Written by Amie Chapman


When I was in junior high, I had a good friend who took me to a horse show that she was in. I fell in love with the idea of riding a horse. When I got home that afternoon, I begged my parents to let me take lessons too. They said no, because it was too expensive, and knowing that I was on the timid side, they thought that I wouldn’t really like it. They thought I would be scared and want to stop.

Arturo settling into his new raiser's home

Arturo settling into his new raiser’s home

When I was 18 I saw in the local Park and Rec catalog an intro to horseback riding class. I decided to sign up and from the first class I was hooked. I signed up for regular classes and my weekly riding lesson was the highlight of my week. That was, until I fell off of the horse three weeks in a row during my lesson. I started to question if riding really was for me, if I should continue to take lessons. My confidence was shaken and I was scared of getting hurt. I told myself, you do enjoy this, you need to go back and try again. So I did, I forced myself to get back in the saddle. It took a while, but I regained my confidence and enjoyed riding for a few more years until I discovered a new passion: puppy raising.

“He was the hardest puppy to raise so far, but that is probably what made me bond so much with him.”

I have been puppy raising for almost 15 years now and have enjoyed it immensely. I have “fallen” hard a couple of times when it came time to turn a puppy in for formal training. I love all my puppies, but definitely connected to some more strongly than others. Those strong connections make it really hard to give the puppies up and take a little longer for the heart to heal.

Arturo having some snuggle and bonding time with Amie

Arturo having some snuggle and bonding time with Amie

Turning in Patrick, my last puppy, hit me a lot harder that I ever thought it would. He was the hardest puppy to raise so far, but that is probably what made me bond so much with him. I haven’t been quite the same since his turn-in, and for the first time since I started puppy raising, I questioned if I wanted to do it again. But just like when I fell off the horse years ago, I decided to push through my fears of getting hurt and have taken on another puppy. After all, puppy raising has been a huge part of my life for so long now, and I’m just not quite ready to close this door yet. I’m easing my way back in slowly, and felt that it was best for me to take on a shorter commitment and go back to where I began my puppy raising journey.

So, it is time to introduce 14-month-old Arturo. I just picked him up from the Guide Dogs for the Blind campus a few days ago. He is what is called a transfer puppy. He was given to another raiser when he was a baby puppy and for reasons I won’t really go into he was in need of being transferred to another raiser — me. Puppies will be transferred to another raiser for may reasons: current raiser has a life change and can’t continue raising, behavior of the puppy, or the raiser is simply just starting a puppy until it is potty trained and fully vaccinated to be able to go to work with another raiser.

Arturo getting some playtime, a great way to bond with a new dog

Arturo getting some playtime, a great way to bond with a new dog

Amie and Arturo on a walk together

Amie and Arturo on a walk together

Arturo is now with us and we can have him from anywhere between one to four months, depending on how he progresses during his time with us. I specifically asked for an older transfer and it took a little time for the right match to be found. I really wanted just a short-term commitment, something that I would not grow as attached to as a baby puppy. When I experience all the firsts (first walk, first public outing, first lost tooth, first time learning a new command, etc.), I tend to bond and fall a little harder. Arturo is the perfect stepping stone for me. So far, he is a wonderful guy with lots of personality and a nice addition to the household and I am enjoying having him.

I’m sure a lot of people who follow want to know if Arturo will be featured in our season of Growing Up Guide Pup. The answer is no, he will not be. We may posts some photos and I will write a blog or two about my experiences with him, but my goal with him is to help prepare me for my next big puppy raising adventure. This is my way of healing and moving on — Arturo is an Amie and Matt project, not a GUGP one. With his help I can prepare myself for another GUGP puppy in the future.

A favorite photo of Amie and Patrick together. A puppy raiser almost always has their puppy by their side.

A favorite photo of Amie and Patrick together. A puppy raiser almost always has their puppy by their side.

I recently came up with the analogy that my heart can break and heal like a broken bone. But sometimes bones don’t heal correctly and have to be rebroken in order to heal in the right manner. My heart didn’t heal correctly after Patrick so I am going to let it break again in hope that it will heal and be even stronger with Arturo. For the first time in a while, I am excited and ready for this puppy raising adventure and even more excited for a future GUGP puppy raising adventure. But one step and one day at a time for me.