Miss M is off on her next adventure. Having spent 16 months with us as a Guide Dog Puppy in Training, the house seems really empty.
We attended a thank you luncheon and turned her into the kennel along with 25-odd other dogs, including three of her litter mates (two others didn’t make it and got “career changed” – they’re now pets).
While the puppies are growing up, they go into the facility once a month, if only to acclimate them to staying in the kennels. While they’re on site, they play, do activities, hang out with other pups and generally have a great time… so being there is a treat. They get all excited as soon as you turn in the driveway.
Of course, this made eating lunch difficult.
Dog: Are you nuts Everyone’s here hoomans walking around with plates of foooooood maybe they’ll trip and I’ll get some yummies Not only that other dogs here Need to sniffys.
Dog, reluctantly sitting: Aw rats
Fifteen seconds later…
Dog, head in my lap: You got any food you don’t want
Me, trying not to be totally irritated: Sit.
While we ate, the staff talked to us about what happens next. First, one of the guide dog trainers talked about how they train the dogs to help a blind person navigate the world. Then she said she was leaving the facility, so they’re trying to hire someone to take her place.
Next up was a trainer for the prison program. If a pup isn’t selected for the blind program, they can be used as a facility dog (offering comfort and cuddles to say, people waiting to testify in court, etc), or a service dog for a child with autism (they have to be very patient and willing to put up with sensory stuff), or a dog for a vet with PTSD or physical disability.
Training the service dogs involves taking them to one of two prisons where they have programs in place. Two inmates are responsible for each dog, working with the pupper and teaching them things like emotional support (the dogs are trained to put their head right next to the person’s neck then lean in… apparently there’s not an inmate around who doesn’t respond to a dog who does that… but then, I wouldn’t either.)
Then they mentioned because they’re losing a guide dog trainer, they’ve decided to have ALL of the puppies go to prison for the first month while they sort out their staffing. They have plenty of capacity at the prisons (this is a seriously competitive program for participation – heck, I’d be trying to get in too if I were incarcerated) and all of the dogs will benefit from a month of the empathy training.
MaeMae: I knew she’d end up there. Where else would she go?
Dog: I no understand Everyone going to… to… um… what’s prison
Me: It’s a damn good thing you’re not human, you miserable feline, as you’d be in there with the best of them. What you do with those gophers is nothing short of a war crime.
MaeMae: I get maximum enjoyment out of every critter. Heck, I go back and try to get them to play with me the next day. Not my fault they don’t respond to my request for more fun and I have to toss the corpses in the air so I can chase them.
Me: yeah. That’s a war crime.
MaeMae: Whatever. You people don’t even eat what you kill. After playtime I have a little snack. You just bury them.
Back to the IFT, because I do not need to contemplate cannibalism.
We were then given time to take photos, so we went to the GDA sign.
After the photos, we were told who their roommates would be… Miss M was paired with a large male (they’re both fixed) – he’s a golden who LOOOOOOVES being cuddled.
He’s a little younger than she is, as he’s from the R litter. They were beyond ecstatic to be together in the kennel…
And so, we were told to say our goodbyes…
So she’s off on her adventure. We got home and MaeMae seemed to know what was going on, as she didn’t hesitate coming inside and… well… her food is now where the dog’s was. She no longer has to hop on a desk to eat. However, next month, when we puppy sit, that’s going to be a totally different story. Heh, heh, heh…
It was strange, at 4:40pm this afternoon, not to have a cold nose nudging into my waist… and it’s very quiet around here. She’s going on to help someone, so that makes it worth it.
3 thoughts on “…and she’s off…”
– 16 months of training with a Guide Dog Puppy in Training
– The house is empty
– The puppies are growing up and go into the facility once a month
– The staff talks to the puppies about their next steps
– One of the guide dog trainers is leaving the facility and the puppies will be housed at a prison for the first month while they find a new trainer
– The puppies will get empathy training in prison
We took in Misha today. I’m home crying. You wrote this beautiful good-bye essay.
Misha is a wonderful pup and he’ll do so well! I’m so sorry you’re hurting. Sending you both hugs.