Three years ago, on December 10 (I'm a few days late with this post), I brought Cabana home from the Guide Dogs Holiday Banquet in San Francisco. I knew almost nothing about dogs, much less about raising a guide dog puppy. Other puppy raisers at the banquet had brought blankets and toys to keep their pups happy in the car on their drive home. I had brought the requisite plastic crate--and nothing else. I couldn't fit the crate in the front passenger seat of my vehicle, so it had to go in the back seat, where Cabana cried almost the whole way home, poor little thing.
When Cabana was 11-months old, she was released from Guide Dogs, or as they call it, "career changed". She was too dog distracted, "busy" and "too much dog" to do well as a guide dog. The decision to keep her as our pet did not come easily. I changed my mind about a million times in the few days that we had to make the decision. I knew Cabana was a great dog, but she was still a puppy, and I wasn't sure how many years it would take for her to settle down. But in the end, I just couldn't let her go to someone else. And it was the best decision I could have made. What would I do without this sweet yellow dog in my life? I shudder to think.
Guide Dogs has to name over 800 puppies every year, with a unique name that isn't being used by any other puppy in the program. That's why there are some puppies with doozies of a name out there. When a puppy is dropped from the program, the name is once again up for grabs.
My Cabana is not the first Guide Dog pup to be named Cabana, and she's certainly not the last! I think there was a black lab named Cabana in Mandy's puppy group, but she must have been career changed? Then, a couple months ago, I got an email from a new Cabana raiser, along with this photo of her. Isn't she adorable, just like her namesake?! Best wishes to this new Cabana. I hope she makes it as a guide, but even if she doesn't, I wish her a life as wonderful as our Cabana's.