Someone once told me, about the day we puppy-raisers return our year-old puppy back to Leader Dogs for the Blind to begin formal training, "Even after four puppies, it doesn't get any easier."
Here are a few tips for surviving "turn-in day:"
- Have plenty of Kleenex handy.
- Bring someone with you for support.
- Take a picture of you with your puppy by the statue at the door of the kennel.
- Don't lose your copy of the turn-in contract, it has your puppy's new number on it that you will need when you make your monthly call to Leader Dogs for an update on your puppy's progress through training.
- Congratulate yourself for accomplishing such a wonderful deed.
- Call Puppy Development to schedule a pick-up of your next puppy!
What happens, exactly, on return day?
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2010
|Me and FLD Mike at the statue.|
My husband, Andy, and I bring FLD Mike to the kennel lobby at Leader Dogs for our 10:00am appointment. Someone hands us a several-page questionnaire about Mike's behavior over the last few months. While we answer the questions, a trainer named Mike (amazing coincidence) replaces FLD Mike's collar and tags with a collar sporting a new number.
Andy and I watch Mike-the-dog bounce happily next to Mike-the-trainer on their way outside for an evaluation. Mike-the-trainer tests Mike-the-dog on his reactions to an approach, noise, traffic, stairs, obedience, and overall confidence. The ratings for these things are "great," "good," or "fair." Someone else once told me, "You try telling a puppy-raiser, who is standing there sobbing, that their dog is not very good at stairs." Diplomacy.
Mike-the-trainer fills out a contract with Mike-the-dog's ratings (all "greats"); he adds a few other comments: "Great dog, walks nicely just a little fast-paced. Wasn't phased by anything." That's my FLD Mike!
|Mike grades FLD Mike.|
Mike-the-trainer asks me, "Do you want Mike back if he is career-changed?" He checks off my response, Yes. I sign the contract and get a copy.
Time to say good-bye. I pat Mike-the-dog on the head. Mike-the-trainer turns to take Mike-the-dog back to the kennels. Mike-the-dog, with a spring still in his step, heels along. He never looks back. Dogspeed, I whisper under my breath after him.
|FLD Mike, on his way!|
That first "someone" was right. It doesn't get any easier.
I'm picking up my third Future Leader Dog puppy on Saturday!
|Memories of FLD Mike.|