This letter is a work of heart. It was written by one of our K9 caretakers, Hannah.
You have so much ahead of you: so much love, compassion, and companionship, tied to you by the single leather leash that will hold your soul forever.
As you prepare for life with your newest family member, you may wonder what their journey was like along the way. Like you, your future Service Dog has been through things no one else can understand.
Like you, he is ready for a second chance.
It’s day one, and your sweet boy was just picked up from the county shelter and brought into the kennel that will inevitably change his life forever. He’s timid, as he watches caretaker after caretaker stroll by, smiling and dropping a couple treats as we go.
Hours pass, and he finally settles down onto his cot. I notice how his ribs stick out and how he flinches when I move too quickly. I understand he’s been through something terrible, so I wait patiently for him to open up to me. With each meal, he trusts me more and more. He grows fond of his new favorite purple dinosaur toy, and he learns that belly rubs are the only thing better than peanut butter.
A few weeks go by, and he’s completely settled into his new home and daily routine. Two customized meals a day, regular grooming, a new trainer teaching him cool tricks, endless toys to play with, and even regular cuddle sessions. What more could a good boy need? His personality begins to illuminate the kennel like a ray of sunshine. As time passes, I watch him heal. I watch his confidence grow and his body fill out. He’s almost a completely different dog.
Months go by, and connections are built quickly. My photo album fills with goofy pictures and videos of our weekend play sessions. Memories pile high, and before I know it, I have a new best friend that I can’t wait to get up at 4:30 in the morning to go see. In between all the cleaning and daily duties, I soak up my time with him and get all the kisses we can possibly handle.
Next thing we know, he’s a fully trained Service Dog, and all our hard work has paid off. It’s time for him to meet you, his new lifelong battle buddy. I prepare him for you with one final grooming session and one final game of fetch in our favorite play yard — with his favorite purple dinosaur, of course. I leave him for the night with a kiss on the forehead and a “good luck tomorrow, buddy.”
I can hardly sleep through my nerves and excitement, but the next morning comes whether I’m ready or not.
But I know — you are ready.
Dog Day is here. It’s time for you two to meet.
You both walk through the door, and I see you together for the very first time. He checks in with you, and I realize he’s found his person. It’s a perfect match. My eyes well up with tears of joy, and my hearts overflows with pride.
The days pass quickly as you train together for three weeks. I’ve been busy working with other dogs, but before I know it, it’s graduation day. I’ve missed seeing the dog I bonded with, but I am so happy for him and the difference he’s going to make in your life. I see you both from afar, as you walk confidently together to your seat. I can’t help but let the tears flow.
“They look so happy,” I whisper through my blubbering. I remember what he was like the day he arrived on campus, and I cry harder, knowing he’s about to live a life he couldn’t have even dreamed of. I smile at him, as his deep, brown eyes peer at me through the crowd, tail wagging wildly. Your eyes well up in tears now, too.
A new life has just begun, and the opportunities are endless.
“You’re going to do amazing things, buddy.”
My final goodbye is irreplaceable.
As you step up to meet me with your new best friend, I know he is no longer my sweet boy. He’s yours, and I couldn’t be happier for the both of you. I shake your hand, and your smile shines through me in ways I’ll never quite get used to.
In that moment, I am fulfilled in every way, and I know you are, too. I hold back my tears and tell him how much I love him.