In my late twenties I started raising Guide Dog Puppies. I don't remember how I got into this line of volunteer work, but I enjoyed it. I raised two and a half puppies: Martin, Valor, and Dilbert. Martin was a yellow labrador. He was career changed for growling at the vet when his temperature was taken. Valor was a black labrador. He was career changed for elbow displasia, and he came home to me and lived for 12.5 years as my buddy. Since Valor came home, and I had a Great Dane at the time too, Dilbert was transferred to a fellow named Josh, who finished raising him.
After Valor died and my daughter turned 9, I talked my husband into letting us raise puppies again. Anna, my daughter, and I raised Kia together. Quinn, my son, got involved with Bonita, Galaxy, and Versailles. Kia graduated and is working in Tennessee and Bonita is working in Florida. Galaxy will go back to college in April, and Versailles is a baby (as of March 2014).
Miss Bonita has been enjoying an extended slumber party with her friend Dora. Dora is also a Guide Dog Puppy in training. Dora's a bit older than Boni, and is likely to be recalled to college soon. Bonita and Dora enjoy playing in the backyard together.
Kia's graduation was difficult and excellent and good for us all.
We got to meet her person, Dotty. It was obvious that Kia knew she was needed and loved. And, it was obvious Dotty felt the same way. They are truly a team.
We felt much less sad about "giving up our baby" when we saw how needed and happy she was.
Casper was career changed, but he's still going back to Guide Dogs. He needs a medical evaluation, on account of his peanut size bladder and his excessive pooping. And, he takes forever to do his business.
Bonita, Anna, and I were interviewed and photographed for the local newspaper, the Broomfield Enterprise. The Enterprise is a sister paper of the Daily Camera, Boulder's paper, and they ran the article too.
The humans took me to this thing they called Star Fest. I'm not exactly sure why they wanted to go, but I LOVED it. Star Fest was great. For one thing, I got TONS of treats. The humans said it was because there were so many distractions. I liked that I got to go with them everwhere for three whole days, and mom was always petting me and telling me I was a good girl. All the kids at the convention tried to pet me too, but as you all know, adults are the worst at copping feels. Luckily I'm a puppy and I like it when people cop feels.
Versailles graduated to an official "potty-trained" status, so she moved in with her other family. (I'm a co-raiser for her. My job was potty training, so she could go to work with her other family.)
Galaxy went to college. She finished all her training and was considered a "fully trained guide dog." Then she started to urinate while on tie down or in harness. That urination indicated stress. She just didn't want to be a guide dog. She has moved to San Diego and has a new job. She is a pet. Her new person loves her.
So, I had promised Leon that I wouldn't have a dog after Versailles until we got back from vacation. We get back from vacation on the 25th, and we are scheduled to get our new baby on the 26th. The new baby is a golden retriever boy and his name starts with the letter C.
Walking and hiking without a dog is odd.
Yesterday I learned that my puppy princess, Kia, is graduating. When Guide Dog Puppies are recalled, they go to "college." College consists of eight different phases, after which the dog is assigned to a class. Those eight phases can take anywhere from eight weeks for six months to complete.
Versailles and Gwen (and Anna and I) had fun at puppy school tonight. Gwen is a bit tired though. Gwen is an 11.5 year-old retired Guide Dog that I am watching until she can travel to her puppy raisers. She's very sweet and has figured out that she is retired. As a result, she loves to fetch and sleep on the couch and graze the strawberry patch and all sorts of fun things.
I took Bonita and the kids to the Denver Museum of Science and Nature on Thursday. The last time we went, we took Kia and saw the animatronic dinosaurs. This time we saw live snakes and lizards.
Beautiful Bonita (how's that for redundant?) has reached her four-month birthday anniversary.
My little princess is about thirty pounds now. According to the rule of thumb, she'll be about 60 pounds when she reaches her adult size. She looks like a miniature labrador, but at thirty pounds, she's hit medium size dog-ness.
Dilbert was a golden/labrador cross. He was a good boy, with a perfect name. However, just about the time he was potty trained, Valor was career changed for elbow problems. I wanted Valor to come home, so Dilbert finished being raised by Josh. Dilbert decided he didn't want to be a Guide, and I saw him a few years later hiking up Bear Mountain with his new family.
Valor was my second Guide Dog Puppy. I raised him in 1998. He made it most of the way through "college" before he was career changed due to a problem with his front, right elbow.
When I met Valor, I fell in love with him right away. When he was career changed, I decided to take him back, as my pet. Because I still had Nadine (the Great Dane), I had to hand Dilbert off to another puppy raiser. Dilbert was raised by Josh.
Valor was a black labrador with a short tail. He was calm and well behaved around children. Valor liked to hang out with me, but he also liked to go swimming and walking.
Valor died at the age of 12.5 due to stomach cancer.
See more of Valor's pictures on facebook.
Bonita seems to be over her overly-cautious attitude when we first picked her up. She's played tug with a ferret, made a quick trip around the grocery store, spent three hours in human school (mostly in a kennel), went to the hand doctor with me, and attended two puppy school meetings.
Martin was my first Guide Dog Puppy. I raised him in 1997 before I met my husband. Martin was a yellow labrador and a cutie.
Note how the puppy coats have changed since then. Back then, the coats covered the puppy's whole back.
Martin was a difficult puppy to raise and he always had problems with people accidentally touching him in places he didn't want to be touched.
Martin growled at the vet when they took his temperature too many times, and he was career changed. He lived the remainder of his life with a couple in California. He went to work every day, either with his new mom at the dentist's office or with his dad at the construction site.
While I raised Martin, I also had a Great Dane that I had "inherited" from a roommmate that left without her.
Kia is in "college" in Oregon learning to be a guide dog. At last report, she was in Phase 5, which means she can walk a sighted person, who's wearing a blindfold, around about ten blocks.
Normally, people get a new puppy a few minutes *before* they send their prior puppy to college. Most people think this helps you get over the loss of the first puppy faster.
Kia's been acting a little nutty lately.
She hasn't wanted to eat her food. Labradors are known for wolfing their food, but Kia was letting her food sit so long we had to take it away. When offered food rewards for good behavior, she spit the kibble out.
What kids don't like Christmas? Well, Anna and Kia do like Christmas. Kia didn't know what to be excited about, but she joined in once she figured out what was going on.
Anna and I are raising a Guide Dog Puppy together. Anna and I were very excited on the way to get our puppy. Puppy truck day is exciting for some an sad for others. Baby puppies get to meet their raisers.
We found out at puppy school last Tuesday that Kia is a turkey. She obeys me fairly well, but she does not obey my daughter or the guide dog leader. So, it's a good thing she's going to stay with Emily for a few weeks. Emily has experience with turkeys, and she's raised seven Guide Dog puppies, so she should be able to straighten Kia out.
Galaxy has been at boot camp. Because she's had such difficulty with certain behaviours, Lauren's been working with her.
She's home for the moment, and she likes playing in the snow with her kids.
I think she likes bootcamp better than us though. Lauren has lots of dogs.
Galaxy is a difficult puppy, probably because she's very smart and seems to be secure.
I took her out for a walk when it was raining. We saw lightening and heard thunder too, but the lightening was far enough away that the walk seemed safe. The thunder boomed, but Galaxy didn't care. She was more interested in sniffing the rain.
Yates came back for a short visit. I took him to the school yard and he was excited to see the kids, and Anna was excited to see Yates. One of the kids asked where Kia is and someone else asked if I bleached Kia.
Kia loves her play dates, and she was super happy when Jodianne stayed with us for two weeks. Jodianne is a bit older than Kia, but a week or so younger than Yates.
Toddlers and young children recognize a similarity with puppies and themselves and they want to play. The puppy usually wants to play too. However, human children tend to squeak, squeal, run away, and act like the best prey ever--at least that's how I imagine puppies view the matter. So, puppies react to toddlers by jumping, nipping, and otherwise trying to instigate puppy-style play. The energy level amplifies and a scary situation develops. Lauren, one of my group's puppy raising leaders calls this frenetic energy, and I can't think of a better word to describe it.
Galaxy is a week over four months old now. She's officially lost her puppy license, and she seems to know it. A little bit.
Galaxyis one of the more difficult puppies I've raised. I actually had to spend two lunch times at the grocery store with Galaxy. I sat at the entry way and gave her lunch, kibble by kibble, as a reward for not barking and lunging at people. Galaxy had a problem with tall, skinny people wearing hats. (Pictures follow)
Yeeah! I feel that Kia is reliably potty trained now. That is, if I give her an opportunity to do her business before entering an establishment, I'm fairly confident we can go through the store without incident.
Bonita left us on the evening of Wednesday, February 6, 2013. That sounds like she died, but she didn't She left for college.
At the end of December/beginning of January, Leon and I were talking and we agreed that Bonita was ready for college. She seemed a bit bored with us and had learned just about everything I could teach her. So, I wasn't surprised when my Guide Dog leader called in early January and said they were getting ready to recall Bonita.
Jenson needs a sitter for a few days, so Anna and I volunteered. This is Anna's first time actually participating in babysitting a Guide Dog Puppy. I've watched them through the years in a babysitting fashion, but the kids weren't interested at all.
So far, she seems to be doing well. She's even told me a few times, "No mommy, they said to do it this way."
Anna and I went to another puppy truck day. Flicker is a beautiful, well-behaved yellow labrador girl. Our leader raised her. She was very sad to see Flicker go, and kept onto Flicker until the last possible minute. She even went across the street to cuddle Flicker.
Bonita at Adler on top of vent.
One of the cool things about raising Guide Dog Puppies is that they get to go to a lot of places. Bonita went to Adler in Chicago, and she looks might flighty on top of the vent.
Raisers don't get to choose their puppy's name. The raiser that raised the mother dog gets to name the first litter of puppies, and the mother dog's new people get to name subsequent litters.
I didn't want to go, but I did anyway, and I went to my first Guide Dog Puppy Raising Dinner tonight (held annually). Bonita couldn't come. She went into season about two weeks ago, and she's still bleeding strong. Some of the puppies are year-old, uncut males. Boni has been sequestered for a while and she appears depressed and stir crazy.
Anna and I started attending Guide Dog Puppy meetings when we started thinking about raising a puppy. Anna liked seeing the puppies and I liked seeing the puppies and my old group. I missed that group. Boulder Guide Dog Puppies is a great group.