Pupdate: Fable in season

DSC01205 Fable

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)!





Pupdate: Fable – focused


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.




Pupdate: Fable – friendly

Waffle and Fable

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, Waffle and another yellow lab at the beach

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.

Fable and a little girl

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.



Pupdate: Fable – starting her puppyhood book

Fable with a dirty nose and tongue

Fable turned 9 months old this week. We are now passed the halfway point in her time with us. I hated that I didn’t get Emma’s book done until several months after she left so I’m recommitting to do better with Fable. My plan is to write something about her each week and post it here along with photos. By the time she goes back to Guide Dogs for the Blind in about September I will have her book ready for final layout and it should be easy to get it done to send a pdf with her on the puppy truck.

Fetish or Fascinated:

Fable has this kind of fetish with grass. While she isn’t our first pup to like to eat grass her fascination goes deeper, down to the roots in fact. She doesn’t just pull up a tuft here or there. Fable focuses in one place and pulls up all the grass in that spot down to the roots. There is one area of the yard that she likes the grass best in and she also likes it best if her jolly ball is close by. I think that goes back to when she was very little. She would run out in the yard to the jolly ball and then instead of playing with it she would start pulling up grass. Fable doesn’t really eat the grass she just loves ripping it up and then shaking her head and spreading the “dead” grass everywhere. If left to her own devices in the backyard she almost always chooses to pull up grass.

Emma Book: last page and back cover

Though we are sad that Emma’s future didn’t turn out to be as a guide dog, we are so grateful to have had Emma in our lives. She was a joy to raise and we will always remember her droopy eye, snuggles and happy disposition. Emma has a bright future with Dennis. Time will tell if she will need an operation. Whatever happens Emma will live a good life and make a difference in the world. We look forward to seeing just where her new life takes her.

Emma Book: elated

Finally in January 2015 Dennis Marino, a volunteer at GDB wondered why Emma was still in the kennels? He had walked her several times I thought she was a really nice dog. He wasn’t looking for a dog but his question started the ball rolling and Dennis adopted Emma.

Emma lives in San Francisco and goes with Dennis to campus when he volunteers in the gift shop. Dennis’s dog walking is now with Emma, twice a day. They are a nice pair and so far Emma’s back is doing great. She has adjusted to life in the big city and the hills of San Francisco.

On March 27th 2015, we met Dennis on campus and got to see Emma again. It was so fun to see how healthy and happy she is with Dennis.

Emma Book: elusive

Because we want to keep raising puppies and Emma’s back wouldn’t be helped by an ongoing stream of young puppies we asked GDB to find the best place for Emma. Her mom’s family meet Emma one day when they were on campus and fell in love with her. But after talking to the GDB vet they decided that their lifestyle was too active for Emma’s condition.

In December Emma was assigned to a staff member to build rapport with until they could find just the right place for our Emma. She was well cared for and loved while she was in the kennels.


Emma Book: embryonic

Emma was evaluated for her potential as a breeder when she got back to Guide Dogs. But her EKG showed TVD or Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia, so she was spayed to prepare her to start her training as a guide dog.

Before she was assigned to a training string, Emma showed some signs of having a problem. As they investigated they discovered the last vertebrae in her back moved around more than it should. That was when we got the call puppy raisers dread, Emma was career changed for a “luxating lumbar”.

In hindsight there were subtle signs of her back problem but we didn’t recognize them. When I talked to GDB’s vet he said that her condition was something she was born with. Now it was time for Emma to find a new path in life, a different one then we had expected or hoped for.


Emma Book: empty

Our year and seven days with Emma was over before we were ready. We had hoped that there would be time for her to mentor a new puppy in training but alas, Fable came just two days before Emma’s recall to Guide Dogs for the Blind. The day we put her on the puppy truck for San Rafael was much like the day that she got off the puppy truck a year earlier. But we had mixed emotions. While were excited to see what her future would bring we wished we could have just a few more weeks with our sweet Emma.