A new puppy for Christmas!

A new puppy for Christmas!

When I was blogging about Dionne, the last puppy we raised for CCI, I made a public note to myself: avoid getting future puppies right before the holiday season. We turned Dionne in for her advanced training last May and submitted our application for our next trainee early in the fall. But one thing after another delayed our getting that next puppy. We finally received word that we could pick up a little yellow female named Kyndall on December 12 — already well into The Season. And by then, how could we argue?

Then, last Thursday, as I was in Petco, stocking up with a giant bag of Eukanuba Large Breed Puppy Chow, my cell phone rang. It was Becca up in Oceanside, announcing that the storm in northern California was so intense it had shut down the roads, preventing the vehicles from transporting Kyndall and her littermates to the airport. So our time to receive Kyndall was delayed until this morning.

For this pickup, I was accompanied by Alberto Lau and Bob Schneider, two good friends and excellent videographers who plan to make a documentary about raising a service dog. Upon our arrival, Stu Wahrenbrock (the local program manager) disclosed that Kyndall had just arrived 15 minutes earlier and was awaiting her bath. We found her playing in a pen with one of the center volunteers.

If I ever was looking for a Christmas puppy, Kyndall might be my dream find: creamy white fur, ebony nose, soft as velvet.

121714 Intro to K2

In the pen, she gamboled and pranced, wagging her tail energetically. Albie video-recorded her bath and reported that Kyndall was startling in her calm enjoyment of the experience.


121714 Intro to K3


I was busy chatting with Stu and filling out papers, but soon we were on the road (where, thanks to having a friend to do the driving), I was able to cuddle her in my arms and she dozed.

121714 Intro to K5

She’s been experiencing life in our pack for the last 4 hours, and so far they’ve been blissful ones. She hasn’t yet had an accident in the house. Hasn’t barked or cried. Hasn’t destroyed a thing.

I know this is the honeymoon. Nightfall is coming. But I’m enjoying the honeymoon. Optimism fills my heart. This puppy could be a joy to live with and a great success when she leaves us. I’m looking forward to it all.

121714 Intro to K6


Our current puppy project

Kyndall is the 6th puppy we are raising for CCI. She was born October 18, 2014, the fourth in a litter of 6 from northern California. We picked her up from the Oceanside center on December 17. 2014. And the paperwork says we must turn her in for Advanced Training on May 1, 2016.

Kyndall on the brink of leaving CCI’s Southwest Regional headquarters.

Over the 10-plus years Steve and I have been involved with raising puppies to be service dogs, by far the most common question we’ve been asked is, “How can you give them up?” My standard answer quickly became, “You can’t sign up for this unless you accept that it’s not your dog,” I tell people. “You get to live with this really cool animal for a while, but it belongs to someone else.” Giving them up is always hard. But when that day rolls around, you don’t really have a choice.

All that’s true, of course. But over time, we’ve also gained perspective on the big picture. We understand better what an amazing thing a successful graduate dog can be. Despite our not-so-great track record to date (one graduate and four release dogs), we feel more motivated than ever to have another success. That can’t happen unless we eventually turn Kyndall over to the professionals.

I’ve also become more serious over time about trying to capture what’s involved in this complex, often comic experience. For the raising of Kyndall, I’ve gained some partners in chronicling. Two videographer friends, Alberto Lau and Bob Schneider, have committed to creating a documentary about raising service dogs. Along the way, I’ll be posting occasional excerpts of what they’re capturing too.

Our adventure with Kyndall begins with this post and continues forward in time.