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.


Natalie said...

Aw Paige! The second last paragraph had me all teary bringing back the memories of Fielder's recall. Matt's right, recalls are good in that they've made it all the way to training, but they still majorly suck. Best of luck to Paige in training and congratulations on bringing her this far!

And for the record, I think Tai and Oceana would make gorgeous babies ;)

The Puppy Raising Roller Coaster said...

AWW Good Luck Paige!!

GDA LAB said...

Congrats to you both and of course good luck to Paige..... Let us know when you get that first postcard!