When I got back from LV on Friday I picked Sergi up from Ann's house and brought him home for the night. We got up early Saturday, packed our bags, and left by 6:30 AM for the long drive to Santa Rosa with a quick stop in Valencia to pick up my other cousin. Sergi settled into his crate in the car and I hoped that he would not get too restless during the 10+ hour drive.
We stayed in a hotel -- The Flamingo -- a couple of miles from my aunt and uncle's house and spent the next few days visiting, cooking, drinking wine, snacking on bread and cheese, remembering, talking, laughing, crying and sharing.
My aunt had requested that Sergi come on the trip to see her. She had briefly met him back in November when I was there visiting over the Thanksgiving weekend. She loves all of the CCI pups I have raised and was eager to see Sergi again and see how the rambunctious young fellow was doing. I was a little concerned that his energy would be unappreciated with all that was going on, so I made a point of taking him for walks each morning to try to burn off some of it before going over to the house. This was also his first stay in a hotel, and though I had a familiar portable crate for him, there is always the worry about the strangeness of the room and his ability to adjust to new surroundings. At four months old, Sergi was being asked to behave and adapt at a level above his usual expectations.
Well, I couldn't have been more proud from beginning to end. Sergi rode quietly in his crate every moment we were in the car. He was calm throughout the day, even though there was quite a bit of hubbub going on. He sat near my auntie and let her pat and stroke him while she told him about how sad she was. He went with us to the church for the service and up to the altar kneeling rail with me when we received communion. (He actually tried to go up past me, with tail wagging, to greet the priest as he prepared the wine, but I snatched him back down. The priest thought he was great!) Sergi went to the graveside and stood near my aunt as we threw dirt on the grave, and was still and gentle as it all took place. His demeanor in the hotel was stellar and we had no accidents or issues. He really could not have done better.
We puppyraisers talk all the time about how amazing these pups are and how they touch people. Yes, when they graduate, they change lives. Their new partners tell us over and over how much the dogs enrich their lives and help them overcome or deal with their handicaps. But as puppyraisers we also see how our pups enrich the lives of the people along the way well before they graduate. This experience was one of those moments. Having Sergi there helped us all. Surely, my aunt who needed a pair of big, brown non-judgemental eyes to tell her sorrow to. But also each of the rest of us, who would reach over for a pat or a lick or a tummy scritch. Each of us found a few seconds of solace and joy in the interaction with a little yellow pup who was eager to share his soft coat and velvet ears and unconditional love.These dogs touch lives. I'm so happy to be able to share in all that they have to give.