Saturday, October 31, 2015

Letting Go

I am stepping down as the Bradenton Area Coordinator and will hold my last "official" meeting on November 7th.  I have chosen to have the meeting down along the Bradenton waterfront, which is where I attended my very first meeting as a brand new Puppy Raiser Applicant years ago.

As the Area Coordinator of the Bradenton Puppy Raiser Group I have had an amazing journey and have learned quite a few lessons, about both myself and others. 

I have learned:
  • I can do things I thought I couldn't.
  • I can expand my preconceived and restricted view of things and people to allow myself to see other sides.
  • To appreciate what individuals can bring into my life even if they can't or don't live up to unrealistic expectations.
  • That sometimes the best I can do is good enough, even when it falls short of my own or other's expectations.
  • That people from all walks of life, for all different reasons can and will give a piece of their heart away for a good and worthy cause.
  • That when you choose to do what is right, even if and when your time and energy is not appreciated, you will still feel good about yourself.
And now it seems that in stepping down as the Area Coordinator for the Bradenton Puppy Raiser Group there is one more lesson for me to learn, and that is the ability to "LET GO."

Watching the people who graciously prepare to take over the group, I am both grateful and unsettled.  I honestly believe that they will do a great job.  Thus, I now need to learn how to let it go and let them be free to make their own decisions, and grow from their own experiences just as I have.  

They may change how I did things, they may make mistakes (as I have certainly done), they may disappoint me and they may also make me very proud.  All of those "mays" are in the future and that is my last lesson:  "may" is something I have no control over. They must follow their own path and find their own way, and I must allow them to do so.

In all honesty, I may find it hard to watch from the sidelines, but as part of my final lesson I hope that I do that graciously. 

I have raised two puppies who went on to become guide dogs.  I have finished 3 dogs who did not make it as working dogs - two of which I have adopted back and whom I am grateful for every single day.

However, in my time as an Area Coordinator I have had over 40 puppies raised in my group and thus also have the following as part of my legacy.  
15 have become Guide Dogs.
4   have become Veteran Service Dogs.
3   have become Detection Dogs.
3   have become Breeders for the school.
4   have been adopted back by their raisers.
8   have been adopted by others.
3   were finished outside of the group.
2   are in for their formal training.
6   are still with their puppy raisers in the group.

It has been an honor and a blessing to be able to serve in the capacity of Area Coordinator.  I intend to stay involved with Southeastern Guide Dogs, as time allows, and will always hold a special place in my heart for the wonderful work they do.  

Good Luck Bradenton Puppy Raiser Group - may your leashes stay loose, your puppies stay focused, and may your hearts stay filled with love, patience and guidance for the puppies you raise. 

With all my love and gratitude,  
Susan LeBourgeois

Following are a few pictures from our last outing at a local pumpkin patch.

Debbie and Remy.  When Debbie first applied to be a puppy raiser, the AC at the time thought she might be too small to handle a full grown dog, little did they know that she would become one of the most amazing puppy raisers.  Debbie has taught me so much and I am honored to call her my friend.
Debbie and Remy
Joanne holding Penny.  Joanne may not have raised a puppy for the Bradenton Group, but she has been an invaluable asset. 
Amanda and Lulu.  Amanda along with her husband Steve, are an amazing puppy raiser duo and always do a wonderful job with their pups.
Lauren and Sheba
Although Lauren is a brand new puppy raiser you can see the incredible bond between the two in this picture.
Ray, with his daughters' Ashley and Kaylee, and puppy Annie.
"Hey Mom?  Have you noticed that that pumpkin is as big as I am?"
Helen and Rosie.  Helen is another wonderful raiser of the Bradenton group, and I was blessed to be able to co-raise Cash with her.
Shirley F. and Willie.  Two intelligent, strong, willful females.
The wounded warrior- her hand met a sharp puppy tooth at the beginning of the meeting (Shirley H.), the patient saint  - I don't believe I have ever seen her ruffled (Helen H.) and the courageous crusader - a super fundraiser/organizer for past walkathons (Joanne L.)  I should call them the three amigos.
It has been a privilege and an honor to be the Bradenton Area Coordinator for Southeastern Guide Dogs: an organization of wonderful people, and incredible dogs remarkably and selflessly changing people's lives.  Woof Woof

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