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SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake family is adjusting to life without their dog, Biscuit — a puppy they loved for 18 months and then had to give away.
But this is a happy story because Biscuit has moved on to become a Canine Companion and help someone who needs him more.
When he became a member of the Ferguson family a year and a half ago, Biscuit was 14 pounds of enthusiasm ready to lick the world; and 7-year-old Lily Ferguson already had a training strategy for her new friend.
"I'm going to tell him not to eat food that was on the floor," she said.
Eighteen months later, Biscuit is 68 pounds of enthusiasm and a full-fledged Ferguson.
"He's definitely part of the family," Hugh Ferguson, Lily's father said.
"We knew we would get attached to him, which we have," said Kate Ferguson, Lily's mother.
Lily, now 8, has a favorite cuddling partner.
"She enjoys getting in his crate, lying down with him with a book, and they do a lot of reading together," Kate said.
"If I want to lay down on his stomach, I can just put my head on him; and he's really sweet," Lily said.
But now, in Oceanside, Calif., Biscuit is on his way to a new life as a Canine Companion for someone who needs him more than the Fergusons do.
He's embarking on six months of professional-level training. At a graduation ceremony, he'll be paired up with a new owner — someone with special physical, mental or emotional needs.
Before they flew to California, the Fergusons played one more time with Biscuit and reflected on their decision to adopt him, knowing they'd have to give him away.
"It's bittersweet," Kate said. "I like to think of it as a win-win situation, because if he gets to change someone's life I think that's fabulous."
"It'll be so happy if he can help somebody," Lily said.
When the fateful moment came in California, the last hug with Biscuit, the last goodbye, Hugh shot video while Lily buried her face on Kate's tummy and the tears began to flow.
Other families in Utah have repeatedly adopted puppies and then turned them over to Canine Companions. It's a proven technique for getting dogs up to speed so they can help others. For more information, visit cci.org.