It was what we call the matching visit, where a potential client and service dog meet for the first time, get to know one another, and get a feel for whether and how this whole thing is going to work out. Normally, puppy raisers don't get to be a part of this at all, so I was thrilled that Dakota's prospective new family wanted to visit him in his own home. We were so excited! I can't say much else yet, but things did seem to go well and for Duckie it was obviously love at first sight (first sniff?...first lick?)
And really, when all's said and done, that's what this whole puppy-raising thing is about: the people. At first, it seems like it's about the dogs. After all, that's the side of it that we work on -- transforming our adorable but totally uncivilized little puppies into well-mannered, highly skilled guide dogs. But seeing a guide dog at work with his partner (especially when that dog was once your puppy!) truly reminds you that it's about the people. There's a synergy, a bond between the two that is quite amazing. Any disability just seems to melt away and all you see is a confident person getting on with and enjoying her life...with the help of a very special dog. It's a great feeling to know you've been able to contribute toward that cause.
Although Dakota will be a different type of service dog, that's essentially what his life will be about too -- his person. And I don't think he could be any happier! We're excited to see what the future holds for him and his partner.