Sunday, September 18, 2011

Observations from a first timer

I am used to the stares in public, the whispers as people pass, over the Super Dog status of Haddie. I am used to getting asked What breed?, and How Old?. I am even used to the compliments of how well behaved she is, and her adorable beauty.

But the one statement that I have yet to get used to, for those that stick around long enough to realize that the Yellow Cape is a Service Dog Cape and not a shirt for my dog, is I could never give up a dog. Never. How can you give this dog back?

I smile with my best attitude on and share that I am doing this for Haddie's Future Handler. I share that one day the hope is that she will be a Service Dog ... and for the most part, the conversation ends there and the person moves on.

Not sure if I have my lingo right, my phrases cemented correctly, or my persuasion set.

That's it? That's the end of the conversation?

Help - Fellow Puppy Raisers. Is it me, or is this normal?

I've stated this before on my blog, but I'll state it again. To me, this is much more than just raising a cute puppy. This is truly, for me, about the future Handler. I don't even go down the future Pet Status for Haddie, because I am a positive-thinker when it comes to my goals ... and should it turn out where she is a Pet Status dog - well good for her in working so hard as a Team under my care, and I will smile at the thought of her life of play, and rest. But since that is not my goal, I don't dwell, nor think about that option.

For me, raising a CCI Pup is a job with pages worth of expectations, reports to write and submit to Home Office, accountability weekly at class check-in's, extra time spent every day on Dog Field Trips for training, house rules that are for a working dog, versus house rules for my pet, and keeping every family member on the same page for the sake of Haddie's success.

So, while it is fun to have an adorable yellow lab under foot, who gives puppy loves, and wiggly tails, it truly is a job. And like all jobs, there are the good parts, and the not so fun parts.

In the end - yes, I can return this dog. She is not my pet, she is working for me, and I am working for her. Teamwork that lasts for just short of 18 months. Then our objective is over, and we both move forward independently. No question I will be nervous on our journey to Turn In, I will shed tears, I will feel a part of me leaving, but behind all the emotions I will be able to say with happiness that my job with Haddie is complete.

In all the "stranger folks" that I have encountered (and Haddie and I go out daily in some form of public outings), only ONE said ... Thank you. This is an amazing service you are providing. She looks like she's ready for a good future. 

I wanted to hug that strange-man right then and there - but resisted as I am sure that would not have been a good CCI Representation - nor good for my marriage.

I don't know what to make of the other gobs of people who only state, I could never give her back. I know it is not my responsibility to change their view, but I wish I had a killer of a sentence to convey the big picture, the message of serving other, the point about thinking beyond myself.

But ... maybe that too is not my responsibility.


  1. Yes, people always say the comment about how they love their dog too much to give it up. This always brings up a huge bundle of emotions to me. It seems to change depending on what stage of the process my puppy is in. But, puppy raising reminds me of something close to my heart. Christ gave his only Son for me, how can I not give up a puppy so someone can live with independence despite having a disability? It's a perpetual reminder of His grace.

  2. Lisa ... AMEN!!! Thank you. Exactly!! =)

  3. I agree with Lisa! Also, the longer you go out with Haddie you'll get used to stares and whispers. I remember going downtown to restaurant/market and I realized that Dembre was the only dog in the large building and so people were interested. And many people are interested in the dog, but not in the puppy raiser. And so we get people who pet the dog and then ignore the fact that he's there because of CCI.

  4. I invite those folks to attend a CCI graduation ceremony and see the relationship between the disabled person fortunate to be matched with one of these amazing dogs.

    I remind them that we can have any pet we choose. They NEED these dogs and benefit in ways we can only hope to understand. These puppies grow up to change the lives of those they serve and they have the best job a dog can have. Every day they spend with their human, providing love and needed service.

    Only a small part of the community provide service to others through volunteerism. What they don't realize is the benefit they would receive by raising the pup and giving it back. Far more than keeping the puppy, in my opinion!

  5. I also always get the "I would get to attached and couldn't give them up." I definitely have to say that no matter how hard you try not to, you do get attached and fall in love with each pup. You always think of them as your little baby, but there is no way that you couldn't give them up! Whenever people give me the above comment or ask if it's hard to do I always say yes, it is, but once you see your pup with their new partner and see how much they've changed that person's life for the better it is all worth it and you would do it again in a heartbeat! Even though they grow up and you may not see them everyday they are always in your heart. I think for a lot of people, we just take for granted the everyday tasks that we can do without a second thought, that they don't realize how much these dogs provide independence for people and how much they valued by the people that need them.

  6. Thanks, Lori and Ashely, so well stated!! Haddie is our first puppy, but I can already visualize what Turn In will be like, and the glue at that final moment that will bind all the emotions that go with Puppy Raising. The happiness and pride we'll feel for months of giving - can't imagine any better reward.