In the fall of 2006 my roommate and I received my 1st baby Guide Dogs For The Blind Puppy-a wrinkly, female, yellow lab named, Emmy. My roommate had raised her dad and we could not have been more excited to raise a puppy that we got to help name and would remind of us of her dad, Simon.
I knew raising a Guide Dog puppy was going to take up a lot of time, a lot of patience and be a lot of protocols for me to learn, what I didn’t know is that it would change my life.
Emmy was an amazing puppy (I can’t say that about every puppy!) she was beautiful, sweet, cuddly, funny and the most loyal dog I had ever had. She became my best friend and slept on the floor next to me most every night (ok, we won’t tell anyone that I occasionally woke up with a furry foot warmer). Emmy became the center of my world and had a following everywhere she went. Throughout her training she was an excellent ambassador for Guide Dogs and learned everything we asked of her like a pro. She was simply perfect.
In May of 2007 the day came where Emmy would go back to Guide Dogs for her formal training. This is when I realized how close Emmy and I had become and how the quick 20 minute drive to Guide Dog campus would forever feel like hours on the drive home. Dropping Emmy off that day, I left a large piece of my heart at Guide Dogs. For the next 5 months I would go to bed every night wishing my phone would ring to say that Emmy was coming home-I truly believed she belonged with me and would come home.
In October of 2007 we got word that Emmy was excelling in her training and my dream of her coming home was looking less realistic..Thanksgiving of that year I heard the words I had been praying I would never hear “Emmy is in class to graduate”..Heartbroken would be putting it mildly.
How could a dog I put so much work in to be going to live with someone else? Who could possibly need Emmy more than I did? Who else would tattoo her name on their body?
That following week I got the answer to all of my questions when I got to speak with Emmy’s new partner, Tim. Tim is from Missouri and is legally blind due to MS. Tim had fallen in love with Emmy in the few weeks they had been together and in our short conversation I knew that Tim needed Emmy and that is why she would not be coming home.
Meeting Tim will forever be one of the hardest days of my life..My heart was breaking over a dog that I had become so attached to and never believed would leave. However, seeing her with Tim made me realize what all of our hard work was for and changed my feeling of heartbreak into a feeling of pride. Many of our friends and family came to see Emmy that day, everyone knew how special she was to me and what a hard day it would be. However, I made it through the day because of Tim. He loved her as much as I did and I knew she was going where she was meant to be.
Emmy will forever be my “heart dog” and Tim will always be a part of my life. Tim and Emmy have an unbreakable bond and nothing in my life will ever compare to raising Emmy and seeing her bond with Tim.
We have raised 12 dogs since Emmy. All special in their own way, one (Emmy’s half sister), came home to stay and I am thankful every day that she chose to stay with us. Raising guide dogs isn’t just about potty training, following protocol and socializing cute puppies. It’s a life changing and heartbreaking job, but Emmy and Tim serve as my daily reminder that my heartache is nothing compared to the life changing relationship these dogs form with their person.
The night I left Emmy with Tim, I went and found a female yellow lab-one that would be all mine and the smartest dog I’ve ever known..No dog will ever compare to Emmy, but now we both have the partner we were meant to have.