Denver - December 31, 2013
Marianne and I were at the library checking out some books today when a woman approached and asked if she could pet me. Knowing the rules, I immediately sat down when Marianne said, “Yes, thanks for asking.” While rubbing my ears the lady asked Marianne the usual questions about me and Canine Companions. When she got ready to leave she gave me a final pat and said to Marianne, “Thank you for doing this.” Marianne smiled and replied, “You’re very kind, but I promise that we get way more out of puppy raising than we put into it.”
As we walked home from the library I pondered that statement. “What did you mean?” I finally asked. “You and John put lots of time and effort into teaching me commands, taking me to classes and filling out the monthly reports. Dog knows I wish you’d focus on Meryl and Mina sometimes instead of me.”
Marianne rolled her eyes. “Yes, and we spend around $2,500 on each CCI pup, what with vet bills, heartworm medication, food, treats, toys, crates, beds, collars, leashes, and trips to Oceanside for turn in and, if we’re really lucky, graduations. But that’s just logistics; puppy raising is so much more than that.” She opened the door to our house and then took off my cape and leash. “Remember what I said in the introduction to “Let the Dogs Speak!”?
I shook my head. “Remind me.”
She picked up the copy of the book that lives on the coffee table and began to read. “We were looking for a fun, shared activity and a chance to do something nice for someone else. What we found was so much bigger. It’s as though we were scavenging for lost change on the beach and discovered Blackbeard’s treasure chest and the lost city of Atlantis. With sprinkles. The community we found within Canine Companions is more than a group of people sharing a common interest, or even a common goal; it’s a family.”
“But you’re not related. How can you be a family?” I wondered.
“I think a writer called C. JoyBell C. says it best. Let me find the quote I’m thinking of.” Marianne reached for her laptop and a moment later said, “Here we go. C. Joybell C. said, “Family is family, and is not determined by marriage certificates, divorce papers, and adoption documents. Families are made in the heart. The only time family becomes null is when those ties in the heart are cut. If you cut those ties, those people are not your family. If you make those ties, those people are your family.”
“So you’re saying that CCI is family because of the ties you’ve made?”
Marianne patted me on the head. “Precisely. I love the line that says families are made in the heart. We do things for each other and support each other and care for each other because we’re family.”
“Ah,” I nodded. “Like Geddes.” Just then, Geddes, a black CCI pup who is staying with us, came skidding into the room.
“Like me what?” he panted. Apparently he had been galloping around the yard with Meryl.
“Like how you came to stay with us,” Marianne explained. “We’re talking about the CCI family. I got an urgent message on Facebook Sunday night from a CCI puppy raiser named Cheri in Michigan who is friends with your puppy raisers David and Jaci, and knew they were in a fix. She asked me and another puppy raiser named Jeni if we could help. Within about five minutes, phone calls were made, Facebook messages were sent, arrangements were finalized and you showed up at our house on Monday!”
“Oh, so that’s what happened,” Geddes said. “I wondered. See, David broke his leg skiing last week and has had several surgeries. Jaci was spending all her time at the hospital or driving home to let me out and feed me. I could tell it was tricky, but we just moved to Colorado and they haven’t met any other puppy raisers yet, so they didn’t know who to call.”
Marianne gave him a hug. “Well, we’re really glad we could help out, and I think you’ll go stay with Jeni and her pups next week. You’ll enjoy playing with Jake and Kaizen.”
I yawned, stretched and poked Geddes with my nose. “Enough. Let’s go outside and play chase.”
Geddes bounded over to the door. “Great idea – race you to the fence!"
Chow for now and Happy New Year to all!
Get your copy of "Let the Dogs Speak!" at http://www.amazon.com or http://www.barnesandnoble.com. Paperback and eBook formats available! All author's royalties are donated to CCI.