Wednesday, February 4, 2015

(707) - Phone - Call

That last two times that I have received a phone call from Canine Companions when I was expecting a Pre-Match call, they came between 10:00 am and 10:30 am. So it was not a surprise that I stopped my world today during those thirty minutes to prepare for the call about Kolby.

Although the call didn't come. So I continued to wait and continued to watch mindless television while I kept looking at the clock. I waited and waited and decided that I should run the errand that I had to run; getting supplies to complete my daughter's costume for her upcoming Dessert Theater production.

So I set out, with my cell phone turned up loud, and a notebook on the passenger's seat to scribble down any pertinent info for when our Puppy Program Manager would ring. I made it the forty minutes to the art store without a call. I started to shop. Nothing.

I had gathered all the supplies when I got a text from my dear friend that the first call to our Chapter had been placed; no match. At least I knew the calls had started, but I was bummed to hear this particular dog hadn't found her person.

I wandered the store thinking that maybe I would catch the next phone call, but still nothing. I purchased my items and drove home the way I had come: with cell phone turned up loud and a notebook on the passenger's seat  ...

I made it all the way home to arrive to a flashing light on my answering machine. Never, in the three years of volunteering for Canine Companions, have they ever dialed my home number. What are the odds, a good lesson learned to not rely on what I think is the common path for an answer.

And then the answer came via the voice mail. I scribbled a note ... it was this:
Kolby did not make a match. He decided that he would patiently wait, continue his focus on studying and perfecting his skills for the next opportunity when Graduates come to campus. And so we will wait right alongside him, cheering him on to keep motivated for his turn.

It is bittersweet: of course I support him wanting to get the match he deserves; the perfect person. But at the same time, it means we aren't road trekking next week, we aren't seeing the dogs who will Graduate next, their puppy raisers and forever person, and we won't be surrounded by the friends we thought we were going to be surrounded by had Kolby decided to match.

However, in the end we sincerely know this answer is perfect, and it will stay perfect while we wait for Kolby's Final Answer.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

February Team Training

Sunday night, after the Super Bowl, the recipients and their families arrived on campus to get settled into their on campus dorm rooms. A community kitchen will bring them all together as they share meals, a television room will allow for late night talks together, and volunteers will be weaving in and out to make sure all of their needs are taken care of while they concentrate on learning and working.
KOLBY, proud and beaming, sitting on the bench on the far left
Yesterday (Monday) was their first official start. Staff members orientated the group and began their studies. Dogs were brought out to be worked and rotated. Staff members were observing the communication between Handler and Dog and seeing what was working and what wasn't. Today the teams will continue to work and shift and figure it all out. If everyone is working on schedule, then the dogs will be matched tomorrow and phone calls will be made to the Puppy Raisers sharing the news of a Pre-Match or No Match. 

From there, the matched dogs will continue to work with their Handler exclusively, building the bond and learning how to work as a team. The bond will grow and solidify, but if the logistics just aren't working, the dogs that were not matched may be asked to step in and have a turn. Perhaps the original fit was not meant to be, and the dog waiting in the wings will be the correct answer. 

From a Puppy Raiser's perspective, we just want to be a spy in the room and see it all unfold. Whether your dog is chosen or not, you want to see the inspiration filling your heart and knowing that lives are being changed before your eyes. You want to see the pure bliss of a child who reaches for their dog for the first time, the adult in the wheelchair that will ask their new friend to Lap to have that closer connection face to face; maybe the dog will sneak a kiss. To be there to see how it all works, how the miracle transforms, and the blessings overflow. 

But the truth is that the Puppy Raiser is at home, thousands of miles away or just down the road, and we wait. And we think. And we guess. And we talk to other Puppy Raisers who are also waiting, thinking, and guessing what is to come of our puppies. 
Tomorrow we will receive a phone call. I will expect to see a 707-area code flash on my cell phone and I will panic, even though I know the phone call is coming, and then I will answer the phone with butterflies swarming my entire self. 

Will I hear, 

"Hi, this is James. I wanted to let you know that Kolby has Pre-Matched...." 

or will I hear, 

"Hi, this is Corina. I wanted to let you know that Kolby did not make a match ..." 

Regardless, I am a bucket of nerves. What we have wanted since the moment we sent him off to college in August is here: February's final answer.