Category Archives: puppy raising

We also volunteer as puppy walkers and foster “parents” for GDA, and I blog about the puppies we are privileged to raise on their behalf.
Raising a Guide Dog puppy is very different to raising a pet, and I hope to create awareness of the work GDA does and what goes into raising and training a Guide Dog with my blog.

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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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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Fourteen Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Riggs is 21 weeks old already! This morning he weighed a whopping 23.2kg on the vet’s scale!

I found one of his baby teeth when it fell out! Usually they get swallowed, so you don’t often find them. 🙂

 

On the weekend we were at OR Tambo to drop someone off, and Riggs was so well behaved! We climbed stairs, waited in queues, and popped in at BYTE Cafe & Restaurant where Riggs happily lay under the table and napped or chewed on a Nylabone.   He barked a little at the SAPS dogs, but I quickly got his attention and we did a little obedience work (WATCH, DOWN, SIT, STAY, etc) to get him focused on me again.

We had our last Puppy Club class with Riggs and his siblings at GDA today (there are 13)! It has been so much fun, and the time has flown by! It was a good class too, with the pups spending some time together in the kennels while we discussed how we will be continuing forward for the next six months or so. We fetched our pups from kennels and did some walking exercises with the STOP, DOWN, and SIT cues. Then headed into a free-run area where we practised the STAY cue and a recall where we were hiding from the pup.

 

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

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Thirteen Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Riggs is 20 weeks old! I can’t believe how time flies!

This morning he weighed 21.85kg on the vet’s scale!

And look – almost all his front teeth have been replaced with his “big boy” teeth!

Our puppy was so happy to be home after his week with Guide Dog puppy Newton! They had a wonderful time playing together and wore each other out every day, but we missed him lots!

Puppy Club this week was at a stable, so the puppies could see horses and chickens and such. You’d be surprised how often Guide Dogs come across horses in their daily working routine, and they have to be okay with them. Riggs wasn’t thrilled about being near the horses – so we’ll be going back to the same stable yard soon so he can get used to them. Then we’ll find a different stable so that Riggs can see that horses are okay no matter where they are.

This week Riggs and I went with another puppy raiser and puppy-in-training Lyric to visit a school and speak to the children about SA Guide Dogs and the work they do. Riggs handled it really well, even when he had several children touching him at once, and trying to give him cues to DOWN and SIT! 😀 There were also chickens roaming the school grounds, and they were a little distracting but he did so well! After the children had gone back to class, Riggs and Lyric had a chance to explore the jungle-gym on the playground.

 

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

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Twelve Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Riggs is 19 weeks old!

Puppy Club this week was at GDA with our Puppy Raising Supervisor, and Riggs, Ringo, Rocco, Ronnie, and Raffi spent a few minutes in kennels with only each other for company, discreetly watched by our Supervisor. This short stay gave her an opportunity to see if any of the puppies were looking for their Puppy Raiser mom, or whining at the gate rather than playing together without concern. They were all quite happy, although Ringo came out of the kennel drenched thanks to Riggs jumping on him and rolling him as they wrestled, and Riggs got a little nip under his eye when Ringo had had enough of Riggs not “listening” when he told him off. 😛
We fetched our pups and headed for an off-lead play pen, and then we then practised SIT-DOWN-STAY, SIT-DOWN-UP SIT, and SIT-DOWN-STAND with our puppies on our left “at heel”.

This week I had to go and fetch the renewed license disc for our car, and while we were waiting Riggs got to check out a different kind of staircase!

We also went to visit my mom, and this meant a good long car ride for Riggs, chickens to check out through the fence when we got there, and my little niece walking around the house – inevitably with tasty things in her hands that Riggs has to learn to ignore. He did very well, and even though my mom’s little Yorkie didn’t want to play with him – he’s a little too boisterous for her liking – he had a fun day. He fell asleep shortly before we were due to leave for home, and as the air conditioner in our car isn’t working, I put him in the doggy hammock on the backseat for the trip home so he could sleep in comfort.

We didn’t see much of our Riggs this week… Our pet Lab is recovering from a bad reaction to medication and it meant I wasn’t able to spend as much time with Riggs as I should, so he went to stay with another Puppy Raiser and her black Lab GDA pup Newton. They had an absolute ball! Riggs and Newton played until they were worn out every day! We missed him terrib;y, but this is an important part of a Guide Dog puppy’s learning curve – to be happy wherever they are, to know that obedience cues and lessons apply wherever they are, and not to stress when they are away from their Puppy Raiser family.

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Eleven Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Riggs is 18 weeks old today!

He weighed a whopping 18.8kg this morning, gaining 1.3kg in the last week!
He’s now getting 180g Bob Martin’s dry puppy food three times a day, and he does a beautiful SIT-STAY-EAT when I put his food down, even when he’s drooling!

Riggs’s little front baby teeth are being replaced by grown up teeth. His canines will soon follow suit.

Left: Riggs and Raffi hoping Puppy Raiser Wendy still has some liver bread Top right: Raffi Bottom right: Ronnie

Thirsty puppies after puppy class 

 Puppy Club today was at Fourways Crossing with our Puppy Raising Supervisor, and Riggs, Ringo, Rocco, Ronnie, and Raffi all did very well on their walk. We crossed roads, climbed two different kinds of staircases, rode in the lift, walked past open shop doors, did some recall exercises, looked down through the open railings to the floor below, and had a coffee in the Wimpy afterwards. They were all proper tired when we drove home!

Last Friday night we took Riggs to the SA Guide-Dogs Golf Day prize-giving and dinner. He got to meet some golfers, and practise sleeping under my chair while I ate. He also got to experience some applause and meet a working Guide Dog. He was a star, as always!

 

Riggs loves his crate, napping and playing in it, and sometimes he’s happy to share it with one of his housemates!

 

     

And just ‘coz he’s so cute, here are a whole lot of pictures of our gorgeous Riggs for you to enjoy, some of which he’s with his “housemates” – our other dogs!

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Ten Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Riggs is 17 weeks old today!

He weighs a whopping 17.45kg, gaining 1.5kg in the last week! He’s now getting 170g Bob Martin’s dry puppy food three times a day, and he loves his food! He does a beautiful SIT-STAY-EAT when I put his food down, even when he’s drooling!

Look how he’s grown! And Riggs’s nose has a little bit more brown on it every day – I loved his black nose but it looks like its not going to stay that way.

Puppy Club was at GDA this week and it was a really busy hour. We started with the puppies greeting each other – calmly and on lead, and then we did a bit of handling with the pups. We did some loose-leash walking exercises, and added the signal for STOP to our exercises. Then the pups got some time to play off-lead and we practised our recall while we discussed the pup’s progress with our Puppy Raiser Supervisor.
After class we popped in at a shop and headed home for a tired Riggs to sleep off his lunch.

Last weekend Riggs went with us to Gilroys for a friends’ birthday party, and he handled it all really well. The Ngwenya Glass Village has a lot to see and do, and Riggs got to check out sculptures and meet different people and experience the noise of live music and applause. We took his towel and toys with us, and he was quite happy to stay on his bed. 😀

Riggs loves his crate, napping and playing in it, and sometimes when he falls asleep he lies all scrunched up against the side!

We had an unexpectedly long morning at a doctor’s office (waiting for someone), and Riggs was a 🌟! Most people didn’t even realise he was with us wherever we were. We even popped in at Mugg ‘n Bean for a coffee. 😎 Here he is, nicely out of the way under my chair, with a rawhide bone we went and got him when we realised we were in for a long wait.

And just ‘coz he’s so cute, here are a whole lot of pictures of our gorgeous Riggs for you to enjoy, some of which he’s with his “housemates” – our other dogs!

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Nine Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Riggs is 16 weeks old today!

He weighs 15.9kg, and he’s now getting 160g Bob Martin’s dry puppy food three times a day. This week we exchanged Riggs’s puppy small jacket for the next size up as he was already too big for the small one, and – surprisingly – it looks like his black nose may be turning brown!

Guide Dog Puppies are not permitted on the furniture, and Riggs tries his luck every now and then – like all puppies do – especially when the dogs are playing. He does love to bring a Nylabone toy and chew on it while he rests his head on the bed, so technically he’s not breaking the rules… 😛

Puppy Club was at GDA this week and it was really fun – we also had two of the trainers observing our class.
We always start the class by letting the pups greet each other – two at a time – but this has to be done calmly and on lead, with praise and treats for a quiet hello. Then we have water and a busy break, find a shady spot, and let them off-lead with “GO PLAY”. This week we were on the big field so it was quite something keeping up with the five long-legged pups as they ran and played.  We recall our pups and put them on lead again, and start with the obedience cues – we added the verbal cue “LEAVE IT” to the non-verbal work we started doing last week, and did a few repetitions of SIT, DOWN, UP SIT, TOUCH, STAY, and WATCH. Then we let the pups off lead to play for a few minutes again, before heading for the “obstacle” course that is made of different floor surfaces – a sheet of metal, strip of rubber, a couple of raised platforms, small paving stones, glass, a carpet, a course grass welcome mat, and a low “see-saw” plank. We also did work with a vacuum cleaner, and with our Puppy Raising Supervisor shaking a metal sheet to make a noise sort of like thunder – all with us and the pups at a distance so we can monitor their reactions as we slowly go closer. To end the class we did a little distraction exercise with the pups on lead, and being rewarded for ignoring a thrown toy.
After class Riggs and I had to quickly stop at a shop, and then we headed home where a very tired Riggs wolfed down his lunch, had a big busy, and went to sleep in his crate!
I wish I had taken a picture or two – Riggs did so well with the obstacle course! ❤ 

This week Riggs went with me to visit a friend at Sandton Mediclinic. We were greeted and escorted to the ward by security, and had a lovely visit with my friend.
Riggs was very well behaved, got to meet a few people, ride in a lift, climb some stairs, and was thoroughly worn out when we got home!

And just ‘coz he’s so cute, here are a whole lot of pictures of our gorgeous Riggs for you to enjoy, some of which he’s with his “housemates” – our other dogs!

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Eight Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Riggs is 15 weeks old today!

He weighs a whopping 14.8kg, he’s getting 150g Bob Martin’s dry puppy food three times a day, and he’s doing a beautiful SIT-STAY while he waits for me to say EAT! ❤

Puppy Club class this week was at GDA, and we started in the Kennel Office where a vet was giving our pups their inoculations. Then we let the pups play in an empty kennel space before beginning our class with a handling session, and our Puppy Supervisor checking the pup’s ears and toenails.
We are using the verbal command and the hand signal for DOWN, STAY, TOUCH, SIT, WATCH, STAND, UP SIT, HUP, and LETS GO. We continue to practise loose-leash walking, and we now started work on the hand signal for LEAVE IT.
I have also been attending a clicker training course for puppy raisers (I have been clicker training for a while, but I didn’t finish the first course I did), its great fun and Riggs loves the clicker.
I was also very proud of him when – after our first clicker class – Riggs walked past two big groups of school children who were visiting GDA, and didn’t pay them any attention!

We had such a giggle last weekend! Around 11pm in our house is last busies – all the dogs go out for a busy and then to bed, and hopefully they sleep through the night. Riggs has been so good about bedtime – heading into his crate with no trouble, and curling up on his blankets.
Last weekend it got really cold and rainy, REALLY COLD, and as Murphy would have it, I had washed the dog bed covers that morning and they weren’t dry yet!! This meant we were “short” a few cushions (but we still have loads of beds for the dogs). Riggs would go into his crate but instead of sleeping, he sat and whined. We thought maybe he needed a busy (all the dogs rush back inside when its raining), but if we let him out of the crate to go outside he headed straight for one of the dog cushions and curled up – even snuggling up to a sleeping “big brother” Riddick.
We put him back in his crate, and got a repeat performance. Then my husband put one of the dog beds inside the crate, and Riggs hopped right in and went immediately to sleep!  😀
He has had a big cushion in his crate – but he was hanging off the end and I thought he needed more space, so about a week ago, I took the cushion out (rest assured he has LOADS of blankets even without the cushion), but we put his cushion back in his crate. 😛

On Mothers Day we went to a quiet restaurant for lunch, taking Riggs with us. He was very well behaved, and he got to check out and climb a circular staircase. He sat looking around and sniffing the floor when we got to our table, but he soon settled down and slept on his towel that we took with us. He had a few people come and greet him but he was quite content.

This week I had to exchange Riggs’s puppy collar for his “big boy” collar! Doesn’t he look handsome! ❤

Riggs is now tall enough – on his hind legs – to reach the kitchen counters and tabletops, and the top of the chest freezer where our cats are fed. This is a typical and normal Labrador behaviour, and we will be working on discouraging him. We keep the cats bowls out of reach, and we praise him for ignoring temptation.

And just ‘coz he’s so cute, here are a whole lot of pictures of our gorgeous Riggs for you to enjoy, some of which he’s with his “housemates” – our other dogs!

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You can find SA Guide-dogs for the Blind on Facebook and on Twitter
Check out my Facebook page: Its a Pup’s Life