Friday, May 22, 2009

A Day in the Life of… Puppy Raising

A puppy raiser holding a young Guid edog 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).

As a puppy in the kennels at Guide Dogs for the Blind, I thought life was good. But as it turns out, life just keeps getting better! As you may recall, I last left you with the tale of my journey on the GDB puppy truck, en route to being delivered to my puppy raiser. Well, I’m now fully situated in my new digs, and I am having a ball. 

My new “pack” consists of three younger people (teenagers, they’re called), as well as the teens’ parents. Every one of them gives me lots of love and attention, but I mostly hang out with one cool girl named Abby. Her mom is my main sidekick when Abby is away.

We have a great routine. I get to sleep in Abby’s room in my oh-so-comfortable crate. I’m practicing being really quiet when I wake up, because it always seems like I’m up before Abby. But patience has its rewards! Our first morning stop is a quick walk outside on the leash so I have a chance to relieve (I must admit, it’s a little embarrassing relieving right there in front of Abby with the leash on, but I’m getting used to it!). And I think I’m starting to get the hint that Abby wants me to relieve when she says “Do Your Business”…. maybe I’ll try that tomorrow! But with that out of the way, I feel much better, and I’m ready for breakfast!

After breakfast, Abby starts a routine I call “Poking and Prodding.” She picks up my feet and plays with my toes. She pokes her fingers down my ears, and rubs my teeth and gums. I didn’t like this much at first. In fact, I got downright testy with her about it. But Abby calmly kept working with me, and now I’m pretty used to it. In fact, the attention is kind of nice, after all. I’m still not too sure about the nail clippers, though. That’s going to take a lot of getting used to!

While Abby then gets ready for school (a place I get to go with her when I’m just a bit bigger!), I get a little play time. I get to scamper around the house wearing a really light leash that drags from my collar (it helps Abby to keep track of me, and a little tug on the leash is a great way for her to let me know I might be getting into trouble!). We head outside one more time – just in case I have to “Do My Business” again (I usually do) – and then I get tucked back into my crate with my favorite toy: a Nylabone. I get in some serious chewing time on my Nylabone, but before long, I’ll drift into a nice, long nap.

When I wake up, I get to go for a walk with Abby’s mom! When we first started these walks, I played this fun game where I pulled backward on the leash when she pulled forward... but Mom didn’t seem to think the game was so much fun. She likes it better when we go in the same direction. So, now I mostly try to just walk alongside her - anything to keep Mom happy!  The rest of my day until Abby gets home is full of more play time (I have a whole box of toys all to myself! Things like shoes and socks, however, aren’t in my box… but they are so tempting!), more naps, and my favorite: Lunch! 

The best part of my day is when Abby gets home. We get to go for another walk, and I hang out with her as she does something called “homework” at her desk. She keeps me on a tie-down right next to her chair. Sometimes she’ll look down at me and smile, and I will try to smile back (but I can’t seem to make my lips work like hers, so a little bark will have to do!). Some days, we get to take rides in the car and visit people and places around town. Abby and I sit in the back seat of the car, and we visit places like grocery stores, the mall, even restaurants! When I’m out and about, I get to wear a little green jacket that everyone seems to find quite adorable. Most of the time we don’t stay very long – just a few minutes (I get bored pretty easily!). But even if we’re just sitting outside on a bench, there’s so much for me to see and hear! Cars and trucks and horns and people and bikes and busses and radios and trees and insects and bits of interesting things on the ground and… wow! Trips out into the big wide world make me very tired! 

But going home is ok because that means it’s dinner time! Yes, yes, yes! Abby gets my food ready, and I can barely contain myself! But she holds me back with the leash, has me sit, and then tells me to “Wait.” (Is she kidding?!!) Finally, she’ll say “Okay” and I charge straight for those tasty morsels!

Our evenings are usually spent settled around the TV in the living room with the whole family. I get one more walk and potty break before we hunker down for the night. Abby tucks me into my crate, and I’m off to dreamland in no time. I wonder what we’ll do tomorrow?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A New Letter Home from Franco; Mama Christine's Reply

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,

Did you know that there are people who run? My puppy raiser boy is one of those people and he runs really fast. I have been learning about bleachers because I get to sit in the bleachers and wait until his race. I find stairs are easier to use than trying to go up in the middle of a row. I am also learning to be really patient, because track meets can take a very long time.

I am starting to get used to wearing my head collar. When I wear my head collar in public, someone always asks if it is a muzzle, and my raiser always tells them that no, it is just a head collar not a muzzle and that when I get to Phase #4 at “puppy college” that I will need to know how to use it and not fight it. Even though I think I look like a geek when I wear it.

My puppy raiser and I gave a presentation to the local Rotary Club about Guide Dogs for the Blind. There were about 30 people there and it went really well and we gave them all sorts of literature on the program. Now 30 more people know a little bit more about Guide Dogs for the Blind.

With love and licks,

# # #

Dear Franco,

Thanks for your wonderful update.

I love to run! Cathy and I run a lot and we see really beautiful things. The only time I did not run with her was through my pregnancies and then when I was spayed and had to mind Christina’s (my GDB vet who also runs) admonitions to be very careful about my abdomen. I bet you love to run and drink water after.

I heard from your sister Flute last week. She is being raised by four people in Seattle. They love her but also think that she is doing really well in training—one of the co raisers is hoping that after she is a guide dog, she will retire at her house. I think that is a good thought and hopefully it will transpire.

Don’t worry about how you look with the head collar. If you don’t “need” it (I was the same way), it is just one of those check off things your raiser has to do.

I have told you this before, but I will say it again. You are very handsome and I am so happy that you send me pictures so I can see how you are maturing. Have you been to your vet to be “fixed” yet? I think that GDB told Cathy that all the boys were being fixed from this litter. I know that hormones can cause a bunch of weird feelings that sometimes you are at a loss to be able to control. So that trip to the vet might be time that is justified (even tho you feel crummy because of the drugs they give you so the operation doesn’t hurt), in your future.


Mama Christine