I keep telling Chester "it's all about the RED vest".. a "red vest" is a graduate... "in training" wear blue vests, but graduates wear red!! There were LOTS of red vests on graduation day... some were new, but many were "older"....
One of the guest speakers at this graduation was a NEADS alumni. Her speech was so wonderful, and if I hadn't been sobbing so much, I might have heard all of it and truly enjoyed it (don't misunderstand that.. I did truly enjoy it). The one part that really got me was when she talked about the first night that she had been paired with her dog. She was so very tired from the day's activities, that she decided to call it an early night and went to her room. As she was trying to unpack some clothes, her suit case fell to the floor and her belongings went everywhere. Tired, far from home, not too sure of herself or even how to handle this "new dog" she "fell apart". As she sat there crying and not knowing where to begin... "this beautiful black lab approached her with a pair of socks in his mouth and asked... aren't we going to pick this mess up?" And so began the bonding of the two. Now, this dog is a major part of her life and because of him, her independence. So, ask me again "how am I going to give up Chester?"... meet this lady, and then I will tell you.... "peacefully"... I will give Chester up--- peacefully.
And if that wasn't enough... look who has her dog now. Remember back in March, when the puppy raisers attended a benefit for Deb who was anxiously waiting for her hearing dog... well.. she was matched with Rusty, and they graduated!!!
Deb was so happy to see us Maine puppy raisers, and we were there to cheer her on!!! She has only had Rusty for about a month, but already the changes he has made in her life are amazing. Rusty, by the way, is a shelter dog!!! NEADS often uses dogs from the local shelters and trains them for hearing dogs!!! I look forwad to meeting up with Deb again and keeping track on her progress with her new companion.
AND if that wasn't already enough... five dogs were placed with veterans.. which, I must be honest, is the nearest and dearest to my heart.
Gentlemen who was with the US Air Force and lost his leg. (this guy was so funny, what a great sense of humor!!!) He would be a great alumni to come and speak at one of the graduations....
He admitted that he is still sorting out a number of things, but not only did he graduate with his wonderful dog, he also announced that he and his wife are expecting their first child.
After graduation, I had a nice dinner out with my puppy raiser friends, we spent the night and the next day was a training day with Dave. It was also Kelly's "turn in day"... and time for Kathleen to bid best wishes for yet another puppy that she has raised... but that, dear reader is another blog.