Thanks Anyway, Sandy, But I Prefer Earthquakes

For those of you who know us only from the blog, we’re fine. Hurricane Sandy blew through yesterday and last night, and while we did have some lights flicker and some pretty scary-sounding winds and rain, the townhouse we’re renting stayed dry and intact and electrically powered.

Truman slept through much of it.

Anyway, we’re grateful to have come through this unscathed, and ask you to join us in praying for the many millions of people who are dealing with loss and destruction today. Please also remember the folks who are working so diligently to restore basic city services and to shelter, help, and comfort those in need.

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Loss. Gain. News.

Those of you who know me “in real life” know that it’s been a rough few years of transition for me and my family. I won’t go into detail; suffice it to say that there’s been a great deal of loss involved, different kinds, of varying significance. Along with some good things, of course — which sums up most of human experience, right? But change is hard for me, and as you can see by the dates of my last two entries from a YEAR ago, in which I made that grandiose “Hooray! I’m back!” statement, I’ve had trouble returning to blogging here and to writing in general, despite my deep desire to do so. It’s been a battle to work through some other losses in order to regain my momentum.

But some losses are planned. Beautiful losses that become gain for someone else.

I learned yesterday that my sweet, lovable, silly, cuddly, wookiee-noise-making, concerned-old-man-look-on-his-face Jethro is going to be a guide dog. I’m so proud of him! He worked hard. We worked hard. My friends who finished his puppy training worked hard.

Unfortunately, we don’t get a graduation ceremony. He’s going to be placed in-home with his new partner, who lives out of state, so Jethro will be leaving GDA in about a week and a half to make the journey to his new home. I am doing my best to arrange a flight to California in time to see him before he goes.

But here’s the kicker: Jethro’s new partner is not unfamiliar to me. While she and I have never met, she is an experienced guide dog handler whose last dog, recently retired, was also raised by my dear friends. They have a good relationship with her, and I know Jethro will be in excellent, loving hands, and I will hopefully hear about his many adventures to come. Once again, I praise God for putting my plans to shame with His better ones.

Congratulations to Guide Dog Jethro and his new partner! May you travel many miles and many years together with a bond of joy, a sense of adventure, and an unbreakable commitment to each other.

This pic was taken in May of 2011, just a few months after I moved to PA, when I returned to SoCal for a short visit and took him to UCLA for the day. The last time I saw him, at his turn-in last February, he looked huge to me — and he was only 18 months old! I hear he is absolutely enormous now. If I make it out to California in time to see him off, you can bet I will shower him with hugs and kisses and bellyrubs, and I will post photos here. Otherwise, this goodbye kiss will have to do.

I love you, good dog. Be good eyes.

Lucky Number Seven

Guide Dog Lomax, the “Number One Son” of my own personal Labrador story, turns seven years old today. SEVEN. That’s unthinkable to me. I’m assuming this is a taste of how parenthood feels (you know…parenting those *two*-legged beings, an experience I’ve yet to have). Does time really not accelerate? Because it sure does feel like it.

As far as I know, Lomax is still out there working with his partner, keeping her confident, independent and safe. And so is his equally SuperDog-like brother, Guide Dog Liam. Those are some handsome boys, and smart, too.

Happy birthday, fellas. We love you, miss you, think of you often, and are very proud of you.

IT’S ALIIIIIIVE!

Resurrected more times than Lazarus, the blog shall rise again!

It’s been six months to the day since we left Southern California for Pennsylvania, and while the events of my last entry took the wind out of my blogging sails for a while, I’m ready to come back.

I have a lot to tell you…the, er, three or four of you who are still out there reading, that is. Truman likes to think of you as his loyal fans.

Yes, there will be photos.

Stay tuned. (Do people even say that anymore?)

Very Sad News

I wanted to make this announcement myself, because I know some of you are likely to hear of it elsewhere, and I want to prevent the scuttlebutt from getting around before the truth does. Please bear with me and read this entire post before you form any opinions.

Unfortunately, GDA has reversed the decision to allow us to finish Jethro’s puppy training in Pennsylvania. He will be re-homed upon our move in March.

Of course, I am heartbroken.

I appealed to the decision maker respectfully and to the best of my ability, but there is nothing further I can do. I will comply with the mandate and try to make the best of things as I enjoy the time I have left with Jethro. We will spend that time as we would have spent it before: training, obedience, puppy raiser meetings, house manners, outings for socialization and public exposure. There is still a goal ahead of us, and I will continue to pursue it with him even though I won’t be the one beside him when he achieves it.

There are no further details at this time, and I respectfully ask those of you connected with GDA to not let this become grist for the rumor mill. I absolutely do not want there to be any unpleasant ramifications for the puppy department staffers, whom I hold in high regard.

Regardless of my personal opinions about these circumstances, I still maintain that GDA runs an excellent program, both for their volunteers and their visually impaired constituents. The dogs are top-notch. The program staff is amazing. People benefit from the life-changing mission of the organization.

Jethro and I appreciate your friendship, encouragement and discretion.

We Have House!

Hooray!!!!!

We have a place to live in Pennsylvania! A lovely townhouse, with plenty of room for the boys to romp (nice basement…or “shuffletorium,” as I’m calling it). The owners met with our pack leader, and were sufficiently impressed by his portrayal of our fine and well-mannered Labradors that they agreed to rent us the place, even though they would not normally consider someone with two big dogs. It’s going to cost us a little more in rent than the other places we looked at (with one-dog mandates), and we are paying a double pet deposit, but it’s worth it to have a home for all four of us.

I’m relieved, I’m thrilled, I’m excited. We have a 12-month lease (and I have a square-footage count)!

You Can’t Stop Him…

…you can only hope to cone-tain him!

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