On Friday, Helen and I met with Austin's school principal, guidance counselor and nurse to discuss the logistics of Bo attending school with Austin next year. I couldn't have asked for a better meeting. Everyone at the table was engaged in the conversation — sharing pertinent and useful information, as well as asking relevant questions and offering thoughtful ideas.
We agreed on a plan that involves introducing Bo to the school environment starting in late spring 2013 and continuing through the summer. We will train during off school hours in the spring, so that Bo can become familiar with the sights, sounds and smells of the school building without the activity associated with classes being in session. We will continue working with him through the summer to expose him to the types of distractions he will experience when school is in full swing. For example, the sounds of lockers closing, bells ringing, desk and chairs sliding across the floor etc... In the fall, our plan is to begin training at school while it's in session. The goal we set for Bo attending school with Austin is spring 2014. At that time Bo will be about a year and a half old and Austin 12 years-old.
When meeting with school representatives, I shared my intentions of setting up Bo and Austin for success, explaining I would only pursue Bo attending school with Austin if I felt, and Helen agreed, that Bo was ready for the job and Austin was able to handle Bo on his own.
From the moment I first seriously considered training a D.A.D. for Austin, I resolved to commit 110% to the endeavor while knowing success was dependent on many factors outside of my control. Factors like if our pup was responsive to D.A.D. and public access training, if he would turn out to be temperamentally stable, and if he and Austin would form the bond needed to make them a successful team.
At this phase in our journey, all indicators are favorable for achieving our desired outcome with Bo. However, the reality is only time will tell if Bo will be cut out and willing to do the very special job we are preparing him for. For me the time, energy and money I've invested is well worth it, regardless of the outcome, because trying and not succeeding (though bitter sweet) is still far better than never having tried and being left to always wonder what might have been.