Yesterday afternoon, we gained a new member of our family. Meet Cody. He is a 7 week old lab/retriever cross-breed, and he is being raised to be a Seeing Eye guide dog.
Isaac will be raising and training Cody for about a year until he goes back to The Seeing Eye in Morristown, NJ for more formal training. And we’ve already begun the process of praying that he passes and praying for his eventual companion person.
Obviously, we don’t know how it will turn out (as I shared in yesterday’s post – RePurposed). Based on our last two experiences in the puppy raising program, we understand that it could be a challenge. But we’ve come to realize that it’s worth it. It’s worth starting all over again on the road to raising Cody and helping a blind person in need of his canine eyes. It’s worth the interrupted schedules, the hours of training, and the sadness of separation at the end of the puppy raising period. It’s worth it, because it has the ability to change someone’s life.
When have you faced a challenge that was worth repeating? When have you faced a challenge that had the power to change someone’s life?
Tomorrow, Irwin leaves our home to begin the next stage of his journey towards becoming a Seeing Eye Guide Dog. He came to us right before last Christmas when he was seven weeks old, and we’ve had him for over a year. It has been our job to help him through his early growing up time. While our whole family will be sad to see him go, we’re also excited for the future that lies ahead for Irwin and his visually impaired companion.
Before he left, I sat down and talked to Irwin about his favorite things about being a Seeing Eye Puppy. Together, we came up with this top 10 list of best things about being a Seeing Eye Puppy.
10. I get to sleep upstairs in Hannah’s room. She’s so nice, and it’s been comforting sleeping next to her.
9. I get to go on lots of walks. I’ve walked through the town of Schwenksville. I’ve walked through malls. I’ve walked through the local Target. I’ve walked on the Perkiomen Trail. I love the exercise and the chance to experience new places.
8. I get to go to monthly Puppy Club meetings. It’s great to hang out with other puppies and training. At first it was hard to behave during the meetings, but I have actually learned to sit quietly and enjoy the meetings. Tonight will be my last Puppy Club meeting.
7. I get to go to special places where other dogs aren’t permitted. One of my favorite places to visit was the movie theater. It’s a little noisy and dark, but the smells and flavors on the floor are unbelievable.
6. I get to play. People think that training to be a guide dog is a tough job. I guess it is, but I still get to play fetch and run around.
5. I get to play with Iso. Iso is the dog that lives here permanently. He’s a little slow, and he didn’t seem to like me at the beginning, but I can tell he’s warming up to me. In fact, I bet he’ll miss me when I’m gone.
4. I get to look important. When I proved that I was ready for it, I received a special green vest. This green vest tells others that I’m in training for an important job. When I wear the vest, I feel like I’m on a mission.
3. I get to hang out with a great family. It has been so special getting to know Hannah, Isaac, Leanne, and Jon. They’ve treated me really well. They will be great puppy raisers for the next puppy who will be arriving soon.
2. Everybody wants to pet me. I get it. I’m cute and all. And I like it. It’s so nice to get all this attention.
1. I get to help someone. The Stolpe family has done a great job telling me that I will be a great Seeing Eye Guide Dog. I’m excited to learn more when I head up to school tomorrow.
Seriously, we’ll miss Irwin so much, but it’s been a great adventure for our family. People often comment that it must be so hard to raise a puppy and give it up. Yes, it is difficult. But it’s also great knowing that Irwin will literally change someone’s life.
Do you have any pets at home? What’s your favorite thing about your pet? If they could speak, what do you think they would say?
Today, I’m honored to guest post over at I Love Skippack for my friend, Michael Shaw (A.K.A. The Skippack Blogger). In today’s post, I share about our family’s experience with the 4H Seeing Eye Puppy Club. Here’s a teaser for my article. Please head over to I Love Skippack for the rest of the story.
Dogs terrified my son and daughter. Big dogs, little dogs, fat dogs, skinny dogs — it didn’t matter. When a dog crossed their path, my two children would scream and crawl up my legs into my protective arms or seek similar protection from my wife.
When our children were very young, their fear was understandable. As they grew out of toddlerhood, it became more troublesome. Friends and family had to quarantine their dogs when we came to visit. My wife and I felt it was time to help our children face their fear.
We thought about getting a puppy, but didn’t feel ready to make the necessary commitment. We did research, visited pet stores and dog breeders, and became more convinced that we were not ready for puppy ownership.
Acting on a recommendation from a friend, we found a solution that didn’t demand we become full-fledged pet owners…[Click here for more!]
If you’re visiting here from I Love Skippack, I hope you’ll stay around for a while and consider becoming part of The Stretched Community. I write daily about life’s STRETCH marks. My blog posts are often about family, faith, and a few other things that stretch me on a regular basis. Here’s a sampling of some of my posts:
It’s time for The Stretched Blog Week in Review – the first for 2012! The traffic to the Stretched Blog is at an all-time high this week. In fact, blog traffic on Wednesday was the highest ever on the blog (and Thursday’s traffic was right behind). Thank you!
Here’s the rundown on the posts for the week:
Monday: December 2011 Top Posts
Tuesday: Meet Irwin
Wednesday: One Word For 2012: Transformed
Friday (this actually posted Saturday do to a visit to me by the stomach flu): Ice Breaker – My First Car
Your continued contribution to the blog through comments is greatly appreciated. Your comments are what makes this Stretched Community! Please remember to take the time to Subscribe to the blog, so you can have Stretched delivered daily to your e-mail inbox. Also, don’t forget to stop by the Jon Stolpe Stretched Facebook fan page. Become a fan to keep up with some additional Stretched stuff. I have started to share more blog highlights from other blogs that I read regularly. I think you’ll find some great stuff here. Thanks!
Here are a few of my favorites from around the blog world this week:
It should be a fun week upcoming. Brandon Gilliland will be guest posting on Wednesday. We’ll have another fun Ice Breaker on Friday. And there’s sure to be more Stretching the rest of the week. Please stop back so you can see what’s going on here!
How about you? How was your week? If you’re a blogger what happened over your way this week? Did you read any great blog posts this week? Share with the rest of us!
Our family has grown in the last couple of weeks. No, Leanne and I did not have another child. But we did add another dog to the mix right before Christmas. Irwin is a golden retriever and Labrador mix, and I believe he turns 9 weeks old today. He’s not your normal 9 week old family dog. Irwin has a purpose, and we only get to have him for a short period of time. You see, Irwin is a Seeing Eye puppy. He was bred to help a blind person. As puppy raisers, we will have Irwin until he is 12-18 months old. Our job is to get him house broken, teach him a couple of basic things (sit, come, etc.), and to get him exposed to public places as much as possible. From there, Irwin will return to The Seeing Eye in Morristown, NJ where he will go through 8 months of intense training. This is when he’ll learn the skills required to guide a blind person. At the end of his training, he will go through a final exam and health check to make sure he’s ready to go to work. Assuming he passes, he will be matched up with a blind person. They will work together for a month up at the school before they are sent home to live and work together.
The whole new dog thing has definitely added a chaos to our home, but it has also been fun. Hannah is the official puppy raiser, and she has been doing an unbelievable job. She takes him out to “park” whenever it’s time for him to go. She lets Irwin sleep by her bed at night. And she wakes up early to make sure he gets outside before any accidents. If Hannah does this twice before she graduates high school, she’ll be eligible for a scholarship from The Seeing Eye. So it’s likely that this won’t be the last new puppy we’ll see in our house.
Many people have asked, “how can you raise the puppy for a year and let it go?” That’s a great question. I’m sure it will be tough to say goodbye to Irwin when the time comes, but it will be easier to release him knowing that he has a purpose. As parents, we have a similar experience with our kids. Sure we get them for more than a year, and those 18 or so years can be filled with all kinds of ups and downs, but I think it’s important to realize that we have influence and responsibility over our children for a relatively short period time. In essence, they are on loan from God. There comes a time when we must release them for their greater, God-given purpose. And so, Irwin reminds me of this. I want to make the most of the time with my kids while they’re under my roof, and I want to release when the time comes them knowing full well that God has a purpose for them.
Have you ever had to release someone or something in order to pursue a higher calling or purpose? What made this transition easy or hard?