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Monday, November 5, 2012

Not Norton

Norton in his puppy coat for his "final" portraits - at almost 10 months

Well, a little more dust has settled onto this blog, and again I apologize. It has been a tough few months, but I wanted to update anyone who is still out there reading this blog on my last few months as a puppy raiser. In September, Norton got very sick, again. My sweet boy went from being a happy-go-lucky dude one night to a puppy who didn't want to move - not even to sit down - because he was so sick and in pain the next morning. There were some very scary days for Norton and everyone who loves him, and the experience was enough that once Norton was on the mend, Guide Dogs for the Blind called him back to their Northern California campus for a medical evaluation to try to find out why he keeps getting so sick. Late in the month, I sent a recovering Norton back to GDB's campus for his medical evaluation and I will tell you right now that in my 15 years of puppy raising, that was the hardest thing I've ever had to do - I was an absolute, blubbering wreck of a human being.

Norton sitting by the front door on the morning he left for Guide Dogs - lunch packed in a bag that says his name on it!

Fortunately, perhaps, for Norton, none of the wonderful, knowledgable, experienced Veterinarians he's seen can find a single thing wrong with him to explain why he keeps getting sick and so he was declared clinically normal and I am very hopeful that he will never ever get horribly sick ever again. Unfortunately for Norton, his medical history was enough to convince Guide Dogs that he probably shouldn't be a guide dog, and he was released from their training program due to an unknown medical prognosis.

A close up of Norton's adorable face.

While I know this is the right decision for Norton, I am still very, very sad. He would have been an amazing, gorgeous guide dog or stud dog, and really, selfishly I just wasn't ready to be done with raising him. He is - as of this writing, not even 11 months old, and when he isn't sick, he is a fantastic, wonderful, model guide dog puppy.

Norton at LAX leading a "welcome home" committee with endless enthusiasm... :)

Guide Dogs for the Blind has an entire department dedicated to finding homes for their career change dogs, and while I know that they will find an awesome home for Norton, a really big part of me wanted it to be with me, but with my grad school schedule and budget combined... it just wouldn't be fair to Norton, or to me. Knowing that Guide Dogs will do right by him is comforting and I am very thankful to be involved with an organization that takes such wonderful care of their dogs - even the ones that don't become guides.

A blurry but adorable picture of my black boys - Norton and Saxon, now both career changes!

In October, just after I received news of Norton's career change, I got a message from a friend asking if I could help with someone very special - Norton's sister, puppy in training Niecy. As it turns out, Niecy's raiser is dealing with some health problems of her own and Niecy needed a place to stay. I don't think I could say "yes" fast enough - a little piece of Norton was just what I needed, and to be able to help out a fellow puppy raiser on top of it? What an honor.

Niecy getting a bath and looking especially like her brother
Niecy is wonderful, adorable, hilarious - just like her brother, only she's never been sick a day in her life. I am not sure how long she will be staying with me at this point, but I am really enjoying her company and how much she reminds me of her brother. I find myself petting her and telling her about him, and how some things just happen for a reason. It is nice to have a puppy by my side again, with a sigh and a hopeful eye towards the future.

The "black dogs" now - Niecy and Saxon



9 comments:

  1. As always you are an amazing writer and have put me in tears at work :) Lucky for us the kids are in PE. You are a wonderful raiser who cares deeply for the puppies you recieve whether they make it, come back to you or move on to pursue other careers. I am happy you got Niecy and are having fun telling her of the epic adventures of Norton "Not-Anti-Virus"
    Miss You and your puppies! <3

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    1. Thanks Ginger - Niecy hopes she gets to meet you in December!

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  2. Ah I'm so sorry to read about Norton. How wonderful that you get to have Niecy with you for now and I hope the two of you enjoy each other immensely.

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  3. So glad he's on the mend!! I could feel his sweetness through your instagram shots. :) Good luck to him. :)

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  4. Oh, poor Norton. I'm so sorry. Well at least you have another little dog by your side :) And OMG it's really nice to see Saxon again! :D

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  5. Wow, its really hard to have a puppy be sick like that and then go back for med eval. My first puppy had a bladder infection from september unitl the spring when she went back for med eval. It was so hard to give her up. She too was career changed although luckily she was able to come back to us and has never had a problem since. My sympathies.

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    1. Thanks Erin - I am a wreck and Norton was my 8th puppy. Can't imagine going through anything similar on my very first puppy. My sympathies to you, too!

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  6. That's a lot to go through. I know each of those decisions were tough ones. Do you know yet where Norton ended up? Amazing that you got to raise Niecy for however long it lasts! Like you said, things happen for a reason, ESPECIALLY to you (or so it seems to me).

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    1. Hi Mimi, no - don't know Norton's placement yet. From what I understand, it will be a few weeks to a month after he's actually been placed to receive any kind of notification. I still run to the mailbox everyday, though - waiting. And yes, it seems there have been a lot of meaningful "things" happening to me in the last bit. It's been quite the adventure!

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