Category Archives: playtime

Meet Guide Dog Puppy Chuck #GDApupChuck

Chuck was born on Friday 26 April 2019 to mom Zebula and dad Vito (AI, USA stud dog). He’s a yellow Labrador with six “C” litter siblings – 4 yellow brothers, 1 yellow sister, and 2 black sisters.

We fetched him from GDA on Thursday 27 June 2019 when he was 9 weeks old, and we named him after the “Chuck Bartowski” character of the TV show “Chuck”, played by Zachary Levi – continuing our trend to try and name our pups after movie or TV characters ūüôā

At 10 weeks old, Chuck weighed a whopping 10.4kg – by far our biggest puppy ever! He has huge feet and long ears, the tips of which are always dirty because they hang in his food and water bowls! ūüėõ


Baby Chuck has slept through for 2 nights now, 10pm to about 5am, and thats pretty cool! He is sleeping in a dog bed next to me, as his “big brother” Jake is still sleeping in the crate, and most mornings he goes back to sleep for an hour after having a busy!

He already knows SIT, he’s quickly learning DROP IT, and we’re working on DOWN. He goes to the door to ask to go outside, he’s learning to sit quietly in order to be given his food bowl at meal times, and he LOVES his food, which makes him really easy to train!


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Riggs and His Housemates

Even when we aren’t raising a Guide Dog puppy, we have four of our own dogs.
The Guide Dog puppies learn a lot from these older dogs – doggy manners are very important for a puppy to learn, as well as the training he gets from his human family.

Our dogs teach the puppies¬†good doggy manners, and they help with house training as the puppy follows them outside to busy. Dogs are very good teachers, and being natural pack animals, puppies learn from the¬†group. A barking puppy will be completely ignored – which tells him his barking is annoying and they aren’t going to play with him until he stops. A puppy chewing on an older dogs ears will only be tolerated if he doesn’t hurt the older dog – biting will get a doggy reprimand.

Unfortunately for our Guide Dog puppies, our own dogs are not big on snuggling when they sleep – each preferring their own beds – and all our puppies want to do is cuddle up to¬†one of them! ūüėÄ
Our Labrador, Riddick, is super-patient with puppies, allowing them to jump on him and chew on his ears and his neck far more than the other dogs, and he loves to play-wrestle as Labbies do. And like the puppy, Riddick follows me and waits for me whatever I may be doing, so I constantly have two yellow Labradors at my feet (or on my feet when they are still small enough to fit).
Penny loves to play keep-away, and she loves to run. And if Riggs is really quiet and careful, she will let him lie next to her for a few minutes. ūüėõ

Here are some pictures of Riggs with Labrador Riddick, and rescue dog Penny.

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. ūüôā 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! ūüėÄ 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.

How Things Change.

A while ago, I overheard a snippet of conversation in a supermarket. A couple was discussing what bowl to get for her Labrador, who would be spending time at his house in the future.
Being the “mingler” that I am ūüėõ I suggested they get stainless steel as Labs can’t chew¬†it and its easy to keep clean. As I walked away, he responded with something along the lines of “Don’t the dogs just lick it clean?” and it made me think of how differently my dogs live, in comparison to the dogs we had as kids.

We had a few pet dogs when we were kids, but I wasn’t terribly attached to any of them.
Unlike my own dogs now, the dogs we had as kids¬†lived outside, they weren’t really trained or properly socialised, they were fed a couple of times a day and that was it. We certainly didn’t research breeds and go to puppy classes and play with them every day.¬†Thinking back it makes me a little bit sad for them.¬†Yes,¬†they were loved, they weren’t mistreated, but they could have had better lives had we known more and known better.
And the vast majority of pet dogs live like that now. They are¬†acquired because “…the kid needs to grow up with a dog…” or “…the breed is¬†great with kids…” but¬†they don’t put in the necessary work to turn¬†that puppy into a well behaved family pet¬†–¬†like the ones they see in the movies¬†–¬†and in the best case scenario the dog is banished outside, behind a gate.
In the worst case scenario, they are neglected, abused, and deserted.

My own dogs live in the house with us. If I could, they would go everywhere with me too, but thats not always possible. ūüėõ
Their stainless steel bowls are washed out after supper every day, and they go through the dishwasher twice a week.¬†I play with my dogs¬†every day, they get fresh water at least once a day, they get brushed, dewormed, tick-and-flea dropped, and inoculated,¬†and I know exactly what their tummies are doing because I go out with them several times a day so I can see them pee and poop. They have the added benefit of me¬†working from home instead of heading for the office every day, so I can spend as much time with them as I do.¬†I know which dog is barking because they all sound different, I know what their favourite toy is and how they behave in different situations.¬†They’ve had obedience training, and their socialisation is ongoing. Granted, they’re not the most spectacularly well behaved dogs around, but they’re not a complete nightmare either.

Isn’t it amazing how things change? My family still can’t get over my attachment to my furchildren!

Riddick Is Determined…

…to get as dirty as he can as often as he can! And thanks to a very dry winter and a drought, our garden is a dustbowl so its super easy for him! He rolls in the sand and gets dirty from nose to tail, and he loves it – I can hear him rumbling and groaning from the other side of the house! ūüėÄ

September 28th

September 28th

September 30th

September 30th

October 2nd

October 2nd

On the 2nd, I put him in the bath and rinsed the sand off him – I didn’t even use shampoo, just water!

He got out of the bath and I towelled him a little dry, and he started doing “crazy run” as they all love to do after a bath! ¬†I put a couple more towels down for him to roll on and he was having such fun… and suddenly it seemed too much and he got all wobbly… ūüė¶
I chased the other dogs outside so I could calm Riddick down, and he sort-of slept on the kitchen floor for a while.
Lookit his scarred nose! o.O

He was clean for all of three days! This is October 6th

He was clean for all of three days! This is October 6th

And October 7th!

And October 7th!

And when he gets up from where he’s been lying – he leaves a pile of sand behind! ūüėÄ

Funny Minx

After puppy class with Nimble, I came home to this…



A Weekend With Patrick

We got to fetch guide-dog-in-training Patrick for this long weekend just past.
When I went to fetch Patrick, trainer Hayley went to fetch him from his kennel for me.
When she came back to the kennel office with him she wasn’t entirely sure if she had fetched Patrick or his brother Pedro as they are hard to tell apart – but when he saw me he did a galloping, bouncing run across the office straight to me!
It was so adorable!
Then I showed her¬†a couple of ways to tell Pedro and Patrick apart if she needs to – Patrick’s eyes droop more¬†than Pedro’s do, giving him the ultimate “puppy eyes” expression, and Patrick is pigeon-toed!

a sleepy Patrick

Patrick’s Guide Dog training is progressing well. There is a little suspicion and some dog distraction, but those aren’t news to us and¬†they are working on it. His trainers are positive they can deal with these little issues.

Its always wonderful to have our puppies visit, but this weekend we weren’t home¬†much…

And even though poor Patrick came home with kennel cough (all the dogs including Patrick are being dosed with Moducare and Viral Choice), he didn’t let it get him down.
Here he is, pretending not to be at all interested in my slipper…

And then I caught him red-pawed!

He’s so funny – he picks it up and shakes it and trots around trying to get the other dogs to play too, and then he flops down onto his back, holding the slipper in his front feet as he chews on it!

And here’s Patrick, Riddick and Penny, fast asleep on Saturday night.


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Playing With Riddick

How gorgeous is our Riddick…

Our sweet Riddick loves nothing better than playing a game of fetch, even as his vision deteriorates.

He knows his garden and his house, so he knows where he can run safely without running into anything.

I¬†do have to leave our Penny inside, or I have to hold her when we play, ‘coz she gets to the ball first!

I’m sure you’ve seen this blue¬†forever ball on my blog before – and this July it will be two¬†years old! It was the best R250 we¬†ever spent!