Its hard to believe that summer is almost over. Like every other kid, my daughter has been thrilled to be out and spent her time enjoying camps, working at Dog is Good, and spending time with her friends. It is even harder to believe that a year raising BOLO is now nearing its end.
Abby will be entering her senior year in high school while, at the same time, BOLO enters her next training phase at Leader Dogs for the Blind. Where did the time go? It is no surprise that I find myself filled with a variety of emotions. There are tears but also smiles of joy and pride as both move forward to tackle the next stage in their lives.
I started thinking about what it will be like to “let go”. I started reviewing the job I have done. Was I an effective parent? Was I an effective puppy raiser? It is interesting to me how raising Abby and raising BOLO parallel each other.
I’ve spent months teaching BOLO basic manners skills and providing her with opportunities to experience a world that she will have to navigate safely and confidently as someone’s eyes. I’ve spent years teaching Abby – instilling values, fostering manners and independence, providing opportunity for critical thinking and decision making, and allowing her to make mistakes….all to prepare her for the world beyond high school.
BOLO has grown into the happiest dog I have ever known. She is an energetic and ebullient pup that continues to progress toward accomplishing the skills required to become a Leader Dog. With each passing day, the thought of “letting go” is difficult. I have a deep love and respect for this beautiful dog. Yet, I know she has a job to fulfill and I must focus on the joy and satisfaction gained in the process preparing her for the important role she will play in someone else’s life.
Conversely, as I reflect on Abby’s high school experience so far, I look to how she has grown and matured as a measure of the job Jon and I have done as parents. She has blossomed into a natural leader who is positive, funny, and good natured.
It is going to be different…moving on to the next stages of life.