Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Waiting for Kolby
Age: Seven Weeks

Friday, February 22, 2013

K is for Kolby

On January 29th we received the call from CCI that they had a puppy ready for us to start raising the first week of March. The information was limited, just a male puppy from the K litter. She didn't even have the color, or name, and I forgot to ask for the birth date, and Breeder information.

I immediately sent out a search for the K Litter through my CCI connections, and got a response quickly with the Breeder. We immediately hooked up through social media and my family and I watched the Litter grow through pictures, and received more specific information.

As we were nearing our departure to return Haddie to CCI, we still did not have a name for our assigned puppy. We knew the three options in the litter, but we did not know the specific boy that we would raise. Two males were yellow, one male was black.

During some "down time" at Turn-In, we pulled the Director aside and asked if she knew any additional information about our assigned pup. She confirmed she had it ready, so we walked to her office for the big reveal. We were so excited (not only to see her office and more of the CCI Campus) but also to hear the official name of our Second Puppy In Training.

Meet ...

Kolby, 5 weeks, 3 days old:
We were so excited the minute she revealed the name because we already knew the litter and knew exactly which one he was. And behind the scenes, we had already been invited by the Breeder to come to her house the next morning to visit with the litter.
I know that the Breeder was not obligated to invite us over to meet our puppy, so we took the extension of friendship dearly and we were honored for the opportunity to see Kolby in his first, loving home. We were certainly spoiled, and it definitely helped our emotions of saying goodbye to Haddie the evening prior to meeting Kolby. Thank you, Becky!!
My daughter held Kolby first and it was obvious that the love was instant. She continues to refer to him as "My Baby Boy" when she talks about him. She can not wait for March 8th to arrive when we can go to the airport to pick him up. I am so glad she is so happy about Puppy #2, she seemed to outwardly have the toughest time saying goodbye to Haddie.
My son held him too, but spent most of his time in the puppy pen loving on the entire litter. In his mind, he knew that he would never see the rest of the puppies again, and he wanted an opportunity to wish them all a Good Luck before they left their home to other Regions. Love his attitude.
Puppies are so adorable, and entertaining. Another sweet friend that we recently met through the Breeder came to visit the puppies with us. She does not live far from the Breeder and they are close friends. She will be Puppy Raising her second puppy as well, Kolby's sister Kashi. It is fun to have the connection so early so that we can share our stories and learn from one another about the Brother and Sister Pair staying in our Region.
We could have stayed for the remaining weeks just watching the puppy antics and personalities develop. But we had to move forward and we said our goodbye to Kolby, and went into the house to meet his mom, Kanga. She has a sweet personality, so soft, and beautiful. I am sure it will be hard to say goodbye to her puppies, so we are thinking good thoughts for her transition.
Thank you, Becky, for opening your heart and home to our family. It meant everything to be able to meet Kolby and to see his family. We will do our best to raise him right, and we will certainly provide him a loving and safe home. Until we meet again - enjoy the next 18 months of blog posts about YOUR KOLBY!!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

February 15, 2013

It has been four days since Turn-In and I am still at a loss for words. I think the best way to describe the experience was a day full of reward, pride, joy, sunshine, new friends, and peace.
I had expected our family me to not be able to hold it together throughout the day. I was pleasantly surprised that we were able to enjoy the day with laughter, lots of smiles, and good conversation within our family, and among friends, those we just met, and those from our Region. I think the biggest factor that got us through the day was that we met a very fun, lively, sweet mom and daughter from Montana, who were turning in their first dog too. They added the light hearted spark to the entire day, everyone seemed to feed off their energy of welcome, and peace.
After our formal pictures were taken by the photographer, we let Haddie loose in the over sized CCI Dog Park. Talk about Disneyland for Puppies in Training!! Haddie ran her heart out with the other dogs - perhaps fifteen at a time - ran wild chasing each other, and chasing balls and toys. It was a riot and so much fun. She was worn out by the time we leashed her back up, toweled her off with a wet washcloth I had brought from the hotel in a ziploc baggie (thinking ahead - it was a Lifesaver - she was dirty!).
Pre-lunch consisted of lots of talk, lots of pictures, and time for Haddie to catch her breath and relax at our feet. The grounds of the CCI Jean and Charles Schultz Campus were so peaceful, and so well kept. We soaked in the mid-70 degree day among the lemon and orange trees. It was lovely.
Lunch was a great serving of Pasta, Bread, and Salad and we ate outside as a huge group - puppies under foot. It really is amazing to join the CCI Family and see how all the dogs behave so well around food, and around others. The dogs kept away from one another (except in the playground) and were so spot-on ready to work as they showed off their Matriculation Vests. It was neat to see that we each had done our job of training; at least the basics had been covered by all. Rewarding to see.
We also got to spend a few minutes with Haddie's Mom with her Breeder. Some say that dog-families will recognize one another. I like to think that Haddie knew her Momma - she certainly was very excited to pounce upon her playfully once the initial smelling was complete. Waverly is a gorgeous black lab. I am so grateful we got to meet her Breeder in person.
A tour of campus rounded out the day before Graduation. I will keep those pictures private, mainly because I want to support those turning in for the first time, to experience for the first time this tour with their own puppy. I think it was incredibly amazing the spoiling that our pups receive while training. I loved it! The tour was fantastic and it made me feel so happy to send Haddie at the end of the day. No doubt, she will be well cared for, loved, and so happy! I jokingly think that perhaps she will not graduate, nor be released, and will just want to live on campus forever.
Graduation was about a ten minutes drive down the street at a nice, huge, facility. Not too many pictures here, as our family walked on stage together during the Matriculation Ceremony. But I will say that when the nice man bent down to place the ribbon around Haddie's neck, she leaned in for a kiss. Ahh, I loved it!! Listening to the testimony, speeches, and background of those Graduating with their CCI Dog was emotional and inspiring. It has created the "Let's keep Puppy Raising" drive within us.
Returning to the main campus after Graduation - we knew exactly what was going to happen next. This time the playground was more somber. Not as much talking among the Puppy Raisers, but the dogs were having a blast. It was commented that Haddie was in fact the fastest dog among them all. I would never have guessed - as our backyard isn't long enough for top speed, but it was true. She was the talk of the Dog Park for her speed and ability to pick up a tennis ball without losing speed. It was so fun to see her enjoying her new college life.
Haddie's last meal meant that it was time for Turn-In. This is where the tears flowed as we walked the beautiful sidewalk through campus to the Training Room where the Director and Trainers were there to transfer the handling of the leash. It was hard to say our goodbye - no words. We just cried and kissed our Sweet Haddie, who had been thoroughly worn out from her good run in the park with her new friends under the warm sunshine. But she sensed our sadness and did her typical "I'll take care of you" nudges to our face and legs.  I love her.
I am so happy that when it was time for my son to hand the leash to the Trainer, that Haddie did not look back as she went walking through the double doors. She went happily, and confidently. Our job was now officially over. We had raised her to the best of our knowledge, all of our effort, and hard work in understanding the expectations of a Puppy Raiser. Our job is complete, and Haddie is now officially our forever CCI Puppy In Training #1.  

Road Trip To California

We left two days prior to CCI Turn-In in order to make it on time without killing each other in our mini-suv on the way to California. Long days of driving, but what a blessing to have two kiddos who are used to road trips, and a CCI Puppy who is a gem traveler. Haddie didn't complain one bit for the two day journey (and neither did our kids), and seemed to get her wiggles out enough to still perform great behavior on our breaks for food and stretching (and so did our kids).
Our first night was in the Middle of Nowhere, USA, and the hotel of choice turned out to be very similar in style to my Grandmother's Retirement Center. Complete with oil paintings on the wall, intense smell of cleaners, and a unique shade of green carpet that showed every spec of hair fallen from Haddie (oh my!). But it was a clean place to lay our heads for the night and made Day #2 doable with only six hours in the car, compared to eight the day prior.
We had a tip from our Region before we left that the Jelly Belly Factory was on the way to Santa Rosa, and it was tradition to swing in with the CCI Puppy for a tour and shopping. Although camera's were not allowed on the tour, we enjoyed taking some pictures with Haddie in the gift shop.
The two days drive was nothing extra extraordinary to share. We enjoyed having time with Haddie in new cities and places, but it was somewhat surreal that this was the journey closer to her final stay with us.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Dear Haddie

There was a time shortly after you arrived that I was overcome with the realization that our family was starting something big. One of those moments as humans where we pinch ourselves and ask, "Is this really happening?" I am sure it was the combination of feeling completely out of my league in the task of training you to the level of expectation that I had set before me, and the overwhelming feeling that you would not be under my care forever, and that in the process you would be changing lives.

The more I became involved with asking questions to our CCI Trainer, Terri, during our weekly puppy classes, the more I felt confident that perhaps I really could do this. Terri has this way of speaking that is clear, and very concise. She doesn't mess around - the answer is the answer. And I learned quickly to trust her; and as a result, everything she said worked. I am positive that without her leadership, this whole Puppy Raising experience would have turned out differently. I am not saying we are perfect, but I am saying confidence is key. Terri gave me confidence.

You, Miss Haddie, have been a blessing in so many ways. Without you, I would not have met the strangers that I did in the last 18 months. Every character has come to see you, from the screaming toddler whose mother thought it was a perfect opportunity for me to babysit her chid while she shopped and the kid loved on you, to the man who thought it made perfect sense to bark at you, to those who tried desperately to get an answer on where to buy a vest for their dog too, to the kind spirited who gave a genuine-look-me-in-the-eyes-while-touching-my-elbow to say, "Thank You", to those that just wanted to pat your head, look into your eyes and melt, to those that were just strict with the rules and would not come over to you, but would compliment how beautiful you were. All those people, I would never have spoken to, nor affected one way or the other, had you not been in my life.

And then there is the entire group of amazing priority people that we are working hard for. The people who will ultimately become part of the CCI family as a Handler of a Graduate Dog from CCI. We have class with wonderful Handlers with Graduate Dogs and they in fact make this journey the reason for everything we do. There are no words that can express how proud I am to know them, to see how dogs just like you, Haddie, change their life. It is the number one reason why we are in this together.

My family. You have brought a huge responsibility of hard work and dedication to the daily view of my children. When we started this family volunteer role, we were all on board, sharing ideas of how this and that would work in raising you. Sometimes in the Cloud 9 discussions before an event actually takes place, we tend to forget reality. Everything seems to work perfectly in our minds. But ya' know, Haddie, it really has been. There has not been a day when the kiddos did not step up to raise you. There has not been a day where they have complained about you being in their life; and let me remind you that not every day you chose to make it easy on any of us (you had your naughty streak, Girlie!! haha). Haddie, you have brought out the best in our family in working together as a real team for this outreach. I am so happy you have taught our family how to love big for others.

Haddie - your future is bright, Girl. No matter how you choose to behave in College, you have the perfect family waiting for you off campus. If you study hard and work your best-side, I will see you at Graduation with tears of support and joy as our family walks you across the stage to your forever Handler. All the puppiness you brought to our house, the love, the stoic nature when working, the 18 months of adventures we found together, the quiet times, the ball chasing, the little games we played will be flooding back to our minds with happiness when we transfer that leash. We worked great as a team, Haddie, and you are so deserving of Graduation day.

We will be just as proud if you decide that College life and working is not your passion. We understand the intensity of this job, and we know that not every pup feels it their calling to work in this way. But I have no doubt, that you will continue to change the life of others - as you already have. Know that if you decide that this is not for you, that your forever family is waiting back here for you. You already know them; the 13 year old boy that plays jazz piano like a rock star every Monday evening at our house. Oh yes, same family - his mom is the nice lady that plays ball with you every Monday evening at our house.  Yep, the dad? He is the guy that came to play ball with you one night too; he's a baseball coach for his son's select team and he really knew how to throw you that ball!! You were worn. out. when. he. said. goodnight!!

Either way you choose, you will have the BEST life and I am confident that you will know so too.

So. This is our final chapter in Puppy Raising wonderful you. I really don't know how to end this post. I know my heart is forever changed, I know you will forever be my Puppy in Training, and I know that I will always love you, think about you, and care for you no matter the distance between us. You are forever My Haddie Rosa.

I love you.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Bone Voyage!!!

I know we will be Puppy Raising again, but I want to capture the "firsts". Sometimes I think the more I get involved, or the more time passes and things are no longer new, I forget those "firsts".

Four times per year our Chapter of CCI throws a Bone Voyage Party for the dogs who will be Turning-in. The week prior to turn-in is considered the dogs last day in our Chapter, because we have to leave the week-of open for all of us to travel to Santa Rosa.
Wednesday was the February Bone Voyage Party. Although the party is open to every Puppy Raiser and family, I have never attended one of these events; which was never on purpose. However, I am glad that we experienced our first goodbye party when we were one of the ones leaving.

About seven dogs are turning-in next week, two are currently in heat (insert very sad face), which left five dogs to enjoy the party. There was a mix of turn-in puppies, change of career dogs, and puppies still in training at the party. It was a comfortable size crowd to enjoy evenly split teams for Relay Races.
It worked like this: three evenly spaced mats were set in front of each team with a table at the end. Our Trainer announced what the Command the dogs would need to perform on each mat and table. When each task was completed correctly, the PR and Puppy moved forward until all tasks were complete before returning to their line to start the next PR and Puppy's turn. The first team finishing the task was the winner.

My son's team won every. single. time. and it was made up of all the Turning In Puppies. (YAAY!! Perhaps it is a sign. HaHaHa).
A small presentation with a goody bag stocked with treats and gifts for the two legged, and certificates for each Puppy Raiser rounded out the party before the dessert table, lots of photographs, and mingling completed the evening. It was a wonderful celebration of our hard work, and a perfect send-off to the pups.
It reminds me what a great CCI Family we have in this organization - for the support we give each other, the fun we have at each meeting, and the genuine good wishes for every dog and raiser. Everyone is rooting for everyone. We want so badly for every puppy to shine. So happy to live in this State with this group of like-minded friends.

Our Trainer's concluding statement which captured the next phase perfectly; It is like sending your kid off to college. They could either choose to party, or study. But know that you raised them well, and that you have done the Best that you could. You are all Wonderful Raisers.