November 11, 2010

The End Of The Beginning

The bond between a service puppy and her raiser lasts a lifetime, but there is also a very clear beginning and end to their relationship. Ruby will always be a part of my heart, but my role in her life has now passed. During the sixteen months that she lived in our home, she was truly our girl; we loved her immeasurably and did our best to provide her with the most solid foundation possible. We were an essential stop on her journey, but her destination is ahead.

The week leading up to our last day together was emotional, but I knew she was ready and I was ready, too. I ached when the time came to pass the leash. Handing her over was painful, yet it was heartening; it was a tough and proud moment, powerful but very quiet.

Then it was done and and Ruby was off. And you know something? Letting her go felt very, very right.

I want to thank everyone, our friends, family, and so many who've reached across the miles and through the screen for your overwhelming support over these past few days. Your phone calls, hugs, texts, cards, comments, blogs, tweets, and emails flew straight to the place in my heart that needed filling and I am so very grateful. You made a difficult week so much easier.

Ruby's journey will remain online and even though it may be awhile, if I receive updates about her, you will too! So, be sure to keep us in your blog readers and check in with us on Twitter.

As my responsibility for raising Ruby ends, my commitment to raising awareness for service dogs grows stronger. Through the many years that I've been involved with service dog organizations, I've met hundreds of people who have asked about the lives of service puppies before they move on to partnership. If you've just found this blog and are curious about service puppies, think you might be interested in raising a service puppy in training, or have any questions about our experience, please feel free to send me an email.

It's been a few days now since turn-in, and everything is falling into place. Even though I miss her, I'm feeling very positive and I've had a kind note from her Advanced Trainer letting me know that Ruby is adjusting well. She's going to thrive in her new environment and I have confidence that her organization will ensure that wherever fate brings Roo, she'll be well cared for and loved.

So, let's tack some happy pix up here to finish this post!

To celebrate our final weekend with Ruby, Mr. Raiser and I took the dogs on a road trip to Aspen, CO. Aspen is very pet-friendly, and at this off-season time of year, very price-friendly, too. The weather was glorious, Kiva and Ruby were in rare form, and we have memories to last a lifetime.

I could watch this nature channel all day.

Clearly, I am but a Pez dispenser.

Just like last year, Roo snoopervises the Christmas Tree decorations.

Shaun's right. Dogs can look up.

One last giant thank you, to my husband, Jeff. Mr. Raiser, you are the most calm, cool, composed, imperturbably patient person who ever held dog or camera. Or both. Often at the same time. You took a zillion great photos and they rock and so do you.


Nicole said...

Good luck to Ruby!! Will you guys raise another?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this uplifting post. I've been anxious to hear from you and to see how it all went. You've put such a positive spin on it that now I can't wait to hear how Ruby is coming along with her advanced training!

KatieEGriffin said...

Lots of hugs to you and snuggles to Kiva! I get a little weepy when I think of all the "puppies" going off to their new homes. You did a great job with Roo!

Ruby's Raiser said...

Nicole: YES!!!

Lisa: I promise to share any news I receive. :)

Katie: Last week I was weepy, too, but this week I"m all smiles! I feel so great about her future and so proud of all of them. You and your family did a wonderful job with Rowena!

Lori Jablons said...

Thanks for this post. I probably speak for all readers when I say this is a perfect closing to an incredible 16 months. Thank you so much for sharing your adventure with us. I feel so much richer for having known you guys.

Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart said...

Sigh. Congratulations on a job well done.

Erin and Co. said...

Congrats! I can't wait to hear how she does in AT!!

Elizabeth said...

We wish you and Ruby the best of luck...with everything! We will miss her face, and your wonderful stories.

Elizabeth & Luna

Amy said...

Thanks so much for taking us along on your journey. I feel a bit like we're not only saying good-bye to Ruby, but to you, Mr. Raiser and Kiva too. I'll miss your posts. Take good care!

Anglewood said...

Thank you for sharing your journey. It's been a blessing to join you! I miss Ruby already even if it is only via cyber land! Looking forward to any updates, I am so sure she is going to be the best companion anyone ever had! xxoo

Khyra And Sometimes Her Mom said...

What an incredible post!

Smiles...and tears...and more!

We so appreciate your sharing Roo with us along with the sharing of all of YOU too!

I think you've touched many many lives - not just Roo's!

Our thanks and admiration!

Khyra and Phyll

Rachel said...

My heart is full of love and appreciation for you and Ruby and all that you will accomplish because of your time together!

1000 Goldens said...

We are so happy that you are happy, and that Ruby is adjusting well to her advanced training family! She is a treasure and so are you. Thank you for all that you have taught us about service dogs, and being good puppy parents!

Kristine said...

Thanks for all of this, for sharing Ruby's journey with us. I feel lucky to have been a little piece of it.

If you ever decide to raise another puppy, I hope you will return to blogging as well.

KB said...

Your post both brought tears to my eyes and made me smile. It was wonderful to read your thought that Ruby will always be part of you. In fact, she helped shape who you are today.

I loved the uplifting photos from Aspen. It looked like you all had a wonderful last weekend together. I also loved seeing Kiva with Ruby!

Was Ruby your first service puppy?

Carly Findlay said...

I have been wondering how you're all doing. Thanks for the update. I will miss seeing Ruby's antics, but I will definitely keep in touch with you.
You did an amazing thing to raise Ruby - she had the best start in life by living with you.
I am so glad I've come to know you through your blog.

Lisa, Ellie and Hosta said...

WOW, I'm a bit behind. That post made me want to cry - it was so beautiful. Loved all the photos - especially the nature channel one! Good luck to Ruby!

JackPDB said...

To echo the others: Thanks for sharing the journey with us. It's been amazing and inspiring and filled with warm and whip-smart writing. I look forward to the next chapters, whatever form they may take.
- - - - - - -
dog beds and more

Alphini's Puppy Raiser said...

Yeah Roo! Yeah Raisers! Thank you for sharing your journey. Will look forward to updates.

♥♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥♥ said...

We think about you often. We don't know what happened to our comment, but we think blogger ate it - that was when we were having lots of trouble with comments. We just know how difficult that day must have been but at the same time how thrilled you must have been to have accomplished so much with sweet Ruby. We look forward to hearing about her progress.

Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara and Mom Kathie

AVCr8teur said...

I'm sure Ruby will do well since she had such good teachers. Thanks for sharing your journey. I look forward to hearing of her progress and perhaps a new trainee? :)

Whidbey Woman said...

Congratulations on a job well-done.
It must have been so hard for you to pass the leash. Service dogs are amazing! Thank you for making a difference in the lives of people with special needs.

Rudy - The dog with a blog said...

Wow, I've been to busy to notice Ruby's off to advanced training!
Good luck to her, and can't wait to hear some amazing updates :)

Rudy's Raiser

Coffee Please!?! said...

Awesome! Thanks for sharing Ruby with us! I'm so teary just thinking about how hard it was to let her go. I'm not sure I'm the type of person that can do that!! Kudos to you. Enjoy your holiday season!

Sierra Rose said...

Oh beautiful memories and spectacular photos!!! Love the hiking ones especially :)

Sweet hugs,
Sierra Rose