It’s a question a CCI puppy raiser hears a lot, but not an easy thing to answer. We take in these furry little carpet stainers at eight weeks old. We feed, train, groom and socialize for the next 14-16 months, then return the pups to CCI. How can you give them up? With a lot of pride and a box of tissues is a quick quip, but that doesn’t capture the essence of what a puppy raiser truly feels.
What follows is authored by fellow CCI puppy raiser, Elizabeth Holman, who has successfully put into words what is so difficult to say. Thank you, Elizabeth, for allowing me to share your thoughts here.
“How can you give them up?” As puppy raisers, if we had a quarter for every time we heard that question we could buy enough toys to keep even the strongest chewer busy for a year. It’s always well-meaning people (well, almost always) who marvel at our kindness. I appreciate it – but sometimes I want to ask them to lean in close so I can whisper something in their ear.
Let me tell you a secret: You will say goodbye to everyone and everything you love. It may be soon or it may be a long time from now, but the reality of our existence is that we keep nothing. Many of these partings will be surprises, and many will be filled with tears. As puppy raisers, we have given ourselves a great gift – we give our puppies up to life.
We know exactly when we will say goodbye. We pass their leash to loving hands and watch them walk off, tail wagging, to an exciting new world. We know they will be cared for by people who love them (nearly!) as much as we do. We know they will discover their joy in working with one special person, or be released to find their heart’s home. They come to us as little squirmy sparks of life, and after watching them grow we say farewell when they are young, strong, and on the verge of new adventures.
So don’t pity us or admire us as puppy raisers for being strong enough to give them up. Envy us for being lucky enough to give them up in precisely the right way.