Seven years ago this week (in 2013) my mom and I graduated as a service dog team. We officially started Team Training on Monday the 4th and our graduation was on the following Friday the 15th. This was a very long-awaited and special time for both of us!
My mom and my brother, Eric, arrived at the school on Sunday so they could get settled in and ready for class to begin on Monday. Besides my mom, there were eight other people in the class. It was exciting for her but she did tell me after we were partnered together that she was a little bit nervous!
Remember in my post – Special puppy raiser memories! – how I told you that I was with my puppy raisers for eighteen months. And the way that I went off to college at the end of my time with them. It was hard leaving my family but I was ready to learn more!
During my advanced training, I was learning all of the skills I would need to be a service dog. After going through six months of training my classmates and I were ready to enter Team Training. And hopefully, I would find my perfect partner!
In November as my classmates and I rotated through Team Training I was excited. This was a new adventure for us! Maybe my special person was here and would be mine!
I worked with a few different people but none of them felt like they were right for me. I guess it wasn’t time yet for me to find my person. But some of my friends were matched with their new partners which to me seemed exciting. As they all left to go to their new homes I stayed behind with my trainer.
This was just fine with me because I really liked my trainer and didn’t want to leave her. I was comfortable with her and liked our familiar routine. But she did have other dogs to train so she wasn’t spending quite as much time with me because I knew how to do all of my commands.
This is my class photo for the February 2013 Team Training! I am in the front row on the right.
In February a whole new group of people came in for Team Training. Would my special partner be one of these people? I was a little unsure but also a little bit excited. Do you ever have mixed feelings about something? Like scared or unsure but also excited.
On the first day of class and the second day, too, my trainer had me work with a few of the people. I was starting to feel like maybe I wasn’t going to find my partner like my friends had done before. But then something special happened!
My trainer handed my leash to Brenda (my mom) to work with me and it felt right. She was quiet and soft-spoken and gentle. When I was working with the other people my mind kept going back to being with Brenda. Maybe she was going to be my new mom!
That night while I was in my kennel I kept thinking about the different people I had been working with over the past couple of days. Was one of these people going to be my new partner? Who was my trainer going to hand my leash to? I kept thinking about Brenda. Would it be her?
The next morning after I ate my breakfast my trainer came to get me. Did this mean I was going to get matched with my very own person? I was excited and nervous all at the same time!
We walked into the big room and my trainer paused. Then she walked toward Brenda and handed her my leash. This was going to be my new mom! She was crying and I was concerned. Oh no, was she unhappy? But she told me the tears were joyful ones. Because she was so happy to get me!
During the rest of the Team Training, I stayed with my mom but it was hard. I was conflicted. Do you know what conflicted means? It is when you are having feelings that go against each other like happy and sad. I liked this new person I was with but it still seemed like I should be with my trainer.
But you know what? The more we worked together, the more comfortable I became. Even though I knew that this was going to be okay, it wasn’t easy. After my mom and I finished Team Training we went home. I met the rest of my family. In my post – My pesky little sister! – I tell you all about my family so go take a look if you haven’t already read that post.
As I reflect back over the past seven years I can see how my mom and I have grown stronger as a team. It took me some time to adjust to the changes of being in a new home and with a new person. It took time for us to form a bond and fully trust each other.
I loved my mom but it took a while for me to understand just what she wanted and when she most needed my help. As we spent more time together I started to sense what she was needing. And soon it felt like we were dancing as one! Two partners who truly knew what the other was going to do! And as I look back I can easily tell you the past seven years with my mom have been fantastic!
I was going to have my mom share her thoughts on our partnership and the anniversary that we are celebrating. But I had too much to say and have decided that I should let my mom have her very own post. So next week my mom will write the post. And she will tell you all about our years together from her perspective!