Steve and I were in the kitchen yesterday morning, when the phone rang. It was Stu, the CCI administrator. As soon as he announced his name, all I could choke out was, “Oh no.”
Indeed, he was calling to let us know that Darby was being released. I can’t say we weren’t braced for this possibility. As charming as Darby was, always, when we turned her in, she was still consistently lunging at small dogs whenever she encountered them out in the street. She also was continuing to “alert bark,” despite our best efforts to exterminate such unseemly behavior. From what Stu said, it sounded like her barking got worse after she was turned in. He said she would bark in her kennel, trying to get attention (and she never did that here.) Weirder still was that he said when she went on outings with her trainer, she would veer away from things she found unnerving; apparently she pulled sharply to the trainer’s opposite side, at one point (verboten for any animal being trained to potentially work with someone in a wheelchair.) Our speculation is that the separation from family life required by advanced training was deeply distressing to her — so much so that she developed these more neurotic behaviors.
Happily, there’s a fairytale ending in store for her. Our friends Kerri and Joe Dunne, who’ve known Darby since she was pup, will be adopting her. They’re diehard dog people and worshipped their two labs, but both dogs died of old age within the last year. They have a toddler and they acquired one replacement dog. But they wanted another and are happy to pay the $500 fee charged by CCI. They’ll pick Darby up Friday in Oceanside, and we’ll get to see her the following weekend, when we’ll host her here while they go away on a short trip they’d long planned.
One thing that delighted us all was the reports of how much all the trainers loved Darby. My puppy mentor, LeAnn Buchanan, was chatting with the head trainer today and he told her Darby was one of the friendliest dogs he’d ever known. Considering how many dogs Todd has known, I was impressed.
I still feel dismayed that she never even made it to her first report card. But Darby probably thinks that’s just fine. I’m sure she’s be thrilled to return to life as a beloved pet.