It feels like it’s been months since I wrote a blog post…wait a second it has been almost two months since I wrote my last post about the Shelter Me DVD at Redbox. Linda wrote the last published post on her Guide Dog Story.
I must say stuff happens that sometimes gets in the way of blogging. I wish I could write a riveting blog post every day, but sadly that is almost never the case.
Beginning today I have a series of posts to update you on some of the happenings around the Puppy In Training household starting with…
Orange County Guide Dogs of America (OCGDA)
This project has been nearly a year in the making. If you go to the Wayback Machine you’ll see that our Orange County Guide Dogs of America group site, OCGDA.com was live from 2007 – 2012, but unfortunately some technical glitches brought it down and over the past few weeks/months I re-acquired the domain name and re-launched the site. Take a look at the all new OCGDA.com website:
New and Improved OCGDA Website!
What Is The OCGDA.com Website?
Yep, I knew that would be your second question…
The OCGDA.com website is for and about our Orange County Guide Dogs of America Puppies and Puppy Raisers. The site is still a work in progress and my goal is to provide as much information as possible to our group members as well as information for people interested in raising a puppy for Guide Dogs of America. A few things you will find on OCGDA.com:
Puppy Profiles (work in progress) – Working on getting pictures and profiles of all our puppies.
Calendar of Events - Shows our upcoming group outings.
Latest News – I hope to put together a post with lots of pics for each of our outings.
Forms – An easy place to find important puppy raiser forms.
General Information – Lots of general information that will hopefully help past, present, and future puppy raisers.
This is one of the projects I’ve been working on over the past few months and I’m hoping it’s helpful to our Puppy Raiser group. I’m hoping to have it all setup and ready to go before our next group meeting in mid-July.
By the way, on top of OCGDA.com I’ve been working on 5 other small websites (non-puppy related) outside of my regular 40 hour a week work load…no wonder why I’m not having the time to blog…ugghhh…
If you have a moment please take a look at OCGDA.comand let me know what you think. As I mentioned it’s still a work in progress and I’ll be making tons of updates in the coming weeks.
Hmmm…so is this really Advanced Guide Dog Puppy Raising? Well…no not really, but we did learn a few new and important things about raising our guide dog pups from our good friends Tony and Sam.
Last week Tony and his guide dog, Sam visited our monthly Orange County Guide Dogs of America monthly meeting. We were lucky to hear all about Tony’s life with Sam and how much Sam has changed his life. Stories ranged from comical to happy to sad to inspirational.
As a guide dog puppy raiser it’s great to hear how much a working guide dog changes a blind or visually impaired persons life. It really does help them regain their independence and Tony and Sam are just one of the reasons why we (puppy raisers) continue to raise puppies for our great organizations.
Puppy Raising And Training Tips From Tony And Sam
Sam, Guide Dog. He’s a Labradoodle!
So what’s up with the title? Why is this Guide Dog Puppy Raising 201? Quite honestly as I mentioned earlier it really isn’t all that advanced and the 2 tips Tony shared with us are really quite logical. The reason why I say it’s advanced is because it’s the first time I’ve heard these kind of tips from an actual guide dog team.
Puppy Training Tip #1
If you’ve been following the blog for a while then you probably remember me talking about puppy names and how we name our guide dog pups. If not, take a look back at our post on puppy names. There are some basic rules to naming our pups, but at our meeting Tony told us his story about Sam’s name and gave us a good reason why and how we should name our pups.
Now that you’ve had the chance to refresh by reading our Puppy Names blog post (I’m sure you read the related links and comments as well) then you know that it was recommended to us by the GDA puppy department as well as other puppy raisers that we try to name our dogs with 1 or 2 syllable names and occasionally a 3 syllable name is allowed.
Back to Tony’s story about Sam. Sam’s original name was Sylvio…A 3 syllable name…Tony tried to use the name Sylvio to issue commands, but he said it just didn’t work out and after about 1 day he told his trainer that his name is “Sam”.
Once your puppy in training goes to his new handler they have the right to change the puppy’s name. Tony said a 1 syllable name is preferred by most guide dog users and urged us to strongly consider 1 syllable names when naming our puppies. A 1 syllable name just makes it easier especially for guide dog users who have to use their guide dog name more frequently then the average pet.
So far, I’ve failed at the 1 syllable puppy names, but I have kept it at 2 syllables for the most part:
Stetson – 2 syllables
Derby – 2 syllables
Dublin – 2 syllables
Apache – 3 syllables – I wasn’t involved when naming Mr. Apache, but I like the name By the way, Apache is on the verge of completing his Team Training!
Even if you are not a puppy raiser it’s important to think about your puppy’s name. Is your pup’s name easy to say when you’re using it with commands? If not, maybe it’s a good idea to consider a nice 1 or 2 syllable name. After all, you’re just making your life more difficult if you choose a 4 syllable name like “Serenity” (a name I really like) and try to issue obedience commands.
Puppy Training Tip #2
While I had heard about the importance of keeping puppy names short this was the first time I had heard anything about puppy training tip #2.
We do a few things differently when we potty train our guide dog puppies.
We teach them to potty on many different surfaces.
Tony’s puppy training tip for potty training was to keep the leash short when taking our pup’s out to potty. The leashes we use for guide dog training has a short and long attachment. Our leashes can usually be clipped in at about 3 feet or 6 feet. The reason why Tony recommended the short leash was because if puppies are only used to going potty on the long setting then it makes it much more difficult for a visually impaired or blind person to pick up poop.
I always made sure to keep my puppies from not wandering or sniffing too much when going potty, but this was the first time I had heard the importance of keeping your pup on the short leash setting to keep them close by for the purpose of picking up poop. This is definitely one I will be doing with my future guide dog pups.
So that’s it! Did you learn something new about guide dog puppy raising? or hopefully you learned something new that will help you when raising and training your own puppy.
Do you have any unusual puppy training tips that you use with your puppies? Tell us about it in the comment section below.
Return the pup to the GDA to start his 6 months of formal training
After 6 months go back to GDA for graduation, to see your pup again (now working guide dog) and his new visually impaired handler.
Easy peasy lemon squeezy!
It sounded simple six years ago, but nothing good is ever that simple now is it?
Does Your Puppy In Training Want To Be A Guide Dog?
Dublin always knew he would grow up to be a working guide dog.
It took nearly 6 years before I had a puppy in training graduate and become a working guide dog. Dublin was my first guide dog graduate last April. The numbers are always changing, but I’ve heard that approximately 40% of our puppies in training become working guide dogs. That means that 60% are dropped from the program.
Our guide dog trainers always tell us that our pups will choose whether or not they want to work as a guide dog. Some dogs love to work while others do not. Usually a puppy that does not want to work will exhibit signs of stress during the intense 6 months of training and who can blame them? It’s a lot of pressure making life and death decisions with their visually impaired handlers.
I’ve had three of my puppies in training dropped from the program:
Stetson – he went to formal training for 2 months and ended up getting dropped for being too soft.
Derby – he was in the program for 12 months and ended up getting dropped because he had trouble focusing in new situations.
Dublin – my graduate! Working as a guide dog!
Apache- he was in formal training for a few weeks, but didn’t pass the health screenings.
Some dogs are not made to be guide dogs, but sometimes they can still become working dogs. We’ve had career changed dogs from our group move on to search and rescue and Apache moved from the guide dog program to a service dog program called Canine Support Teams.
Fenton A Former Guide Dog Puppy
A few days ago I was scanning through my RSS feed and came across a post from the Poodle and the Dog Blog about Fenton the black lab and his viral video. Of course, I love Labs and I had to check out any viral video about a black Labrador Retriever. Check it out:
I guess this video has spawned all kinds of memorabilia including mugs, t-shirts, and even a book!
How does this relate to today’s post? It was reported that Fenton was a dropout from a program that trains guide dogs for the blind. Obviously Fenton did not have the desire to be a working guide dog. However, after watching the video he may have a career as a herding dog
Puppies in training with high prey drive do not make for good guide dogs. Could you imagine a guide dog working with his blind handler and then suddenly darting to chase a squirrel? I’m sure Fenton is having a good life as a family pet. It looks like he’s probably getting plenty of exercise!
Have you raised a career changed guide or service dog? Why did your dog decide to change careers? Tell us about it in the comment section below.
It’s been about a month since I dropped off Apache at Guide Dog College and I decided to take a little puppy raiser vacation…or so I thought. A couple days after drop off I found myself puppy sitting little 8 week old Toby for 2 weeks. Toby was recently re-homed and is happily living with his new puppy raisers.
A couple days after I brought Toby back to Guide Dogs of America I started a second puppy sitting assignment. I picked up Journey, a 7 month old yellow Labrador Retriever!
Over the past 2 weeks Journey and I went on many adventures working on his socialization as well as his house manners and basic obedience.
Can A Puppy Raiser Take A Vacation?
Some people think that puppy raisers have to do everything with their puppy. While we are lucky enough to get the privilege to take our puppies to many different public places including grocery stores, movie theaters, shopping malls, restaurants, etc. we do not nor do we have to take them everywhere we go. Some situations may be too stressful for a young puppy. Sometimes we just need a break from our puppy and maybe our puppy could use a little alone time in his kennel.
The past couple weeks Journey’s puppy raisers went on vacation and elected not to take Journey along (as I mentioned guide dog puppies in training don’t have to do everything their puppy raisers do). So what’s a puppy raiser to do if he goes on vacation without his guide pup? If you’re a puppy raiser with Guide Dogs of America and you’re puppy is over 6 months of age then you have 2 options:
You can have a fellow puppy raiser puppy sit your pup. Check with your group leader if you’re having trouble finding a puppy sitter.
Your puppy can stay at Camp GDA aka the GDA kennels (Puppies have to be over 6 months of age)
Since today’s story is about our adventures with Journey his puppy raisers obviously chose option 1.
My Adventures With Journey
We talked a little bit about Journey last week when Linus’ tail was getting into all sorts of mischief. We’re dedicating this week to our adventures with Journey – guide pup in training!
Journey was all smiles at the hockey game!
Journey did awesome at the hockey game. All the action, people, and crazy noises didn’t bother him one bit! Also, I don’t think he really minded the extra attention from smelly people wearing helmets and cages. Good boy Journey!
District in Tustin
Journey wondering if it’s okay to swim in that fountain with this heat wave
We worked on Journey’s loose leash heeling around the District in Tustin (an outdoor shopping mall). I let Journey stand by a few water fountains…he didn’t jump in, but with the current heat wave I’m sure he felt the urge.
Dog Days of Fullerton
Journey manning the booth at the Dog Days of Fullerton
It was scorching hot at the Dog Days of Fullerton, but Journey stayed at his post representing Guide Dogs of America at the GDA booth. We made sure and drank lots of water and kept cool with water bowl’s full of ice.
Sepulveda Golf Tournament
Journey waiting patiently in the golf cart
Another scorching hot day at Green River Golf Club!
Journey is a sponsored puppy. So what does that mean? It means a person or organization has made a $5,000 donation to cover the initial costs to raising a puppy. In return sponsors receive photographs and a written update quarterly, and your name will be embroidered on the puppy jacket. If your puppy successfully completes its training course, and is scheduled to graduate, you will receive an invitation to the GDA Awards Ceremony with special recognition of your generosity. If you’re interested in sponsoring a puppy visit: GDA Sponsored Puppy.
Sepulveda Building Materials (Journey’s sponsor) has an annual charity golf tournament and generously donates all of the proceeds to Guide Dogs of America. Since Journey is sponsored by Sepulveda Building Materials we felt compelled to volunteer by greeting all the golfers at hole #17, provide fruit, snacks, and refreshments.
Journey and I did a lot during our two weeks together. Last night Journey got to go back to his puppy raising family and once again it’s down to me, Ali, Linus, and Stetson at the old homestead. So maybe now I’ll get a chance to take a little break from puppy raising. So far my record for consecutive days without a puppy is 2! I think I’ll be able to beat that record this week…wish me luck!
I know there are a lot of puppy raisers out there. Does it seem like you’re always raising a puppy? Do you ever take a vacation from puppy raising? Tell us about it in the comment section below.
Apache here to talk about my journey to guide dog college. I’m going to try and keep it short and sweet with some of the basic information. If you want a more wordy description then just ask my Dad (he likes to talk) to shoot you an email or let him know about any guide dog puppy questions you might have.
My Journey To Guide Dog College
I think I’ll start off with where did I come from? I’m now a student at Guide Dogs of America (GDA) and this is actually where I started. We are all born and bred at GDA and after spending about 7 weeks in the nursery we go home with our puppy raisers where we learn basic obedience, socialization, and good house manners from our puppy raisers.
Here’s a picture of me the first day I went home with my puppy raiser:
That’s me! Aren’t I adorable. That’s my first day going home with my new puppy raiser
Normally we stay with the same puppy raiser until we are about 18 months old, but I just kept growing and growing and eventually I was too big for my original puppy raiser.
So a little bit before my first birthday I heard that a big, strong, burly, handsome (he made me say all those things) man named Colby would be my new puppy raiser. That’s us together working on our obedience:
I’m working with Dad on a loose leash heel. Looks like I’m doing pretty good! Picture by Laurel Schuman
My Dad said that my original puppy raiser did an awesome job with my training. However, he still took me to obedience classes, worked on our manners around the house, and visited many new and interesting places like the Bass Pro Shop:
That’s me, Apache! Just working on a sit-stay next to my Dad.
After working with 2 puppy raisers (Mary and Colby) we got the call that it was almost time to start guide dog college. So this past Saturday we got in the car and drove to the GDA campus in Sylmar, California to meet up with my first puppy raiser, Mary and to also get me started on the next leg in my journey to become a guide dog.
Guide Dogs of America had a nice luncheon for my puppy raisers and told us what we (the pups) would be doing in the coming months. Training sounds rigorous, but also fun at the same time. I can’t wait to get started. Here’s a good picture of me with my puppy raisers:
That’s my sister Asha! She’s a little bit smaller than me.
After our luncheon and taking a few pictures. It was time for us to say our farewells. We all walked down to the kennels. Dad took me into the kennel, removed my leash and collar, and I got to meet my new roommate, a beautiful female black Labrador Retriever! However, I still wanted to say goodbye to my puppy raisers and Dad gave me a big hug and told me to be a good boy while I’m at college.
Dad’s giving me a nice long hug before I start college
After Dad and everyone else left. I played with my new pal Dahlia until we were both exhausted. She’s my new best friend!
I couldn’t see him, but my Dad said he was going to try to catch a glimpse of some of the future guide dog puppies on his way out.
This adorable little guy is almost ready to meet his puppy raisers.
Now that I’m at guide dog college I will only be updating by postcard, but Dad says he’ll make sure that you guys hear all about how I’m doing with my training by updating the blog, Facebook, and Twitter accounts so make sure you “like” and subscribe to our social media channels.
I’m going to do my best in college and hopefully with help from GDA’s awesome instructors I’ll be wearing my shiny new harness at graduation soon!
Guide Dogs of America currently has a ton of puppies almost ready to go home with their puppy raisers. If you’re interested in raising a guide dog puppy and live in Southern or Central California (we also have group in Washington) then please let us know.
I know a lot of you are puppy raisers out there. Tell us about your experiences on puppy turn in day.
We received a wonderful thank you message from a guide dog handler we met on Facebook and wanted to share her appreciation with all our readers especially our puppy raiser readers.
As many of you already know I’m a guide dog puppy raiser for Guide Dogs of America. If you’ve been following our blog then you also know that my 3rd guide dog puppy in training, Dublin recently graduated. Can I reiterate how proud I am of Dublin!
Since Dublin graduated I’ve received lots of emails and comments thanking me for being a puppy raiser. I really appreciate all the nice messages from everyone, thank you!
Today I wanted to share one of the emails I recently received from a guide dog handler located all the way on the east coast (that’s far for us Californians)!
Thank You Email From A Guide Handler
We love sharing our puppy training tips, pictures, and videos from our experiences as guide dog puppy raisers. We’re very lucky that we get to talk to many supportive people on our Facebook page, Twitter account, YouTube Channel, and right here on the blog.
Not that long ago we received a very nice message from Katie and her Guide Dog Bau. We got an email from Katie on our Facebook page, but we asked her if we could share this private message with our readers and she said yes!
Here’s the email Katie and Bau sent us on Facebook:
Hi Colby and Pups!
I’ve posted on your Facebook page, but I wanted to send you a private message to thank you for all you do. To guide dog users, people like you are the real heros.
I live in Massachusetts, and am currently working with my third guide dog, a male black lab named Bau (italian for bark, or bow-wow). We have only been a team a few short months, but he is a great little worker that loves to please. He was raised by two actresses; Isabella Rosselini, and Linda Larkin (the voice of princess Jasmine on Disney’s Aladdin). I am in touch with them via email.
I retired my second guide, Traveler in the beginning of January. I had a great relationship with his raisers, a family that lives in Baltimore. Both parents were teachers, so he spend a lot of time in classrooms, which really came in handy when I was in college. All three of my dogs have been from the Guide Dog Foundation in New York.
I work at two different radio stations, and both Traveler and Bau love being in the studios with me.
In any case, I just wanted to send a message to thank you for all you do. I love watching your videos and seeing how the GDA puppy program works. It’s fascinating to see the different practices that each school has (most of the training elements are very similar to GDF).
Training with a new guide dog is a very exciting and emotional time. One of my favorite parts of the experience is getting to meet my dog’s puppy raiser. It’s great to hear stories about our dogs when they were pups, and to know how much they were loved. I feel like my dog’s puppy raisers are part of my extended family.
In any case, I just wanted to thank you so much for all the work you do as a raiser. You are truly a hero and you dedication is VERY appreciated by many. You are a true blessing!
I wanted to show you my boys, so attached you will find a picture of each.
Cheers, and thanks again
Katie and Bau Bau
Katie also shared pictures of her guide dogs: Bau and Traveler.
Here’s a great picture of Guide Dog, Bau on the train.
Bau On The Train
And here’s a nice picture of Guide Dog, Traveler smiling!
Thank you Katie for the wonderful note and for sharing pictures of Bau and Traveler. If you have a chance say hi to Katie on Facebook.
Thank you everyone for all the comments, notes, and emails you’ve been sending congratulating me and Dublin! You’re probably going to get tired of hearing me say this, but I’m so happy and proud of my little boy. I hope he’s having fun with Liz in Arizona.
Just in case you don’t follow us on Facebook. I heard from Liz and and she said that Dublin did well on his first plane flight and passed his first test navigating through a crowd of 300 kids running around at school. Go Dublin! Don’t forget to follow our Facebook Page!
Are you in touch with your guide dog pups and their handlers? If so, what kind of things are your working guide dogs up to? Tell us about it in the comment section below.
Do you have an adorable puppy who’s driving you nuts? Not long ago we brought home our first guide dog puppy and after the initial excitement wore off we soon realized we were in for an extreme test of our patience.
My name is Colby and I’ve been raising and training guide dog puppies for the past 5 years. Follow me and my pups on our journey from puppy to working guide dog.