Linda and Michael*
Linda returned to CPL for her second service dog, Michael, when Roxy, her CPL partner of 11 years began to slow down. Initially she had thought perhaps that she …
It was a day of towering emotions, heartfelt leave-takings, and new beginnings as the graduating teams shared their experiences and hopes with the appreciative and supportive crowd of over 200.
For those of us at CPL, staff and volunteers alike, it’s a joyous yet bittersweet event. Summer 2014 program participants came in as relative strangers three weeks ago to meet their new canine partners and to learn how to live their lives with a service dog by their side 24/7. They have worked very hard the past few weeks to build a solid foundation for a successful partnership with their service dogs. In the interim they have become cherished members of the CPL community. Strangers transformed into friends through the shared connection of CPL service dogs.
As for the canine team members of this graduating class, for three weeks now they have been bonding and connecting with their new partners. Gradually they have been looking to their CPL trainers less and less for guidance and have been focusing all their attention on their new human partners. This is how it should be. For those of us who have known these dogs since they were mere hours old, nurtured them, played with them, helped train them and loved them it is now time to say goodbye. There is sadness with that and at the same time pride in these dogs who have worked so hard and come so far. Seeing them with their partners on graduation day, standing proud and tall in their service dog harnesses is a very fulfilling and emotional experience. CPL service dogs work hard, play hard, and assume the role of service dog with grace and dignity.
Now the teams head home with their new partners by their side to take on the challenges of everyday life once again. This time however they have the comfort of knowing that they are never alone, they have a loving partner always by their side watching out for them, helping them and supporting them.
CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OUR SUMMER 2014 GRADUATING TEAMS!