Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone. I got a great gift today. Fable was in phase 4 on the phase report this morning. Good job little girl! She is moving along at a nice steady pace. Hopefully this will continue, through with the holidays her trainer maybe taking so days off that could affect her progress and the progress of her string. That is what happened over Thanksgiving. But since I’m tracking all the dogs on the phase report it is easy to see if the other dogs that are most likely in her string are moving along the same way she is. Just one more phase report for the year. I’m proud of Fable for making it this far and though I hope she will become a guide dog, it is more important that she be doing something that she enjoys, even if that isn’t being a guide dog.
Still behind on pupdates, but Fable moved on to phase 3 last week. Hoping for phase 4 tomorrow in her training to become a guide dog. Here is what they learn in phase 3:
- 3rd up-curb exercise
- dog boot intros
- preliminary obedience & guide work testing (instructor under blindfold)
I wonder how she will take to the booties? Sometimes she can be kind of body sensitive. Kind of exciting that she is doing her first blindfold test too. I wonder if this is a phase that gets many dogs career changed. I think I’ll check it out….
So I checked over the phase reports for 2015 and I learned some things. Not too surprising the largest number of career changes happen in phase 0, the medical evaluation stage. I have 28 dogs who showed up on the phase report in 0 and then were career changed. Only 12 dogs were dropped after phase 1. Then there is a big jump in phase 2 and phase 3 with 23 dogs being cc’d in each of these phases. Phase 4 is 15 dogs. Phase 5 jumps a bit to 18. Then in drops off to 7 dogs dropped in both phase 6 and 7. Another surprise is the number of dogs career changed in phase 8. I had down 18 dogs. Plus there could be more that I don’t know about. Of course there are final tests on phase 8 as they make sure that dogs are ready to be guide dogs before they are matched and train with their new partners for two weeks in class.
So Fable is at a critical point in her training right now. Not sure how the holidays will effect her progress. I’m sure that the trainers take at least a little time off during Christmas and New Years.
I’ve neglected updating on Fable’s progress in formal harness training. On this last week’s report she was in phase 2, after being in phase 1 for two weeks. This was most likely due to the Thanksgiving holiday as only a few dogs moved to the next phase last week. In phase 2 she is learning:
- Pattern training continues
- 2nd up-curb exercise
- distraction route in town
- responsible lead exercise
- food protocol continues
I finally got Fable’s official portrait picked, printed, stretched and hung on our wall. We have nine photos up there now. Some how nine seems like so much more than eight. I think some of it is that I had two rows of four photos and now I have three rows of three. It fills the wall up very differently. I put up enough nails when I started this wall above our stairs for the alphabet so it is easy to rearrange the photos as we add more puppies. I need to get on doing a photo shoot for Galaxy. She turned 7 months old this week. I’d like to have her portrait up by the time we have her going away party, not almost 7 weeks after she leaves for training.
Things have been crazy on the dog front around here lately. Before we knew that Galaxy was coming, I agreed to help out a guide dog user who was having foot surgery and needed someone to take care of her guide dog while she is recovering. So we have had a three dogs here for the last couple of weeks. Holly is a good dog but the mix of the three of them is a handful at times. We have put x-pens and gates to good use every day. The three of them love to play with the Jolly Ball in the back yard.
Galaxy is amazing in her resilience in playing with the bigger dogs. She never gets intimidated and jumps right back into the ruckus even when she gets knocked over. One thing for sure, is I’m not ready to have a three dog household for any extended period of time. It took me about a week to realize the alphabetical serendipity of having an “H” named dog to add to our “F” & “G” dogs.
We got the news a couple of weeks ago that Fable is no longer being considered for breeding. So Tuesday she had spay surgery. The vet said the surgery went well and Fable was a very good girl while they had her. She seemed a bit miffed at me when I picked her up. While she was perfectly willing to go with me, Fable didn’t acknowledge me until that evening. She was really tired Tuesday night and kind of nauseous. I didn’t clue into it until she threw up the dinner I encouraged her to eat. After Bill got home and spend some time cuddling with her she felt some better. But a good nights sleep did the trick and by the end of the day Wednesday she was feeling good and by Thursday night she thought she was ready to go at life full blast.
We have two extra dogs (a working guide, whose handler had foot surgery and a pet dog we are watching for family) now and Fable wants to play with them. She has spent the last two days at work with Bill, which limits the amount of time we have to keep her separated from the other three dogs. As long as she doesn’t overdo it for the next week and think things will be great. Fable has an official evaluation next weekend. I think she will do great, I sure hope so.
p.s. Galaxy is doing great. I’ll try to get an update written on her soon.
While I was hoping that Fable would wait until after Apex and Yakira’s visit next week, Fable’s body had other ideas. There have been emotional signs for several weeks that her first season was approaching. So I have watched closely for physical signs. On Monday I thought she was starting to look a little swollen. Tuesday afternoon I found a small darkish drop on the kitchen floor. I checked Fable with a Kleenex and sure enough it came back with a pinkish stain. So the days of her confinement began and she missed puppy class that night. I’m so glad she got to have a fun weekend playing with Odie. He stayed with us for the holiday while his family had an adventure that was better off without him. Odie is a good puppy and Zodiac’s nephew which also made it really fun to have him.
Fable has 25 more days to go until her freedom. Her energy levels are much lower and she has that look in her eye that is typical of a dog in heat. Her body feels off and she doesn’t understand why. Today I had to pull the doggy diapers out because she started dripping in earnest. So far she is not at all a fan of the diapers. She should adjust to them quickly and be more comfortable with them soon. Things will get worse for her before they get better a couple more weeks from now. Poor Fable.
Next week I’ll have to share photos of Apex and Yakira. I’m so excited to see them (and their people too)!
When she wants to, Fable has an incredible ability to focus. The challenge is getting her to focus on what you want her to focus on. Thankfully food is good at helping her focus most of the time, so GDB’s food protocol for training is a great tool for Fable. Sometimes when playing with another puppy, she likes to freeze in place and have a stare down with the other dog, then one of them flinches and the chase game is back on full blast. This weekend we are puppy sitting another puppy in training named Odie. They love playing together but he doesn’t like her focus game. Odie gets intimidated by her hyper-focus. Hopefully Fable will be sensitive to his feelings and not play that game with him anymore.
Fable turned 10 months old yesterday! Time is starting to speed up, she could be recalled in just 4 more months. Bad news for two of her littermates in the last month. Her sister Fancy and brother Fuller where career changed. They have returned to Guide Dogs for the Blind in search of just the right home for them. I don’t know why Fuller was dropped from the program but Fancy’s challenge was being distracted by cats and probably dogs too.
Fable can be distracted by dogs and people too. But I don’t think it is something that she can’t manage. She is super friendly and thinks that all dogs feel the same way about her and people too. Puppies in training tend to lead very shelter lives. They think the world revolves around them. We work to avoid situations where they might be hurt or have a frightening experience. The first time we walked by a fence with barking dogs she was startled but got over it pretty quickly with the help of kibble. Fable’s biggest fault with other dogs is going in full blast. She has no idea that a 50 lb. lab barreling down might be scary for another dog.
Thankfully Fable is a bit more intuitive when it comes to people. She spots a dog lover in nothing flat, loves to jump on them, especially if they are women. She gets excited to see kids. An exuberant puppy can be traumatic so I’m glad that Fable is more gentle with kids, which makes me proud. She sure loves the attention.
Fable turned 9 months old this week. We are now passed the halfway point in her time with us. I hated that I didn’t get Emma’s book done until several months after she left so I’m recommitting to do better with Fable. My plan is to write something about her each week and post it here along with photos. By the time she goes back to Guide Dogs for the Blind in about September I will have her book ready for final layout and it should be easy to get it done to send a pdf with her on the puppy truck.
Fetish or Fascinated:
Fable has this kind of fetish with grass. While she isn’t our first pup to like to eat grass her fascination goes deeper, down to the roots in fact. She doesn’t just pull up a tuft here or there. Fable focuses in one place and pulls up all the grass in that spot down to the roots. There is one area of the yard that she likes the grass best in and she also likes it best if her jolly ball is close by. I think that goes back to when she was very little. She would run out in the yard to the jolly ball and then instead of playing with it she would start pulling up grass. Fable doesn’t really eat the grass she just loves ripping it up and then shaking her head and spreading the “dead” grass everywhere. If left to her own devices in the backyard she almost always chooses to pull up grass.