NICOLE & KOLTAN

I became involved with PADS in 2012 when I was still in nursing school and since the very first day I brought a puppy-in-training home, my life has been enriched in ways I never thought possible. At first I started out puppy sitting and would look after a puppy-in-training for short periods of times. Then on November 1, 2014 an amazing bundle of fur came into my life named Koltan. Myself, along with another volunteering couple, took on the adventure of raising Koltan to help him achieve his potential as a dog with a job.

When Koltan was 8 weeks old, our adventure began. Everywhere I went he came with me. He was my sidekick and right from day one I knew he was special. Over the two years that I was training him, we had many adventures. He was the first dog I raised from start to finish and, as such, he taught me so much about PADS, the community, dog training, and in giving myself completely to such an amazing being who would someday help others in an immense way.  One adventure we had together involved a trip to the Portland zoo, where we had an interesting encounter with a lion pride. All I will say is thank heaven the glass is strong because when the lions saw Koltan on the other side of the glass they thought Koltan was their dinner!

During puppy raising, Koltan had a huge will to please. He loved to work and learn, and showed a great aptitude for receiving and giving affection to others. Koltan has a presence about him that brings calmness and reassurance to those he interacts with. With his gentle, calm and old soul demeanor, all anyone had to do was to meet him once and they fell in love with him. In the end, it was these qualities that helped determine his path to become an Accredited Facility Dog and he was placed at Surrey Memorial Hospital as a Trauma Dog.

As our puppy raising journey ended, the hardest part was yet to come. The time had come for me to give him up. As a puppy raiser, you always know the day will come when you have to say goodbye to the dog you raised. Saying goodbye to Koltan was an incredibly difficult thing to do. I felt as though I put my heart and soul into him and helped raise him to become the best dog possible.

When I dropped Koltan off at the PADS kennel for the last time, it felt as though he had taken a piece of my heart with him. The feelings can only be described as grief, as I mourned the loss of him. But then I met Koltan’s new handlers, Lynn and Martha. The extreme happiness, gratitude, and raw emotion they expressed in regard to receiving Koltan was such a special moment that it is hard to describe the emotions in words. It was this moment that took away my sadness and replaced it with irrevocable joy. Joy that the boy I raised would be doing so much good for the community he was raised in, joy that he would be loved as much by his new people as I loved him, and joy for all the countless patients that Koltan would help.

As the days turned to weeks, I started to get reports on how well Koltan was doing in his new role. He was excelling at providing much needed support to victims of sexual abuse, encouraging patients with debilitating illnesses to get better, and comforting those who need comfort the most. While Koltan still carries a piece of my heart with him, I feel nothing but pride for the amazing dog he has become.

So while I do give my time to PADS, it is PADS that has given a gift to me. I learned to love and then let go, joined a community of amazing, like minded people, and above all, I was given the opportunity to raise this big, beautiful, amazing golden boy, who brings light, hope and love to the people he helps.

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