Sunday, January 29, 2017

Turn In Day

The day broke bright, a warm wind blowing from the East greeted us on turn in day.  We drove up to Sylmar with Brian and Nancy, our area leaders, who were also turning in their dog Morgan and a third dog, Addie, was being brought up by Paula.  Peggy, who interviewed us as potential puppy raisers, also was along to see the graduation.  Six adults, three dogs in the van, ten dogs graduating and 28 dogs being turned in for formal training.  A very busy day.

Graduation was great, 10 people getting a new lease on mobility.  Two were getting their very first dog, others as many as their sixth.  After graduation, we milled about waiting for lunch and pictures to be taken with litter mates and such.

Litter Mates, Dozier, Dusty, Daisy, Dylan and Dinah along with their mom.

Then, GDA explained what was to happen during the next 6 to 8 months.  Two weeks of medical testing was first up.  Then skills assessments, followed by intense training as guide dogs, then 3 weeks with their new handlers (blind person) and then graduation.  Fairly straight forward process.  About 50% decide not to become guide dogs.  GDA also works with veteran groups and place many of the dogs who decide not to be guides as therapy or service dogs for those veterans.  Some are returned to their puppy raisers as pets.  GDA told us, "we puppy raisers have done our job, regardless of the outcome of the dog you raised."  No blame, no shame, just gratitude for the job we as puppy raisers have done.  The dogs are then paired up and we walk them down to the kennels, say our goodbyes and cry.

Chris and Nancy both said, "coming home to the house without your puppy was the most difficult."
There is no easy way to explain the feeling of knowing you're helping someone and at the same time the loss you feel in doing so.

Bailey feeling the loss
 Would we do it again?  In talking with others, not one person said they would not do it again.  Some get a puppy right away.  "You replace the tears with the smell of new puppy fur" one said.  Some got another puppy before turning in the one they were raising.  Us, we are going to wait a bit.  See what happens and then decide.  

In Appreciation

My next post will be when Dylan decides what she wants to do.  Until then, thank you to all who have followed along with us during this adventure.  Your comments here  and on Facebook have been uplifting and reassuring.  I urge you to look into GDA by going to their website, and consider helping in their noble effort of helping the blind.

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Village

Sunday, we had a party for Dylan.  We had asked neighbors and friends to stop by for an open house to say goodbye to our girl.  She gets turned in on Saturday, Jan. 28 and we wanted to give people a chance to see her one more time and to say thank you for their support raising Dylan.

Of course it was the wettest day since 1995 and the rain was a coming down hard.  It may have hid the tears, but the mood was festive and Dylan was great moving from person to person.

We wanted to let all our friends and neighbors who have been so supportive in helping raise Dylan know, it truly does take a village.

Thank you.

The Village

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Fire Academy

Chris was asked to go back to work part-time with Orange County Fire Authority and is now working with the newest class of recruits in the fire academy.  Working on skills they will need to become the next generation of firefighters and/or paramedics, Chris is helping by teaching skills classes.  She was hesitant to bring Dylan to these as she felt Dylan would be in the way and she did not want to upset the process of this very important time for these recruits.  But after reassurances from the cadre of instructors, she took Dylan to work with her.

Recruits working on first aid while our girl just chills

With her jacket on Dylan is a different dog.  It is amazing to me that she somehow understands that this is no time for being a dog, but a time to be a service animal.  How?  I wish I knew.  So as the nurses were teaching skills to the students, Dylan was placed into service.

After having Dylan go into "cradle mode" Chris told a few students to place a splint on Dylan's leg as if it were broken.  Three went into action and with great affection and care, proceeded to work on our girl.
Getting ready with Dylan as the patient

Reassurance is important when working with a patient. Face and belly rubs help.

On goes the splint.  Good job!

Then it was time to place their new found knowledge to the test by working on each other.  With Dylan acting as emotional support, the recruits begin to work on a fellow trainee.

Being the support dog
Dylan is reassuring the patient.

Recruits breaking character by laughing

It was great to see our Dylan in action.  Doing what we hope will be her new lifetime job of being there for those in need.  Chris also said she could see it in the faces of the recruits,  the stress of becoming a new firefighter seemed to melt away with our girl there working hand in hand with them.

Maybe a new chapter for the fire academy is being written.  Emotional support dogs for recruits.

I could see it happening!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Health Update ...Final Monthly Report

We continue to monitor Dylan's skin and ears.  Her itching seems to have quieted down some and the blotches seems to be clearing up.  Her ears are also better as we continue to put drops in twice a day.
The pills will be gone just about the time we turn her in on January 28.

This is our last month for Dylan's monthly evaluations.  Seems like these 18 months have flown by.  Each category is broken down with ratings 1-5 with 5 being best.  For example:
Obedience Commands

Sit - 5
Down - 4
Formal Come - 4
Heel/Loose Leash Walking - 4 (maybe more like a 3.5)
Sit/Stay 1 minute - 5
Down/Stay 3 minutes - 5
Down/Stay 5 minutes - 4 (I can't even stay for 5 minutes)

Discipline issues - Well Dylan likes to nose job you right in the crotch when she first greets you.  Not sure where she got that, but we listed that as an issue.

We also have to list any social exposures for the month.  In December, Dylan saw the King and I at the Pantages Theater, walked in the Downey Christmas parade, went to two pot lucks and visited a fire station with Chris.

So as you can see Dylan has been exposed, trained and is now ready to move on to her next step.  We can only hope it's enough.  The rest, they say, is up to her.

Just two of the many things we will miss with Miss Dylan:

Sleeping on her bed bug


Her sitting position