Monday, November 19, 2007

A Career Change

As mentioned previously on this blog, not every puppy raised actually makes it through the entire program and becomes a Seeing Eye Dog. This can be for a myriad of physiological or behavioral reasons. However, as we alluded to earlier in the “Family Day” entry, many of these dogs instead go on to successful careers in law enforcement. Another possibility; however, is their permanent adoption by the puppy raiser, where they will find a home with a lifetime of love and care awaiting them (and where many of them go on to help in “showing the ropes” to the next generation of aspiring Seeing Eye pups). One such example is Orlando (whom you’ve seen mentioned and pictured). Orlando was permanently adopted under this situation, Trish picks up the rest of the story:

I was raising Vedette, (puppy # 2) at the time and received word that another raiser wanted to “give back” their 3 month old, “uncontrollable,” black male lab, who still needed to be housebroken. It appears they had decided raising him was not for them. On that very evening I took Orlando, but ONLY, until another suitable home could be found. He was the cutest little boy and quickly earned the nickname “Sweet Pee”(due to his housebreaking concern). A trip to the veterinarian revealed he actually had a bladder infection, which appeared to be at the root of the problem. By the second day, it was clear he had found his new raisers, he was to stay with us. Yes, he was a very high energy boy and yes he got into his fair share of trouble; besides “watering” everything he choose, both inside and outside, he ate my son’s homework notebook, a homemade birthday cake cooling on the counter, as well as an entire bowl of Halloween candy (that was quite a trick!). For the first few weeks, he remained leashed to me, as this made for quick corrections. Slowly, he learned what was expected of him and every day became more mature and handsome. After spending most days working with him and trying to keep him busy, we could see him developing into a well-behaved boy. I even taught him the “stay on the porch” trick; having young sons usually results in the front door always swinging open and I felt it important that Orlando learn not to run off. So he was instructed to lay on the porch and “rest”. He was the best boy, laying there for hours watching the children playing in the yard, other dogs walking by, and kids riding their bicycles past him, he never tried stepping off the porch.

When the day came for him to go back for training, I was heartbroken. Orlando’s formal training continued to nearly the end of the program, when it was determined he had “self right” or in laymen’s terms “he didn’t play well with others.” I received the call and decided immediately, he was to come home to us. He had been gone for 5 months, would he remember us? He was happy to see us, but he was happy to see everyone. Still, I wondered, did he remember? As we neared home, he became increasingly excited, at first sitting up when passing over the bridge, then whining as we turned on to our street. When I finally pulled into the driveway and opened the car door he took off. My heart stopped! He was out of sight for which was only seconds (but seemed like hours), when I looked up; there he was sitting on the front porch; right where he belonged!. He had a job and it was his job, all along, to watch over us.

For the last 11 years, Orlando has done exactly that. He has been with me through many of life’s most challenging obstacles and with each event he stood steadfast and has always been a comforting soul. To date, he has helped to raise 9 other puppies, all of whom went on to graduate as Seeing Eye dogs. Orlando a.k.a “Sweet Pee” is the best boy. It is his 11th birthday and I am glad he has spent his years with us as a “career change” dog. ~Trish~

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