Written by Amie Chapman
Part of the journey as a puppy raiser is saying goodbye and handing your now grown-up puppy over to the professionals.
I like to say that puppy raisers “home school” the puppy until they are old and mature enough to attend “college.” Not every puppy gets accepted into formal training, so it is a sad but proud moment when I drop a puppy off for “college.” I will admit that some are easier to than others to let go of, but every single one of them will be on my mind every day until I get told what path they will take and where they will ultimately end up.
This past weekend I dropped off puppy No. 16, Arturo, for formal training.
Arturo was a rock star out in public, so calm and collected. At home, he was the complete opposite. Always wanting to play, needing to be busy and be the life of the party. He was an amazing help with our new little puppies that we are fostering, so calm and patient with them. He wasn’t with me for very long, only two months, but I already miss having him around and so does the rest of the household.
I was his finishing home—my job was to do a little fine tuning on his house manners. His first raisers did a phenomenal job with him and recognized that they had a lot going on in their lives and gave Arturo every chance he could to be successful. I hope I get to meet them in person if Arturo has what it takes to be a guide dog and graduates with a partner. I want to thank them for sharing this amazing guy with me. I know it must have been tough to let him go.
So now the waiting game begins, waiting to see how Arturo does in training.
Guide Dogs for the Blind has a pretty nice update policy for their puppy raisers. Raisers can log into the school’s website and see where their puppy is in the training process. There are eight phases of training for the dogs at this organization, and every week the trainers update the list on the website. Raisers can also read in the puppy raising manual a description of what the dogs are doing and learning in each phase. I will be checking every Thursday in hopes of seeing Arturo moving up from phase to phase. This is an exciting time for me as a puppy raiser. It is time to cheer him on from the sidelines.
When I dropped him off I told him that everyone who had a hand in raising him was very proud of him and will miss him.
I told him to work hard and listen to his trainers, and that I felt like he would do great things. So now I just sit back and wait, and hope that my time with him was helpful and that I will see him again soon at graduation.