Exciting times in our household this week. Tango C Mango, the love of my life Labrador, turns 9 years old today! We’ll be having a little party to mark this fabulous day. We’ll party, take pictures, and pretty much overdo something that a dog doesn’t even know he should celebrate. I don’t actually buy presents for the dogs, but I do put a little something special in the birthday dog’s dinner bowl. And, of course, give them a little extra lovin’ all day long.
Tango came to us as a service pup in training. He (thankfully — shhh, don’t tell the service dog agency I said that) tested poorly for structure (bad shoulder), so after about a year with us, the agency released him and gave us the option of keeping him. I did a dance when I heard he could stay with us. Sorry, Service Dogs of Virginia, but I knew as soon as this dog came into my house that I would fall deeply in love and I wasn’t even a little bit disappointed that he wouldn’t be a service dog.
Tango so enjoys being in public and going places with us, that after he was released from service work, he had a tough time adjusting to life as a pet dog. Pet dogs don’t have access to stores, restaurants, doctor offices, etc. like the service dogs in training do, and poor Tango just couldn’t understand why suddenly he couldn’t come with me when I left for work. It didn’t take me long to get involved in therapy work with Tango and we’re still visiting elementary schools as a therapy team. Happy birthday to my most favorite dog in the whole wide world! Here’s to many, many more, Diggity Dig!
On the same service dog subject, our lovely little Baby Caysun will be leaving us in June. Oh, the heartbreak of service work! Why do they have to leave? [Of course, I know why they have to leave, but I still ask why because it’s so tough to give them up…]
Baby Caysun (or Caysun Louise, as I like to call her) has fit in here so well. Just the other day I Facebooked my dismay that I used the “L” word with her! And at the same time, she was snuggled firmly into my husband’s lap in the recliner. We remark almost every day at how well this little girl fits into our household and our existing family of dogs. It’s like she’s always been here. All the dogs like her, she’s not over-the-top even though she’s an adolescent Labrador, and she’s really very sweet and lovey.
Such is the life of service dog raisers. You know when you bring them home, little fluff balls of cuteness, that in a year or so you’ll be forced to give them back. And for the first two weeks, you’re so exhausted with the duties that an 8-week old puppy brings, that you don’t have time to think about the letting go part. It’s in the quiet moments, when they’re snuggled into your lap, chasing a butterfly, or watching the birds fly, that you start to realize just how much you like this little dog. That’s also when you start to push down the idea of giving them up. It’s almost like: if I don’t think about it, it won’t really happen. In 11 years, that’s happened only twice (two dogs were released before from the program before turn-in — Tango and Nemo).
We’ll definitely keep raising, so a new puppy is on the horizon. We’re hoping for another Dane. I’ll keep you posted!