Sparkle's on short notice

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Sparkle's life is going to change dramatically in just a couple weeks, but she's blissfully unaware. Here, she and Ernie are catching some cozy afternoon rays through the back door panes on a warm springlike day.

Our area coordinator from the Seeing Eye sent me an e-mail the other day, mentioning among other things that the pups in Sparkle's training class will begin going back to Morristown the week of March 19!  We're very rapidly getting down to the end of our puppy-raising with Sparkle, and the time has just flown by.

A lot of thoughts are going through my head. First of all, she's been doing very well lately. At the puppy meeting last month, she was quite obedient and willing to please in all the training exercises. She is exuberant and excitable, yet calms down quickly when working on the leash. I can definitely see the outline of a guide dog taking shape right in front of me as we walk.

And of course, for all my brave talk about how we will be able to give her back, it is always wrenching. I just told Josh, our 5-year-old, that Sparkle is not staying with us and has to go off to do a very important job for someone who is waiting for her. He just shook his head. I don't think he believes me, or can even comprehend what I'm talking about.

Daughter Betsy, for her part, is making big plans too. She's waiting to hear back from nine colleges by April 1.  If our family takes on another pup after Sparkle goes back, Betsy will be mostly out of the picture.

We're not done yet, though! We have a major outing with the Seeing Eye planned for Sunday. (Hint: If you happen to go to the Flyers-Devils game in Newark, you're going to have some charming canine company.) I'm also hoping to take at least one other big weekend trip before Sparkle goes on to follow her life's work.