It’s time. We have been looking forward to (and dreading) this day since you came to us. Like the Hero Dogs before you, you have always been destined for greater things and it is time for you to return to Hero Dogs. You have trained hard, you are big, you are strong, and you are ready.
Before you go, we want to remind you that you did not get to this point by yourself. As they say, “It takes a village,” and you had help from a very dedicated team. You probably don’t remember this, but you were born at Boynton’s Labradors right here in Germantown. It was incredibly generous of them to donate you to Hero Dogs. And don’t forget all the great stuff you got from your sponsors, Carlyn and Jeff Weaver. They provided your toys, vests, harnesses, collars, leashes, and kennels among many other things. And Virginia Overstreet provided your Puppy Scholarship. With that scholarship, you got to attend Puppy Kindergarten (twice) and Puppy II class. At those classes and the following Hero Dogs classes, Jennifer, Becca, and Tammy made sure we prepared you to be a well-mannered dog as well as a future service dog.
And, of course, we should thank the Murphy family for allowing us to use such an honored name. Recently, a man on Facebook commented that you could never live up to the hero status of LT Michael Murphy. But he mostly missed the point. Like many Hero Dogs, you were given your name as a tribute to an American hero. But you will be your own hero and now you (and the Hero Dogs team) will author the next chapter of your story. Remember, not every dog in the program becomes a Hero Dog. It is very important that you work hard and pay attention to Jennifer, Becca, and the Hero Dogs volunteers during this next phase of your training.
When you came into our home, we had already raised Hero Dogs Grant. So we were pretty sure we knew almost everything about raising a Hero Dog puppy. We were wrong. It turns out that puppies develop differently and have different personalities and strengths. The day after we got you we all drove to Florida for vacation and we had fun. Your early unique (and challenging) trait was to just stare at us when we were outside for extended periods imploring you to “Get Busy” only to give up, bring you back inside, and then have you immediately “Get Busy” inside the house. This seemed to be one of your favorite activities. But, like all Puppy Raisers, we worked our way through that challenge.
When Grant came into our home, Java had no idea what to do with another dog, let alone a puppy. Over time, he won her over. So when you came into our home, she was ready to be best friends with you. While you were here, you brought out her inner puppy. She will miss you terribly.
As a reminder, Phase II may be the most challenging step in your training. But it is only the next step to being paired with your Veteran partner. Whoever that person is, they will be very lucky indeed. While we have every expectation that you will succeed, if for some reason it does not work out that way, you will always have a home with us.
Godspeed and Murph On,
Jamie and Brent