Tonight's meeting was at a blind lady's house. We do this occasionally because it helps us as puppy raisers see the finished product and understand why we have so many strict rules. It went really well. You would think that 9 dogs, 7 of them puppies in training, would go crazy when in one little room together. But no such thing happened. Sure, the puppies wanted to play but they settled really quickly.
We listened to Ms.E talk about what it's like for her to be blind. I really like her. She's nice, easy to talk to, and she loves Golden Retrievers. Anyone who loves Goldens as much as I do is alright in my book. :) Anyway, near the end of the meeting we got on the subject on graduations and what not. I announced proudly that I did not cry at Freya's graduation...except at the very end when I had to say Good Bye for good. Even then, I just got a little choked up. When somebody said, "Yeh, but you really wanted her to graduate." I really wanted to say in a defensive tone, "But I want all of your dogs to graduate too." or "But I would've taken her back without a second thought!" That's when I realized that no one in my group has seen me cry about Freya. No one, save Mary and Brenna because they took me up to our recall day. I tried hard not to cry, but really! How could I not? So, I'm going to recount want recall day was like for me in hopes that those of my puppy group (who are, mostly, all on the first puppy) and those of you out there who are on your first puppy too will realize that we all go through the same thing. I'm doing this because we have 3 dogs who are about to go back and 2 of those are first time puppies.
So the morning of February 20, 2010 Freya and I woke up a little earlier than we normally did on Saturdays. I took her for her last walk and she kept looking up at me not really knowing that she wasn't going to go around the lake ever again. What did I do on this walk? I cried. Then, when we got home I fed her her last meal and again, I cried. When Mary and Brenna came to pick me up I was scrambling around trying to get things ready. I think subconsciously I was stalling because I really didn't want her to go back. Freya laid at my feet the entire time and occasionally set her head on my lap. Every time she did I would look out of my window. Why? Because I was crying and watching the scenery generally calms me down. A lot of stuff happened in between that and arriving at GDB but I'm not going to bore you with the details. I will just say that I cried more. When it was time to put her in her kennel...I couldn't do it. So I walked her around by myself a little more and cried and hugged her. Then it was time for me to put her away. I stayed in that kennel for a good 5 minutes just sitting with her. Then the outdoor door was opened and she went to investigate. She came back in with a huge smile as if to say, "Look Momma! Look what's out here!" So I cried some more and left her. On the way out I met Falla and her raisers and showed them where Freya was. She jumped up on the gate and she had this giant smile on her face. I see that face from time to time. We left and i cried some more. When I got home I went into my room looked at the empty crate, looked down at my empty leash, and cried and cried. I laid in bed for an hour crying holding onto my leash. And I still cry. I cry a lot about her. When I look at pictures or think of her at all I cry. I miss her dearly.
Anyway, I'm sure all other puppy raisers have the same story with a few changes here and there. So, there you go all the first timers. We all do the same thing. It's ok to cry and I sort of wish that I had shown my group a little more how much a miss her. I get asked all the time how I could ever give up my dog. I say because it makes it all worth it when someone says to you, "My life is easier because of you." Then I ask why they have children. Isn't like the same thing? I'm trying to fill a part of myself with my puppy raising and helping the world in the process. Isn't that why we have kids? Because we want to fill that weird spot that feels empty without kids and to process society and help the world.
*Pictures of the meeting to come tomorrow*