Wednesday, October 28, 2015

No day at the Beach.

Our job as puppy raisers is to expose as many different situations to Dylan as possible.  Even if it means having to take her to the beach, walk on a boardwalk and watch waves roll in.  Tough job, I know.

The fun part is seeing how Dylan reacts to new stimuli. While there, huge earth movers were building sand berms to keep out an impending high tide due later this week.  Then of course there are other things that are totally foreign to Dylan.  We had waves crashing into pier pilings, fishermen casting lines, families with strollers, all new to Dylan.  Under normal circumstances, your puppy would be going crazy.  What's so special about these dogs is they cannot go crazy.  They have to guide their human safely to their next destination.  When she is wearing her vest, we both can see she takes this job seriously.  So should puppy raisers.  That is the tough job.  Knowing you have a puppy, but you have to put that out of your mind and do your best to socialize and make your puppy obedient by using love, not threats.  Our group leader Brian says it best.  C.I.P.  You have to be consistent, insistent and persistent.

Walking the boardwalk on Seal Beach Beach pier 

Checking out the earth movers.
Pigeons, so close, yet so far.  
Maybe not a day at the beach, but we will continue to our best!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Just visiting with Rugby and Rosie

Monday, Chris took Dylan to our daughter Erin's class room.  Her class was reading a book about guide dogs called "Rugby and Rosie" and what better example than to show them a real one.  Even if Dylan is still in training, her kids loved seeing and touching a real guide dog puppy.

Even the aides got some Dylan loving'

Thanks to Erin for letting us share Dylan with her kids.  Both young and old!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Freeze Frame! Our Calendar Girl

The GDA is divided up among the many sections of southern California.  We belong to the South Bay Puppy Raisers.  Headed up by Brian and Nancy, they are our contacts whenever we have questions.  I know by now, they have seen just about everything a puppy raiser can come up with.  Just this weekend, our Dylan was being puppy sat while we attended the victorious USC game against Utah.  Dylan and sitters dog, Naya, were playing and the next thing you know Dylan has a split nail on her right front paw.  She was limping around and seemed to be in some pain.  Naturally, we took her to see Nancy and Brian.  With some reassuring words for us and Chris' nursing skills, Dylan was good as new by Monday.

While there, we picked up one of many fund raiser tools GDA uses and this was their Guide Dogs of America 2016 Calendar.  GDA is funded exclusively by donations.

Not available in stores.

When we first received Dylan in early August, they were shooting pictures for this calendar.  So we were asked to bring in Dylan for a photo shoot.  There must have been about 30 dogs and a photographer with the patience of Job taking pictures.  Well, to our most pleasant surprise, Dylan made April's centerfold!  She also has a picture with Morgan, whom we puppy sat before receiving Dylan.

It's those eyes!

Now you may be wondering, since I can't buy this wonderful calendar in stores, how can I get one for myself and three or four for Christmas gifts for friends and family?  Well, just let us know how many you need.  Ten dollars per calendar and all proceeds go to GDA.  

Please contact me at or Chris at and we will get these to you in plenty of time for holiday gift giving.

Meanwhile, our centerfold is doing what centerfolds do, lounging by the pool.

Ready for my close up.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Crate me, crate me...

Kenneling or crating your dog is something GDA wants all its puppy raisers to do.  A blind person doesn't always take their dogs with them and when they don't, they have to be crated.  It isn't always easy at first.  Dogs, especially puppies, like to be out and about.  Dylan howled like crazy when we first placed her inside the crate.  It makes you feel horrible, as if you are punishing them.  However, that really isn't the case.  Most dogs begin to feel very comfortable in a crate as long as you crate them for the right reasons and a short period of time.  They feel secure in a small space and as long as the reason is not to punish your dog, there shouldn't be too many problems.  It just takes some time and patience, like everything else when you raise a puppy.

As Dylan has grown, she now weighs 30 pounds, her crate has gotten too small for her.  From the small puppy we received back in early August, she is now almost half her projected body weight and height, so she has out grown her humble puppy crate.

Those eyes tell you, "it's too small".

So we went out and bought a crate two sizes bigger, figuring that this should be her last crate.  She went right in and made herself at home.  

Just right!

Today we took Dylan for her first Costco experience.  I have to say, Costco on Wednesday afternoon around 2:30 is a perfect time for Dylan to be there.  Not many food vendors, which means no families blocking isles and the floors are really clean.  Anytime we take her on excursions, she usually tuckers out.  Laying spread eagle in the checkout line happens more times than not.  Getting home, it became Bailey time.   

Dylan, out for the count!

It is really fun to see how Bailey reacts with Dylan.  Knowing when its play time and when its time to just chill.  I think you can see what time it is here.   

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Walking the Mall

As you may or may not know, Chris and I are going to South Bend to watch the SC vs Notre Dame game.  Well, you can't go to the game without proper clothing.  This meant a trip to South Coast Plaza and the Trojan Shop for Chris to stock up on SC gear.  It also meant an opportunity to take Dylan along for her first Mall visit.  First off, South Coast Plaza is an amazing place.  I felt under dressed the moment I stepped out of our car.  Dylan looked great in her Puppy in Training vest and you could see she likes to strut her stuff when she knows she is working.  Riding up elevators and hearing waterfalls were all taken in stride.  I remember from puppy kindergarten being told that when you walk a  puppy in training with its vest on, people act one of two ways.  They either smile and nod and respect the fact you are working with a puppy for an important purpose or they rush up to you and want to play with the puppy.  So to keep that from happening, you don't make eye contact with people.  I tried that and it actually works.  Of course most people were on their cell phones and didn't know a puppy was anywhere around them.

Walking through a Mall with a puppy could be a guys chick magnet especial.  But, I kept strong and just kept looking ahead like I knew what I was doing and so did Dylan.  We then had lunch and she was great, sitting on her blanket and playing with her squeaky toy or licking the floor.  Only a few people came up to us, but were really nice.  One lady asked if she could pet Dylan and once I got Dylan sitting quietly, she got her puppy fix and Dylan fell all over herself loving the attention.

Last night we went to a monthly meeting where all the area GDA dogs come together.  Their ages range from 8 weeks to 18 months.  Some come for training and/or new raisers get feedback and learnings from long time puppy raisers.  But the best is to acknowledge those raisers and their dogs  that are moving on and going back to Sylmar for formal training.  This is known as giving back.  Tears not withstanding, it's a very cool time for the puppy raisers to know they have done their job and now it's up to GDA and the dog to do their jobs.  The other thing that Chris and I realized, of the 20 some dogs there that night, all those dogs are just as squirrelly as Dylan.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Dylan and Her Teenage Years

Puppies in general go through the same growing processes as do human children.  Fear, anxiety, comfortable acceptance, love and rebellion.   Love and rebellion are where she is right about now.  Think how your 11 year old trusted and loved you. Now remember when, in just two short years, how they became this strange person at 13, they disobeyed every thing they were taught and had no sense of right or wrong.  In reality, it's called growing.  Learning to be independent.

Yesterday, GDA sent a representative to our house to check on us and Dylan.  Yvette, having spent just a few minutes talking to us and observing Dylan was able to  hit on our fears, our successes and Dylan's "teenage" antics.  She told us that labs get very comfortable with their new owners and after adjusting to the change,  they get into a routine.  Everything is going smoothly.  Then they become bored.  Where they never chewed on anything, they now chew on everything.  Where the bathroom trash can becomes their treasure trove. Where they came when called, now look at you like you're from Mars and they want nothing to do with you.  When "leave it"  and "No" come out of your mouth more than you could ever remember saying that command to no avail, you have a teenage puppy.

So you have to change tactics.  Instead of No or Leave It, it's "thanks for picking that up for me, or "good girl" for not jumping on you or the furniture.  Puppies do want to please, we're told.  So by changing tactics and reversing course, the dogs have to think.  Yvette told us they need to be mentally tired, not just physically tired.   The smarter the dog, the more mental fatigue they need.   I get mental fatigue reading a magazine.

Our teenager...
So we are changing her training routine and our reaction to her antics.  I'll let you know how this all works out.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


Dylan, having reached 16 weeks, has now had all her shots.  Rabies and her parvo shots are completed.  So this means we are free to take her just about anywhere.  Our first excursion was a walk around the block.  We have many dogs in our neighborhood and they all bark at passing dog walkers, a leaf dropping or any unheard of noise that only they can hear.  Dylan was in a new world and she was not going to miss anything.  These were distractions in 3D, HD and HSD.  (High Smell Definition)  Her head was on a swivel for two blocks.  Needless to say, training was difficult and heeling was not on her agenda.  Dylan is now at 25 pounds and getting lanky.  Still a puppy and energetic as all get out, she gives Bailey a run for her money everyday.

Trying to get pictures of our three girls is not always easy.

Front Porch Action, Dylan being Dylan

Dylan, winking!
Better..."look at the camera"

Aww, forget it!

Her next big adventure will be a traditional obedience class.  This takes place between the ages 5 and 6 months.  Of course GDA dogs have different rules then those "other" dogs.  However, it's all part of their learning.  Ours too!  More on that when we get closer to actually being there.

Our trip to NY, which was for 6 days, meant Dylan spent those days with Georgia and her dog, Naya.  Georgia, a long time GDA puppy raiser, gave her insight on Dylan telling us she is "very smart and stubborn."  She added, "Which means she will be a great guide dog requiring a lot of patience and persistence from her puppy raisers".