Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"Crumplette" See, "Crumplette" Do

By Denise St. Jean and Tommy Cook, GDB Breeder Keepers for Crumpet

This week the "Crumplettes" are 3-1/2 weeks old and they're starting to wean away from mom and beginning the learning process with one another. It's truly amazing to see how much the puppies grow in one week!

The puppies are now walking around, a bit wobbly, but determined to stand their own ground. The video below includes scenes of the "Crumplettes" playing with each other and at times mimicking one another.

In one memorable scene, one of the puppies approaches a happy, tail-wagging Crumpet to try to play with her. Next, you'll see another puppy following the lead of the first puppy, in her quest to play with mom.

Ultimately both puppies get loving nudges from mom. They're no match for Crumpet, who has always been a world-class "nudger."

Although the puppies still nurse on Crumpet, this week they were introduced to mush. Mush is dry dog food that has been soaked until it has the consistency of oatmeal.

You will see the puppies share and enjoy a bowl of mush together. The video wraps with some playful sibling rivalry of the "Crumplettes" and some fancy puppy wrestling moves.

Special thanks to:
Teri Balestrieri for shooting the video
Entire Kennel Staff for taking excellent care of Crumpet and the "Crumplettes"

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Joanne RitterBy Joanne Ritter

I'd like to introduce you to a thought-provoking blog by GDB Alumnus Larry Wanger called DisabilityNation (also available in an audio podcast format). Larry covers a multitude of topics impacting people who have disabilities. I also encourage you to follow the links to the Ragged Edge articles, and to pick up a copy of one of my all-time favorite books, Moving Violations by reporter John Hockenberry. Good stuff!

Larry pictured with Guide Dog Carbon

GDB posts new puppycam!

Check out our newest puppycam! In this 90-second video, puppy socializing volunteers walk black and yellow Labrador Retriever puppies on GDB's California campus.

You can see this and all of GDB's videos on our YouTube page here.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Tea and "Crumplettes?"

By Denise St. Jean and Tommy Cook, GDB Breeder Keepers for Crumpet

Photo of Denise hugging yellow Lab Crumpet on their front porch at homeOn March 2, the GDB breeder dog we foster, Crumpet, gave birth to six beautiful yellow Labrador Retriever puppies that we affectionately refer to as the "crumplettes." There are five little girls and one boy. The boy, who appears to be the lightest in color, was born first and the girls all followed him.

As a GDB employee, I'm fortunate to be able to stop by the TV monitor in the kennel kitchen area daily to check in and see the progress of the "crumplettes" and check in on Crumpet from afar.

In the video below, the "crumplettes" are just over 2-1/2 weeks old and their eyes and ears are now open. They're still in the baby pool but growing fast, so next week they''ll be on the kennel floor on newspaper without the pool.

You'll see the pups curling up on one another and periodically striking a signature Crumpet pose a la "frog dog." The video also shows Crumpet displaying her motherly instincts by feeding and cleaning the hungry babies.

Catch a larger version of the video on YouTube here.

Crumpet was raised by Kim and Kendle Smith of Southern California, with the Paws for Independence Puppy Raising Club. They're on the list to raise a little "crumplette" once the puppies are available to move into puppy raising homes at approximately eight weeks of age.

Photo of Denise and Crumpet's raisers with Crumpet on their laps
The video wraps with a big wet kiss from Crumpet. We miss you Crumpet, and look forward to your return home!

Special thanks to:
Teri Balestrieri for shooting the video
Amy Brody for assisting with the video shoot
The entire Kennel Staff for taking excellent care of Crumpet and the "crumplettes"

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Day in the Life of… The Puppy Kennel

A yellow Lab puppy

Readers: This is part of a series of articles originally published in our Community Connections Newsletter. We are reprinting them here for your enjoyment. Click on the "A Day in the Life" label link to list the entire series (see Labels section, right hand side).

Hello again! Things are moving along rather quickly during my first few weeks after being born here at Guide Dogs. Wow, time flies when you’re having fun! When we were 6 weeks old, my littermates and I took our first visit to the vet clinic. The doctor there gave us a clean bill of health, and I even got a tattoo! I asked for a tattoo that said “I Love Mom,” but instead I got a boring combination of letters and numbers… my permanent identification.

My six littermates and I made the big move from the whelping kennel to our newest digs in the puppy kennel in a big gray tub on wheels. It was fun rolling down the kennel hallway seeing and hearing all the new sights and sounds. I didn’t know there were so many other dogs at this place! When we arrived in the puppy kennel, we were divided into two separate kennels, since there were so many of us. And we got our names! We all have names that begin with the letter “C”. It was weird sleeping in a new place for the first night, but each night after dinner we get clean, new bedding made of soft shredded paper, so we fall asleep rather quickly since it’s so cozy. That first day in puppy kennel was a long one, but we were all looking forward to the next day when we got to meet some new people called “puppy socializers”! 

A puppy playing with its momma

On our first day out with the puppy socializers, we had a surprise guest waiting for us: MOM! It was so cool to see her again. She played with us and made us feel comfortable in our new space. Since we were the new kids on the block, we played only with our litter-mates. The puppy socializing area is stocked with all kinds of awesome stuff: hard and soft toys, colorful play structures, and lots of banners and flags waving in the wind. So much to keep us interested and active in our new home! 

A puppy being held by a puppy socializer

And the puppy socializers – they might be the best people we’ve met yet! I’ve heard some of these volunteers have been puppy socializers for over 40 years – can you imagine? But they are fun to be with, that’s for sure. For our first time with them, they massaged our feet, ears and bodies (I think I fell asleep in someone’s arms because it was so relaxing!), as well as put little collars on us (they are so scratchy!). The socializers come pretty much every day (Monday through Saturday) – so we get lots of time being pampered!

The first week in puppy kennel flew by. When we turned 7 weeks old, we finally were able to join some of our neighbors in the big grass puppy play yard! It was there that we got to romp and play with lots of other puppies close to our age. In addition to all the play, the socializers take us on walks! Now that’s a lot of fun, but a bit confusing too! We get to explore this huge park-like place they call “campus,” where there are all sorts of new things to check out: different surfaces, stairways, and lots of interesting smells, noises and people. The confusing part is trying to figure out how to walk on a leash. At first I tried to go back-wards, then I just wanted to chew on it, and eventually I just sat down. But, those socializers are good! They helped me along and I finally got the hang of it. And every Thursday, the volunteers weigh us, clean our ears, brush our coat and refresh our clips (the shaved area in our coats that help to identify us).

George, the resident cat of the puppy kennel

In the puppy kennel, we also got to meet some other four-legged friends. Turns out, there is a resident cat named George, who we frequently visit. He is a funny looking thing, and he sounds a bit odd, but he doesn’t mind that we sniff him. We also get to play with some adult mentor dogs that come to visit. They help teach us puppy manners (I learned real quick that it’s not nice to bite on their tails!). It’s fun to have the older dogs hanging out with us to teach us the ropes. 

But, our time in puppy kennel is coming to a close. It’s just about time to leave this place that we’ve called home. Somewhere between 8 and 10 weeks old, we will be heading out on yet another new adventure: puppy raising homes! My littermates and I will all go our separate ways to live with volunteers in their homes. I’m headed for Colorado. I’ll be traveling on the Guide Dogs’ puppy truck with about 20 other pups bound for raiser homes in Colorado, Nevada, Utah and other parts of California. I think one of my sisters is going to Oregon or Washington and one brother is going to Arizona. We’ll stay with our raisers until we’re about 15-18 months old. There’s so many more new things for me to learn and places to see! Gotta go now and get my bath and pack my bags for the puppy truck trip tomorrow! 

Friday, March 6, 2009

Featured Blog: Ours for a Year – Raising a Guide Dog Puppy

Mimi has created a beautiful and humorous blog tracking the progress of Cabana, the 5-month-old Labrador she's raising for Guide Dogs for the Blind. She includes a video of Cabana doing her "happy dance" when she knows food is on the way. You can watch it at: http://oursforayear.blogspot.com/2009/03/happy-five-months-to-cabana.html

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Letter from Franco

Awhile back, we followed the trail of a litter of puppies -- the F Litter. One of those pups has been quite the letter writer! Here's his latest letter to his mom, (retired) breeder Christine.

Dear Mama,

About once a week my raiser takes me on a long drive and we visit her friend. He has been sick for a few months now and he needs to take a stroll. So I have been meeting ducks along our walk. I have also greeted some sheep. They sound funny. Spring is almost here. The male red-winged blackbirds are back and singing as loud as they can so my raiser says that spring is right around the corner. I don't know about that some days it seems a little warmer but then it snow and rains. Though the other day I heard some loud booming - my raiser said it was thunder from a spring sleet storm that we were having. I haven't heard thunder since the day that Hondo and Sara left. She also said that most of the time you don’t hear thunder in the winter around here.

Franco, a yellow lab, pictured on his long leash
Since spring is just around the corner my raiser has started to get ready for the garden year. It's a lot of fun as I go outside in the back yard and run all over the place while she trims up the back yard bushes and trees. Sometimes I get a little bit wild and that is when my play comes to a halt and my long line gets reeled in. She pets me and if I calm down she will let me go play some more. Otherwise, I have to stay and wait to be released. As you can see, she doesn't have any grass in the backyard yet, but she says that it will come up sometime soon. When we go in I am beat and a good nap is just the ticket.

Franco, a male yellow lab, pictured sleeping
With love and licks,