After 3 years of raising service dogs for My Angel With Paws, probably the number one question I get is “Isn’t it hard to let them go?” I am never quite sure how to answer this.
I actually cried when I found out Serena was not going to be a service dog because her hips are bad. But now am thankful everyday she is mine. There was never a set time when I gave Jack up. He just started going to Body Fixx more frequently until one day he just stayed with Tom. Plus I see him all the time around town so that is great fun. Darby is going to be the first puppy I raised since a baby. Everything he knows and does is because of me.
I have spent the past year and half watching this puppy grow. From the first car ride home:
To spending the first week getting no sleep what so ever, while he slept in the most awkward positions:
To teaching him the basic commands and then cheering him on as he figures out the harder service dog skills.
I watched him grow from barely filling his service dog vest to seeing him turn into a magnificent young adult dog:
As this puppy’s puppy raiser, I am the lucky person who gets to experience all his firsts; first Christmas, first trip to Disney World, first snow:
Sure there were moments when I wondered how many things can this puppy get into? Like when he thought he was a guinea pig and joined them in their cage:
Or when he proudly brought me my bra while we had friends over and having to say “bring it here, give, YES!”
Or when he found the one mud patch in the yard and tried to become a black lab:
But then there were many more moments that make me want to dance for joy. Like when I dropped my keys and before I could say anything there he was holding them up for me wagging his tail with sheer glee. Or even the simple things like just having a cuddle buddy while watching Sunday football:
Or when he finally figured out what “speak” meant after I spent months waiting for someone to walk by the window so I could run into the room going “Yes! Speak!” when he barked at them. It is a miracle I didn’t get kicked out of my apartment doing that.
After a year and a half you learn all your puppy’s little quirks and habits. Like that he loves going down slides.
Or that he snores very loudly while you are in class. Or sitting like a statue staring at you with laser beam eyes means “get me outside now because I am trying really hard not to move because if I do I will pee.” I constantly am trying to remember all these things so I can tell his forever mom or dad everything but then I realize that whoever his mom or dad is will learn them too and oh so many more that I didn’t know.
So “is it hard to let them go?” Yes. Probably one of the hardest things I have done. But that puppy that you raised turned into a dog that will change the world for one person. I say that is pretty freaking awesome!