Big Steps for Little Paws-Loving and Letting Go

A little over 100 days old and the puppies continue their journeys towards the destination of becoming assistance dogs and giving freedom to their clients! While it was tough for me to let them go at 7 weeks of age, today I realize how difficult it is for the great start families to say goodbye as well since I have had a few great start pups of my own along the way.

They’ve had Liam and Lyric for about 5 weeks now, and I know how quickly these pups steal your heart!  They’ve worked with them on all of the critical puppy skills; socialization, potty training, crate training, leash manners, basic obedience and much more.  They got to add critical parts to the building blocks of the puppies success and now they get to watch their efforts blossom in the next stage of their journey at Stanley Prison in Wisconsin. What a gift you’ve given to these pups to get them started successfully on their way!

I’ve been thinking about those two pups all day. I wondered how they were doing, whether they were adjusting to yet another change, how the great start families were doing after they had to say goodbye, whether the volunteer handlers would be thrilled to see them and fall in love with them just as quickly as the rest of us. I secretly wished I could be a fly on the wall and watch the interactions of the puppies and their puppy raisers that they will be learning the ropes from – and then as if he could hear my thoughts this evening I received a text from Mark who was filming the day’s events at Stanley.  He followed his text up with a couple of pictures and a phone call, and once again my heart melted as Mark shared some of the great things that happened as the puppies were getting to know their new surroundings and people! His descriptions allowed me to visualize the day, the welcoming of the staff and other inmates, the excitement of the puppy raisers when they got to see the puppies enter, the support for the puppies and the program that was much bigger than just the handlers for Liam and Lyric……It sounds like an incredible day of life and puppy love!
liams-first-day-at-stanley

It’s probably a very good thing I wasn’t there or I would have spent the whole day in tears of happiness and gratitude I’m sure!  If hearing about the journey today wasn’t enough, I got the pure joy of seeing some pictures of the interactions between the puppies and their handlers.  The prison puppy program has had a little mystery around it for me over my years as a volunteer because we hear occasional stories about the progress of the puppies during their time at various prisons in the program, but never before have I been fortunate enough to have the details of the first day that the puppies arrive, which I attribute to the fact that these puppies are being filmed for the purpose of Mark’s documentary.

I’m sure today is much like every other puppy arrival into the program for everyone else-but for me, it’s totally different because these are Sugar’s puppies and I feel a sense of ownership and responsibility for their well-being, happiness, and success even though they are no longer with me.  I totally understand that this is an expectation I place on myself and that it is unrealistic, but it doesn’t matter.  My hopes and dreams for these puppies will be realized when I see them walk across the stage and change someone’s life-until that time the journey isn’t complete.
lyric-with-handler

edited-stanley-pic-with-liam

So, the pictures throughout this blog post will give you a sense of why I’m so thrilled this evening!  These are a couple of pictures of their day today. They look confident and carefree. I love seeing the handlers interacting with them, and I can see that they are looking forward to getting to know these puppies and loving them! Liam and Lyric are going to be just fine!  They are going to get love, fun, training and adventure and I can’t wait to see them grow!  My appreciation continues to grow for each and every person who has touched these puppies lives and I continue to be amazed at how lucky the dogs in this organization are to have so many people giving them love and training.

To the Warden and staff at Stanley, I want to express my appreciation and thanks for supporting the program so wholeheartedly! And for the inmates and puppy raisers at Stanley, please know that I am so honored to share in the journey of changing lives through the wonderful journey of assistance dogs in training with Can Do Canines!  Some day I hope I get the chance to thank you personally for puppy raising these Sugar Babies!!!!

 

ciara-with-lyric-and-ace

A quick nap before playtime begins again!

lyric

Lyric during the warm weather spell in February

ace-and-lyric

Lyric and his foster brother Ace

 

liam-in-cape

Liam at puppy class at Can Do Canines

liam-snoozing-in-his-great-start-home

Liam taking a well-deserved nap!

 

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