Posted by: arnoldoneal | July 13, 2011

Raising Brody

Having a guide dog as cool as Brody reminds me of when our son Taylor was younger. All his friends, and even other parents, called us “Taylor’s mom” or “Taylor’s dad.” That’s how it is now. I no longer have a name. I’m just ‘that guy with Brody’.  And… I’m okay with that.

It was a little hard on the pride though when at school at Southeastern Guide Dog School, I would call home or get a message on Facebook, and my wife would ask, “How’s Brody?” or “I can’t wait to meet Brody, he’s so handsome”.  I’m thinking….what about me?  The other day we were at the mall and it was really crowded.  I could tell that people were looking at us as we worked our way through the crowd. I commented to Bobbi Jo that I felt like people were staring at me.  She said, “Don’t worry, people aren’t looking at you at all”.

Sunday we went to church.  We have been attending the same church for fifteen years, and I worked there for almost ten.  We know a lot of people, but in a big church like ours you don’t get to interact with people as easily as you do in a small church.  But, with Brody, people come out of the woodwork. It’s great! People are coming up to say, “Hello” that I haven’t talked to in years.

The good thing is that I don’t mind being ‘that guy with Brody’.  After all, how can you not fall in love with a handsome dog like him? He is a beautiful black lab with a little white streak on his chest.  He is lean and athletic looking while I am a middle-aged, grey haired, fat, blind guy. He’s a rock star and I’m a washed up stage hand.  I’m just proud to be seen with him.

So enough at this attempt at humor.  Let me tell you about Brody.  He was born on November 5, 2009 at Southeastern Guide Dogs in Palmetto, Fl.  He spent a couple of months in the puppy kennel and then went home with his first puppy raisers Scott and Jan Black.  Scott, a pilot for the Coast Guard, was transferred from Florida to California, and as a result Brody, at about six months of age, moved in with Dennis and Mary Lou Garcia.  I must say that I really appreciate what puppy raisers do.  They take into their home a new puppy, potty train them, teach them not to eat everything in the house, take them everywhere they go, teach them to be obedient, all the while loving them with all their heart.  About a year later and after all this, they have to bring them back to Southeastern.  I can only imagine how heart breaking it is to have to give them up.  The only thing that makes it worth it, is the satisfaction of knowing that someday they could become a working guide dog for a visually impaired person and they will change someone’s life.

I had the great pleasure of speaking with Jan over the phone.  She was very sad that she and Scott were unable to return to Florida for Puppy Raiser Day at Southeastern.  This is a day when all the families, who raised the dogs that were in our class, come back to the school to see their puppies all grown up and meet their new partners.  Jan was so full of love for Brody and was very proud that he made it all the way to becoming a guide dog.  She shared some stories of her time with Brody, and like everyone who has ever met him, she talked about his sweet personality and his tail that never stops wagging.

I haven’t had a chance to speak with the Garcias, since they were also unable to attend Puppy Raiser Day.   Before they knew when the date was, they had already scheduled a trip out of the country. I know that they were very disappointed that they were unable to see Brody again.   They sent me a very nice note, and it’s clear, they too love Brody very much.

I hope that someday I will have a chance to meet these great puppy raisers in person and thank them for all that they have done to make it possible for Brody and I to be together. To all you puppy raisers…… Thank You!  You do a great work and I know it is hard to give those puppies back after you have grown to love them.  What you do is priceless, but it will come back to you.  In life, you reap what you sow, and you my friends, are sowing some mighty good seed!

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Responses

  1. I too would like to say Thank you to Jan, Scott, Dennis, Mary Lou and all Puppy Raisers. Not only do you change the life of the visually impaired person, but their family as well. It is hard to explain and I am sure I will pipe in more during his blogging, but Brody is having a positive impact on the entire family. Words cannot express how grateful we are. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

  2. You are so welcome!! The phone conversation was wonderful! It became very personal when I spoke to the person that Scott and I raised Brody for and I was able to say, “Arnold, we raised Brody and loved him with all our hearts and then gave him up for YOU!!” it was incredibly difficult to give him up. Brody was 7 months old when we received our orders to move to California and he would be placed in another puppy raiser home in the Southeast part of America. We had hoped to be transferred to Jacksonville, FL so we could finish him, but the military had different plans. We had a meeting with Dennis and Durga and we were comforted to know they had the same hopes for Brody as we had. I remember have a total knee replacement a couple of weeks after Brody moved in with Durga and Brody’s new raisers brought him to visit me in the hospital. It was incredible and Brody came up to me, paws on bed and we loved each other and he told me he was happy. It was wonderful to see him! We had planned on stopping at Durga’s to tell Brody goodbye again in our way across country, but just 2 weeks post-op and on morphine and Percoset, we needed to keep pushing forward on our long trip. We knew Brody was in good hands. We plan on raising a puppy for a CA based Guide Dog organization after our family vacation in August. We know that even though it is so terribly difficult to put 100% love and training in a puppy and then give them up, it is one if the most rewarding things we could ever do!!


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