Sunday, February 8, 2009

what a weekend!

well, as promised, we had an incredible weekend with erin and jack! each time we see erin, she and jade come out of their shell a little more. from the moment we entered the women's facility yesterday, the twins were buzzing from one inmate and dog to another. at one point jade informed me "those doggies over there love me. see, they're still looking at me!" this is the same jade we had to bribe relentlessly to even pet a dog last year. amazing! and erin is already becoming a wonderful dog owner, i don't think she took her little eyes off of SOLOMON once all day saturday. in fact, when it was time for SOLOMON to leave for north carolina, erin even made melissa carry her across the parking lot for one last goodbye kiss...i didn't think she was going to let him leave!

but, as we had all hoped, the best part of the visit was when jack found his Service Dog. at the end of the visit at the sff, we let each of the five candidates--JAKE, LIA, IVY, CAYLIE, and CAMDEN--meet jack individually for a few minutes. much to our confusion, they all showed a great deal of affection and interest in jack during their first "bump" as we call it. IVY was especially interested and did not want to leave jack alone, even sneaking around to crawl into his lap. when we were done, dad asked me what i thought and i said that i thought IVY was the most interested, but CAYLIE seemed very intuitive in her body language. we all agreed to take all five down to the next visit at the men's camp and try again. this time, we had jack out of his chair standing with his cane. each dog came over again, but this space was much more crowded with people watching hopefully, so the dogs were less interested in jack this time...until CAYLIE.

without her leash being held or given commands, CAYLIE stood next to jack kissing him and getting pets for a solid few minutes. then she wandered away around the table, and came right back to jack again. she then went over to mom and stood patiently to receive a greeting, and next walked all the way to the other side of the table, ignoring the rest of the onlookers, to meet dad. all the while, no one was calling or directing her. jack then sat on the floor and CAYLIE took the opportunity to bathe him with some kisses. then she circled once in place and laid right in jack's lap--literally. while this rest of us knew this was the defining moment, jack didn't appreciate the 60 lbs in his lap quite as much, and told her to get off. she slid off to lean against his legs on the side. we then put jack in his chair and walked around the room with her next to his chair, to which she adjusted like shed been doing it forever. then jack wanted to see some "magic tricks" so we gave him some froot loops and CAYLIE responded to his every command, from sit to shake to down. but then the most amazing part-- jack held a treat in his fist and told CAYLIE to speak, which she did. the bark, however, caused him to seize. As he sat frozen, fist clenched around her treat, CAYLIE nosed expectantly for her reward for abour 1 second. she then realized something was wrong, and without any command, forgot the treat and laid at jack's feet. she kept pawing jack's foot as if to try to wake him. he came around a bit, and dropped her treat for her. she ate it but noticed he still wasn't back with us, and laid her head in his lap, very gently nudging his face until he woke up laughing. although i'm sure i cannot describe it well enough, it was the most amazing thing to see a 10 month-old dog witness a seizure for the first time and forget about a treat to tend to their master...whom they've only just meant. amazing. but then again, i guess none of us should really be surprised that jack got the pretty blonde girl, should we?

from then on, they were inseparable. she laid and napped under his chair until we finished. she then posed for some goodbye pictures with the inmates and sat beautifully next to jack's chair without a single "stay" command from us. it was like they'd been a team for a year already. so, needless to say, our next mission in life is to ensure that CAYLIE is ready for jack as soon as possible!

after the prison, we went to visit grace and COLT and the families and kids had a great time together. the parents seemed to enjoy their time to talk while heidi, katey, and i played with with all of the kids...what a riot! it was, yet again, one of the best weekends of my life. to be in that living room with grace, jack, and erin and their siblings all laughing and playing and carrying on and dogs walking from room to room just re-affirmed to heidi and i how lucky we all are! and jack can definitely add 4 new girlfriends to his list...heidi, katey, candace, and i...i think we're all still fighting over him!

SO...sorry to write a book, but the weekend deserved it. thank you to candace, karen (whom i must add, called the CAYLIE match from the beginning), and marcy for driving all the way. and for bringing us back our boy WYATT and taking SOLOMON for some extra tlc. thank you to jack's family for making the long trip, it's such a blessing to be able to get to know your amazing family more and we cannot wait to see jack and CAYLIE together soon! and thank you to the buckles for your long trip as well, the girls and SOLOMON are such an inspiration to us and the inmates alike.

i have about 600 pics, literally, from the weekend. i'm working on processing them and will post the good ones ASAP.

LOVE, K --or as jack prefers, KANGAROO!
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