Sunday, January 4, 2015

December Report Card

In the hurry of the Christmas Season I forgot to post the latest report card for Kolby! It arrived just before Christmas.

Kolby continues to do well in school, adding more stores to his list of college field trips (Home Depot and Target, again) and I am just very thankful that he visited both stores many, many times during his months with us. In fact, Home Depot was one of his first stores to visit as a puppy. I remember carrying him through the first time, then progressing to having him walk a few aisles, and then eventually he walked the entire store; every nook and cranny on several trips just for the sake of having something to do indoors during the rainy days.

The trainer continues to work with Kolby on confidence issues and I am dying to know how bad it is - apparently not so horrific that a phone call is warranted to come pick him up; but at the same time it continues to be on his report.

I wouldn't say that I am surprised, as he tended to find ways to show his lack of enthusiasm while working continuously on the same things over and over. That I get. But when learning a new task with us, he always seemed up for the learning. He seemed to perk up and get excited about working and be eager to succeed. The trainer does not give specifics as to how and what Kolby is showing in forms of this behavior, so it is hard to tell if this is a new college behavior, or the same things I noticed, in the same way I noticed it, during Puppy Raising.

The overall report and the items he is learning are all advancing at a good pace - with only the positive behavior boxes marked and nothing marked in the "needs improvement" category for behavior. Overall, Kolby continues to shine and I rest in confidence that Canine Companions will know when it is time to come home, or find his Forever.

As a side note, I want to share an editorial I wrote for our Chapter's newsletter. I want to remember this moment as part of Kolby's story. The opening scenario of the phone call happened just last Monday:

My phone was sitting on the arm of the couch in the adjoining room while I started to dish up the spaghetti dinner. It began to sing my ring tone when my son jumped sideways to read the caller identification. With a look of panic in his eyes and a swift grab of the phone he yelled, "707 - it's Santa Rosa!!" 

I am not sure how I literally flew through the air to grab the ring before it went to voice mail, but I did. Adding my calm tone to the caller, as my family came huddling into the kitchen, was a magnificent feat. I was expecting James, but instead was greeted in return by a female voice. 

I lost a bit of the conversation as I was trying to play my own scenario in my head ... it's still the holidays so James could be out of town, maybe this person makes the calls anyway, I wonder if Kolby is sitting in her office staring at her, willing his expressive eyes to convey that he just wants to come home ... 

I eventually snapped back to the conversation to find that none of my scenarios were true. This was strictly a business related call, it had nothing to do with my Mister on campus. Once I figured that out, I literally began to shake. I am not sure why. Was I shaking because I so desperately want to know his final answer and this was going to be the moment, or was I shaking because thank goodness this wasn't the final answer. 

I am curious if all, or just a few, Puppy Raisers have a hint of wanting their puppy to return to their home once they leave for college. I know what we all set forth to raise puppies for graduates, but we are also human and we all know how to quickly fall in love with the puppies we raise. 

I have a graduate; I know the sure beam of pride that comes with sitting next to the recipient of your puppy, I know the pinch-me-moment that comes with seeing your puppy for the first time in a blue vest, I know the lifetime connections that are made with a new family that holds a piece of your heart at the end of their leash. I know that wanting your puppy home is real, but I also know that gifting your puppy a life of service is a miraculous adventure that I wouldn't trade for anything. 

My amazing, fellow Chapter member, Susan, shared this wisdom with me recently; "I've always said every dog has their destiny, wanting to find out what that destiny is, is by far the hardest part of puppy raising." This is truth. And I wouldn't exchange the journey for any other way. 

I learned that I can fly to the phone in less than two seconds when the area code shows 707, and I will do it again and again in anticipation for the caller's information on the other end. The journey of volunteering for Canine Companions for Independence is certainly a gift I cherish. 

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