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Lost dog! may not be the most accurate statement, Lacinda isn’t lost we know exactly where she is. Maybe “Lost Owner!” might be more appropriate. All I can tell you is something is not right and it feels like either I lost my girl or I am lost without her. Quite possibly it is a little bit of both.

On Friday morning we got up early, not that anyone but Lacinda and Sabina did much sleeping on Thursday night. The morning started with snuggles, sniffles, and the truly last of the lasts. After breakfast we headed over to the NWR Jean & Charles Schultz Campus in Santa Rosa. As I have previously mentioned the day is very long, we started at 9:30 with turning in Lacinda’s gear (cape, tags, gentle leader) and signing up for pictures, and didn’t head home until around 7:00 pm after dinner. There is quite a bit of waiting around for pictures but while you are waiting you get to see old friends and in my case Facebook and CCI Group people I hadn’t met in person yet.

Lacinda thinks she is a diva and took “strike a pose” to a whole new level. After the CCI photo shoot we headed over to the grassy yard and took a ton more pictures with other Paxton pups (Lacinda’s Dad), siblings, and our GRC puppy friends we grew up with. About 10:30 Dave took Lacinda to the play yard to tire her out before the graduation ceremony. (I ducked out to take Ms. Bean to the vet clinic for her litter x-ray.) Lacinda was the life of the party on the play-yard greeting everyone who came in and showing them around. At 11:30 the puppy raisers headed over to the South Training Room for a little lunch.








Then we headed over to graduation and puppy matriculation ceremony about 1:00 pm. Lots of wonderful and awesome things happen at graduation ceremonies. I will say this a thousand times in this blog: if you haven’t gone to a CCI graduation add it to your to do list. Many people leave saying it was life changing. One of my favorite part of graduation isn’t about graduation at all it is seeing my friends get to pick up the puppy that they raised and are now graduating with their forever person. After all of the puppy and puppy raiser reunions we head into the center for the ceremony.

The ceremony includes a slide show of the puppies turning in for advanced training and a march across the stage to pomp and circumstance of course! Next the graduates finally take the stage and we get to see a video of their team training narrated by the graduates who share stories about themselves and how the dog will help them. The moment finally comes when the graduates are called to the center stage one by one. The trainers read a brief bio and the puppy raiser is called to the stage and the hand off occurs. Dave and I have not had this opportunity yet so I will share the comments of my dear friend Rick Spicer whose pup Tiarra graduated on Friday:

There are very few things that I will remember until the day I die & one of them happened yesterday during the CCI Graduation. As Irina & I walked onto the stage to hand Tiarra’s leash to her new partner & the girl’s mom, as we got to the top of the ramp & the little girl saw Tiarra, her whole face lit up & so did her mom’s. I’ve never seen a child with a smile as big as that before – & her mom looked at her, looked at us, looked at Tiarra & smiled as the tears welled up. I will never, ever forget the look on their faces – total joy, happiness & love. Tiarra answered our prayers by becoming the answer to their prayers. It doesn’t get any better than this.

Lets take a little Kleenex break shall we?

Next someone speaks on behalf of the class, and if you weren’t crying already this will usually do it. The NWR was treated to 2 different class presentations that left us laughing as well. I have a dirty little secret to share. When I heard that there were going to be 17 graduates I was super excited! That is huge! Then I began to think oh no – this thing is going to go on forever. Normally I wouldn’t care how long the ceremony is but this time we had to get back to the campus to turn in Lacinda and I didn’t want to lose a second with her. When it is getting time to turn in you pup and you can actually hear the minutes counting down in your head. As always the graduation ceremony was awesome, it makes you want to run your dog back to the campus so they can turn her into the next dog to graduate. Before we knew it the ceremony was over and it was time to head back for the final countdown.Back at the play yard around 4 or 4:15ish and Lacinda was again the princess of the yard.

The goal for your dog on turn-in day is to (according to our fabulous trainer Carly) tire them out, empty them out (hurry), and then fill them back up with dinner and love. A quick walk back to the car and both girls get dinner. Lacinda is a wet muddy mess. I didn’t even try to stop her from frolicking in the drinking area mud pit. She was having fun and hey she wasn’t riding home in my car right? Then she got the pep talk about doing well and listening to her trainers. Dave and I switched so Dave could get his final snuggles and words in.

The very last part of turning in your pup is what I like to call the perp walk. You find your way over to the training room, give your puppy program manager (PPM) and last details about your dog, find out their cellmate – I mean kennel mate, and hand them over to a trainer to take them to the kennel. There are two kinds of turn-ins the ones like me who stride in and rip off the band-aid and the lingerers (you know who you are!) who wait to till the last-minute lingering in the back of the line. Trust me this is one line you don’t want the person in front of you to turn and say – go ahead!

We got to meet Lacinda’s trainer who took her to the kennel and then the long walk starts – and everyone is watching to see what the dog does. I handed over her leash and without missing a beat Lacinda fell into position and walked off with her trainer. I could hear her saying as she walked away – I am so glad to meet you, I am Lacinda and my plan is to get myself a little human of my own. The rumor mill says that if I do everything you tell me to, that I can get one. I also heard that you are the bestest trainer in the whole world. Did I mention I love you? (and she bats her long eyelashes). Yep that’s my girl! She didn’t look back, only to the future that is hers to claim. See she isn’t lost at all, she knows where she is and what she needs to do. It was me all along who is just lost without her.