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.
Our reporter Nina is a junior at McGill University in Montréal. She is pursuing an interest in geography and enjoys playing the saxophone.
Cathy 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!
They 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.
On 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!