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Graduation Fidos For Freedom 2009

Posted May 04 2009 5:27pm

My “speech” is below the pictures…

Chloe has had a "crush" on our photographer for a long time. This "shoot" was hard for her!

Chloe has had a "crush" on our photographer for a long time. This "shoot" was hard for her!

Smiling for the camera!

Smiling for the camera!

It's hard to wait under a table for 2 hours with other dogs when there is a long tablecloth!

It' s hard to wait under a table for 2 hours with other dogs when there is a long tablecloth!

Lots of pictures for the 5 graduates...

Lots of pictures for the 5 graduates...

Getting ready for the "speech"

Getting ready for the "speech"

Denise gives a speech w/ Chloe in a down/stay. Puppy Raiser L, Trainer at R of Denise

Denise gives a speech w/ Chloe in a down/stay. Puppy Raiser L, Trainer at R of Denise

Listening to the therapy dogs being "caped"

Listening to the therapy dogs being "caped"

our graduate board... someone did a great job

our graduate board... someone did a great job

I’m so excited to be here this evening, graduating with Chloe from Fidos For Freedom’s training program. Chloe and I have been working together for almost two years now and it’s pretty exciting to finally be attending the Tux & Tails Banquet as a graduate!

Tonight is a night of thanks, and I wanted to take the time to include my own. First of all, I wanted to thank Chloe’s sponsor, Judy. The training of these special pups all begins with their sponsorship. I’ve had the privilege of seeing Chloe’s sponsor at a number of events, and I’m thankful there are people out there who agree to pay for the supplies, vet bills and other expenses while these special puppies are being trained. All this is made possible by the generous heart of a sponsor. Thank you Judy!

I wanted to thank Chloe’s Puppy Raiser, Linda Odom. Linda has raised numerous puppies for Fidos, and she raised my Chloe as well. Chloe still recognizes and adores Linda. In the beginning, everyone guessed that Chloe must be a beagle mix, but she continued to grow larger and larger. I have a picture of Linda holding Chloe when she was still a puppy, but not a lot smaller than she is now! Believe, me she had her hands FULL! Not just literally either, but figuratively as well! I have been told by training staff that Chloe was a very incorrigible puppy. Annette told me once that she put Chloe in a sit/stay and walked deliberately away for a long recall. When she turned to call Chloe, it seemed Chloe had disappeared! One quick look down was all it took to see the happy tail wag greeting from this puppy that had followed her quietly the whole way.

Pat Jarvis, my trainer and Chloe’s trainer, told me that they continued to see “glimpses of what might be” in Chloe. As she matured, and began to finally grow up, they were finally seeing the working dog in her that they’d hoped for. When I first began working with Chloe, she seemed to respond very well to me. Things weren’t perfect, but then I had worked with Nordic a great deal, so she was hard pressed to compare. The longer we worked together, the more attached we became. She was just as excited to see me at training sessions as I was to see her.

One Wednesday night in January of 2007, Pat put me with Chloe to work and then later called me back to the conference room. She told me that they were going to match Chloe tonight. I managed to squeak out, “With me?”  I almost tackled Pat I was so excited!

Chloe has traveled with me to conferences and speaking engagements, and represents Fidos so well. In our short time together, she has alerted me to a fire in our basement, and has alerted me to literally thousands of phone calls, timer alerts, and other sounds around me that I do not hear.  With help from Pat, Ann and Tracy, I was able to teach Chloe some additional skills to help me with my balance.  I teach part time, and Chloe loves to be in the classroom. I’m fairly certain some of my students drop papers and pencils on purpose so that Chloe will come and pick them up for them.

Before I had Chloe, I never went anywhere without someone in my family with me. Even going to stores was extremely intimidating, because I would often not hear if people needed to get by me. If I dropped something on the floor on a rainy day and my balance was bad, it was really difficult to pick it up without passing out. Now that Chloe is my partner, we go everywhere together. If I drop something… NO PROBLEM. Chloe picks it up with a happy tail wag and is always eager to assist. She alerts me to sounds like someone needing by, intercoms, buzzers and more.

To those who sponsored this little red-head puppy - I thank you.

To every person who had a part in helping Chloe the puppy, investigate new sights, sounds and smells - I thank you.

To every person who acted as a vacation home for this lovable, mischievous puppy - I thank you.

To my family who allowed me to take time for myself in order to train for Chloe - I thank you.  I have spent many miles on the road from Frederick.

To every trainer who had a part in teaching Chloe the skills she now uses so naturally - I thank you. Thank you for seeing past the frustrating little puppy to the lovely and intelligent working dog that Chloe is. Because of each of YOU, Chloe and I have this wonderful, unique relationship only found in the partnership of person and dog. THANK YOU.

Denise Portis

© 2009 Hearing Loss Journal

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