Sunday, May 16, 2010

Divinity. It's more than a fudge recipe.


CCI May 2010 Graduation
We attended the spring graduation ceremony for Canine Companions for Independence on Saturday. (My experiences at the Feb 2010 CCI graduation are here .)  Another wondrous day of making new memories and new friends. The stuff of life.

I'm not a devotee of luck or fate, but I do have a healthy appreciation of the divine touch when a big dose of awesomeness gets dropped in our laps. A little story to illustrate . . .

We made it to the graduation a bit early. By early, I mean as navigator I kinda overestimated the time to drive to Columbus, so we showed up an hour before things were to start. Could have easily chalked this one up to yet another goof-up on my part, but if we showed up later we would have missed out on meeting someone very special. 

A bit of backstory first. The last CCI puppy we raised, the lovely Inga, finished her six months of advanced training and so was involved in the team training sessions for this graduation class. In the end, however, she was not matched with anyone as a Service Dog, Skilled Companion or Facility Dog. This is not good news nor bad news. It's just news, really. Inga will stay at the North Central Regional Center this summer, then rotate over to the next team training scheduled for August. A moment of reflection on my part to deal with the disappointment, then moving on to fantasies of handing over the leash in three months. It's ok, I'm good with it now.

So, we show up in Columbus with an obscene amount of time to kill. Just walking around aimlessly at the conference center, while trying to not look like we're doing exactly that. The very first person we encountered was a young mother with her son, David. As we introduced David to Micron and Micron's ever-enthusiastic tongue, the mom told us about the service dog that David was matched with as a Skilled Companion. Of the eleven dogs in the selection process, the mom felt a connection with two dogs, who happened to be littermates. As the week progressed, she started to feel this connection get stronger with one dog. She thinks, please let this be the One for David. 

David graduated on Saturday with Irina as his new Skilled Companion Dog. The very same dog the mom sensed to be the partner for her son. A perfect, blessed match. And not a match made by dumb luck; this kind of life changing beauty is no accident of fate.

What I love about this story? Irina and Inga are littermates. Through Inga and Irina, we are refreshed with new hope. We are inspired by a young mother doing the best and beyond for her child. This was one of those in-your-face moments for a puppy raiser - to see first-hand just how these dogs impact lives. 

Did we raise a future service dog in Inga? I don't know the answer to that yet, but I feel pretty good that we sure gave it a heck of try.

And speaking of the lovely Inga
Another puppy raiser asked if I would be stopping at the regional center to see Inga while we were in the area on Saturday. I don't know, I say. Probably not. Why not, he wanted to know.

Why not, indeed. Why was I so hesistant to see the pup I raised; was it fear? Afraid she wouldn't recognize me? Afraid I would find her miserable and unhappy? Maybe it would be upsetting for her to see me. Or too hard for me to see her and not take her back home? It's been six months since I've patted her ornery head.

Oh for goodness sake, what the heck is the matter with me? I'm stronger than that. We're not talking about delicate flowers here, this dog and me. Time to take a deep breath of reality, cowgirl up and drive up to the center.

And wow. Sometimes it's good to be wrong. Inga is happy, healthy and totally in love with the staff at the center. We got in some puppy hugs and I ended up with a pound of yellow fur on my clothes for old times sake. 

Inga's nose has gone completely dudley. The pic at the top of the post shows her mature features as she crams a goughnut into my camera lens.

This next shot shows her catching up with Derek on her latest acts of derring do.

And here's Inga going all T Rex on a levitating goughnut.

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