We have loved having Zodiac as part of our family for just over a year. He will always have a special place in our hearts. While we miss his happy outlook on life, we are excited that he has chosen to be a guide dog. With his exuberance we know he has a great life ahead of him. He has a good heart and Zodiac will effect all who come into his life in positive ways. At under 18 months at the start of his career, maturing is bound to bring out the best in this sweet boy. We look forward to hearing about all the new adventures.
On August 5th I got the call telling us that Zodiac had been chosen for in-home training and would be leaving on the weekend. A few days later we made a quick trip to Oregon to see Zodiac before he left for Missouri. We didn’t recognize him at first with all his new chest muscles but he recognized us. Zodiac had continued to mature in the almost three months since he left. It was so much fun to see Zodiac for a couple of hours. We walked around campus and on the Oregon Trail and he got to romp with Dune. My favorite time was the four of us just hanging out together in the paddock. The day was very different than a graduation day. It was strange to be sending him off to be a guide without having met his new partner.
Michelle Cliborn and Zodiac traveled to Missouri for Zodiac’s in-home training with David Pinkley. On Monday, August 13, 2013, Zodiac and David met for the first time and started their training together.
We were so excited when Toni (in her words), David’s other half, sent us photos of their first route together. More photos followed and as we got to know David and Toni better the more confident we felt that GDB had made a great match for Zodiac. There is no doubt that Zodiac will be loved and well cared for. In return we hope that Zodiac will be a great guide for David, giving him the freedom to travel independently and to do so in safety for many, many years to come.
Not surprisingly Zodiac loves to zoom around our back yard. We usually keep a Jolly Ball out there and 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Zodiac has had the best of relationships with two other puppies in training. First was Yakira (puppy #5). When Zodiac was young she was his guardian and mentor. As he grew older their relationship evolved into buddies. Through it all the two of them had many 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.
Since Zodiac is now officially “in class” it is time to step up the pace on posting the pages from his book. I’d like to get all the finished pages up by the time he graduates. So I’ll be posting a page everyday until I’m finished.
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.