Puppy #7

Today I got confirmation that puppy #7 is coming this next week on Wednesday. We are getting a yellow lab female whose name starts with the letter “D”. She was born on November 11th and her parents are Bosworth and Cava. Yesterday I kept watching for an email from our club leader but it didn’t come. Then today when my husband was opening up the mail he started laughing. Our club leader sent a pick balloon in the mail with the news of our new little girl. I can’t wait to see her.

She is coming in with another puppy for our club on a Delta flight. That will be a whole new experience instead of the puppy truck. Guide Dogs for the Blind doesn’t send puppy trucks to Utah in the winter, so flying them in is the only option. They usually only fly in puppies when the puppy raiser raised a puppies parent. But GDB has more puppies to place now than raisers in the warmer areas can handle so they are willing to send the by plane.

I’ll post about her arrival as soon as I can get myself together while dealing with a 9 week old puppy.


Pupdate – Yakira, Casey, Puppy Club and #7

Yakira – photo by Lisa Thompson

Yakira is continuing her stead pace through training. She is in phase 4 this week. Keep it up sweet girl, we are cheering for you.

Guide Dog News, a quarterly publication of Guide Dogs for the Blind, in its News of Our Graduates section listed Casey’s handler, Carrie as this years recipient of Reach for the Stars Scholarship. Congrats to Carrie on this accomplishment.

Our local puppy club has gotten too big and this week was our last meeting together. We meet at the Cold Stone in South Jordan to see Frosty and the other candy windows along with enjoying a tasty ice cream treat. It was a wet evening but lots of fun.A new club is being formed and we will be part of it. It is going to be fun to see what it takes to organize a new puppy raising club. We need to pick a name for our club. Any suggestions?

Right now the new club only has 5 puppies but more our expected soon. It seems that GDB has too many puppies in the kennels and they are looking for raisers. So we decided yesterday to apply for our next puppy, #7! He/she may be a co-raise with my friend Lisa, but we decided it was a good time to add another puppy to the household even if she decides now is not the best time to co-raise a puppy. So puppy #7 could arrive, by plane, in just a few weeks.

Pupdate – Yakira, Zodiac and Apex

Yakira – photo by Lisa Thompson

First off, Yakira is in phase 3! Way to keep it up girl. I think she is going to make someone an amazing guide dog. More on what she is learning in phase 3 here.

sunset from Apex’s cruise

Next up, Apex and Sue just got back from a cruise! He is such a lucky pup. Here are a few photos from their trip.

Apex enjoying his cruise

Apex’s litterbox on the cruise

Last up is Zodiac. We went to the Eye Institute of Utah this week. They were so generous and donated a generous amount to our puppy club. Plus the pups each got a fleece blanket and a dog toy. It was so much fun to stop by so that the employees could get a little puppy love.

Nairobi, Zodiac, Sony, Yanni and Savoy at the Eye Institute of Utah – photo by Karen Fuller

Zodiac and Sony – photo by Karen Fuller

pups with their toys and blankets from the Eye Institute

Corn Maze


Salt Lake and Park City puppy clubs

For puppy class this week we had our annual trip to the Crazy Corn Maze. I didn’t know until we got there that it was probably Yakira’s last puppy class. It is interesting because last year the corn maze was Casey’s Last Class  too. Casey got to go to the corn maze twice because the year before when she was still and young puppy 2010.  Banta missed her chance to go to the corn maze because she was in season.I dressed up Yakira and Zodiac in the Halloween ruffles that I made for Banta and Casey so they could be festive with the season.

The Park City puppy club joined us again this year so there were lots and lots of puppies. When we came to a cross-road in the maze we traded puppies around. I got to have Zodiac only once and Yakira not at all. Some of the pups were a real pain to handling. They were pulling way too much of the time and a few of them seemed to thick-headed to get what I wanted them to do. One pup, Prego was very nice to walk though. The corn maze is a very different environment and with so many dogs. I also think that it is hard on some of the dogs to change handlers so much. Both Zodiac and Yakira came home exhausted.




Puppy Pool Party

Lotus swimming

This week was the annual puppy pool party. Every year about this time our puppy raising club makes arrangements for the puppies to get a chance to go swimming. Most of the years we have raised puppies, the party has been at Gael’s house. Her daughters have raised three puppies. Right now she is being a puppy sitter. For most of the pups this is their only exposure to swimming. You would think that with a bunch of labs they would take to swimming with no trouble but for puppies in training the norm is not that at all. It is rare that any of the pups really take to the water and enjoy themselves. I’m sure with enough exposure over time that most of them would learn to love the water. But since swimming isn’t part of their formal guide dog duties that doesn’t happen, at least not as puppies.

Bill and Zodiac

We have been puppy sitting Lotus this week, while his raiser is at girls camp. Zodiac went to Lisa’s for the week so that we could take Lotus. Lisa has puppy sat Lotus before so this gave him another experience. So Bill took Yakira into the pool, I had Lotus and Lisa had Zodiac. Yakira was the best swimmer of the three. She was probably one of the best of all the puppies there but not by much. Bill eventually took all three puppies swimming. I think all the puppy raisers ended up with at least a few scratches and bruises from flailing puppy paws and claws.

pool party fun

Gael generously also provided pizza and soda, while Karen brought some fresh fruit. It was a fun day. The pups had the most fun running around the outside of the pool. We were all exhausted by the end of the night.

puppies having fun outside of the pool

Sony and Yakira after the pool fun




Casey’s Book

For each of the puppies we raise for Guide Dogs for the Blind, I make a book about them and their puppyhood. I finish it up once the puppy has graduated or moved on to his or her chosen career. Casey’s is now finished and I have a hard copy, printed on Blurb.com for Carrie, her handler.

To make getting each book completed more doable, I have a basic template for all the books with two main color schemes depending on if the pup is black or yellow. I change the accent colors and font to reflect the personality of the puppy. Using the first letter of their name, I pick words that help to describe the traits of each puppy. I find it a fun way to tell about a puppies growing up years in a non-chronological way.

Casey’s Book

Casey comes from breeding stock of the highest caliber. Her dad, Jay, was donated to Guide Dogs for the Blind from Korea and the Asian Guide Dog Breeding Network (AGBN). Exchanges between Guide Dog schools is part of an on going effort to improve the quality of dogs world wide.

The first word that comes to mind in describing Casey is calm. She is by far the calmest puppy we have raised for GDB and I think the calmest we have seen grow-up in our puppy club. She is content to hang out and wait but she is always happy to be out and about too. Casey is amazing in her ability to deal with lots of excitement around her and still keep her calm attitude. I doubt we will ever see another puppy quite like Casey.

Our house is built so the main floor cantilevers out over the basement.  This create a narrow ledge by the stairs that go upstairs from the split level entrance. I’ve tried to keep this ledge blocked off so that our puppies in training don’t get out on the ledge and then fall off and hurt themselves.
Well it didn’t take Casey long to figure out a way to get past the barrier but she didn’t fall off so eventually I just removed the barrier.  She only fell off once that I can remember and that was when she was laying down. In getting off the ledge she really has developed her skills at backing up.
I think she really liked to go out here because it put her at eye level with whoever was walking up the stairs. She also used it to keep Waffle (another puppy in training), from steeling her toys, which Waffle took great joy in doing.

Casey has a captivating personality. While being calm by nature she also loves to have fun and interact with the world. When she wags her tail her whole body gets involved. Her sweet nature is so charming that everyone loves her.

Casey has been blessing with a very loving and caring spirit. She seems to sense when someone is in need to some puppy love. One in the grocery store I notice that someone down the aisle had Casey’s attention. This was unusually because she was so far way and  Casey was so focused on her. When the lady got closer we allowed Casey to interact with her and they enjoyed a few moments together.
We never learned why Casey gave her special attention but she has shown over and over again an uncanny ability to recognize those that she can help with her loving and caring.

Like most labs, Casey is a happy soul. She enjoys life to the fullest and is pleasant to be around. Casey loves it when the door bell rings and the opportunity to meet someone new or to see and old friend appears. She thinks that everyone is her friend.

Casey has been cherished all of her life. Guide Dogs for the Blind has volunteers who go into the whelping kennels to lovingly handle this precious puppies.
That didn’t change when she was placed in my arms as she came off the puppy truck. There was a moment of shock when it was a little black lab instead of the yellow lab that we had been expecting but we didn’t care what color she was. It only took a second to fall in love with this sweet little girl.
She was amazingly easy to raise and stole the hearts of everyone who met her. Casey will touch many more lives in her future and she will be cherished by everyone of them.

Casey loves to chew. Her favorite nylabone shapes are the wish bone and the ring. She chewed through three wishbones while she was a puppy plus a ring and she even chewed the end off a Goughnuts stick so that it had to be replaced.  She also destroyed a couple of Kongs.
When she really gets into a chewing mode, her lips get all slobbery and her paws get wet too.

If Casey has a flaw it is her drive to keep things clean. We often refer to her has our Hoover Girl because she is always looking for an opportunity to get that last little crumb or lick-up that tiny spot on the floor. If she thinks she can get away with it she will go after whatever it is especially if it is edible. She is also know to clean the cupboard doors etc.

Sometimes Casey is so silly and comical. Casey lacked confidence when she was little and so we let her win at tug. This really seemed to help. She now plays what I call virtual tug because she takes turns at who wins. She actually looses on purpose so that I get to win too. Casey’s not a very good at pretending to lose. She just opens her mouth and lets go of the toy.
I really play it up after one of us wins and Casey gets all excited and wiggly. She will play this game with any toy that she can fit in her mouth, size doesn’t matter.

On May 21, 2012 just two days before her second birthday, Casey met Carrie. They trained together for two weeks at Guide Dogs for the Blind’s Oregon campus. It is interesting to note that Carrie celebrated her birthday the second week of their training. Now Casey is Carrie’s companion and partner. Carrie’s job is to love and care for Casey. Casey’s job is to love Carrie and keep her safe in their travels.

Casey has some unusual sides to her personality. She seems to have an obsession with ears. We got Casey when Banta (another puppy in training) was a year old. Casey and Banta were together for about three months. When Casey started teething she really got into chewing on Banta ears and Banta’s ears where often slobbery. One day Casey was loosing a tooth and she covered Banta’s ears with blood.
When Casey was about a year old we got Waffle. To our surprise, Casey decided that she should suck on Waffle’s ears too. We worried that Waffle’s ears would get sore with all the slobber so we used bitter apple to discourage Casey. It would work for a while but was only so effective. Neither Banta or Waffle seemed to mind.

In most ways Casey has a very compliant nature. She wants to please and she pays attention so she knows what it is you would like her to do. She was so nice to work with because of her willingness to obey. I’m sure that her compliance will serve her will in her future.

Casey is unusual in that she overlapped with three other puppies during her puppyhood. Banta was her mentor and taught her confidence. For Waffle, Casey was there through the five months we had her. They were true sisters having both affection and conflict. Casey and Yakira only had a couple of days together.

With a broad range of vocalizations, Casey is very good at expressing herself. She doesn’t really bark much but she as a full range of groans and grumbles and other little noises. She isn’t shy about sharing her feelings. Casey is so funny in they ways that she uses those subtle tones to communicate. We have never had such a verbal puppy.

Casey has ended up in costume several times over the 14 months that we had her. She looks so cute and the bright colors looks so good with her shiny black coat. I’ve ended up with costumes for Christmas, Halloween, the 4th of July and birthdays. I even made a bandana for her to wear on the day we put her on the puppy truck for GDB.

Even though Casey has a very calm way about her she knows how to have fun and just being a crazy puppy.  She of course loves to chew and she also loves to use my body parts as a prop for her toy. As Casey got older she learned to use her paws to hold her toys.  One of her favorite things to do is squirm around on her back will chewing on a favorite nylabone or dental dyno.
Sometimes Casey would race wildly through the house just for the sheer joy of running. It is so fun to see her tuck her back legs up under her body and bolt off down the hall. Then moments later she would come flying back into the room only to do it all over again.
You gotta love those crazy lab antics. They brings such youth and joy to a household.

I love cuddly puppies and Casey is one of the best cuddlers out there. Bill has a tradition of sitting down on the floor after he gets home from work each day to spend some one on one time with Casey. She would come and curl up between his legs and just revel in the attention from Bill. I have a dog bed under my desk and Casey spent lots of time curled up by my feet under my desk. We also took lots of naps together.

Besides being a calm, sweet and caring pooch, Casey completes the perfect puppy package by being cute not only in looks but also in personality. She has grown up to be an amazing dog and we so much enjoyed the time that she was part of our family.

We were so excited to finally hear the news that Casey would be a guide dog. It was a long time coming because she was in foster care with Pano for several months after she completed the final phase of training.
It was worth the wait. Casey and Carrie are a wonderful match. Casey now lives with Carrie, her husband and Sammy, their cat, in Victoria, British Columbia.
Casey was an easy puppy to raise and we hope that she will be a good guide for Carrie for many years to come, bringing joy to her life just as Casey did to ours. We look forward to hearing about their adventures together.

Clifford and Yakira

Yakira and Clifford

On Sunday, before Pierre’s family picked him up we had another lab join us for a few days. Clifford was here with us until Wednesday night. Then my parents picked him up and took him back to my sister’s house. They got home from Disneyland late Thursday night. Yakira had so much fun and Clifford was even easier than Pierre, mostly because he is older and has a more laid back temperament. I didn’t have to spend as much time preventing too much playtime between Clifford and Yakira.

On Monday we took Clifford with us to puppy class because we were going outside. Plus Clifford’s raiser, Karen was there, so she got to hang out with Clifford for a little while.

On Tuesday I took both pups for a walk. I don’t usually take two dogs at a time but these two did great together. The only challenge was that Clifford’s pace was slower than Yakira’s. So several times I ended up with Yakira out in front with her retractable fully extended while Clifford,s taking his time smelling, was behind me with his retractable at its max. After the walk they shared a bowl of ice cubes to cool them off. The weather had been perfect for several days.

Wednesday Clifford had to stay home while Yakira and I went to the local elementary to read with some kids. Then my parents came and my Mom, Yakira and I went to the last NAMI “Family to Family” class. My Dad said that Clifford didn’t seem to know what to do with himself while we were gone. Yakira was tired so she didn’t mind Clifford being gone on Wednesday night.

Thursday morning was quiet but we took a walk before lunch. By 3:00 p.m. Yakira got restless. She had almost two weeks with a playmate and I just didn’t cut it. She drove me a little crazy but we made it through the day and I took her with me to Round Table for Cub Scouting last night.

Today she is off at work with Bill and the house is extra quiet as it always is when Yakira isn’t around. It has been a good week and Yakira will be 8 months old on Monday! We don’t have any big plans for tomorrow so it will be a quiet weekend getting things done around the house. We probably better get out and do some errands so Yakira doesn’t get to bored.

Do you prefer to have one dog in your household or do you like it better when there are more?

Dirty Johnson’s Dog Wash

Dirty Johnson Dog Wash

Tonight for our puppy class we went to Dirty Johnson’s Dog Wash and all the pups got baths. I’ve never been to a dog wash before so it was very enlightening. Bill did the real washing while I took pictures. He said the nicest thing about it was not having to bend over. We have a pretty good set up at home with our hand-held shower head but the few times I’ve given the pups baths I have to admit that my back is killing by the end. At the dog wash they have the bath tubs raised up off the floor and a moveable set of stairs for the dog to climb to get into the tub. It was a pretty slick operation with a variety of dog shampoo available. There was even one just for black dogs that we decided to use on Yakira. She wasn’t particularly happy about her bath but she was compliant. It was very nice of Dirty Johnson’s to stay open late for us. I can see why dog owners like to use dog washes.

FrontRunner Ride

Waiting on the platform for the return trip – Bill & Casey

For puppy class this week we road the FrontRunner commuter train from Salt Lake City to Layton and back. One of the puppy raiser’s husband works for UTA and made arrangements for free passes. Casey has been on the train before when we did they same thing for puppy class last winter. Waffle did good too. I thought she might have trouble with getting on the train and going over the gap but she handled everything just fine. I did quite a bit of food rewards as we walked around by the trains and buses just to make sure she kept moving along and didn’t get into her “I don’t want to move” mode. All the dogs seemed to handle things very well.

This was Waffle’s last puppy class as part of our club. Friday she will be transferred to a high school student. It was also Cobb’s last class. He is going to Colorado for our CFR to evaluate him. Lindsey thinks he doesn’t have what it takes to be a guide dog and so Barb will be decided whether to career change him or send him back for training on the October 15th puppy truck. Just one more puppy meeting for Casey, Radison and Kasha. Boy lots of big changes are coming to our club in the next few weeks.

Club Christmas Dinner

Langley, Radison, Kasha, Joe, Cobb, Joshua & Casey (photo from Bruce)

Our puppy club got together for dinner at Archibald’s at Gardner Village. Bill got stuck at work and we were an hour late so we actually missed all the dinner part and got there just in time for the puppy pictures. We lined all seven puppies in our club against a wall and tried to get them to all sit still at the same time. It was pretty funny but eventually we got most of them sitting at the same time. Lisa brought us disks with the puppy pictures she took last week. She always does such a great job. I think I’ll have to have an enlargement printed of each of our puppies as an official portrait.