It was our annual family camping trip in July, 2009, with my husband Andy's kids and grandsons and my sister, Anne and her three girls, Elaina, Sofia, and Natalie. And, of course, the dogs.
Gypsy and FLD Rosie rested nearby on their tie-outs after an early morning walk before the rest of the family crawled out of their sleeping bags. Our shaded campsites nestled beneath stately pines, the breeze gently swishing needles far above us. The still-warm coals from last night's campfire crackled back to life as our blended family slowly awoke, settling in on comfy chairs around the fire-pit. Grandpa Andy stirred his famous pancake batter; breakfast sausages sizzled on the grill.
I glanced back at the dogs. There was Sofia, sitting in the dirt, bonding with Rosie. Next to Rosie was the first place we found Sofia in the morning, during the day whenever we were back at camp, and the last place at night. Just sitting. Petting Rosie absentmindedly, petting Rosie with intent. It didn't matter to her if Rosie was muddy, or wet from swimming. Sofia simply wanted to be next to Rosie. And Rosie sure didn't seem to mind.
After I received the fateful Rosie's-been-career-changed call from Leader Dogs, I phoned Anne. The girls always asked if I had news of Rosie; I knew they would share my disappointment.
"What will you do with her?" Anne asked. I hoped to place Rosie with Katie, a trainer friend of mind, but Katie had to clear things with her husband first. They already had one dog, with dogs-in-training frequently spending overnights. I didn't think this would work with Katie, but had arranged a trial meeting with her and her husband for later in the week. I explained this to Anne and she offered to house Rosie until I could find her a home. We couldn't take her since we were at our two-fur-covered-animal-limit at our townhouse. Do you want her, Anne?
My question took Anne by surprise. I didn't want to force anything on her--as a single mom she had her hands full. But I knew her girls were always after her to get a dog. They loved taking care of Gypsy and my FLDs when Andy and I went away. They were instrumental in teaching both Rosie and FLD Mike name recognition. Elaina, a natural leader, handled FLD Mike at a few of his puppy classes at Leader Dogs; Sofia and Natalie took a tour of the Leader Dog School with a group of puppy-raisers last winter. Sofia wants to be a dog trainer when she grows up, and I knew the special bond Sofia shared with Rosie. It seemed like a perfect fit!
"Well...let me know what happens with Katie," Anne deferred.
The next day, as we drove out to Rochester to pick up Rosie, my cell phone rang. It was Anne. "We had a family meeting. The pros out-weigh the cons 2 to 1. The girls set their own responsibility schedule. WE want Rosie! We all agreed that Rosie should be Sofia's dog, but she promised to share."
My disappointment did an abrupt u-turn into delight. Rosie had found her person after all!