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.
We got Fable on the puppy truck early Sunday morning without mishap. She was excited to go and started up the steps before it was our turn. Once in her assigned kennel on the truck she was more interested in saying high to the female lab across the aisle and male golden retriever next to her than in saying good-bye to us. No surprise there.
Our friend and fellow puppy raiser came to say good-bye to Fable on Sunday and took some beautiful photos of Fable just as the sun was coming up.
The big surprise that day was Galaxy’s reaction. She went with us to drop Fable off and we walked the beautiful trail by the hotel before hand. Galaxy seemed fine until we got home from church. When we got inside she stopped abruptly on the landing and just stood there like she didn’t know what to do with herself. She is adjusting and I’m learning that Fable did a great job of keeping Galaxy entertained. She has gotten herself into a bit of trouble in situations that she handled with ease while Fable was here.
We got word that she arrived safely on the campus for Guide Dogs for the Blind in Boring, Oregon on Monday. Then we just had to wait for Thursday’s phase report to come out and hope that Fable’s name was on it. It was with the expected “0” in the phase column. Phase zero is all about adjusting to campus life and medical screenings. It can be a big adjustment to go from living in a puppy raisers home to the kennel environment. But GDB works hard to make them comfortable and happy. They get walks and play time with other dogs and kennel enrichment activities that could be anything from bubble machines to flavored ice and other tasty things.
In about 36 hours we will be on the road to drop off Fable at the puppy truck for her trip to Guide Dogs for the Blind in Boring, Oregon. It has been a fabulous year with lots of ups and downs, triumphs and frustrations. While we will miss Fable’s big spirit we are excited to see what she decides to do with her life. She has huge potential to be a fantastic guide dog if she wants to be. The big question is does she want to be a guide dog. Fable isn’t the kind of dog that you can “make” do anything. If you do there will be unwanted side effects. She has been very challenging to raise and she has taught us many new tactics and strategies along the way. The rest of her litter have all been dropped from the program. They are an energetic, assertive and fun-loving bunch. At least two are doing other types of service careers. Fable has made huge progress in the almost 14 months that we have had her and she is ready for her next adventure. The house is going to feel rather empty without her. Good luck Fable! We love you and are proud of you no matter what path you choose.
Still working on Fable’s puppyhood book and her video. Despite plans to work on it each week, I didn’t ever get it done, so I’ll be working on it after she leaves and hope I’ve taken enough photos to complete both projects. It will be good therapy to work on them when I’m missing her.
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.
Late Monday night we picked up our new little puppy in training for Guide Dogs for the Blind. Her name is Galaxy! (Thankfully a name I can easily live with.) She is a fun loving pup who has done great on learning to relieve outside. (Yeah!) And last night she went to bed quietly in her kennel and slept until 6:30 this morning. (Another Yeah!) Galaxy holds her own with Fable and Tamara (who we are puppy sitting for about a week) and she really, really loves air conditioning. She knows exactly where all the air vents are in the house and lays on them any chance she gets. Galaxy often makes funny little growly, whinny, barky noises when she plays with a toy in her kennel or an x-pen. Being only 7 weeks old when we got her, she works hard to eat the 3/4 of a cup of dog food she gets at her meals. I feel like we hit the jackpot again with Galaxy. These puppies from Guide Dogs for the Blind are amazing little souls and we feel privileged to be intrusted with the care.
Fable is being an awesome big sister. I’m so proud of the progress she continues to make. She will be a year old on Tuesday. We had our doubts about her at times a few months ago and at least three of her six siblings have already been dropped from the program and I suspect that another one was too. She has been challenging to raise in many aspects but it is all coming together. Currently she is expected to return for the next stage of her training the end of October.
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.