Wednesday, July 30, 2008

'F' Puppies Are Getting Their Teeth, Episode 6

by Cathy Gregory and Nina Gannes

Puppy teeth…a whole set of teeny triangles anchored to pink gums. Looking into a puppy's mouth sends you into a miniaturized Thumbelina world where everything is perfectly small.

And painfully pointy, from a pup's point of view, as each one grows and pushes into and out of the gum, and into wherever it takes hold. Be warned, we tell all visitors, they are not biting YOU, they are biting anything that they can wrap those fresh and full sets of teeth around. Toys of all textures are everywhere. And the puppies have ramped up their activity level with all sorts of new games. A batch of ice cubes in the wooden salad bowl will be distributed more quickly than the ice could melt. The spout of the metal watering can and the outdoor faucet are meccas for these mouthing muzzles. One small garden which has an enticing fence just the right size for them to wriggle through to chew on the plants inside and then chew some more on the fence itself, was more puppy deserving than in its former state as a simple garden. Velcro sandles, shoelaces, long leaves, and the most omnipresent: a littermate's tail, keep these pups very busy.

Previous Posts About the 'F' Litter:
Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4
Episode 5

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Where's the Rubber Ducky? F Family Chronicles - episode 5

by Cathy Gregory

Bath time for the pup kids--having been at the vet clinic today for all sorts of "normal" procedures for 6-week-old guide dog puppies, they return home smelling, hmmm, a little bit smellier than I can accept. So, a new activity, necessary for them to be accustomed to (like cutting their toenails), and an opportunity to be inhaling avocado puppy shampoo smell while rubbing a glistening coat— what's not to like?

Where? How about the kitchen sink? Works for human babies…

Gather the receiving blankets—big towels—for the sopping wet Labrador coats.

How did it go? Faulkner and Flute were the most receptive—and got the cleanest with a ribbon of shampoo on their back rubbed all over their body, with their back legs immersed in clean water, and their front paws on towels at the sink's edge. They tolerated the rinsing process with aplomb. Everyone loved the drying process—rubbed everywhere.

New Behaviors? Shaking—they were "dry" but they had never been wet before, so they started dancing and wriggling, delighting in this new body action—until they fell asleep, in a pile, (of clean pups) after a big day.

Previous episodes of puppy adventures from Cathy Gregory:
Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

F Puppies Visit the Vet

See a quick video of our seven 'F' litter puppies as they visit Guide Dogs' vet for their 6-week checkup!

Monday, July 21, 2008

OMG! They're Growing! The F Chronicles Continue -- episode 4

by Cathy Gregory

The difference between baby puppies and kid puppies is their noses. All of the puppies' noses have grown. We now have kid puppies.

As kid puppies, the youngsters are learning lots of lessons. Christine teaches many of them. The other day Frolic managed to escape from their enclosed area. We were in another room when we heard Christine bark with a very unusual tone. Coming over to see what was the matter, we found Christine sitting in front of Frolic, chastising her with four distinct barks. Frolic now knows not to go outside of their area unless permission has been given.

The puppies are also learning to use their own voices. Their repertoire of sounds has extended and now they can make all sorts of yips, barks and howls. The other day while practicing the saxophone, I heard a curious noise coming from their area. Figuring it was just their usual fun and games, I continued practicing. But soon enough the yowl was loud enough that I had to see what was going on. All seven puppies were lined up next to the door, their feet on the wall, yipping and howling as loud as they could along with the music! They continued making noise non-stop for the entire length I practiced.

They can even use their ears for listening. They love to hear the sound of human voices. Whenever they hear a person all seven of them run over to say hi. They now get to have supervised play in the yard and will follow you, running, as long as they continue to hear the sound of your voice.

As their noses grow and their tails get longer, we’ll continue to keep you updated!

Check out previous episodes from Cathy Gregory:
Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


As we continue to follow our fabulous litter on their way to fame and fortune, there are hints of personalities emerging…

Faraja continues to weigh in as the heaviest pup and the only one who can tackle Franco and Faulkner. He's big, but he has better manners than his brothers and will wait patiently (well, kind of) for his turn to be picked up and fed.

Faulkner is taking his name to heart – he's got something to say to the world. We have grown to recognize him as the loudest puppy. He will bark or howl about anything: food, attention, play, or just to test the sound of his voice.

Fjord is the most playful. He is the only one to really take an interest in the toys and can amuse himself by exploring and playing if all his brothers and sisters are asleep.

Franco already got lots of attention by being the only yellow puppy, but has taken it upon himself to scheme ways to get even more. He has developed a sleeping schedule for himself wherein he is ten minutes behind everybody else on starting and ending naps. This way he has a fairly reliable chance of getting ten extra minutes of play time after all his siblings have gone to sleep.

Finella is our flower girl. She loves to explore the gardens and smell all the flowers. Oftentimes this results in her smelling like basil. Puppy breath + basil = perfection.

Flute is a smarty. She's also the most ambitious adventurer, and is determined to discover everything first. She's the first to come over if anybody enters the puppy area, which gives her a very good chance of being first to get picked up and held. We think she's figured that out and is doing it on purpose.

Frolic is our all-around sweetie-pie. She is happy to do anything, so long and she is being held and petted. She will cuddle forever without moving or raising a fuss, so long as she keeps on getting stroked.

Stay tuned…

Monday, July 14, 2008

Recipe for One Batch of Healthy Puppies (quantity X 7): (Episode 2)

Total prep, eating, and clean-up time: 15 minutes. Before starting, prepare heart for melting.

3 cups homemade puppy mush (for recipe, see installment one)
7 tiny bowls
1 mama for cleanup
7 puppies: Faraja, Faulkner, Franco, Fjord, Finella, Flute, and Frolic

Prepare puppy mush in kitchen ahead of time. Line up bowls on floor in row. Dish out the scrumptious meal to the seven eager faces. Watch as puppies spend first two minutes concentrating very hard on eating. Anticipate at third minute their oncoming loss of focus. Other distractions prevail: a different bowl of food, a toy, or their own voice—an incident which never fails to produce self-invoked astonishment, wonder, and congratulatory wiggling, skipping, and finally tripping, which often leads to falling into a heap and going to sleep! After the temptations of food have fallen short to more tantalizing distractions, prepare the mama vacuum machine.

Open the door for Christine to help clean up by eating all the leftover food (her favorite job). Clean-up complete! Anticipate ten minutes of extra vigorous playtime after the meal has been completed. Activities may include exploring the grass, playing with siblings, or chasing after Christine for an extra sip of milk for dessert.

When all seven puppies have fallen back asleep, your meal is complete!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Brought to You By the Letter 'F' (Episode 1)

We're going to peek into the lives of a litter of very special puppies – puppies that are being raised from birth to become Guide Dogs. Our two reporters are Nina Gannes and Cathy Gregory who co-raised Christine, a yellow Labrador that became part of the Breeding Program at Guide Dogs for the Blind. Recently, Christine was bred with black Lab Neo and gave birth to a litter of puppies and they're now residing with Cathy in her home in Palo Alto, California. We should mention that at Guide Dogs for the Blind, all the puppies in a litter have names starting with the same letter of the alphabet, and no two working Guide Dogs have the same name.

Black and white photo of Nina GannesOur reporter Nina is a junior at McGill University in Montréal. She is pursuing an interest in geography and enjoys playing the saxophone.

Black and white photo of professional photographer Cathy GregoryCathy is a professional photographer. Her passion for photography started when she was 9 years old.

Nina and Cathy will be bringing us regular updates, so stay tuned!


On June 16th we picked up Christine's litter of puppies from the San Rafael campus, all seven of them! Thanks to Mr. Neo, our little yellow mama now has six black puppies and one yellow. These black babies are a first for us, as in the past Christine has only had yellow litters. The "puppy naming gods" decreed that our litter would be an F-litter, so our family has recently been joined by Faraja, Faulkner, and Fjord (the black boys), Finnella, Flute, and Frolic (the black girls) and Franco, our one yellow boy. What a wonderful gift for this summer!

Mom Christine sleeping curled up in her pool with all of her babiesThey were only one week old, and although their eyes were still shut tight, they had absolutely no trouble nursing at the milk bar -- Christine was in their puppy pool 'round-the-clock. Faraja and Franco right away proved themselves to be the most voracious eaters, while little Flute decided that she had better things to do than eat like a horse. Instead, Flute was the first to open her eyes at two weeks five days old, with everybody else following suit shortly afterwards.

The little squeekers pulled themselves around on their bellies for their first few weeks of life, eating, sleeping, moaning, groaning and doing little else. Our dining room became a veritable children's chorus of squeaks, creeks, yips, yaps, moans, groans that Christine seemed to completely understand. Finally, at the end of their second week, the babies started to pull themselves up onto their legs and now they are experimenting with the great adventure of walking.

The seven puppies pictured eating their mushOn June 27th the pups got their first taste of mush (puppy food soaked in water to make it easier to eat). What a spectacle! They haven't quite figured out if they prefer eating it, stepping in it, sitting in it, or ignoring it altogether. In any case, we are giving them mush three times a day now to supplement the nursing Christine is already doing.

Faulkner was the first to let out a full-fledged bark. Flute is learning to wag her tail and Finella saw fit to adventure to exotic places such as a flowerpot. Everybody is beginning to play with each other, although after about five minutes of slow-motion tumble they fall back asleep, exhausted. We'll keep you updated as they progress!