The Dreaded Intake Date Email…

We got the “dreaded” email from SA Guide-Dogs… Nimble’s intake date for her formal training is May 23rd, and she will be trained by GDMI Moses.

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It’s a strange message to receive…
You’re sad because your pup will be leaving, and you’re a little nervous about whether you did enough with your puppy while raising her. You’re excited about the next step in your puppy’s training, and you’re wondering how she’s going to do, and who she will eventually be matched with. And you’re excited about your puppy’s graduation.

It’s bitter sweet indeed.

This is also the only time, in my puppy raising adventure with each of our dogs, that I cry.

What that means though, is that we only have two weeks left with our little girl. On Monday 9th she goes back to GDA so she can be spayed, then she’ll be there till May 20th, and her stitches come out. She’ll be home for the weekend and then she goes back to start her training. We’ll be celebrating her first birthday a few days early as she won’t be here on the 10th.

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We’ve Come A Long Way!

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Our Penny went today for her annual vaccinations.
I wanted to go in the morning so we could avoid a reception area full of dogs but I was too late, so we headed back at 12 noon, not realising people would be getting there well before 12 anyway!
I had a hoof for her, as well as some treats and her favourite toy so I could keep her attention on me, but it didn’t really work until we were about the only people there, waiting our turn.
I am SO proud of her! It’s been a long, tiring journey, and we’re still on it, but she was great with the other dogs! There were no hackles, and she didn’t bark at them. She was interested, but I didn’t let her get too close.
There was a guy with two Yorkies in the waiting room, they weren’t on lead and I was very close to confronting him about it, but I took Penny outside instead.
The vet gave her her shots, recommended she lose a couple of kilos (she weighed 34.6kg compared to last year’s 31.2kg), and off we went.
It was so good to see her like that. Make no mistake- she’s anything but calm, but she’s so much more relaxed than before, and she hardly paid any attention to the other dogs.

With Bells On!

About a week ago, I put bells on all the dogs in the house, except Riddick.

As any readers will know, Riddick is my blind Lab, and I often wear a one of those rubber “awareness” bracelets with bells tied on it, so he can hear where I am.
I kept noticing though, as his eyes got worse, that he would try to play with the other dogs and lose them mid-game if they bounced in a different direction, or he’d stand in the garden and bark trying to get their attention, but they wouldn’t be near him anymore. He also often ran into them ‘coz while he knows his garden, they would often run in front of him or just be standing in his path and he can’t see them.

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Now he can actually follow them around as they play, even if they change direction, because the bells jingle when they move!

He’s having so much fun!

And – touch wood – it seems we have his diabetes under control! I am testing his blood sugar twice a day, before he eats, and he’s so much more himself again! He’s not even snatching at my fingers when I offer him a treat, he’s sleeping well and his water intake and the number of times he pees is normal.

It’s almost strange not to visit the vet every week!

Our Louise Has Crossed The Rainbow Bridge

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Two months ago I took our Louise to the vet as she’d been a little “off” for about a week. She had developed a bit of a pot belly and was breathing very hard, sleeping or lying down completely stretched out on her side or on her back.
The vet found a large mass in her chest, not in her abdomen as I had suspected, and it was squashing her lungs which was why she was breathing so hard. It didn’t look good since it had grown so fast – Louise and Thelma had their annual vaccs a month before and they were both fine!
I know what it feels like to battle to breathe, but we took her home with a course of cortisone, because apart from her breathing she was still okay and enjoying her food, and she wasn’t in pain, but the vet didn’t think it’d be too much longer, and we watched her closely.

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After a week on the high Cortisone dose she was less swollen and her breathing is easier, then we dropped the dose a little for another week and continued to watch her like a hawk, but she was still enjoying her food and behaving normally. We had decided that when that changed we’d take the next step.

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After three weeks Louise had made a recovery that surprised even the vet!
The growth was still there, of course, and her breathing was still laboured, but it was much better, she wasn’t working as hard to breathe. Her swollen tummy was back to normal, she was still eating like she was never going to be fed again, and she still came running if she thought there was a treat to be had, so it looked like she may be with us for a while yet. At this point she was on the low dose of Cortisone and skipping a day inbetween, and we were hoping she could stay on that dose.

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Once she finished the first course, she was still loving her food, and behaving pretty much like normal, but the last two nights she was up every hour again, asking to go out, and her abdomen had swollen a little again, so we started the Cortisone from the beginning to get her back to normal, and planned to taper it off till we were on a dose and skipping a day like we did for the previous two weeks, but the smallest dose would be slightly higher than the one she had just finished to try and maintain her “normal”.
It was amazing… A month before we thought we were about to say goodbye to her!

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On the last day of her smallest Cortisone dose (on the second course) where we were skipping a day between pills, our sweet Louise was not herself… The Cortisone worked but soon as we reduced the dose she started to decline again. On Friday and Saturday morning she didn’t eat her breakfast – a very bad sign for greedy Louise.😦 She was also very miserable, not wagging her tail or coming when you call her without real coaxing, and she’d lost weight fast, just in the last week. Thankfully she has not been in any pain, just uncomfortable.

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We went back to the vet this morning, and he could feel another large growth in her abdomen. With the speed they are forming there was no way we could make her feel better, not without daily shots and pain meds, so today was the day.
Our sweet, silly, always-looking-for-a-cuddle Louise crossed the rainbow bridge while I held her and whispered in her ear.
😥
I will miss you my sweet little stupid.

Forty Weeks With Nimble

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Our little girl, our Nimble, has been with us for 40 weeks (last Friday), and in a week she will be eleven months old! She weighed a smidge under 30kg on the vet’s scale this morning, and she’s 54cm tall at the shoulder.

She spent some time at GDA’s kennels this month, and this is an important part of her puppy raising so that when she starts her formal training she’s familiar with the smells and the routine – this reduces any stress she might experience. She had several outings with our Puppy Development Supervisors while she was there.

She had great fun, and she was very glad to come home.

Nimble has the funniest habit of sleeping with either her head, or her bum on one of the dog beds (‘scuse the tear in the cover above – they all need repairs), she starts out on the bed, and gradually stretches and rolls in her sleep till she’s almost on the floor!😀

Nimble loves napping in the bath! We seldom bath, preferring to shower, so the bath is usually dry so no muddy footprints – and she’s decided it’s the coolest place to snooze!

If there’s a towel on the bathroom floor, which we use instead of bathmats, she scrunches it up and uses it as a pillow!😛

Nimble is so much more relaxed in the car lately, sometimes even falling asleep!

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Check out my Facebook page for regular puppy updates: A Pup’s Life

Thirty Six Weeks With Nimble

Lookit her little white spot on her chin! Picture by GDA’s Gail Glover

Our “little girl” is almost 10 months old! She weighs just over 30kg and she’s admired wherever she goes!
She’s jet black, with a slightly longer coat than a Lab thanks to her Golden Retriever mommy, and she’s beautifully proportioned.

After a walk at Woodmead, chilling in the shade with some water

Nimble doing the treat challenge!

She’s smart, and lovable, and big for a female Lab.
She loves jumping into and out of the car, and likes to look out the window when we’re going somewhere.

In the car on the sexy new car seat cover

Relaxing in the car more and more

Focused on mommy on an outing

The armrest makes a handy headrest!

Nimble takes the towels from the bathroom floor (we don’t use bathmats) and uses them as pillows.

Nimble and I visited a nursery school with a few other GDA puppies a few weeks ago – Sawyer, Tanner and Whyla. Nimble was very well behaved, and the visit went very well with the older kiddies coming for cuddles with the puppies.

This week Nimble is staying over at GDA’s kennels – an important part of the puppy’s first year so that when they start their formal training the people, and smells, and routines are not completely strange to them, which can cause stress. She’ll be home for the weekend, and then she’ll be back next week for another stay. While she’s there our Puppy Development Supervisor will also be working on her dog distraction issues with dogs barking at her from behind gates.

Nimble in training with our Puppy Development Supervisor, a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor, and Guide-Dog-in-training Juliet.

She likes the cushions, but usually sleeps on the floor!

And even when she is on a cushion – her head is on the floor!

Her daddy had a bath, and as we rather shower than bath, it needed to be investigated!

Bath time for Nimble, the corner bath makes it so much easier!

Asleep with her her on the floor, as usual!

Mud…? What mud?

Nimble on the scale at the vet, 42 weeks old.

Nimble’s new favourite nap spot – in the bath!

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Our Patrick Has Qualified!

Getting the email from SA Guide-Dogs, that your puppy’s training is complete, and that he will be going “on class” to meet and then train with his new owner is a happy-sad time for a puppy raiser…

 

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And yesterday was the day all puppy raisers look forward to.
We got to see our Patrick show off his months of formal Guide Dog training with his new partner, by walking down a public street in Parkview, in his Guide Dog harness – navigating stop streets, a traffic circle, pedestrians, open shop doors, other Guide Dogs doing the same walk, and restaurant tables on a sidewalk. All whilst we were dead quiet and staying out of sight as much as possible on the opposite side of the street.
It was so wonderful.😛

Unfortunately, our car broke down on the way to GDA for the cake and tea meet-n-greet with Patrick and his new owner, so I was on my own while my poor Glugster stayed with our immobile car waiting for a tow.😦
Patrick is his new owner-partner’s third Guide Dog, and our super snuggly Patrick is very happy with his new owner, eagerly looking to him for praise when he completes an instruction.
He’s a really nice guy, and Patrick was very happy to see me, and when my husband got a working car he came to pick me up at GDA and got to meet him too.

We were given a framed portrait of Patrick- wearing his harness and posing with his new partner- to hang on our wall at home, alongside the portraits of Volt and Lennox (unfortunately we don’t have these kinds of portraits of Kenzo, Rhody, or Wendel).

It was such an incredible experience and I didn’t cry all afternoon – but the more I look at the pictures and the more I think of what our boy has achieved the bigger the lump in my throat gets!

 

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I have these “charms” on my handbag- a hook with keepsakes on it – a little pink diving fin from my son, and the name tags from our kitties who have gone over the rainbow bridge. I also have the name tags from our Guide Dog puppies who have graduated, and when I got the call that Patrick was going “on class” I added his tag.

Currently we are raising Guide-Dog-puppy Nimble, and in a few months she will be returned to GDA as a one-year-old pup, and then we’ll start all over again!

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Nimble Is Eight Months Old!

She’s 36 weeks old, and she weighed 29.8kg on the vet’s scale.

It was a hot Christmas, and we had a full house too! Guide-Dog-in-training Patrick got to come home for a bit of a holiday, and my parents’ dog Topolino (a fox terrier cross) came to live with us as he kept killing my brother-in-law’s prize chickens.

 

 

 

Nimble and the other dogs enjoyed the cool of our air conditioned bedroom and the tiled bathroom, and Nimble likes sleeping in the shower – especially when it’s damp!

  

 

She’s far more relaxed in the car – in the front footwell and on the back seat, sometimes even falling asleep.

We had a training outing with a few other puppies in early January, and Nimble did very well in the mall we visited. After the walk we popped in at the Wimpy for a cooldrink and the puppies were all very well behaved.

And just ‘coz it’s so cute, here’s a picture of Nimble and her favourite playmate Patrick.

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You can find SA Guide-dogs for the Blind on Facebook and on Twitter
Check out my Facebook page for regular puppy updates: A Pup’s Life

Nimble Is Seven Months Old!

She weighed 27.25kg on the vet’s scale on Monday morning – an 800g gain on last week!

It was another really hot week, so we didn’t go out a lot – the car turns into an oven if it’s parked anywhere in the sun for more than a few minutes. We had one VERY busy day, we started at PartySpot, popped in at Makro – and left soon afterwards because it was SOO busy, then we stopped for fuel, drove to Kadies, and then popped in at Pick n Pay before heading home. Nimble was an absolute superstar, despite the heat and the crowds!
We had one really fun outing too, at another puppy raiser’s house. Nimble joined GDA puppies Purdy, little Sterling, Ivy, Juliet, Kendall and Lego, and a few non-GDA dogs and they had a wonderful time in a puppy pool – though Nimble preferred a smaller shallower pool to the big one, and they got to see sheep, chickens and cows.
The dogs had a ball, and I got a sunburn, and Nimble was quite exhausted afterwards!

She’s definitely well into her adolescent phase, not responding to her name when she’s outside, barking at new noises, digging holes in the garden (with our Penny’s encouragement and assistance), and jumping on the bed!

She’s far more relaxed in the car – in the front footwell and on the back seat, sometimes even falling asleep.

And here is a little Nimble cuteness for you.

chewing on the 4Eva ball

we don’t put the loo paper on the roller ‘coz our cats unroll it every time – and this toilet roll fell on the floor

keeping me company while I bake

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You can find SA Guide-dogs for the Blind on Facebook and on Twitter
Check out my Facebook page for regular puppy updates: A Pup’s Life

Twenty Two Weeks With Nimble

She’s almost 29 weeks old, and on Monday she weighed 25.65kg.

We had a nice training walk last week, at a small mall with a few other puppies, and Nimble was very well behaved. We rode in an elevator, and climbed an enclosed staircase, an open staircase, and a spiral staircase!

We had a few new experiences at home for her too – we had a handyman come to fix a leak in our roof, so having men up on ladders and on the roof was an interesting thing for Nimble to see, and we had a plumber come around for his “annual” visit – we have a pipe that gets blocked by tree roots at least once a year. The plumbers working was very interesting to nimble, with the metal drain “snake” and the noise they were making.
Nimble was curious but not afraid of any of it.

She’s definitely into her adolescent phase at almost 7 months old, barking at new noises and digging holes in the garden!

She’s much happier in the car- in the front footwell and on the back seat though she is still not completely relaxed.

And here is a little Nimble cuteness for you.

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You can find SA Guide-dogs for the Blind on Facebook and on Twitter
Check out my Facebook page for regular puppy updates: A Pup’s Life
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