Two graduation ceremonies the last two days reminded us why we puppy raisers do what we do. The first was an OccuPaws CVC dog, Candy, who will "change the life" of young Sawyer. As I have mentioned before, a Children's Visual Companion Dog seems to provide a greater benefit to the recipient. In addition to increased mobility, a CVC dog provides emotional support through their good listening skills and caring nature. Candy's training was truly a team/pack effort.
Our charge, Monte, spent the evening under the table - behaving most of the time. Similar to his training sessions, he initially needs time to adjust to a new environment and then eventually his brains shuts down and he forgets how to behave, especially around his old pal Banjo.
The second graduation was for guide dog Stella and her partner, Arthur. While both canine and human stories are engaging, Stella's is remarkable.
At nine months of age Stella found herself at a Humane Society in Utah, days from being euthanized, a rescue group literally saved her life. The Dog Works organization contacted this same group inquiring about a chocolate lab listed on their website. The trainer was directed to a "special" yellow female by a volunteer who just happened to have been a (fifteen-time) puppy raiser for Guide Dogs for the Blind. One quick evaluation and Stella's journey to become a guide dog began in California. Nine months, thousands of miles, and countless hours later, she began her career as guide dog today.
As Arthur shared his story, he shared a few facts and figures for guide dog success rates. He was correct on most, but I must correct one. He stated the probability of an average dog becoming a guide dog as "one or two out of ten." With the millions of dogs that end up in crowded shelters, Stella truly is one in a million.