Our Nimble…

Our beautiful, precious, Nimble pup has been withdrawn from Guide Dog training.


Our Nimble has been withdrawn from Guide Dog training, due to suspicion. She has a bit of an anxious streak, and certain things make her nervous and very distracted – loud dogs behind gates is a big one, and apparently children now too. So what happens is she’ll get distracted by something, but not in a “ooh-what-was-that-oh-never-mind” way, as a working dog should. She’s confident and happy during training, and she’s happy in her harness, but there are little things that stress her when she should be working, and then she can’t concentrate on her work properly. And that would put her and her handler in danger.
She has gone as far as she could go, even with extended training and time to help her mature. She loves her work in-harness with her trainer, completing her blindfold trials in record times, but there’s no more to do. She won’t be a Guide Dog.


She came home for Christmas, as was the plan anyway. And its been so wonderful to have our snuggly baby home.

We want to keep her, desperately, but we really can’t afford another dog. Our Riddick costs us a fortune and keeping her would make it really hard to raise another GDA puppy.
We’ve had six and seven dogs over weekends, and its just too much long term… Our Riddick really battles with too many dogs in the house. 😦 His eyes have deteriorated, and when he’s in the garden and the big dogs get too rowdy, he wants to play but he gets turned around and you can see he takes a little while to work out which way he is facing.
How are we going to give her up to someone else?!??!?
Its so much harder to think of her living with another family, than her living and working as a Guide Dog. 😥

When I do my presentation at the puppy raiser induction, I give the new puppy raisers a heads’ up that if their puppy doesn’t complete its training it can be hard to take, and if you can’t keep your career-changed puppy it can break your heart – but this is the first time I have actually felt it. 😦


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Update on Riddick

We haven’t had to put his harness on every day in a few weeks now, and we haven’t had any seizures, thank goodness!
He loves his ball, and he loves playing, even when the other dogs get to the ball first!
Its been weeks since he had blood drawn, but the hair on the patch on his leg that was shaved hasn’t grown back properly yet.
His sugar is kind of under control. Its fine for a day or two and then it goes up, then fine for a day or two again.
His vision has definitely deteriorated. 😦 He’s not seeing some closed doors – he sees a dark shape in a light wall, like it could be an opening. And the other day I put his bowl down in front of him and it wasn’t exactly in the corner like it usually is, and it took him a second to realise it was closer to him than usual.

He gets very disoriented when we have a house full of dogs. More than one extra puppy and he literally gets pushed out of the way when he tries to come for a cuddle. And when they play around him he tries to join in but he gets turned around and you can clearly see he’s not quite sure he’s facing the direction he wants to go anymore.
Sometimes he thinks there’s still a dog in the garden with him and he’ll stand facing where he thinks they are and bark, but they’ve already moved out of his way.
My poor baby.
He’s a happy, snuggly puppy, and he makes his face all soft for me when he comes and asks for a love, and he laughs like a seal when I play with him and cuddle him.
So we’ll be keeping the visiting dogs to a minimum from now on, and we’re going to be working on some ideas to put into place to help him find his way when he gets off track.
What I wouldn’t give to be able to get him one of these
The pictures are not really related to the news, he’s just so gorgeous I have to show off. 😛

I am officially in a toestand.

November 16th update: Blood tests and urinalysis normal so far. This is good news, but it doesn’t explain the weight loss… 😯 Fed him in small meals yesterday but last night his sugar was sky high again. Next is a specialist with her own ultrasound machine so we can look for growths or other weirdness that might be causing his diabetes. We’ll also be monitoring his weight with a couple of weigh-ins a week.
November 15th update: Back to the vet with Riddick first thing this morning… Drew blood to do tests and I left a urine sample. Riddick’s, not mine.  He’s eating his meals a little at a time through the day to prevent him puking again, and he had an anti-nausea shot last night which should last 24 hours. His vet has been chatting to a couple of professors since Riddick doesn’t respond to anything the way they expect him to, and they are all baffled. Now we wait to see what the blood and urinalysis says.
November 14th: Three weeks ago, my Riddick had hookworm, and was put on meds. It was a rough weekend, but he recovered. And he weighed 35.3kg (at his last sugar curve on September 12th he weighed 35.85kg). For Riddick, 35kg is our target weight, its healthy for him and he looks good.
On Friday morning, November 11th I took him to the vet to weigh him ‘coz I thought he’d lost weight. I was right, he was down to 34.3KG. His blood sugar readings were looking great though, and in terms of behaviour, he was his old self, so I thought it might be as a result of the hookworm and subsequent treatment.
I increased his food with 150G/day to get him back up to 35kg with the aim of then reducing it a little to keep him at 35kg.
Yesterday he seemed a little quiet, not really wanting to play, but I put it down to the heat. Then this evening he threw up all his supper shortly after I gave him his insulin shot. And then he drank water, and threw that up too.
We headed straight for the vet, arriving shortly before they closed.
Riddick threw up in the car on the way there too, and he weighed just 33.8kg, which means he’s lost half a kilo in three days despite the extra food. That, plus the nausea, combined with his diabetes is not a good sign at all.
My daddy darling was an insulin-dependent diabetic almost all my life (he was diagnosed as an adult). I know how it works. If Riddick is losing weight but eating well it could mean that he is losing protein through dysfunctional kidneys.
When I first took him to the vet because I was worried about a diabetes he was not only peeing a lot and drinking a LOT of water, he had also lost a lot of weight.
He’s has been on insulin for a little over a year, since his diagnosis, but he could have been pre-diabetic for a while before that already. I know kidney failure is something that can happen to diabetics, and I knew when he was diagnosed that he would not live as long as a healthy Lab… But I hoped that getting him onto the right treatment would mean at least a few good years before real complications set in.
Tomorrow we’ll get blood for tests, to see what his thyroid and kidneys are doing, and I will try and get a urine sample.
I am so scared for my precious pickle… I can’t lose him already. He’s not even five years old yet! He’s my baby!

Happy Birthday Xander!

Puppy-in-training Xander turned one today!
His puppy raiser daddy sent him a box full of delicious liver bread, and we had a photo shoot in the garden to mark the day.


A Guide Dog Puppy’s first birthday is both eagerly anticipated and dreaded by us puppy raisers. It’s a big milestone for your puppy, and happily celebrated, but it also means your puppy will soon be leaving you to begin formal instruction as a Guide Dog or a Service Dog.


Tomorrow morning we will take Xander to SA Guide-Dogs to meet with his new trainer, and have a chat about his puppyhood, his likes and quirks and things he’s good at.
Xander’s size – he’s a big boy – his quiet, calm nature, and his love of carrying things around, means he will start his training as a Service Dog, for someone who is physically disabled and possibly wheelchair-bound.

His trainer will keep us informed every month as to how his training is going, and he will spend weekends at home. Just like going to boarding school. 😀


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Precious Xander-pants

We have just one week left with Xander at home with us, he starts his formal Service Dog training next week at GDA.

Xander got a new toy last weekend, to keep him and the other dogs entertained during Diwali’s fireworks. When they were all done playing, Xander took his new toy to bed with him! 🙂

And Xander has a new game – carrying and throwing the stainless steel food bowls around! He loves to shove it off the step so it goes upside down, then he chases it around trying to flip it over again! 😀

We’re certainly going to miss this big, sweet, softie, but we know he is going to enjoy his training very much!


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heck out A Pup’s Life for regular puppy updates!

Penny “Loves” Birds

‘Tis the season for baby birds… And many fall out of their nests.
Our Penny finds them, and buries her “treasures” in the garden. She then protects that burial spot – not allowing any of the other dogs anywhere near it, and moving her treasure if someone gets too close!
This afternoon I heard a bit of a rumble between her and Topolino in the garden, and I knew she had something hidden again.
She will show me where it is if I ask her, sometimes she will dig it up and bring it to me too but not always. Today she showed me the corner her treasure was buried in, and I found a little featherless-chick buried under the sand.
She doesn’t eat them, and she lets me take them and get rid of them without getting aggressive. Although she would take it back and hide it again in a heartbeat if I let her!

How Things Change.

A while ago, I overheard a snippet of conversation in a supermarket. A couple was discussing what bowl to get for her Labrador, who would be spending time at his house in the future.
Being the “mingler” that I am 😛 I suggested they get stainless steel as Labs can’t chew it and its easy to keep clean. As I walked away, he responded with something along the lines of “Don’t the dogs just lick it clean?” and it made me think of how differently my dogs live, in comparison to the dogs we had as kids.

We had a few pet dogs when we were kids, but I wasn’t terribly attached to any of them.
Unlike my own dogs now, the dogs we had as kids lived outside, they weren’t really trained or properly socialised, they were fed a couple of times a day and that was it. We certainly didn’t research breeds and go to puppy classes and play with them every day. Thinking back it makes me a little bit sad for them. Yes, they were loved, they weren’t mistreated, but they could have had better lives had we known more and known better.
And the vast majority of pet dogs live like that now. They are acquired because “…the kid needs to grow up with a dog…” or “…the breed is great with kids…” but they don’t put in the necessary work to turn that puppy into a well behaved family pet – like the ones they see in the movies – and in the best case scenario the dog is banished outside, behind a gate.
In the worst case scenario, they are neglected, abused, and deserted.

My own dogs live in the house with us. If I could, they would go everywhere with me too, but thats not always possible. 😛
Their stainless steel bowls are washed out after supper every day, and they go through the dishwasher twice a week. I play with my dogs every day, they get fresh water at least once a day, they get brushed, dewormed, tick-and-flea dropped, and inoculated, and I know exactly what their tummies are doing because I go out with them several times a day so I can see them pee and poop. They have the added benefit of me working from home instead of heading for the office every day, so I can spend as much time with them as I do. I know which dog is barking because they all sound different, I know what their favourite toy is and how they behave in different situations. They’ve had obedience training, and their socialisation is ongoing. Granted, they’re not the most spectacularly well behaved dogs around, but they’re not a complete nightmare either.

Isn’t it amazing how things change? My family still can’t get over my attachment to my furchildren!

Riddick Missed His Vet…

So this morning we were back there! 😛 His weight is a perfect 35.25kg!

This post is all about pee and poop, so you can click away now if this will be TMI for you. 😛

Do you know how many times a day your dog – or dogs – pee and poo? Do you go with them when they go busy?
Would you know if your dog’s busies were not normal?
Much like checking a cat’s litterbox while you’re scooping it, a dog’s health can be quickly judged by the state of their busies.

Yesterday Riddick had a bit of a runny tummy. Not too hectic, but noticeable. Yesterday afternoon it was almost normal again, and when we went out this morning at 5:30am for first busies he had a big wee and what looked like a nice normal poo… He was out in the rain and I was too lazy to fetch a brolly so I could check (I checked it later after the vet amd it looked normal).

At 9-ish we went out again (we’re puppy sitting a youngster and he has to pee often), and Riddick couldn’t pee. He tried his favourite spots for lifting his leg, and he tried the puppy-squat that he still does, but not a drop.
BIG red flag for me. Huge.
Then he tried to go #2, and it was runny. He was straining and there were just a few drops, and it was quite dark. Unfortunately it was in a flowerbed so I couldn’t see it properly to check on it.

We went straight to the vet.

As some of you may have guessed -if you’ve been reading about Riddick for long enough- he doesn’t have “normal” clinical reactions, so he keeps us and his vet on our toes.
His bladder wasn’t too full when we got there so she couldn’t feel or hear anything odd, but a stool sample showed blood. 😦
She gave him some meds and an anti-inflammatory shot as she says he may be hesitant to pee if his bum is sore, and sent us home with more meds for him.

As soon as we got home we all went outside for busies (I didn’t take the little puppy to the vet, its too risky for him as he hasn’t had all his shots yet) and Riddick had a BIG wee against the wall.


Now we’re going to keep an eye on his pooping to make sure it normalises, I have to wait for the meds to work, but at least we won’t be back at the vet today because he can’t pee!



Its two days later. The vet diagnosed him with Hookworm!  I am sad and mortified, even though dogs can get Hookworm just from walking on “infected” sand as well as eating Hadeda poop.
Our dogs are regularly treated for ticks, fleas, and worms (they have to be, for us to be puppy raisers), but Riddick is immunocompromised because of his diabetes, and apparently some worm species are becoming resistant to treatment.
The vet recommends alternating worm treatments to cover all the bases (we’ve always used Milbemax because I’m worried about Spirocerca Lupi with Penny’s coprophagia) so now it will be Milbemax and Drontal in alternate doses.
Riddick is on meds to fix his runny tummy and get rid of the worms, and ALL the dogs we’ve had contact with – AND their housemates – need to have a preventive treatment! The knock-on is HUGE ‘coz we’ve been to GDA twice this week and we’ve had puppies at our house!
My poor boy… By Friday afternoon he was bleeding rectally from the worm, and really battling to poop, so we were back at the vet on Saturday morning with a stool sample. Thankfully there was no blood in the stool, just on the outside, so the bleeding is most likely in his rectum and caused by the worm. Blood mixed into his stool would have been much more serious.
We have to wait until Monday afternoon to see if the meds is working to clear up his runny tummy. Thankfully the bleeding had stopped by Saturday afternoon. That was very scary and very messy.
We’re making sure he drinks water and pees properly, and thankfully his appetite is unaffected. 😛
And no visiting puppies for a while.

Twister Piss Cat

Yes. Twister Piss Cat. That is his full name.

He’s not a piss cat because he drinks. He’s a piss cat because he pisses everywhere.

As adorable as Twister is, and as much as I love him and his snuggly talkative personality, I am THIS close to being one of those people who adopts an animal, and then hands it back after a while…   😥

Its been a little over a year and we’ve tried everything. He’s on special food. He eats away from the other cats. I’ve tried putting different things in his preferred litterbox to encourage him to use it, from shredded plastic bags, to gravel kitty litter, and even newspaper. He uses it once or twice and then he goes right back to peeing on the walls, curtains, furniture, and on us!

He is tolerated by Greebo and Magic, but he seeks out Minx and she can’t seem to stand him! She spends her life on top of a glass display cabinet that Twister seems unable to jump up onto.
Twister also guards to bathroom door to where most of the litterboxes are, so the other cats are harassed when they try to go in and out. I had to find a place to put a litterbox that Minx could use because she won’t go in that bathroom and she started pooping on our bed!    :/

I’m breaking up yowling-fur-flying cat fights almost daily, usually at 3am…   😦
I chase him out of our bedroom almost every time he tries to come in, because as much as he loves to curl up on my bed and cuddle with me – he purrs like a tractor – he also pees on my walls and curtains, and occasionally on me or my Glugster! Literally! He sneaks up behind us and sprays our backs!   :/

This is as close as Minx has allowed Twister to be to her… but she was asleep when he climbed up onto the bed.

For us, having animals is about quality of life. For us and for them. At the moment our cats and us are not having a lot of quality…
Twister is chased, by us and by the other cats.
Minx is constantly on tenterhooks.
My house literally reeks of cat pee. Constantly.
We literally have no furniture in our lounge anymore because it was ruined.

I don’t know what to do…    😥

Meet Guide Dog Puppy Xander!

Xander is a beautiful big yellow Lab, born at SA Guide-Dogs on November 7th 2015.

His puppy raiser unexpectedly got the chance to work overseas for a few months, so when Xander was almost 39 weeks old, he came to stay with us to continue his puppy raising.

He’s an absolute sweetheart! He looks just like his mommy, Jelly, with the same droopy eyes and looong ears, and he’s actually half-brother to our Lennox, also a “Jelly baby”! He walks beautifully on-lead, and he’s very clever! He loves carrying things around, although he isn’t always keen to bring it back to you, so we’re working on that. 😛 And like our other puppies, he loves to be close.

He loves to be close! When I am working on my laptop, he lies with his head on the foot-ledge!

He loves to be close! When I am working on my laptop, he lies with his head on the foot-ledge!

He’s so chilled and relaxed compared to our other high-energy puppies, its quite strange for us. 😀 He LOVES his sleep! He puts himself to bed at about 9pm, and he sleeps right through to at least 6am, even of the other dogs wake up in the wee hours of the morning!

As with all our Guide Dog puppies, Xander goes everywhere with us. He even went with us to the SA Guide-Dogs Wine & Dine Dinner, as he was the official “Hot Dog” for the Hot 91.9fm sponsored event!


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heck out A Pup’s Life for regular puppy updates!