24. Epilogue

As mentioned in the Introduction to this blog series, I returned to Leader Dogs for the Blind in February 2019 to train with a new guide dog. I am now home with my new guide, an 18-month-old, 68-pound, male yellow lab named Boomer.

Boomer’s early training and development was under the careful care of puppy raisers Scott, Jessica, Romina, and Rocco. I am so grateful for the solid start in life that you provided for Boomer. You can be assured that his new life as a working guide dog will be just as full of love as the life you gave him at the beginning.

Boomer is doing a fantastic job of settling in to his new life, both at home and out working in the community. Boomer and Bode are getting to know each other and are becoming good friends, although Bode occasionally needs to take on his role as elder in the pack when Boomer’s romping around the house gets to be too much!

Leader Dogs for the Blind is a progressive and forward-thinking school. Having been there a year ago, I experienced new and positive changes in both dog and human training, and also in program delivery from then to now. This time around, rather than spend a full three weeks at Leader Dogs for the Blind, I came home with Boomer after just two weeks of Flex training. Thank-you to Kevin, Phil, and the entire team at Leader Dogs for the Blind for a positive, professional, and productive experience. I was then joined by a Leader Dog trainer who spent three days with me and Boomer, working in our home environment. Time was spent walking around our little island community, working on skills in our marine environment (docks, ramps, and boats), and working in the more urban setting in town. A big thank-you to Jill for sharing her expertise on our home turf.

While training with Boomer, I experienced all of the same things as with “L” last year. The only difference was that some of the training experiences and opportunities were provided at Leader Dog in Michigan, and some (more specific to our community) were experienced in my home community. The physical, emotional, and mental work was and continues to be the same as we progressed through training, and now work to build our life partnership.

We will be spending the next six months to a year working together to hone our skills and continue building that bond before Boomer and I are really a polished team. When you see us out there, please keep in mind everything that you’ve learned in these posts. Do say hi to me and identify yourself as we are coming your way. If I am able to stop and chat, I certainly will; otherwise, please understand that we are probably working on some specific skill that requires total concentration, and we will catch you next time.

Happy tails and happy trails…

Go Home

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