Actually heart ache creeps in long before turn-in day. With Talos, I've already got a good case of heart ache going and he's only been here a couple months. You can't help but fall in love with these dogs. And you know, from Day One, that these dogs will leave you and go on to do better things.
My very rational, very logical husband tells me: "You are doing this for a reason. He's not yours. He's only temporary, then there'll be another. He's not yours. He doesn't belong to you."
Oh, my heart begs to differ. It already knows it's going to be broken. Been there, done that. And no, it doesn't get easier the more dogs we raise. Each turn-in is horrible. Awful. Heart wrenching. So bad I feel physically ill. My eyes are swollen for days from all the crying.
But I digress. This post is really about the extreme joy of puppy raising. You see, today we're having an old friend over for a few weeks. Rocky, the very first service dog we raised, is coming to spend a few weeks with us. His family lives close enough to us that we've been able to stay a part of Rocky's life. And that's meant the world to me.
Whenever the family travels, we get the opportunity to reunite with Roo, as he's affectionately called. He's on vacation while he's here – no work, just fun in the sun.
I believe he enjoys his visits as much as we do: he helped raise Lily, our second service dog in training who didn't quite make the program and is now living out her days as a full-time pet dog. (That's them in the picture together when he still lived with us.) They romp, they play, they sleep. They probably catch up on what's been going on in their doggie lives since last they saw one another. It's fantastic.
For when you give your heart to a dog, a dog you know you must give away, there's nothing like a little trip back in time, a little slice of paradise when that dog gets to come back for a visit to his old "first home."