Pat Lawson is a Golden lover after my own heart. Currently a charter member of the Valley of the Sun Volunteer Chapter of Canine Companions for Independence, she has raised nearly 20 puppies for various service dog organizations. Pat is shown here with her second CCI puppy “Bear” who graduated as a Skilled Companion in August of 2005. A while back she entered in our Labor of Love Photo Contest with a photo that showcased her first CCI puppy Raymond, who graduated in February 2003.
Below please find a note sent to me by my CCI puppy’s new partner in life. I took this photo moments after meeting LaVonne and being reacquainted with ‘Raymond’ after his six months of formal CCI training. In the 12+ years of raising service puppies, I have never seen such a perfect match like LaVonne and Raymond. Raymond was a very special puppy to raise and had a romance with everyone who met him. It is true . . . Everybody Does Love Raymond! — Pat
Thank you for raising Raymond and training him so well and especially for giving him up—I love him so much I was willing to accept any dog they gave me but I fell in love with only Raymond the first day. They gave me different dogs in the AM and Raymond in the afternoon. There was such a difference—a magic between Raymond and me. He seemed so happy with me and followed my commands more quickly and easily. He’d turn his head toward me and look at me with those beautiful eyes and my heart melted—and still does. Working together just seemed more natural and easier with Raymond. At the beginning of the first week they gave me five different dogs to work with but by the middle, two (Raymond & Jomar)—and on Friday we could write the reasons we wanted a particular dog knowing it was still the trainer’s decision. I selected Raymond stating I felt a special connection that made our working together more effective. I am so thankful they felt the same way. Now when I look at the impromptu pictures taken during training—I can see a real sparkle and love in my face when working with Raymond.
The second week was terrifying as we were told no dog assignment was for sure, that they could change dog assignments at any time and we also had to pass all written and practical tests on Friday. The fear of losing a dog you already love made that last week very difficult and scary. I guess I should have had more self confidence but with the decision in someone else’s hands, not mine, I feared a broken heart if I did not get to take Raymond home Friday afternoon. I was told I had one of the highest scores ever on the written test, passed the practical and that I would be coming back in six weeks for one whole day to finalize the public certification with the rest of the class. Upon hearing that I was taking Raymond home, I cried with joy and relief. We quickly left the room and I invited Raymond up to my lap and we had the biggest hugging, loving, tearful exchange that was one of the most emotional times of my life. We were finally a team and we were going home together! — LaVonne
Pat just let me know about a very special video, with this special message:
This video features a young boy and his new CCI dog. It is all about why I can say goodbye to my great puppies once they are ready to go back to advanced training.