Gone to the Dogs

 In News & Events

Ann Chiappetta is a mom, wife and therapist from New York.  She typically travels through life at a high rate of speed, always accompanied by Guiding Eyes dog Verona.  This post is an excerpt from Ann’s own blog – http://www.thought-wheel.com/

Two weeks ago I attended a Guiding Eyes graduation celebration and was struck by the power of the message it conveyed. For me, and probably many other  graduates, experiencing a graduation from the audience is just as emotional but for different reasons. Part of it is about the excitement felt watching the graduates being affirmed, through the words of others, about the meaning of the human/dog partnership. The other part is affirming the selfless actions and dedication made by our puppy raisers. There is also a deep respect and pride I feel whenever I am able to just sit and talk to the staff, they love what they do and it shows. I consider many of them my friends. too.  There is a saying that often gets said at graduations: I came for a dog and went home with a family.

There is always a chance to hold a puppy at each graduation, (what is referred to as pawdigraphs) and I usually hold at least one of them for a few minutes, smell the puppiness and wonder, will this one make it? Each time I think this, I also pray that the pup is healthy, happy and finds its way to a person who will need it the most.

The path is one of love, discipline and preparation and the end result, if all goes well, is being able to see them at graduation or hear their names in the list of new grads at some point in the future. I’ll hear a dog’s name and think, wow, I held that puppy, and I am so glad that the dog made it,

Similarly, when the volunteers are asked to stand up and be recognized,   I think, it was someone like them who did this for me and so many people like me and that moment is the most significant part of being on the other side of it. No matter how many graduations I attend, this is the part that puts that lump in my throat and has me reaching for the tissues. Even now, I am  verklempt writing this.

I know, the next time I attend a graduation, the same thing will happen and I welcome it. It is a way of life for so many people, it brings us together to help and support others through shining canine eyes and four paws and a wagging tail. Unconditional regard, no wonder so many people live it and love it over a life time.

Graduating guide dog teams of December 2012

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