Monday, August 11, 2014

Dear Kolby

You buns fit inside the palm of my hand at just 5 weeks old, and your length fit on my lap. You wrapped your paws around my hand and we looked at each other. You held a gaze that was steady and I knew then that you were something special.
Your Breeder Caretaker, Becky, mentioned that although you were one of the last to be born, you certainly had an Alpha quality about you and seemed to get what you wanted from your siblings. Your bulky stature might have helped in that too. It wasn't until you came to be Puppy Raised by my family that I realized what Becky was referring to (wink).
You had a mighty voice that was not afraid to let me know you had an opinion. While it was cute as a wee-little 8 week old pup, I knew that there were program expectations that were clear that you shouldn't Speak until asked. So our first agenda was getting you to accept the rule; which you eventually did.

Through your growing up months you shifted from being just enough-naughty to keep me and our Contract Trainer on our toes, to getting the big picture. You weren't awful by any means, but you still had some Alpha status that needed to be brought down a notch or two. We worked hard at controlling your rough play, and it certainly worked. That overly rambunctious young puppy has matured greatly.

Playing Catch has always been your favorite pastime. Whether that was sitting patiently at the top of the stairs until I tossed it to the bottom floor, telling you Release, and letting you zoom down and back as if I were timing you ... or whether it was in the family room with short distance air tosses and catches ... or whether it was traditional ball in the backyard, you had it covered. You. liked. it. all.

You spent a few weeks in the Military Prison Puppy Program when we went to travel to celebrate Haddie, our first puppy that Graduated in November 2013. You were in your adolescent months and the authority of the male prisoners served you well. Your wisdom clicked-in and you realized your true potential, and chose to settle down and just listen and follow through.

That isn't to say you gave up your personality. Far from it. I think that is one of the magnets that you have which draw people close to you. Your expressions are priceless, and you'll do anything goofy off leash for a laugh. Buns in the air like you don't care, hoping like a rabbit, bowing, high prancing, rolling on your back while making tip-toeing motions in the air with your front feet, with your mouth wide open, and your tongue hanging out sideways, because you are essentially upside down. Your sideways look, your front paws over your face, your shifty right hind quarters that seems to have a tickle in it whenever you are asked to Down Stay but you KNOW a treat is on the way, because I am talking high pitched and excited on purpose. And you stay, and your right leg twitches, and your tail wags, and you stare. at. me. willing. the. treat. to. float. the. space. between. my. hand. and. your. lips.

Your expressions are endless and your eyes speak volumes.

Then there is the working side of you. From day one you have been solid in our outings. It didn't matter if it was a new adventure or a repeat, you held your ground in staying focused, checking in with your amazing eye contact, going with the flow, and doing your commands. Excitable Greetings didn't last long, and you took in the attention of others only when I said ok. I could always count on you to enjoy an outing, and I always walked back to the car beaming that once again we had another successful adventure together.

Kolby, I have no predictions of what you will choose as your path. I know that we have had an amazing journey together as a family. Your heart is worn in your expressions, your mind is sharp and wise, you love to work, and you love to rest. I am confident and certain of one thing, you love the people in your life and you know how to show them love.

And that is what this Service Work is all about. Giving Love. And I pray that you feel confident to show your best in college, that you are not fearful of the unknown working dog world, that you give it your best and see how it works for you. I know that you have much love to give. I know that you could provide amazing support, independence, and joy to others in Service Work.

But that isn't my job to tell you if that is right for you. My job is complete. My family and I have raised you from 8 weeks to 19 months, our job of "telling you what to do" is over. Our teamwork as a Puppy in Program has concluded. And I am very grateful for the dedication and love and laughter and joy that you brought to Team Kolby.

Your life path is yours to make and it will be perfect. No matter the decision, you will continue to show love and give life to others. It is clear you are meant to be someone's amazing dog, as you were our amazing puppy. It could be us, or it could be a Graduate. But someone will be blessed to call you their dog.
Puppy hood is over, Kolby. You are college bound tomorrow and ready for the next chapter in your life. Our firsts and lasts are complete with you here at home as a puppy. Now you are ready to start a new series of firsts and lasts, and I am so proud.

They never said Puppy Raising was going to be easy, they said it was going to be fun, challenging, inspiring, and hard. And they didn't lie. But I would do this all over again, if it meant that you would be My Puppy.
God Bless you, Kolby. I love you with my entire heart and I will never, ever forget you.

Thank you.

For everything.
Your Puppy Raiser,
Elle J.

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