A Day in My Life: Saying Goodbye

Tess is a breeder for Guide Dogs for the Blind. She was born in Australia to a guide dog service organization and sent to San Rafael as an exchange pup when she was only three months old. She was raised by a wonderful family in Fresno and became a breeder. I became her custodian when she was about two years old. She’s has four litters for Guide Dogs–the first litter delivered Una, a singleton (get the name?!) and her last litter had ten puppies! Naturally, we blame the stud for the inconsistencies.

Well, Tess has been retired as a breeder. I had the option to keep her as a pet. Normally, I would have jumped at the chance. But I’d gotten to know Tess’s puppy raising family over the last few years and I knew how much they loved Tess. There’s some kind of special bond between a raiser and puppy–I knew it the first time this Fresno family came to visit. At first, Tess gave her usual exuberant greeting. But then a wheel clicked in her mind and it was obvious she recognized this family. She went CRAZY with happiness.

So, last Monday, this lovely Fresno family came to my home and left with Tess–with my blessing. I have to admit that the house feels very empty without her . . . but I have a peace about this decision. Plus, she’s coming back for an extended visit in a few weeks. Another bonus of being connected to this family!

These dogs . . . they just bring such joy, don’t they?


My older brother, Dave, with Tess. He’s even more of a dog lover than I am.


Tess and her one puppy, Una.





Tess is five years old now, but thinks she’s still a puppy.


She’s been so sweet with babies in the house. She just quietly gets up and leaves.



Always looks a little long suffering when we go for a bath at Pet Food Express.


Isn’t she a beauty? People stop me on walks just to admire her.


She’s quite a reader.


This picture is right outside my kitchen window. She likes her sun baths.


Tess loves to photobomb my pix.


And she has been a faithful fan to Tad’s basketball games.


Sigh . . . I already miss her. It’s a VERY good thing that Toffee (Tess’s daughter, who also became a breeder and was also raised by this Fresno family) will be home soon after having her pups.



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About Suzanne

Suzanne Woods Fisher writes bestselling, award winning fiction and non-fiction books about the Old Order Amish for Revell Books. Her interest in the Plain People began with her Old Order German Baptist grandfather, raised in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne's app, Amish Wisdom, delivers a daily Amish proverb to your phone or iPad. She writes a bi-monthly column for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazine. She lives with her family in California and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To Suzanne's way of thinking, you can't take life too seriously when a puppy is running through your house with someone's underwear in its mouth.


  1. What fantastic pictures! You had me with two dogs playing together but then pictures of the dog with the baby sent me over the moon! Nothing better than dogs and babies! You really brightened my day, blessings to you!

  2. MS Barb says:

    Awww…I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry…I LOVE dogs & you have a very special story! Thanks for sharing! (PS–how is it that all of my friends’ dogs know that I carry treats in my coat pocket? grin!)

  3. Bonnie Traher says:

    What a beautiful dog.

  4. Robin says:

    How wonderful! Tess seems so special. I have had to give up having dogs since I am in a wheelchair and find it difficult to manage the doors of the house and a dog too. I used to rescue Scottish Terriers…although my love is for Labradors and Golden Retrievers. Bless you for what you do!

  5. Susie Koenig says:

    Beautiful !!! You did a good job being her “custodian” ……. even though “surrogate family” sounds better. =) She’s a lovely example of what being around people who adore her will mold her into the excellent dog she is today. <3

  6. Donna Ratliff says:

    Dearest Suzanne,
    You have such a giving heart, both to our 4 legged friends, and to those of us who also love them. I’m just now wiping away the tears so that I can see the screen. My tears are for you, for I understand your heart. I’m thankful for Toffee – just as children, one can’t replace another, but the heart is blessed by them all. If my husband were to come in and ask me why the tears, and I would explain, his reply would be, “Now you know why I didn’t want you to become involved in raising guide dogs.” As it turns out his illness (lungs), would keep us from it now, and that would have been another painful milestone for me. We had ours put down 2 years ago, and secretly I desire another. Anyway, dear one, I will keep you in my prayers. I know the Lord will comfort your heart and bless you for all the ways in which you are His hand and heart extended (including surrendering Tess to her former family).
    Blessings multiplied to you!

  7. Kathie from CA says:

    I cried when I read this, in fact the tears are still running down my checks. I know you did the right thing but it is soooo hard. I hope you will have Toffee soon and I am glad you will be Tess’s babysitter when the family travel. Great for both of you! (((hugs)))

  8. Sherry says:

    That was just beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  9. Jeanie Dannheim says:

    What a beautiful story! And what an awesome thing you do, to raise dogs for Guiding Eyes for the Blind (an organization I think highly of)! Thank you for sharing – I have seen their newsletter but not actually “met” online anyone who does this great service. Blessings!

  10. Libby Mullin says:

    I raised Guide Dog Puppies for 10 yrs. I raised mostly German Shepherds. One of which went on to become a breeder in San Rafael. I was honored when they asked me to submit names for her puppies for 2 litters. I then raised one of those puppies. Unfortunately she didn’t make the program but the woman who adopted her is now one of my best friends…all because of these dogs!!! I had the privilege and honor of presenting 2 dogs to their new partners in ceremonies at the Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael. My last (adopted) retired Guide Dog, Lassen, passed away Feb 2013 at the age of 13. You are doing a wonderful things for the dogs and others around you. Thank you.

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