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Would you photoshop a halo for me, Food Lady? asks the lovely Inga
puppy.  What? No, there’s nothing in my mouth.

You know how you can tell you’re in the home of a first time puppy raiser?

Oh, there are the subtle signs if you look in the right places.  See the tv remote held together with a rubber band? How ’bout those flip flops pockmarked with dental imprints? The ink pen next to the phone has been so chewed upon that you wonder how it can even work, let alone still be held comfortably.

And the puppy raiser has that hyper-vigilant look about her, always aware of where the puppy is and what she may be chewing on now.

In-GA! I call in a sing-song voice. Where ARE you?

Ah, our beautiful, intelligent, challenging first puppy, the lovely Inga.  She taught us how to be puppy raisers, absolutely true. But even more, she showed us what this gig is about.

Why we want to go through the house-breaking and puppy proofing of our humble abode. The reason for the consistent training, the socialization.

Because really, I’m just sweet thing.

And why the heartache of saying good-bye after our eighteen months of constant companionship is so completely worth it.

This past CCI August graduation became an experience of mental grounding. We were returning Yaxley to CCI that afternoon and working through the tender emotions that insist on squeezing your heart. This day brought something new to twist things up though. We were completely jazzed to find that Inga and her family made the trip to Dublin to attend the graduation.

Although we’ve had the supreme blessing to be able to keep in touch, we hadn’t seen Inga, Joseph and Julie since graduation two years prior. Near the the end of the luncheon, Julie says, would you mind holding Inga for a few minutes? I need to go see someone.

She hands the leash to me. Inga with her cool brown eyes looks from the Husband, then over to me. [blink] Then back to him and again to me. And for a brief minute, after it clicks, she becomes a puppy again.  Oh my dog! she says.It’s you guys!

Inga in deep thought about what to chew next.

She gives a courageous struggle to maintain her training before she loses the fight. Then just as quickly, she composes herself and is once again a professional. Why hello, Inga says. It’s so very nice to see you both.

That brief puppy remembrance is now safely stored away as one of the best moments of my life.

Julie returns and I hand the leash back to her and Joseph.

Thank you for letting us spend a few minutes with Inga, I say, I can’t tell you how much this means to us.

I would never keep her from you, says Julie.

don’t cry don’t cry don’t cry . . . Thank you, I croak. And we move on to talk with Joseph about his upcoming adventures and plans for school this year.


In the news

Joseph and Inga were in the news again this past week.  Click here for the full article at the Tribune-Review.
This time the two of them were raising awareness of the upcoming CCI DogFest to be held in the Pittsburgh area. From the article . . .

[CCI] will host its first Pittsburgh-region fundraiser, DogFest featuring Snoopy and Friends, Oct. 27. It will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. at Peterswood Park, Shelter No. 4 in Venetia.  The event will feature a pledge walk with trick-or-treat stops, a silent auction and a costume contest for humans and dogs. All proceeds benefit the organization.

Joseph Leckenby and his assistance dog Inga take a stroll outside their
Mt. Lebanon home Monday, October 8, 2012. Inga graduated through
the program Canine Companions for Independence.
(Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review)

Friends, family and fans of Puppy Inga, be sure to click through the photo gallery on the website link. Our little chewer of things has grown up. And it’s a beautiful thing to behold.

“I like her so much,” said Joseph, 13, while sitting in his family’s Mt. Lebanon home with Inga’s head in his lap. 

Please excuse me now. I think I have something in my eye [sniffle].

Read more:
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About Donna Black-Sword

Lover of all things Dog.

6 responses »

  1. Well, that did it! Now, I need a tissue….sigh. It's exactly what a PR hopes for, nothing more, nothing less. Thanks.


  2. Oh the tears are flowing…I am not a PR but I had the honor of being a foster mom for 6 months to a beautiful neglected yellow lab. It was a trying 6 months and I had every emotion possible. I watched a timid lab blossom into a happy dog. Last week her forever family sent me a wonderful video of Molly playing with her skin sister Aspen. I cried like a baby cause Molly was living the life she was suppose to live. I was just blessed to be a small part of it.


  3. My allergies are acting up! *sniff*

    I know several people who have been puppy raisers, and I can't think of many jobs that are harder. We just got through our first year with our puppy, and he's staying at our house. It's just an incredible amount of work! It's really tough for me to think about working that hard and being able to turn the leash over to someone else.


  4. We are blessed. I try to not ever forget that.


  5. What a wonderful thing you did, helping Molly to her destiny. I love these happy endings.

    We tried fostering once, but failed miserably at it since we ended keeping the dog (Jager). I guess maybe we were his destiny. I don't know, but it sure feels right.


  6. Hi Houndstooth, thanks for stopping by. Yeah, no kidding it's a lot of work, this puppy raising job. The whole process, from cotton-ball puppy to turn-in time, is a roller coaster of emotions. But it's a ride that I will get right back in line again and again for.



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