Riggs and His Housemates

Even when we aren’t raising a Guide Dog puppy, we have four of our own dogs.
The Guide Dog puppies learn a lot from these older dogs – doggy manners are very important for a puppy to learn, as well as the training he gets from his human family.

Our dogs teach the puppies good doggy manners, and they help with house training as the puppy follows them outside to busy. Dogs are very good teachers, and being natural pack animals, puppies learn from the group. A barking puppy will be completely ignored – which tells him his barking is annoying and they aren’t going to play with him until he stops. A puppy chewing on an older dogs ears will only be tolerated if he doesn’t hurt the older dog – biting will get a doggy reprimand.

Unfortunately for our Guide Dog puppies, our own dogs are not big on snuggling when they sleep – each preferring their own beds – and all our puppies want to do is cuddle up to one of them! 😀
Our Labrador, Riddick, is super-patient with puppies, allowing them to jump on him and chew on his ears and his neck far more than the other dogs, and he loves to play-wrestle as Labbies do. And like the puppy, Riddick follows me and waits for me whatever I may be doing, so I constantly have two yellow Labradors at my feet (or on my feet when they are still small enough to fit).
Penny loves to play keep-away, and she loves to run. And if Riggs is really quiet and careful, she will let him lie next to her for a few minutes. 😛

Here are some pictures of Riggs with Labrador Riddick, and rescue dog Penny.

Four Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Riggs is eleven weeks old, and he weighs a whopping 10kg!

I am very pleased to say that Riggs is definitely asking to go outside when he needs to go busy, and if he really needs to go he’ll whine a little too. This is awesome!

This week he had another short shopping trip with me to a PnP, again in a trolley (he’s not yet allowed on the floor in a shop unless the mall is enclosed). He got a few greetings from the other shoppers, and he wore his puppy jacket.

He attended his first big gathering with our family’s Easter celebration, and he got to meet a couple of children too. He handled it all like a pro!
Puppy club this week was very cool – Riggs and his siblings got their 10 week inoculations, and we have started a few new exercises for loose-leash walking, and the “DOWN” command. We also started adding the word “WATCH” to the exercise we’ve been doing.

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Three Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Riggs has been with us for three weeks now. He’s eating 100g of Bob Martin Puppy three times a day, and he weighs 9kg!
We’re very excited – it looks like Riggs is starting to ask to go outside by going to the door! He’s so clever!

We had a couple of thunderstorms this week, and Riggs is completely unphased by thunder, and he doesn’t mind going outside in the rain.
He also approached his daddy to check out the guitar!

Riggs had his first, short, shopping trip this week too, to our “usual” Pick n Pay, and as he has yet to have all his inoculations he has to be carried, or ride in a trolley. Since he weighed over 8kg – I opted for a trolley! He’s still learning to wear his blue puppy-in-training jacket, so I hung it on the trolley behind him. He was good as gold, having a good look around as we went along.

We continue to work on his obedience lessons- we missed puppy class as he had a bit of an upset tummy on Tuesday- so we have been working on the exercises we got at the last puppy club session – putting on his puppy jacket, SIT, making eye contact (we haven’t added the word “WATCH” yet), walking on lead, and so on.
He also had a wonderful playdate with another puppy raiser and her two Labs, and he had SO much fun! He was fast asleep in the car before we left her gate! 😀

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Two Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Guide Dog Puppy Riggs is 9 weeks old, and he’s been with us for 2 weeks!

He’s eating 90g of Bob Martin dry puppy food three times a day, and he weighs a whopping 7.75kg! He gets his own kibble and carrot slices cut into quarters as training treats, and he gets a little plain yoghurt on his food twice a day.

This week we started Puppy Club at SA Guide-Dogs! Its a weekly lesson where our Puppy Raising Supervisor checks on the pups’ progress at home and in the car, takes us through the commands to start teaching the pups, and gives tips on anything we may be battling with.
We continue to work on his recall, using “Riggs, come!” and he’s responding very well. The real trick will be to get him to come to me when he is playing with his siblings or the other dogs. 🙂

We had one quick trip to the chemist and the vet supply shop to get his name tag, and as he has not yet had all his vaccinations he’s not yet allowed to walk in a shopping centre or mall, so he got to ride in a trolley with a thick towel in the bottom. Naturally, he got lots of attention!

Thanks to the “magic” of crate training, Riggs is almost sleeping through! His average is now 11PM to 5AM, so thats a good 6 hours, and for a few days now we’ve had no 2AM trips outside to busy! 😛

And this week at Puppy Club, Riggs and his siblings were issued with their little blue puppy jackets! There’s a specific process involved in putting the jacket on the pup and taking it off again so that the puppy doesn’t develop an aversion to wearing the jacket (or a harness in future).

Car travel is going great, with a short daily trip. He very quickly falls asleep, with his head under the aircon vent! 🙂

We’ve been working on SIT, and we have added WATCH but without using the command yet – just teaching him to look up into my eyes using a treat.
We continue to do our handling sessions, and these serve many purposes. Firstly, it teaches the pup patience, to sit still for 2 minutes (this time will gradually increase slowly). Second, it gets the pups used to being touched all over, from their nose to the tip of their tail – inside their mouths and ears, and between their toes (for their owners to be able to check on their health, and for vet visits and checkups). It also prepares the pup for grooming, we will start brushing them and clipping their nails, and the handling prepares them for this attention.
We also continue to work “frustration tolerance” – Riggs being okay with being alone, without the other dogs or a person with him (we’re up to 8 minutes!) 😀 , and getting him to sit and wait before launching himself at his food bowl.
The very tricky part of puppy training, and rewarding so many different kinds of behaviour through the day (with a treat bag on your belt all the time), means its very easy for the puppy to learn to beg for treats, so its a very fine line indeed!

And just ‘coz he’s so cute – here are some gratuitous puppy pictures!

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Our Riddick’s Epilepsy

Our precious Riddick woke me at 3:50 this morning, pacing our bedroom. 😦

Pacing is a big part of his pre-seizure “aura”, and the pacing gradually gets worse with him walking into walls and furniture, and falling over forwards. 😥
I quickly put his harness on, and he went outside for a busy. Then I took him to the living room (which has no furniture ATM) so I could let him pace without walking into anything, and have space to move him if he had a seizure. After a while I got him to lie down on a towel in the middle of the lounge and I sat next to him.
He had a seizure, but one of his weird twitchy ones, thankfully not a full grand mal.

He slept on the towel next to me for a while, and I waited until his twitching had completely stopped before I woke him and took him back to his bed in the bedroom.

He was still a little restless, but mostly he slept until my alarm went off at 5:45. He was still a little wobbly, but much more himself, and starving!

His blood sugar was nice and Riddick-normal, which I was glad about.

I took him with me in the car when we dropped my husband off for work – I don’t take Riddick every time but I wanted to keep an eye on him.
The fact that he was quietly sitting or lying in the back seat told me he definitely was not himself! Normally he stands with his head between the front seats, trying to rest his head on our shoulders, and squeak-groans almost all the time.

Last night, Riddick’s behaviour was a little “off”, so I was sort of expecting a seizure. He didn’t come when called, he barked a lot at nothing we could see or hear, and he didn’t respond to our emergency recall word at all – which is very unusual.

We were 32 days seizure free, and I haven’t skimped on his meds… If this trend continues I can live with one seizure a month. 😥

One Week With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

How much is Guide Dog puppy raising like having a baby in the house? You rush like a mad thing to get things done while the puppy is asleep!

Its been a long while since we last had a Guide Dog puppy in the house, and this first week was quite an adjustment!  He is being crate trained, and doing very well, but he doesn’t yet sleep through – although he slept from 11:20pm to 5:20pm last night! Yay! Six solid hours of sleep! 💤

A Guide Dog puppy’s first week at home is mostly spent getting used to their new environment – there are many new smells and sounds for a puppy to get used to with their new family’s daily routine.
He has to ride for short trips in the car every day, but it has to be done gently so that the puppy doesn’t get spooked by car travel.
His naps through the day are getting shorter, and further apart, though, so we’re having to find more and different ways to keep him busy, apart from training, grooming, and handling.

You’re allowed to have your Guide Dog Puppy on your lap if you’re sitting on the floor 😁 This was after our handling session – best done when puppy starts getting sleepy.

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Meet GDA Pup Riggs!

We collected our new Guide Dog puppy from the SA Guide-Dogs Puppy Block last Friday! ❤

our Puppy Raising Supervisor bringing our puppy to me

We were very excited when we found out our first choice in puppy names had been approved – inspired by the character from the Lethal Weapon movies – we named him Riggs! 😀

the only time we’re allowed to hold our pups on our laps in the car – their first trip home

We’ve had our Puppy Raiser Induction, and our first class (before we got our puppy), and now starts the hard work! I’ve read the new manual, and the new guidelines, and our first Puppy Club class is on April 4th.

Riggs’s first night at home

We bought him a new collar in bright orange, and a new towel to match – the towel was rubbed all over his mommy in Puppy Block so he could come home with a familiar smell in his bed.
And we are huge fans of crate training – Riggs has been sleeping and playing in his crate since we brought him home.

how cute is that face

Thanks to the incredible work done by specially trained handlers while the pups are still in Puppy Block with their mommy, Riggs is quite happy to wear his collar, and he’s quite a confident pup!
He’s learning fast, and we’re using clicker training, and he’s just so cute and snuggly!

asleep on mommy’s foot

Our first weekend was hectic,with so many new things for him to get used to, and with a puppy-sized bladder he can’t sleep through the night just yet so we’re all a little bleary-eyed around here today! 😛

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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!

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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.