Our day began with a short walk through the park which included some obedience work and playtime with a pair of boxers. A great way to start the day.
Next on the agenda was Special Olympics. We arrived and were greeted by Mac. Today he surprised me by welcoming us before hugging Cooper. With just a few minutes before Mac's race, Cooper garnered the bulk of the attention - as it should be. We all cheered Mac on to a second place finish and shared high fives after he received his ribbon.
As we made our way to a Team Austin photo a little girl with her dad stopped us and asked to pet Cooper. Of course we made time and she gave Cooper a few cautious pats on the head. Then her mother walked up and said that this was the closest she has ever been to a dog. "She is usually terrified." Not sure what it is, but Cooper is a very special dog.
After the meet we officially relinquished our role as Cooper's trainers and guardians. He will now reside full-time with his boy, Mac. Although, we have been working tirelessly toward this day, it is always difficult to say good-bye to a well-trained, loving companion. As is often stated about puppy raising, "If it doesn't hurt a little, then you aren't doing your job."
However, in this situation it is truly not "Good-Bye", but rather "See you later", because we are not completely finished yet. We are on call for the next couple months to provide guidance, support, and puppy sitting, as required. During this time we will be fine tuning some Mac-specific skills and assisting with the legal process to gain access for Cooper into the Madison School District as Mac's service dog.
As Cooper begins his new life, we need to thank:
Custom Canines Service Dog Academy for their support and guidance, without them we never would have met Cooper or Mac.
Austin Family for including us in their family and for their unparalleled preparation for Cooper's arrival - we have no concerns.
The Dog Den for providing training opportunities and sharing their knowledge of everything canine.
Family and Friends for accepting our canine trainees at special training events (ex: weddings) and for your encouragement.
It takes a pack to raise a service dog