Thursday, March 31, 2016

Evaluation Time - Stealing your Heart.

Dylan at 9 1/2 months
At 10 months, GDA puppies spend a week in Slymar for a temperament evaluation.  During this time, each dog from Dylan's litter is evaluated.  There is the possibly of Dylan becoming a breeder.  They're checked for temperament and development for becoming a working guide dog.  So it is a BIG DEAL!  They may also be spayed if the females haven't gone into heat and are not being considered for a breeding dog.

Dylan goes up Saturday, April 9 after the obedience class and then stays the week.  At that time we find out how she did.  Some of our concerns are these:

She steals stuff — cute but not if you are blind.
She jumps on visitors — another no no!
She barks!  I think, too much.
Pulls too much on a lead.  She is getting a bit better at this.
She is stubborn when it comes to some commands — her "downs" need work and have been a source of concern.  (been working on these a lot lately)
She licks everything — not a good trait.
She will take off after a dog if left to her own decision making.  A very bad trait when it comes to her blind handler!

Are these traits something that could cause a career change?  Yes, but I don't know. She is not quite 10 months old and still not even a puppy teenager.  Remember, almost 50% of these puppies become career changed.

Areas that she does well; sitting quietly in a large group or at a restaurant, riding in cars or trains.  She will sit/stay for a very long time and not move.  Another thing she does very well, melting hearts of those that see her.  (not on the list)

Other things they check on include; behavior in establishments, toy possessiveness in a community and destructiveness.  Lastly, they check for environmental soundness — do they handle the overall environmental change well?  Do they easily scare, lack confidence or seem worried about new people?  They also look at the entire litter.  Some entire litters have been career changed because 3 or 4 of the puppies in that litter don't show the correct traits for becoming a guide dog.  That is how concerned GDA is about each potential guide dog and how it could affect a blind handler.

We get a complete report on these traits.  Along with a full report, we are shown ways to overcome any areas that are of concern.  We may be asked to bring Dylan back in three months to see how she has improved or become worse.  This is when you, as the puppy raiser, feel a bit unsure of how you're raising their dog.  And, since it is our first guide dog puppy, we are a bit anxious about the results.

So, there is time to work on some of the issues I listed, but if anyone has a clue how to stop a puppy from stealing, I would welcome any suggestions.

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