Back in September, on a regular Monday, I walked into work and had an ugly face cry session with a few of my favorite coworkers. It was mid-wedding planning, after a busy weekend of traveling and I was exhausted in every way possible. I had no intention of breaking down when I got to the office, but one “Are you ok?” and out came the tears. It was painful, cleansing, and cathartic.
As most days are in the world of development, it was one that was prebooked with a full to do list. I was attending a volunteer fair at a local company and sat next to a couple that would later change mine and Kenneth’s lives for the better.
Maureen and Jerry Bennett shared with me their story, their passion, and their organization. IDEA Service Dogs mission statement reads:
“The founders of IDEA Service Dogs believe that many physically challenged people can achieve improved quality of life through the addition of a service dog, which they raise and train themselves through a comprehensive program designed specifically for their needs.”
I went home excited, couldn’t wait to share all that I had learned from the Bennetts with anyone that would listen. What an amazing organization! How gorgeous is Maureen’s service dog, Sofie? How wonderful would this opportunity be for Kenneth and myself? But as it goes during wedding planning, I got busy, I lost focus, and the idea got moved to the back burner.
On January 17th my sweet husband shared this video on Facebook:
As it turns out, January 17th is also Maureen’s birthday. God has the best sense of humor, y’all. Kenneth and I submitted our application that very day, and found out today we were accepted into training group 6 that starts in September. Traditionally, students come into the program with a puppy but God had other plans in the works. A gorgeous chocolate lab named Baloo was donated to the organization, and has been doing beginner training with one of the best in the business, Barb Gadola. As luck would have it, he was ready to move on to the advanced training and be paired with his forever home around the same time we submitted our application.
This was the first picture we received of Baloo and let me just tell you, my heart melted into a puddle:
Kenneth and I were invited to Maureen’s home for our official interview and had the chance to observe a training class on Sunday, March 5th. Bursting with excitement, I emailed the committee and made sure they knew how excited we were. This is the response I got:
From the moment we met Baloo, Kenneth and I were goners. This is our baby, without a doubt. We are so excited for our family to grow by four paws!
Baloo is going to be a great addition to our home as well as helping me navigate through my ALS. He is going to spoil me rotten, help stabilize me when walking, pick me up when I fall and give me some independence back. We are so excited that we can hardly stand it!
We haven’t broken the news to Ian yet, but he will be excited, eventually.