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Quite a bit of things have been written about saying good-bye, how to say good-bye, when to say good-bye, how to say good-bye. I think you get the picture. Some times good-byes are surprisingly easy, sometimes it is excruciating, and some times parting is truly a sweet sorrow.

Ranking right up there in the top three questions asked of puppy raisers is “how can you give them up??” The answer is simple (Well aside from the times you do wonder why you decided to do this crazy puppy raising thing this would be at 3:00 am and the whole house is awake on day four of crate training..), it is simply the most wonderful thing I have ever done in my life. The people who volunteer for Canine Companions are given the opportunity to do be part of someone’s miracle. That is not something that happens everyday.

With my first puppy I tried to keep in the forefront of my mind is that she isn’t mine and belongs to Canine Companions. As you might have guessed that didn’t work. I still cried the day I turned her in. With my second puppy I was better prepared for what turn-in day would be like and guess what … I still cried. So now we are on puppy three and I am just planning on crying. Why break a perfect track record?

The simple truth for me is that puppy turn-in parting is sweet sorrow. I don’t want to give away “my” puppy, but I also can’t wait to find out what happens. Picture in your mind (really close your eyes and picture in your mind) your most favorite book (or movie) and right as you turn the to the best part the page is blank except for the words – “we will mail you the rest of the book in a couple of months.” Really? Umm yep, and that couple of months in puppy raising time is generally in 6-9 months. For me that is what puppy turn-in is like, sad that it is sort of over and excited for what is going to happen all at the exact same moment.

Four times a year graduations are held across the United States at the campus’ of Canine Companions. (There are an extra four in Santa Rosa, CA celebrating the graduation of hearing dogs.) Not only are the newly graduating service dogs going home with their new forever person and their families, but puppy raisers also come together to turn-in their charges to the exceptionally skilled trainers and staff of Canine Companions. This graduation included the turn-in of Sabina’s first litter (the “G-men” as we call them.)


Gromitt and Mary after crossing the stage.

After loving them, raising them, teaching them over thirty commands, and socializing them three of the bestest puppy raisers selflessly turned in our grandpups. We had the privilege of being there for Gromitt’s big day.

Mary and Gromitt before the actual turn in.

Mary and Gromitt before the actual turn in.

After the last hurrah’s, hugs, and of course dinner; Mary turned over Gromitt’s leash to the trainers. Among the tears there were cheers. We called out “think breeder” -puppy raisers and Canine Companion staff alike – as Gromitt led the charge, right down the hall to the next chapter of his life. He didn’t look back. Not even once because he already knows how exciting the next part is going to be and couldn’t wait to get there. We can’t wait till the G-men get there either.


Gromitt, happily trotting off to the next chapter.