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Note: I have been blogging but not posting. I apologize but we have been crazy busy and like to sit with my entries before I post. Consider these next posts well marinated.

Today we deposited the C Litter at the Northwest Canine Companions for Independence Campus in Santa Rosa.

The Gang's All Here

Part of the breeder caretaker’s job is to return the litter they have been raising for the past eight weeks to the CCI Santa Rosa Campus. The breeding for CCI is very very selective to say the least. The entire program occurs (as in from start – presentation of a breeder, to the deed, and to finish  – puppy delivery) only happens at the NWR Campus. Pups that are raised in other regions can be selected to be breeders, but for the most part they must reside here in Northern California. Puppy raisers in northern California are particularly lucky as we live in the “breeding area.” Now that Sabina’s motherly duties are done it is time for these aspiring service dogs to head out to the next leg of their journey.

A few months ago I wrote about Lacinda’s turn-in. Turning in a puppy is bittersweet, I am not going to lie. Turning in a litter of aspiring puppies is a whole different sort of turn-in. Don’t get me wrong I will totally miss being the Queen of the Universe, their cute little puppy antics, and of course – PUPPY BREATH! However I won’t miss the late night puppy parties, imposing on my friends and family to help with the whelping and feeding, and the poop. Okay we need them to poop, but I won’t miss cleaning it up. You were mercifully spared any true poop horror stories because these pups were litter box superstars.

There is a titch of anxiety about this turn-in. When the G Litter turned in not only did I already know (thanks Mark Z.) all of the puppy raisers. I knew that I was going to get one back to puppy sit, and would be raised about ten minutes from my house. This time we have heard from most, but not all of the puppy raisers. This is just part of being a breeder caretaker. When you don’t hear from a puppy raiser it can mean several things: the pup is going to a prison program, the raiser is first timer and hasn’t plugged into all of the CCI communication vehicles, is truly someone not web-connected (trust me those people exist, although you my blog reader may not understand how), or they haven’t been assigned a puppy raiser yet.

For those of you who are filling out the breeder caretaker application right now you should know that puppy raisers are not obligated to be in touch with you, and as a BC you are not obligated to be in touch with them. I think that is generally not the norm, but it does happen. The thing you also know is that CCI just doesn’t pick anyone to be a puppy raiser – whether you know the PR or not they all go to good homes.

The puppies rode in two kennels for the two-hour ride. The weather is starting to turn so we had the windows open for a bit, then we would run the air conditioning. We alternated between being wind-blown and freezing but as long as the pups were comfortable we will pressed on. This litter hasn’t been particularly noisy and did well with the crate training, until today. They weren’t bad most slept, but we were serenaded by at least one maybe two puppies. We just turned up the radio louder. If dogs could roll their eyes Sabina would be full on eye-rollin. She got to ride up front with us, but I think she was a little put out that her normal riding area was taken up by the ankle-biters.

Turning in puppies is the final day of Queen of the Universe for a few months. There is a special parking place reserved for puppy turner-iners. Everyone is excited to see a new litter and Sabina is happy to see all the kennel staff.

Last day of princess parking

Just after parking in our special spot we got a HUGE surprise! Fellow blogger and CCI puppy raiser Donna Sword and her husband were on campus, visiting from NCR. (Check her out at: http://www.donnasword.com/ ) That just made our day to share turn-in with someone from a different region that doesn’t get to experience litter turn-in that often, if ever. So while the four of us hung out and got acquainted (we have never met in person, just in cyber space (thanks again Mark Z.)) we heard the tell tell sound of litter turn-in. A CCI kennel staffer is coming up the path pushing a huge white hotel linen cart. We off load the pups into the cart.

Next stop is the litter puppy turn-in play park. It is a playground full of Clifford the Big Red Dog puppy playground equipment and toys. This is the puppy’s last hurrah and an opportunity to work out the pent-up energy from the long trip to Santa Rosa.

G Litter Tearing Up the Play Yard

They play for a while, we say our good-byes, and back in the cart they go. Over the next couple days they will have their first vet checks, get their puppy tattoo (much more on that later), and shots. Puppies that are being picked up in person in Santa Rosa usually go out the next day. For puppies flying off to their puppy raisers across the United States, they leave over the course of the next couple evenings. Usually they fly overnight and arrive at their puppy raisers home early the next morning. This, of course, is all provided that the weather cooperates. It can’t be too hot, too cold, too scary (storms), too anything. Perfect puppies need a perfect start, and CCI staff does their best to make sure that happens.

We head off to take care of some other business on campus – including some play yard play time for Mama Bean. Next stop – Timber Cove Inn. If you are visiting the Sonoma Coast this is a must stop to at least eat, but preferably eat and stay. Just a one night get away to re-energize after a busy eight weeks, and resting up for the next 18 months. Tomorrow we get to stop back by Santa Rosa and pick up puppy number three – Cindylu! I am like a kid on Christmas eve. There might not be much sleeping after all.