Service Dog Graduations Don’t Always Go As Planned :(

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Adelle in puppy in training vest
Adelle in puppy in training vest

Not every day is a perfect day.  Today was one of those less than perfect days.  It was supposed to be a glorious day where friends and family witness the 18 months of hard work we put into preparing a puppy for work as a service dog.  Unfortunately, it was not to be…

Last week I wrote glowingly about Adelle (my most recent puppy in training) and her upcoming graduation.  I’ve been waiting for over a year for the moment when I would meet Adelle and her new partner.  We dropped Adelle off at the Canine Support Teams (CST) campus back in January 2015 to start her advanced training in the prison pup program.

Prepping For Service Dog Graduation

So what’s a puppy raiser to do before meeting his puppy and partner at service dog graduation?

First, invite all the important people who were involved in raising and training your little girl.  Adelle’s entourage was quite the gang: puppy raisers, parents, puppy sitters, friends, and family.  All together we had 18 people join us at the festivities.

Second, prepare a package for Adelle and her new partner.  Must include:

  • Adelle’s favorite dog toy.  A giant Nylabone!
  • Photo album of Adelle and her adventures as a puppy in training.
  • Just like prepping for your puppy’s first night home bring a blanket rubbed on her siblings (Stetson and Linus) to remind her of home.

Third, bring camera to document the moment.

Fourth, check and double check the date time and location of the event.  January 24th, 2016, 11am at Monteleone Meadows!

That’s it!  I was ready for CST graduation!

Puppy Adelle gives kisses
Puppy Adelle gives kisses

Disappointment At CST Graduation

After all the prep, anticipation, and excitement we embarked on our little drive to the CST Service Dog Graduation at Monteleone Meadows!

  • 9:30am: Left the house for CST graduation at Monteleone Meadows!
  • 10:50am: Arrive at Monteleone Meadows.  Check in and eagerly waiting at our table with the hopes of catching a glimpse of Adelle walking through the front door.
  • 10:55am: Nervously looking at my watch.  We’re a little early they should be here in 5 minutes.
  • 11:00am: Scanning the room.  Maybe they’re already here!
  • 11:05am: Running fashionably late?
  • 11:10am: Maybe they hit some traffic…
  • 11:15am: Hopefully nothing happened to them on the way here…
  • 11:20am: Our friend says they heard something about Adelle and her partner and we should talk to a CST employee.
  • 11:25am: We find out that Adelle and her partner will not be making it to graduation 🙁

I try not to look disappointed.  I try to hide my feelings.  I look over my shoulder and Ali is trying to hold back the tears.  I know this moment is as important to her as it is to me.  Adelle is the first puppy we raised together and even though Ali always tells me raising service dog puppies is my thing I know deep down she is just as committed to our puppies as I am.

We quietly go back to our seats at the table and try to put smiles on our face as we tell our friends and family that Adelle will not be at graduation.  Our consolation for the day is our old time puppy raising friends Chuck and Pat’s puppy, Travis is graduating (and at the graduation) and we’re happy to be there to support them.

Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned.  As they say, it’s always darkest before the dawn.  I’m sad that I didn’t get to see Adelle today, but I’m happy she is helping someone regain her independence.  Hopefully someday we’ll get the chance to see Adelle again and meet her new partner.  If not, I’m glad we were given the opportunity to play a small part in Adelle’s upbringing and in turn help another person lead a better life.

Thank you to my friends and family for supporting me today and throughout Adelle’s training (not to mention throughout our lives).  I’m sorry we didn’t get to see Adelle and her new partner.  Apologies to my readers for not having Adelle graduation pics today 🙁 but at least you get to see a few more Adelle puppy pics 🙂

I hope other’s haven’t had disappointment at service dog graduations, but if you have and you’d like to share please leave us a comment below.

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  1. BEST PUPPY TOY
    We Like: Calmeroos Puppy Toy w/ Heartbeat and Heat Packs - Perfect for new puppies. Helps ease anxiety in their new home.
  2. BEST DOG CHEW
    We Like: Bones & Chews Bully Sticks - All of our puppies love to bite, nip, and chew. We love using Bully Sticks to help divert these unwanted behaviors.
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    We Like: Crazy Dog Train-Me Treats - We use these as our high-value treats for our guide dog puppies.
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Check out more of our favorites on our New Puppy Checklist.

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26 Comments

  1. Providing and training service dogs is a great task. Many people are on the waiting list to receive these dogs. They are a blessing.I am working on a way to provide funding for such a task. I believe I can fully fund many Pet Charities.
    I am building a following who love pets and will spread the word.

    1. Thank you and you are correct there is a long wait list for these service dogs. Best of luck with your goals and funding Pet Charities. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I worry. very much about animals when I don’t get the whole story and and ppl beat around the bush with what’s truley happened u know?? im an animal lover and I look forward to happy story’s and endings!!!

    1. Thank you for your concerns. Unfortunately, we don’t have all the details, but as far as we know everything is okay with Adelle and her partner.

  3. So ur not saying something happen to this precious pup are u??? She is ok right??? And if so why wouldn’t some one bring her and who ever she’s helping to the graduation????? That’s not right I hope this pup is healthy and well!!!! There’s not reason to not show up unless your stuck in the hospital stuck in traffic or passed away..so why did this happen now one has states the truth here????

  4. I followed your blog for a while ( I am currently on the waiting list for a service dog from CST ) I did not want to bother you at the graduation though! I was really looking foward to seeing Adelle also as she is now a service dog for my 8th grade teacher Ms Baskett. I was really bummed she wasn’t there either.

    1. Thanks for following my blog! That’s awesome you’re going to puppy raise for CST. Congratulations! I wish you would have came up to me. I was a little down, but I would have been happy to talk to you about Adelle, puppy raising, and anything else. That’s neat that Adelle is partnered with your former 8th grade teacher. I’m hoping we get to meet her someday. Thanks for stopping by and please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

      1. Ah I wish I could puppy raise but I am actually on a waiting list to receive a service dog! Mrs. Baskett though is a wonderful teacher and I am sure she would of loved meeting you guys too. When I do visit her I will definitely mention you guys!

        1. Hopefully CST will have a service dog for you soon. Thank you for your kind words. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to meet Mrs. Baskett sometime soon.

        2. Thanks Leizelle for your comment! I’m Ali, Colby’s fiance, and it warmed my heart to hear that Mrs. Baskett was your 8th grade teacher…and I’m assuming a great teacher since you wanted to meet up with her again. 🙂 I am also a teacher (high school) and was fortunate to take Adelle to school with me a few times to meet with my students. They LOVED her and ask about how she is doing. I’ll be happy to tell them of Mrs. Baskett! Your comment helped lessen the sting of not seeing Adelle at graduation. Please give Mrs. Baskett our congratulations when you see her! We have some puppy pictures of Adelle for her too !

  5. At first I thought maybe Adelle wasn’t graduating at all and for some reason couldn’t be a guide dog after all. So I’m glad that wasn’t the case. Still sorry you didn’t get to see her and her partner though. Bummer.

    1. We’re sad we didn’t get to see Adelle today, but happy she’s working as a service dog for a paraplegic veteran. Hopefully we’ll meet them both soon.

  6. Oh no. I was checking in tonight to yes, see the pictures. As a puppy raiser, meeting the person that got just a little of your soul is priceless. Just know Adelle will always have you and Ali with her,

    1. I totally agree with this: “As a puppy raiser, meeting the person that got just a little of your soul is priceless.” I’m hoping we’ll see Adelle and meet her partner someday soon. We should stop by the office this week so Bodin can give Archer a few tips before Guide Dog College.

  7. Awe, Colby and Ali, that is really a bummer. I know how much raising service dogs means to you two and I’m sure your heart is heavy today. I’m hoping that you do get to see Adelle someday again and to meet her partner. You two have done a great thing that will forever mean the world to someone you don’t even know and may never know. That is the ultimate sacrifice of a puppy raiser. Job well done.

    1. Thanks Tina! I wish you, Brian and the pups were still out here to share in our adventures. I hope Arkansas is treating you well and hopefully the winter hasn’t been too harsh. Give Stryker, Georgie, and Winter a big hug from Ali and I…oh, and Brian too 🙂

  8. Oh Colby and Alli I was so sad to see that you were not able to share the day with Adelle. Know that you did such a great thing by raising her. Your heart and soul was poured into that puppy. It was amazing what you have done and if all the stars align you will someday meet her partner. Know that we were all very very proud of all the love, time and energy you put into that puppy. You both are brimming with love and giving

    1. Thank you Rita for your kind words. I’m hoping we’ll get to see Adelle again someday, but I am tempering my expectations so I will be happily surprised rather than disappointed again. I appreciate all the support you and Don give Ali and I not only with the puppies, but in all aspects of our lives.

  9. I should have known the day wasn’t going to be right. I checked my email this morning with negative commentary on the blog. Then, no Adelle at graduation. And finally, our hockey game was cancelled tonight due to “technical difficulties”. On the positive side the cancelled hockey game gave me enough time to finish writing this blog post 🙂

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