We then headed over to the walkathon location down in St. Petersburg which was a beautiful location. It was great seeing so many puppies in training there! Everywhere you looked there were puppies with their little blue coats on and working guide dogs as well. This event was not just for Southeastern Guide dogs. It was for families and other dogs as well. It was great seeing so many people come out to support Southeastern Guide Dogs. This walk had even more meaning to it for many of us raisers because this was the last walk we would have with our dogs.
After the walkathon we headed over to the school in order to get pictures done. The best part was that we were able to meet up with the wife of the fallen police officer Baity was named after. There were three dogs in Baity's litter that were named in honor of three local police officers who were killed. I've had the great opportunity of keeping in touch with the wife of the police officer and have loved sharing pictures and updates on Baity with her. She truly is a remarkably woman. I am honored to have gotten to raise a puppy named after such a great man.
Before I knew it, is was time for us to attend the ceremony. Not very long after we sat down, they began calling each dog one by one. The raiser(s) would bring the dog up, take off their leash and collar, give a last hug, and watch the trainer take the dog away. It is a very emotional process to go through and it is the hardest thing a puppy raiser has to do. But its the sacrifice your willing to make
Video of me handing over the leash.
There sad reality that your dog is no longer by your side soon sets in, but the minute you are reminded of their purpose and your purpose in their lives, it is all worth it. Hearing from a graduate who is blind and was recently matched with a dog was very inspirational and reassuring; hearing how much he has changed her life gives you happiness and hope that one day your dog with change someone else's life as much as he has changed hers.
Baity, be a good boy, listen to your trainers, make sure to get SOME rest from all your partying with your new room mates, and have fun. But most importantly, we love you bunches and wish you luck on your new adventure...