Pupdate: Emma & Fable

Just got word today that Emma won’t be assigned to a training string until November 3rd. If I understand right, the reports for Thursday’s phase reports are turned in the Friday before. If that is the case then we won’t see Emma’s name on the phase report until November 13th, two months after we put her on the puppy truck for San Rafael. I really appreciate our CFR (community field representative) for the heads up on this. I had noticed that it was taking what seemed like a long time for former breeder eval dogs to show up on the phase report, but this is a really, really long time. I was hoping she would show up yesterday.

Fable is growing fast and learning everyday. Some days are a struggle but she is improving. I can’t wait until she can walking nicely with her head collar on. Right now socializing takes ever ounce of attention and patience I have. I’ve continued doing #Inktober drawings of Fable. Here are the last weeks efforts.

Pupdate – Zodiac

Zodiac in the kennel kitchen

We got to see Zodiac today! He has grown-up so much that he recognized us before we recognized him. He was very excited of course. The last three months of training have added lots of muscle to his chest and his back legs. Bill commented that he now moves like a panther. It is easy to imagine him pulling in harness with the way he moves. His body is starting to fill out to match his over-sized feet.

We had lots of fun walking around campus, taking photos and hanging out in the paddock where Zodiac and Dune got to play. That was my favorite part, just hanging out together on the grass enjoying being together for a little while. Too soon we had to make the move to return home, but we are secure in the fact that Zodiac is doing great. I can see improvement in his impulse control and paying attention to collar cues in just the little time that we spent together. I think he is going to make a great guide dog for his new partner.

We brought home a young retired guide named Santini to her puppy raiser in Utah. Dune enjoyed having another dog in the car for the long trip home.

Zodiac like most labs has his wild moments when he dashes around the house. Some times I’ve heard this called labby loops. With Zodiac it is more of a zigzag than loops. He runs full speed one direction then abruptly changes direction and then changes direction again. He does this for just a couple of minutes and then he is back to normal.

Pupdate – Zodiac

As I prepared myself for Zodiac to be listed in phase 6 again this week. I was hoping for phase 7. Chances are next week he will be in phase 8. Zenith is in phase 8 and my friend’s puppy who was on the June recall has caught up to phase 6. Way to go Nairobi! We didn’t have good cell service at girls camp and so I didn’t get the news on the phase report until we came down from the mountain.

Though Zodiac has always been cute with maturing he now has a certain presence when he wants to, maybe even a little Zeus like in his demeanor. Zodiac started to show signs of maturing at the year mark but it really started to accelerate when he turned 14 months old.

Since he was about 9 months old we have been going to the local grade school a couple of times a week to listen to kids read. Zodiac has always been attracted to kids and their happy energy. But with his maturing he can now sit calmly in the hall and watch hundreds of kids walk by. I’m so proud of him. He is really grown-up.

Pupdate – Zodiac

Zodiac is now 3/4 of the way through his formal harness training to become a guide dog! This week’s phase report has him in phase 6 of 8 phases. The next class in Oregon starts on August 5th. It is unlikely that he will be “class ready” by then but the following class he probably will be. Then the challenge becomes finding the right partner for Zodiac. He needs just the right kind of handler, one that can appreciate his love of life and exuberance and being jumped on occasionally. I’m expecting it to take a while for him to graduate.

Zodiac has always had a zest for life. He is a fun-loving boy and loves to be out doing things, going new places and making new friends. Zodiac is sure that everyone he meets is just as happy to meet him. He is ever the optimist that something fun is just around the corner. I love the happy light that is typically in Zodiac’s eyes and his exuberance for life.

Pupdate – Zodiac

Today marks two months exactly since we put Zodiac on the truck for his formal harness training. He was still listed in phase 4 on the report this week. Though it is most likely that is his trainer not updated his records just like happened with phase 1. I was expecting it this week so it wasn’t so disappointing. In the past two months we have gotten used to Zodiac not being around but we think about him and pray for his future every single day. Go Zodiac!

The day started out dark and rainy but by the time we got there the sky was blue and the sun was shining. What a beautiful day! Zodiac got to meet his brother Zenith. They are so much a like in temperament, but Zenith has a leaner build than Zodiac. We took one last walk with Zodiac and Dune and then put Zodiac on the puppy truck to return to GDB to start is harness training. Though we already miss him it was a day we have been working toward for over a year. Now we wait and watch the phase reports to see what Zodiac decides to do with his life.

Pupdate – Zodiac

Zodiac has finally moved on from phase 1! Not only has he moved on but he has jumped to phase 4! I’m so excited and relieved. I was beginning to worry that he wasn’t enjoying training and/or his stubborn side was interfering with his training. Since two other dogs have showed up on the phase report with the same numbers as Zodiac, the most likely reason is that the trainer didn’t update their status for a couple of weeks.

The only thing about Zodiac that  is fine and light is his hair. He is a lab so he has plenty of hair. It is the thickest and scruffiest of all our puppies. Though as he has grown up it doesn’t seem so scruffy.

Pupdate – Zodiac

Zodiac has always been attracted to sounds and somewhere along the way he learned that the doorbell usually meant something interesting was about to happen. When Zodiac hears the ding-dong, he gets all excited, barks a couple of times and runs to the door.  I then ask him to step back from the door and wait calmly for me to answer it. With maturing he has made progress and the last few days he has done much better than average. Hopefully he is out growing this behavior.

Zodiac is still in phase 1 this week. I can’t help but be a little disappointed. There are three reason I can think of why he is still in phase 1:

  • he is have trouble with something in the training
  • he is sick
  • his trainer didn’t update his status

Next week’s report will probably give us some clues. There were two other dogs who stayed in phase 1, which might help the theory that the trainer didn’t update their status. I’d love Zodiac to be a guide dog but even more than that I want him to have a happy life. If being a guide dog will make him happy, I all for that. If he wouldn’t be happy being a guide dog, I’d like him to find another career.


Pupdate – Zodiac

Jumping is probably my least favorite thing about Zodiac. Sometimes it comes so unexpectedly when I’m sitting at my desk working on my computer and “zap” his paws land abruptly on my arm and shoulder. I sure hope that his future handler loves this trait because I think it is just part of who he is. We have been able to moderate it but not stop it all together.

Zodiac was still in phase 0 this week. Of the 40+ pups that were recalled the middle of May, nine of them moved to phase 1 on the report. It looks like they started two new strings, one in San Rafael and one in Boring, Oregon. I don’t understand why nine dogs, eight would make more sense. A trainer usually starts with four dogs. Zodiac’s brother Zenith was one of the dogs that moved on to phase 1. Hopefully next week Zodiac will start the actual harness training.

Pupdate – Zodiac

Zodiac was on the phase 0 report this week! Yeah! I know it may seem silly to be so excited to see his name but it seems like a little text message from our boy saying, “I’m here and doing fine.” The harness training at Guide Dogs for the Blind is broken into 8 phases plus they have what they call phase zero for when they dogs first get to campus, get physicals, adjust etc.

Here is the second spread in Zodiac’s puppyhood book.

“One day when he was young the back door wasn’t latched and Zodiac had a digging adventure out in the back yard. It took me a while to figure out how he got such a dirty nose in his “just earned my puppy coat” pictures.One of the zaniest things that Zodiac loves to do is dig in his empty dog dish. I usually take it to mean that he would like some ice cubes. Zodiac loves ice cubes! He will grab an ice-cube or two and dash into the living room to munch down on them or chase them around the kitchen.”

Pupdate – Zodiac

from Zodiac’s puppyhood book

No news on Zodiac this week. He hasn’t made it to the phase report yet but I didn’t see any of the pups that were on the truck with him either. He should show up next week, unless the holiday weekend disrupts things. But in many ways no news is good news at this point. A phone call would be a really bad thing. It could only mean that he was career changed.

At this point I would expect that he is getting adjusted to the routines on Guide Dogs for the Blind’s campus. They usually have a kennel mate and Zodiac will have a canine welfare technician to make sure he is healthy and happy. The will also be doing medical exams and he will have walks and playtime.

Above is the first spread in Zodiac’s puppyhood book. I’ll post one spread each week along with an update on how he is doing in training. Here is the text for that page:

Most puppy raisers think their dog is the cutest, but of course they are wrong, Zodiac is really the cutest puppy ever! He was a very solidly built. At 13 months he was 65 lbs. even though he isn’t a very tall dog. I expect he will put on a few more pounds as his muscles continue to develop. Zodiac has matured into a very handsome nicely put together dog.