Author Archives: Angel

Forty Six Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Our puppy Riggs is a whole year old already!

I can hardly believe he is already one!
Here he is the day we brought him home at 7 weeks old, and at 52 weeks old, the day before his first birthday!

He’s a big boy – weighing in at 37.5kg on the morning of his birthday.

November 2017

December 2017

January 2018

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Thirty Six Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Goodness! Its been weeks since I last updated Riggs’s progress here!

Riggs is 43 weeks old, he weighs a whopping 36.7kg, and he’s tall – a big boy even for a Lab!


We continue to work on the lessons from our weekly clicker class, and these are so much fun!
Riggs has mastered these cues:
SIT                    STAY                   DOWN
UP SIT                   STAND                   WATCH
TOUCH (Riggs loves this one)                   STOP
THROUGH                    STEADY (slow down)
LEAVE IT                    HUP HUP (go faster)
And his recall and loose-leash-walking is very good.
The following cues are not part of a Guide Dog’s training per se, but it builds confidence in the pups:
ROLL OVER                   CRAWL
SIT PRETTY (sitting up with his front feet raised)
UP (stepping up onto a box with his front feet)
MY LAP (putting his front legs and chest across my thighs when I am seated)
Last week there was an “Open Day” at GDA, the Puppy Raising Supervisors set up stations at the JHB training centre where the pups and puppy raisers are faced with different challenges and obstacles, and the Puppy Raising Supervisors and Trainers observe the pups in each situation, and provide assistance for how to move forward in a pup’s learning. Last week was also the first time the brand new GDA Obstacle Course was used! There were LOADS of puppies, big and small, and we had several new Puppy Raisers join us to see what its about which makes it fun for the Puppy Raisers to chat! Riggs’s sister Raffi was there too – they are so similar! After starting with walking in two big circles and some obedience work, there were 6 stations for the pups to go through:
● The Obstacle Course – the pups had to go over-through-onto all kinds of different items, and Riggs LOVED it! I wish I could get a video!
● The Different Dogs Station – the pups got to see and meet a Great Dane and a couple of Yorkies.
● The Obedience Station – we each had to pick three challenges out of a bucket to complete with our pup.
● The Little Kids on a Blanket Station – the pups had to ignore the children, the toys, and the food.
● The Big Umbrella Station – a beach umbrella was opened and closed, and the trainer walked around the pup with the umbrella open.

And a “Grooming Station”, where the pups are brushed a bit, their ears get looked at, they get handled a bit, and their nails are checked and clipped a little to see how they react. Riggs thought the grooming station was set up just for him and he lay there like he was in a spa!

We have had many outings with Riggs of course, and Riggs is quite the professional at being out in public. Restaurants, schools, retirement villages, shopping malls

I like using staircases to practise SIT-STAY with Riggs.


And just ‘coz he’s cute, here are some more pictures of our Riggs – he loves to play with his chew toys while lying on his back!

Riggs twists himself into a pretzel when he sleeps, ❤ and he loves to bring toys and try to tempt us to take them from him!

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Twenty Six Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Riggs is 33 weeks old and he weighed a whopping 33.4kg on the vet scale!


We continue to work on the lessons from our weekly clicker class at home (I will try and get pictures at home), and these are so much fun!
SIT                    STAY                   DOWN
UP SIT                   STAND                   WATCH
TOUCH (Riggs loves this one)                   STOP
ROLL OVER                   CRAWL                   THROUGH
STEADY (slow down)                   HUP HUP (go faster)
SIT PRETTY (sitting up with his front feet raised)
UP (stepping up onto a box with his front feet)
Loose Leash Walking                   Recall

We had a few outings with Riggs besides our usual shopping trips – one night we went to RocoMamas for supper and Riggs went straight to sleep.

We were also at GDA for a graduation ceremony – Service Dog Zorro and our friend Kelby (check out My Hero Has Paws), and then a long car ride to spend the afternoon with family. Here he is on his towel at GDA and at my inlaws house.


Last week at GDA there was an Open Day – the Puppy Raising Supervisors set up stations at their training centre where the pups and puppy raisers are faced with different challenges and obstacles, and the Puppy Raising Supervisors and Trainers observe the pups in each situation, and provide assistance for how to move forward in a pup’s learning. Before the training started, Riggs and Lyric (she’s a bit older than Riggs and much faster) had a few minutes to play in one of the free-run areas.
One of the challenges was for the pups to get into and out of the van used by the trainers when they take their dogs out every day. Riggs happily jumped into and out of the van, calmly waited while the door was closed, and then did a beautiful SIT STAY while the truck idled.  Then he hopped back in when the exercise was over to check if there were more treats to be had!  They also had ponies in one area for the pups to see and smell! This challenge is not for the pups to interact with the ponies, but to be able to see them and calmly walk past them – at a fair distance. Riggs has seen horses before, and they made him a little jumpy – but he did well enough yesterday to please our Supervisor. 

And just ‘coz he’s cute, here are some more pictures of our Riggs!

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Twenty Five Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Riggs is 32 weeks old!
He loves to sleep with the top of his head pressed against a wall or the side of his crate. He loves to play and will fetch a toy and try to get me or the other dogs to try and take it from him.
He loves his food and his training treats.

We’re still attending a weekly clicker class with an instructor at GDA, and these are so much fun! Each week is different, and really tiring – for me and for Riggs! Riggs is doing really well. He loves to learn, and we do a lot of SIT-STAY and DOWN-STAY work (Guide Dog puppies have to master a 5 minute STAY when they get to their formal training). We continue to work on the cues we have already learned:
SIT                    STAY
DOWN                    UP SIT
STAND                    WATCH
TOUCH (Riggs loves this one)                    STOP
loose leash walking                    recall
STEADY (slow down)                    HUP HUP (go faster)
We also have several other cues we practise to build our dog’s confidence and focus, and eagerness to train, so we now include:
ROLL OVER                    CRAWL
THROUGH
SIT PRETTY (sitting up with his front feet raised)
UP (stepping up onto a box with his front feet)
We combine the cues with physical obstacles – using a hula hoop in combination with the THROUGH cue, and using cones with the WATCH cue to walk our pup off-lead. It is challenging and SO rewarding!

Riggs and his brother Ringo had their first full-day kennel stay together at GDA last week – 9am to 4pm. They did so well, happily playing and napping.

We were away last weekend, so Riggs went home with his brother Ringo for a few days. Riggs was quite worn out when he came home from his 5-day stay with two other Labs and a Beagle! Thank you to Ringo’s mommy for the care and the photos!

On Tuesday morning Riggs and I had a training outing with our Puppy Raising Supervisor at Bartlett Park. I’d never been there before, but the place is full of bunnies, dassies, and guinea fowl, and a real challenge for a dog. Riggs did so well – I was so proud! We walked up and down the road with cars, bikes and people passing by, and we walked up and down heading towards the area where the bunnies and dassies are concentrated. There’s lots of poop, and interesting smells, and the dassies dart about whilst the bunnies tend to lie in the shade. Riggs did all his obedience cues when told to, and whilst he saw the bunnies and the dassies, and a guinea fowl, he didn’t try to chase any of them!
It was super hot in the car today though, so as soon as he had a good long drink of cold water I turned the aircon up full blast and we went straight home!

I’m bragging a little here – this is proof positive of our puppy learning that human food is not for him!

Riggs is a pretzel-sleeper, just like his mommy!

Five minutes before we had to leave for class – he came in from playing outside and he was filthy and so pleased with himself! 😀

Lyric and Riggs has a run around in a free-run at GDA after clicker class last week. 🙂

My new favourite picture of our Riggs! ❤

And just ‘coz he’s cute, here are some more pictures of our Riggs!

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Twenty Three Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Our gorgeous Riggs is 30 weeks old and he weighed in at 31.75kg on the vet’s scale on Friday.
He’s a big boy with a big bone structure – isn’t he gorgeous!

We’ve been attending clicker classes with an instructor at GDA, which are great fun and super tiring – for me and for Riggs! 😀 Our trainer is very strict on having the right attitude and the right shoes and being present in class – for you and for your dog – and its strictly no phones, so no pictures! 😛 Riggs is doing so well too. He loves to learn, and we do a lot of SIT STAY and DOWN STAY work (Guide Dog puppies have to master a 5 minute STAY when they get to their formal training). We work on the cues we have already learned – SIT, STAY, DOWN, UP SIT, STAND, TOUCH, WATCH, loose leash walking, and recall, and we also have several other cues we practise to build our dog’s confidence and focus, so we now include ROLL OVER, SIT PRETTY (sitting up on his bum with his front feet up – he’s not quite sure of this one but we’re getting there), CRAWL, and UP. The classes are great for the pups as the other pups in class serve as a distraction they have to learn to ignore.

Last weekend, my husband and I and Riggs went through to the other side of Pretoria for a Cake Decorating Contest.
It was a good 40 minute drive to get there, and we were there all day! Riggs was an absolute superstar! There were lots of people, several children, we were seated in rows of chairs so we had to walk between people, and there was applause and music, and loads of people greeted and spoke to him through the day, and Riggs didn’t bark or whine once! He even watched the kids jumping on a jumping castle and ignored them!

Riggs and his brother Ringo have also had a couple of four-hour kennels stays together at GDA, we are slowly building up to a full day visit and then an overnight stay or two, so that when he goes in to be castrated, and has to stay till his stitches come out, he won’t be stressed and unhappy. As always they had a ball (thanks to Ringo’s mom for the picture of the two of them). When we drop the pups off we don’t say goodbye or make a fuss, and we go back and spy on them to see how they are doing without us. Riggs doesn’t even get particularly excited to see me when I fetch him which is great! The other picture is on our way to kennels, his head was on the back of my chair and I could feel his breath on my neck! 😀

Isn’t he just the cutest puppy ever! When he’s been napping and he’s wants to play, or he gets bored, he brings me a toy, wagging his tail furiously and nose-bumping me! 😀 Here he is chilling after a clicker training session at home, and a run around the garden.

What happened to our little puppy! He’s such a grown up dog!

And just ‘coz he’s cute, here are some more pictures of our Riggs!

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Twenty One Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Riggs is 28 weeks old and he weighed in at 30.5kg on the vet’s scale.

He’s such a gorgeous dog!
We’ve had a few outings, as usual, but we had no clicker class this week as Riggs had a bit of kennel cough – so we can’t join other puppy groups until he is completely well.

Riggs has become a regular member of the upside down club!

Isn’t he just the cutest puppy ever! Look at those puppy eyes! When he’s been napping and he’s wants to play, or he gets bored, he brings me a toy, wagging his tail furiously and nose-bumping me! 😀

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Twenty Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Riggs is 27 weeks old and he weighed in at 30.15kg on the vet’s scale! Isn’t he just too gorgeous!

He’s six months old now, so he no longer gets a puppy lunch. It took him a few days to get used to the new routine – but he gets plenty of treats during the day with his training sessions.

  

We’ve had a few outings, of course, he goes wherever I go!
We went on a training outing with his brother Ringo to Montecasino, starting with a walk across the road from the Pineslopes Shopping Centre. Both pups were so well behaved, walking quietly alongside each other and through the mall, which was nice and quiet on a Wednesday morning. We chatted to a few people along the way, checked out the bowling alley and the arcade, had a good look at a fountain and encountered statues and bicycles and motorcycles all over the place, and although both pups were a little spooked by a bright yellow “wet floor” sign when we arrived, we were able to get them to approach the board and see that it wasn’t scary – and when we came across LOADS more of them inside the mall they completely ignored them. We chatted to security guards, and climbed a few different kinds of staircases, and got to experience some road traffic with our walk to and from Monte from Pineslopes.

We had a bit of a rocky start to our recent Mall of Africa visit. Despite Riggs wearing his jacket, and we Puppy Raisers having pre-arranged access for Guide Dog puppies with the mall management (since it opened), Riggs and I were still escorted to the security office because DOGS AREN’T ALLOWED! I admit – I got VERY annoyed. The rest of our visit was pleasant. Riggs was good as gold in the lifts, and snoozed under the table in the Spur. There was an antiques fair on too, and we walked around the stalls – not going in to any of them so as not to risk accidentally knocking over some expensive knickknack. 

 

Our recent visit to OR Tambo was amazing – we were waiting for our son to come home and his plane was delayed by almost three hours! Riggs was a total super star! We practised his SIT-STAY in front of the international arrival gate, and he napped under my chair.  We found a lovely little lawn and flowerbeds across the street outside the arrivals where Riggs could go for a busy. And we walked around the parking lot, rode some elevators, climbed some stairs, and saw lots of strange people. He did so well with the noises and the crowds!
It always amazes me that we can visit ORT with a Guide Dog puppy any time, without any drama, but a supermarket or a mall won’t let us in! 

 

 

Here are some pictures for you of a sleeping Riggs! In our car on the backseat he has a doggy-hammock. Recently, in a friends’ car, he fell asleep sitting up and didn’t even wake when the dog food bags fell over on him when we turned a corner! Lately he has taken to sleeping on his back occasionally, too. 🙂

  

We are attending a clicker class at GDA once a week (sometimes twice), and before class the pups get to have a free-run for 5 minutes – we don’t want them worn out, we just want them to burn off some energy. They have so much fun! And the clicker class wears them out too!

  

Riggs loves his toys!

Isn’t he just the cutest puppy ever! Look at those puppy eyes!

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Seventeen Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Riggs is 24 weeks old and he weighed a whopping 26.6kg on the vet’s scale! Isn’t he gorgeous!
He’s now getting 240g Bob Martin puppy kibble three times a day – but as soon as he is 6 months old he will only be fed twice a day. He’s going to miss his lunches! 😛

  

We’ve had a few outings, of course – he goes wherever I go! 🙂 The first two pictures are from a GDA fundraising outing to The Square at Sunninghill where Riggs was so well behaved. The bottom picture was from a little coffee shop called Lulu where we had breakfast. We had such a lovely outing to Fourways Crossing on Wednesday morning with puppies-in-training Usko (16 weeks) and Lyric (10 months) and I didn’t take any pictures!!  We also attended a clicker class and added a few things to our clicker training to keep Riggs in top form. 🙂

   

Just look how Riggs has grown! Thats the same cushion and the same blanket in the first picture!

Riggs is so funny! He’s not allowed on the furniture, but every now and then he will try his luck like this – with his front legs and chest on the bed as he chews on a toy – until someone sees him and says “OFF”.

Riggs and his “big brother” Riddick play so nicely together – with typical Labbie wrestling and “bitey face”. And if Riddick is tired Riggs literally chews a toy on top of him!

Isn’t he a gorgeous boy!
He walks so beautifully on lead when we are out, and he knows the obedience cues he has been taught. He is so clever and he loves to learn.

Here’s Riggs (in the middle) with “big sister” Penny on the left and “big brother” Riddick on the right, waiting for yummy treats!

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He Swallows What He Chews On!

He’s only 5 and a bit… But I swear I could write a book about our Riddick! :D If Riddick is chewing on something, he swallows it while he’s busy. He clearly has no gag reflex!
When he was a puppy, I was often woken in the wee hours of the morning by him puking up a sock. And I can’t tell you how many times he pooped a sock. I was baffled! I did everything I could to make sure we left no clothing lying around, but still it continued and I was terrified a sock was going to get stuck!
I made it my mission to work it out and discovered that one of my cats would “hunt” socks out of our cupboards, drawers, and washing baskets, and leave them lying around the house, where Riddick would find them and chew on them, swallowing as he did so! We managed to put a stop to it without a sock getting stuck!
He also ate and puked or pooped out plastic packets, a couple of dishtowels, the drawstring from a pair of my husband’s shorts, and a couple of pairs of my knickers.
And he’s FAST!
Before he was 5 months old (2012), I had to take him to the vet when he threw up paintballs! You know the ones used in the shooting game? He’d found them in my son’s bedroom and swallowed a whole lot! He threw up a few times and I counted about 50 paintballs when I phoned the vet, who assured me that paintballs are non-toxic and that if he’d thrown them all up he’d have an upset stomach but should be fine. I told them I was a little worried about his ever expanding stomach and how much water he was drinking and that I didn’t know how many paintballs he swallowed! They suggested I take him in and off we went. Riddick was very uncomfortable and whiny, and once we were there the vet agreed that he looked like he’d swallowed a basket ball and they’d best help him out. They gave him a shot to make him throw up and about half an hour later they figured he was “empty”, and gave him another shot to stop him puking. Seems he swallowed 100 to 150 paintballs! He was exhausted! The vet was confident he’d be fine and said I must keep his food and water intake to a minimum to avoid more puking, and that he would have a very runny tummy for a day or so.
The next morning he was a hundred percent back to normal thank goodness, and his adventure earned him a spot on dogshaming.com! :D
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About a year later (2013), we had moved to a different house, and it was like the previous tenants had used the garden as a tip and I was working daily to pick up rubbish, and the dogs kept unearthing more!
One Monday morning Riddick started throwing up, but it was like he had no control – he didn’t even retch, it just came pouring out of his mouth and he was restless and pacing. We headed to the vet immediately. They kept him overnight and could find nothing on the xrays, but bloodtests showed he wasn’t sick, so on the Tuesday they did surgery to look for an obstruction. They found a ball of disgusting old rag about the size of a grapefruit at the point where the large and small intestine meet, with a wad of grass and leaves he’d been eating because he wasn’t feeling well. Thankfully they managed to gently move the blockage down his large intestine without actually cutting it open, but he had a long cut down the length of his tummy. Parts of his small intestine were inflamed by the passage of the rag, but not necrotic so not needing to be removed. They kept him for 48 hours to make sure the inflammation didn’t become infected and to make sure he could eat and busy before we could bring him home.
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It goes without saying that I have watched him very closely ever since! His latest adventure though, took him less than 5 minutes!
I took Riddick to the vet – he’s stronger every day but his sugar is wrong and he’s lost weight. Guide Dog Puppy Riggs went with me. I put both of them back in the car afterwards, with their leads still on (I usually unclip them) and went back inside to pay. Took maybe 5 minutes. I got home, and this is all I could find of Riddick’s lead.  I wasn’t sure which one of them ate it, but it was probably Riddick, and I couldn’t go back to the vet ‘coz the car packed in as I got home. I spent the next few days watching and waiting for them to pass it and praying for no obstruction!
Riddick pooped it out in bits and I am pretty sure its all out, and he’s completely normal.
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Oy.
Stomachs of iron indeed.

Sixteen Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Riggs is 23 weeks old already (I forgot to do his 22 week update post)!
This morning he weighed a whopping 25.6kg on the vet’s scale – he’s going to be a big dog!

Isn’t he gorgeous!

Riggs and I got this really cool certificate from GDA for finishing Puppy Club!

 

It looks like all his baby teeth have gone and his grown up teeth are growing fast. I must be honest – he has a “hard mouth” (he snatches) and I have to tell him to take things gently, and I will not miss those puppy needles!

  

We’ve had a few outings, of course – he goes wherever I go! These pictures are from a GDA fundraising outing to Keith Kirsten, and a trip to Makro where Riggs was a STAR in the long queue!  And our Riddick and Riggs went with us when we went to visit family for a birthday party, and this time I remembered to take their beds with us! It makes such a difference to help them settle somewhere if they have something of their own.

This is Riggs’s new favourite nap spot when he’s not in his crate – next to my bed.

 

 

Riggs is such a pretzel puppy! He rarely sleeps on his back like most of my labs have done, but he loves twisting himself into strange positions when he sleeps, and he loves to squish his head into a corner!

 

 

Riggs is too funny – he tries very hard to get Riddick to play with him, and if he doesn’t, he literally chews a toy on top of him! And if Riddick is on my bed (he’s allowed), he will chew a toy on my foot instead! 😀 And he does love to play! He loves to bring you a toy and as soon as you try to take it he dodges you, and he does love to play a version of “fetch” where you throw the toy once he has decided to let go. 🙂 He also loves to carry and chew on the 4eva ball – but we don’t throw it for him as Guide Dog pups are not permitted to chase a ball or a frisbee. 😛

 

Lessons a Guide Dog pup needs to learn – not to go barreling through a door as soon as it is opened (in or out), and not to go flying out of the car until the LETS GO cue is given! 😀

  

And just ‘coz he’s so gorgeous, here are a couple of pictures of our beautiful boy!

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