Monday, August 13, 2007

The Next Paige Begins

Well, we have survived another turn in. One year ago this past weekend, we gave Liam back to the school. Little did we know that we had yet to meet our Paige, and that we'd be going through another turn-in in a year. (And yes, the idea that Tai is not quite seven months now and that in a year he'll be about nineteen months, ready to go, has hit us like a ton of bricks.)

In the tradition that was inadvertently started when Voight went In For Training, we decided to have a turn-in party for the very last huzzah, allowing Paige to say goodbye to her friends, two and four legged, before she went off to be a guide. And truly, it wasn't just Paige: of the five dogs going in from our South Bay group, four were present - Paige, her brother Palmer, Reese, and Kipper. We invited quite a few people, puppyraisers and colleagues from work, as well as family members - and ended up with about twenty people and twelve dogs. And for the record: two Golden-doodles, one Golden-Lab cross, and nine labs.

These dogs continually amaze me - with all of them running amok in the backyard, there was nary a grunt or growl. When they got a little too rambunctious, the leashes went on and everyone was calm. The highlights: Ember, the Golden-Lab, leading the charge(all twelve dogs) with a ring toy in her mouth, around Matthew and THROUGH our friend's legs; Tai deciding that Oceana was THE prettiest female he'd ever seen and tried to "prove it"; Paige getting her last loves from, oh, basically everyone.

So everyone went home pretty dang tired, and Paige was no exception (Tai went with his friend Weeko home, so we could have our last night with Paige). She got into bed, thumped her tail contentedly, and was out and snoring before you could say "g'night".

The next day: as Matthew says, turn-in is a really good thing. That they got there and are going to be trained for guidework is the whole point. But it still kinda sucks.

We got there early (gluttons for punishment, I guess) and spent a bit of alone time with Paige in one of the dorms that the school has for the graduates (they had part of the building under construction; usually these rooms aren't open). We told her that we hoped that the next time we saw her, she'd be in one of those rooms with her new partner.

As we have said, you get there, you have lunch, and they talk to you about what is next for the dogs, that you can call and check on them at any time, and that you have Given The Gift. I have to say that we were impressed with the trainer who spoke to us. She was very reassuring, explained the next few weeks in much more detail that I have heard before (how they divide the dogs among the three trainers, for example), and told us which trainers would have this string of dogs. Incidentally, one of the trainers who will be working with Paige's string also worked with both Voight and Liam, and another trainer worked with Liam's string as well - a very good thing.

And then it was time.

You take the pictures with the littermates, and then you walk down to the kennels, and they start announcing who goes where with whom. Our little girl was in kennel four, with her brother Palmer, whom she knows and likes. She went right in, seemed very much at home, jumping up to look into the next-door kennels to see her new neighbors. We believe that Paige spent a lot of time in the kennels before we got her, and she's never been known to stress there, so that is one comfort. Then it was time to leave.

We told her that we love her, to try her very best and be the good girl that we know she is. We know she's in the excellent hands of the kennel staff, as well as the trainers, but it's amazing how much you miss her as soon as you shut the door.

A friend of ours once said that instead of the puppies getting medicine for heartworm, it should be the puppyraiser, because the puppies always worm their way into our hearts. Amen.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

It's Time

Well, on Saturday, it will be time. Paige is really going in for training. She's come a LONG way, and we couldn't be more proud of her...but....

anyone know of a country that doesn't have an extradition treaty?

I know, I know, we have to give her back, as we gave Voight and Liam back before her, but this is the really hard part. The two of us have differences in how we perceive turn-in also, but it's one of those things that everyone handles differently.

It's been hilarious, the people who have wanted "their last Paige kiss/ hug/ puppysit/ step on the foot. I got a call today from the lady I dropped Paige off with: she had taken Paige to the OTHER lady who's been helping us with the pups while I can't take one to work. The other lady wasn't pleased that SHE hadn't had her last puppysit of Paige (sorry, tomorrow and Friday Paige will go with her daddy, and Tai will be puppysat).

It has also been very hard not to have a pup with me (Amy) at work. I miss the thump-thumps of the tail when I sit down in my chair, the small (or large) snores emanating from the corner.

We're going to miss her.

I don't know what all happens at other schools when you give your dog back, but with us, we have a luncheon up at the school, they have speakers that tell you how wonderful you are, that you have Given The Gift, but still:

You take your dog down to the kennels. You take their collars off. You kiss them goodbye.

You turn around and leave.

Someone asked us after our last meeting why we didn't cry when we talked about turning the Paiges back in. It was nearly four weeks ago. It still wasn't real. And we were dealing with other changes, my new job, etc. Trust me, I'm making up for it now.

We are so proud of Paige, and we truly love what we do. We wouldn't stop doing this for anything. But as our friend tells us, it's like a rollercoaster to raise a guide. The car goes up, the car goes down. You just hang on for dear life.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Verdict Is In...

They are going to fix Tai.

Tai came home from his "pre-evaluation" on Wednesday. He had a GLOWING report: he is ahead of the curve, learning-wise, for his age, and is learning self control appropriately.

That being said, he's a lot of dog.

The instructor who gave him his evaluation was the same that looked at Amy during obedience last weekend and asked "How's Paige doing?"...except.... Amy had Tai. We told her, we don't lie in those monthly evaluations where we say that he's an ox.

(BTW, we weighed him at school: 58 lbs at 6 1/2 months of age. Lord, are we in trouble.)

We appreciate that Tai will be fixed early, and will skip the raging hormones phase, and in that, may not learn some of those habits that could interefere with guide work later on. It was also nice to have an early evaluation to know that he is not lagging, being the "second child" if you will. We asked what we should be working him on, or what concerns they had.

"Nothing. Keep doing what you're doing".

Yes, ma'am.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

2 Years

Happy 2nd Anniversary to Voight and his best friend Willow, both who have been with their partners for two years as of July 31st.