It’s a Girl! Meet Our Service Dog!

*This post is part of a series originally posted on my former blog, Stinker Babies. I’m reposting here for families who are interested in learning more about the process of being matched with a service dog for their children. This series was written during March of 2013.*

As most of you know, we’ve been waiting on pins and needles for our official Match Letter from 4 Paws for Ability.  This letter would tell us which of these adorable wonderdogs would become a part of our family.

Friday morning, I was startled awake by a crazy dream and it led me to post this in our private Facebook group that only the families can see.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 12.11.49 PM
Exactly 2 hours and 30 minutes later, we saw this post in the public group for the March class:
Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 12.12.04 PM

Five minutes later, the first match was received.  Someone posted, “WE GOT OUR MATCH!  They’re coming!!!”  At that moment, I started bawling like a baby.

Two minutes later, I refreshed my e-mail and there it was.  An e-mail from the wonderful Karen Shirk with the subject line, “Dear Caleb.”

I took a deep breath and clicked.

And just like that, all of the disappointments and frustrations and discouragement and hard work and hope and patience and lessons learned along the way…It was all resolved in a beautiful reality.

Our goal, our dream, our hope had a beautiful face and name.

I am so honored and thrilled to introduce you to our new girl who will be joining our family in just 10 days.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 12.12.17 PM
Meet April!

She’s a beautiful black Labrador Retriever who will have her first birthday on March 15th.

(Which also just so happens to be our 10th wedding anniversary – how’s that for a sweet “coincidence”?)

Every time I look at that sweet, smiling face, I start crying again.  I just can’t believe we have our match.  I cannot believe that we will have her in our arms in just ten days.

We are going out in just a bit to shop for our sweet April.  I’m going to try to contain myself even though I feel like I should be on a new TLC reality show, “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant (until one week before I had a baby).”

Just like bringing a newborn home, there will be some major adjustments going on.  The training class will be intense and every day for eleven days.  Because our family lives so far from 4 Paws, I feel the pressure of getting it all in and getting it all right before we leave.

But now, whenever I start to get stressed, I just look at that sweet girl’s smile and I just feel that it’s all going to be alright.  I can look past the initial adjustment phase and see how it will be in a year, two years, five years, ten.

And that makes everything worth it.

We started down this path to a service dog exactly two years ago.  There have been some major roadblocks and detours.  I can’t help but feel it was because we were meant to be with this organization, this group of families, and this particular pup.

We were officially accepted into the 4 Paws program last February.  I remember, on our anniversary last year, seeing Karen post pictures of a brand new litter just born that day.  Knowing the age range of the dogs placed, I chuckled as I thought how sweet it would be to be matched with one of those babies born on our day of celebration.

It’s been a very long road.  But in just 10 short days, that road will end in Xenia, Ohio.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 12.12.48 PMAnd April is there.  Waiting for us.  Waiting for her boy.