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If you thought that this was going to be a post about Days of Our Lives – wrong! Sort of…. but it is more like the Days of Puppy Raiser’s Lives.

I was just lamenting on facebook the other day what I am calling the “stealing of summer.” As my friends were posting all of their kiddo’s first days of schools (and one very cute 32nd first day of school of a teacher) I was wondering what happened to school starting the Tuesday after Memorial Day. Since when does school start in August – or gasp July? Where is the fun in that? It feels like a waste of the long summer nights that are surely still ahead.

It is these familiar things that mark the passage of time for me. Like Labor Day marks the season of wearing white, Easter means the bulbs are almost blooming and in Sacramento the passing of ground-hog day marks not only my anniversary but also the beginning of the fog. At any rate all of if seems, the older I get, to be whizzing by, that is until you have a puppy enter advanced training or AT as we call it. To very loosely¬†quote from a very funny running shirt I saw – the passage of time when you puppy is AT is slower than a turtle running through peanut butter. I am telling you that from the moment you turn in your puppy until that first puppy progress report it is like there is a pebble stuck in that big ol’ hour glass.

Yesterday we turned in Cate our 3rd puppy-in-training for Canine Companions to AT. Before you ask – yes it is hard. In fact it pretty much sucks, but I have learned a few things since I turned in my first pup. Here are the turn-in truths as I know them…

Northwest Region Pups after their Class Picture

Northwest Region Pups after their Class Picture. Certainly not having fun at all.

1) The pups have fun at AT. Particularly the ones that like to work. Yes AT is hard, the dogs go through adjustments, and it can be stressful – but they also have fun.

2) The trainers love your pups as much as you do. WHAT?? Not possible you say? I have first hand experience with this – they do love your pups and have a very vested interest in their graduation. I was so sad that no one would snuggle and love the Bean like we did when we turned her in. Who would know how to make her happy like I did? I mean surely no one would scratch her ears just right. Wow – was I wrong – see Truth #3….

3) You pups love their trainers too. I have posted about this before the pups love their trainers and that is pretty much your fault. Puppy raisers who uber socialize their pups and trade with other raisers when possible, turn-in great and confident pups who are happy to work for whomever asks. In our case Sabina not only loves her trainer – she loves her more than me. Don’t shake your head, it is true. I have come to terms with it and as long as I stay in her top 5 I am good.

4) This is a necessary step to get to our ultimate goal. It struck me during our last litter that there is someone out their already waiting for a Canine Companions assistance pup even before they are born. We puppy raisers do a great job, but nothing compares to the training they get from the Canine Companion trainers. Bottom line there is only one way to get to graduation blue – advanced training.

Cate "testing" out her mama's breeder scarf. Doesn't she look good in it?

Cate “testing” out her mama’s breeder scarf. Doesn’t she look good in it?

5) They end up where they are supposed to be. I have yet to see a Canine Companion pup end anywhere except where they were meant to be. This, like many things, is not always something we are happy about or even understand. Our second pup Lacinda didn’t graduate and we were pretty devastated as we had high hopes for her. She is now living with a family that already has an assistance dog for their son. Lacinda is living her dream with a family that loves and needs her. A better place couldn’t be had for her.

Lacinda on her turn-in day.

Lacinda on her turn-in day.

So today there are certainly some sad moments knowing that Cate will most likely not cross our threshold again. However it is exhilarating at the same time. For the next six months we will be on pins and needles waiting for the call about what Cate’s future holds. We know whatever it is we will be proud and happy for her.

Love you Baby-Cates!

Cate and her mama Sabina on Cate's turn-in day.

Cate and her mama Sabina on Cate’s turn-in day.

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