Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mighty Mr. Micron makes his mark

My favorite kid
You never really stop worrying about your kid, even after you've sent him off to college. Ask any mom who's been there. You just worry about things in a different way.

How ready is he for the real world, all the good and not so good? Is the kid well equipped to handle new adventures -- and those tricky challenges that come with change? Did we offer up enough valuable life experiences to tamp down any naivete?

But you know, the simplest way to summarize my biggest worry as a mom is . . .

Did I do my job?
  
Dropping my favorite kid off in a dorm room with people we've never even met before was a truly unsettling experience. Sure, I know that this kid is old enough to drive, vote, defend our country, and now, as he told me, fully capable of living his life independent of his mother's overprotective grasp. I do know this.

Because we worked hard to get him ready.

Over the past eighteen years, this clever young man had learned the basic life skills of preparing meals, doing his own laundry, and thanks to Scouting, can survive outdoors in freezing temps and even start a campfire in the rain. All good marketable skills, although not all are critical for life on campus.

So yeah, I worried about him. But not too much. He was absolutely ready for this next step. And this life event was all of three years ago. My successful young son is walking head on into his senior year this month.

Mini Mr. Micron
This past May, I was reminded of personal growth through life changes when we returned Micron to Canine Companions for Independence so he could complete his training as an assistance dog.

Although we only had eighteen months, not years, to prepare this fuzzy fellow for his adult life, we did try to get him out and about so there wouldn't be an excessive amount of Holy Cow experiences for him.

Micron was there for the daily office grind. He found out how mind-numbingly boring grocery shopping can be, which could only be trumped by another miserable scrapbook trip to Hobby Lobby. But new adventures could be a blast, like the RV vacation to Pennsylvania. And visits to family in assisted care facilities got a lot of positive attention. The farmers market was always a good time. So many festivals in town, so little time, Micron says.

When the time came for Micron to go to CCI college we were feeling rather confident he was prepared for this next step. We had showed him the world.

We did our job, we said. With a long hug and some tears, we sent him on his way. Go do good stuff, we said.  Make good choices, now.

So, as they say, life is what happens while you're making other plans.

The Mighty Mr. Micron returns
When the call came three months later that Micron was being released from CCI, I experienced a mental hurricane of mixed emotions.

Darn it all, we worked so hard at this. Eighteen months all for nuthin?  Deep breath, let the dust settle in my head.  Ok, I know the success rate of these dogs has been estimated at less than fifty percent. CCI sets very high standards for their assistance dogs, so in truth, less than half of the puppies in the program will graduate. I know this.  It's information that's covered in the puppy raiser interview process. 

I also know Micron. He's a happy, lovable velcro dog. He is a little light in the work ethic department though.  He is so much dog, such a big personality, that my hopes for him were that he might be placed as a facility dog so all that Microness could be shared with a lot of folk. A room just feels better if Micron is in it. He exudes positive energy like heat waves, if you believe in such stuff.

But in the end, a CCI career was not for him. In CCI speak we refer to these dogs as COC's.  Change of career.

So what happens now, you ask?  Well, the Mighty Micron becomes a highly trained pet.  As his puppy raisers, CCI is generous in offering us first dibs, so to speak.


Food Lady!  Didja see it?  Micron's back!

Not what we worked for, not what I had hoped for his destiny. But having Micron in my home as my very own personal cuddlebug and fuzzy friend?

Well, that's one helluva consolation prize, I'd say. I'll graciously accept it with a huge smile on my face.

I just adore this dog.

Doggy smiles

6 comments:

  1. A great comparison! I'm sure you'll miss your son even more than your puppy :)

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  2. I know the feeling! When Meeden was COC a week after turn in, my first reaction was all that work for nothing, too. But then I realized that she may not be a CCI assistance dog, but she is a CCI co-puppy raiser! She is such good role model for the pups and since she grew up with the CCI rules, its even better. I also have come to realize that even though she was released through all the work I put into her, I became a better puppy raiser by having the experiences with her and learning new ways to handle things, so that I can be a better puppy raiser for the next puppy. Good luck to you, Micron, and Yaxley!

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  3. Well having Micron back will be a lot of fun! I hope to see more of him on the blog.

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  4. Sorry that he didn't quite make it as a SD, but still, having him back should be so much fun! We're also looking forward to hearing how it goes.

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  5. Very well put, Donna! And on top of all that has been said above, you also can't forget all the lives you and Micron impacted and all the people you two educated about CCI BECAUSE of Micron's 18 months as a CCI puppy! He was and is and will continue to be a great ambassador for CCI, puppy raiser assistant, and best friend. :-) You did good!

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  6. Sorry to hear the news, but you have an exceptional pet now! It's hard to remember, but not every pup is meant to a service dog. We do our best as puppy raisers and the rest is up to nature.

    You did a great job with Micron and as others have said can rest easy knowing that you have touched many lives, and that, is priceless.

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