Saturday, August 29, 2015

Lambs eat oats...Pro Choice is their choice

We made the one hour trip up to Slymar and the one hour trip back to Long Beach without too much hassle.  Saw the vet at GDA, a very nice man, who somewhat confirmed what we suspected.  Right now, Dylan is not a chicken and rice kind of Lab.  She may be one later, but for now, we are switching to Lamb and Rice.  GDA is very strict on what their dogs eat and Purina Pro-Plan is their food of choice.  Luckily, they make a Lamb and Rice puppy food so we have officially switched.

Dylan really stressed out about going to the Vet.

Still stressed

Not so much now.  I think she's smiling.

Stopped at PetSmart and got her food and then home.

Ah, on our way home.
Kind of a one trick puppy if you ask me.

One Step Back!

Looking for the lost ball!

After our third puppy kindergarten class with Dylan, things seemed to be progressing nicely.  She was back on her regular food.  She had taken over as the alfa canine as Maggie completely ignores her and Bailey would let Dylan do just about anything.  Then she started again with diarrhea.  Back on her Prescription I/D food and more calls to the GDA vet in Sylmar.  In talking with another owner,  she had a puppy who was allergic to chicken.  Dylan's regular food has chicken as its base.  So today, we are taking Dylan back up to Sylmar to see the vet to try and find out what's going on with her dietary track.

It's gonna be hot in Sylmar.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Not much is routine about Dylan

After three weekends, Dylan seems to be settling in to a routine.  Up early, we take her outside and she 'gets busy' then rushes to the kitchen knowing she will be fed.  We are working on getting her to sit and wait once her food dish is placed on the floor.  Sitting seems to be no problem as she starts sitting the moment I pick up her dish from the kitchen counter.  The waiting part is a bit difficult for her.  As I mentioned before, Labs are voracious eaters.  Dylan is no exception to this rule.  Then it's romper time with Bailey.  But before that, she needs to 'get busy' once more.  We have learned that pups don't empty their bladder, so multiple trips outside are required.  Then it is no holds barred play time.  Out again for 'Big Busy' and then time for bugging Maggie, who wants nothing to do with Dylan.  Back to Bailey who is more that ready to rumble and finally, nap time.  This takes about 2 hours in the morning.

Play time about through

Out for the count!

This weekend was special as our niece Kelsey came to visit from Morgan Hill.  On break from Chico State, she spent a week down south and got up close to Dylan.

With Dylan's intestinal track seemingly back to normal, we're starting to re-introduce solid food and hoping for her to begin gaining some weight.  As much as her routine is important to us, we also have  begun to find our rhythm with Dylan.  We'll see how long this lasts!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Dylan on the Mend

Now that we have Dylan on Prescription Diet I/D her stools have been firm and formed.  I know that many of you were worried, as we were, about her health.  She is back to terrorizing  Bailey and running around like a Lab puppy.  She is very thin, even though she is wolfing down her food, seems like none of it was being digested as it was just squirting out her backside.

We have been working on her downs and comes and if nothing, she is a smart Lab.  Catching on rather very quickly to commands.  Of course she also tries to pick up everything including any shoes or flip flops that are left out.  NO commands are a little more frequent.  And, in reading the handbook that came with Dylan, I learned that if she decides to make you her chew toy, just yelp loudly and she stops.

Nice having a puppy that comes with a handbook.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

One of those Selfish Thursdays!

Thursday is my golf day.  Now, I really like Thursdays.  So today, I woke up early, showered and as I am exiting the shower I heard a scream, "Dylan just threw up in her crate".  Oh no!

We have been battling diarrhea since the second day we picked up Dylan.  Switched her diet to chicken and rice.  It got better and then it got worse.  This was a new twist.   Well, today it got four times worse; four bouts this morning alone.  Our fear was Parvo, a disease that can kill puppies.

But to make matters even more fun, Chris has been battling sciatic back pain and it has reared its ugly head as well.  I was in a quandary.  What to do?  What would you do?  Chris already had an appointment to visit to see her back specialist.  She was in pain.  Dylan was sick and getting busy all over, thankfully outside this time.  And I had 3 guys counting on me to fill out a foursome.  So we called GDA and of course their vet is off this week.  "She'll be back Saturday".  This could only mean one thing.  My buddies would be going off as a threesome.

After speaking and getting permission from GDA, we took Dylan to our vet.  GDA is very particular who treats their dogs and I can understand that.  They are a huge investment for them and we are their caretakers.  After gathering a sample of goo, he headed over to see Dr. Bang, pronounced Bong.  He is great.  He got us in right away and gave us assurance that it probably isn't Parvo, but since she took her vaccine just a few days ago, a test could result in a false positive.   I got Dylan in her cradle position and she went right to sleep.  Got us some meds, Science Diet food, and instructions on what to do.  All for a $100, which we will be reimbursed for by GDA.  We probably will be taking Dylan up to Sylmar on Saturday.

So Dylan is resting comfortably.  Chris, after seeing her Dr., is resting comfortably.  Me?  I'm itching for next Thursday.

Does this sound selfish?


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Out in Public

After Monday's class, Dylan received her new Puppy in Training vest.  Her first vest fell off as it was way too big.  This one is altered slightly, but fits the bill.  With her second round of heart worm medicine completed, we can now take Dylan out for short trips.  Chris and I went to Starbucks and took Dylan along with us.  We were told (warned) that guide dog puppies in training cause quite a commotion.  The guidance we received was to ask the person, people...horde, to stop just a second and let us get our puppy settled.  One at a time and sorry, but no, you can't pick them up.  Our goal as puppy raisers is to socialize the puppies in many different scenarios.  Well, Dylan was quite the hit at Starbucks.  People were very respectful and Dylan was great.  

Our first voyage into public was a success.  

Dylan, steppin' out.

Being good and staying on her blanket.

Rocking the Cradle with Doggie Toothpaste

Our second kindergarten class with Dylan was Monday night and I got to work with her.  I will say this, sitting on a cushion on concrete is not easy.  Just a small insight I thought I'd share with you.

Diego to our right.  

 Her litter mate, Diego, was next to us.   Brian went over some of the commands we need to start imparting on our pups.  We learned the cradle game and the name game last week.  This week we worked on the "sit" and the "down" commands.  Now Dylan is really good on the sits.  The command sit is given once.  If your pup doesn't sit, a slight tug on the leash and then followed with a gentle nudge down on her back side to get her to sit if needed.  What you don't say is; sit, sit, Sit Dylan, DYLAN SIT!!!  Just one command.  Then heaps of praise and hand rubbing all over the puppy.  The down command is a bit more difficult for the pups to learn.  So with that, we use treats.  While the pups are sitting, you bring the treat straight down the leash from the top of the dog and past their nose to the ground.  Once their nose is down on the ground, you see which side they're leaning and gently nudge them over and then say the command "Down".   Then "good down" and release them with, ok...ok...good girl.

The class is as much for us as the dogs.

Our entire puppy kindergarten class.
Then we got to brush her teeth.  Now that wasn't what Dylan or I was expecting.  Doggie toothpaste and a small toothbrush was an instant sign to bite.  All this done while in the cradle position.  All to make it easier for her eventual owner to be able to check, clean and sooth their dogs.  And by then, the razor sharp puppy teeth will be gone.  Ouch!

A well earned nap after class
Dylan wasn't the star, but she is the cutest.  Everyone at puppy kindergarten agrees to that.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Peanut...Peanut Butter!

One of your assignments from puppy kindergarten is to crate your puppy for about 15 minutes 2 or 3 times a day.  Getting guide dogs used to crate time is important.  The eventual owner must be able to crate their dogs knowing they are safe and where to find them.  Dylan sleeps in the crate all night and you would think that it would be easy to get her to sit and relax for a few minutes during the day.  Well, it hasn't been easy.  She gets in the crate and barks non stop.  Now the dilemma; leave her in the crate and let her bark or have sympathy and take her out thus undoing what you are supposed to be doing by teaching her to welcome the crate as her friend and safe place.  Also, I never understood how a small puppy can make so much racket.  I'm outside in the front yard, separated by three walls of the house and its like I'm in the crate with her.

So I moved the crate into the front room while watching some TV.  By letting her see us, knowing that everything is all right, quiet time is here.  Yeah right, like that works.  Now I have the double annoyance of not hearing the TV and a barking puppy.  Just so you know, it isn't about watching TV.   It's trying to find the balance of a happy Dylan and a happy puppy raiser.  So far the balance is in the dogs favor.

Then I remember a tip Brian, our puppy leader,  told us while in kindergarten class.  Place just a smidgen of peanut butter inside a bleached puppy bone.  Magically, a peaceful puppy and a happy puppy raiser.  She even went to sleep.

Happy, Balanced Dylan
I'm so glad I can get the upper hand on a nine week old puppy.  I am not above bribery.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Puppy Kindergarten...Breaking Bad!

Monday brought us to our first "official" puppy kindergarten class with Dylan.  Three other GDA Labs were in attendance along with their adopted temporary owners.  Nancy and Brian, who are our area leaders, hold the class in their garage.  Brian again goes over the paperwork we received in Sylmar and then addresses any concerns we may have.  Then it is time to cradle.  Cradling your puppy allows them to get use to being handled by people.  You check their ears, feet and teeth.  (which are deadly sharp).  They need to get used to this so when their eventual owners receive their guide dog, they can physically check them as they cannot see what problems their dogs may have so must feel for any problems.  

Then we did the sit and wait game.   Labs are notorious for being voracious eaters.  If I could find a better word that describes how Labs eat, I would use it.  So you have to get them to sit, wait and then eat.  As a blind person feeding their dog, they need to be able to place the food down, stand up and move away so as not to be trampled by their dog.  Dylan has been practicing this at home but did horrible in class.  The other three were much better.  It's early still!

Then we did the name game.  Sitting across from each other, Brian would call out their name and then the dogs would come to him.  Then we would call and the dogs would go to their owners.  Dylan was much better doing the name game.  She already knows her name.  Mainly from us yelling, "Dylan, not on the rug...DYLAN!".   However, she is becoming a bit more predictable in her habits and we are becoming more vigilant in observing when its time for her to relieve herself.  All puppy owners go through this.  

Dylan, not paying attention in Class

Bailey is constantly vigilant of Dylan.  As soon as Dylan picks up a toy, Bailey wants to steal it.  Dylan attacks Bailey, and Bailey gives up the toy.  It's a continuous game they play, much to our amusement.  And like a I mentioned in an earlier blog, there is no tennis ball fetch.  Bailey is the evil sister when it comes to breaking the rules.  She constantly throws tennis balls Dylan's way.  Trying to corrupt her at every turn.  

All in all, Dylan and we are adjusting to our lives together.   Bailey, she just sees a puppy breaking bad!

Dylan's litter mate Diego, a black Lab, is to the right

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Busy Happens!

Three days in and it's been interesting.  Dylan is as head strong as she is cute.  We were asked to just ease her into puppy life outside the litter.  No commands except "get busy" and maybe a sit command once in a while.  Eating three times a day, getting busy would seem to be an easy command to grasp.  Dogs eat, dogs pee, dogs poop!  Ah, but the rhythm of our newest addition is still a bit of a mystery to us.  She eats, plays, sleeps and then we take her outside to "get busy".  It doesn't happen.  We parade her up and down the driveway and no busy.  She sits and looks up at us with those cute baby browns. Whines a bit, scratches a bit then sits again, no busy.  All the while, "get busy" is flowing out of us like the spring thaw in Niagara.  So we bring her in.  I'm sure I don't have to tell you what then happens.  BUSY HAPPENS!

Diarrhea struck her on Saturday.  Busy happened all over the house.  Called the vet at GDA and we're told, it's not unusual for new puppies to have this occur.  "Change her diet to rice and boiled chicken."  So for the next few days, we'll see how this works.

Oh, I took up our living room rug and it's rolled and now rests in our garage.  Baby gates block the front door screen.  All vases that were puppy level have been raised.  All of Bailey's tennis balls have been put away.

Seems the only thing getting busy around here is us...

Dylan, not "getting busy".

Friday, August 7, 2015

Meet Dylan

Morning arrived and we set out to pick up Dylan with a slight detour to drop off Bravo, a black lab, who we puppy sat for over the last 5 days.  Making our way up to Sylmar was uneventful except for the usual awful traffic going up the 405.  The GDA compound has many buildings and was full of kids doing a summer tour of the facility.  Many new puppy raisers were waiting along with a bunch of repeat raisers who all knew each other.  Making us feel welcomed into their fraternity and reassuring us newbies all would be well.  We still felt unsure but ready for the challenge.  After a 45 minute lecture on the rules, expectations and signed contracts, we were lead out to the nursery area awaiting the 14 puppies from two litters who were being sent out into the great unknown world of "us".

Litters D and E with corresponding first letter names were brought out one at a time.  If schmaltz could have been bottled there, it would have been over flowing. Elsa, Eddie and a bunch of other E names came first.  Then Diego, Dozier and finally Dylan.

Puppy Breath!!!

Group pictures then individual pictures taken by GDA staff and then off to let the puppies romp outside for the first time.  Everyone rubbing the blankets and stuffed animal, that comes with their puppy, on their litter mates.  Rubbing of their litter mates is supposed to make being away from them easier as they have their scent and won't feel completely abandoned.

The ride home was horrible.  Two and one half hours on freeways made this retired driver glad I don't have to do that anymore.  Little Dylan slept the entire way, cuddled in Chris' lap, oblivious to her surroundings.  We stopped and tried to get Dylan to pee, but she wouldn't.  Finally, home sweet home!  Waking up just in time to "get busy" code for  pee on the driveway.  A huge success in the new puppy raising world.

What traffic?

Then meeting her four legged sisters Maggie, Bailey and of course bigger sister Erin.

Hi Maggie!

Wanna play?

With just two accidents in the house and four successful "busies" outside, we now are on our way to raising our guide dog puppy, Dylan.

Welcome to our home!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

August 6 - D Day is upon us!

A few days back, I wrote we had been chosen and accepted to raise a puppy for Guide Dogs of America.  Yes, tomorrow August 6 we pick up Dylan.  Now, I'm not going to sit here and compare our D Day to "that" D Day.  During the hours before June 6, 1944, Eisenhower wrote two letters, one taking responsibility for the failure of his mission.  The other indicating how the out come was the beginning of freeing Europe from the Nazi occupation.  So to be clear, this D Day is not like that.  I'm not writing any letters of failure.  I'm not writing any letters of historical significance what-so-ever!  What I am writing is that this is the calm before what is certain to be a Sh*t storm when it comes to our two retrievers, Maggie and Bailey.  They do not know what is about to hit them.  And for that, I am truly sorry.

Tomorrow we drive out to Sylmar and pick up our Dylan.  During the next few weeks, we will experience sleep deprivation, anxiety and wonder as to what the hell were we thinking.  Having puppy sat for the last 4 days, we already know our house will be pissed and crapped on.  (Like what happened while I was writing this blog just this minute.)  Our dogs will go from loving us to wondering why, oh why did you do this to us.

Dylan is arriving at a time when we both have time on our hands.  We both love animals, especially cute Lab puppy animals.  We're confident that we can and will do this!  But we also know that the bigger picture is to help a sightless person be able to move about with confidence because Dylan will be there to shepherd him or her to safety each and every time they step outside.  God help us that we don't fail in our mission.

Maybe I will write those two letters....