Of course, Nicky went home with me each day and I continued her training as well as took her to Guiding Eye classes, which are required for as long as a raiser has a puppy. The bi-monthly classes provide training for the Puppy Raisers as well as for the puppies! A regional staff member from GEB is present at the classes to provide a much appreciated source of support, monitor the pups' progress, troubleshoot, and hand out any medications which are needed either for preventative measures, such as monthly heart worm pills, or to treat any illness which might have arisen; an ear infection, for example.
Puppy Raisers usually have their puppies for 15 to 20 months, depending on their progress and when an opening for them may be available at the GEB Training Center in Yorktown Heights, NY. Then it happens: the day arrives when we have to give our puppy - who is now a nearly full grown, beautifully trained dog with whom we have deeply bonded - back. Difficult? Oh, yes; and as difficult as it is, you remember that the whole endeavor was partaken in the first place to provide someone with a never had before freedom. Then a profound sense of joy flows through you washing away the idea of a loss, replacing it with a knowing, albeit tearful, smile. If you ever want to see something amazing, attend a GEB graduation and witness what that joy, that four legged gift of a new life, means to someone in need.
It turned out that our Nicky, after passing her tests and being admitted into the training program, was released after several months due to high distractibility. Maybe that was the natural result of months in a kindergarten! But that didn't mean her career as a working dog had come to an end; only that her working future would lead her elsewhere.