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!


  1. Oh, Fun!!! It will be so great to get to follow these little pups through their first few weeks!

  2. The puppies sound absolutely adorable! I wonder if my little black labby girl was as cute as they sound when she was little? She turned into a super guide--as I'm sure these pups will in the future.
    Rachel and Mattie

  3. Cute! I hope they will grow to be great guides. The litter raising program is so great.

  4. I love the Litter Idea! It's what I wanted! To hear all about breeders!

  5. This is awesome!!!

  6. How neat! I'm very excited to continue reading about the adventures of the 'F' puppies!

  7. Cool! It will be so neat to watch these little babies grow! :D

  8. What cuties!!! I'm really excited to hear all about them!!!

  9. What a great idea! I'm gonna enjoy reading about the adventures of the "F" troop. Christine and Neo made some beautiful babies together. Looking forward to hearing about each of the pups' emerging personalities. Love the names...Faraja is very cool :)
    Wish I could be there in your puppy nursery to catch some puppy breath times seven.
    Thanks for writing this blog and for the love and care you share with Christine and her puppies. All of you who are breeder custodians are special, those who choose to home-rear a litter even more so.

    dot dill and Alpine ( for 3 more days)

  10. Awesome! that was what I was hoping for in the podcast, this'll be awesome too! Go f-pooches! Damn I just wanna hug one!

  11. How fun to follow these puppies! The GDB program is so amazing! Thanks SO much!!

    Becky and Cricket

  12. Faulkner,

    That is a really cool name.. And Flute, what a toot! My name is Zane and I have been wondering why all their names sarted with an "F" and in my family, they all started with a "Z?"

    I do not have a lot of memory of by first days with Kauai, my Mom, but she must have done a good job like Christine!

    Thanks for sharing the story of those first few weeks. I have written an eight part story called Zane Train about my life with my puppy raiser. Please check it out when you get a chance.

    This will give you an idea about what you are getting ready to do!

    Big licks, Zane

  13. Zane -- I DID check out your blog, and it's wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing all of your escapades, and for all the great photos. You really know how to get around in style!