Banta’s Book – Balance

Balance: a state of bodily equilibrium

Banta is such the little athlete. Many times she reminds me of a gymnast turning in mid air and landing 180 degrees from where she started. Some times she even makes a little pre-jump move that looks just like she is getting ready to do a tumbling run.

One day Banta did a hand stand when she slipped off the stairs and got stuck between some boxes and furniture. I will always remember the day when she was still a young puppy. I told her to sit and instead of sitting she did a little 360 spin maneuver. It was so cute that I had to laugh when I should have been correcting her behavior.

[photo 1: Banta standing at the bottom of our stair in by the open front door with a tug rope at her feet, photo 2: close-up of Banta just starting down the stairs, photo 3: side view of Banta in our family room – she has been playing tug and just lost her grip on the toy]


Banta’s Book – Title page

Banta: GDB Puppy #2
Female Yellow Lab
Born: 26 July 2009 to Jenkins & Sunrise, San Rafael, California
Raised: 23 September 2009 to 3 November 2010 by Bill & Raelyn

[photo: this photo was taken by Lisa Thompson in a studio setting with a white background in December 2009 – Banta’s head and shoulders from the side with her head facing the camera – she has a serious look on her face and wearing her puppy jacket]

Banta’s Book – Front Cover

When each of my pups finds there career in life I put together a book to remember their puppyhood. Over the next several days I will post a new part of Banta’s book. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

Banta: a lemon flavored Soda pop popular in India
[photo: close-up of Banta with a happy look on her face, her mouth open and some of her pink tongue showing]

Banta’s Graduation

Mark and Banta

Banta graduated as a guide dog today with her handler Mark. We had a chance to see Banta and meet Mark before the official handing off ceremony.

We arrived at the Guide dogs for the Blind campus at about 11:30 a.m. and gathered with the other puppy raisers in the dormitory day room. A little while later we were escorted to a sitting area down one of the wings of the dorm where Banta and Mark were sitting. Banta just looked at us for a few seconds as we approached while she processed who we were. You could just see her mind at work and when she realized who we were she got all excited and let loose with lots of hopping and jumping around. We spent several minutes just enjoying her antics. When Banta settled back down we had some time to get to know Mark and hear about how their training went. It seems that in the almost 7 months that Banta has been on campus she has gathered quite a fan club. Lots of people stopped by during class to say good-bye to Banta.

Mark said that Banta was everything he asked for in his next guide except for her size. He is accustomed to larger dogs but when the instructors asked what was the least important of his criteria for a guide he said size. Banta fit the rest of his requirements perfectly. He calls her “Little Bit” because she is only 20.5″ tall compare to 24″ with his previous guide. We are looking forward to hearing about how they develop as a team. And maybe next year we will plan a trip to Denver to see Banta again and see where she now calls home.

Banta In Class

Banta – photo by Jennilyn Proulx

The phone call came this evening that Banta is in class!!! We don’t know any details at this point. The official letter from Guide Dogs for the Blind will come next week. But Banta’s graduation is set for May 28th in San Rafael, California. Yeah Banta! You did it. Hopefully class will go smoothly and we will meet a happy pair at graduation. Today is my birthday so this news makes a wonderful present too!

Waffle Arrives!

Waffle, in Bill’s arms, just off the puppy truck

Puppy #4 arrived today at 1:00 p.m. and she has the cutest face. She is a nice temperament with enough confidence but not overly bold and dominate. Several people at the puppy truck said that we won the name lottery with Waffle. I think it seems to suit her just fine. We are looking forward to getting to know her and getting those first adjustments to house living under our belts. Sleeping through the night being one of those milestones.

Waffle a few minutes later

Phase 8

Banta with her favorite bone

Yeah!!! Banta is in the final phase of her training to be a guide dog. I’m so excited. There are never any guarantees at any stage that they will make it but this is a great sign that she has what it takes to be a guide dog. Now we just have to wait for the right handler to come to San Rafael then our Banta will be graduating!

Phase 8 – Final Testing, Finishing and Pre-Matching

  • Final Obedience Test
  • Final Blindfold Test
  • Final Building Test
  • Final Traffic Test

NOTE: Dogs that receive passing grades are deemed “Class Ready Guides.” These dogs are fully qualified and ready to be issued to a client.

“Finishing” Routes
Dogs work on relaxing residential or country routes, sidewalkless areas, and less difficult/ more straightforward routes for confidence building before class. Obedience responses are maintained and practiced in a variety of areas with a variety of handlers.
Practice with Less Experienced Handlers

NEW! Specialized Training
All dogs are introduced to hand and chair targeting. Instructors introduce pole targeting (for crosswalk buttons) on a few different routes.
If needed, select dogs may do custom work for identified clients (slower pace or fast pace, compromised balance — client who travels with a support cane, toed-out gait, etc.)

Pre Class Physicals (AKA: PCPs)
All class ready dogs receive pre-class vet physicals, which includes a height measurement at the withers (ground to shoulders).

Final Class Preparations

Dormitory exposure