As most of you know who know us and/or read our previous blog, Jeff and I just finished our second cross country bike trip in April after 52 days. We met some amazing fellow cyclists and reunited with the wonderful crew of Bubba's Pampered Pedalers (bubbaspamperedpedalers.com). Our fellow cyclists were very supportive of our efforts to fund raise on this bike trip for Custom Canines Service Dog Academy. On the eve of our final day of our trip, a friend named Sam Hawkes handed us a check. Because of his donation, we gave him the benefit of naming our new puppy and serving as his personal sponsor. We deliberated over names, vetoed a couple suggestions from Sam, and he vetoed a couple of ours, and we finally settled on "Hawk." It honors Sam and also is a name that we feel personifies the attributes of bravery, intelligence, a keen eye--all of which Hawk will need in his potential future role as a PTSD service dog for a proud military veteran. We hope that we can help him gain the training and hone in on his natural personality to grow into a loyal partner about a year or so from now to be a hero for a hero. For now though, his biggest obstacle is house training and learning his name.
Hawk is proving to be a bit of a challenge. I have so much puppy raising experience after 9+ years and have continual new-found knowledge from the amazing staff of senior trainers at The Dog Den where I work in the training department, and yet this tiny puppy came into my life, and he has decided he is going to test my skills and find my very last nerve.
The first 24 hours, when he decided being put in his crate was about as offensive as cutting off his tail, and screaming his head off in case we were not aware of this utter horror he was being subjected to, I tried every single trick I had in my toolbox to convince him the crate was a good place, and yet he pitched a fit so relentless and loud on that first night we contemplated giving him our master bedroom and sleeping in the spare room, or perhaps the nearest Motel 6. Alas, after a few deep breaths laced with lavender essential oils and a phone set to go off every hour, some time in that first hour, he mercifully fell asleep. We repeated this same exhausting routine and crying each time he was put back into his crate, but each day got a little bit better. He has learned that having a fun toy in his crate is fun and uses it to comfort himself--we take every little victory we can get! We were also trying to keep in mind this little pup had suddenly lost the comfortable home he shared with his many litter mates and the humans who helped bring him into the big world and all the sights and smells and noises he was familiar with in his short 8 weeks of life. He had to know he could trust us to keep him warm, safe and happy and, best of all for any self-respecting Labrador, keep the food coming!
Little by little, we are falling back on our experience and knowing that Hawk will be his own unique self with his own triggers and comfort levels. As with every canine who steps into our lives, he will teach us something. Right now, I cannot think of what that is just yet, except that it is hard to complete a thought when you have a sleep-deprived brain. He just now taught me that I actually will go out into a torrential rain with a flashlight in hand to make sure he potties outside at 11:30 PM, and the other morning he taught me that I will not die of embarrassment when I run him outside at 5 AM still in my pajamas and bed head. I believe my neighbors have seen this scenario played out enough times to hardly give me a second glance, but maybe a knowing smirk that I do not notice because I am too busy watching this tiny pup poop and then whooping it up as if I just won the multi-million dollar lottery.
So please come back to read more riveting tales of the adventures of raising this puppy named Hawk. He is going to be an amazing service dog, I just know it, just as positively as I know that he will be a dog that courts adventure at every turn. Unfortunately, our internet provider, Frontier, is excruciatingly slow, so there will be very few pictures posted here until we remedy this problem, perhaps by switching service providers, but we promise to catch up on the pictures as soon as we can. Also check for pictures on Facebook.