We all know the cliche that dogs hate the mailman. In this house that is pretty true. About every 18 months the mailman brings a huge package which means it is time to start getting your aspiring service pup’s stuff together to ship them off to college. Just like people college the big envelope means they got in. Sigh.
Before I offend anyone by comparing my dog to your child, take a deep breath. I intentionally do not have children for a myriad of reasons that could probably be their own blog. I do not think my dog is a human or better than your kid, but in the world of raising service dogs I see quite a bit of parallels. If you are still huffy and puffy and think your kid is different than my dog I agree – let me outline some ways they are different. A very good friend shared some differences recently when we were discussing the impending “turn-in” as we call it. There are three really significant differences that I will cede:
When my dog goes of to puppy college she will not:
- Force me to mortgage my future so she can study underwater basket weaving.
- She will not call home asking for money.
- She will not turn up unexpectedly pregnant. (If she did, I could legally sell her kids for a profit.)
Okay – so from here on out if you are offended that I compared my dog to your kid, this blog is not for you.
Where was I .. oh yeah, turn-in. We get these little lovely puppies about 8 weeks old and get to keep them until they are about a year and a half, give or take a couple months. They “turn-in” back into CCI where their professional training begins. Here they will build on the commands that we taught them and turn them in to polished working dogs! We call this puppy college or advanced training (AT). AT is between 6 months to a year, depending on the dog and the needs of the program. There are certainly trials and tribulations that go with puppy raising but turn-in is undoubtedly the most conflicting.
I am sad that she is going off to college, because no one will love her as much as me right? Who there will know her favorite spot to be scratched? What will she do without her favorite toy? She will be all alone!!! That my friends is all a bunch of people baloney. When Sabina came home from CCI, I could tell she was love and spoiled, and a happier dog because she likes to work. When we get near the CCI campus she is beside herself with excitement. Don’t even get me started about how she loves her advanced trainer more than me. (It is true.)
Once I get past all of that nonsense, I get excited. Excited to see what the future will hold for her. Excited to see our hard work pay off. Excited for the next puppy too.
I will sit down soon and finish the paperwork, send it in. I will also snuggle her extra tight. At the end of the day though I know two things: it is up to Lacinda now and that whatever is going to happen is going to happen.