Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Day in the Life of… the Puppy Truck

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).

It’s me again, back again to update you about my life as a puppy here at Guide Dogs. My adventure this time around? The Puppy Truck!  Littleton, Colorado, here I come! 

More than half of us Guide Dog pups travel to our raisers via the Puppy Truck; my sister is bound for Oregon, and my brother gets to go to Arizona. That Puppy Truck – it certainly makes the rounds! In fact, it makes trips to eight western states: California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. In fact, the Puppy Truck makes an average of two trips per month, and is on the road for about seven for those trips. Between GDB’s two trucks, they travel more than 30,000 miles each year, and deliver hundreds of puppies to their raisers. The trucks also pick up dogs and return them to either of the GDB campuses (Oregon or California) for their formal guidework training.

To get ready for my Puppy Truck trip, I got my vaccinations and my last health checks. Anywhere from seven to more than thirty pups can travel in style on the Puppy Truck; I’m one of about 20. 

My buddies and I made our way to the Puppy Truck in a big gray plastic tub on wheels. Before loading us up, they checked all of our ears again (that’s at least twice just from the time we left the kennel, a short distance away!). I guess they want to make sure it’s me. Once at the truck, one of the drivers (was it Mick, Lee, Denny or Joe?) set me into a very comfy kennel, complete with shredded newspaper – just like the kennels on campus. I was excited to see some of my campus roommates and littermates are along for this trip as well. We were all set to have some fun!

Once we got moving, I started to experience so many new things! Riding in a vehicle is so different from anything I’d ever done before – you can feel bumps in the road, hear all kinds of new noises, and all of us puppies can make quite a racket. I wasn’t sure how long the ride was going to last… so after about the first hour, I got a bit sleepy and settled in for a nap.

Pups inside the puppy truck

Before I knew it, we were stopped. Was it time to eat, I wondered?? It sure was! We had finished our traveling for the day, so dinner time it was. I got a special diet for the trip, with a food added that will keep my tummy feeling good during the ride. In addition to dinner, we all got to run around outside in an exercise pen (nice chance to relieve after all that driving!). I played and played (empty plastic water bottles are fun toys!), and just had a ball. Plus – I could drink all the water I wanted. This traveling business isn’t so bad.

All that playing made me tired again! Thankfully, we were all loaded back into the truck to have a good night’s sleep. (And of course – another ear check! Yes – it’s still me!) With all of my buddies close by, we curled up nice and cozy and had a sound sleep.

During our stop, we were joined by a few big dogs. I wondered what they were doing with us, but learned that the big dogs were some of those dogs on a special “recall list” – meaning that they were heading back to one of the Guide Dog campuses for their formal guidework training! How exciting! Someday that will be me.

When morning arrived, I was eager to get out and play! Luckily, the exercise pens were set up for us pups again – yeah! I can’t wait until I’m a big dog like my new friends – they get out three times a day and get to walk on a leash (not like us little guys – we only get out twice!). Before we could go play – yep, you guessed it – another ear check (seriously, it’s still me!!). 

The puppy truck rolling down the highway

Once we were all on the road again, the time just breezed by. Before I knew it, it was midday, and we were stopping. I was just having a little snooze – I’m a bit sleepy, but if we were stopping for some more play time, I was ready! But no – they were coming just for me! I was next on the delivery list - I’m going to my new home! I got all dolled up with a new collar (I’m used to wearing one after all of my campus socialization), and with much pomp and circumstance got handed over to a new person - my puppy raiser! Finally!  

Bye-bye Puppy Truck! I’ll be looking forward to traveling with you again someday, but I’ve got a lot to learn and do in the meantime! 

A puppy meets its new puppy raiser

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