Puppy walking

An adventure in looking after a puppy until it is old enough to be properly trained as a guide dog for the blind.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The last post, September 15, 2007.

A portrait

I started posting on September 10, 2005, so it's a nice two years almost to the day for me to finally post the last post. On Thursday, I got the phone call I've been dreading from Guide Dogs. They have decided to take Rockwell out of the program and they wanted to offer him to us as his puppy walkers first.

His quarterly updates were always positive and he did make good progress. However, they also talked about his high anxiety levels and how distracted he could be. In the end, it was his sensitive nature that decided them against continuing to train him. They would watch him progress and then watch him slide back. After months of this, they said, "why are we making this dog do something that he really is not suited for?"

When I got the phone call on Thursday, I knew right away that this was why they were calling. Peter and I had talked at length about whether we would take Rockwell if he flunked. We took Uma back, when she flunked due to "food aggression" back in 1991. But when we got Rockwell, it was just to puppy-walk him for the year and then we wanted to be dog-free for a while. And I had decided to puppy-walk because I was missing Uma so much after she died, the Summer that Rockwell was born. But I didn't want to replace her with a "forever dog".

Anyway, after they called, I said I wanted to talk to Peter about it and would call them back on Friday. When he got home from work, we talked and I cried and we felt guilty. We worried about abandoning Rockwell and whether he would be loved. We fretted over whether we might have caused him to flunk. I asked some close friends for advice and they suggested that we should let Guide Dogs find him a home because that had been the plan all along.

On Friday, I talked to the very nice woman at Guide Dogs, I asked her about whether Rockwell might do some other "work" because I think that dogs do like to work. She said that they had spent almost a year training him to be a guide dog and now, if he was sent for some other training, it would be the opposite of everything they try to teach at Guide Dogs - don't sniff, don't run, don't do this and that. A sniffer dog, for example, would be trained to run around and sniff everything! So they thought it wouldn't be fair, especially to a sensitive soul such as Rockwell, to send him for yet more training. And I agreed.

I asked about their selection process for sending failed guide dogs out to be pets. They have a long list of people who would like these wonderful dogs and so they peruse the list and select the right family and then invite them to come meet Rockwell. Once the adoptive family shows up, they grill them some more and watch the interaction and see if it meets their satisfaction. Only then, do they agree to part with the dog. Plus people do pay for this dog so it's better for them financially than giving him to us for free.

So that's it. Rockwell is going to have a new family and he will get to be someone's great pet and I wish him well. We may never know what happens with him unless we by chance see him in the future. So I'm sad and I feel bad that he didn't become a guide dog. But I guess that's just the way it goes sometimes. Thanks for reading and offering your support over the year - I have been introduced to a whole new world of dog people and even made some cyber friends because of this blog, for which I will be always grateful.
Oops, bad dog!
And here's one last photo, that I never dared post until now, because guide dogs are NOT allowed on the furniture!

All the best, Julia.

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