Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How We Give Them Up (Thoughts Gained from Watching Others Turn-in Their Puppies)

After attending the February Team Training Graduation I began to think a lot about turning in Dembre. Of course I get the question, "How can you give them up?" all the time. I always say that, though I haven't turned-in a dog, I know that it is worth it and that we always hope that the dog graduates.
I have been thinking a lot more about it, though. I don't think it is wrong for us to be sad that our dogs turn-in. The truth is we're always happy and sad to see them go. As a puppy raiser I know that I want what's best for my dog. I don't only want to be happy myself I want the puppy I love to have what's best for him too. So how do we give them up? Well, number one we have to. Number two: we raised the puppy  to see them go on to hopefully become a service dog. Part of becoming a service dog is going through advanced training. Number three: we all want what's best for our puppies and know that turn-in is just a step of the way for the puppy. Sure I'm going to miss Dembre, but I am excited to see him do what I dreamed that he always would. Watching others turn-in their dogs made me feel more confident about doing it myself!
Dembre on our first day together

practicing a down at eight weeks old! Wow has Dembre grown up
The other day my mom asked me when I wanted to get another puppy. I said that I think I want to get another puppy the day that Dembre turns-in. My friend told me that she did that when she got her second puppy. She said that it was hard to lose one dog and then take on a lot of responsibility, but she also said that it helps fill the empty space and kill the pain. There are a lot of you out there reading this that probably have done the same and sure you all have a different story. I just know that I don't want to sit around crying with nothing to do because Dembre is gone! I want a new puppy to pour my life energy into. I have also decided that the day Dembre turns-in I want to write and essay about my experience as a puppy raiser and the pain of giving up the puppy I love. It's always easiest to write when your emotions are strong. It usually brings out the best writing.

~Elijah & Dembre


  1. Elijah, you should check out a poem called Parable of Immortality by Henry Van Dyke - it is written about a boat sailing away in order to explain death and the afterlife, but it very nearly mirrors giving up a service dog pup. It is easily found online.

    After 13 years of puppy raising I still have not mastered the emotional experience of giving up a puppy. It is very surreal, and I look forward to hearing about your experience.

    Getting a new pup the same day has helped for me - it is something physical to hold on to, a new beginning, something to focus on besides missing my last pup. When my schedule permits, I prefer to do it that way too.

  2. Very interesting thoughts, Mandy. I'll try to find the poem :)

  3. Hi Elijah,

    My name is Ashley and I started puppy raising when I was 14, which was three years ago. My first puppy Mindy IV graduated last August as a Skilled Companion! I am so proud of her :) I turned her in last Feb. and picked up my second pup, Meeden on the same day. It's easy to do it that way for the reasons that you you only have one puppy to take care of and that you're not empty handed. My only problem was that I missed not having a puppy going out with me while Meeden was to young to go out and I kind of left like I was replacing Mindy. This time I decided to overlap to see what I like doing better. Meeden is turning in in May and I picked pup three, Heidi, on Jan. 14. It is a lot more work with the two of them, but they have some to play with each other and Meeden acts like a role model for Heidi. Both ways work, but for me personally I like overlapping a little bit more.


We love hearing from our readers!
Thanks for stopping by,
Elijah and Hobart