Miley never came back, she was with her girls forever. The wait for a Future Leader Dog puppy began. My application was in; by late March I had received a packet in the mail from the Puppy Development department at Leader Dogs for the Blind. I was accepted as a puppy-raiser! Now I had to wait until a puppy became available--it could be 6 to 9 months. (Currently, puppy-raisers are in great demand so the wait is not long.)
Sometimes I think that all the waiting was designed to test my resolve. I wondered if the Puppy Development people brainstormed ways to verify that potential puppy-raisers really have what it takes to raise a Future Leader Dog. Patience. Persistence. Doggedness!
The Meet Your Best Friend at the Zoo event came and went. I waited.
My work schedule got reduced to three days a week. I waited.
One day in June I received an email from a Leader Dog Puppy-Counselor. Can you take a one-year-old male black lab named Caspian for a week while his raiser goes on vacation?
Hmmm...it seemed like another test. Would I get a puppy sooner if I agreed to take the lab? What if I didn't? Would I be deemed "not-a-team-player" and never get a puppy? (Questions I thought, but didn't come right out to ask!) I wasn't sure how Gypsy would take to a grown, un-neutered male. (Future Leader Dogs are not neutered or spayed until it is determined that they will not serve as breeders.) I knew I could handle exposing Gypsy to a puppy, but this was something different. Somewhat apprehensively, I agreed.
One thing that impresses me about the trainers, puppy-development people, and puppy-counselors at Leader Dogs is their practical attitude in dealing with dogs. At one of the puppy classes at the school, one puppy-raiser asked about how to handle the interaction between her puppy and her personal dog. "My dog is not happy about having the new pup in the house." "As long as there isn't any blood flying, let them settle it," she was advised.
The family raising Caspian brought him over a few days before I actually took him; we wanted to see how things might go with Gypsy. (And maybe they wanted to check me out!) We met outside our townhouse in the common area. Caspian was HUGE!
Does Caspian back off if a dog growls at him? I asked his raiser. Gypsy can sound ferocious, but she puts up a good front; if the dog backs off, so will she, but if the dog doesn't...well, it isn't pretty.
"Oh yes, he's a big wimp! And, seriously? He could use a dog to put him in his place."
Sure enough, as Gypsy and I approached an interested Caspian, Gypsy rumbled and he backed away. Our week with the big guy was on.