You may remember I posted last year about my foster puppy Jack. Jack is a trainee Canine Partner, and we were his puppy parents. We took him on when he was just 7 weeks old and he lived with us until he was 17 months old. Our job was to socialise him and do his basic obedience training. This was in preparation for him to be an assistance dog for someone with a disability, most likely someone in a wheelchair. As Jack has accompanied me virtually everywhere it’s possible that – if we’ve met – you’ll have seen him by my side.
Well Jack finally went off for his residential assessment at the beginning of August. If he gets through that, he’ll have months of advanced training to prepare him to become some lucky person’s canine partner. He’ll help them with many activities of daily living, as well as being a wonderful, affectionate, and very handsome companion.
People always asked me how I could cope with giving him up, and I had to honestly answer that I didn’t know, because he was my first CP puppy! Well now I can tell you. We had just a fortnights notice of Jack going to ‘puppy university’, and those two weeks were both hard and lovely. I wanted to do special things with him, and our favourite regular things, and all of them were both wonderful and tinged with the sad knowledge that this would be the last time.
In my last weekly class with Jack our trainer mentioned new puppies ready for parenting. It didn’t take me long to realise that the best way of getting through Jack’s departure would not be having a break and catching up on my lengthy to-do list, as I’d planned, but taking on a new puppy. So that was what we did. Straight away.
Just a few hours after leaving Jack with his advanced trainer in the Canine Partners HQ, we picked up Xabi (pronounced to rhyme with baby). And a very cute baby puppy he is! At just 8 weeks old Xabi quickly showed us just how very bright, confident, and rather greedy he was!
Just couple of weeks in I can see that Xabi is incredibly different from Jack. He’ll never take Jack’s place in my heart, but he’s certainly filled my time and occupied my mind in the way that getting to know a new puppy does. And of course he’s worked his puppy magic and become an important and loved member of the family.
I know that Jack has settled in well and formed a good bond with his advanced trainer. Forming bonds with people was always Jack’s strength! I’m looking forward to hearing how he gets on with his five week assessment, and have my fingers crossed for him. But in the meantime I’m also looking forward to perfecting Xabi’s toilet training; seeing him progress at a rate of knots with understanding the Canine Partner cue words; and it’ll be oh so lovely when his second injection has kicked in and we can start to put him down on the ground when we’re out and about: he’s growing very fast and is already quite heavy!