22 February 2007


So May of 2002 turned out to be quite the special month. Not only did I have my 16th birthday but I also received the best birthday gift, Varsity (pictured August 02). A handsome 10 week old male black lab. He and his siblings-Valor, Van, Vantage, Val, Vale, Valdez and Venture were born March 11, 2002 to parents Angel and Excel. 5 puppies passed there final placement test on May 3rd.Life with a puppy was a whirlwind for the first few months. My high school did not allow me to bring the dog to school so while he was eating 3 times a day my Mom and I would have to travel back and forth from school to home multiple times a day. Varsity was also noise sensitive so we spent lots of time traveling to truck stops to feed him and were constantly looking for noise exposures. As he got older new concerns arose. He started to mark, lift his leg and sniff incessantly. I was proud however that he earned his coat so now he could accompany me stores and malls. I worked endlessly to overcome the behavioral issues that Vars had. He was very good in coat but could be a handful when at home. His favorite outing were to the swim meets (my high school allowed Varsity to go attend after school activities). He loved to sit on the deck and try and catch the water that splashed up when the kids did their starts into the water. He accompanied me to county fair were we got a 100 in the service dog class! His obedience was excellent. We were able to go to the New York State fair. He accompanied me everyday for the whole 2 weeks. He again showed in the service dog class with 2 other GEB raisers and their dogs Edwin-MBL and Cassidy-FGR. All too soon that September 27, 2003 came around and it was time for Varsity to return to GEB. His buddy Edwin, whom I lovingly called my second son, accompanied Varsity on the van back to GEB. It was extremely hard to put Varsity on the van back to GEB. It was even harder saying goodbye to two puppies at once. Edwin's raiser and her mother and My mother and I all ate breakfast after the van left. The waitress was very confused by the presence of two teenage girls sobbing while the accompanying adults were laughing hysterically. She was more confused when my friend ordered fried clams and a chocolate milkshake for breakfast!! ( Its a good thing we went to eat at truck stop diner!)
Raisers with Edwin and Vasity Both boys passed their IFT It was a very rewarding feeling. Varsity was put directly into training and Edwin was chosen for Breed Watch. I looked forward to the post cards and training reports from my boy. March of '04 In the mail I got a letter inviting me to GEB to see Varsity graduate as a full fledged guide dog. Sadly his match did not work out for personal reasons and he was returned to training. April '04 brought another letter of graduation. It was sorta disappointing as the weekend of April 24th while Varsity was graduating I would be far away in Atlanta, GA on my senior trip. It was nice to know that Edwin was also graduating with Varsity and that my mom and his raiser were going down to see them off. Varsity graduated with his partner and moved to St. John's Newfoundland Canada. It was a very cool moment when I heard that. Our family vacation in '00 was to St. John's to see my mom's side of the family! So I knew where he was going and where he would work. My family could also check on him when they went to the mall! It was hard to believe that the little puppy terror turned out to be an AWESOME guide dog!
UPDATE:Edwin was retired and returned to live with his raiser a year after graduation. Varsity is still working in St. John's. Last summer my grandmother went out to visit him and came back with gifts especially for me from his partner and lots of pictures ! Its hard to believe that on March 11th my boy will be 5 years old!
Varsity Graduation April 24, 2004


Erin & Rei said...

What a Neat Story!!! And Sure go ahead a link me!!

Angie said...

Of course you may link to me -- welcome to the dog blog world!