I just received the good news that this little ball of fur has completed her training at The Seeing Eye and is ready for her “town walk”. It’s always great to see the dogs in action, guiding their handler through crowded streets, holding them back from traffic and in general, just doing their job. What a change from a playful little pup!
When the puppies go back to the Seeing Eye for training, yes, it’s hard to let go. You worry if they will make it, how they will adjust, will they miss those special little things you did for them. (I had a habit of giving a good night biscuit). It’s very much like when your child goes off to school or camp or the military. I always wondered if she was eating, how was she sleeping, would she be a good learner. It’s not easy-you think about them frequently. But, when you hear a blind person talk about the difference a guide dog makes, the independence that is achieved, you want to do it all over again.
One thing I never considered though, was the effect of the pups leaving on my grandson. He was a year old when Ginger came to me and they were inseparable whenever he was at my house. The only other thing he cared to play with when he visited was my iPhone. When Ginger left to go back for training, my grandson was a little over 2. He was so devastated he didn’t mention her name for a year. When my last pup came-and she came only a month after Ginger returned to the Seeing Eye-he would never call her by name. Only “puppy”. Ginger returned to me a little over a year after she left. She had completed training but was never ‘matched’ to the right person. I hope I never forget the look on my grandson’s face when he came to visit and Ginger was there in her same old spot, Pure joy. Suddenly, everything was right with his world. Ginger was Ginger and he started calling puppy by her name.
The “A” Team:
I am still caught off guard when my grandson says things like “Ginger is sad” and when I ask why, he tells me “because she misses (the puppy)”. My heart breaks. It’s hard enough for us adults, I can’t imagine what he must feel or think. But, I hope one day he will understand. Fortunately, kids are resilient, and, while he may not understand for a while, I know eventually he will. And, he will share in the pride and joy when a dog we raise fulfills her purpose in helping another person have a better life. And he will know he had a part in it.
P.S. I am not using puppy’s name due to the fact she is at the Seeing Eye in training and hopefully she will be matched. However, I wouldn’t want a student who might happen across this blog to form any preconceptions in case they are matched with her.
A few pics of her growing up: