Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hi, I'm Megan and I'm a Sucker

Last week Jon and I were invited to go to a Christmas Party for Therapetics, an organization that trains service dogs for those with disabilities. One of my bosses is their executive director (she's seriously one helluva superwoman!) and she's been slowly wearing me down to go and see what this organization does and to agree to be a puppy raiser/trainer. I've had my reservations; what about food and vet care [all covered by Therapetics as I came to find out]? Will it be okay that I have Louie and Mina? And many more. At the same time, however, I thought it would be a wonderful thing to do. So, I went to the party, ate the nice food, and was introduced to some of the dogs and the people that they helped.

I was in before I knew it!

I was introduced to a young woman named Amanda. She's around my age, if not younger, and suffers from MS. I met her dog Uli, who was recently placed with her, and we got to chatting. I listened to lovely stories about how the dog sleeps during her classes at OCU, grabbed a scarf for her when she was cold (without being asked to), and so on. What really got me, however, is when I found out that thanks to Uli (and a specially designed harness w/a handle) she was able to stand up and put on shoes for the first time in years.

Could you imagine? I put my shoes on standing up several times a day! It's something I don't even think about. And here Amanda was, talking about this activity as a major milestone. All thanks to her dog learning how to brace and stand still to assist Amanda.

So what could I do? When the puppy raiser coordinator, Lisa, contacted me via email asking if I wanted to be a raiser I couldn't say no. A litter of Golden Retriver puppies is due in January and if all goes well I will have a puppy to begin raising and training in March. It's a committment it is. There are classes to go to twice a week, paperwork to keep track of, and so on.

Maybe I will be the one who has to suffer all the headaches, and the final heartbreak whenever a dog I raise goes to someone leaving me forever. However, I've come to realize that's a small price to pay to give someone more freedom in their life. These dogs are given to people who need them at no monetary cost to them* which is extraordinary considering that most people who get service dogs must pay thousands of dollars. Therapetics can do this, in large part, thanks to the volunteers who raise the puppies helping to curb costs to those in need. To see tears of joy when a person describes what their dog does for them, how much they mean to them and to see the dogs themselves lovingly and protectively look up at their companion is very moving. When I add it all up, I think I can deal with a little bit of heartache.
*They are required to come to the classes to learn the commands and work with the dog that will be placed with them once he or she reaches maturity.


Sarah said...

You're not a sucker! You're a caring, giving person who loves to help others. Therapetics is a great organization; I remember watching some of their training and being enthralled at how HAPPY everyone was - dog and human alike. It'll be a great thing, and any tears shed should be happy ones! (((HUGS))) Can't wait to see you next weekend!

Habebi said...

(((HUGS!!))) Oh hun you got me all teary eyed! You are a such a good, dear friend. Thank you for that. I look forward to seeing you too this week!

Oh and yes I do agree- the dogs and people are very happy, it's infectious!

The Pliers said...

I think that it is a fantastic idea! If you find that you like it, you can incorporate that activity into your life for good. If you find that raising one puppy is enough, you've helped one specific individual reap all the benefits of a life with the dog you raised.


And now, quit making me cry first thing in the morning. I always resist and it gives me a headache!

Habebi said...

Thank you Pliers! I agree, when you do the math it does come out win/win.

Sorry for getting you teary eyed. Hope you didn't get a headache.

Lovely- there was a comment, I thought it was published, but, I don't see it?!?! Anywho, sorry about that and thank you for your kind comment!

Jessica said...

Ok I found the post - that is a wonderful organisation. I would love to do that too if I didn't work full time. How exciting! Wonderful opportunity and you are such an inspiration. Keep it up! Love it!