Why is there a dog in the header?

Meet Gannon.

Today (January 1, 2011)is very a very special day for this little pup. Today he goes off to school. Ya see (oops, first bad pun of the year), Gannon is a Guide Dogs for the Blind pup in training.

He came into our family in October of ’09 – and then we very nearly lost him when he managed to escape from our back porch into a dangerous wild world.

Now had he meet a Good Samaritan, this would have been barely a bump in his little doggie life. In truth, he seems to have been scooped up by a doggie-napper.

We searched and (thank you Media Gods) managed to actually get TV and newspaper stories generated (thanks to the Guide Dog Center)…and had the whole region out looking for little lost Gannon. Guide Dog raisers turned out for an all-out farm to farm search on foot and by ATV.

And then (a week later) – the call. The Guide Dog Center relayed a call that a pup matching Gannon’s description had been found and was with a family about an hour away, up in the foothills. He even apparently had a tatoo in his ear (as all Guide Dog critters do).

My daughter and I grabbed our doggie bag and made a quick stop at the bank for some thank you notes and sped up the hills. Slowed only by the type of wreck that would have made a great lead story, we hit some back roads and pulled into a remote rural homestead.

Two figures emerged – male and female. Greetings ensued and a hesitant pup was let out. A tiny black lab, sans collar. Lexi ran, grabbed, and turned over the ear to inspect the tatoo.

Yep. Gannon.

We gratefully pressed the thank-you notes into the woman’s hands and drove home.

That was the public story. And now…for the rest of the story.

A week or so later we get another call from the GD Center. Apparently our “Good Samaritan” was complaining. His story: he knew where we lived, he claimed he found the dog right in front of our house…and more. Oh, and he wasn’t happy with the GD reward and neither my daughter nor I had given them any kind of thank you reward.

Ummmm….

It kinda went downhill from there, with the GD Center attempting to protect Gannon and us from the growing pile of lies and attempts at extortion by Gannon’s “savior.”

Then our questions started. Gannon was found without his Guide Dog collar – which was a snug fit and had the GD phone number on a brass plate. There is virtually no way he could have wiggled out of it. The couple claimed they had no idea that the puppy was a lost dog – that others told them about the story. (So how did they know he belonged to us and he was in front of our house – when a neighbor about a half mile away saw him the day after he disappeared AND a car was reported picking him up just a few minutes later in that area?).

Oh – and once they found out about the reward they complained it wasn’t enough. Yeah…right.

So that is the back-story…and this is the end of Gannon’s time in our lives. He recovered more quickly from the incident than we did, and became a favorite at my high school, where he was issued his own student body card and joined the choir and became their number one fan. He also worked hard at inspiring students to focus in class and calmed those who needed a furry hug.

Last night he had his own doggie good-bye party and appropriately came in first in a game of “lead the blind” where the dog handler is blindfolded and carries a spoon with a doggied treat on it…and dogs vie with each other to lead their handler to the finish line first.

In a few hours we load up the car and go for a last drive and leave Gannon to his new life. It’s tough – but we’ve gone through this twice before. The goal – as it is with our own children – is to raise them, teach them right from wrong, protect them, and point them towards a life full of learning and independence. We have two daughters (and two Guide Dog puppies) out the door already. Dog #3 is beating daughter #3, who loved and raised him, out the door. Their lives may cross again…and they may have a moment of recognition, some memories of their time together, and then they will move on…each into their own future.

Yeah (sniff).

Time to move on…

Well, Mr. Gannon is happily ensconced at the San Rafael Guide Dog Center…but the bad news came just yesterday. There has been a Parvo outbreak at the Center and they have already lost several puppies. It is a very traumatic time right now…Gannon is safe and in an area unaffected by the deadly canine disease. Our heart goes out to the puppies exposed and suffering through the symptoms. Keep man’s best friend in mind over the next few days…

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