Sunday, April 21, 2013

Let's be Clear

I am a puppy raiser.  That means that I do not get to keep this dog that I raise, train, socialize, and take with me nearly everywhere I go.  Oh, and I also love him.  Very much.

I have had many people imply that they think I may not love this puppy because I can give him up, but never so bluntly as today.

I made a quick stop at Petco to get some High Value Treats for Dante.  Since it only took me five minutes, I left him in the car with my sister and just ran in myself.  The cashier was asking me about my dog and such, and I told him about Dante and how I was raising him for CCI... my typical spiel.  He asked about what I do in training and such, and I said that I have him for about 18 months, teach basic house manners, commands, and socialization before I give him back to finish training and hopefully be place with someone who needs him.  "So you don't get to keep him?"  He asked.  "No I don't, but someone needs him more than I do," I replied.  "So I guess you don't get attached to him.  I am a real dog lover and could never do something like that to my dogs.  It must be sooo hard on the dog emotionally to just be ripped apart from the one person he loves."  I wish I could say that I educated him on how CCI puppies are so well monitored and how we make sure that they are comfortable with different people and in different houses, and how each of the dozens of people who are involved in their lives loves them to pieces, and they have the most amazing lives of any dogs I have ever heard of.  But I was caught off guard by his bluntness, and was at a loss for words, besides a small amount of defensiveness.  I said something along the lines of how much I do love Dante and that he would do great, and also stressed again that he has an important job to do.

Even though in hindsight I know I could have said something better, I now have thought through it and have an answer for the next person who asks.

But I am writing this to make something clear: I love this puppy with all of my heart.  Yes, we butt heads at times, but when Dante leaves, he is going to take a big chunk of my heart with him.  And as I have said before, that's okay.  You know what?  I am a huge dog lover too.  I have always had a soft spot for Goldens especially.  To be a puppy raiser you have to be a dog lover - more specifically a puppy lover.  But first and foremost you have to be a people lover.  It is the only reason you can give them away, because someone needs him more than I do, and - as much as I am leery about it - will love him as much, if not more, than I do.


  1. Hannah, I am so truly and deeply sorry for what that insensitive employee said. My eyes teared up as I was reading your post.

    My family were puppy raisers for CCI a while ago - we raised two puppies, so I can totally understand how you can love the puppies you raise for so long and then give them back so that they can learn all they need to learn to help somebody else one day. Funnily enough now, I have my own service dog to help me and I can even more appreciate the sacrifice that puppy raisers make.

    Owen's program doesn't use puppy raisers, but he was with his trainers a long time and the director of the program cried on our last day of team training. What you are doing is a beautiful thing, I hope you don't let ignorant people like that get you down for too long.

    I cannot wait to see how Dante does in his final months with you and once he goes back to CCI for his advanced training. :) I'm sure he is going to do great!

    1. Katherine, thank you for your sweet words! I had no idea you raised for CCI as well! I am so thankful that blogging has led me to "meet" so many inspiring people such as yourself. My uncle is on the waiting list for a CCI dog, and it has been so encouraging to see first-hand the impact that CCI has had on him already. Hearing stories from working teams sure keeps me going!

  2. Okay, I had a big long comment written up, but then it just lost it all. :( Anyway, imagine a big long comment about how much I hate it when people say or imply that when in reality, you are just a bigger person because you love the dog AND their future person enough to say goodbye. A true giver, kindhearted soul. Keep up the good work!

  3. Hannah, I'm sorry you had to endure this. Don't worry about being caught off guard and having a better reply later. I think all PRs have had that happen to them. I know I had an especially bad one, when I woman told me about buying an illegal cape and taking her pet everywhere. She was so proud and I was so taken aback that I really didn't respond as forcefully as I should have. And believe me the conversation I had 'with her' in the car on the way home was much better!

  4. Lisa, thank you so much! I am thankful to have all you fellow seasoned puppy raiser who understand and will listen to me vent ;-)

    Kristi, I so know what you mean! I do the same thing all the time. I think that maybe it is a good thing I don't think all that well on my feet or I may say something I regret. I was at Walmart yesterday as well, and two ladies came up and told me they saw us at the mall last weekend. The only thing I could think of was, "Yeah, we get around." Hahaha

  5. I've gotten that too and is so frustrating. It's the look I get when I explain that one day my puppy will go live with her forever Human and be great. They look at me like I'm a criminal. It's so hard to explain that she is destined for bigger things than my life. How could I give her up? She is going to change someone's life. How could I not!? It's amazing the way people think they can judge this process. Be strong. Dante is obviously well loved.


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