Sharing the info here for people not following my personal journal or FB who wished to know.
As I mentioned in my last post, I recently took a trip to Pennsylvania to attend a CPL support class and meet some of their dogs and working teams and to get some hands on participation. I found out all the alert dogs they had available have been paired with other people that were on the waiting list ahead of me, and there are still others waiting. So I wouldn't be getting paired with a dog this year unless they came across one from another source, which is unlikely.
A few days before our flight home, my friend Christy messages me to ask if I had found any new prospects, since she knew what had happened with Journey washing out from the hip dysplasia. I told her what I had just learned from CPL.
It was then that she told me her family had come into the possession of a little male German Shepherd puppy, and that they wanted to give him to me if I wanted him. They know how valuable service dogs are, Christy being an owner-trainer herself.
Shocked and humbled by their offer, but very hesitant to try again because of what happened with Journey and the hip dysplasia, Mike and I began doing some serious talking and considering. It could be up to 2yrs before CPL might find the right dog to pair me with.
I'm not sure how much longer Ember will be able to work. She's starting to show signs of her age when she works on top of her damaged toe issue. She won't be around forever, as much as I hate to think that way. She's 10yrs old, and most service dogs retire around this age.
On top of that, I have to come up with over $5,000 just so I can go and get a dog when CPL finds one to pair me with. That covers the expense of hotel for a month and some other expenses, but there is also needing to pay for travel expenses for myself and someone to come with me, which is another issue.
I need someone to be with me during the entire month of team training. I originally thought mom would be able to do it, but she has to take care of my grandmother and their dog, who cannot be left alone. Mike and my aunt cannot take that long off work. There aren't many other options that won't be awkward or expensive unless I can find a friend or volunteer to go with me.
So after discussing this with family, we finally decided it was worth the risk to try again with a new puppy and for me to owner-train it in hopes it will work out.
Our reasons were pretty simple. If this new puppy works out, I save $5,000 and the stress of having to somehow raise such a large sum all at once, possibly on very short notice, to afford the travel and hotel expenses to stay the month for team training at CPL, in the event I couldn't find volunteer housing or other ways to save on cost. Even if I could I am still looking at over $2,000 for expenses.
If by some stroke of luck CPL does find a dog to pair me with before I finish training this puppy and have a chance to see if he'll really work out as an assistance dog, then I always have the option to rehome him if necessary like I did with Journey.
If I end up having to wait nearly 2yrs anyway in hopes of being matched with a CPL dog, we should know by then or even before then if this new pup will work out.
He comes from working lines, his parents look solid and no history of issues, and his paws are huge for his size. He's going to be a good sized dog when he grows up and fills out. He's a lot like Journey in a lot of ways, but also vastly different in many others. He's insanely smart and responsive and already catching on to things fast like Journey did, and he is just making 7 weeks old.
Still, our experience with Journey makes this a very difficult decision. To put that much into a dog only to find out the hip dysplasia is there. I would rather know sooner than later, and there is some sort of version of the OFA hip/elbow screening that can actually be run on puppies instead of having to wait till they are almost 2yrs old for growth plates to close.
The problem is that testing is very expensive from what I understand. It would be worth it for peace of mind to know the dog I am putting work into is proven solid. But on the other hand it would be heartbreaking to spend that much money on the testing only to have worst fears confirmed and find out I am right back to square one again, and with all funds exhausted.
Either way, I will still be on CPL's waiting list. As long as I keep following up regularly and meet their criteria, I will still have the option of getting a dog through them in the future.
Now I just need to come up with a good name for this little guy.
I am still keeping the fundraising active. It can be found here:
I may still need the full amount for getting a dog from CPL, either now or in the future. In the meantime I will also need to cover puppy vet costs and related expenses as the pup matures and for x-ray expenses. Any help with this is greatly appreciated.