Monday, February 20, 2012

Thoughts on Dembre's Graduation

Most of you probably saw my last post about Dembre graduating! I thought I'd come back and touch more on the emotional end of the graduation experience.

Until the moment I met Imelda the fact that Dembre was a service dog was hard to get a handle on. I had imagined that day for so long. The day that I picked up that cute little ball of fur (May 28th, 2010) I told him that I was going to try to make him graduate. I did and I guess it payed off. It's so amazing to be surrounded by your supportive friends and be holding the leash of the puppy that you spent the last 15 months loving and caring for and then getting to say, "Dembre is yours!"

I am so proud and thankful that I get to be part of such and amazing program as CCI
The thing that I love most about puppy raising from the eyes of someone who has had a puppy graduate is that instead of spending time and energy to better the lives of hundreds or thousands of people I get to put my life into raising one puppy who will drastically change the life of one person. I didn't get to watch Dembre do much for Imelda, but from what she's told me he provides a lot of independence. I love that I get to impact the world one team at a time. A lot of people are concerned about the numbers reached. For a puppy raiser the best possible feeling you could ever get is getting to watch the one puppy you raised become the "best friend" of one person.
It's amazing, especially watching Dembre, to watch the emotion in dogs that so many people cannot see

You might believe that now that I've seen puppy number one graduate and am only ten months away from saying goodbye to number two that I'm done, because I've gotten to see one life changed. I don't only want to change one life, but I want to change one life at a time. It's a personal thing (thankfully CCI sees it that way) and CCI allows us to become part of our puppy's partner's life.

I have helped people in other ways, but there is none that seems more amazing than this. I am now officially "addicted to puppy raising" or as I've heard it said, "Puppy raising is like eating potato chips. You can never just have one." 

Now more than ever I look forward to turning in Hobart and picking up pup #3, raising puppy #3 and then picking up puppy #4. It's a beautiful thing!!!!!!!!!!!!!

~Elijah & Hobart II (so many dreams fulfilled)

9 comments:

  1. I love that you said you're "addicted to puppy raising." That's how I feel. When I talked to my PPM about Heidi and it was decided to release her, she asked me if I wanted to raise another puppy. I immediately said how could I not; send number 4 my way! I don't if I will ever be able to stop puppy raising.

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    1. I know. People seem to believe that it's SO hard to raise and that it must be so inconvenient, but the truth is that once you start and you really like it it's stopping that's the problem. That's what my friend says and she's on puppy #31 :P

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    2. Actually she just picked up #32 last week. I kind of forgot about that. It's amazing, because as the years have progressed instead of seeing it as same old, same old she treats each pup with love and care and has had an amazing passing rate.

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  2. Elijah - looking back and reviewing your time raising Dembre, were there "issues" that you thought Dembre had that you questioned if he would pass - that obviously didn't matter since he graduated, and/or they worked it out during Advanced Training?? Since this is my first time, just curious what that feels like to have a graduate and then look back at the time you had him with fresh eyes. What you might have worried about then didn't matter. You know what I'm trying to say? =)

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    1. Even though this question wasn't directed at me, I know exactly what you are asking about and I definitely thought that Mindy wouldn't graduate due to some issues. She had a couple accident in stores and I thought for sure she would never become an assistance dog. She also did not like putting on her vest and she never would put her head through it. I always had to slide it on her. I thought this would get her released, but it wasn't an issue for her partner and she graduated!

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    2. I was so focused on getting commands when he was younger! I was scared that I wasn't doing things soon enough. He stiffened up every time I'd put the cape on, which our PP manager says is quite normal. I was also obsessive about not eating food off of the floor. He got good enough that he wouldn't touch food on the floor of restaurants and stores, but at home he still wasn't perfect. The worst was his house breaking. He seemed to get it right away. He didn't have accidents when he was little, but he hit eight months and random accidents began. I was scared that he was going to be released when he had an accident a few weeks before turn-in. There were no problems with any of the above in AT! Just continue doing your best and putting the most love and care into your work as you possibly can!

      ~Elijah & Hobart II

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  3. Thanks, Elijah and Ashley. I especially appreciated hearing the slow response to the vest - Haddie backs into her kennel when the vest comes out, but once it is on, she never messes with it. Anyway, thanks for the honesty and the encouragement!!

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    1. I'm happy someone else can learn from my mistakes, because I certainly made a lot!!!!!

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Elijah and Hobart