Jon Stolpe Stretched

What's S-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g me now?

Meet Irwin

Our family has grown in the last couple of weeks.  No, Leanne and I did not have another child.  But we did add another dog to the mix right before Christmas.  Irwin is a golden retriever and Labrador mix, and I believe he turns 9 weeks old today.  He’s not your normal 9 week old family dog.  Irwin has a purpose, and we only get to have him for a short period of time.  You see, Irwin is a Seeing Eye puppy.  He was bred to help a blind person.  As puppy raisers, we will have Irwin until he is 12-18 months old.  Our job is to get him house broken, teach him a couple of basic things (sit, come, etc.), and to get him exposed to public places as much as possible.  From there, Irwin will return to The Seeing Eye in Morristown, NJ where he will go through 8 months of intense training.  This is when he’ll learn the skills required to guide a blind person.  At the end of his training, he will go through a final exam and health check to make sure he’s ready to go to work.  Assuming he passes, he will be matched up with a blind person.  They will work together for a month up at the school before they are sent home to live and work together.

The whole new dog thing has definitely added a chaos to our home, but it has also been fun.  Hannah is the official puppy raiser, and she has been doing an unbelievable job.  She takes him out to “park” whenever it’s time for him to go.  She lets Irwin sleep by her bed at night.  And she wakes up early to make sure he gets outside before any accidents.  If Hannah does this twice before she graduates high school, she’ll be eligible for a scholarship from The Seeing Eye.  So it’s likely that this won’t be the last new puppy we’ll see in our house.

Many people have asked, “how can you raise the puppy for a year and let it go?”  That’s a great question.  I’m sure it will be tough to say goodbye to Irwin when the time comes, but it will be easier to release him knowing that he has a purpose.  As parents, we have a similar experience with our kids.  Sure we get them for more than a year, and those 18 or so years can be filled with all kinds of ups and downs, but I think it’s important to realize that we have influence and responsibility over our children for a relatively short period time.  In essence, they are on loan from God.  There comes a time when we must release them for their greater, God-given purpose.  And so, Irwin reminds me of this.  I want to make the most of the time with my kids while they’re under my roof, and I want to release when the time comes them knowing full well that God has a purpose for them.

Have you ever had to release someone or something in order to pursue a higher calling or purpose?  What made this transition easy or hard?


January 3, 2012 - Posted by | experiences, family, Irwin, life, parenting, puppy, Seeing Eye, stretch, thoughts |


  1. Jon, that is awesome. I’ve never had to turn something loose like that, but Ivan preparing myself for the my daughter leaves. It’s not long.

    Comment by LarryTheDeuce | January 3, 2012 | Reply

  2. As a former student pastor I did this every year when my seniors went to college. I pray they were equipped to live for God when they left home.

    Comment by Rob | January 3, 2012 | Reply

  3. That is so cool Jon. Sort of like a foster family situation. I have not had to leave someone for me to pursue a higher purpose but I have had to release two daughters to do that. It isn’t easy but necessary. seeing them now makes it all worthwhile.

    Comment by bill (cycleguy) | January 3, 2012 | Reply

  4. Great post. Great Jon Stolpe values. Respect.

    Comment by Michael Shaw | January 3, 2012 | Reply

  5. I have a friend (who’s blind) that took a month off work to be paired up with a companion dog at the Seeing Eye. He tells the most amazing stories of real-world training on the streets of New York.

    Your family is doing a wonderful thing, Jon, and will change someone’s life.

    Comment by randomlychad | January 3, 2012 | Reply

  6. That’s awesome! Puppies are really cool!

    Comment by Brandon | January 3, 2012 | Reply

  7. My brother just got a pup too! a golden retreiver as well!…sooo awesome those pups…

    Comment by Arny Sanchez | January 3, 2012 | Reply

  8. Irwin is adorable. Makes me miss my dogs so much. Yes, I had to release a volunteer position I held at our church. God was telling me it was time to step away and I did. It was hard, but I knew I was being obedient. Good luck with Irwin!

    Comment by Leah Adams | January 3, 2012 | Reply

  9. […] Tuesday:  Meet Irwin […]

    Pingback by January 7, 2012 Week In Review… « Jon Stolpe Stretched | January 7, 2012 | Reply

  10. Irwin is adorable! Hope you are all surviving the changes and challenges of adding him to your family. Sounds like Hannah is doing well with Irwin. Thanks for sharing and relating Irwin to Children growing up and how we have to release them, too. I know we still need to go through that. We love you all! God bless you. Mom Stolpe

    Comment by Dad | January 9, 2012 | Reply

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