On Monday, November 30, I received the call that I've known would come. That dreaded confirmation that our sweet Guide Dog puppy, Niagara, was ready to enter what is known as formal training. Guide Dogs for the Blind has two locations- San Rafael, CA and Boring, OR. Niagara is heading North. I wiped the tears away as I hung up...
She came to us on February 9, 2019 at 3 months old. She was a bundle of puppy kisses and love, crate trained and willing to learn. Charleigh and I were newbies at this... So many questions... Are we doing this right? What are paw pads? Constantly reminding ourselves that Niagara is not a pet, she is a guide dog puppy in training, and yet we couldn't help but fall in love and make her part of our family.
So now, 20 months later, we are expected to say good luck sweet girl... As they say in the program, "Now it is up to her. She will choose her own path." Many ask "How can you give them back?" Honestly, I'm not quite sure. She's our first and we will deliver her to San Rafael in a week or so. She will then catch the puppy bus to Oregon. I can say this about our experience... We experienced something greater than ourselves in raising Niagara. Knowing that she could potentially become the eyes and ears for someone who is visually impaired is actually beyond my comprehension. It's so incredibly big and beautiful, courageous and brave.
We loved deeply all the while knowing that she is not ours to keep. I believe this is one of the greatest experiences I can share with my daughter. We are snuggling up with Niagara as much as possible and we will miss her terribly. For now we'll say good luck, not good bye.