five dogs making the grade and being awarded to 5 owners. The owners come from all over the U.S. Texas, Colorado and California were represented this day. All of these current new owners have previously had at least one guide dog, some 2 or 3 dogs. Usually, after about 5 years, guide dogs are retired. (at no cost ever to the recipient) So after 18 months with a puppy raiser, 4 to 6 months with a professional trainer and being paired with their new owner for 3 to 4 weeks, it was time to celebrate. Puppy raisers from all over Southern California come to graduations. Not just those people who have dogs that are graduating. Also present are dog breeders, who along with their male and female dogs, make for a fantastic site of dogs and people.
Now we get asked all the time, "How can you give up your dog after raising them for 18 months?". Well, if this graduation is any indication, it is not easy for the puppy raisers. After turning in your dog for advanced training, you are not allowed any physical contact with the dog. Upon graduating, the raiser and the recipient with their dog sit onstage together, each telling their story of acceptance. One of accepting their new guide dog, trusting completely their new canine friend, and being eternally grateful to the raisers and GDA for their gift. On the other side are the raisers stories of knowing that by accepting their roll as a puppy raiser, they have made a tremendous difference in someone's life. More than one raiser told of learning so much more from their puppies and this experience then they ever dreamed possible. There weren't many dry eyes that morning.
A potluck followed the graduation. Eating with a lump in your throat was not easy.
|Chris with Dylan who is getting big!|
|Our area leader Nancy with her puppy, 7 month old Morgan.|
|Our newest puppy Link, a Shepard, with raiser Dave.|
|Why we do what we do. Graduation Day!|