- They are specially bred for temperment
- They are required to go through training regimens
- You are required to track their growth and track their training
- You must follow many rules that you would never follow with a pet
- You can take them to work (in most places) and work with them on lunch breaks and other break times
- If all goes well, they will provide great help to somebody for many years
Anyways, my first puppy that I raised was Creole II (they reuse the names until one of them graduates the program). He was the best puppy that I have ever seen and to this day, fellow puppy raisers ask how he is because they loved him, too. Creole II was released after about 2/3 rds of his Advanced Training (that means he went through about 18 months with me, then 4 more months with a professional trainer that worked on specific skills and tested him thoroughly). When Creole decided that he had enough, I brought him back home to me and decided to keep him. I am glad that he is home. The main reason is that I love him so much. A second reason is that he developed a rare skill, all on his own, of being able to predict my seizures (which are rare) and to make sure that I am safe before they happen. This special skill has been a life saver for me. Creole II lives in my house, takes care of me, and is the official assistant puppy raiser in the house. He currently is a bit over 3 years and 4 months old.
My second puppy, Emile II, just completed his Advanced Training and is about to enter Team Training. This is a two week session where they will see if they can match him up with a person. If all goes well, Emile II will get his person, and will begin his life as a full-time service animal. Emile II was a fantastic puppy. People in my office would ask on a regular basis about him and what would happen if he didn’t graduate. They all want him for their personal pet because he is such a great guy. Emile is now 2 years and a little over a month old.
My current puppy, Griffen II, has really just gotten started. He is now old enough 7 months) to go places without getting to excited, and he is fully house trained. Griffen II, unlike my first two puppies, is a stubborn pup. He doesn’t cooperate. I am hoping his attitude changes soon (it is like he is a rebellious pre-teen). Puppies, like people, go through changes, too. I think Griffen is feeling a little pressure because of his famous sister, Gerda. Dean Koontz gave CCI half a million to name a dog after his wife to honor her. Gerda was in the same litter as Griffen, and for a bit, it looked like we might get her instead of him. I think Griffen knows the deal and that he is being compared to her every day. He isn’t famous, though. Dean Koontz, by the way, owns Trixie Koontz. Trixie is a retired CCI graduate. Now, she works with Dean Koontz and helps him write.
So what is happening? Well Emile is happening. The puppy raisers for CCI are a fairly close group. We talk to each other via email lists and we meet at training sessions, and we meet when we turn in our puppies and get new ones. We all share our joys and pains with each other. Well, now, Emile is making me hold my breath waiting to see what happens these next two weeks, and my puppy raiser friends are doing their best to help me cope. Team Training is the end. He will match up with somebody or he won’t. If he doesn’t match up, they might hold him over for three more months and try again with another batch of people, or they might decide to let him go. Emile, I am sure, will find a person. OK, I am not sure, but I am pretty sure.
It sounds crazy, but now that I am on my third puppy, I can finally say with some conviction, it really is all about the pups. Yes, we raise them and teach them. However, when they go off to college (Advanced Training), they have to decide what kind of student they want to be. They have to decide what kind of life they want to live. They do decide. Emile II decided a long time ago that he wants to work. He loves working. He loves getting dressed, getting in the car, and spending time working every day. One way or another, he will be working. If he doesn’t match up with a person, he will move on and become a speech therapy dog. He loves kids and he loves for them to read to him and talk to him. He never corrects them, and he always listens. So, Emile II will soon be on to his next stage in life.
I believe that Creole also decided his role fairly early. I think he decided that he wanted to be my best friend and to be there to help me when I need him. I think he worried about me so much that he asked to come home. OK, maybe that is a bit far fetched, but Creole never barked (maybe twice in his life) before going to AT, but he started barking all the time there.
Griffen? I am wondering about him. Is he just acting out as a pre-teen? Actually, many puppies do that. Maybe he has already made up his mind that he just wants to be a pet. We shall see in the next year or so what is in his future. Whatever it is, though, it is up to him.
I wonder what my fourth puppy will be like.
Update: Emile graduated and is now working in the UCLA IT department. I am so happy for him.