Dune: darling


A new class started this week in Boring, Oregon but Dune was not part of it. Felix who we transported to campus in February is in class, so that is awesome. I keep reminding myself that a good match is so much more important than a fast match. So next potential graduation is June 7th. Here is another page from Dune’s book.

Even as a little puppy Dune was darling. Another puppy raiser commented that she was like a miniature dog and she was. Instead of the typical big feet and gangly looks of most puppies, Dune was very petite and well proportioned. She grew in an even and gradual way and kept the same proportion as when she was a puppy.

As a grown dog, she is still darling not only in how she looks but also in personality. She has a gentleness about her even while she has strength and determination.

Dune: dance


We are now in the waiting stage with Dune’s training. The phase report came out as usual but since phase 8 is the last phase the report looked the same as far as Dune is concerned. The next class in Oregon starts on Monday so we will be holding our breath every time the phone rings on wondering if it will be news about Dune. I’d guess that there is about a 25% chance of her being in the next class.

Dinner time is dance time for Dune, especially if she has to wait past the usual 5:00 p.m. feeding time. We worked to teach her to wait calmly for her dinner but when I first start moving toward the kitchen she just can’t contain her excitement and spins and hops and dancing feet just pop out of her. It is very cute. Once I get the food into her bowl and start adding the water she settles down nicely and waits calmly for the “OK” command. Dune’s dance is short but very energetic.

Dune is also a natural at standing on her hind legs and balancing herself. I have no doubt that she could learn to dance on her hind legs like I’ve seen in competitions on the TV. Too bad I didn’t get any pictures of her doing such things.

Dune: daffy & phase 8


I think someone was trying to stress out all the puppy raisers with dogs in training today. Usually the phase report comes out early Thursday morning (2 a.m. local time) So when I woke up in the middle of the night I got up to check. But the link to the report got an error so no luck. I check Facebook and found out that I wasn’t the only one with the problem. It took until this afternoon to get access to the report fixed. Good news is that Dune is in phase 8! This is the last phase of training to be a guide dog. Next step is meeting her new partner in an upcoming class. That could happen in about a week and a half or it could take many weeks. Now it comes to the waiting game. Super happy and proud that Dune has reached this milestone. It is looking like she wants to be a guide dog.

Phase 8

There is a daffy side to Dune. She loves belly rubs and she loves to play. She brought joy and lots of laughter to our lives with her silly antics. Dune also likes to sleep in the craziest positions. Puppies are amazing that way. It was fun to see how relaxed and confident she was with her world.

Dune: daring & phase 7


I was so pleased to see that Dune was in phase 7 on this week’s phase report. Just one phase to go until she is ready to be a guide dog. Way to go Dune! We are proud and happy for your progress.

Here is the basics of what Dune is learning in phase 7.

I think daring could be Dune’s middle name. She loves new adventures, going places, meeting people. Not much phases her. From the beginning Dune was always ready to learn and do new things. She learned to do the stairs in our house in record time. Some pups take weeks to be willing to try the stairs, Dune had them mastered in hours.

When we went to the State Fair, though cautious she was curious about the animal. (Except Dune wanted nothing to do with the pigs.)
There was only one thing that she really struggled with. We went to a museum that had a Plexiglas floor as part of an exhibit. She was determined that walking on it was a bad idea. The other pups were more easily persuaded but not Dune. With a lot of work we got her walk across it, but she wasn’t happy about it.

Dune: duplicate & phase 6

Yeah for phase 6! I had myself mentally prepared for another phase 5 this week. Sometimes when a dog jumps a phase they are in the same phase the next week. I even stayed up until the phase report came out a 2 a.m. this morning. Bill was working late so I decided I’d read my book for book club (The Rent Collector) and wait for it to show up. I’ve been paranoid to do that because last time I tried to see the phase report in the middle of the night with Zodiac something went wrong with my access and I didn’t get to see the report for a couple of days. Here is a short description of what Dune is learning in phase 6.

Phase 6

Dune had an older brother (puppy in training #6) Zodiac the first 4 months that we raised her. She looked up to Zodiac and wanted to be just like him. Even though the were opposite in color and gender they were so much alike in other ways. It was amazing how many times when Dune was young that she would be laying in the exact same position as Zodiac, a duplicate of him.

It was fun when the tables were turned and Dune was the older pup and Emma (puppy in training #8) was the one looking up to Dune and wanting to be just like her.

Dune: determined & phase 5


I was pleased and surprised when I saw the 5 by Dune’s name on the phase report today. Now she is right on track with the other dogs assigned to training strings at the same time she was. If she moves forward one phase each week, Dune could theoretically graduate on May 10th. Odds are against her graduating that soon though. Here is a short description of what Dune is learning in phase five.

With a basic nature that is both analytical and adventurous she has been the only puppy out of 8 so far to learn to use the dog door into the garage. Puppies in training don’t get to have free access to the backyard, but we have a dog door that we put in when we had a pet dog and our cat still uses. As a puppy she happened to put her paws up on the door and it flapped outward. The next day she tried it again and this time pushed her head on through. The door is high enough off the ground that her belly got high centered and she tittered for a moment. But she was determined and managed to get herself on through. Thank goodness Bill was right there on the outside to snag her. It took a few weeks to teach her that the dog door was not an option for her, but she caught on.

Dune: demanding & phase 3

This week Dune has progressed to phase 3! Yeah! It was so good to see her progressing again. We will probably never know why she spent two weeks in phase 2 but on to bigger and better things for our girl. Here is the short version of what she is learning in Phase 3.

Phase 3

Looks like I need to add phase 3 long version to my to do list along with phase 2.


We knew right away that we had our hands full with our new puppy Dune. Maybe it was the trauma of flying in cargo but Dune was the noisiest puppy we have experienced. She knew she didn’t want to be in the kennel and she let us know.

The first few nights we didn’t get much sleep because she was so demanding. I just kept reminding myself that if we gave in now we would really have a battle on our hands. It was tough to tell when your message went from “I want out of here” to “I need to pee” or “I just pooped in my kennel.” I kept a flashlight by my bed and moved the kennel to the side of the bed so I could check on her without getting out of bed. The first night was almost none stop cacophony. But each night after that it got better.

Dune: delivery


This week’s phase report came out this morning and Dune is still in phase 2. Not sure if this is a sign that she is struggling with the training, if her trainer didn’t report or if something else came up and she didn’t do much training this past week. The 4 other dogs who were in phase 2 last week all jumped to phase 4. So while I hold my breath for more news on Dune (no news until next Thursday is a good thing), here is another page from Dune’s puppyhood book.

“All the rest of our puppies have come on the puppy truck but Dune came via Delta airlines. It was January and winter driving makes puppy deliveries by puppy truck too unpredictable. There were an unusually large number of puppies born so Guide Dogs need to send puppies by air so they could get them to homes in the wintry states of Utah and Colorado. Dune traveled with another young puppy, a black lab male named Eagle.”

Dune: Phase 2 & “D” Puppy

Dune is in phase 2, yeah! It is so good to see her moving right along. So glad that the wait is over and she is on the weekly phase report. If you want to know more about what she is learning in phase 2 go here. Looks like I haven’t done a detailed post on phase 2 so there is another thing for my to do list.

The Story of Our “D” Puppy

This is the story of our long-awaited “D” puppy. We got our first puppy to raise from Guide Dogs for the Blind on August 2nd 2008. His name was Apex. I thought it was cool that our first puppy’s name started with the first letter of the alphabet.

When we were awaiting news of our second puppy in training, I was secretly hoping for a pup whose name started with a “B” but I didn’t tell anyone. When our second puppy was named Banta I was super excited.

I took it as a sign that I should try to raise a puppy from each letter of the alphabet. So when it was time for our third puppy we requested a puppy with a “C” name and we got Casey.

Then we ran into a snag with “D”. GDB requested that we start a puppy for a high school student. I said fine as along as it started with a “D”. There were no “D” litters. I said, OK, how about a name with a “D” in it. We got Waffle. No “D” but it did start with a ‘double U’. (As a side note Waffle has a sister named Wednesday that went to Colorado. I don’t know why we didn’t get Wednesday.)

I thought all right, we will only have Waffle for her first five months, I can get my “D” puppy next. But we didn’t quite make it. The “D” litter when it was time for puppy number five was a couple of days too young. But they had a “Y” litter so we got Yakira. After Yakira we got Zodiac to finish off the end of the alphabet.

So for puppy number seven we tried again for a “D” puppy and finally we succeeded. Our club leader sent a pink balloon in the mail with ‘Female “D” Yellow Lab’ written on it to give us the long-awaited good news.

Dune: book & phase 1

Title page of Dune’s book

Dune finally showed up on the weekly phase report yesterday in phase 1. Having been in breeder evals is the equivalent of phase 0, so it is what I expected. She is actually learning what to do to be a guide dog! Yeah. If you want to know more about what she is learning I have a post here about phase 1. For more details there is another post here.

the pre-story of Dune

I’ve been working hard on Dune’s book. Remember the plan I had to get a page done every week or so. Well I totally failed on that. I wanted to have it mostly done so I could send a pdf of it with her along with photos from her puppyhood on a DVD. But I just didn’t get it done so I just sent photos. When the dogs are in class with their new partner they will give them some information from their dogs puppy raiser include photos or CD’s etc. This give the new handler a chance to know something more about their new dog. Dune’s future handler will have to wait to get her book until graduation.

But I’ve got it done now except the couple of page that will be about her new career and graduation day. So I’m going to share Dune’s book over the next several weeks. I’ve done a book for each puppy we have raised. Here are links to their books (except I haven’t put Apex’s on-line yet, I should do that soon!):

I think Yakira’s book needs updating with some additional pages after she had a change of careers and location last fall. (Another thing for my to do list.)

I find making these books really helps me with the process of sending the pups off after having them for a year. People ask all the time “how we give them up and don’t you get attached?” I tell them we miss them but it is worth it. But doing things like the books for them helps me celebrate the time we have had with them and honors the impact they have on our lives even though they are only in our home for about a year.

I’m working on a slide show/video for Dune that should be done soon. I can’t wait to share it with you!