Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Kolby, the Service Dog

I said I was going to return to the blog to write the story that happened before the finale. Where do I end the journey of a dog that leaped so far into our hearts that it is hard to say a proper goodbye. I am more than confident that Kolby has found his true love, and I am not sitting here stewing over anything about his new life. He is more than loved, cared for, and able to work for his Forever Person. That brings me great peace.
And maybe that's it - there is no grand finale because it is just so perfect. Life seems to have taken off at full speed for Kolby and he is thriving. It is what he was meant to do in this world.
When we met Kolby at the Canine Companions Van on Graduation Day, I had previously overheard during lunch from his trainer that the Graduate Dogs had a long run and play time in the private play yard on campus. They were worn out. The final "party" of college life. So when we arrived to take Mister, he was a bit groggy and slow to come-to ... he didn't bound off the back of the van in a soaring leap. But when his nose finally kicked in, he was all loves with exclamation tail wags and his face burrowed deep into our sides to get as close as possible.
Kolby was back.
We took the time in private behind the graduation building to get all our photos with him. We talked to him and just watched him watch us. It was one of those moments that you dream about as you are raising a puppy and imagining the future life for your puppy. And once you are in the real life moment of the conclusion, you just pray time stands still and you can truly soak it in. With no distractions, we really were able to soak it in, and it was better than I had dreamed.
There is something amazing that transpires when you are a Puppy Raiser. When you snuggle in close to your puppy at Matriculation to say that final "Goodbye" to all the life experiences you found together, the closure of Puppy Raising your puppy, the end to knowing this puppy on a daily, responsible basis; tears fall from deep in your heart and it's hard to wrap your head around the thought that there might be something greater for your puppy. Something greater than you caring for and living with your super star.
And then months pass and every day you think of your puppy but the memories fade just a touch. You forget the feel of your puppy's fur, the cute little antics of a head tilt at just the right moment, the mopey-sleepy side when it's time for bed late at night and you have to do everything in your power to get your puppy off from snuggling your feet for one last Hurry break before bedtime. You forget the daily.
Reunited. You would think that the reunion would feel like two puzzle pieces that snap together in an instant and all the daily routine of your puppy will flood back. But like my first experience with Haddie, the second experience with Kolby was just the same. You have the memories but you don't sense that the puppy is yours anymore. The tie and connection has profoundly separated and you are left with love. Pure love.
Love that you know the person and family your puppy has fallen in love with ... Love that you helped get your puppy to this part in life ... Love that you don't have to have your puppy be the focal any longer ... Love that you have allowed yourself to grow and let go ... Love that you want your puppy to thrive. Simple, Love.

On Graduation Day we felt the love for our Puppy, and the great respect and joy that our Puppy is now the proud Service Dog for Karen.
My first memory of Kolby he was 5 weeks old. My two kiddos were playing with his siblings and my husband was chatting with our Breeder Caretaker. I had Kolby off to the side in a cradle in my lap and I was starring into his eyes and I bent close to whisper, "You could be a Graduate. You could be the one, Kolby. You."

And here we are - Kolby the Service Dog.