Category Archives: puppy walking

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 Most of his baby teeth have been replaced by rapidly growing adult teeth, and he is already wearing the medium-sized, blue Guide Dog Puppy “learner” jacket when we are out and about.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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#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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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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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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You can find SA Guide-dogs for the Blind on Facebook and on Twitter
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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You can find SA Guide-dogs for the Blind on Facebook and on Twitter
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

 

One Week With Guide Dog Puppy Daisy!

This is Guide Dog Puppy Daisy!

She joined our family a little over a week ago, almost 19 weeks old, and she weighed 18kg.
As sometimes happens, Daisy’s original Puppy Raiser couldn’t continue to raise her, and as our Riggs is now a year old and will start his formal training soon, we decided to make Daisy our “new” puppy.

Daisy’s ears are so cute – they look like they have been splattered with bleach, with a darker caramel-coloured pattern along the edges.

She’s very clever, and has settled into her new home very well.

She’s great in the car, happily going to sleep or chewing on a toy.

Her previous Puppy Raising family gave her this big cushion, and they sent it along with her.

We bought her a brand new, bright pink Rogz collar that she can grow into, and a new dinosaur Nylabone chew.

She loves to sleep half off the bed! 😀

Our Riggs is LOVING having a Labrador “little sister” to play and wrestle with!
They get on so well, and they play themselves to sleep all day!

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Forty Six Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Our puppy Riggs is a whole year old already!

I can hardly believe he is already one!
Here he is the day we brought him home at 7 weeks old, and at 52 weeks old, the day before his first birthday!

He’s a big boy – weighing in at 37.5kg on the morning of his birthday.

November 2017

December 2017

January 2018

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Check out my Puppy Raising Facebook page: Proudly Puppy Raising

Thirty Six Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Goodness! Its been weeks since I last updated Riggs’s progress here!

Riggs is 43 weeks old, he weighs a whopping 36.7kg, and he’s tall – a big boy even for a Lab!


We continue to work on the lessons from our weekly clicker class, and these are so much fun!
Riggs has mastered these cues:
SIT                    STAY                   DOWN
UP SIT                   STAND                   WATCH
TOUCH (Riggs loves this one)                   STOP
THROUGH                    STEADY (slow down)
LEAVE IT                    HUP HUP (go faster)
And his recall and loose-leash-walking is very good.
The following cues are not part of a Guide Dog’s training per se, but it builds confidence in the pups:
ROLL OVER                   CRAWL
SIT PRETTY (sitting up with his front feet raised)
UP (stepping up onto a box with his front feet)
MY LAP (putting his front legs and chest across my thighs when I am seated)
Last week there was an “Open Day” at GDA, the Puppy Raising Supervisors set up stations at the JHB training centre where the pups and puppy raisers are faced with different challenges and obstacles, and the Puppy Raising Supervisors and Trainers observe the pups in each situation, and provide assistance for how to move forward in a pup’s learning. Last week was also the first time the brand new GDA Obstacle Course was used! There were LOADS of puppies, big and small, and we had several new Puppy Raisers join us to see what its about which makes it fun for the Puppy Raisers to chat! Riggs’s sister Raffi was there too – they are so similar! After starting with walking in two big circles and some obedience work, there were 6 stations for the pups to go through:
● The Obstacle Course – the pups had to go over-through-onto all kinds of different items, and Riggs LOVED it! I wish I could get a video!
● The Different Dogs Station – the pups got to see and meet a Great Dane and a couple of Yorkies.
● The Obedience Station – we each had to pick three challenges out of a bucket to complete with our pup.
● The Little Kids on a Blanket Station – the pups had to ignore the children, the toys, and the food.
● The Big Umbrella Station – a beach umbrella was opened and closed, and the trainer walked around the pup with the umbrella open.

And a “Grooming Station”, where the pups are brushed a bit, their ears get looked at, they get handled a bit, and their nails are checked and clipped a little to see how they react. Riggs thought the grooming station was set up just for him and he lay there like he was in a spa!

We have had many outings with Riggs of course, and Riggs is quite the professional at being out in public. Restaurants, schools, retirement villages, shopping malls

I like using staircases to practise SIT-STAY with Riggs.


And just ‘coz he’s cute, here are some more pictures of our Riggs – he loves to play with his chew toys while lying on his back!

Riggs twists himself into a pretzel when he sleeps, ❤ and he loves to bring toys and try to tempt us to take them from him!

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Twenty Six Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Riggs is 33 weeks old and he weighed a whopping 33.4kg on the vet scale!


We continue to work on the lessons from our weekly clicker class at home (I will try and get pictures at home), and these are so much fun!
SIT                    STAY                   DOWN
UP SIT                   STAND                   WATCH
TOUCH (Riggs loves this one)                   STOP
ROLL OVER                   CRAWL                   THROUGH
STEADY (slow down)                   HUP HUP (go faster)
SIT PRETTY (sitting up with his front feet raised)
UP (stepping up onto a box with his front feet)
Loose Leash Walking                   Recall

We had a few outings with Riggs besides our usual shopping trips – one night we went to RocoMamas for supper and Riggs went straight to sleep.

We were also at GDA for a graduation ceremony – Service Dog Zorro and our friend Kelby (check out My Hero Has Paws), and then a long car ride to spend the afternoon with family. Here he is on his towel at GDA and at my inlaws house.


Last week at GDA there was an Open Day – the Puppy Raising Supervisors set up stations at their training centre where the pups and puppy raisers are faced with different challenges and obstacles, and the Puppy Raising Supervisors and Trainers observe the pups in each situation, and provide assistance for how to move forward in a pup’s learning. Before the training started, Riggs and Lyric (she’s a bit older than Riggs and much faster) had a few minutes to play in one of the free-run areas.
One of the challenges was for the pups to get into and out of the van used by the trainers when they take their dogs out every day. Riggs happily jumped into and out of the van, calmly waited while the door was closed, and then did a beautiful SIT STAY while the truck idled.  Then he hopped back in when the exercise was over to check if there were more treats to be had!  They also had ponies in one area for the pups to see and smell! This challenge is not for the pups to interact with the ponies, but to be able to see them and calmly walk past them – at a fair distance. Riggs has seen horses before, and they made him a little jumpy – but he did well enough yesterday to please our Supervisor. 

And just ‘coz he’s cute, here are some more pictures of our Riggs!

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Check out my Puppy Raising Facebook page: Proudly Puppy Raising