Category Archives: puppy walking

Forty Four Weeks with #GDApupJake

Our gorgeous Jake is one year old today!

We can hardly believe so much time has gone by so fast!

Big and beautiful, with caramel-coloured fur and pale “wings”, he tips the scales at 37.7kg.

Our weekly Puppy Classes are completed, but we still have optional open classes with a GDA Puppy Raising Supervisor, where several other pups of mixed ages attend, and sometimes we have one-on-one sessions with our Supervisor. We continue to practise loose leash walking and obedience cues, and we do distraction work with food, toys, people, and dogs, teaching our pups to focus on us and ignore what is going on around them.
It still takes Jake a few minutes to settle into a “work mode”, but he is now able to work in close proximity to a number of other pups, without Jake lunging to greet or try to play with them.

He walks so beautifully on lead when we are out shopping. He ignores people walking by us or standing around us, and even manages to ignore people calling out to him or making eye contact with him. He is unconcerned when children come up and greet him, and more and more he’s looking to me when he gets distracted by something.
Pleeeeeease – if you see a working dog, or a pup-in-training – or ANY dog for that matter, PLEASE ignore them!
Speak to the person holding the lead and ask before you touch or talk to them!

Our handsome Jake attended a GDA PR function at a school, where one of GDA’s brood bitches was a part of a performance of Annie!

Jake has never been a fan of too much sunshine, and if he’s in to sun too much in the car, he’ll climb under the doggy hammock! And he loves looking out the window while we drive. 😀

He has matured so much in the last few months, but one of his favourite things to do is bring a big stick into the house to chew on and play with!

He still loves to be close to me and loves to snuggle, squishing himself under the desk if I am working on my laptop.

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Forty Weeks with #GDApupJake

Gorgeous Jake is 11 months old!

He tips the scales at 37.3kg, and he’s just beautiful, with his caramel-coloured fur and pale “wings”!

Our “Puppy Classes” are finished, but we still have a weekly class with our Puppy Raising Supervisor, sometimes its with several other puppies of various ages, and sometimes with just the “J” siblings.
We practise loose leash walking, and obedience cues, and we do distraction work with food, toys, people, and dogs.
We want our pups focused on us and ignoring anything that crosses their path or tries to get their attention.
Sometimes they get to have a runaround after class. 🙂

He really walks beautifully on lead when we are out shopping, he no longer tries to greet all the people walking by us, but he still gets a little excited when people call out to him or make eye contact.
Pleeeeeease people – if you see a working dog, or a pup-in-training – or ANY dog for that matter, PLEASE ignore them!
Speak to the person holding the lead and ask before you touch or talk to them!

Gorgeous Jake, tired after a busy morning, with an induction for new Puppy Raisers at SA Guide-Dogs Association, and then a class with his sister Paddi. 😁

Hold thumbs – I think he has stopped trying to get on the bed!
He now rests his head on the bed when he wants our attention… 😛

He’s growing up so fast, and I often have to remind myself that he is still just a puppy. ❤
Here he is clowning with the big stick he finally managed to get into the house! 😀

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Check out my Puppy Raising Facebook page: Proudly Puppy Raising

Thirty Six Weeks with #GDApupJake

Gorgeous Jake is 44 weeks old already!

He tips the scales at 36.5kg! He’s matured so much lately, focusing more
during our training exercises and paying attention to me.
He still turns into the “class clown” at events when he’s had enough,
which gets everyone giggling, and the kids love it!


Our Puppy Classes are finished, and Jake’s assessment with our
Puppy Raising Manager went really well!
We’ve had a very busy few weeks of outings, our own normal shopping trips and outings,
and several outings for GDA – even going all the way to Potchefstroom to visit NWU!
We have also been issued with the beautiful, newly designed, puppy-in-training jacket!
Jake has mastered SIT, DOWN, TOUCH, DROP IT, STAND, and STAY,
and we are now working on building duration into his cues, and we continue
to work on loose leash walking.

He really walks beautifully on lead, and he is a pleasure to take out shopping,
and whilst he no longer tries to greet all the people walking by us,
he still get excited when people call out to him or make eye contact.
Jake likes riding in the car, stretching out on the backseat in the doggy hammock,
or lying with his face in the breeze from the aircon.

He’s mischievous and smart, and lately he jumps and puts his front legs up on our bed
when he wants attention. He loves to be close to us and he still loves to be brushed
and cuddled.

The last couple of weeks, he has been determined to bring a long stick
into the house to chew on it. I try to make sure sticks stay outside
‘coz they make a mess, and those pleading eyes are hard to resist!


He’s growing up so fast, and I often have to remind myself
that he is still just a puppy. ❤

picture credit :: Adrian Patterson

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You can find SA Guide-dogs for the Blind on Facebook and on Twitter
Check out my Puppy Raising Facebook page: Proudly Puppy Raising

Thirty Two Weeks with #GDApupJake

I take a picture of Jake with his “watch me grow” bear every Thursday, so I have something to show scale as he grows up. He doesn’t get to play with this bear – its only for the weekly picture. 😛

Jake is a big boy – 40 weeks old and 35.4kg. He’s lost all his baby teeth, he’s wearing an adult collar, and he is now wearing the large-sized, blue Guide Dog Puppy “learner” jacket when we are out and about, and he has been neutered – as all GDA male pups are at about 8 months old.

Jake is not a fan of the summer heat at all, and on a hot day he loves to have a damp towel on cool towels to sleep on, and when we’re driving somewhere he cuddles up to a 2L bottle of water that’s been frozen solid!

Our Puppy Classes are almost over – next week we have our assessment with our Puppy Raising Manager!
We’ve had a class at Fourways Crossing, gg’s Café, and Montecasino’s Bird Garden, and the pups were great. Our classes at GDA consist of obedience exercises, loose leash walking and return-to-heel exercises, distraction work with squeaky toys and people, and habituation with new and familiar objects – brollies, platforms, a shop dummy, hula hoops, yoga mats, wobble boards, you name it!
Jake has learned SIT, DOWN, TOUCH, DROP IT, STAND, and STAY, and he goes everywhere with me. He walks beautifully on lead, and he is a pleasure to take out shopping, and whilst he no longer tries to greet all the people walking by us, he does get excited when people call out to him or make eye contact.

Jake has had several Uber Assist rides with me, and our drivers are kind enough to turn the aircon on to blow into the passenger footwell, where Jake goes to sleep with his head under the vent.

He’s a real snuggle bug, and likes nothing better than to try and curl up in my lap if I sit on the floor, while I brush him and handle him, though he is already too big to nap in my lap anymore!

As smart as he is, and as much as he’s learning, I have to remind myself that he’s still just a puppy, and he’ll get up to mischief if the fancy takes him – like running off with an empty pizza box that was left on top of the bin! 😛

He’s such a cute pup, and really affectionate, and he looks very serious with his “frown” and very expressive eyebrows!

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You can find SA Guide-dogs for the Blind on Facebook and on Twitter
Check out my Puppy Raising Facebook page: Proudly Puppy Raising

Twelve Weeks with #GDApupJake

Jake is 20 weeks old!

I take a picture of Jake with his “watch me grow” bear every Thursday, so I have something to show scale as he grows up. He doesn’t get to play with this bear – its only for the weekly picture. 😛

He’s a big puppy, weighing in at 21.8kg this morning. Most of his baby teeth have been replaced by rapidly growing adult teeth, and he is already wearing the medium-sized, blue Guide Dog Puppy “learner” jacket when we are out and about.

Jake is not a fan of the summer heat at all, and on a hot day he loves to have a damp towel on cool towels to sleep on, and an “ice lolly” to chew on.

Guide Dog Puppies are not permitted on the furniture, but Jake tries his luck every chance he gets – especially when he and his housemates are playing! We’ve never had a pup so determined to be on the bed!
He does love his crate though, putting himself to bed in the crate overnight.

Our Puppy Classes have started going beyond GDA, and we’ve had a class at Fourways Crossing and one at gg’s Café. The pups were great on both outings! Our latest class was at GDA, and we did some loose leash walking exercises, distraction work with squeaky toys, and habituation with new and familiar objects – a brolly, platforms, shop dummy, hula hoop, and yoga mat.
Jake has learned SIT, DOWN, TOUCH, and DROP IT, and we’re working on STAND and STAY.
Jake walks beautifully on lead, and he is a pleasure to take out shopping, though he is quick to try and greet people walking by us, so we’re working on that. 🙂 

Jake had his first UBER ride with me after class one day, and our driver was kind enough to turn the aircon on to blow into the passenger footwell, where Jake slept with his head under the vent.

He’s a real snuggle bug, and likes nothing better than to try and curl up in my lap if I sit on the floor, while I brush him and handle him, though he is already too big to nap in my lap anymore!

He’s such a cute pup, and really affectionate, with a permanent “frown” and very expressive eyebrows!

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Check out my Puppy Raising Facebook page: Proudly Puppy Raising

#GDApupRiggs is a Guide Dog!

On Friday we went to watch as our Riggs showed off his training with his new person, by walking through a busy neighbourhood, walking past open shop doors, navigating people, dogs, street vendors, and traffic. We stood on the opposite side of the street and tried to stay out of sight, just in case we distracted our puppy in his work, but Riggs didn’t even look in our direction!
On Saturday we attended his graduation ceremony and met his new person, and we got to tell him about raising Riggs and gave him the photos we’d chosen for him.

Watching Riggs and his person walk together on Friday caused a complicated mix of feelings in us as Puppy Raisers… now he REALLY is no longer ours. He was never “ours” in that he belonged to SA Guide-Dogs, but we are so very proud of the puppy we raised and trained, doing exactly what we were preparing him to do. And now being matched with his person, their bond as they work together will be far deeper than anything we could imagine.

Before the graduation ceremony, we got to spend some time with Riggs and his person, getting to know him, talking about raising Riggs, and finding out where he and Riggs will be living and working. He also gifted us with this beautiful framed portrait of himself and Riggs. Riggs is his first Guide Dog, and he is very excited about his future, and he’s a varsity student, so Riggs is going to be working very hard indeed. Riggs has always been a beautiful dog, and with his fur shining with a metallic gold in the sunshine, he and his person are going to get a lot of attention on campus! 😛

Doesn’t Riggs look handsome in his leather harness!

The graduation ceremony was very special, with us Puppy Raisers waiting outside with our puppies, and as we were announced we entered the hall and handed over the dog’s lead to our puppy’s person before taking a seat next to them. This was followed by a short slide show of pictures of each puppy, and a short message from their Puppy Raiser family:

When we fetched Riggs from Puppy Block, he was the last of his siblings to be brought out, and we couldn’t believe how big his feet were! He was put into my arms and was quite happy to snuggle and have a good look around, and he slept in my arms all the way home in the car.
He has a little ridge of hair across the bridge of his nose that makes it looks like he’s been wearing glasses, and occasionally people mistake this for a scar.
Riggs loves to be cuddled and groomed, and even clipping his nails is a breeze.
He loves riding in the car and hates to be left behind, and he loves to play tug-o-war and keep-away with a toy, trying to tempt you to grab it.
When he wants your attention, he will stand right up close to you and wag his tail, gazing at you, and if you don’t look at him he will nose-bump you!
He learns really fast, and he loves to work and learn!
We are really proud of him.

Then there were certificates and acknowledgement of sponsors and donations before we got to have tea and cake. 

Riggs was very happy to see us, as we knew he would be, but the whole time we were talking to his person he stayed by his feet. When he was collected to go to the ceremony hall, leaving Riggs with us for a little while, Riggs watched him go with his ears popped forward as if to say, “Dude, where are you going without me?!” And when they left to finally go home after two weeks of training together, Riggs didn’t once look back or look for us.
Seeing them so intently focused on the person they have been matched with, and seeing the relationship they already have melts my heart.

People always ask Puppy Raisers how we are able to part with our puppies, and this is why.

 

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Check out my Puppy Raising Facebook page: Proudly Puppy Raising

Eight Weeks with #GDApupJake

Jake is 16 weeks old!

Isn’t he beautiful! He’s a light, caramel brown colour, rather than a golden colour like out other yellow Labs have been. And as he gets older, he gets more and more brown flecks on his nose.
He’s a big puppy, weighing in at 16.5kg, and he’s now getting 160g Vet’s Choice puppy kibble three times a day.
He also got his “big boy” collar this week, after he came back from his x-rays and check-up at the vet!

I take a picture of Jake with this bear every Thursday, so I have something to refer to show scale as he grows up.
He doesn’t get to play with this bear – its only for the weekly picture. 😛

Guide Dog Puppies are not permitted on the furniture, but Jake tries his luck every chance he gets – especially when the dogs are playing! Its quite comical to have a pup so determined to be on the bed!
He does love his crate though – running into it if he grabs something he shouldn’t have, napping and playing in the crate during the day, and sleeping in the crate overnight.

Puppy Classes have been at GDA for the last six weeks, working on the pup’s frustration tolerance and levels of distraction when they are together as siblings.
Jake is going out with me more and more, and having started loose-leash-walking exercises the week after he came home with us already, he walks beautifully on lead!

Jake has learned SIT, DOWN, TOUCH, and DROP IT, and we’re working on STAND and STAY.
He’s not quite as food-driven as pups we’ve had in the past, so we keep our training sessions short and fun, to keep him engaged and interested.

He’s a real snuggle bug, and likes nothing better than to try and curl up in my lap if I sit on the floor, while I brush him and handle him.

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You can find SA Guide-dogs for the Blind on Facebook and on Twitter
Check out my Puppy Raising Facebook page: Proudly Puppy Raising

Meet Guide Dog Puppy Jake #GDApupJake!

Jake is one of 7 yellow Lab pups, 5 boys and 2 girls, born to mom Zara on May 17th 2018.
Their sire by artificial insemination is an American Guide Dog stud named Bosworth. His siblings are Jozi, Jarvis, Jethro, Jet, Paddi (sponsored name), and Jackson, and two of his brothers will be growing up as part of the Cape Town Puppy Raising family. Jake joined our family on Friday July 13th! 😀

Jake is so precious, and At 10 weeks old, Jake weighed a whopping 9.6kg!

Baby Jake has “slept through” for 6 nights in a row, 11pm to 5h30! At bed time he now happily walks into his crate, and most mornings he goes back to sleep for an hour after having a busy!
He’s getting very long too, so I’ve already swapped his “snuggly” bed for a bigger cushion inside his crate. 

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Check out my Puppy Raising Facebook page: Proudly Puppy Raising

When a Guide Dog Puppy is Withdrawn…

People ALWAYS ask Puppy Raisers how they could possibly give up their pup, and it certainly isn’t easy, but it is far harder for us to deal with our puppy being withdrawn from the programme, and not going on to become a Guide Dog or a Service Dog.
And we don’t refer to a pup as “failed” or “rejected” when they are withdrawn from the Guide Dog Puppy programme, we call them “career changed”. 🙂

A puppy can be pulled from the training programme for any one of a number of reasons, even though SA Guide-Dogs have an amazing breeding programme.
Just like humans, dogs have their own quirks and personalities, so a pup could have an anxious temperament, making them unsuitable for work even if they love their training.
A pup might experience something that frightens them while they are growing up, an experience like this could be repaired with gentle exposure and a Puppy Raising Supervisor’s assistance – but if it can’t be “fixed” it could lead to a pup being withdrawn because a dog can’t concentrate on work or training if it is afraid.
Labradors and Golden Retrievers also have breed issues like hip and elbow dysplasia, and whilst the pups are bred to exclude these issues as much as humanly possible, its not an exact science. If a pup presents with hip or elbow dysplasia (and they are all tested) they will be withdrawn as they can’t be a working dog if they are going to be in pain, or needing regular veterinary treatment.
Should a pup present with something like severe allergies, or eye problems, or epilepsy, they will also be withdrawn.

Around the world, the “success rate” for Guide Dog breeding programmes is around 60-65%. This means of course, that there are specially bred and trained puppies that do not become Guide Dogs or Service Dogs, and they become pets. Career-changed puppies are most often kept by their Puppy Raisers, but as you might imagine its not always possible. We may already have a house full of dogs and so not have the space. And taking on a pup that may need special veterinary care and diet in the future is a cost we can’t all afford.
Having to rehome a career changed puppy is a very careful process, and it is heart breaking for a Puppy Raiser.

There’s a very complicated set of emotions we go through as Puppy Raisers.
We work very hard to prepare our pups for their formal training and their career as a working dog. We get a manual, and we take classes, and we have a long list of things our pup must be gradually exposed to as they grow.
This takes time and dedication.
Throughout this process we are preparing ourselves, usually not even consciously thinking about it, for the day we will have to say goodbye to our puppy.
When your pup graduates, there’s an immense sense of pride for this gorgeous dog you helped to raise and train, and there’s sadness because you may not see the pup again.
If your pup is withdrawn, you will be thrilled be if you are able to keep the pup, but you will also be heart sore because all your hard work raising your pup has been in vain, and you might feel like you have let the pup down.
If your pup is withdrawn and you can’t keep it as your own, there’s only sadness.

Inside every Guide Dog and Service Dog beats the heart of a Puppy Raiser.

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Check out my Puppy Raising Facebook page: Proudly Puppy Raising

The Dreaded Intake Day Email…

We got the semi-dreaded email from SA Guide-Dogs. Riggs’s intake day for his formal training is Monday April 9th.

It’s a strange email for a Puppy Raiser to receive… On the one hand you’re sad because your pup will be leaving, and you’re a little nervous about whether you did enough with your puppy while raising him. And on the other hand you’re excited about the next step in your puppy’s training, and you’re wondering how he’s going to do, and who he will eventually be matched with.

It’s bitter sweet indeed. We Puppy Raisers walk a very strange tightrope. But Riggs is ready for his training.

This is also the only time, in my puppy raising adventure with each of our dogs, that I cry.

What that means though, is that we only have a week left with our big boy (got the email about 10 days ago).
We’ll be meeting with his trainer in the morning to chat about Riggs’s likes and how he’s done with his training and how he likes to play.

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You can find SA Guide-dogs for the Blind on Facebook and on Twitter
Check out my Puppy Raising Facebook page: Proudly Puppy Raising