Today was the most feared day for puppy raisers. IFT Day. (in for training) We took Joey back to Southeastern Guide Dogs for him to begin his guide dog training. I have to admit, SEGD did a wonderful job of preparing for this day. They had about 25 dogs coming in today. As we drove onto the campus, the street to the parking lot was lined with signs. Each sign had the name and picture of a dog that was coming back in for training. Of course we had to get pictures with Joey’s sign.
We got more pictures at the main sign in front of the Administration Bldg, then headed for the event area to meet and greet other pups and raisers. While talking to some of the staff, we found out that the missing brother of Joey was indeed scheduled to be there and that his name was Deni (pronounced “Denny). We kept an eye open and soon saw a large yellow dog having pictures taken at the Admin bldg sign. Our boys walked over to ask if that was Deni. We got the thumbs-up from our son and started walking over as they started toward us. Deni is every bit as large as Joey and just as sweet. But the similarity ends there. Joey’s fur is just a little longer than a lab’s but is silky soft. Deni’s fur was longer, like a golden, but coarse. Joey has the pointed face of a golden, only black, and Deni has the more squared classic look of a yellow lab.
The meet and greet was followed by the turning in of our dogs at . They called a dog’s name, he came forward, and they took him away. Joey was the second dog called. Just like they said he would, he walked away with the trainer without a backward glance, anxious to see where he was going.
After 5 dogs were turned in, those families were taken over to the puppy kennel for some therapeutic puppy hugging. After playing with the puppies, we got back to the event area for refreshments and blindfold walks. That is where you put on blacked-out goggles and go for a walk holding the harness of a dog in training, to give you an idea of what it is like to put your faith in a dog. Very enlightening!
Then, presentations by a trainer, and some guide dog users.
In all, it was a very nice morning. It was a wonderful way to say goodbye to a dog that you have lived with and loved for the last year.