Debbie Zilka, president, CCI Old Dominion Chapter and puppy raiser (PR), shares her thoughts about puppy turn-in. That's Debbie, Amethyst, and Bonnie above.
Just wanted to share with you all my family trip up to the CCI NE facility...
For the first time, graduation was on a Friday. This was my first EVER trip up and it was a wonderful experience. The day started at the Miller Family Campus in Medford, NY on Long Island. They had a continental breakfast set up for the PRs and families of the matriculating pups. We got to mingle with other PRs, trainers and new graduate teams. Three tables were set up so you could do the final turn-in paperwork with a trainer and get our pups' matriculating cape for the graduation ceremony.
Following that, we got to take a self-guided tour of the facility. It was even better than I expected! The first thing we noticed was the collage in the hallway with a BIG picture of Kimberly and Lace. SO cool! It's amazing to see how much she's grown in just three years! While on our tour, we stopped in the kitchen. There we met Oswego with Matt! He had come back to visit with staff and see graduation. It was good seeing Oswego "all grown up". When we entered the medical area, we saw Brioni. She was recovering nicely from her spay surgery. She was very happy to see us! Next, we toured the play yard and got to see first hand the play equipment donated by our chapter. (Way-to-go Old Dominion!) We then proceeded down the kennel isle and were greeted by Batchelor, Ivory, Zellic, Innis and Ione (they were sharing a kennel!) On the last leg of the tour, we got to view one of the dormitory rooms. Wow, very spacious...a double AND a twin bed, flat screen TV, desk, dresser and nightstand. The bathroom was state-of-the art for a disabled person...walk-in shower, curved sink and very spacious! I can tell A LOT of attention to detail was put into the planning of those rooms! After the tour, we let Ammy and Stinson play with other furry friends in the fenced in grassy play yard and then we left for lunch. CCI NE was hosting a luncheon onsite for graduate teams and PRs with a graduating dog.
The graduation ceremony began late afternoon. After introductions, the ceremony started with a slide show of the 25 matriculating pups. It was very fun to watch and to see the different personalities of the PRs and their pups! The slide show was followed by a parade of the matriculating pups and their PRs, a personal puppy raiser story and volunteer appreciation awards. Matriculating pups from the Old Dominion Chapter included: Amethyst, Innis, Ione, and Mariah. Following the parade of pups was the team training slide show. You could tell all the graduate teams worked very hard! Ten service teams graduated and two of the dogs were raised in the Old Dominion Chapter. Congratulations to Cheri Goodson and Terri Laundon with the placement of Zellic and to Cindy Morrison and her family with the placement of Batchelor. Special guests in attendance were John and Kristin Miller. They presented the certificates to the August graduation teams. For me, the most moving part of the whole ceremony were the two graduating class speakers. From a puppy raiser's perspective, to hear their stories and how these dogs were going to forever change their lives validated why we do this! The ceremony ended with closing remarks from Debbie Dougherty, Executive Director.
After graduation, we returned to the Miller Family Campus for the dreaded "turn-in". We took our last pictures of Amethyst and let her take her last romp in the play yard with us. Then, we gave her her final hugs and kisses and handed over the leash to Katrina. She never looked back. So sad!
The whole day was a wonderful experience for me and my family. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it!
Below: Owega & Matt; Zellic with Patrick & PR Cheri Goodson.