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You know that the very best thing ever that can happen to an aspiring service dog is .. well..to be come a service dog. The simple reality is that not every aspiring pup has what it takes to make the grade. It can be heartbreaking to get the call, to know that all of your hard work was for not, that it just wasn’t meant to be. Sure I know lots of COC’s (change of career dogs) go on to very meaningful lives, but when I bring home a puppy I think of nothing but doing everything I can to ensure that s/he will graduate.

When Lacinda first went off to college her first report card was stellar! We were oh so proud. Don’t get me wrong there were a couple “bad” things – she had excited greetings, she is solicitous, but we already knew that going in. The next report card had some pretty serious concerns, and then she didn’t even make it to the third report card before our PPM (puppy program manager) had to make the call she probably didn’t want to make, and we certainly didn’t want to get.

As I have already told you I am a planner and we had a plan for Lacinda. Basically the plan was that she would graduate and if by some weird chance she didn’t there is a special family waiting just for her. Now that I had to put the plan in motion I was hoping that my resolve to stick to the plan was as strong as the day we committed to it. See many people don’t even understand how we “give” these dogs away in the first place. I often remind them that they are not our dogs to keep, but just on loan to us anyway. Then when they hear that you aren’t keeping your dog they want to a) what is wrong with the dog, or my favorite b) what is wrong with you for not wanting to keep the dog. The simple fact is that we loved her so much we had to give her the best home we could find. With our schedules, lifestyle, etc – that simply wasn’t our home not with the S Family waiting in the wings.

The other things about these pups is that the COCs are actually in more demand than the service dogs. Most people wait anywhere from 18 months to 2 1/2 years for a CCI service dog. People waiting for COC dog – good luck with that. Since puppy raisers have first right of adoption and adoption referral, it can take many many years for someone on the COC list to actually get a dog.

As it would happen, the day I would normally be attending a CCI graduation, Lacinda’s new forever family came over to pick her up. Her forever family is already part of the CCI family as their son Noahhas a CCI skilled companion. His brother and sister, Nate and Sarah, wanted a pup of their own, and mom and dad wanted a COC dog – enter Lacinda. I won’t say that her test run did not go without any hiccups – she is the doodlebug and they come with quirks. I will tell you that she had doodled her way into their hearts and now has a forever home – all official and everything.

It seems that Lacinda and CCI SC Dog have become fast friends, and that she has brought a bit of spunk (if not craziness at times) to her forever household. It seems that they wouldn’t have it another way. She has already been on a family vacation and is sleeping with her people – one of favorite things. The most important part is that she has three little humans to take care of and serve. I know that makes her the happiest.

Knowing that she has found herself an adoring family, that gets to be the faithful companion of some wonderful kids (when she isn’t busy eating what the tooth fairy left – honestly Lacinda), and is even helping out Noah and skilled companion pup in ways we didn’t expect…. yeah I would say she graduated. I was told when I picked up my first pup that these pups end up where they are supposed to be, and so she has.

Happy Graduation Lacinda. We couldn’t be more proud.

Update Sunday June 17 @ 2046:

Lacinda’s family has graciously allowed us to use their names in Lacinda stories, so I have updated this post. All Canine Companions staff and volunteers take the confidentiality of graduates very seriously; and personally wouldn’t necessarily want someone writing about me in their blog with out my permission, well except if you were saying good stuff. All kidding aside, this is a very big honor to me.