When I answered the phone last Friday, the day before my 54th birthday, I had no idea my ensuing disappointment would rocket into jubilation.
"Is this Patti?" yes "This is Brent from Leader Dogs. Rosie has been career-changed and your contract states that you want her back. When can you come to pick her up?"
My heart sunk. This is the phone call every puppy-raiser dreads. Career-changed means that for whatever reason (and there are many), Rosie was not cut out for the demands of being a Leader Dog for the Blind. She was coming home. But, we had a problem. Our townhouse complex has a restriction--only 2 "fur-bearing" animals allowed. Our personal dog Gypsy is one. Our 2nd FLD Mike is two. What were we going to do with Rosie?
Leader Dogs for the Blind may try to place a career-changed (cc'd) dog in another service-dog organization, such as Paws-for-the-Cause, or the dog may be a candidate for further training such as bomb-sniffing. Leading the vision-impaired is one of the most challenging jobs a dog can have--the dog must learn obedience, and then learn to disobey when it isn't safe for the person. Dogs who make the grade are the "best of the best." They are focused, loyal, intelligent, patient, hardworking, and not too distracted by things like squirrels or other dogs. Rosie's "official" reason for being career-changed: too dog and people distracted. Oh, and she started to "park" while in harness (that means while she's working, a definite job-killer).
Is there another job that Rosie can do? Unfortunately, there wasn't at this time. Guess the economy is hitting hard everywhere. We'll be there tomorrow afternoon. We knew that Leader Dogs has a very long list of dog-lovers waiting to adopt a cc'd dog, but we wanted to place Rosie ourselves. More than one friend had said to me during our year raising Rosie, "Boy, if she doesn't make it, I'll take her!" Time to find out if their talk was cheap.