Author Archives: BeingAngel

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.

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

Twenty Weeks With Nimble

Isn’t she beautiful!

She’s 27 weeks old, and she weighed in at 25.45kg on the vet’s scale this morning
She’s eating 270g of Bob Martin puppy food twice a day, and she finishes all her food in one go without choking herself or gulping it down.

We had a bit of a training outing last week with our Puppy Development Supervisor at the kid’s party venue we’ve been to – the one with a little farmyard. Puppies Paige and Purdy joined us and they had a wonderful time.
Nimble was a little wary when we walked in the gate, but she remembered she’s been there before and I think she would happily have jumped into the enclosure to play with the donkey. Then we went for a little walk and our Puppy Development Supervisor is very happy with her progress, even her dog distraction is minor.

We visited a nursery school with several other puppies-in-training where we spoke to the preschoolers about puppy raising and Guide Dogs.

We also went on a couple of training walks at the malls near us. We went on one walk with a little yellow Lab named Scotty, and we did another walk at a different mall with black Lab Annie (remember she stayed with us for a while) where Nimble and Annie got to try out a kiddy’s jungle gym – neither of them hesitating to climb the steps and go down the slide!

Our training sessions are going well, and she responds really well to the clicker. We are working on food distraction – she is learning to ignore treats I drop on the floor while I prepare the treat pouch for our training sessions.

She experienced her first real rain storm too, and she loved it!


And here’s some Nimble cuteness, just because!

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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

Nineteen Weeks With Nimble

She’ll be 26 weeks old on Sunday, she weighed in at 24.2kg on the vet’s scale this morning, and she’s 52cm tall at the shoulder.
She’s eating 250g of Bob Martin puppy food twice a day, and she finishes all her food in one go without choking herself or gulping it down.

She’s happily jumping into and out of the car, the front footwell and the back seat, and whilst she is still not sleeping in the car – not completely relaxed – there’s no more “whale-eye”, and she no longer looks as if she REALLY wants out.

With the heat we’ve experienced in the last couple of weeks, we haven’t gone out a lot. Nimble has a longer than average coat, thanks to her Golden Retriever mom, and she gets really hot – moving into the shade every chance she gets. And hot tar or paving is no joke on bare puppy feet.
We visit out usual shops – Pick n Pay, Clicks, Kadies, Checkers – and whilst she is tempted to greet the children she sees, she listens when I tell her to “leave it”.
She is also definitely showing signs of entering her adolescent phase – she’s not a barker unless she gets really excited during a game, she has started to jump up on people who greet her, and she displaying some selective hearing at times, luckily SA Guide-dogs told us about this stage of puppy raising.
😀
Our training sessions are going well, and she responds really well to the clicker. We work on STAY, SIT, DOWN, WATCH, STAND, SIT-STAY, DOWN-STAY in our sessions, and we work on food distraction- she is learning to ignore treats I drop on the floor while I prepare the treat pouch for our training sessions.
We continue to work on loose-leash walking and dog distraction, but as with our other pups this is something I battle with. 😦 I am trying the exercises our Puppy Development Supervisor showed me, and when she’s wearing her Gentle Leader she’s a star.

And here’s some Nimble cuteness, just because!

snoozing in her crate

😀 caught her red, er… pawed?

cool bathroom tiles

HOT DOG!

“Please can I stay outside… It’s so much cooler in the sand!”

pretty girl, no more puppy in that face

trying to convince Penny to play with her

a damp towel on the bathroom tiles is perfect in the heat

Our garden is so dry and dusty with no rain and water restrictions, so wherever the dogs sleep they leave dusty patches on the floor. This is Nimble’s favourite corner.

It’s funny to visit the vet!

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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

It’s Been A Year With Patrick

If you remember, Patrick joined our family when he was already 37 weeks old, so we didn’t have any puppy pictures – and his first mommy very kindly sent us a few, and by pure fluke – we also gave Patrick a red collar!

He’s been part of our family for a year now!

Was he cute or what!!

And here are some recent pictures of our boy, who has now been in training for 6 months. He is still a wonderfully affectionate and lovable dog, and he’s happiest if his bed is right next to mine so he can rest his head on my knee or on my mattress.
He still loves riding in the car, and recently discovered a new use for the armrest in our car!

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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

Fourteen Weeks With Nimble

Nimble is 21 weeks old, eating 210g of Bob Martin puppy food three times a day, and she weighed 21.05kg on the vet’s scale.

Puppy class last week was a group training walk around Brightwater Commons, with Nimble, Nutella, Pippa, Opal, Oliver and Olga. We did some obedience work, rode in a lift, had an up-close look at a Segway, looked down from the upper level, walked over the metal plate at the top of the escalators, climbed stairs, and got to watch some skateboarders do their thing. Then we headed for the parking lot where they drank water and relaxed in the shade of the GDA vehicle on the damp paving for a bit.
I was so proud of our Nimble! It was our first proper training walk with her wearing the Gentle Leader and she was an absolute superstar! Our Puppy Development Supervisor was very pleased with how she’s doing with it. We’ve been working on her putting it on and taking it off, and getting used to wearing it, but we hadn’t been for a proper walk yet and I was worried she’d spend all her time trying to get it off! By the time we went to get water and head home she was quite relaxed.
We also had our usual shopping trips, including one to Makro where she saw one of their forklifts in action for the first time! She barked at it a little, so we did some obedience exercises until she was calm again and then we left.
And this week was our last puppy class, with a short presentation from GDA’s Executive Director, Gail Glover. The puppies played in kennels while we had cookies and listened to Gail, so Nimble was sopping wet- of course- when I fetched her!

Nimble and I and another puppy raiser also assisted GDA at an event hosted by the Nationa Accommodation Association, where they received a couple of donations and got to meet quite a few new people.

 

We spent time last weekend at the Hobby-X expo with Patrick and Nimble, and they were both very well behaved. At one point, Nimble took a nap with her head in the water bowl she had just emptied! After three hours though, Nimble decided there was no way she was going to wear the Gentle Leader anymore, so we headed home.

 

Nimble’s big-girl teeth are fast replacing her puppy teeth. I’ve also replaced her puppy collar with her big-girl collar! She’s growing so fast!

Car travel is okay, she’s still not completely relaxed, but we have made progress, and she’s definitely happier if I put a cover of some sort over the footwell – typically a towel draped from the dashboard to the front seat. The one day we were driving home from somewhere – I forget where exactly – and it was so very hot I let her travel home on the back seat as we weren’t going far, with the air con going full ball. She seems much happier there but she’s not yet allowed to travel there on a regular basis. And coming home from Hobby-X, she and Patrick were together in the backseat, also because of the sweltering heat and it being a short ride, and I blasted the air con for all our benefits.
Over the weekend we spent a lot of time in the car, visiting my folks and my inlaws, and she’s fine on longer trips even though she doesn’t chill out completely.

    

And now, for your enjoyment, here is some mud-loving Nimble cuteness!

Patrick (red collar) and Nimble on the cool bathroom floor

A perfect muddy print of her chest and forelegs… On my bed!

she made confetti!

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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

Our Poor Twister…

On September 10th, we got the results of our Twister’s urinalysis after he spent the day at the vet.
Despite recent vet visits and shots, he was still peeing on the dog’s beds instead of in the litterboxes. He had crystals in his urine, so we switched him to a special food, which would stop the crystals forming, and then clear it up in a couple of weeks.
He has to stay on this special diet to prevent the crystals recurring.

Its now more than three weeks later and Twister is STILL peeing on the dog’s beds – if I leave them on the floor – and he’s spraying my walls and curtains, and worst of all he’s spraying US!!
I’ve never heard of anyone’s cats actually spraying his people!

😥

My poor twisted kitten is now shut into my shower, as I can keep the door shut and the smooth glass sides means he can’t get out. He has a blanket, a litterbox, water and toys, and I am REALLY hoping this will, for lack of a better word, force him to use the litterbox again…

It breaks my heart to listen to him calling, ‘coz he doesn’t know what’s going on… But I have to stop him peeing everywhere.
He’s pooping in the litterboxes, but he’s also spending most of his time lying in the doorway to the bathroom where the litterboxes are – which means the other cats won’t go past him to get inside and now Magic has started peeing in my potplants!!!

😦

I don’t know what to do anymore…

Ten Weeks With Nimble

Wow, how time flies!

She’s 17 weeks old, and she weighed in at 17.7kg on the scale at GDA during puppy class (no picture of her on the scale).
She’s now eating 170g of Bob Martin puppy food three times a day, and I think she has a beautiful build. She’s still so soft, and the hair on her back and her ears is ever so slightly curly, and she has a cute little curl on the end of her tail.
She is SO clever! And such a live wire!
And we’ve swopped her “small” puppy jacket for a “medium”! 🙂
Our training sessions are going well, she responds really well to the clicker, and we’ve added STAY to our SIT, DOWN, WATCH, and STAND commands.
We’re working on loose-leash walking, but as with our other pups this is something I battle with. Our Puppy Development Supervisor showed us another exercise during puppy class today that we can use so I’m going to try that now as well.
We also have to do more work on her recall, which I thought was going great but seems to have slipped a bit…
At puppy class this week, we started with the circle as always, talking about how the pups are progressing in their training, and then the pups spent a few minutes in kennels with a sibling or two – Nimble and Nutella were together – while were all out of sight, and then they went to the GDA scale for a weigh-in.

puppy circle

heading to kennels for playtime and a weigh-in

post-puppy class water trough mash-up!

Our car work has improved her apparent fear of overhead shadows a bit, but she’s still giving me the whale eye on occasion. Putting a towel over the footwell as a screen between her and the window has helped her relax in the car so we’re going to continue doing that.

We had the usual shopping trips and car rides in the week, and on Sunday we visited the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens for the Sasol Bird Fair. I arranged access for Nimble in the days before we went, and she was a hit.
A few people told me dogs weren’t allowed in the park, a security guard and a guy from SANBI stopped us and asked why she was there, and a few people asked if they would be allowed to bring their dogs, and as I normally do – I explained that she’s a Guide Dog Puppy, which is why she wears the blue jacket, and that I had arranged permission for her to accompany us.
She was as good as gold and we walked all OVER the park! The kids were tickled pink by how she drank from the water fountain the same way they did!
By the time we left she was pooped and she slept all afternoon.

worn out after walking all over the botanical gardens

sitting good and quiet in the Clicks pharmacy

And now, for your enjoyment, here is some Nimble cuteness!

turning newspaper into confetti

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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

Our Sweet Riddick

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I’ve been a little concerned about our Riddick’s thirst and his capacity for pee lately…
I’d go out with all the dogs for a busy, and eventually we’d all be waiting for Riddick to finish peeing – Penny and Nimble literally sitting watching him pee!
He’s always drunk a lot of water – our Labs are all thirsty dogs – so initially I didn’t notice a difference, but then he started waking us at 3am and RUNNING for the water bowl!

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Having grown up with diabetes in our family, I started suspecting it may be a possibility when  I realised he was always thirsty AND he was peeing a LOT.
Then on Friday night, I realised he had lost weight when I gave him a cuddle as he lay on the bed with me, and I could feel his spine. You wouldn’t know it to look at him, but I can see it, and he’s lost almost 3kg. He weighed just over 37kg for his annual shots and when I took him to the vet today he weight 34.6kg.

Thinking back, it’s been coming for a while. When little Nimble arrived and we were house training her, she’d go out for a piddle in the wee hours of the morning and the other dogs would often join us. Once Nimble started sleeping through, though, Riddick continued to wake us in the middle of the night. I wasn’t worried about it and put it down to him falling into the puppy routine, and that he’d get back to sleeping through the night soon enough.

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This afternoon I took him to the vet.
I explained what has me concerned, and she gave him a once-over, listening to his heart and lungs and taking his temperature. Then she did a little blood test, with a drop of blood from his ear. The little glucometer just said “HI” and my heart sank. Seven hours after his breakfast, his blood sugar was too high for the little machine to even give it a number.
The vet is pretty sure he is diabetic, but there are more tests to do to make sure. The vet wants him back tomorrow, and they’ll do a “sugar curve” from 7am to 7pm, measuring his blood sugar every hour to see how high it goes and how long it takes to come down. Then on Wednesday he’ll be back from 7am to 7pm and they will give him an insulin shot and then monitor his blood sugar again to see what kind of dose he will need in future.
My poor baby boy is going to be stuck in a place he hates, for two full days.

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The vet says most dogs are fine with one insulin shot a day, but as medical professionals are supposed to do, she also had to tell me that some dogs do better than others, some need specialised diets, and that it will affect his lifespan.

It was all I could do not to burst into tears…

Eight Weeks With Nimble

She’s 15 weeks old, and she weighed in at 15.45kg on the vet’s scale this morning, a 1.3kg gain on last week.
When we went to the vet for our weekly weigh-in, she had to practice her patience ‘coz we had to have our one cat, Twister, seen by the vet as well, and we had to wait because the vet was already busy with another dog.

Our car work has already improved her apparent fear of some overhead shadows. She still gives me the whale eye on occasion, but she’s no longer shying away from the window.
She’s now staying put in the footwell when I get out of the car, but as soon as I walk around to the passenger side she’s up on the seat! I do bench her, but to keep her off the seat I have to bench her with too short a lead to even move around.
*thinking* maybe I can bench her on a very short lead just before I get out the car…

She is SO clever! And such a live wire!
GDA has asked us to start preparing our pups for the possible use of a Gentle Leader, either during training or with their owner.

Eating her lunch with her practice-Gentle Leader, so that if she needs one during training, or with her owner, she will be used the wearing something on her face. She doesn’t like it, but she’s getting used to wearing it for short periods of time.

Puppy class this week was at a little, kiddies farmyard, so the puppies could meet sheep, goats, donkeys, ducks, bunnies, chickens and so on. Many Guide Dogs go to work in rural areas and they can’t be spooked by animals. Nimble was a little nervous of the big animals at first, but with treats and praise she was sniffing them very quickly. Then the pups had time for a game of wrestle-and-chase as Labs love to do, and all went home filthy and exhausted.
In the evening, we went along with a GDA representative to a golf day prize giving and dinner, where SA Guide-dogs was a beneficiary. Nimble got lots of attention, and got to experience a few new things – a big eagle statue in a fountain, people carrying golf bags, golf carts, and a HUGE open space.

The ducks didn’t want to say hello…

Puppy Development Supervisor Ane helped with Nimble while I took photos.

Bored by the bunnies… 😛

Labrador wrestle-and-chase 😛

On the balcony of the Eagle Canyon Golf Club.

Speeches and auctions and prizes and lucky draws… So much applause and noise!

Using the puppy bag as a pillow at the dinner.

Being cute!

And now, for your enjoyment, here is some Nimble cuteness!




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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