Monday, August 18, 2014

Here we go

We left on August 11th to return Kolby to Canine Companions and to the place where his journey began in Santa Rosa, CA. It was difficult for me to pack myself up and get into the car. I found every excuse on what "had to be done" in order to leave the house, and none of that was getting my clothes into a bag, nor Kolby's travel bag packed. It was a late night on Sunday, but I eventually got myself to do it and we rolled out on Monday.
We planned to have dinner with my hubby's Aunt, Uncle, and cousins on the way the first day. So our trip was not very long as we stopped about three hours to meet them at this fabulous resort. Kolby enjoyed all of the attention and it was nice that our family was able to put a touch to this puppy that they have followed since he was 8 weeks old.
Our Aunt said something that stuck with me, she said she had never fallen so in love with a dog that she had never met before. I found that sweet and probably very true if you have followed his journey, I am not sure what isn't to like about this cute, handsome, and endless-expressioned puppy. And Kolby held true to everything I have shared about him; he proved that I tell the truth (wink).  Kolby was his typical rock-star-self with excellent manners and sweet lovin' when we were saying our goodbyes.
The next day turned into a rather long car ride of twelve hours. Kolby didn't make a sound, but obviously enjoyed his time out of the car for brisk stretching of his legs, water breaks, bathroom, and dinner. He is a fabulous traveler.
On Wednesday we enjoyed a full day traveling from Oceanside to Winery. We fell upon Bodega Bay from the recommendation of the hotel clerk and I am glad we opted for the suggestion. Although the fog held for a bit at the ocean, it was still beautiful and a chance to check off "Pacific Ocean" on Kolby's Puppy in Program List of things to do and see before College.
And on the flip side, we got to enjoy some winery meandering with Kolby. The highlight here were getting super cute photos in 90 degree temps with a black puppy; who held it together like a pro and kept up with our pace. We also met a leash-less winery dog that came quickly out of nowhere, barking and scurrying about next to Kolby. Our puppy was interested, but that was about it and we continued our walk with little Toquiots Taco Bell following us for a little stretch of time.
It was about this day when I realized something very powerful. My daughter explained it best and I appreciate her insight at the moment when I needed to hear it best. I will paraphrase.
She was explaining that it was time for Kolby to leave us, not because we were tired of him, or he was of us, but because he had seen it all. There wasn't anything on our Kolby Bucket List that was left off, we had been thorough and complete in showing him the world. The list is rather long and we are proud to say we did it. I am confident that we gave our all to raising our puppy for Canine Companions. My girl went on to explain that Kolby surpassed our expectations of what he needed to do with us. He knew all of his 30-commands, could perform them in various social outings, and was very trustworthy. We always knew what to expect from Kolby's behavior no matter where we were during our day or night. He was solid.
Therefore, he was ready for his next step. Now he would go to College and learn new tasks, harder tasks, things that will push him to start over in his learning. My girl is very wise and this was her final thought: Kolby will succeed in Advanced Training if he can handle the new expectations. And if he chooses to come home, it does not mean that he was not successful as a Puppy in Program, nor did we do anything that jeopardized his advanced learning. Rather, the success to Graduate or come home is simply the choice of Kolby's if he wants to keep working, or not.
I liked that. College Life is a whole new ball game. While we have equipped our puppy with the skills and foundation, in the end Kolby gets to choose if he wants to step up to the challenge of learning and working, or if he wants to say that he is done, and his 18 months with us provided him with amazing skills that will work great in another avenue in life.
And as we continued on our journey through Calistoga, Sonoma, and Napa with Kolby by our side, I smiled with confidence - not sadness - that we had done an amazing job raising Kolby and in return he held tight to wanting to learn and grow. He chose to work hard and follow through with his training. He chose to have amazing adventures with his solid behavior. And now, no matter his choice in Advanced Training, we can definitely say Kolby completed the high standard of training while in our care and he is one successful puppy!
I am so proud of our Mister Kolby.

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