Pupdate – puppy #8

Last Saturday, August 10th we turned in our paper work for our next puppy. I listed these preferences:

  1. ‘E’ puppy in November
  2. ‘E’ puppy anytime
  3. any letter puppy but A, B, C, D, W, Y, or Z in November
  4. any letter puppy but A, B, C, D, W, Y or Z anytime.

Imagine my surprise when on Tuesday I get the call from our puppy club leader that they have an ‘E’ puppy ready to come on the September truck, do you want it? Oh my! I called Bill and then we both pondered the question. We decided yes! So a little ‘E’ puppy is coming on the next puppy truck. I think September 6th is the current date. Through the GDB grapevine I’ve learned there was a litter of puppies assigned the letter ‘E’ born on June 28th. The parents are Maeve and McKinley. It is unlikely that there is another ‘E’ litter so that means our little pup will be 10 weeks old when we get him or her. 10 weeks is a perfect age.

When I’m not feeling overwhelmed about all I have on my plate for the next few months I’m very excited to be getting my ‘E’ puppy. ‘E’ litters don’t happen as often as most of the other letters except other vowels and letters like ‘Q’ and ‘X’ ‘Y’ and ‘Z’. We have ‘Y’ and ‘Z’ and they did their first ‘X’ litter last summer. So I’m glad to be getting my ‘E’ pup so quickly. I’ll update here when we learn more about pup ‘E’.


Pupdate – Good Luck to Zodiac

Bill, Dune, Zodiac & Raelyn on recall morning

It has been a busy weekend with puppy stuff. On Friday we had a farewell party for Zodiac. Nothing fancy, just some cookies, snack mix and lemonade. It is a tradition with each of our puppies, a chance to celebrate them and give family, friends and neighbors and chance to say good-bye. I think it is also for me. It helps me process the pups departure and come to terms with not having them around. Zodiac had lots of fun. His favorite people from church came and some of his puppy friends. At one point we had five labs at our house. That was crazy.

Saturday we had a big Guide Dogs for the Blind puppy training meeting. Lots of puppies there. With dogs ready to leave for harness training, like Zodiac, to very young puppies who just got off the puppy truck on Thursday. I learned lots of things from the visiting Community Field Representative from Oregon. It was a great opportunity to learn from someone new.

After the meeting Zodiac has his final evaluation. I’ve been a bit paranoid all week that they would decide that he wasn’t ready to go back or they would career change him on the spot. It is crazy the kinds of thoughts that can get into my head sometimes. We took Zodiac and Dune to the movies on Saturday night as one last outing for all of us together.

Sunday morning we got up very early so that we could get Zodiac to Ogden by 7:00 a.m. It was raining pretty hard when we left home but as we traveled north the skies cleared and the sun came up on a beautiful day. The hotel where the puppy truck stops for the night has a lovely walking path with trees and a pond and waterfall. I took both Zodiac and Dune for walks before the puppy truck drivers came out to the truck. Then we helped walk the puppies that had been picked up previously. I really enjoy doing this and meeting new pups and thinking about their puppy raisers. I walked an in-season female named Moxy. She was a happy and good girl. Bill got to walk Zodiac’s brother Zenith. Their temperaments are amazingly similar. Zenith reminded me a bit of Apex (our first puppy in training) which isn’t too surprising since Apex’s dad is Zodiac and Zenith’s grandfather.

We took Dune and Zodiac for one last walk together. Then it was time for Zodiac to get on the truck. That is the hardest part. He didn’t love getting into one of the kennels in the puppy truck but Zodiac did it anyway. We know he is in good hands. They stopped in Boise for a break Sunday afternoon and spent the night in Pendelton, Oregon. Zodiac would have arrived on the Guide Dogs for the Blind campus in Boring, Oregon on Monday afternoon.

Another puppy raiser that I know from a Yahoo group dropped her puppy off on campus yesterday. She saw Zodiac’s name on the wall in the kennel kitchen along with the other puppies that are expected to arrive on this recall. I like knowing that Zodiac has been on campus twice before, so he is sure to recognize it on his arrival. There is a whole team of experienced and caring people who are now taking care of him. They will help him adjust to life on campus. The next step for him is a thorough physical to make sure his eyes and heart and joints etc. are all working right. Now we play the waiting game. Waiting each week for the phase report to see how he is doing.

Pupdate – Zodiac’s Book

puppy in training for Guide Dogs for the Blind


I’ve been working on Zodiac’s book as often as I can since he is leaving in 9 days and I’d like to send a digital copy of it when he gets on the puppy truck. I’ve made pretty good progress, though not at all they way I planned it. (Sometimes plans just have to be adjusted.) Anyway, I’ve got the text all finished and some of the photos placed. I need to get some more photos of him taken before he goes. I have lots of him sleeping and sitting and being calm but not many of him in his wild and fun-loving moments. That is a big part of who he is.  I think I’ll post the finished pages once a week on pupdate day after he leaves. With some luck he could be graduating by the time I get done. So for now, here is the rest of the text.

  • Zeussupreme deity of the ancient Greeks: 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.
  • Zigzaga course with sharp turns: 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.
  • Zillionan extremely large number: 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.
  • Zingyfull of zing; lively; zesty; exciting: Zodiac has had the best of relationships with two other puppies in training. First was Yakira (puppy #5). When Zodiac was you she was is guardian and mentor. As he grew older their relationship evolved into buddies. Through it all they two of them had many a 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.
  • Zionwhere the pure in heart dwell: 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.
  • Zippyfull of energy; lively; peppy: 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.
  • Zoicrelating to or having animal life: 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.
  • Zonkedexhausted or asleep: 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.
  • Zoomto move quickly or suddenly: Not surprisingly Zodiac loves to zoom around our back yard. We usually keep a Jolly Ball out there at 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.

Pupdate – Zodiac’s Recall

studio shot of Zodiac ( black lab) - 3 months old - close up of his head and shoulders with just a little bit of pink tongue sticking out

Zodiac at 3 months

I’m working on my post about step one of the DOABLE approach but it probably won’t get done until tomorrow. But I have some late breaking news about Zodiac our puppy in training for Guide Dogs for the Blind. I just got a call that Guide Dogs wants him to return for his harness training on the next puppy truck. So on the 19th of May early in the morning we will be putting our fun-loving boy on the truck. A couple of weeks ago he wasn’t going back until June. But par for the course in puppy raising things change and now he is on the truck. They usually don’t take neutered males until 15 months old and Zodiac turns 14 months on Friday. So he will be on the young side.

There are lots of things to do before he goes back. I’ve got an extra report to write and I’d love to finish his book so I can send a pdf along with him. Plus we like to throw a farewell party for our pups before they leave to give family, friends and neighbors a chance to say good-bye. I’m trying not to feel panicked about this because I know everything will be fine but my stomach isn’t sure it agrees.

Pupdate – Zodiac’s Book

Zodiac - puppy in training - January 2013


A few weeks ago I made a goal to get two words done each week on Zodiac’s book. You probably aren’t keeping track but I haven’t posted any pages from is book in the past two weeks. So much for that plan. I have done some work on his book. Last week I gathered all the photos I have of him in one place. Some of the photos where tough to know if it was Yakira or Zodiac. I need to do better at adding information to the photos in the metadata when I take them. That is one of those things on my long-term to do list but that hasn’t come close to seeing the light of day.

I also took some time and decided what I would focus on with each of Zodiac’s “Z” words. Lots of them have similar meanings but I’m happy with the topics I’ve come up with. I also have all the “Z” words in the book with their definitions. Now it is just a matter of finding or taking good photos for each word and writing some text.

Today I thought I’d get to work on a few pages and place some photos too. But instead I got text written for 8 spreads but no photos placed. So here is what I got done today:

  • zaftigfull-bodied; well-proportioned: 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. He has the cutest way of looking up at you with the whites of his eyes showing. Zodiac has matured into a very handsome nicely put together dog.
  • zany – comically wild or eccentric: 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. It could be that he is really trying to say that he wants more dog food but he never gets that. He hasn’t ever done this before a meal. Well, he has me pretty well-trained to the ice-cube thing.
  • zap – strike suddenly and forcefully: 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.
  • zax – a hatchetlike tool for roofing slate: Once in a while Zodiac uses his paws like a zax and punches you. The most memorable time was when my friend Lisa, and I along with Zodiac and a career change dog name Osaka where driving through the night to a Guide Dog for the Blind graduation. We both too tired to drive so the four of us slept in the car. At some point Zodiac punched out with one of his paws and caught Lisa in the eye. Boy did that ever hurt. I’m pretty sure her eye got scratched but it healed up fine. Of course Zodiac wasn’t trying to hurt her, she just got in the way of a powerful paw stretch.
  • zealous – ardently active, devoted, diligent: Zodiac is very zealous about life and what it likes to do. Sometimes it comes across as stubbornness. I’ll never forget our first day together. He was exploring his new house and decided he wanted to go it the spare bedroom. This is our cats territory and off-limits to the dogs, so I picked up his puppy leash and stopped him. He did like that and pulled harder to go into the room. I think we spent 10 minutes with Zodiac trying to go forward into the room and me preventing him. To his credit he learned his lesson and we never had that battle again.
  • zeek out – (slang) to lose control of oneself: 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. Sometimes he does better at this than others.
  • zenith – highest point or state, culmination: (this is for his graduation day or whatever his career of choice)
  • zephyr – thing of fine, light quality: 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.
  • zero hour – a decisive or critical time: (this is for recall day)
  • zesty – energetic; active: 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.

Even though that wasn’t how I planned to go ahead, in the end, I think it just matters that I’m making progress and not that I follow my previous plan exactly. To my way of thinking, plans are to help us move forward. I don’t always get a project broken up in a way that really works in real life. Then, I think it is important to just go with the flow and feel good about your progress. Does that ever happen to you? How do you handle it when your plans and reality don’t work together?




Zodiac & Dune

Dune and Zodiac are both so cute. Well maybe Zodiac is more on the handsome side these days. He is a year old now and no longer looks like a puppy. They really enjoy each other’s company. It is amazing how many times the two of them will be laying down near each other and Dune looks like an exact copy of Zodiac, except she is smaller and yellow (of course).

We found out at puppy class this week that Zodiac is scheduled to go back to Guide Dogs for the Blind on the next puppy truck. That truck is expected to come on May 18th. I’ve had it in my head that he would be returning sometime in June but it isn’t looking that way. I figured out how to put a count down widget here on my blog so I can count down to his departure. I was so proud of him on Sunday. I got up to teach a lesson at church and left him by my chair. I forgot about him because I was so focused on teaching. But he was very good, even with a little toddler distraction right by him.

Dune has had some challenges this past week or so. Our snow all melted and she didn’t like not having snow to pee on. She had 4 accidents in one day! It had been about 3 weeks or more since she had a single accident let alone 4 in one day. She is doing better now but we are having to pay a lot more attention to her relieving. Since she was very young she would let us know when she needed an extra potty break by sitting by the door. Dune isn’t doing that much any more.

Dune is making some progress on her kennel stress. While she still isn’t quiet while we are gone she isn’t stressing out so much about it. Before she would get so stressed that not only her jaw was wet with drool, but the whole front, down to her legs would be soaked. Now even her jaw is dry. She also got the last of her puppy shots this week, so now she can go on walks and to parks and places like that.

We also got an email for Banta and Mark this week. It is always so exciting when I see that I’ve received an email from one of our puppies. Here is some of what Mark had to say:

Banta is doing very well.  For the most part she is working perfectly.  She has her stubborn moments.  We finally had a big snow a week ago.  Banta likes about 6 inches of snow.  We got about 10 inches and she seemed annoyed that all of her favorite places to play had too much snow.  Eventually she got in there and played like a crazy little girl.  She is so much fun, I love her to death.

All in all it has been a good week on the puppy raising front.

And her name is . . .

The door bell rang a few minutes ago and it was UPS with a box from GDB. Inside was the puppy packet and her name is Dune!!! I love it. She will be our little sand Dune. Her flight leaves in about an hour. I can’t wait to meet her.

This is so different from getting a puppy from the puppy truck. But it is fun too. I’ll post pictures as soon as I can get both of us under control when we get home from the airport.

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.

Yakira – phase 1

Yakira - photo by Lisa Thompson

Yakira – photo by Lisa Thompson

This weeks phase report finally had Yakira’s name on it. She is official in phase 1! It seems like it she has been gone for such a long time. Actually it has been almost 7 weeks. Some of the other dogs that went back on the truck with her are in phase 5. I’m guessing that the Thanksgiving holiday slowed down her start into training. I know I shouldn’t get impatient about it all but I still do. I really do know that it will all work out and that the best life for her is ahead, no matter what road that is.

For more details on what Yakira is learning in phase 1 see this post on Casey in phase 1.

On news on some of the other puppies in our life:

  • Zodiac is doing great. I’ve seen some maturing in the last week or two. He is being much less of a rebellious teenager. Sometime I see him crouch to jump on me and he stops himself. He turns 9 months on Monday.
  • Apex is off on a cruise to the southern Caribbean for more than I week. Sue has promised pictures. I can’t wait to see them. He has such a great life with Sue.

A Basic Pup-date

Zodiac curled up under my desk

Nothing major going on with the pups but plenty of little stuff. First off Zodiac is part of a three-way puppy swap this weekend. He has gone with Stacey. She is a Jr. High Drama teacher and I wanted him to get some practice being around animated kids and clapping more. He can easily get over excited by such things. Stacey’s puppy Trapper has gone with Karen so he can experience what it is like on a college campus. We have Karen’s pup, Nairobi with us for the weekend. He was transferred to Karen about a month ago and he has made great progress under her care. Nairobi has a good personality and responds well to commands.


I was hoping that Yakira would show up on the phase report this week but she still isn’t there. A couple of weeks ago a fellow puppy raiser was on campus for a graduation and took a picture of the kennel assignments in the kennel kitchen and sent it to me. It was so nice of her to do that. I love getting any bit of info on her. None of the other pups in her kennel have shown up on the phase report either. Next week for sure she will be their. Today Yakira turns 15 months old. It is probably good that it has taken a month for her to get into training. You don’t want them too young when they graduate.

Yakira’s kennel assignment on November 3rd

We will get Zodiac back on Monday at puppy class. Beacon will come home with us that night too. His raiser is going out-of-town for Thanksgiving so Beacon will be with us until Friday. One of the good things about having only one puppy in training is that we are available to puppy sit for other raisers when needed.