Friday, July 11, 2008

Zane Train Part 8: Departing Home Depot for College

As the sun sets on Brea . . .

My puppy raiser experience was one that I would never forget. The top picture is Gary & Vicki, the bottom Kim & Kate, not too long before I headed off to "college" in San Rafael, CA.

Overall, I recalled the Johnpeers would give me a high “B” at this point in my career. "B" ... that stands for Brainy, Brawny, Beautiful, and Bubbly!

Time was flying and as my 18-month birthday approached, Gary and Vicki knew that the day of my ultimate recall to San Rafael was approaching. That would indeed be a milestone in my life and in their lives, too.

They have seen other dogs recalled and knew that the likelihood of my failure as a guide dog was moderately high, as only about 40% of the dogs made it to become guide dogs.

Wait a minute, what's this about failure? Ain't no way that's going to happen to me! I plan to graduate "summa-good-doggie!"

The Johnpeers have seen several dogs given a “career change” which is a fancy way of saying that, for one reason or another, they were dropped from the guide dog program and would not end up as a working guide dog for a visually impaired person. But they have seen other dogs in our puppy group pass and that kept their hopes up.

I guarantee, I'm a "Diamond in the Ruff!" You will someday see me sparkle and shine!

They seemed fully prepared to say goodbye to me some day, and I sensed the sadness that losing me would cause them. They said that their reward for all the time they have invested in me would be the happiness and freedom I would some day bring to a person who was blind or in need of a service dog.

And that's Dad, Richard, and I love taking care of him. He loves me so. Dad has told me many times that Gary has said, "if you don't want Zane anymore, you can send him back and we will be glad to take him!" You know, it's great to be LOVED that much. I really feel special.

It’s almost time to leave my first home depot. It’s now early summer 2007 and the heat has made it toasty in southern California. Even with my black coat that is shedding a lot due to the heat, I hope I never have to be where it is cold.

Can you believe it? I ended up in Colorado and I LOVE it!

Gary brushed me a lot, my coat was so shiny and smooth after it had been brushed. A dog is no different than a human; both look good when they are in public. And sometimes, I even looked better groomed than Gary!

Well, as I have got older, I heard comments from Gary and Vicki that my remaining time with them was getting short and that big changes were in store for me. Their biggest wish was that I would do great when I was recalled for my professional training.

In July, I knew that eventually I would graduate to become a working guide dog for a blind person. I wondered who they would match me with once I was trained?

I was sure all the other puppy raisers felt the same. All have grown attached to their incredible dogs who would go on to provide so much freedom to those that were visually impaired, giving them a new kind of life than they may have ever known.

Yes, we have a higher calling than just being a pet.

I climbed into the Cadillac for the last time. Off to the kennels and the puppy truck for my return to San Rafael.

"Good-bye Gary, Vicki, Katie and Kim. College awaits me."

A little tear passed down my muzzle.

Lots of love, Zane


Princess Coral said...

Hi Zane,

You brought tears in my eyes...
Although I love working with Nikki, I do miss those fun days with Kathi & Darli too! But as you said, they all have cheered for us to succeed!

Are you planning to visit your Home Depot some time? Be sure to come see me on the way! I'll be read sad if you come to So-Cal and don't visit me...

Your Princess

Zane Train said...


Yeah, it was a big deal when I left the Johnpeers. They were so good to me. It was fun seeing them again, not only at graduation, but also, last January, when Dad had a trip to LA.

I got to visit my old kennel cage and just walked in and laid down, just like I was home again. I played with the plastic PVC pipe that Gary made for me to chase and chew.

I've not heard Dad talk about going to LA again yet, besides it's too hot there right now and on fire all the time from what I hear on TV. Dad and I have never been to San Diego, so when we come we will visit you for sure.

Dad got a call from Larry last week and it was so good to hear that Dad was talking to Larry and he said that Oxford was doing great! Wow, I've not seen Oxford in a long time.

Dad asked Larry if Oxford was leading him to the bars and package stores good? Larry said that he as doing a fine job.

I hear Dad say that Larry was going to Portland and was hoping that we were going. Dad said it probably would not work. Dad said that you and Nikki were planning to go. I'd love to meet you and see Oxford and Melody again!

All the best, my love! Your Prince, Zane

Anonymous said...

Dear Zane

Your story of your time with us is so realistic. I'm so surprised about all the details you remembered about those first few months you spent with us as you matured enough qualify for the intense training you got at your San Rafael dog college. When you were ready to be "assigned" a blind person (let's just refer to him as your "new" dad Richard; because I don't consider him blind at all), I called him to introduce myself and say we were all going to drive from LA to San Rafael to witness the big graduation event. I told Vicki and the girls that I just knew in my heart that you had finally found a home and the last person who you'd have to get used to and he was surely a "winner" in more ways than one. You see, his attitude and optomistic outlook on life was so much like my mothers' (Nanny). Maybe you don't know this but she was blind too; since I was about 10 years old. She never needed a guide dog around the farm as she knew every nook and cranny better than I did. From childhood, I'd heard about guide dogs and since I love dogs so much I thougt it was a good opportunity to raise you; kind of in tribute to her, kind of to help a total stranger in need of some big brown eyes like yours, and in part just because we all love dogs so much. Now, Richard has become like a member of the family and it's all because of you! So, you see, losing you was really like winning a new member of the family. And he even said if he ever gets tired of you that I can have you back!!! However, I don't hold out much hope for that.

Every time I hear from you or Richard and Claudia I am reassured that all the work of raising you, and the heartbreak of "losing" you, was so worth it. Your "replacement", Sayer, had wiggled his way into our hearts much like you did and the day is coming in a few months that we will have to repeat the sad time of saying goodbye, but we really sense that he too is "going to make it". So it is looking like our family is going to grow again soon.

Your first family forever,

Gary, Vicki, Kimberly and Katie

Princess Coral said...

Dear my Prince Zane,

You sure have a wonderful family, and you're the part of it forever!

Yeah, it's hot here... I don't do well in hot weather, so I really don't appreciate it when Nikki goes out at the middle of the day!!! Does she know how burning the sidewalk is??? I know, I know; we're supposed to wear those butties! But I don't like them much because I lose 2 of them all the time!!!

Wow! Larry & Oxford! I haven't seen them yet even though they live in San Diego... Nikki talked to Larry some time in Feb & they talked about getting together, which never happened... Nikki is messing up my chance to meet this smart Oxford!!! I saw Melody online though! She seems like a sweet girl! Love to play!!! I'm sure your dod got the link to Melody's article from her Mom! Nikki often talks to Megan; she and Allard are doing fine. It would be nice to go to OR & see all the doggies that Nikki mentions all the time, but I don't think it's gonna happen. Well, flat out, Nikki's broke!!!

I do hope to see you some time soon:)

Your Princess

Anna and Lawrence said...

Ah how sweet. You'll never know what it means to your puppyraiser family that you remember them in your blog posts and everything. It actually brought tears to my eyes. :) What a good boy, Zane.

Zane Train said...

Johnpeers, Coral & Lawrence,

So good to hear from everyone. Thank you so much for sharing your love and thoughts. Dad has been keeping me so busy, that I just keep trying to catch up on my sleep. I wanted you to know that I got your messages. Get back to more soon.

Love Zane

Anonymous said...

Hi Zane,

I bet you remember me, Caleb, when I came out for a month two times. I really miss you but I know you're helping someone and showing them the affection that you showed me. I hope that you are having fun and you never know when we might meet up somewhere. I hope to see you again Caleb.

Love, Gary's Nephew

Zane Train said...


It was so good to hear from you! It has been ages since we played together. I hope you aredoing well and I look forward to giving you a big lick when we meet again.

Love, Zane