SEGD has changed the day from a plain old drop off, to a whole morning program. It is really wonderful. Here you can see the big welcome signs welcoming you to freshman orientation.
There were signs for every puppy going in for training that morning and each sign had their 6 week old photo on it, which we got to keep at the end of the day. They lined both sides of the road. It was really nice.
At the big gazebo, everyone was gathered. They were playing music, there was coffee, juice and muffins. You could sit and talk with people, but most people sat with their puppies waiting for their names to be called. Every few minutes a name would be called and a trainer would come and there would be the leash exchange. Then the freshman pup would walk off to his or her dorm without a look back and with a happy tail wagging.
Here is Berkeley as she is waiting for her name to be called. I think we missed her name being called as we were about 10 minutes late, so she was the last dog called! We watched all the other dogs go. Even the family of five, who were heart broken and made us all cry (even some of the SEGD staff 8-) as they gave up their pup willingly, but sadly to go on to their higher purpose. But that was what was so good about the day. You didn't just leave then, when you were in tears. Because believe you me, when they called out, "Berkeley!"
I stood up and walked away. Because I was going to be just like that little boy who was sobbing so hard he couldn't look and had to turn away or his sisters who just cried and cried but let their puppy go or their father, who never took off his sunglasses, but every now and then would stick his finger under the lenses to wipe away a tear.
She didn't look back and we know that means she went forward as a happy, confident young freshman ready to take on this new challenge. We will miss her.
(Note: The day continued with puppy hugging and wonderful presentations by guide dog users that helped us all focus back on what our goal was: creating a happy guide dog. It ended up being a very good day.)