Yesterday, I got the most wonderful email I’ve ever seen. It said that an anonymous donor had brought us over the finish line on Kender’s fundraising requirement with 4 Paws. This was in response to my request for a June 1 update on our progress. The last update I had was May 15, when we were at about $9,000. I can’t imagine that we got much more than a thousand in the two weeks since, certainly not more than two. That means our anonymous benefactor had to put in at least two and maybe three thousand themselves in order to reach the full $13,000!
I’m going to be doing a ritual of thanksgiving this weekend, since I can’t thank them personally. I can’t rest until I send my thanks out somehow.
It’s still sinking in today. I knew we were going to be done soon. We were hoping for a possible grant to come through in July, and if that failed, my mother wanted to top it off with some of what my grandfather left to her when he died last year. But that was all a month or more away, and I was still hoping to do it ourselves instead of needing to be rescued by my mom. (I know that’s not how she meant it, it’s just a little piece of how I felt.) To suddenly hear that somebody I don’t even know wanted to help us that much, that they were willing to give that much to Kender, brings tears to my eyes and a lump to my chest.
I’ll still be doing a little fundraising. We still have t-shirts and coupon books left from last month that we certainly can’t give back or use ourselves. The money we get from those will now go to a training and maintenance fund for the dog. We will use this fund for travel and living expenses for the two-week training class in Ohio next year, and anything left will be used for things like vet bills, food, flea treatments, and other dog necessities, like the fence we need to install around our yard. The bulk of our fundraising efforts, though, is over. No more planning big events, no more trying to convince people to come to our party, no more pushing and selling and begging. What a relief, to be done!
Now we move on to the next phase. Kender won’t get his dog until next spring, but we still have a lot of work to do. First, we need to make a video. One of the things 4 Paws prides itself on is their ability to custom-train their dogs to fit each person’s needs. To do this, they need to know absolutely everything there is to know and Kender and his family. We will need to spend a lot of time on this over the next few weeks, with cameras constantly on so we can catch those fleeting moments (like Kender flapping and spinning, or Kender poking the cats in the ears, or Kender imitating the tornado siren). We will need to do interviews of everybody in the family, and even of our neighbors and friends, particularly those who have dogs that Kender’s dog will encounter. We need to communicate to the trainer what our religious rituals are like so that the dog will be prepared to be a good anchor during them, so that it won’t be frightened or upset by the incense, candles, chanting, music, drumming, dancing, etc. We need to explain the ways in which a blind person can use a dog to help in mobility, even when the dog is not trained as a guide dog, and how this will happen no matter what the trainer’s intent is initially. We need to show the other people Kender and his dog will spend time with, like our autistic friends and our homeschool events. I can already see this turning into a video that is a couple of hours long, at least, and I am regretting not getting started sooner!
Once the video is done and off to the trainer, we need to do more prep work around the house. We need to install a fence around our yard so the dog has an enclosed space to run around. We need to finish unloading all these t-shirts and coupon books! We need to make our reservations and travel plans for our class. We need to find the patience to wait, to wait another ten or eleven months for Kender’s dog.
So I see another example of the wheels and cycles present everywhere in our lives. The wheel turns, and the end of fundraising becomes the beginning of waiting. The wheel will turn again, and the end of waiting will become the beginning of a new life with the service dog. Each ending becomes another beginning.