Thursday, June 14, 2012

It's oh, so hard to say goodbye...

It's Oh, SO hard to say goodbye.
 I'll take with me the memories 
To be my sunshine after the rain

The moment has come to surrender Smokey back to Southeastern.
It's 1pm on Saturday March 3, 2012.

The school has a special ceremony planned. 
These pups are "graduating" and moving on to final training at Guide Dog University..

Each pup has a sign with their name and baby picture on it. The entrance to the school is lined with these signs...there are around 25 pups graduating today.

Smokey boy is going to college!

This sign is for Suzette - Smokey's sister.
Suzette was raised by Sharon Vollers.

And here's Hannah's sign. Hannah was raised by Carol and Bob Rone.
(We didn't have time to photograph the other Houston pup's signs, but also going back today were Addy and Lou-Lou.)

We get a brief couple of minutes to pose for a last photo with Smokey.

This engraved rock is the sight of many photo ops!
So many photos have been taken here that it's now been dubbed The Photo Rock.

We all gather at a central pavilion to await the start of the ceremony. There is a large audience of pups, raisers, and families along with Southeastern employees and trainers who are coordinating the afternoon's events.  This is our tearful self-portrait...just minutes before surrendering Smokey.

One by one, each puppy was called to center stage under the gazebo to be honored and surrendered to a Southeastern trainer. Pictured above is Doc, and his raisers the Densons (from Dallas, TX), being called to the stage. It's only moments until we hear the call for Smokey....

And finally, we do. Here we are walking Smokey up to the gazebo.

A trainer greets us at the gazebo and slips a new collar and leash on to Smokey's neck....and we remove our collar and leash.

Smokey has no clue what is happening, but he is eager and accepting of the trainer's new collar.

Okay - time for a final kiss...with a photographer on hand to memorialize the moment for us.

I remove Smokey's bandana and give him a final kiss..

And away he goes...never to look back. He is ready to take off on his new adventure .
Our leash felt so empty then...and even now, as we write this article months later, we are both crying. It's impossible to describe the hole that is left in your heart when you see your pup walk away. But at the same time, you know that you have done all you can do to help your pup get a successful start to it's future of service. What a blessing this experience has been. Now, the rest is in his paws!

The staff at Southeastern was so warm and gracious to us. They appreciate their volunteer puppy raisers and it is obvious to us by the way they treated all of us this afternoon. Above is a photo of us with Tara and Leslie, members of the puppy raising staff, and the CEO of Southeastern, Titus Herman, at the awards presentation.

Each puppy raiser received a Certificate "The Presidents Call to Service Award" signed by President Obama.

...and this beautiful service award pin.

This is Smokey's first photo, taken with the harness, when he is just about 6 weeks old.

..and now at 14 months old..what a beautiful boy you have grown up to be...

You are our hero.
We love you forever.
You will always have a special place in our hearts.
You are in our prayers to become all that you are meant to be.
With God's help, we will see you again on Puppy Raiser Day!


puppy raiser said...

Oh Yes so hard we turned Rusty in April and now we are doing some puppy camps.. Your lovely goodbye made we cry and swell with pride. Our dogs leave paw prints on our hearts....Forward pups you are blessings

Melissa said...

Good luck to Rusty and his final training! Have fun puppy sitting...its a very loving and very helpful role that you are providing!


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