Dreaded turn-in day.
The minute you get your new charge, that lovely and naughty little pup, you know — KNOW — the countdown to turn-in day starts. I’ve done this more times than I can remember and I’m still surprised how hard it is — and how the date sneaks up on me — even after 14 years.
Today, of course, was Levi’s Big Day.
For him, this is a fabulous day. This is the day he’s been waiting for (without even knowing it). Today’s the day he goes off to college! Late night parties, studying for tests, making new friends, finding out what he’s going to do with his life.
For me, turn-in day is a mixed day.
I’m happy that he’ll get to learn more, do more, see more, play more, work more. I’m sad that he won’t be doing that with me. It’s totally selfish. My dogs are happy — no more teenager in the house who jumps on their heads, butts his way into everything, interrupts their sleep, steals their couch space, etc. You get it: the only sad one here is me.
Turn-in itself went well.
We ran Levi through his paces, talked about his current level of each behavior so the organization has reasonable expectations. Levi did fine through all of that, even though the last time we’d worked together was before Christmas. He got some fun playtime in with our previous service dog, Schooner, which, of course, made me double happy.
All was well until they leashed him to leave. (I hate leaving the dogs, so whenever possible, I prefer for them to take the dog on a field trip or something so I’m not literally walking out on them.) Levi’s a happy guy, willing to do anything, but when they went to take him out of the building, he looked back at me and gave me a “Huh?” look. A “Shouldn’t you be coming with us?” look.
“Kill me now,” was all I could think.
I gave him a happy smile, kissed his head, and they cheerfully called his name. He wagged his tail, caught up to them, got a treat, and trotted on out to the car, happy as a lark. He didn’t think twice. I was panicked.
I hope you’ll forgive me for not having a dog-training video ready this week.
It’s ready, actually. It was done a few weeks ago. I just don’t have the umph to put it up. You’ll see it next week, it’s about out-of-sight stays. If you haven’t guessed, Levi is the star. I’ll be ready to see it next week, but to see it today — that’d be a tough one. Hahaha, such is the life of a puppy raiser.
K Osinkosky says
I actually looked on the youtube channel for this week’s video… thinking maybe I had missed the email or something. Now I totally get it… Sorry you had to say so long to Levi! It is difficult to say goodbye, but also a necessary piece to the puzzle to help someone’s future. Mixed feelings for sure! I’ll be looking forward to seeing Levi at the center when I’m at training classes with the SDV puppy I have.
Sidenote: Your videos are always enjoyable for me to watch. I love the training ideas and recipes. And even if a video is about a behavior I have trained and feel comfortable with, I like to see it from a new angle with new thoughts/suggestions. Always lots to learn!! Thanks, Laurie!
Laurie Luck says
Thanks much for taking the time to leave a comment. I love reading all the comments, but yours came at an especially good time for me — I needed to read that. Thanks for your kind words. A new video will be up this Thursday!
Pat Richardson says
Laurie, my hubby and I were in your session in Portland where you talked about your work with the service dogs. We looked at each other and both said how incredibly difficult it would be to send a dog out into the world after having raised him from puppyhood. God bless you for being willing to accept the pain of separation in order to give someone such an incredible gift!
Laurie Luck says
Hi Pat, thanks for coming to ClickerExpo and thanks even more for your note. It is crazy-hard to turn in the pup you’ve raised for over a year. There are tears, I don’t think that’s a secret. 😉 It will all be worth it when I see Levi with his new person. Until then, I have my pictures of the handsome guy to get me through. Thanks again.
Terri Harris says
Thank you for sharing Levi’s turn in day details. A bittersweet moment, now doubt. Levi is going to make someone’s world a whole lot easier, not to mention warmer and brighter!! Well done Laurie!!
Laurie Luck says
Thanks, Terri, for taking time to write a comment. Yes, I know Levi will go off and do great things, and I will be very proud of him when I get to meet his new person and hear all the ways he’s improving that person’s life. I just miss him until then. 😉
Susan Mills says
Hi Laurie, I just returned from a trip and am catching up on my readings. I’m sad along with you, as I know how difficult it is to surrender service dogs after having them learn and grow with you over the past year. Levi’s going to do especially well supporting and loving someone who needs him, and they will undoubtedly love and adore him as they learn to depend on him.
As you know, I’m partial to black labs, and watching Levi grow through your videos was so much fun. Levi is a gorgeous boy who will definitely find pleasure in his future job. I’m certain that you have always done a fabulous job with all the service dogs you take in to train. I think you have done a spectacular job with Levi, for which you should be very proud! Enjoy your down time with those wonderful pets of yours!
Rock on Levi, Schooner, and Laurie
Best wishes, Susan, Razzle, Zoarah, & Bogey
Laurie Luck says
Thanks Susan! Your words mean a lot. I do hope Levi finds himself a fabulous partner and can enhance that person’s life. He’s a terrific dog and we miss him every day. I say we. I mean my husband and I. I don’t think our dogs miss him even a tiny bit! He was too much teenager for them — rowdy, rambunctious, and occasionally a real lunkhead. Hahaha. Woofs to your whole crew!