“You’re Going on an Adventure!”

That’s what we always say as we’re heading out the door.

It’s our guide dog trainee’s last week with us.  I’ve been concentrating on that instead of writing.  On Sunday we’ll be driving Spice to Tacoma to meet the puppy truck.  She’ll be evaluated medically to determine whether it would be best for her to become a breeder, or continue the final four months of training with a potential blind owner.  If she fails the physical, she comes back to us as a pet and mentor for future trainees.  If she becomes a breeder, she retires after five or so litters, and if her techs don’t keep her (they usually don’t), she comes back to us.  If she becomes a guide, that’s her career for 6-8 years after which her blind owner may choose to keep her as a pet (50/50 chance), or she will come back to us for her retirement.  Unless she flunks the physical, we will be dogless for at least a few months.  We’re fine about it.  Really.  It’s not often you can guarantee such a good life for someone you love.  Barring unexpected disease, all the probable outcomes are extremely positive.

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11 Comments

Filed under animal communication, photos

11 responses to ““You’re Going on an Adventure!”

  1. You have a remarkable attitude about your dog. I don’t think i could do it. I get too attached to my animals and can’t bear to let them go. Even at the end of their lives, it’s a struggle when I know that it’s for the best. You are to be commended for what you do. You are truly a good person. God bless you.

    • Thanks, Maire. It’s easier than you might think to do. We had the support of other mentor-trainers, textbooks and media from the organization, and the opportunity to work with blind owners and their experienced guides. And it’s empowering to grow attached, as you would to your own child, then send the beloved out to others who need what they’ve learned. All good parents, teachers, and exes do it.

      The struggle becomes more acceptable with practice. I learned that from working as a care giver. The pain of the farewells becomes redemptive.

  2. Pie

    Everybody wins! Spice is looking great.

  3. At the summer camp I worked at for four years, the cook would bring up her seeing-eye dog in training. (It didn’t get to hang out in the kitchen, though). It was great to watch the dog be trained, while still be a normal dog that loves chasing and snuggling.
    Good luck to Spice. I hope she passes.

  4. Wonderful to read about Spice. Are there any publications/websites dedicated to this work that might use your articles? They’d be inspiring for anyone considering doing the same, and mutually supportive for others already doing the work.

    • There are sites and publications dedicated to guide dog training. At minimum I want to wait until Spice actually becomes a fully-certified guide before submitting any material. Her story doesn’t have an ending yet. If she gets career-changed and comes back to us, I would want to wait until we have successfully raised a dog that completes the course. I think the best story to write is the one that illustrates all the factors that must fall into place for a dog to enter service.

      • Oh, I dunno… what about that old saying by that old writer whose name currently escapes me, ‘it’s better to travel hopefully than to arrive’? I can’t resist googling it, talk amongst yourselves for a moment…

        Got it:
        This phrase is a Robert Louis Stevenson quotation, from Virginibus Puerisque, 1881:
        “Little do ye know your own blessedness; for to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labour.”

        Stevenson was expressing the same idea as the earlier Taoist saying – “The journey is the reward.”
        (Above lifted from ‘The Phrase Finder’)

        Also, I meant to say, wonderful pic of Spice.

        Sorry I keep replying to your replies… no need to reply!

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