Monday, November 11, 2013

Meeting Sharon

I was so at peace that I did not have the typical butterflies that could easily have swirled around as we left from the hotel to the campus of Canine Companions. Friday, November 8th, was the day we were to meet Sharon, see Haddie again, and watch the two Graduate into a beautiful Service Dog Team. The moment we had been waiting for was finally here ~ everything about our volunteer Puppy Raising of Haddie was coming to a close on this day ~ and I could not have been any more happy, excited, joyous, and proud.
Other than my phone completely freezing, and becoming non-recoverable, as we pulled out of the parking lot (insert panic - as we needed contact with our dear friends and family), the day went smoothly. Perfectly, in fact. And looking back, the closure of my phone to all those supporting, cheering, and waiting for me to share this story back home and around the country, really was perfect too, because it really made me focus on every detail and every second of this best Canine Companions Day.
Prior to the eleven o'clock meeting of the Puppy Program Manager to officially start our day, we enjoyed the gift shop, strolled the campus taking pictures of the beautiful grounds with lemon trees, fountains and statues, and met up with our sweet friends at the dog park. With the 75 degree temp, clear blue skies with yellow rays beaming upon us, the dry air, the quietness of campus, it really did not feel like a typical November we had ever experienced. We soaked in the beautiful weather and took our time enjoying everything about this day.
In the square outside of the Administration Building, we were handed an envelope, and inside was Sharon's quick bio that she had filled out about her interests, and a picture of our Graduating Service Dog Team. It was our first photo that we saw of Sharon, and of Haddie, and we were all smiles as it certainly bumped up the excitement even greater that this was really about to happen.
The large reception room in Gittinger Hall was set with long, white, linen lined tables and a massive bunch of people anticipating their first meeting of their Graduate, or their Puppy Raiser. We were escorted to Sharon, and I kept it together (somewhat) and gave her a giant hug. I knew from the moment she spoke she was a very sweet, kind, and fun-loving person. We got right into introductions of our two families and found our seats at the table. From there - the conversation flowed. (In respect to Sharon, I have cropped all photos as I forgot to receive her permission to post her photo). 
God made this match ~ evident in so many ways, but the most interesting was the story of Sharon's much loved pet labs, a black and a chocolate - one named Hailey, one named Maddie - who have recently passed away. While one will never replace the other, it gave me chills to see the connection of Haddie, a yellow lab, to Hailey and Maddie. Sharon was beaming  - thank you, God, for even the little things that add to the big things that make this match so perfect.

The lunch could not have gone any smoother, as we chatted nonstop while we got to know one another. Sharon gave me a beautiful bracelet that she had made; a silver chain with dog paw print links. I immediately put it on and have worn it every day. What a kind reminder of our new connection. The gift bag that we gave to Sharon was unwrapped and we shared stories of Haddie, and listened to the new things that Haddie has been trained to do for Sharon. We sat in awe that our puppy has grown so much to do so much.
Puppy Raisers cover 30 basic commands and socialize the puppy to the outside world. But there are very definite training commands that we are not allowed to teach our puppy as they are so advanced. So to hear stories that Haddie can pick up Sharon's Kindle off the floor, or a piece of paper, or a credit card made us so proud. Those are just a few of the many new things that our girl has learned to do since being in College since February. And to hear Sharon tell the stories of learning to work with Haddie - to purposefully drop these objects and watch Haddie pick them up for her for the first time - no words. Simply beaming.
Similar stories that made our table of new friendship laugh were the non-working times for Haddie. We had put Haddie's coveted Red Ball in Sharon's Gift Bag. It was one of the first things she pulled out of the bag with a surprised look on her face. They had figured out that Haddie loved to play ball, and the day prior the team went on a field trip to the pet store. They had purchased a Green Ball identical to the Red Ball that Haddie grew up loving (and this is a very unique ball, so it was another amazing connection). She said when they gave the ball to Haddie later that day, she went crazy spinning and playing ~ she definitely remembered.

As the luncheon came to a close, we knew the next chapter in this perfect day was the moment we would get to meet Haddie, and present Haddie to Sharon on stage at the Graduation Ceremony. Sharon was so encouraging as she wished us a sweet goodbye with a "Get going, you got to go see Haddie!!"
And with that - we were off to drive to the Center of Spiritual Living where the puppy vans were waiting and the ceremony would start in one hour.


  1. WOW, that is perfect. What a beautiful meeting.

  2. God really does care about the small things! You guys did a great job raising and loving her!