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!

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. 😦

~ UPDATE ~ 5 February 2017 ~

Nimble has been rehomed, and her new family collected her from us on January 16th.
They have kept us updated during her transition and she seems to be settling in beautifully. She is adored, and seems to be living her best life, indeed.


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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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