I don't know how many times I had heard from people that puppy raising is a roller coaster. I knew it would have its ups and downs, but I don't think I truly, whole-heartedly believed them.
I honestly do not even know where I am going with this post. I have not had enough time in the past few weeks to sit down and sort through my thoughts on my own, let alone write a coherent blog post. Sometimes I just have to write, even if I don't publish it, just to get my thoughts straight for my own good. We'll see where we end up.
Hourly, my thoughts and emotions about Dante's imminent Matriculation are changing.
Did you see how good he did with that distraction? I think he just might make it.
Oh my gosh! He didn't just steal that hand towel for the umpteenth time today, did he? There is no way this dog is ever gonna graduate...
We just spent 1.5 hours in the mall, and not once did he need any more than a verbal correction. He went "under" the table and never tried to lick a single crumb!
You seriously just blew off my "here" command and headed for the kitchen with a wagging tail? You're not going to make it to your first report card...
Oh, the list could go on, but I think you get the gist.
I knew all along that I will miss my boy like crazy, but I was not prepared for the emotions of worry that would come up as well (it doesn't help that many things he has just started since the spring). I don't really know why, but I guess I kind of figured we would have things "sorted out" by this point.
First and foremost, I know it is wrong to worry about anything because my God cares even about these seemingly small things, such as Dante, and knows exactly where he will fit best.
I think right now, the not knowing which way Dante will go is the hardest. While I would be ecstatic to see Dante graduate, because this is what I have raised him for, I will welcome him back as my pet in a heartbeat. Even in the midst of this roller coaster ride, I know that Dante is ready for this next step in Advanced Training, whether he thrives and graduates, or decides it is not for him. He will make the decision on what he wants to do.
People ask me all the time what will happen if he "fails"? Advanced Training is not about Dante "failing" or "passing." It is unfair to expect every single one of the (around) 1,000 puppies born to Canine Companions each year to become assistance dogs. If he graduates, good for him! He found his place in life! If he gets released? It is still good for him, because he found his place in life!
It is so hard not to worry. It is so hard not to say, "I should have done this better," or "I should have done that differently." My job is not to get Dante to graduation. I remind myself of this every day. My job is to get him to Turn In, and cheer him on as he decides for himself where he will go from there.
Puppy raising is the closest to a roller coaster you'll ever get me on, haha! With three weeks until Turn In, I know that it is nowhere near over. It has been hard at times. But it has been so, so good! I wouldn't trade a single minute of it for a break from the ups and downs.