As a puppy raiser the number one question that I get asked, is surprising, not “can I pet your dog?” or “what is his name?” The question that I get asked on a daily basis and most of the time several times during the day is “isn’t hard to give them up?”
I have been asked this question more than normal recently and decided to share my feelings are why I go through such a heartache every 14-18 months.
My short answer to this question is: of course it is!
My thought behind the answer:
I believe that God created every person and dog for a reason and that God created certain dogs for a specific person. I love how one puppy raiser puts it “If I am the person that God has created this puppy for, then I am happy, if he created him to change someone’s life then I am happy too.”
Of course that does not help when you are feeling the pain and loss of not having your puppy by your side. I can remember every detail of every one of my puppies in their last moments as being their puppy raisers like it was yesterday. Every in for training day got easier in some ways and in other ways harder to let go off that leash for the last time. If you don’t have the pain of letting them go, you can’t have the enormous reward of seeing that once tiny puppy succeeding in their destiny.
Nothing that you have not given away can ever be really yours. ~C. S. Lewis~
I have been asked by many, “how do you not get attached to them?” You can’t, you can try your hardest to say that you are not going to let this puppy have a part of your heart, but the joy and love that that puppy shows opens the door to your heart. As that puppy grows, the spot in your heart grows too for the pride and love that you have for that puppy. When they leave they take that part of your heart with them, but leave just a little for the love that you will always have for them.
Alexander, Colt, Ely, Sherman and Rocky have all helped me grow to be the person who I am meant to be. They have all taught me extraordinary lessons quickly and remind me everyday to be the person I am supposes to be.
“What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” ~Helen Keller~
It does not matter if they become guide dogs or not, just like every kid can’t be a doctor, not every puppy in training will be a guide dog. Whatever career they choose to have, is the right career for them. I have seen the impact of what a career changed dog can have on the community, a family and even a child with autism. It is remarkable how each dog finds just the right job for them! Ely loves being a pet doing therapy work on the side. He enjoys his mornings to sleep in (of course after eating breakfast) instead of going out places all day long. He has a job that he loves!
The summary behind this question is that even though it is extremely hard to give them up, it grows you and makes you that much stronger. When you see that once little puppy who you had good times and some more challenging times with as it was growing up being with someone who needs them is a feeling that you cannot experience without the pain of having to let go.
“You were always my to love, but never mine to keep.” ~a puppy raiser~( can’t remember where I heard this)
After saying all this does it mean that I am not going to cry when Rocky goes IFT? NO, I don’t think you can be human if you don’t. It would have been a lot harder without the support of my family, puppy raising family and my one of my best friends, Chelsea (who just so happens is a former puppy raiser, just not so much fun when both of our pups go IFT at the same time. I am so thankful that God let our paths crossed twice!)
“He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart.”
~Unknown ~(the quote I include in all my puppies scrapbook for their new owners)
I don’t regret one moment of being a puppy raiser, even around IFT. Each of my puppies has changed my life and taught me all that I could learn from them. You have to learn to let them go so that they can change someone else’s life. I am told it takes a special person to be a puppy raiser, while that might me true, it takes a special puppy to create a puppy raiser.