I was contemplating that idea from a puppy raiser's perspective. Awhile back I watched a Youtube video on a puppy raiser out in CA. Somebody commented on the video and said something like, "That's so stupid. At the end you have to give away the dog. I would never do that." Well, is that end of the of the story? Do we just give away the dog? That's it? The end? I would say that it's rather obvious that giving up the puppy is not the end but just another step of the journey. It's different for different service and guide dog organizations, but for CCI we know within 6-9 months whether or not our puppy's destiny is to become a service dog or to become a beloved pet. Though I think that passing rate has a lot to do with how the puppy raiser trains the dog, some dogs just don't have what it takes to be a working dog. Every once in awhile a CCI release dog will go on to become Search & Rescue or other working dog. But often the puppy enjoys the life of a pet dog, remaining with the puppy raiser or someone else who will give the dog loving care. I truly hope that Dembre becomes an assistance dog, but if he becomes a pet I know that he will be happy. I would have a hard time with just giving up my dog and never hearing what happened to him, but I know that fulfillment comes when you hand the leash of the puppy you raised to his new master. It's still hard, but that's the goal right from the start. I'm not saying that graduation or release day is the end, because it's not, not for the puppy and not for the puppy raiser!!! If Dembre becomes a pet then he will enjoy the life of any other pet dog. He can enjoy just being a dog, a very well behaved dog at that, but a dog. That seems like a happy ending to me!The most hoped for career is that of the service dog. The puppy raiser raises the puppy to hopefully become a service dog! For a graduate team, graduation day is the start of a new life together. It's two separate stories coming together to be one. The story of the man, woman or child graduating could have been tragic, difficult, lonely. The story of the CCI service dog is, for the most part, a story of dedication, of love poured into one special puppy, of the dreams of the puppy raiser. On graduation day the dreams of the puppy raiser are fulfilled. On graduation day the dreams of the the graduate are fulfilled. Though the puppy raiser may miss the puppy they know that the puppy that they love has started a new journey-- a new chapter of life.
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At the very end of the story there is a loving person with tears in their eyes saying goodbye to a very special friend. There is also a puppy raiser who, with tears of sadness, recalls the memories of the puppy that they raised. Is that a happy ending? I'd say yes. Sure at the end the faithful servant, the loving dog, passes over the rainbow bridge, but that is the end of every story. Even if the dog had left the world sick and tired, their last memories are probably ones of a breeder caretaker, a puppy raiser, a trainer, a CCI graduate and friend, and many other people who the dog had loved and had loved the dog. That is a happy ending!!!!
~Elijah & Dembre