No news on Zodiac this week. He hasn’t made it to the phase report yet but I didn’t see any of the pups that were on the truck with him either. He should show up next week, unless the holiday weekend disrupts things. But in many ways no news is good news at this point. A phone call would be a really bad thing. It could only mean that he was career changed.
At this point I would expect that he is getting adjusted to the routines on Guide Dogs for the Blind’s campus. They usually have a kennel mate and Zodiac will have a canine welfare technician to make sure he is healthy and happy. The will also be doing medical exams and he will have walks and playtime.
Above is the first spread in Zodiac’s puppyhood book. I’ll post one spread each week along with an update on how he is doing in training. Here is the text for that page:
Most puppy raisers think their dog is the cutest, but of course they are wrong, Zodiac is really the cutest puppy ever! He was a very solidly built. At 13 months he was 65 lbs. even though he isn’t a very tall dog. I expect he will put on a few more pounds as his muscles continue to develop. Zodiac has matured into a very handsome nicely put together dog.
I’ve been working on Zodiac’s book as often as I can since he is leaving in 9 days and I’d like to send a digital copy of it when he gets on the puppy truck. I’ve made pretty good progress, though not at all they way I planned it. (Sometimes plans just have to be adjusted.) Anyway, I’ve got the text all finished and some of the photos placed. I need to get some more photos of him taken before he goes. I have lots of him sleeping and sitting and being calm but not many of him in his wild and fun-loving moments. That is a big part of who he is. I think I’ll post the finished pages once a week on pupdate day after he leaves. With some luck he could be graduating by the time I get done. So for now, here is the rest of the text.
Zeus – supreme deity of the ancient Greeks: Though Zodiac has always been cute with maturing he now has a certain presence when he wants to, maybe even a little Zeus like in his demeanor. Zodiac started to show signs of maturing at the year mark but it really started to accelerate when he turned 14 months old. Since he was about 9 months old we have been going to the local grade school a couple of times a week to listen to kids read. Zodiac has always been attracted to kids and their happy energy. But with his maturing he can now sit calmly in the hall and watch hundreds of kids walk by. I’m so proud of him. He is really grown-up.
Zigzag – a course with sharp turns: Zodiac like most labs has his wild moments when he dashes around the house. Some times I’ve heard this called labby loops. With Zodiac it is more of a zigzag than loops. He runs full speed one direction then abruptly changes direction and then changes direction again. He does this for just a couple of minutes and then he is back to normal.
Zillion – an extremely large number: Zodiac is on in a zillion. Though he looks pretty much like many other black labs, he has a unique combination of personality traits that we have come to love and usually appreciate. He has this adorable way of looking up at you without really moving his head. This makes it so the whites of his eyes show. He has a slightly scruffy coat and really thick toenails. Zodiac is curious about everything and always wants to help when you are doing something usual. He loves to supervise me when I’m vacuuming. He is an excellent traveler and enjoys seeing and doing new things. Though he is the sixth puppy we have raised for GDB and he won’t be the last he is the one and only Zodiac.
Zingy – full of zing; lively; zesty; exciting: Zodiac has had the best of relationships with two other puppies in training. First was Yakira (puppy #5). When Zodiac was you she was is guardian and mentor. As he grew older their relationship evolved into buddies. Through it all they two of them had many a lively and exciting romps. When she returned to GDB for training he truly missed her. A few months later Dune (puppy #7) came on the scene and Zodiac got to be the mentor. Yakira taught him well and he did many of the same things that Yakira had done for him. Though Dune’s personality is very different from Yakira’s, Zodiac and Dune have just as close a relationship. They can run full tilt around the house and a few minutes later be snuggled up together for a nap. Dune is going to miss Zodiac when it is his turn to return to GDB for training.
Zion – where the pure in heart dwell: Even though Zodiac is far from perfect, you always know where you stand with him. He has a pure heart with no concept of deception. He loves with all his heart and is always happy to see an old friend or make a new friend. This trait will serve him well the rest of his life, no matter what the future brings.
Zippy – full of energy; lively; peppy: Zodiac has an odd quirk that he picked up after he was neutered. He loves to rub on people and couches much like a cat. Only problem is he is much more energetic and lively than a cat. So while a cat rubs gently against your leg, Zodiac tends to zip by with a not so gentle shove. I wonder if it is his way of scratching an itchy spot? It seems kind of fitting for his name since the U.S. Navy call their rubber rafts, zodiacs, I figure that Zodiac is our rubber boy.
Zoic – relating to or having animal life: Well since Zodiac is actually an animal he certainly is zoic. He has just two siblings, Zenith (male black lab) and Zulu (female yellow lab). His brother Zenith has a white spot on his chest, while Zodiac has just a few white hairs between his toes called Bolo marks, named after an English dual Champion Banchory Bolo because he produced many of these marks in his offspring and future generations.
Zonked – exhausted or asleep: Zodiac is great at being zonked. Especially after a challenging outing or in the evening. He is very content to curly up on a dog bed or stretch out on the floor. Usually he has an ear listening for anything interesting happening but sometimes when he is really tired it takes some real effort to get him up and moving again.
Zoom – to move quickly or suddenly: Not surprisingly Zodiac loves to zoom around our back yard. We usually keep a Jolly Ball out there at his favorite game is to grab the ball and run from one end of the yard to the other as fast as he can. Once his mouth got big enough he started carrying it around by the ball and not by the rope. He has to crush the stiff plastic with his teeth to do it, but he is plenty strong enough. While he loves to run he isn’t the fastest dog around. He is built more for sturdiness than for speed. I love watching him run happily in the back yard.
A few weeks ago I made a goal to get two words done each week on Zodiac’s book. You probably aren’t keeping track but I haven’t posted any pages from is book in the past two weeks. So much for that plan. I have done some work on his book. Last week I gathered all the photos I have of him in one place. Some of the photos where tough to know if it was Yakira or Zodiac. I need to do better at adding information to the photos in the metadata when I take them. That is one of those things on my long-term to do list but that hasn’t come close to seeing the light of day.
I also took some time and decided what I would focus on with each of Zodiac’s “Z” words. Lots of them have similar meanings but I’m happy with the topics I’ve come up with. I also have all the “Z” words in the book with their definitions. Now it is just a matter of finding or taking good photos for each word and writing some text.
Today I thought I’d get to work on a few pages and place some photos too. But instead I got text written for 8 spreads but no photos placed. So here is what I got done today:
zaftig – full-bodied; well-proportioned: Most puppy raisers think their dog is the cutest, but of course they are wrong, Zodiac is really the cutest puppy ever! He was a very solidly built. At 13 months he was 65 lbs. even though he isn’t a very tall dog. He has the cutest way of looking up at you with the whites of his eyes showing. Zodiac has matured into a very handsome nicely put together dog.
zany– comically wild or eccentric: One of the Zaniest things that Zodiac loves to do is dig in his empty dog dish. I usually take it to mean that he would like some ice cubes. Zodiac loves ice cubes! He will grab an ice-cube or two and dash into the living room to munch down on them or chase them around the kitchen. It could be that he is really trying to say that he wants more dog food but he never gets that. He hasn’t ever done this before a meal. Well, he has me pretty well-trained to the ice-cube thing.
zap– strike suddenly and forcefully: Jumping is probably my least favorite thing about Zodiac. Sometimes it comes so unexpectedly when I’m sitting at my desk working on my computer and “zap” his paws land abruptly on my arm and shoulder. I sure hope that his future handler loves this trait because I think it is just part of who he is. We have been able to moderate it but not stop it all together.
zax– a hatchetlike tool for roofing slate: Once in a while Zodiac uses his paws like a zax and punches you. The most memorable time was when my friend Lisa, and I along with Zodiac and a career change dog name Osaka where driving through the night to a Guide Dog for the Blind graduation. We both too tired to drive so the four of us slept in the car. At some point Zodiac punched out with one of his paws and caught Lisa in the eye. Boy did that ever hurt. I’m pretty sure her eye got scratched but it healed up fine. Of course Zodiac wasn’t trying to hurt her, she just got in the way of a powerful paw stretch.
zealous– ardently active, devoted, diligent: Zodiac is very zealous about life and what it likes to do. Sometimes it comes across as stubbornness. I’ll never forget our first day together. He was exploring his new house and decided he wanted to go it the spare bedroom. This is our cats territory and off-limits to the dogs, so I picked up his puppy leash and stopped him. He did like that and pulled harder to go into the room. I think we spent 10 minutes with Zodiac trying to go forward into the room and me preventing him. To his credit he learned his lesson and we never had that battle again.
zeek out – (slang) to lose control of oneself: Zodiac has always been attracted to sounds and somewhere along the way he learned that the doorbell usually meant something interesting was about to happen. When Zodiac hears the ding-dong, he gets all excited, barks a couple of times and runs to the door. I then ask him to step back from the door and wait calmly for me to answer it. Sometimes he does better at this than others.
zenith– highest point or state, culmination: (this is for his graduation day or whatever his career of choice)
zephyr– thing of fine, light quality: The only thing about Zodiac that is fine and light is his hair. He is a lab so he has plenty of hair. It is the thickest and scruffiest of all our puppies. Though as he has grown up it doesn’t seem so scruffy.
zero hour– a decisive or critical time: (this is for recall day)
zesty– energetic; active: Zodiac has always had a zest for life. He is a fun-loving boy and loves to be out doing things, going new places and making new friends. Zodiac is sure that everyone he meets is just as happy to meet him. He is ever the optimist that something fun is just around the corner. I love the happy light that is typically in Zodiac’s eyes.
Even though that wasn’t how I planned to go ahead, in the end, I think it just matters that I’m making progress and not that I follow my previous plan exactly. To my way of thinking, plans are to help us move forward. I don’t always get a project broken up in a way that really works in real life. Then, I think it is important to just go with the flow and feel good about your progress. Does that ever happen to you? How do you handle it when your plans and reality don’t work together?
As our time with Zodiac comes to a close, I’ve been wanted to get started on his puppyhood book. I have a template so many of the design decisions are already made. Beside speeding up the process of completing each book the template gives a continuity to the series. Today I picked a font (Hobo Std) and two accent colors (blueish green and yellow). The colors might get changed as the book comes together but they are a good start. I also picked out 19 “Z” words to describe Zodiac. Finding “Z” words was a challenge but I did it.
zaftig – full-bodied; well-proportioned
zany – comically wild or eccentric
zap – strike suddenly and forcefully
zax – a hatchetlike tool for roofing slate
zealous – ardently active, devoted, diligent
zeek out – (slang) to lose control of oneself
zenith – highest point or state, culmination
zephyr – thing of fine, light quality
zero hour – a decisive or critical time
zesty – energetic; active
Zeus – supreme deity of the ancient Greeks
zigzag – a course with sharp turns
zillion – an extremely large number
zingy – full of zing; lively; zesty; exciting
Zion – where the pure in heart dwell
zippy – full of energy; lively; peppy
zoic – relating to or having animal life
zonked – exhausted or asleep
zoom – to move quickly or suddenly
The next steps are to work on the text for each word and find and/or take more photos to help illustrate all the “Z” words. Zenith will be used to talk about Zodiac’s partnership, hopefully as a guide dog, so that one will have to wait. Also zero hour will be about putting him on the puppy truck so I can’t do that one either. But I hope to have the rest of the pages done by the time he returns to Guide Dogs for the Blind. Then I can put it on to a cd and it will be given to his handler while they are in training. It is lots of fun for them to learn about how their dog was growing up in the raisers home.
Zodiac will probably be in the truck in 8 to 10 weeks. With 19 words to do I better get at least two spreads done each week. So that is my goal. I’ll post them here on pupdate day to help me be accountable for that goal. Since I’ve already do so much this week, I work to getting one spread done for Friday.
Do you have a project with an upcoming deadline that you are working on? I’d love to hear about it.
I have to admit that the first month or so of raising Yakira was very difficult and I wondered if she would do better with another raiser. But she matured quickly and grew into such a wonderful dog. I’m glad I didn’t give up on her. She taught me patience which was well rewarded in the end. With her sweet nature and natural confidence Yakira will have a positive impact on many more lives as she guides Diane over the next several years.
We are proud of Yakira’s accomplishments and we are so glad that she has been apart of our lives. She has certainly lived up to her name because she is a precious girl.
I think all labs love their food, but Yakira not only loves her food she loves her bowl too. After finishing her meal she would lick it clean to the last drop and then start scraping the bowl with her teeth. She put her top teeth on the upper edge of the bowl and open her mouth as wide as she could and scrap her teeth up the side of the bowl. It makes a sound surprisingly like fingernails on a chalk board.
In the spring Yakira sniffed a petal from a blossom and it stuck to her nose. She knew it was there but couldn’t figure out how to get it off. I was working with Styrofoam for a project and it got all over her and Zodiac. They looked like reverse Dalmatians. At Halloween she was tolerant but unhappy about her Aunt Lisa trying costumes on her at PetCo.
One of Yakira’s most endearing traits is her wiggle. When she wags her tail her whole body gets into it. Every time Yakira meets someone she knows and loves she will wiggle from the tip of her nose all they way down to the tip of her tail. How can you not love a dog that show such joy at seeing you again. Yakira is just such a sweetie!
Yakira was a super cute puppy and she grew in to a beautiful dog. She got lots and lots of comments everywhere she went.
She had evaluations by two different CFRs (community field representative) from GDB and both commented on her looks and took photos to send to the breeding department to watch for her to come in for breeder evaluation. One of them said “she is well put together.”
But a breeder for Guide Dogs for the Blind must have more than just good looks. Yakira’s EKG wasn’t quite perfect and so she wasn’t picked as a breeder after all. But she is still as beautiful as they come.
A couple of weeks after we added Zodiac (puppy in training #6), Yakira went into season. Yakira was such a great mentor to Zodiac and I think that part of that was because the hormones made it instinctual for her to adopt Zodiac as her own puppy.
Zodiac learned so many things so quickly because of Yakira’s care. When Zodiac learned to do open stairs for the first time, Yakira was right there, helping him navigate the stairs safely by protectively curling her body around his as the descended the stairs. She did that kind of thing over and over.