Yesterday evening, as I was relaxing and winding down for the night I opened up Facebook to see what was happening in the lifes of my friends and family. Some people were just getting off work, some were excited about a recent move to a new home. Some were celebrating school finally being out for the summer, and some were mourning the passing of a beloved friend. There was one post though, that was filled with so much hope, wonder and love. It was filled with wide grins, tears for the unknown and excitement for the adventure ahead. Helaine’s cousin Haddie, who was the first puppy raised by my dear friend and her family, has been selected to rotate through the August Team Training class at the Northwest Region in Santa Rosa. Upon reading that, my heart swelled with pride and happiness. I always cheer when I hear that a puppy from our chapter is rotating through TT, but Haddie is particularly special to me, though I never got to meet her.
Last summer as I was browisng the world wide web, I came across the blog, Paws for Independence. For several months leading up to that day, I had pondered what it would be like to be a puppy raiser again. (If you’re new to my blog, you can read my history here.) I knew I wanted to get involved again, but I didn’t know when I would ever be able to take on that responsibility again. As I browsed through page after page of Haddie adventures, my heart melted into a heap of puppy love. I knew that I had to be a puppy raiser again. For months I followed the blog, waiting for a new story to appear. Reading all about Haddie and seeing all of her pictures lightened my day and always made me smile. Then, one day in late September I decided to send an inquiry email to the local CCI chapter just for information. The next thing I know, I’m knee deep in conversations, puppy meetings and introductions. I was hooked, and had it not been for finding Haddie’s blog adventures I may not have my sweet Helaine right now and I wouldn’t be contributing my thoughts to this blog. Haddie changed my life and I never even met her. She is bound for greatness and she is on a path to become what she was bred to be. I am so proud of that girl.
Hearing that Haddie is one step closer to her calling has really got me thinking about Helaine and her destiny. Of course I ask her every day what she wants to do with her life. If she isn’t meant to be a service dog she will live her life as my beloved forever girl, and she will help me raise future puppies. But man, do I hope she decides to be a wonder dog. Puppy raising is filled with so many emotions. Ups, downs, turns, dips. It’s filled with wonder, sadness, fear and hope. It’s the grandest adventure I’ll ever take in life I’m sure of it. I will be honest with you all, as honesty has always been number one in my blogging world. When I am asked how I will ever give Helaine up, I so desperately want to say “I don’t know.” I don’t know how I will give this girl up. She is my first puppy in a long time and I am head over heels in love with her. She has brought my life back from great sadness and a deep depression. She changed my life before I even knew she was mine. How am I going to give her up? How. Am. I. Going. To. Give. Her. Up? Then, when my doubts start to get the best of me I read amazing words from graduates, or the families of graduates. Our wonderful president posted about her two graduates and her golden moment with them before the ceremony. The following are a few snippets of a bigger conversations. The following words are what give me hope:
“Speaking from being one of those lucky graduates who is blessed to have one of these incredible miracles…I am grateful each and every day to his puppy raiser and to all of you who have given so much. We don’t forget for a moment what you do and what you are giving. Every time I am alerted that my food is done, the alarm clock has rung, or someone has rung the doorbell, know that you are changing lives. May you all have a wonderful golden moment with your pup! And, know they will remember you and continue to love you <3″
“Puppy raisers are bringing hope to people that have been hopeless prior to receiving a CCI dog, they are literally changing lives one person at a time. You are bringing relief, joy, satisfaction, happiness, comfort, safety, & love to mom’s & dad’s in the world. You have no idea the worries, concerns, loneliness, tears shed, feelings of hopelessness that these CCI dogs have transformed into peace, comfort, happiness, encouragement, laughter, & confidence that your child is going to overcome their challenges they endure daily with a CCI dog.
So know that all of you puppy raisers out their are doing great things for multitudes of people & we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We will never be able to express our gratitude the level of love, assistance, happiness, & comfort that the CCI dogs bring to our families. You guys are amazing people, thank you so much, we love each one of you.”
My heart was instantly calmed, and I felt a sense of peace. That is how I will give her up. That is how I will send her off to CCI for advanced training, and that is how I will wait, anxiously clutching my phone waiting for the monthly progress report until that coveted email comes telling me it’s Helaine’s turn to meet her destiny.
I had a chat with Haddie’s raiser last night, and I would like to share a bit of advice I gave to her. I’ll admit, I have no idea where these words came from. Reading them now, it seems that they’ve come from someone else. They are wise and profound and totally true to puppy raising. I will cherish these words when my time comes to let Helaine go, and they are perfectly suited for the emotions I’m feeling today: