When puppies have other plans
In March of 2011 we received a call that a Guide Dog puppy from a litter we had our eye on was in need of a raiser. We had gotten a new puppy only a month prior, but with no hesitation we jumped at the chance to trade for this new puppy. He would be 9 weeks old and is the son of a dog that my roommate raised; he’s also half sibling to our “career changed” guide dog puppy. We were super excited to raise Mr. "L!"
We barely had time to imagine all of the great “L” names before Mr. L was on a flight to Portland. We picked him up and his name was…LOWELL. This adorable, squishy-faced, puppy had one mouthful of a name! We’ve gotten used to all of the bizarre names we’ve been handed, and quickly decided that “Lowe” would be his call name.
Lowe was a great puppy who we adored right away. He was your typical goofy, slow-moving, BOY! After a few months with us, Lowe was diagnosed with OCD lesions in his shoulder. He had to have surgery on both shoulders to remove what looked like a chip of bone, and was on bed-rest for 6 weeks. That was one miserable puppy (and raiser). However, it was determined that he would still prepare to become a Guide dog.
In December of 2011, Lowe dog turned 1 year old, showed zero signs of any health problems and seemed to be on track to go to “doggie college” at the Guide dog campus in the spring. We started preparing for Lowe to leave by taking him more places, bringing him to the beach for the first time, completing a scrapbook of his time with us, perfecting his recall and preparing ourselves for turning him in!
Two weeks prior to Lowe’s “recall date”, Lowe decided he had a different plan for his future than the rest of us! Lowe had a few “accidents” during his time with us — meaning he would relieve himself without being told to do so. This is something the Guide dog puppies learn from 8 weeks of age when they come to us, as it is imperative that a blind person be able to tell their dog when to relieve and where. While most of the dogs catch on, there are a few who just never fully grasp the concept and just can’t be working guides. Lowe had been doing really well, but had one last “accident” and it was determined he would not be going in for training.
I had been wrestling with this possibility for a few months and was very torn on what his future would be “if” he did not become a Guide dog. I am “mom” to 2 female yellow labs, foster mom to as many dogs as I can, and looking for a job — I really couldn’t keep him, right? There were a few friends I had in mind should this change in plans happen, but nothing solid. As puppy raisers we have the option to keep the dog, place them with family or friends, or Guide dogs will find them a home. I knew I would not be sending him to Guide dogs as I couldn’t bear not knowing the people who would adopt him.
Rational or not, I made the decision to keep Lowe. He’s such a great dog, he was to be our last puppy for Guide dogs, my other dog’s half-brother, and totally attached to me and my roommates. I told them that Lowe was staying, but would be keeping some of his “Guide dog rules intact.” That evening my roommate texted me a photo of Lowe relaxing on the couch . . . so much for “rules”!
Lowe loves being a pet dog. He enjoys dog daycare, playing with his sisters and going to Thousand Acres to run off-leash! We even found out he loves water. It’s so much fun seeing him discover things he never knew his 1st year of life. He will be testing for his Canine Good Citizen certification later this month and has started novice obedience training. So, our home is a little more crowded these days, but Lowe is pretty sure he is right where he belongs!