|I resolve to gain twenty-five pounds this year, says Euka|
I gotta admit, I don’t feel much like going on about that annual hot topic of New Year Resolutions. I never could seem to get my head around making these resolution things. Just holds no interest, doing fancy promises to myself year after year. Never done it and likely never will. I don’t know, maybe it’s all just too cliche for me.
Or maybe I’m just lazy.
Right. Instead, I’m a list maker. As a kid my mom tagged me with the adorable nickname of the Absent Minded Professor. Not because I looked like a buck-toothed Jerry Lewis so much, but I prefer to remember that as a child I was so lost in profound deep thought all the time that she had to paint the front door red so I’d remember which house was ours. Oh wait, that was Albert Einstein, not me. No, no it was because I’d [cue my mom’s voice] forget my head if it wasn’t attached to my neck.
So I make lists. Things to be done on the home front on one page, necessary and sundry grocery items captured on another. A special subset box for the places I need to go. Everything must be written down so it doesn’t get shoved into the gray matter’s junk room by all this awesome profundity that fills the noggin. Ah, just kidding. I’m a ditz. I forget things.
Even at work, we all maintain a Work Plan of our goals. Of course we don’t say Work Plan; it’s an acronym because we don’t call anything by its real name there. To give you a brief taste of my office world, when I show up every day it’s in a role of F&A CIM at the A&D level in PC R&D at P&G working out of MBC and LIC campuses, when I’m not WFH or OOO. Did you ever notice it takes longer to pronounce WWW than actually say World Wide Web? Yeah, we don’t care either. It’s an acronym or nuthin’.
Being a puppy doesn’t excuse Euka from her 2013 goals. She’s not going to worry about losing those stubborn twenty pounds this year, remembering to now write 2013 on her checks or other impossible feats. We have loftier plans for her. Before the end of this year, she will have seen her first birthday and be a mere five months away from her turn-in to CCI’s advanced training program. We have some tasks ahead of us, me and her. And even though I’ve been through the puppy raising thing before, I should probably write some of this down.
Play hard, but work harder
|Don’t laugh, people. It’s not funny.
Ok, maybe. But it’s not Euka.
So there’s that.
The girl’s a little puppy right now, not even four months old. So she plays like a puppy with her little puppy brain and does funny puppy things. As a puppy raiser, it’s tempting to get caught up in this endless loop of adorableness. It would be easy to let the time pass and miss important growth milestones, so we need to be pretty darn diligent about encouraging good behavior. When three-month-old Euka puppy grabs one of my snow boots and starts tossing it around like a dog toy, sure it’s stinkin’ cute. Instead of laughing and grabbing the camera, I take it away and exchange it for an appropriate toy. The boot goes back to its spot and any future attempts to capture it again are met with a hearty No. This has to be now, not later after she loses her puppy looks.
We have thirty CCI commands to introduce and work towards proficiency this year. The breeder caretaker of the E litter had introduced several of these behaviors, making our puppy raiser jobs a bit breezier. You know how when you are learning something new that it sinks in more after an overnight processing by the brain? Puppies too, it seems. We introduce a command, perform it a few times and then end on a positive note before the pup hits the proverbial wall. Tomorrow, same thing again. Over and over until you think this dog will never get this. And then she does. She gets it totally. Consistency and repetition will get you there. Making it fun and successful gets you there even faster.
Learn us some manners
As volunteer puppy raisers we are responsible for the one thing that can’t be achieved in Advanced Training. And that would be early socialization of the pup. We get these puppies out and about in the real world to reach a comfort level with whatever gets tossed their way. Expect the unexpected, as they taught us in Driver’s Ed. Over the next months, Euka will be at my side as I go to work, shop at the grocery, see a movie and visit a museum. She’ll be on vacation with us and travel to exotic locales such as Indiana and Michigan. My task is to have her prepared to walk into any situation that her person would want to go and say, Yeah I know what this is. So what do you want me to do next?
Before I make this sound like all work and toil to be done, let’s be clear on this subject. Truth be told, taking a pup-in-training out to see the world, well, it’s fun as heck it is. I love this part of the puppy raising journey. Euka will be my constant companion as we learn together. And I can’t wait until she’s ready.
Raise awareness of awesomeness
While we’re out discovering the World, we are also representing Canine Companions for Independence. Puppy Raisers and their charges are ambassadors. And educators.
When I decided puppy raising was the thing for me, CCI is the organization I chose to apply with. There were other service dog and guide dog organizations considered, all amazing, but CCI was indeed the best fit for us. So I want to share the word about this awesome organization with all who are listening. More important, I think, is that I want to represent CCI well.
We walk into public environments with the pup dressed in her working cape with the CCI logo. If it’s been too long between doggie baths, she stays home. A stinky pup is an unwelcome one, guaranteed for any venue. Strolling into the local Kroger with a dog on lead goes unnoticed by no one, of course. All eyes are on you and that dog. If you encounter a child that appears fearful of the pup, you move on to another aisle. When asked about the dog, you stop to answer questions with a smile. The trip, after all, is not about grocery shopping but socializing the pup. And making a solid impression of a service dog in public. The ten minute stop for a gallon milk doesn’t exist in the puppy raising universe. It’s wonderful.
|I resolve to be right here if you need me, says Micron|
Enjoy the ride
This puppy raising gig is a roller coaster ride. Well, without all the screaming and stuff. Emotional highs and lows, successes and the occasional set back. But so exhilarating and rewarding that we get on to pull down the bar to ride it again and again. And like adrenaline junkies, we want to be in the first car every time.
It’s gonna be a good year, people. Just watch.