Broad Ripple Random Ripplings
search menu
The news from Broad Ripple
Brought to you by The Broad Ripple Gazette
(Delivering the news since 2004, every two weeks)
Subscribe to Broad Ripple Random Ripplings
Brought to you by:
VirtualBroadRipple.com Broad Ripple collector pins EverythingBroadRipple.com

Everything Broad Ripple HomearrowRandom Ripplings Homearrow2006 09 08arrowRandom Rippling

back button return to index button next button
Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v03n18)
Ruiz Goes to Advanced Training - by Elizabeth Hague
posted: Sept. 08, 2006

by Elizabeth Hague
August 12, 2006:
Our days with Ruiz are numbered: we are quickly approaching the time we have to return him to Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). I will soon find out if my puppy-surrendering theories are right.
I knew when I signed on that he wasn't mine and that I couldn't keep him. I think that giving him back to CCI so that he can be trained to help someone is an easier loss to bear than giving him up to old age and infirmities that require euthanasia.
Ruiz has become a well-mannered, skinny, lanky, perpetually happy, 80-pound puppy. He thanks me for his meals and teases with his ball or string bone. When he's happy to see someone he knows, his entire back end wiggles and his powerful tail thumps whatever is nearby so hard that people marvel he hasn't broken it. He has wiggled and thumped his way into the hearts of nearly everyone he's met, including a few die-hard feline fans.
I think that Ruiz has been relatively easy to train, as he's eager to please and wants to be with me. He's smart and learns quickly. He's confident and adaptable, easy-going, and so happy - he makes me look good. People who see us together think that I'm a dog trainer and sometimes ask for advice. I am no more a dog trainer than Britney Spears is an opera singer! I was given a great dog and, hopefully, I haven't messed him up.
Whether or not Ruiz graduates as a service dog, I have no doubt that he'll make a positive impact in his little world. He has been an ambassador for service dogs by making people aware of them and how to behave around them (don't touch!). He has enlightened me about accessibility issues and laws. There have been several people we've encountered whose days have been brightened by seeing Ruiz someplace unexpected. Countless times I have seen a face break into a smile followed by, "Beautiful dog!" or "Bring him anytime".

Adult Ruiz with his favorite string bone.
Adult Ruiz with his favorite string bone.
image courtesy of Elizabeth Hague
Quan


August 22, 2006:
I have now experienced a CCI graduation and puppy turn-in. My puppy-surrendering theories were right. I don't think I'm a hard-hearted person, but returning Ruiz may have been easier than I anticipated. I suspect the Canine Companions staff have been briefed in the psychological aspects of raising and returning their puppies. My suspicions are based on the order of business at graduation, which is as follows:
CCI graduation is the culmination of two weeks of Team Training, during which a trained dog is paired with a recipient. At this most recent graduation, six dogs were placed with six people in wheelchairs; three were adults and three were students. The applicants and their immediate families spent two weeks learning the commands and how to get the dog to respond to their needs. The dogs had been through basic and advanced training and were now learning to do things required to help their new handlers, such as retrieving a dropped item, opening and closing doors and drawers, turning on lights, etc. It was hard, sometimes frustrating, but rewarding work for all involved.
At graduation the puppy raisers and their dogs were recognized. The dogs wore blue ribbon stoles with rosettes proclaiming their status, and they looked very regal and honored. There were 23 dogs this time and odds are that only 10-12 will make it through to graduation. We watched a wonderful slide show of pictures that the puppy raisers sent.
The human graduates were introduced one by one, and the puppy raiser of their dog brought the dog forward and turned the leash over to its recipient. It was moving and rather emotional for the recipients and their families who had waited over a year to receive a dog. A video montage of the previous two weeks was shown of the dogs and people training together and bonding. As expected, this was the part that got to me, and when the lights came up, I don't think there was a dry eye in the house.
Kimberly Robb, an accessibility expert who works for the Chicago Transit Authority, spoke eloquently for her graduating class as her new dog, Caitlin, waited by her side. With humor and a strong speaking voice, she spoke about her journey to being paired with a service dog. She had a Top Ten list of "Things CCI Didn't Tell Us Before Coming to Team Training" and she told about some of the humorous incidents that happened during Team Training and of the new friends she made.
After the ceremony, the puppy raisers drove to the CCI kennel to return their puppies. Considering what we'd seen, how could one NOT give up their puppy? This has nothing to do with guilt. The dogs make such a big difference in the lives of the recipients, who are so grateful to receive one, that it seems selfish to keep a puppy just because you have grown attached to it.
The atmosphere at the kennel was relaxed and happy - dogs on the floor, dogs in the kennels, new puppies being cradled, and people chatting with old friends. Most everyone there had done this before. Ruiz's "roommate" was his little brother, Ronnie, who was raised in Michigan. They had not seen each other since they were eight weeks old. Ruiz will be happy to share his space with a playmate. I met Ruiz's trainer and learned that I will hear from her by the end of August about Ruiz's progress.

August 29, 2006:
I met Ruiz's trainer at turn-in. She called to report that he's relaxed in his kennel and eating normally. (Some dogs have a harder adjustment to their new surroundings) He had some temperment tests in order for the trainer to get to know him, and he did just fine.
My husband pointed out that puppy-raising is like hosting a foreign exchange student, and I agree. The dog is with us temporarily to learn as much as it can. We provide the basics like food, shelter, and medical care, plus a few souvenirs (balls and bones). As we grow fond of each other, we know we'll be sad when the time comes to part, but we'll keep in touch until we eventually meet again.
Will I do it again? You bet. I have all the supplies now, and I learned a few things with the first one that I plan to use on the second one. I'll pick up a new puppy at the end of September, which means you'll be seeing us on the streets and in the stores after the New Year.

Canine Companions for Independence operates from donations. You can find them at www.cci.org or call 1-800-572-BARK (2275)

Young Ruiz with his first yellow and blue CCI vest.
Young Ruiz with his first yellow and blue CCI vest.
image courtesy of Elizabeth Hague
Quan


Ruiz Goes to Advanced Training - by Elizabeth Hague
image courtesy of Elizabeth Hague
Quan



back button return to index button next button
Brought to you by:
BroadRippleHistory.com Broad Ripple collector pins EverythingBroadRipple.com
Brought to you by:
EverythingBroadRipple.com RandomRipplings.com Broad Ripple collector pins