A year ago, I welcomed Cory into my home and my heart. She was a life-changer from the first day. I had no idea going into this that raising a puppy for the BCAGD would impact every facet of my life. Boy, did it ever.
The very best moments with Cory happened frequently: having her fall asleep with her head in my lap, watching her romp and play with her toys, seeing her understand and apply the training and having her look up at me with such loving eyes when we went for a car ride. My heart swelled for the puppy and each cuddle strengthened the bond between us. I had imagined this. In fact, I had mainly considered this when I signed up for the volunteer position. I hadn't considered the amount of sacrifice it would take to do the job properly. And I hadn't fully understood how these sacrifices would impact other people in my life. I have to thank my supervisor for being so unfailingly understanding. I could not have done this without her support. And I need to thank all the friends and fellow puppy raisers who helped me with Cory. Their assistance was invaluable.
The worst moments with Cory happened on a regular basis in the beginning and now occur on only rare occasions. She had separation anxiety and could not control her outbursts of energy (excitement and frustration led to her jumping, snarling, biting and zooming around the house at full speed). The list of things she destroyed is fairly long: shoes, clothes, baseboards, Christmas lights, phone and TV cords, greeting cards, blankets.... Pretty much anything she could get her teeth on suffered. Now, it is only her toys that are ripped apart (under supervision).
The hardest part of being a volunteer puppy raiser (and one I never considered) was the toll it took on my health. From lack of sleep to a repetitive strain injury, I seemed to go from one hiccup to the next. I had no idea how physically demanding this role would be. I have learned that a person needs a great deal of strength to train a puppy in this program.
The easiest part of the job was crushing on the puppy, when she was very good and when she was just plain goofy. Cory loves people and is always overjoyed to see me after I have been away or she has been with another volunteer. She wakes up happy, is always eager to play and have fun, is excited every time I take her to the gym, a coffee shop, on a walk or to the park. She puts me in a good mood, even when my shoulder is aching.
So it is with a mix of pride and sadness that I prepare Cory for the next phase in her journey. She moves on to advanced training to be an autism support dog on November 27. I think she will make a young boy or girl very happy. She loves training and will be eager to learn how to help her new master. I look forward to receiving updates on her progress and to seeing her with the lucky child whose life she will change forever.
I will miss Cory and the house will feel very empty without her. The year of the dog ends a bit early for me. But oh, what a year it has been!