Saturday, January 25, 2014

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Puppy Raiser Day for Coach

Thursday I went to the dentist.  I arrived an hour early because I had the time wrong.  Silly me.  So, I went out and did some browsing, lost track of time and and was almost late for my appointment.  Now, generally, I don't think of myself as a person who fears the dentist, but the dental hygienist took my blood pressure and said:

"Oh. Your blood pressure is 159 over 95. Is it usually that high?"


"Let's take it again." The machine shows 147/97. Not better. Tonya starts to tell me how this is heart attack range and did my prescriptions list have blood pressure medication on it?

"No, that was Crestor for cholesterol," I say.  "Couldn't it be that I'm just stressed about being at the dentist?"

"Or that you need to buy a blood pressure machine and have this checked out." She points at the machine.  "This brand is really good.  You can get it at Walgreens."

Great.  I start trying to do deep breaths.  In two days I will be going to puppy raiser day and the last thing I need is to have a heart attack and miss it.  Tonya starts to clean my teeth.

Are my arms going numb? I shake them surreptitiously.  Is that tingling? She is spraying water into my mouth and dragging a sharp pick over my teeth.  Deep breaths, deep breaths.  I try think about how long someone stays in the hospital if they have a heart attack.  Would I get out by Saturday? Would they just give me some blood thinners and send me home or could I check myself out by Saturday morning to go to puppy raiser day?

I'm pretty sure it's just stress. Deep breaths. I went to the doctor's last week and it wasn't that high. I am NOT missing puppy raiser day.

I made it through the appointment without a medical incident and made it to Saturday morning. We
got up early to get ready to make sure we were on the road to make it to Melisa's on time.

We picked up Melisa, dropped Jam at Larry and Gabrielle's (who were nice enough to baby sit for us!), Dewey was safe with Rita and Al, and we headed on down to Southeastern.

Yes. We arrived early.

Then we waited.  But it was a good thing because we had an opportunity to meet Steve Dunn and his wife Laurie.  They were the volunteers who took Coach home when he developed severe kennel stress.

Fred, Steve, Laurie and Cheryl at Southeastern Guide Dogs.
Coach was able to relax and rejuvenate at their house, which allowed him to remain in the program. We are so grateful for their kindness to Coach and willingness to take him back and forth.

Then it was outside to wait to see the graduates practice their route with their guide dogs.  It was just amazing.  I don't think I have ever seen anything so awe-inspiring or something that makes me happier.  Those dogs were so happy.  Every tail was sky high.

Kristen coming down the sidewalk with Coach.
You can tell Coach is intent on working because his tail is up and curly. Kristen was the smallest of the graduates and Coach was the largest dog.  Yet they made an amazing team.
Close up of Kristen and Coach photo by Durga Garcia.
She needed a dog who got along with horses and who had a fast pace and trust me, this team can move!

 Marisa was the head trainer for the group and she did an amazing job with Coach and we can't thank her enough for giving him all the skills he needed to get to the point he where he could do this amazing job for Kristen.

After the route, they brought Kristen and Coach out to see us.  It was so sweet.  Coach was sniffing around and knew something was up, but not quite what.  Then he saw us.  He did several tiny butt tucks, circles as fast as he could.  He was so sweet.  Then I bent down to kiss him and Coach jumped up and to kiss me.

Fred and Cheryl meeting Kristen.  Trainer Caitlyn brought her to us. Photo by Durga Garcia.

We met in the middle.  Hard.  I heard my tooth make contact with his tooth.

We went into brunch and had a great time talking and learning more about Kristen and Coach and how they are working together. And then it came time to leave.  We gathered together for one more photo.

Marisa, Coach's trainer, Fred, Cheryl and Kristen and Coach
It had been a completely happy and lovely morning.  When I was using the restroom to leave, I checked my tooth out.  There was a small chip off my front tooth.  A permanent reminder that we had had a hand in make a guide dog, for it takes a village: puppy raising services, the kennel staff, trainers, the Dunns, puppy raisers and the people they interact with all combined to create a confident, well mannered dog who will be someone's partner for life. It's not one thing, it is many things.  It's not one person, it is many people working together for the benefit of that one dog and they all get to say: Coach is my guide dog. Coach is our fourth puppy to raise and our first puppy to make it as a guide dog, so for all of you puppy raisers out there who haven't had one make it yet: don't give up.  

As for me, I won't be going back to the dentist. I'll just live with the chip.  It gives me good memories.

1 comment:

  1. Way to go Coach!

    It's so wonderful to hear about new guide dog teams and how the puppies react to seeing their raisers on graduation day.