Saturday, August 30, 2008
I feel a bit anxious as we drive out to the Leader Dogs for the Blind to pick up our Future Leader Dog (FLD) puppy. Will I be able to do this? How will I manage her while I'm working? What will Gypsy do?
Andy says, "There's just one thing." Oh, oh. "Because you chose to do this, I get to name her.
Fair enough. Seven years prior I had struggled to name Gypsy. She went three days without a name, mostly I was calling her "YOU," as in "Hey, you!" On the fourth morning, a beleaguered Andy announced, "Her name is Gypsy."
So, what name did you pick out for our Future Leader Dog? I asked.
"Well, I think we should reserve final judgment until we meet her, but I'm thinking: ROSIE."
We pull into the Leader Dogs for the Blind parking lot almost 30 minutes early; we watch a looped video more than once while waiting in the kennel lobby. This isn't calming my nerves. Finally, a volunteer leads us back to a conference room. Another woman and her young daughter and son accompany us--they are here to pick up their second Leader Dog puppy. "We brought our first one back two weeks ago. Luckily we are getting a four or five-month-old puppy this time. My work schedule makes it impossible to deal with the constant demands of an eight-week-old!"
The volunteer hands me and the woman a canvas "ditty" bag (with "Puppy-Raiser for Leader Dogs for the Blind" stamped on the side) filled with paperwork, a "training manual," puppy-counselor contact information, two sizes of martingale collars, a six-foot leather leash, a ziplock-bag of Purina Puppy Chow, a two-cup plastic scoop, Heartgard tablets, a nylabone, a small Kong toy, and a numbered Leader Dog tag which must be on the puppy at all times. We are given instructions about veterinarian care, and feeding schedules. We read over and sign a formal contract stating that this puppy is entrusted to our care until she is about one-year old. There is a special box* to check--if the puppy is "career-changed" at any time, do we want her back? I hold my breath and "X" it. (*As of 2010 this box is not on the contract; Leader Dogs retains the right to place a career-changed dog into an alternative program before offering it back to the raiser.)
After all the "legal-eeze," the volunteer says to me, "I'm going to bring yours out first. The little ones are just so darn cute!"
She is gone what seems to me to be an extra-long time. At last she returns, cradling a snuggly-pudgy black-lab puppy. "I had to wake her up!" She exclaims.
As she hands Future Leader Dog puppy number 7758 to me, the patiently-awaiting little boy runs over and begs, "Can I hold her?" Reluctantly I hand her over. His face looks like it is about to break he is grinning so hard, and the puppy's tail appears in danger of spinning off of her body.
There isn't much point in discussing her name any longer. FLD "Rosie" gets handed back and forth--there is plenty of puppy-breath and ear-nibbles for all--and in the end she comes to me.