Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Day Three: The One We'd Been Waiting For...

And the winner is..... FLASH!

Flash, the very large male yellow labrador was Jarod's preliminary match up today. I know it probably sounds ridiculous, but I barely slept last night. And, when I did, I dreamed about dogs. Man, this place really sinks into your psyche!

Anyway, about Flash. We listened to a brief lecture this morning regarding canine resistance and how to respond. The trainers stressed the importance of ensuring the dog is in the proper emotional state before commanding it so as to ensure success (especially since dogs are highly emotional animals). Plainly, the happier the dog, the more likely it is the dog will respond to commands.

Occasionally, though, the dogs get stubborn, usually because of poor handling. This means that it is vital Jarod and I work as a team to ensure we command the dog properly, and it means that my corrections must be firm, well timed, and meaningful. Let's just say there's a reason it's taking us two weeks to train. Mentally we're exhausted!

But, of course, the big moment finally came, and after a brief break, we proceeded to the training room to complete preliminary placements. Most of the other recipients had begun discussing the day before which dog they hoped to receive. Many were interested in the same dogs, which we knew would lead to some broken hearts. Regardless, how we feel about placements matters little. The trainers have been at this for a long time, and it's their say entirely over which dog is placed, and where.

I knew going in that Jarod hoped for Flash, and we talked this morning (and last night again) about how even though we want Flash, we'll be happy to get whichever dog they offer. Jarod agreed. But when Eric, the trainer who had the leashes for Flash in his hand approached us and said, "I think Flash likes best the sound coming from Oshkosh, WI", we were bowled over completely. Jarod wrapped his arms around Flash right away and said, "Oh Flash, I will love you forever and ever."

OK, I admit it. I cried. So did my mother-in-law, Kay.

Everyone cheered for each placement announced, and we took time for the first photos of placements. Then the real work began. We spent the rest of the day practicing numerous commands, enjoying a lecture with video on canine communication, etc. We also watched as the trainers tested the control of the animals (and the control we have over them) by releasing Jack Jack the bunny and Sassy the cat in the room. As the bunny and cat approached each dog, the dogs are expected to completely ignore the cat and bunny. And every one of them did. If the dogs even begin sniffing, we are expected to correct them. I did do a quick correction (when in doubt, correct) on Flash, but it was minor. They tempt the dogs daily with treats, toys, treats, attention and other animals--all of which the dogs ignore. It's astounding what they've trained these dogs to do.

Flash is a wonderful dog, and I couldn't be happier about the placement. Still to come this week, tomorrow we learn about grooming and another laundry list of commands in preparation for our field trips out next week. Also, we bring home the crate and a 20 pound bag of dog food in preparation for Flash's first night with us in the hotel, Friday night. :) Stay tuned!

P.S. For those following along, just so you know, it means a lot to us both. Jarod loves the comments, and just to put any doubts aside, although I type for him, the words on "Jarod's take" are truly his own. He talks, I type, and the end result is our beautiful boy sharing this wonderful experience with all of you. Thanks for tuning in. :)


  1. Wendy, your post brought tears to my eyes! These is going to be cheesy so bear with me. What you and Chris and the rest of your family are doing for Jarod is absolutely amazing. You are such an amazing woman and mother! You have such a big, warm, and loving heart and your children are so blessed to call you their mom! I know this is early, but Happy Mothers day!

  2. On Dot...What a friend I've got! It's Rose. Even from Ohio you have a way to put things in perspective as you do for me on a regular basis. Just as I'm about to get bogged down selfishly in the chaos of play week, I catch up on reading your blog and am immediately put back in reality. The photos are inspiring. Jarod's words are heartwarming. And you are amazing. I'm so happy for your family. What a neat experience this is going to be. I'll keep praying for all of you and I will leave you with a Scandinavian Wish of Goodwill. "May your geshlufegenknewgen be gaschlavaengaken. May all your gestabvenbflagen be glusteganflugen."
    I love you Dorothy!

  3. This post made me cry! I'm so happy for you, Jarod! I can't wait to come meet the newest member of the Falk family!!