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.

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