Author Archives: BeingAngel

Seven Weeks With Nimble

She’s 14 weeks old, and she weighed in at 14.1kg on the vet’s scale this morning, just over a kilo gained in the last week, and she’s now eating 150g of Bob Martin puppy food three times a day.
We continue to use pieces of chicken viennas as training treats, as well as the little Marltons bones (when I can find them).

I have had to coax Nimble into the car again lately as she’s suddenly a little spooked by the shadows of trees that hang over the road as we drive, but we’re working on it. She gets extra treats like a frozen pup-sicle(layers of frozen water, peanut butter, and doggy treats) to chew on in the car, and we’re moving things around over her head at home as well. If I’m in the passenger seat then she’s fine at my feet, but if I’m driving it’s very hard to monitor her reactions AND watch the road, but we’re making progress!
I’m also working on her staying put in the footwell when I get out of the car, until I get around to the passenger side and let her out ‘coz she’s taken to hopping up onto the passenger seat to wait for me! 😀

She is SO clever! And such a live wire!
We’ve switched back to the clicker for her training, with GDA’s okay, and she’s very quick to learn. She’s learnt “sit”, “down”, “up-sit”, and “high five” (not an official command, of course), and she has almost mastered “watch” and “stand”. We’re doing our daily handling sessions, at meal times, and I have now started putting a soft elastic over her face so that if she is trained with a gentle leader, she’ll be used to the sensation already.
She’s pulling on the lead a bit when she’s excited, but our distraction and recall exercises are helping with that a lot, and the “watch” command will make a big difference once she has that down, too.
She’s completely at home in her crate. She naps in it, sleeps in it overnight, and if I’m going to be out for a short while I leave her in her crate rather than take her with me. This is an important part of her training as she has to be okay with being alone on occasion.
We’re teaching her not to reach for the door handle as we can’t have her letting herself out whenever she feels like it, but I wish I could encourage it, just ‘coz it’s so clever!

The media event at GDA went very well, and she got to meet several new people as well as have a romp with her puppy class playmates.
She accompanied us, with Patrick, to the JHB Boat Show, where she stole a few more hearts, and she went with me when I had to take my car in to be looked at. The car place is right next to the highway so while we were walking around outside there were lots of noisy and fast moving trucks and cars going by.

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

snuggling with Riddick

napping in her crate on the blankie daddy got from the SANBS

This is why our dogs are so dirty all the time!

Napping with Patrick

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Five Weeks With Nimble

Precious little Nimble is growing fast and learning fast!

At 12 weeks old, she weighed in at 11.9kg on the vet’s scale this morning, a 1.45kg gain in the last week, and she’s now eating 130g of Bob Martin puppy food three times a day.
Our training treats are now tiny bits of chicken vienna sausages, and her own dry pellets, occasionally with yoghurt drops added.

She’s really good in the car, lying down once we start moving. She’s now happily approaching the car and even getting in on her own sometimes, and heading into parking lots seems to no longer be a problem.

 

Her training is going really well. She is so clever!
She has mastered “sit”, “leave it”, “down”, “up sit”, and “high five”! She is responding really well to her name (recall), and “stand”. Her eye contact (watch) is great.
I think we can now say her house training is done – it’s been about 2 weeks with no accidents. She heads for the door when she feels like she needs to busy and sometimes she even “knocks” by pawing at the door, and then she sits down and waits to be let out.
She sleeps in her crate overnight, going in and settling down on the “box in” command with no whining or crying, and she naps and plays in it, often sharing it with the other dogs. She sleeps through the night from 11pm until our Riddick wakes us at about 5:30am, and as she is quietly playing with whatever toy we put in for her at bed time, I’m sure she’d sleep an hour more if Riddick didn’t wake up.
I am leaving her home – in her crate – for short periods of time to ensure that she won’t battle with separation anxiety and there’s no problem there.

 

We had our fourth puppy class today, with Nimble’s sister Nutella and some the “O” litter puppies. We visited a nursery school so the kids could meet and interact with some children, and then went over the road quickly so we could work on climbing stair with open risers.
Over the weekend we visited my family for a nephew’s 4th birthday party, so Nimble had lots of children and babies to meet and greet, and she reacted really well to the litle children. She also spent some time on her own in my mom’s small front garden as she was snoozing after her lunch and I didn’t want her nap too interrupted by children and other dogs.
Last Thursday Nimble and I went to the brand spanking new Blue Hills Pick n Pay! Its a fantastic new shop, and I planned a very short trip with almost 12-week-old Nimble, after making sure with management that it would be okay to bring her. As always we went for a busy before getting in the car, and in the parking lot I told her again to busy.
We had everything I wanted to get, and we were heading for the till when someone asked about her so we stopped for a quick chat, as we puppy raisers do, and Nimble christened the shop as I was done chatting!
It was her first shop piddle and it was in a brand new, first-day-its-doors-are-open supermarket!
I had my puppy bag of course, so I was prepared and I cleaned up quickly, and the store management was beyond awesome – while I was wiping it up the one manager came and said not to worry, he’d called a cleaning crew!
Thank you!

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

  

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

Nimble’s First Week Is Over

Little Nimble has well and truly settled into our home and our hearts!

We got to see & cuddle Nimble a few times while she was in puppy block

Before her puppy crate arrived she had this crate to curl up in

At 8 weeks old, she is officially bigger than all our previous puppies, and she’s not overweight! I’m going to watch her growth with interest. She’s now eating 80g of Bob Martin puppy food three times a day.

Nimble likes the 4eva ball too!

She’s doing great in the car. She’s no longer whining and she quickly goes to sleep once the car is moving. I still have to bench her to keep her in the passenger footwell when I’m not siting there with her.

Her training is going well.
She has mastered “sit”, is responding really well to her name (recall), and her eye contact (focus) is improving all the time. She has learned to “sit wait” at the door with the other dogs, and her house training is going well.
She sleeps in her crate overnight, eats breakfast and dinner in it, and has started playing in it and running to it when she grabs something she’s not supposed to have.
Last busies in our house is at eleven, then all the lights are switched off and the puppies go to sleep. Nimble wakes once a night – occasionally twice – and then she and the big dogs all go outside for a busy. When they come back in the big dogs go straight back to sleep as we don’t switch on any lights or anything, but Nimble takes a few minutes to settle down again.

All the dogs doing a “sit wait” at the door to the garden

She’s had a couple of busy weekends already. Yesterday she had lots of time in the car and we went to a few places including her first weekly weigh-in at our vet, a pet supply shop for dog food, a dive school where she saw some very strangely dressed people disappearing under water and making loud noises as hey breathed. We also stopped at a Steers and visited my sister so she met lots of people as we gallivanted, and she walked on a number of different surfaces AND experienced a hand dryer in a public bathroom for the first time.
She was very good and didn’t spook at anything.

Lunch & a nap at the dive centre

6.65kg, 8 weeks old

On the floor a the Steers, focussed on mommy!

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Patrick is SO Sweet!

Our sweet Patrick got to spend the week at home on a bit of a holiday.

It was lucky for our little Nimble, our new Guide Dog puppy, as she got to snuggle with him during her first week at home. 😀

Patrick also rather fancies Nimble’s crate!

The reason Patrick got to have a bit of a holiday has to do with his training.
As I suspected, our sweet puppy is going to take a little longer to train than the pooches he initially started with. Whilst his kennel mates have a couple of months left in their programme with GDMI Percy, Patrick is not as far along as they are, so he has been moved into the next intake group and will now continue his training with GDMI Moses.

It is really cool that the dogs-in-training get to come home on weekends. We get to see the puppies we raised and they get a little R-‘n-R at home.

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Twelve Weeks With Patrick

Patrick is 49 weeks old and he weighed 32.4kg on the vet’s scale on Monday morning. I think his weight has now stabilised and I don’t think he’ll grow much more.
He’s so comfortable on the vet scale now, he lies down on it while I try to take a picture!

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He still pulls me a little bit when we’re walking but its not dreadful, and the dog distraction remains a problem but he listens when you talk and unless the dogs he sees are really excited he can ignore them.

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here’s Penny, Patrick and Riddick (and Louise in the background) doing a SIT-WAIT before I give the OKAY to come inside

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how can he be comfy sleeping half off the cushion!?! 😀

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no-body can do “puppy eyes” like Patrick!

We’re doing ongoing work on his obedience like sit/ down/ stay/ leave it and so on, but he’s still a little impatient when I tell him to wait before heading through a door! He’s very eager to please though and he tries hard.
I was at SA Guide-dogs one morning last week for something, so to work on his dog distraction I took him with me and we watched the 9 week old pups at puppy class, and he got to interact with them during their free play. He was so good and so gentle with them. Then I popped him into a kennel for a while whilst I saw the people I was there to see.

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watching the 9 week old “K” pups at puppy class

He’s such a snuggly shnookums… When he wants some attention he’ll come and stand next to the bed, resting his chin on the mattress, and if I make eye contact his tail wags furiously and he gets a happy wiggle! He’s still a little mouthy but its a lot less and there’s no pressure in his “bite” (for lack of a better word).

We have a bit of a recall issue too… I managed to jam the gate when I came home yesterday morning, so Dora had to come and help me. Riddick, Penny and Patrick followed her, and once we got the gate unstuck I decided to take a chance on the dogs staying put and opened it to drive in – we’ve done a lot of work on this.
Riddick and Patrick immediately did a SIT-STAY like they’ve been taught, but Penny SHOT out like she’d heard a starter’s pistol and as she hit the tar road, Patrick and Riddick followed.
I got Penny and Patrick back quickly, Patrick was close on Penny’s tail as she ran from gate to gate and they ran back towards a pair of Labs two houses down from us, then I went back out for Riddick, who was sniffing each gate as he went along and trying to head back to me between gates – but in the sunshine he couldn’t see me and going to the gates meant he was going right up to them and pressing his nose to the bars!
It was very annoying and more than a little scary!

He’s still on Bob Martin’s puppy food twice a day, 3 cups a day to maintain his now ideal weight – 1 cup in the morning and 2 cups for supper, the same way they are fed when on training at GDA.

And we got an email from Guide-dogs kennels last week, Patrick will most likely be going back to start his formal training in March, so we have a little longer with him than we thought we’d have.

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Patrick is Eleven Months Old!

I can’t believe we only have a month left with this boy! I know he was already almost 9 months old when he came to us, but the time has gone by so fast!
He weighs 32.35kg on the vet scale and he’s 57cm tall at the shoulder. He has a beautiful stocky build and a broad head, and he has droopy eyes which enable him to give you the “puppy eyes” look like a pro!

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Does he have the puppy eyes mastered, or what?!

He’s 11 months old today, and we love him to death! He is so sweet and gentle. He rarely barks and when he gets excited he has a funny squeaky whine.

As is typical of a Labrador Retriever, he loves to be where his people are. He sleeps next to my bed, he nose-butts my leg or hand if he wants attention and he will use his nose to try and lift my hand onto his head for a cuddle. He comes to my side of the bed and sits down, leaning his head on the mattress and trying to high five me, looking up at me with those eyes!

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His loose-leash walk is pretty good and I’m happy with it, and he listens really well when we’re out walking.
He is a little dog distracted, but in our neighbourhood EVERY house has at least one dog so its very hard for a puppy not to get distracted by other dogs!
He does not respond to garden services, lawnmowers or weed eaters apart from wrinkling his forehead, and he’s not at all phased by the big rubbish bins put onto the street every week.
I’m so pleased with how well he’s doing with us.

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Over Christmas we had quite a busy house, and we went out quite a lot too.
We went shopping and we went to a Christmas market at my inlaws which is a good hour in the car (one way), and he was as good as gold! He greeted other visitors to the market and slept all the way there and home again.
Patrick got to socialise with several other dogs too – a friends’ Lab Chuck and her rescue X Caileigh, GSD Bonzai, GSD-Husky X pup George, Frenchies Tyrion and Rhaegar, and small mixed breeds Chloe and Snowy.
He gets on so well with our Riddick and Penny, and he has no trouble with other dogs and if they have a leash attached he’ll try to take them for a walk! Its so funny!

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The fireworks in our neighbourhood were especially loud this last New Year’s Eve, but we stayed home and made sure there was no adverse reaction from any of the dogs. They all jump when there’s a really loud bang that sounds like its right over our house, but so do the humans! Otherwise Patrick is nonplussed by the noise.

He’s doing so well with his training!

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Check out my Facebook page: Its a Pup’s Life

A Year With Penny!

December 26th was the first anniversary of our Penny coming to live with us. We fetched her from her Lab Rescue foster home after making sure we had a collar, lead, ordering her name tag and a new bowl for her.

Its been quite a year!
Penny has a few issues, being a rescue dog who spent some months tied to a tow-hitch on a bakkie with little to no human contact.
We recently submitted her MuttMix DNA test to find out exactly what her make up is and we can’t wait for the results! She was rescued as a Lab puppy, but she’s more hound than Labrador, maybe some Weimaraner and some Pointer… She loves playing fetch, and whilst she has learnt to wrestle like the Labs love to play, she loves to play chase as well. And her prey-drive is quite high. She’s a lot quieter than she was when she first moved in, but she’s still very vocal. The more excited she gets the louder she gets. She has a soft woof-rumble she uses to ask to come inside or go outside, chasing a ball in the garden is accompanied by snarling barks and its not aggression, its excitement – she’s hunting!
We continue to work on her being quiet when its required.

She still reacts to young men with nervous barking, but she no longer runs away.
She still shrinks away from a raised voice, but she no longer runs away from everything stick-shaped (shovels, brooms, the pooper scooper).
It took 8 months to house train her and we still have the occasional accident, but she is now finally sleeping through from last busies at 11pm till between 5am and 6am.

She’s an out-and-out daddy’s girl, happiest when she can be at my husband’s side.

She’s now quite happy to have other dogs visit at our house, taking a few minutes to assert the fact that its not their house at the beginning of the visit, and she has no problem with puppies anymore.
Visiting people with dogs is also much better – it takes her about 30 minutes to realise that the residents are not going to allow her to take over, and then she plays happily. On Christmas Day we visited friends, taking Riddick, Penny and Patrick with us. The resident dogs – a darling cross breed bitch who wants to be everyone’s mommy and a young yellow Lab have met Penny before, and there were two more visitors – a 2 year old German Shepherd and an 11 week old Shepherd/ Husky cross who stayed close to his mommy. We had a couple of incidents, but for the most part it was peaceful, and Penny seemed quite taken with the beautiful GSD.
Visiting a park however, is a disaster. She goes roaring through the gate, sniffs around a little and then decides that since its neutral territory – she’ll claim it!

We recently discovered that she likes to bury her treasures – like hoof chews – in the garden, remembering exactly where they are but not allowing the other dogs anywhere near her hiding places so we still have more work to do on her possessiveness when she’s outside.

She responds very well to training and she learns fast! The clicker sessions we started doing worked exceptionally well, with our clicker instructor seeing a huge difference in Penny in the space of 3 weeks!

And she is a truly beautiful dog. Everyone who meets her comments on how pretty she is, with her soft, shiny coat and incredibly intelligent eyes.

She really is our precious Penny-pie.

Little Finley Visits

Finley is a Guide Dog puppy-in-training being raised by Bonnie, a fellow puppy raiser volunteer. She’s the sweetest little bundle of smarts with HUGE eyes and a wiggle on her you will not believe! Finley that is, not Bonnie… 😛

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When Finley was 11 weeks old Bonnie had to go overseas for a week on business, so dainty little Finley came to stay with us.
Then when Bonnie rode the Momentum 947 Cycle Challenge Finley spent the day with us again as she was too little to be left alone at home just yet and too little to be boarded in GDA’s kennels.
When she spends the night with us she has a doggy crate that comes with her, and she sleeps from last busies at 11pm till the other dogs wake up the next morning or 6am – whichever is first. She loves her crate, napping and playing in it when she’s not hanging with the big dogs.
She’s very bold and not afraid to play with the big dogs – she and our Patrick are particularly close – but she’s not a pushover at all. She’s also not afraid to be on her own, quite happily snoozing on our bathroom floor when we’re all on the other side of the house.
She now pretty much ignores the cats too, as they do the dogs, and thus far has shown no interest in their litterboxes.

She’s very good in the car, lying down to sleep once the car gets moving and she loves he aircon!

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Her mommy fetched her again the day after the cycle race, and she’ll be coming to stay for a week in December again.

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Two Weeks With Patrick

Patrick is 39 weeks old and he weighed 31.3kg on the vet’s scale on Monday morning. He’s 57.5cm tall at the shoulder so he’s a big boy and he was 9 months old last Saturday.

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This was his third visit to the vet for a weigh-in and a sniff around the vet’s office and he was very good, getting onto and then doing a beautiful SIT-STAY on the scale while I took a picture.
The vet’s receptionist takes 20 or so of her long-haired, show Dachsies to work with her – yes 20, she has 32 of them at home – and whilst they stay behind the reception desk and normally don’t make a sound (most people don’t even know they’re there), on Monday one of the younger ones was startled by a cleaner and Patrick got a fright when they barked. Instead of leaving when he was nervous though, I stayed and waited till he relaxed completely, lying down on the floor, and then we left. Leaving when he’s still upset would mean that next time we went back he’d associate his fearful reaction with the vet’s office and he wouldn’t want to go back in.

We are doing a lot of work on his suspicion issues.
Its one of the harder doggy quirks to “fix” so its a challenge, but I would really like to try in order to be sure he can work as a Guide Dog. And of course, all our dogs have qualified so far so it wouldn’t do for Patrick to be pulled from the programme!
😛
The more exposure he gets the better it can be, so I am taking him with me as much as I possibly can –

  • our regular walks
  • going to put petrol in the car so he’s not spooked by the attendants
  • dropping my husband off at the station so he sees people – pedestrians and vendors – around the car while we’re driving
  • visits to nursery schools
  • shopping trips
  • sitting on the side of the road watching people go by, praising him when he ignores them
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lots of kiddie cuddles

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lying quietly on the floor at #JoziMeetup

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not touching Cat’s coffee

This last week he’s experienced thunderstorms without batting an eyelid, and then when Guy Fawkes came around I was dreading the annoyance of the fireworks but looking forward to a conditioning opportunity – but nothing happened. I was grateful for the peace and quiet though.

We’ve also had a puppy-in-training staying with us while her mommy is away on business – 11 week old Finley. She and Patrick bonded almost instantly and they are thick as thieves! If I’m looking for one I’ll find both of them.
He also took a shine to little Finley’s crate – sleeping in it at night before Finley went to sleep in it.

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He’s eating Bob Martin’s Puppy food twice a day and he eats beautifully without choking and without any concern when I touch him or his food. He waits till I say “okay” before starting to eat, and there is no tension between him and the other dogs while I am preparing and putting down their bowls.
He’s lost the little bit of extra weight he was carrying and he now has the perfect build for his size. He’s a truly beautiful boy and he has the “puppy dog eyes” look down to an art!

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I Had To Giggle…

On Saturday afternoon-evening we went to a friends’ house for a Halloween party, leaving the dogs at home. My husband went home again to feed them so Louise doesn’t miss her meds, and then brought Riddick and Patrick back with him.
Our friends’ dogs are well socialised and our puppies have been there before so there was no issue with them, and another friends’ two Frenchie pups were there too so the dogs were in their element!

At one point the kids were playing with balloons and there were balloons all over the lawn – and Riddick went bananas! He was finding each and every balloon and popping it! It was so funny!

Then later in the evening people were leaving in drips and drabs, and each time I made Riddick and Patrick do a SIT-STAY until I knew all the doors leading to the street were properly closed, and most of us being dog lovers we were chatting about training and conditioning and all sorts of things through the evening.
Whilst I had Patrick and Riddick in a SIT-STAY, the one guest asked me what we use as a “release word”. In other words, how do I tell them they no longer need to stay or wait or any such instruction, and without thinking I reply with “OKAY”, and immediately Riddick and Patrick head into the lounge to see where the people went!
This was when I started giggling!

The other guests who were sitting with us also burst out laughing!

It was a brilliant demonstration of their training but my timing was all wrong!

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the dogs waiting to be given the “OKAY” to come to the kitchen