In a gleeful mood visiting family downstate for Halloween, ironically on "issue day" (see note below) at Leader Dogs for the Blind, I received the dreaded call.
"I'm so sorry to tell you," the Leader Dog employee said, "but Gus was career-changed today."
No matter what they tell you, it is never enough information. Questions abound, you just can't believe it. MY puppy??? He was GREAT! What happened?
You second-guess yourself. Where did I go wrong in raising him? Should I have done something different? Did I take him into the woods too much? What more could I have done to switch on the working-gene in this dog?
You can't help but think back and try to identify a clue that this was coming. Those times he hesitated getting out of the van and then when he did he bolted to the end of his leash. Maybe it wasn't that he was trying to avoid my bag banging against his head, maybe he didn't really want to get that working vest on and come with me into the grocery store/bank/library/restaurant...
You can go crazy thinking about it. You can despair for the puppy you are raising now. All your effort, all the hope. For naught.
You second-guess the training protocol at Leader Dogs. But you have to trust that this organization, in the business of training guide dogs since 1939, knows what it is doing; that the trainers understand the dogs and do their best to bring them along; that they've used all their tools in their training-box. That they gave him every opportunity.
In the end, the dog decides. It's like the rest doesn't even matter.
Two months into his formal training at Leader Dogs for the Blind, Gus decided that a job as a guide dog wasn't for him.
The official reason? Gus "lacked responsibility" and his "body sensitivity was too high." Simply put, he shied away from the harness and didn't want to work.
GUS IS BACK!
|Gus found his old bed, but he almost doesn't fit in it anymore. What do you suppose he is thinking?|
|Waiting for the "OK" at breakfast, FLD Scout and Gus share his old mat, while Gypsy sits closest to the food dishes.|
"Issue day" is the day each month that the blind and visually impaired "students" in class at Leader Dogs for the Blind first meet their new four-legged-furry partner.