Christy Ann Coppola – 05/09/2009
Christy Ann Coppola, Guiding Eyes for the Blind Darren’s puppy raiser shares her puppy raising story; Darren’s Journey:
Dear fellow puppy raisers,
Back in September, Rick and I dropped off our boy Darren to begin his journey at the Guiding Eyes for the Blind Training Center. On April 9th we traveled back to Yorktown Heights to visit one last time and say goodbye.
For those who might be interested, I thought I’d tell you about our trip and share some pictures!
First we met Kate, Darren’s trainer, who suggested we go out to the play area, and she would let Darren out. A door opened, and out he came. At first I didn’t even recognize him; he’s changed so much! He is much leaner now. They feed him 5 cups of food a day, but he has really trimmed down from all his hard work. He looked so grown up!
He was very bonded to Kate, and did not come running over to us right away. In a way, this made it easier to say goodbye. You could tell he was focused, and he was ready for his next challenge. His energy and the way he carried himself was definitely different. After some time, he began to play with us, Rick threw the tennis ball, and I got him to go through the tunnels, and the “old Darren” started to emerge. He wagged his tail the whole time, and by the end of our visit, he was rubbing against us and “remembering” who we were (I hope!).
Kate explained to us all the things the dogs go through at the TC; how often they have play time, work time, the new vocabulary of commands they learn, where they go, etc. It was really interesting! Kate said Darren was her “go-to” dog whenever she needed to do any kind of event and needed a demo dog. She said Darren has amazing social skills, loves to work, and that she really enjoyed training him. She said he did so well in the city that it’s no surprise he’s been matched with someone who travels. It was great to hear Kate sing Darren’s praises. It really made me feel better knowing he has been in good hands. 🙂
In May, Darren will be flown to Indiana with a Home Trainer. Darren has been matched with a businessman who travels for work. Darren will be guiding him on trains, planes, cities, etc. It sounds like Darren is going to have a very rich life full of adventure! How cool!
I am so excited and thrilled that Darren not only has accomplished his goals, but, he is about to give the ultimate gift of freedom and independence. Kate informed us this is the graduates very first guide dog!
I know many of you remember Darren as a handful; the headstrong independent dog with spunk and a voice to match. (Do I even need to remind you of his barking? haha) It really is hard to believe the puppies we spend almost two years with, really do grow up to be amazing dogs. I’m just beaming with pride.
There is a bit of disappointment that we won’t get to share in the graduation ceremony. But, I’m hoping the person will reach out and send a photo of “Darren in action.” Hopefully, they will even stay in touch. (fingers crossed!)
In the meanwhile, enjoy these snapshots we took during our farewell visit.
All the best! Christy Ann 🙂
Christy and Darren Darren’s collar Darren playing