In Palmetto, Florida, on April 20, Dorian, my family and I took part in a solemn and inevitable puppy raiser ritual known as In For Training Day or "Guide Dog U". It is the day Southeastern Guide Dogs reclaims their puppies from the volunteer raisers who have nurtured them for a year or more. Though it is not an easy day for us PR's, it is right and good. And I know it is an exciting day for the trainers.
Frank and I give Dorian to one of the school trainers. Good-bye Mr D!
One by one the 25+ puppy raisers and their promising young charges are called forward. A brief good-bye and each puppy is led off by a school trainer to the Receiving Kennel. Here they will spend the next month settling in to their new life at the school, including some medical screening and temperament testing. After this they are moved to the Training Kennel where the dogs start their formal education as guide dogs.
Happily, Dorian has a wonderful room mate at the Receiving Kennel - his brother, Holden, who is very similar to Dorian in looks, build and exuberant spirit. In the days ahead I know they will be good company for each other. This photo shows handsome Holden on IFT Day.
Dorian and his sister, Liz, do down/stays while Lizzy looks at the camera. Liz's raiser, Susan, works at the Sheraton Sand Key, the hotel where we stayed. We laughed hard about some of the quirky traits that Dorian and Lizzy share.
|Dorian in front of his Guide Dog U sign. The sign shows him as a tiny puppy.|
Dorian's ghost-presence still haunts me. Even on the drive back from Florida we kept thinking he was in the back of the car. You find yourself thinking, it's time to get water out for him, time to walk or feed him, then stop short to remember he is gone. Sometimes his presence is so real I feel he's just around the corner.
|Sam with Dorian at the beach. Dorian is leaping for the sheer joy of it.|
Dorian, you've been my ever-present shadow/light. We shared a year together that was rich and incredibly full. Now go, my young charge, and show me what you can do. I will be cheering you on and praying for you, as will my family, friends and the people you've touched at my church, in my PR group and in my community. So many people have played a part in raising you. I cannot look on you as my dog, you are everybody's dog. We give you your future...now, Dorian, fly!
Dorian at his final puppy raiser meeting, looking so grown-up.