Happy 2nd Birthday to Haddie and her H litter siblings from Waverly and Hickman. While she is enjoying sunshine, hard work, and plenty of puppy playtime in College today, I am wishing Haddie a birthday wish that she is placed exactly where she wants to be. U Haddie Rosa!!!
|Haddie with her mom, Waverly, Feb '13|
|Haddie 12 wks exploring our backyard|
|Haddie's Dad, Hickman|
Then, my daughter took a silly photo with Kolby, because she had taken a similar photo with Haddie, and my next status entry was this:
Who is training who. Ohh, Daughter ....
|Haddie - 15 months - Sept '12|
|Kolby - 5 months - June '13|
Finally, after spending some hours on an adventure with Kolby, we returned home to find an email from Canine Companions and my final Facebook status was this:
We just walked in the door to receive Haddie's birthday gift ~ a formal email from Canine Companions announcing she has been chosen to enter Team Training August 5-16th. While there are more dogs in Team Training than placement candidates, the ending to this chapter has yet to be written, but for now - we are wrapping our hearts and minds around her forever happy life as an Assistance Dog. You make us proud, Haddie.
I want to remember this day, what it feels like to be on this Roller Coaster of Emotions. From the one side I am filled with pride and can see Haddie working as an Assistance Dog. I have prayed throughout Puppy Raising for this moment, and it is surreal that we are so close to being involved in Graduation. All of our social outings through Training always proved Haddie in an amazing status; she had pose and manners no matter the circumstance. I beamed with pride and happy every time we got back in the car to return home. My heart knew I had a Superstar.
I see Graduation, my family in the audience with our girl by our side, waiting our turn to be called on stage to hand over the leash. I will be staring at Haddie, I will be hugging her, and getting my last whispers into her ear as we sit in the large auditorium.
We will hear our names called from what will seem like a thousand miles away. We will walk onto the stage, and we will hug that forever person, shed some silent tears, and return to our seat. And like that, the next chapter of Haddie will begin. As the Ceremony continues, I will be beaming as I watch Haddie next to her forever person; settled, happy, content, exactly where she is meant to be.
I will walk out of the building with a little piece of my heart attached to that leash we gave to that forever person. Our family will talk over our celebration dinner, and we will say a prayer that Haddie's forever person will always stay in contact with us. And a new life will have started for Haddie, and for us.
The other side of my emotions this evening is one that is very real. It is one of sadness. Knowing that we are nearing our final goodbye, the final chapter of our Puppy Raising, the conclusion that we have been waiting to hear since the day we met Haddie on August 30, 2011.
You see, we had a backup plan for our girl. An amazing family in our town was going to be her forever family should Haddie choose to come home. They would offer a whole lot of happy to Haddie's life with endless possibilities of catching balls, swimming in the lake, vacations, and potential of therapy work at the hospital where the dad of this household works. The perk, of course, would be that we would still be part of Haddie's life by seeing her frequently.
So I am confused. I know we signed up for this volunteer role to make a difference. And the goal has come to pass and our girl has made it far enough to enter Team Training with a potential Graduation being very real. And this is exactly what I want to happen. But I am not one to hide the truth, so I must admit my selfish thoughts - that it is hard to say goodbye. It is hard to love and pour out our emotions - the hard, the easy, the happy, the sad - over this amazing bundle of happy four-legged awesome that we raised from little (where she knew nothing but biting our fingers and running through our house at top speed) to bringing out the good in her through much patience and focus, and now we say "She is yours, forever."
I never claimed Haddie as mine. I always claimed her as someone's. I know Haddie's Change of Career Family. I can play the scenario in my mind of how that would go. I have no vision of her forever Assistance Dog family. I can not play out the scenario in my mind. And that is where the fear, the sadness, the questions come. Simply put ... Will they keep in touch? Will they be interested in Haddie's puppy days? Do they know what occured to raise her from 10 weeks to 20 months? Will they love her unconditionally even if she is tired? Will they play ball with her? Will they just look at her and see her as true joy and love like we do?
Of course. Of course they will do all of these things because I have no doubt they will love her more than I do. Haddie is the connection to their Independence. Haddie is the one Making a Difference for Them. Haddie is their True Pride and Joy. Of course.
As the emotions swirl, I am confident that it is normal. It is normal to know that we can be sad and scared of the unknown, and it is normal to know that we can be happy and joyful of the unknown all within five seconds of one another.
Roller Coaster. I am living it.
While we do not know the outcome of Haddie, on this 2nd birthday of hers, we do know that she has some amazing training adventures ahead that I am confident she will pass to Graduation. She has made us so proud.
I closed my day with this private Facebook message from my sweet friend. It was God-spoken for it was clearly what I needed to hear to get off this Roller Coaster Ride, stand tall, and say with a smile on my face and a swelled heart of happiness, We Have Just Begun, Haddie.
You say it's over...but it's never over.
Her time with you may be, but her story hasn't begun yet.
Think of puppy raising as a prologue.
When you read a story, it's never wise to skip the prologue.
You get a sense of the story, but not the whole story.
You've written Haddies prologue...but you haven't gotten to the story yet!
And what a beautiful story it will be.
~ Cassandra R. - my very dear friend