The Daily Spike: ‘My dog could be somebody’s jackpot’


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I’m not gonna lie. It’s been a tricky couple of weeks for me and Spike.

I’m not absolutely again and feeling like my regular high-energy self after my most cancers surgical procedure. My medicines are nonetheless being “tuned,” leaving me considerably torpid and out of kinds.

That is troublesome in lots of facets of my life and specifically with Spike, who I am serving to to coach as a service canine for Canine Companions for Independence. I so need him to be essentially the most superb service canine ever, however I really feel like he’s not getting the perfect of me proper now, and that would mirror upon his success. Good coaching progress at this stage of his life is vital to him ultimately graduating and turning into a working service canine.


The Canine Companions for Independence commencement ceremonies occur quarterly in any respect six regional coaching facilities, and the newest ones had been final Friday. This occasion celebrates two of the numerous transitions within the lifetime of a future service canine.  

First, pet raisers like myself flip their puppies in, to start their superior coaching, or “school.” All of the canines and pet raisers get referred to as up on stage for the matriculation ceremony, and the canines even have commencement robes!

andy matriculated

Andy, seen right here along with his pet raiser Caryl, was matriculated on Friday.

 (Caryl Swain)

Then, the canines which have efficiently accomplished 6-plus months of superior coaching are matched with the human companion they are going to help for the remainder of their working life. The pet raiser of that specific canine will get to go on stage too, and hand over the leash to the graduate. It’s a strong second, and there is not a dry eye in the home.


Whereas I couldn’t personally attend final week’s ceremony, my social media feeds had been flooded with posts from different pet raisers and graduates. And, as anticipated, these posts ran the complete gamut of feelings, from unhappy and hopeful to excited and impressed.

Kathy, a five-time pet raiser, gave a speech about her canine Fleet, who was graduating that day. Fleet is the fifth service canine Kathy has raised, however solely the primary who has handed. The opposite 4 had been “launched” from this system, which means they failed out of faculty. It is heartbreaking for a pet raiser to listen to canine is being launched in any case that work, however surely, about half of the canines do not cross.

However Kathy, who watched her beloved pups fail 4 occasions in a row, has stored at it, and Fleet lastly graduated.

I simply wished to hug her.

Then I noticed this positively exhilarating commencement speech from Ron, a Canine Companions graduate who was getting a successor canine after his first CCI canine was retired. He thanked all of the pet raisers on the market for parting with “a member of your loved ones,” but it surely was all value it to see how enthusiastic, and constructive, and grateful he was to the raisers — he was principally yelling about it from the highest of his lungs.

“I’m so excited at the moment. You recognize why? As a result of I get to take this canine dwelling! Like all the opposite graduates!” he mentioned. 

“I get to take him dwelling!” he stored shouting. “He is my canine!”

I additionally acquired to satisfy this week two Canine Companions puppies and their raisers from the Washington, D.C. space. Lisa and Emma are elevating Admiral and Clint, and their employer — PenFEd Credit score Union — isn’t just supportive of them, however truly paying all of their bills and holding company-wide occasions involving the pups, to unfold phrase concerning the unbelievable distinction service canines could make.

Emma additionally is aware of, firsthand, about how necessary it’s to offer again: She was adopted from an orphanage, and he or she defined how that one second, and that one caring determination by her mom, modified her life. She linked this to her personal selection to lift Clint, hopeful that the choice can higher another person’s life.


All of those highly effective connections helped remind me that that is lengthy journey — a curler coaster, actually. Throughout Ron’s commencement speech, he additionally screamed, “Of us, I hit the jackpot!” prompting a fellow pet raiser to reply beneath Ron’s video on Fb, writing, “My canine may very well be anyone’s jackpot.”  

That is precisely why I’m elevating Spike. These canines make a distinction. I would like nothing greater than for Spike to be anyone’s jackpot.

However I understand how laborious it’s to get there, and if he doesn’t make it, that is OK too. 

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