Thoughts on Dog Leashes


Earlier this week I was discussing dog leashes with a friend. When we had a pet dog we always used a basic nylon leash or a retractable. After raising puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind for several years I’ve become spoiled by good leather leashes. I still love retractables and we use simple nylon leashes around the house but for anything else there is nothing like a good leather leash. When we got Apex we received this cool leash with two clips and an extra ring so the leash can be long or short. If you’ve never tried one of these I highly recommend them. A fellow puppy raiser has started making them, so if you are interested go to her website. The type we use with the puppies is the versatile dog leash.

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

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 were 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.

Zodiac is still in phase 0! Half the dogs in phase 0 last week moved on to phase 1, too bad Zodiac wasn’t one of them. A new batch of dogs will be arriving on campus next week. If Zodiac doesn’t make it to a string this coming week than he must be having trouble of some kind. I’ll be waiting anxiously for Thursday and the next phase report.

Pupdate – Banta & Casey

Mark, Banta and a friend at the Bolder 10K


This week marks two years since Banta and Mark graduated from the San Rafael campus of Guide Dogs for the Blind. Here is what Mark had to say about their anniversary:

“It has been a very quick two years.  Each day for the last two weeks I have been thinking about what we did in training that day two years ago.  It is all good memories.  I have really enjoyed Banta and she has taught me a lot about patience.  I can not imagine a more perfect puppy at this time in my life, I love her to death.”


We got a wonderful email for Carrie and Casey this week. Carrie has finished law school and is now studying for the bar. She already has a job lined up for when she passes the bar. Here is what Carrie had to say about the past year:

“Casey is such a joy, I love her to pieces and she has saved me on quite a few occasions (stopping when I didn’t see a car pulling out of a driveway, disobeying my forward command when I didn’t see stairs, etc.). She has such a bounce in her step and playful spirit. Everyone who meets her, loves her. Her coat shimmers, and everyone comments on how she still looks like such a puppy. I have so much gratitude for her and cherish every moment with her. She has her head on my feet right now, as we prepare for another long week. I gave her today off and free ran her at a local schoolyard, then let her have a long sniff.”

Here are some photos from their recent vacation:

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.

Zodiac’s Book – getting started

Title page for Zodiac's Book

Title Page for Zodiac’s Book

As our time with Zodiac comes to a close, I’ve been wanted to get started on his puppyhood book. I have a template so many of the design decisions are already made. Beside speeding up the process of completing each book the template gives a continuity to the series. Today I picked a font (Hobo Std) and two accent colors (blueish green and yellow). The colors might get changed as the book comes together but they are a good start. I also picked out 19 “Z” words to describe Zodiac. Finding “Z” words was a challenge but I did it.

  • zaftig – full-bodied; well-proportioned
  • zany – comically wild or eccentric
  • zap – strike suddenly and forcefully
  • zax – a hatchetlike tool for roofing slate
  • zealous – ardently active, devoted, diligent
  • zeek out – (slang) to lose control of oneself
  • zenith – highest point or state, culmination
  • zephyr – thing of fine, light quality
  • zero hour – a decisive or critical time
  • zesty – energetic; active
  • Zeus – supreme deity of the ancient Greeks
  • zigzag – a course with sharp turns
  • zillion – an extremely large number
  • zingy – full of zing; lively; zesty; exciting
  • Zion – where the pure in heart dwell
  • zippy – full of energy; lively; peppy
  • zoic – relating to or having animal life
  • zonked – exhausted or asleep
  • zoom – to move quickly or suddenly

The next steps are to work on the text for each word and find and/or take more photos to help illustrate all the “Z” words. Zenith will be used to talk about Zodiac’s partnership, hopefully as a guide dog, so that one will have to wait. Also zero hour will be about putting him on the puppy truck so I can’t do that one either. But I hope to have the rest of the pages done by the time he returns to Guide Dogs for the Blind. Then I can put it on to a cd and it will be given to his handler while they are in training. It is lots of fun for them to learn about how their dog was growing up in the raisers home.

Zodiac will probably be in the truck in 8 to 10 weeks. With 19 words to do I better get at least two spreads done each week. So that is my goal. I’ll post them here on pupdate day to help me be accountable for that goal. Since I’ve already do so much this week, I work to getting one spread done for Friday.

Do you have a project with an upcoming deadline that you are working on? I’d love to hear about it.


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.