Last week, my Seeing Eye ® dog, Pippen, went on vacation. Shes 11 now and is semi-retired. This past week, she got a preview of her life as a retired guide dog.
While I visited my friend in Florida, Pippen visited the family who will adopt her, once she is fully retired. Her week started by going to a baby shower with Jessie, her new person, as of the end of May. If I had gone to the shower, Pippen would have been restricted to a seat under the table, but with Jessie, Pippen was allowed to roam around the room on her own, stopping to visit with each lady, and no doubt, getting a little bite of something tasty here and there. I can just imagine them saying, Mary isnt here to slap our hands, so we can give Pippen a cookie or a piece of cake. When I returned from my trip, I asked Jessie if she thought Pippen was looking for me at the shower. No, she said, I think she was enjoying her little buffet.
After the shower, Pippen went home with Jessie to a dogs dream retirement home. Five acres of pasture, woods, garden, yard, 2 kids, a cat and a dog, and a big farm house seemed to delight her. So many smells. So much to discover. So much activity to distract her. One sunny afternoon, Jessie went out to work in her garden, while Pippen surveyed the property, fascinated with all the wonders of country living. In time though, she tired of whatever it is that dogs do in a pasture and settled down in the grass beside the garden. Time to supervise what jessie was doing.
When Pippen returns for good in about 6 weeks or so, she will probably be so comfortable with her surroundings that shell feel like shes come home. At least thats my fervent hope.
This is the first time Ive had to give up a guide dog who is still healthy. My 2 previous girls, Mindy and sherry, each died. I wrestled for months with the decision of whether to keep Pippen as a pet or let someone adopt her. If I kept her with me, she might die of a broken heart, seeing the new dog go with me all the time and leaving her behind. But giving her away seemed like I was just trading her in for a new model. In the end, I felt it was in Pippens best interest to have a chance for freedom to just be a dog and enjoy her golden years with a family who will love her, maybe not as much as I do, but love her just the same. Shell get to chase rabbits, in real life, not just in her dreams, and go with the family to Little league games. Shell be the center of attention, not the old dog that has to stay home, while the new dog gets all the attention and gets to put on the harness and do important things. Actually, Pippen always hated that harness, so its one thing that wont b going to the farm with her. In other words, this whole transition is an emotional one for me, but for Pippen? Not so much. She loves people, especially people who love her and let her have cookies and little bites of cake now and then. Not that I havent spoiled her over the last few months. She and I enjoy sun chips at night while watching TV, and then she curls up next to me on the couch for some cuddle time while I write. Shes been more of a pet lately than a working dog, which has been enjoyable for us both, but the harsh reality is that I need a working dog. If I am to maintain my independent and active lifestyle, I have to let Pippen retire, and to tell you the truth, thanks to Jessie and her family, I dont think shell look back.