Looking back on the last year and a half, I often stop to ask myself where this time has gone. It doesn’t seem like it is possible to be at this end of our short time together, looking back across it as memories flood my mind, and tears flood my eyes. It seems like just yesterday I was patiently waiting for my sweet puppy to arrive. I had dreamed of what she would look like, what her personality would be like, and of all the adventures I had planned for us. I was a year younger, and in a completely different season in life. Everything changed the day Helaine arrived, and it progressively got better and better. Our days were sweeter, and my love for her grew deeper.
My love grows deeper still, as I prepare to hand her back over to Canine Companions on Friday. These days are filled with bittersweet memories as I question the strength it takes to give her back after giving her my entire heart, and whether or not I have that strength. Sometimes I wish I could love just a little bit less, because maybe that would make this part hurt a little less. But I made a promise to that little yellow puppy at the airport, that I would raise her to the absolute best of my abilities. I would provide for her a safe and loving environment, and I would instill in her so much love that she would want to share it with everyone she comes into contact with. She has lived up to, and exceeded all of the expectations I had for her.
While some of the days were exponentially harder than others, this journey together is one I will savor for the rest of my life. Some people believe in heart dogs-dogs that just fill your heart and the souls connect. That is Helaine. Whether she graduates, or comes home, she will always carry with her a piece of my soul, and I will always carry a piece of hers.
Letting go of something so loved, so sacred is really truly an artform. It takes a certain amount of selflessness, a couple parts tears, and a whole lot of love. Finding the right balance takes time, and skill. But the most important part of this is love. It all comes back to it. Someone out there loves Helaine way more than I could possibly even fathom. I am not the only one waiting on turn in to come and go. Someone is patiently waiting, searching for Helaine. There could be someone on the wait list right now who Helaine was created for. And I love them so very much. I love them, and I don’t even know who they are.
But as of today, I have not yet figured out the art of letting go, and I am filled with more tears and a selfish knot in my stomach that is more hopeful for a change of career than a graduate. I know that these are the emotions talking and not the true desires of my heart, and I hope that all of my readers understand that too. I would not be raising these puppies if I didn’t absolutely love and adore the mission of Canine Companions for Independence. Words cannot truly describe the whirlwind of emotions, and this is clearly my miserable attempt at helping you all understand.
Yesterday one of my dear friends posted the following to her Facebook page in regards to turn-in:
“CCI puppy raiser: Are you Turning your puppy in on Friday? My heart is with you as each of you post something that is a “LAST”…my tears fall along with yours. BUT, it is only a LAST for you…for your puppy these days will be a “FIRST”…the first day of training, the first day to get to know their trainer, and their roommate, the first time they go on a training outing, and then…the first time they get to meet their forever person…from then on…just more FIRSTS. Your LASTS, as their puppy raisers, have given them the chance for all these FIRSTS…and remember that there is a person out there waiting for a dog to change their life–who is waiting for that FIRST meeting with their new dog. And all this is possible because you have the heart and the courage to make it through all of your LASTS.”
All of our firsts together have been completed, and it is time to move on in this journey. Helaine was born to be someones miracle, and she was mine for a little while. Tomorrow we will pack up and leave together for the last time, and when I return next week I will have a quiet home, an empty leash, and a heart full of memories and love.
**Good luck my little. You have changed my life in more ways than I ever imagined you would. Now is your time to continue changing lives. Always carry the love of your family with you, and you will be unstoppable. Xoxo.**