January 14th

"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened" Dr. Seuss.

The day picked Dave up from Southeastern was so exciting... getting a puppy is always a happy day. It seems like yesterday our sweet Dave could fit in our arms.
Todd, Diona, Meagan (holding Dave at 9 weeks old), Collin and Kaitlyn the day we picked up Dave from Southeastern Guide Dogs
Meagan holding a 18.8 pound Dave-Man
Dave and Collin starting their special bond
Kaitlyn's first of many kisses for Dave

Our little man in front of a bush of bright and cheerful yellow flowers
Dave in his orange and brown sweater
Meagan holding Dave's head while Dave looks up at Meagan with adoring eyes

Ellie's sponsors holding Dave with Freeport, their golden retriever sitting nicely in front of them... Dave's paws almost never touched the ground that afternoon!

Meagan and Dave in the pool!
Evan playing with Dave... the rubber stick toy was the most favorite between the two of them!

Kathy, Dave Kelly's wife, giving Dave some lovin' during a visit

Meagan Dave on our friends' dock... Dave is getting so big!
Full grown Dave giving trainer Karen some loving licks

Our big boy at the beach!
Meagan and Dave riding the elevator at the mall
January 14th was pretty emotional. But we made it through and Dave did amazing! Dad, Kaitlyn and I were the only ones that went... mom was sick with a yucky cold and Collin wanted to stay home. The new "Guide Dog U" program is pretty neat. I must admit, I really wasn't keen on the idea. I like to drop the dog off, and cry, sob, blubber on my way home. But this new program made it special. And too, it was neat being able to meet and talk to the other raisers who raised your puppy's kennel mates.

Dave's coat, leash, puppy collar and choker collar hanging on it's hook in my room
Our last family picture together.

Collin and Dave said goodbye to each other

Dave saying his goodbyes to mom
Dave with his big 'ole head in my lap on the car ride to the school

Dave's goofy face... he's not sure what's going on.

Southeastern Guide Dogs sign

Southeastern Guide Dog's welcome to Freshman Orientation sign

Dave and Meagan in front of Southeastern Guide Dogs stone

Dave and Meagan with Dave's welcome sign... it has Dave's name and baby picture on it.

For some reason, the trainers tend to look like vultures on IFT days :)... 5 trainers standing in a half circle almost unable to contain their excitement to meet their next string of dogs!

Kaitlyn and Dad's final goodbyes

Switching the leashes

Off Dave goes... such a good boy!
After handing our dogs over to the trainers, we were sent to the puppy kennel. For some amazing loving of course! These were the smallest puppies I've ever hugged. They were six weeks old and super super sweet... makes it hard to walk away!

Dad holding a yellow lab puppy... I tried to get dad to hide it in his jacket, but the puppy was too squirmy!

Meagan and a black puppy and a yellow puppy in her arms... puppies are amazing therapy!

Meagan holding a black and tan puppy... I think we need one of these next!

a momma with her puppies in the whelping box... these pups don't even have their eyes open!
After puppy hugging, we went back to the gazebo area and did a blind fold walk... it was my dad's first time!
Dad doing his first blindfold walk... the dog's name is Dakota

Meagan doing a blindfold walk with trainer Karen and guide Charlie
Once everyone was back from puppy hugging, the school did a volunteer service award pinning (the pin represents 500 hours of volunteer hours... but we all know, as someone stated at the ceremony,  the first 500 hours of raising a puppy is just in the first month!) and we listened to a visually impaired gentleman speak about his experience with his dog, Max. Everyone had tears in their eyes listening to how grateful he was for Max. In the 5 years the team has been together, Max and his person have traveled to Italy as well as all over the USA.
Meagan getting pinned with the volunteer service award 
When we were getting ready to leave, Meagan asked a trainer about where to put the dog food Dave had left over. She said she would take it and followed us out to the car. Come to find out, this trainer will be with Dave! That was pretty exciting!
Meagan and Dave's trainer!

Dave, we love you. Use your smarts. Be a gentleman. Respect your elders. Walk nicely on the leash. Eat your carrots (good for eye sight ya know). Don't be too rough. Don't party too much.
But most of all, do your best. It's up to you now little man. Make your momma (both me and your birth mother :) proud!


I tried guys, really I did

Many puppy raisers like to "try" and sneak out of taking their dog back for canine college. It's never worked. We like to say we're going to Belize, Argentina, on a cruise, etc. 

Well my family tried a totally different approach. I emailed my Area Coordinator and said... 

"Hi Sue,

   I wanted to share with you, Kaitlyn, mom, dad and now myself all have a touch of some strange stomach bug. It started Sunday evening. We called our doctor today because we don't seem to be getting any better. He said it sounds a lot like Canus Seperatus. He said he has seen this before. And it can be highly contagious. We are under quarantine for the next 12 days. And he advised nobody come within 100 feet of the house.

Please inform the school that we will be unable to bring Dave on Saturday.

We'll have to reschedule his IFT, sorry for any inconvenience.

    Meagan and family"

And her response to me was...

So sorry to hear about the terrible outbreak of the dreaded Canus Seperatus in your family.  Fortunately  I have good news for you.  As part of my AC training I have been trained to deal with this virus. Southeastern has issued special medical equipment (see attached photo) to allow AC's to conduct a safe extraction of an IFT dog from a family suffering from Canus Seperatus. Please have Dave ready for pickup by my quarantine team at 7:30 am Saturday.
Fortunately for your family there is an immediate treatment available.  The treatment is called Neupuppous and is safe for the entire family.  The treatment comes in yellow, black, chocolate, or golden.  You choose.
Your dedicated Area Coordinator,
Sue, decked out in a shower cap, goggles and a breathing mask


Last Meeting

Meagan and Dave by the front door getting ready to go to the Manatee Viewing center

Dave in a friends car... he fits!

Dave by a manatee statue

Dave doing a good stand-stay in the harness

Dave sitting tall and handsome with a smile on his face

Meagan, Sue and Bob... their last picture with Dave-man!
Dave and I had our last meeting on Sunday afternoon. Everyone said their good-byes and wished Dave luck. Oh how time flies.


What's December without Christmas Eve?

Anyone who listens to Owl City will appreciate the title of this post :o)

December, for most, is usually busy. Every year, my family decides "We are going to finish our shopping EARLY". But for some reason, we are still out running around on Christmas Eve.

I regret to say, Dave never had a chance to meet Santa. I took him to the mall, to walmart, all around town, even down south and we could not seem to find a Santa that didn't have an hour long wait in front of him. Dave was able to sniff many statues of Santa, snowman, and even a manger scene. Close enough.

As tradition, our family goes caroling to friends and family in the area. We were even able to surprise Ellie's sponsors!
The Boyle family and Dave on the front porch of Bob and Sue's house... Dave is wearing a Santa hat!
I don't know how many places we went to shopping for just the right gift... but the Red Barn Flea Market was the hot spot for a green laser pointer my dad was wanting...

Dave and Meagan in the isle of the flea market
As with all of our guide dog puppies, Dave had a stocking. I found it at Target and with fabric paint wrote Dave's name and the year on it... it turned out pretty cute!

Dave laying on the floor with his stocking under his paw.
 I don't know what it is with our silly Dave-man, he LOVES soft things... blankets, socks, towels, even the occasional stuffed animal he will snitch from Kaitlyn's room. Dave wanted to carry around his stocking instead of looking through it.
Dave carrying his stocking around... never mind what's in it!
Sadie wanted in on the stocking too.
Dave was pretty smart once he realized there was toys inside his soft sock. He grabbed the toys, set them, down and came back for more.
  And of course, we have to get a picture of the puppies in the left over wrapping paper!

We hope you and your family (humans or animals!) had a Merry Christmas!