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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Gone...Never Forgotten!

Fittingly, the day we gave Dakota back to GDTx for final training with his partner was November 14, World Diabetes Day. We are so excited that we were able to prepare him for his career as a diabetic alert dog and look forward to hearing about his progress (more on that later!)
family photo with Dakota

This has definitely been a family effort!

Our last week with Duckie was pretty relaxed and normal, and we made a last visit to many of our favorite spots.

Dakota smiles from behind a big tree stump

A walk in the woods is fun this time of year!

kids with Dakota and some flowers

Just hanging out with the kids...what could be better?

Dakota and Beth in the fork of a large oak

Of course, Duckie had to help me run some errands and do a little shopping, just like always.

Dakota looks up at Beth as they enter a store together

Dakota watches while I pick out stuff at Hobby Lobby

Just a dog doing his job!

Dakota & Beth in front of the shopping cart

Dakota loves to "find the counter" when it's time to pay for our purchases. 95% of the time he also finds me the shortest line -- what a talent! I think that's because he's aiming for the counter itself and just wants to get me as close as possible...he certainly doesn't mind waiting as much as I do!

Of course, we spent plenty of time just relaxing at home and playing with his favorite toys (yes, Julia, he still loves the tire!)...

Dakota with a tire toy in front of a green bush

Dakota giving Beth his paw Guide dog puppies are NOT supposed to "shake hands"!...and, I promise I did not teach him this! I mentioned it to Sarah, Willie's trainer, once...she said, "Oh yes, all our doodles have done that! We call it 'the paw of love.'" Then she gave me some helpful tips for how to discourage it. After all, if you couldn't see, you really wouldn't want your dog doing this randomly. He could spill your drink...knock you off balance...who knows what. But eventually, when Dakota left the guide dog program, I just gave up. So here he is, giving me his solemn pawshake that he'll do his best and make us proud!

Probably the top question/comment that we puppyraisers hear is, "But how do you give them up?" or just flat, "I could never give them up!" Of course, they're right, it's no cakewalk. But honestly, how many worthwhile things in life are easy? The people who eventually receive these dogs are amazing individuals who have decided not to let their physical setbacks define their lives. They inspire me...and I am so happy that I can help!

We'll definitely miss Dakota, but I'm not the slightest bit sad for him. He's got a fabulous, loving home, a family who needs him, and a job he loves. He'll do great! It's bittersweet. But we're so, so very proud.

When Michelle came to get him he was ready...brushed to within an inch of his life and all bursting with excitement.

Dakota looks out from Michelle's car, fur shining in the sun

"OK, Michelle, what are we waiting for?"

Dakota enjoys a last friendly pat as he waits in the car

A last pat from Katharine...

Dakota smiles to his family as Michelle gets ready to drive away

...and he's off! We love you, Duckie!

Starting Monday the 16th, Dakota embarks on a 3-week intensive training program with his new handler. The first portion is in residence at the GDTx center. Then they'll move on to work in his home and daily routes.

I've withheld personal information about Duckie's new family in order to respect their privacy...BUT...there is a rumor going around that his new partner might be starting a blog of his own!! If so, I will most definitely post a link here so that you can keep up with them. They'll be quite a team, that's for sure!

Also, Michelle all but promised me a few photos from their training, so you certainly need to keep checking back for that also...

...AND...of course you'll want to stay tuned for new doodle puppy updates!

And so life goes on. The house seems empty and I miss the squishy doodle nose in my face every morning. But I wouldn't have it any other way, and Dakota's doing what he was born to do. That's what it's all about!


Natalie said...

Bye Dakota, Can't wait to read the new blog!

By the way I am hosting tomorrow night (Tacos!!) and will be sure to comment right when I get home to give you an update :)

Oscar the Great said...

good luck with your new job, just like oscar does everyday for my son :)

Oscar the Great said...

good luck with your new job, just like oscar does everyday for my son :)

Cabana's Puppy Raiser said...

Congratulations to Dakota! He's going to be fantastic. I appreciate your words about giving him up, how all worthwhile things in life are usually difficult. It's so true.

Cabana also like to give us her paw, even though she's not supposed to and we never taught her to. I too think of it as a gesture of love.

Erin and her Dogs said...

Good Luck to Mr. Dakota!!! Sounds like you guys gave him a GREAT start towards an awesome career!!! Can't wait to hear about your new pup!!!

L^2 said...

Best of luck in your new job Dakota! We're sure you'll do great!

And congrats to your family too! I was just telling someone the other day how I never cease to be amazed at the job you puppy raisers do.

I'm looking forward to reading about your adventures with the new doodle too!

Natalie said...

Just left GDTX and He is doing great!!! Michelle said he has already alerted 3 times! Dakota is awesome :)

Dakota's Puppy Raiser said...

Dakota is a WONDER DOG I think!!! We are SO proud!! Thanks for the update, Natalie, that's SO cool!


Natalie said...

No problem, Darrell and I also gave the dad more advice on the blogs. I think he really wants to start one so look out for it some time soon :)