Monday, February 15, 2010

A Proud Moment

This past weekend was my last with Natalie. Today I lost the right to refer to her as "my dog", because today she officially became her partner's dog. I cried this morning on the way to drop her off at the kennel when that thought occurred to me, but I also knew this was the very thing I had wanted all along. All I can be is grateful for the time I had with her as my own.

I realized something significant today, something that everyone had been trying to tell me all along. As I thought about how happy I was for Natalie, it hit me that I truly should be proud of her- and of me. It takes a special dog to make it all the way to becoming a service dog. It's certainly not an easy feat. Among other things, a service dog must be calm, patient, brave, dependable, and focused. Not every dog is cut out for the life of a working dog. For Natalie to be the first service dog I raised, and to have her make it through all the hurdles to becoming a certified service dog, is certainly something I can be proud of.

I would never take all the credit for Natalie being the dog she is today, though. I tried my best to shape her into a wonderful companion, but I also know she was already a great dog to begin with. I've believed she had the makings of a service dog since she was a puppy. Natalie was always so focused and driven. She loved learning new cues and enjoyed training in public. As she grew and matured, it became a game for me to find new things to challenge her with- a new store, more advanced behaviors- she was always ready and willing.

Though I will miss her, I know in my heart that Natalie will be doing what she was born to do. And I know for certain that she will adore her job as a service dog.


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