As some of you GDA people know, we got a call from GDA on Friday.
Paige has been released from the program.
When I spoke to the head of the puppy department, she said that Paige's dog distraction is too strong to continue. We knew this was a problem when we agreed to take her on just about a year ago. She made progress, but as many of you know, the stress of the harness and making decisions can bring out issues and difficulties in all dogs. She lamented that Paige is such a sweet girl and that her guide work was really excellent, but that this was one difficulty that she would not be able to overcome, and they did not want to break her spirit.
What followed next was a jumble of mixed emotions - and still kinda is, in a way. I called Matthew at work and explained what had happened, still feeling stunned - after all, we got Paige's second postcard not that long ago. He was able to leave work, especially since his supervisor had known Paige, with very little trouble. I, on the other hand, not being able to bring a dog to this job, had a harder time, complicated by the fact I couldn't find a single person higher than myself. I left my boss a phone message and email with a quick prayer for understanding, and left.
We called our wonderful area leaders, closest friends, and then dropped off Tai with his puppy friend Weeko. We had no idea what to expect - this is one part of the process we had not experienced, and did not want to have Tai the 72 pound teenager to distract from whatever might happen (more on him in a sec). The drive up there was odd, because while we were both sort of emotional, both of us were also feeling guilty for feeling happy. We were reminded that this truly is a win-win: it's a win if she's a guide, but it's also a win if she's not. We just didn't know what to do with this win, yet.
Paige had just had a bath and the head of the kennel department brought her to us still pretty damp, but it was a damp, wiggly, happy Paiges that barrelled towards us. She knocked off my sunglasses and me onto my butt much like her "big brother" Voight does when he sees us after a long absence. She immediately pushed her head into our chests as hard as she could - Paige's ultimate gesture of love and affection. We were told all the necessary paperwork would be mailed. We walked her to the truck, she jumped in like she'd never been gone, and sighed a very contented sigh.
Matthew picked up Tai, and I stayed with the Paiges. I got a text message before Matthew left to come home: he knows. Tai had glued his nose to Matthew as soon as he saw him - Tai was scenting his sister! When Tai came out into the backyard, they barrelled at each other, tails a-waggin'. Tai is now fully as big as Paige, weighs as much, with much bigger feet. We think that she's wondering what we fed him while she was gone.
Paige is not going to be staying with us. A part of why we do the whole GDA thing in the first place is that we don't have a dog door for a puppy and truly, we are pretty busy people (as our spotty blogging record attests). It would not be fair to take Tai everywhere and Paige hang out at home by herself. Paige is going to stay with my mom, whose last dog passed away the same day we turned in Liam, August 2006. Mom always wanted to do therapy dogs with her Watson, but he turned out to be ill of health and therefore cranky. Paige will be perfect.
So it turns out that from getting Paige to getting Paige BACK is almost a year precisely. We are still adjusting to the change. We are still pretty emotionally out of whack currently, but these past 36 hours have been amazing on so many levels. We will have Paige until next weekend, and then she will go on to her new home and next adventure.