Monday, February 1, 2010

Back To The Basics

Diego's been here for a week today and we're stepping up our game plan a little bit. Today we started going outside with him. He's doing pretty well, we went almost 3 full days with no accidents. Progress is great but not where we want it to be yet, at least when you interupt him in the process now he doesn't just keep going... Yes, I'm serious.

Today it's back to the basics. I have a timer with me at all times. This morning he went out before Alex left for work and I woke up a few (okay, four) hours later. I took Diego out first thing and stood in the rain for a couple minutes. He didn't go, he was too interested in eating grass and jumping on me to go. Back into his crate he went for 20 minutes and then out we went again. Once again he was too distracted to go so back into his crate he went for another 20 minutes. The third trip out he finally went just as I was about to bring him back and put him in his crate. I stood out there for five minutes before the novelty of being outside wore off. Now the timer was set for an hour and we'll go back out. In the meantime he's having supervised playtime (yes, supervised despite me being on the computer, he's easy to keep track of!) and is enjoying playing with nylabones that are, for the most part, meant for dogs at least 10x his size. Of course there are periods of tormenting Kira thrown in though.
You may be curious as to why I've had him for a week and have just started going outside with him. The explanation is quite simple actually. Outside is a novelty to him, you could stand out there with him for an hour and he'd still just be looking around, going potty outside was beyond his ability to comprehend. I didn't want to subject him to the crate routine right off the bat so we started with just putting him outside regularly and leaving him out there for a bit by himself to get used to the sounds and the smells and such. Now he's more comfortable though so we're upping the ante. He's not a good fit for our home so we kind of want him back to his home as soon as he can be. Tormenting Kira and Teddy and being a general nuisance (not behaviourally really, just the small dog personality that I'm not fond of) is driving us all a little batty. Time to kick it in high gear ;-)

Other things are also back to the basics though. I have been seriously considering not raising again. Due to the heartache, pain, betrayal and overall bad experience with JLAD and the situation with Eclipse (who is career changed, btw, just in case anyone was wondering. No, he's not in my home, unfortunately) I was doubting if it would be a good idea to put myself and my husband in a situation to possibly experience that again. Honestly, I still do. We've talked about it, we've (err... I have) cried about it, I've talked to others about it and we've come to a conclusion. We did not purposefully fall in love with Eclipse, we were prepared for the puppy we received to move on and become a service dog and never return home again, until we met him that is. Eclipse's soul, his spirit, his energy, his personality, his essence caught us off guard. It was immediately evident that he was likely not going to make it to be a working service dog and we fell in love. From his third day with us we said he would come home if he were career changed. His third week with us it appeared that that would, in fact, be the case due to health issues. The third week it was confirmed that indeed, the first raiser does get first option in the case of a career change, when we learned of the dreaded swap. When he left it felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest and replaced a hundred times. It still does. Eclipse is a part of me, he's not just a dog, nor would he be just a pet, or another creature in my home. I know many of you think I'm crazy, but I assure you, I'm not. (I know what crazy is from experience) I'm simply deeply in love with and deeply heartbroken over a little golden soul. There are very few that would understand and even fewer who will care to try, but that's the truth and the only truth. I love Eclipse beyond belief and it was not done on purpose.

The likelihood of another dog, another soul, coming through our home as a service dog in training that touches us that much, that we bond with that much, that is so integrally a piece of us to that extent is unimaginable. Eclipse is a once-in-a-lifetime dog and while I pray I meet another one like him and get to him in my home (or even better, Eclipse himself *sigh*) I doubt it will be another service dog in training. Through many many tears I've come to the conclusion that despite the pain, despite the torment and despite the wickedness puppy raising has exposed me to, I'm not ready to give up just yet. We're going to try once more. If it goes well, we'll continue raising, if not, I don't think I can take anymore. The first year of our marriage was hard enough, the pain of losing Eclipse in such a horrible fashion made it nearly unbearable. I don't want to put myself in a position like that again so we've chosen our new organization with much care. An organization with set protocols and processes. An organization where if a raiser falls deeply in love with a dog the organization doesn't do everything within their power to keep that dog from being career changed and returning to their loving raiser. I'm still not sure when I'll be getting a puppy, but a puppy I will be getting. It could be a few months from now, or it could be a year from now. That will all be determined at a later date. The new puppy will in no way take the place of Eclipse, no dog ever will, but it's back to the basics for us. Basics of potty training and standing out in the rain. Basics of teaching a pup his name and play nice with Teddy and Kira. Basics of loving a person in need enough to let a dog you love go. Basics of filling out monthly reports and puppy shots. The basics that bring joy to my dog-loving heart. We'll see, though, if there is enough of it left to continue to love.

I guess that's my dilemna right now. My heart is so broken, in so many pieces, that I don't know how much there is left to give. Eclipse has most of it with him, the other pieces are with the others I have lost in the recent years. Is there enough to give to a puppy, to send with him when he continues on his way? I think so, but we shall see. Right now, it's back to the basics of showing my husband how much I love him, versus how much I truly, deeply, honestly Need Eclipse.
Back to the basics with a salad of iceburg lettuce, romaine and red-leaf lettuce topped with carrots, cheese, ham, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs and peas. Back to the basics of life... trying to get through life without my Eclipse. At least I named him fittingly, he truly surpasses and outshines anything I have ever found in a dog.

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