A New Guide Dog Puppy!

We are very excited – we will soon be starting a new adventure with SA Guide-Dogs, and raising another Guide Dog puppy!

thank you to the puppy handlers for the photos

We’re getting a male yellow Labrador, from the “QR” litter (he will be chosen from the litter for us by GDA), and his name is yet to be confirmed by the GDA naming committee. The four boys and a girl have already had some incredible socialisation and habituation training in GDA’s puppy block from specially trained handlers, so he has been given an incredible start on his training journey.

Today we bought his puppy collar, and his grown up collar, in bright orange! GDA does provide collars and leads, but we like to get new ones for our puppies. 😀 I am also waiting for a fabulous leather lead – I’ve wanted one for ages, and one of our dogs recently chewed through my snazzy Rogz Utility lead. 😛 And once his name is decided he’ll get a name tag with our phone number on it, to go with the official GDA tags he will get when we collect him.
We also bought an orange bath towel, which will go with us when we collect him and it will be rubbed on his mommy so he can come home with a familiar scent.

We have our own nice big doggy crate now, and we have found crate-training to be an invaluable tool in house training, as well as teaching a puppy to be okay with his own company.

I am eager to share our new adventure with you!


You can find SA Guide-dogs for the Blind on Facebook and on Twitter
Check out my Facebook page: Its a Pup’s Life


Chronicling Riddick’s Burn – Update

Its been a little over three weeks since my boy burned himself, and it looks like its healed!

The scabs have all gone, and the fur is growing back nicely – except on the big round burn… Only a very little of the fur has grown back on that spot and I am a little worried it never will grow back properly.

This picture was taken 19 days after the burn, The hair is very sparse, and I think it itches a little as he is still licking this spot occasionally. The Annique Resque Crème helps for the itch, I don’t want him licking it raw again.

Chronicling Riddick’s Burn

So now I have a scary story to tell. Its not short – or over (yet) – but its one I have learned a lot from.
As I mentioned in my last post, we had friends over for a braai on Saturday February 25th. It started raining a little while the meat was cooking, so the guys outside moved the braai under the gazebo between the chairs.
Our Riddick, who has to be with his people as much as possible, squished himself between the braai and the chairs (I was inside) and the guys didn’t realise his rump was against the metal side of the hot braai until he squeaked and jumped away.
A few of us then had a look at him, but the hair wasn’t even singed and he seemed fine, so I wasn’t worried.
On the following Monday morning – two whole days later – I woke to find a bald patch and a shallow burn!  

I treated it with Germolene, but he was licking it a lot, so I took him to the vet on Tuesday morning to take a look. The vet was happy, shaved the area open a bit for me, gave me some Hibitane to clean it with, and said to keep an eye on it. You can see from the picture that there was no obvious injury apart from what we could see, and neither the vet or I saw more than that.

On the following Saturday morning (almost a full week after he got burned) it looked like it was healing nicely, and then I noticed a small, weepy, bald patch, just below the shaved bit. It looked like another burn, but I wasn’t sure and I couldn’t see it properly through his hair, so I headed straight to the vet. She shaved around it, opening the original patch up, and as she shaved we found more burned skin! I was horrified for my poor boy! How did I not see it!??!?

It was still a shallow burn, and he couldn’t reach all of it to lick it, but the actual burned area was much bigger than we thought – and it was only a shallow burn thanks to his thick fur.

The most amazing part for me, is how the scab continued to grow, showing how the burn was much bigger than we thought – the burn is all but invisible, and only as it heals do you see the whole thing!
Its healing now, although he is still licking what he can reach.

And this is today – 14 days after he burned himself.

Burns are dangerous – even a shallow burn can get infected.

And with our Riddick’s diabetes, he takes that much longer to heal and grow his hair back.

I’m A Bad Dog Mom… :(

I am feeling SO guilty and so bad for my poor Riddick!

I’ll start with his epilepsy.

Yes – start – its been that kinda week.

Since his seizures started, my Glugster and I have been all but convinced that our Riddick’s seizures were from his low blood sugar, not from epilepsy. So in February I decided to bite the bullet and see for sure. I started weaning him from 3 Phenobarbitone tablets twice a day, two 2 tablets twice a day. And from 1 March I reduced it further to 1 tablet twice a day. He seemed fine – we were on 70 days seizure free – and then last night he ahd a massive grand mal fit! 😥 He threw up first, and he was a little wobbly so I immediately put his harness on him, and then after a few minutes he lay down and had a proper epileptic fit. Thrashing on the floor and peeing himself. Thanks to his harness we were able to pull him away from the wall and lift him a little to put a towel under him. 😥
My poor boy seized for a good 5 minutes, and then he was exhausted as well as disoriented. After he walked around the house – like it was a new place – and went out for some water, he got on his bed and stayed there until about 3h45 this morning.
Today he seems like himself again, thank goodness, but he is still wearing his harness just in case – as we now have to increase the Phenobarbitone levels in his blood again.

Thank you – BIG TIME – to everyone who helped with a donation to buy the harness for him. It has been invaluable in aiding my boy. And I have now put bells on it so I can hear it when he moves around.

The other reason we were at the vet first thing this morning, was Riddick’s burnt rump.
Last Saturday, we had friends over for a braai, and when it started raining the braai was moved under the gazebo among the chairs.
At one point he moved between the braai and the chairs and the people sitting there didn’t realise he was leaning against the hot braai box until he jumped and ran away.
Luckily his thick hair caught most of the heat so its a very shallow burn, and we were treating it with some Hibitane and Germolene – but his incessant licking, and then lying on his burn during his seizure rubbed it raw again. I was looking at it this morning to treat it and found another wound beneath it that neither I nor the vet had noticed on Tuesday! The burn is shallow, but there are two sections!
We have a new cream, with some cortisone to help the itching, but if he keeps licking we’re going to have to cone him. :/


Our #RiddickPup Has a Lump…

And if you know me – you know this means I am running every possible scenario in my head, and all of them are bad! 😦

He has a lump, just at the base of his rib cage, on his right side, where the fur starts to thin towards the stomach. It’s small, about the size of an M&M under his skin.
How did I notice it? He was scratching! Like something was biting him! :O


They all got their tick-n-flea drops last week, so I wanted to make sure there were no fleas or ticks that had moved in between treatments, and there was the lump. And its bugging him.
Its not red. Its not a bite mark, from a bug or a dog. Its not inflamed from scratching or from him sticking himself with something. He didn’t like me touching it, and he got to chewing on it when I had done examining him for other bumps. And its only been there for a few days.

We’re going to the vet this afternoon.

As if my poor pickle needs more to deal with… And just when we thought we were on a good run with his blood sugar!! 😥

UPDATE 20 Feb The vet doesn’t think its a Lipoma, but we’re going to try a topical corticosteroid for a few days and see if that helps. Otherwise its back to the vet for tests.

UPDATE 21 Feb I found another lump! 😥 Its in his neck on the left hand side, a little behind his ear. He’s scratching there there too so I should have checked there yesterday!

Penny At School (Sixth Visit & First Class)

On Saturday morning we headed back to Manderston with Riddick and Penny, to walk around and play. Riddick got to play off-lead too, but he couldn’t get to the thrown toy unless we held Penny back. 😛 Next time I’ll take his ball with the bells in it.
We had fun, and we actually walked around the little farmers co-op market with the two of them on-lead, which I didn’t think we’d ever be able to do, and as always, their friendly nature charmed everyone!


On Sunday morning we went back with Penny, to start her classes. We ended up joining a big advanced class (several of us were supposed to be in an intermediate class), and as planned we were out on the end of the line of dogs, but she did really well. I didn’t attempt the commands I know she won’t know yet, and she’s VERY distracted – by other dogs, and toys lying around, and a dog climbing onto her daddy’s lap, a bird flying overhead – but she learns so fast. We stuck to commands I knew she would do well with, to continue building her confidence. At the end of the lesson they did one-on-one work, with each dog and their owner performing a set of instructions called out by the trainer, all off-lead.
One of these is a “send away”. The person puts their dog in a stay, walks a distance away and leaves a treat, then returns to the dog, who must then go and fetch the treat and return to their owner. With Penny we didn’t attempt all the exercises, and for the send-away I walked just five steps while the trainer held her lead, and I used a toy as she’s not treat-driven, but she loved it! As soon as I produced the ball she was completely focused – albeit on the toy, not on me. 😛 The other people in our group had a good giggle at her love of toys! She ran to fetch it and came straight back to me.

Penny joined our family from Labrador Rescue – you can help support their work.
Just click on their logo!



Penny At School (Fourth & Fifth Visit)

This weekend’s visits to Manderston were great!

Saturday morning I took Penny to just play – with other dogs around for practice with not having a play space to herself – as we’ve been doing. 🙂 There were very few dogs as the one class was still busy and the others were already over, and it was really hot, so we played fetch with a nice bouncy toy for about 45 minutes before heading home. She had fun and was good and tired.


Then on Sunday morning, Penny had a one-on-one training session with one of the trainers, to assess her level of training and make a decision as to whether she is ready for a group class.
We did a lot of walking, keeping her at heel, to see how distracted she is when walking near other class groups and how quickly she responded to commands. She did great! We’ve done a lot of work with her at home so she knows the actual commands, she knows to walk at heel – its just a case of implementing everything outside the house so we can take her for walks and on play dates.
She was approached by other dogs a couple of times, but there was no growling! Yay! We did keep to the perimeter of the training grounds with the walking, and trying a couple of agility obstacles, to give her the best chance to do well. There was one moment where a big black Lab came barreling up to us and I was a little unsure… Penny didn’t seem to do anything initially – but I pulled her out of the way with the lead because he didn’t look like he wanted to play, his mouth was closed and he was running really fast, not listening to his mom at all. :/ We moved away quickly while she got him back on lead, and then we carried on walking.


We took our Riddick along to puppy school this morning so he could socialise and play a little, and as usual he wrapped everyone around his little finger! Nobody can resist his precious face! He’s so sweet the way he holds his lead in his mouth, and he greets all the dogs so happily and politely. We actually have to be careful with how many treats he is given so his blood sugar doesn’t go too bananas! 😀 He walked around with his daddy while I worked with Penny, and they joined us towards the end of our session.


After our exercises we sat for a little while to just cool off, to be sure we were leaving on a positive note again, and the two of them were panting and worn out on the drive home! ❤

Penny At School (Third Visit)

Back to puppy school for Penny this morning, again around 10am – after the classes were finished.


We started with a walk around the field, around the agility equipment, and over the low hurdles (I want to get her used to them). Then we sat under a tree and watched the other dogs finishing up their class and their people saying goodbye, and we went to play with other dogs hanging around and watching, and a trainer watching us and her.


She had a blast, running full tilt after the toy, and taking herself to get water from the splash pool. While she was resting a young GSD ran up to her, and we had a bit of snarling and growling, but after my second “HEY!” she dropped flat and he ran off. Our trainer then requested another GSD come out – a mature, well socialised, bomb-proof boy named Tague (sp?), and we carried on playing with Penny till Tague appeared.
Penny watched him, and he approached her, side on, neutral. When he moved to greet she raised her lip a couple of times and I quietly said “no” so she stayed still, and then she actually moved to sniff him too. Then Tague moved off and our trainer said it was perfect, Penny had listened to me, and Tague listened to her saying she didn’t want to hang out and left her alone. A little later she was at the pool again – she doesn’t swim or walk in, she just drinks  – and Tague approached. She turned her back on him, and off he went! Our trainer explained that this was exactly what Penny needed to be happier overall, for other dogs to listen when she speaks.

He recommended we leave then, with her happy and worn out, and having a good association with the place.


Next week she’ll start with obedience classes – one on one with a trainer before she joins a group class.


AAAAND, next week we’ll take Riddick along so he can play! I hate leaving him home and we’re pretty sure he’ll have fun, so we’ll see how he does.

Penny At School (Second Visit)

So, back to doggy school for Penny today.


There were fewer dogs off-lead today (we are currently going after the obedience classes so she can just socialise), and she was happily playing fetch with a little purple toy.
At the same time there was a gorgeous Bully playing with his Kong bone, so between Jojo’s dad and us we were trying to throw in different directions to avoid a clash. Inevitably they ended up going for the same toy once or twice. Then Jojo’s dad picked up Jojo’s bone, and Penny wouldn’t come to me for the other toy – not for love or money – and she and Jojo climbed into each other. Penny has a little hole in her head, just by her ear, and Jojo has two holes in one ear.
Thankfully its not serious, and Jojo’s dad was not at all concerned.

One thing the trainer-behaviourist was very pleased with is how quickly Penny and Jojo calmed down after their run-in. Jojo got his ears sprayed pink with F10 (they sprayed his uninjured ear so it would match ).

We then took Penny out to play on a long, loooong lead to play for a while before heading home.

Our Penny Pie, The Bitch

Our Penny is a mixed-breed rescue. We adopted her at about 6 months old. She had been abused and neglected, and it took a long time to settle her in our home, to house train her and socialise her as much as we could without aggravating her issues. She’s territorial and protective of her space, and her toys.

Over December, our career-changed Guide Dog puppy Nimble was home for a whole month, and during that time we noticed that our Penny’s insecurity signals escalated and she was not a happy camper. Nipping my thigh when she walks next to me, begging, barking at nothing (and you know she’s already a very vocal girl), constantly asking to go outside and come back in.

I knew that once Nimble left for her new home our Penny would get better, and relax again, but it would take time.

20170121_103708And then Facebook suggested a dog school’s page to me, one that is near our home. We have thought of taking Penny to puppy school before, but we never really looked into it as our budget is ridiculously tight, but I called Manderston anyway.
I was pleasantly surprised by how affordable it seemed to be, so we decided to go through last Saturday morning for their trainers to see and assess Penny, and to see if we liked the trainers, and the school20170121_111800.

We liked the place a lot. The trainers and staff were friendly and not at all condescending, and they were very impressed with how sweet Penny is considering how she started out.
The other dogs are well socialised and trained, which is so much nicer than risking a dog park, and we were absolutely BLOWN AWAY by how well Penny handled her “introductory” visit to Manderston Canine Academy! She walked around on-lead at first, so the trainers could see what she’s like, and so she could sniff everything. And she fell in the paddle pool ‘coz I didn’t think to show her it was water!
Then she actually ran and played fetch – off-lead – with a couple of GSDs running alongside! She had a few small incidents with other dogs, mostly when they wanted to check out the toy she was fetching, but she listened immediately when I shouted “NO!”
She went home exhausted and happy!

We’re going to go back every weekend now, for her to socialise at first, and later to do obedience classes.
Its going to do her the world of good! We are so excited for her!