Really, I’m probably pretty much ready to go. If someone said, “You have an hour,” I could probably grab my passport, my credit card, my computer and phone, and get out the door. They sell stuff in Christchurch. People would help the newbie at South Pole, and I look good in Olive Drab.
The hardest thing for me to deal with was Ilse. I volunteer raising service dogs, and up until Wednesday I was raising Ilse, a 7-month-old black Labrador retriever. She’s the seventh dogs I’ve raised. When I picked her up, I told her parent organization that I might go to South Pole, but it was pretty unlikely. When the news came Friday, I let them know that she’d be coming back in a few days. Yesterday was a training class, so that seemed like a good time.
We drove up to Marin, she had about 40 minutes of play-time with her brother and sisters and other dogs in training. One of the other raisers brought treats for dogs and humans, and we had a little celebration and going-away party there on the playground. We all went to class and practiced grooming, and five or six simple commands. Frankly, I think I may have been slacking a bit, and some of the other teams were doing a lot better with their training than I was.
She had dinner at the car. And then I left and she stayed.
She’s the seventh dog I’ve helped raise, and the seventh time I’ve gone to the facility with a dog and left without one: Mascot, Arthur, Vanya, Ansel, Paxton, Fagan, and now Ilse. One of the questions I hear most is, “Doesn’t it break your heart to have them for a year or 18 months and then have to give them up?” Yes. It doesn’t get any easier. I’m glad it doesn’t get any easier.
When your heart breaks, make sure it breaks open.