Sunday, November 2, 2014

Brothers, Archie and Cooper, go In For Training

On November 1, 2014, which was a chilly Saturday morning here in Florida, two brothers from the Bradenton Puppy Raiser Group headed off to college for their formal Guide Dog training.

The Cox family with Archie (4BB13).

Co-Raisers, Richard and Joe Gallina, and Meisha Wilson with her niece, Allison, and Cooper Michael (5BB13).

Cooper with his family waiting for the morning to get started.

 Cooper Michael. aka Willie Nelson.

Making new friends before the program begins.

Archie's raisers checking out the dorm rooms.

Allison and Joey in front of the dorm room for Archie and Cooper. The brothers get to room together.  I can only imagine how much fun they will have getting to know each other.

There are many emotions involved with IFT day, and I have heard other raisers explain it as "Going into the Vortex." 

Saying good-bye to the puppy you have spent hours and hours training and loving can bring on a sense of loss and sadness.  There is also worry and anxiety about how your pup will adjust to their new surroundings and routine.  However, there is also an amazing feeling of accomplishment in knowing how hard you worked to make your puppy "the best guide dog candidate possible."  Last, but not least, is a sense of pride in knowing that you have done a remarkably unselfish act of raising a dog who might possibly go on to profoundly change the life of a person you have never even met. 

Meisha and Richard saying good-by to Cooper Michael.
Archie surrounded by his family as he is turned over to a kennel tech.
A kiss good-bye and he's on his way. 

The staff at Southeastern Guide Dogs are well aware that letting go is not an easy thing to do, so they make sure to include a large dose of puppy-hugging to bring the smiles back. 

There are endings and beginnings that await us all on life's journey. 

Maybe your next beginning will be taking home a new puppy to continue the cycle of giving.

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