"Not My Dog": Tales from Puppy Raising

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A visit to NY

OK, it was a week ago, and I'm finally getting around to posting about the day I spent at Guiding Eyes last Thursday. I've been battling a bit of a bug, so it has been a matter of taking care of family, job, Nettie, etc. and the "blogger" role has been last in line!

Anyway, as people may have noted, I am a professional journalist. I got such a great response when I wrote about Murphy for my newspaper that I kept thinking that I would like to write even more. (The Murphy story started out about four times as long as what was published.)
So, I am hoping to pitch this experience to a longer forum. Hopefully it will work out. We will see.
I talked with some folks with Guiding Eyes, and they were gracious enough to let me come down for a research trip (the more research, the better the pitch.) even though there are no guarantees here.

I spent the morning following around Susan, a trainer, as she worked on Colonial Drive with some pups that are just starting out. It was such a great experience to get to watch how she is working the dogs, and what they're trying to accomplish at this stage. Susan is amazing -- she changed careers to come to GEB, and her passion for her work is so inspiring. I loved watching her patience with the dogs, and her eye for who they are and where they are at.

When I was getting ready to leave the training center and head up to the CDC, I couldn't help it -- I had to break my journalistic objectivity, and I broke down and asked Susan if I could see Murphy, if he happened to be in the kennel.
She called Woody, Murphy's trainer, to make sure it was ok with her -- sometimes, apparently, seeing the puppy raiser can upset the pup and confuse it. That was the last thing I wanted for Murphy, of course.
Well, Woody said immediately that it was ok for me to see him. I went out into community run, and Susan brought him out. He charged out straight toward me, and then he almost hesitated, like a doggie double-take and then got even more excited.

I like to think that he knew me. We played for about 5 or 10 minutes. I was blown
away -- he is even bigger. He's like a lanky kid who went off to college and hit the weight room. He's really filled out, but in a good way. Very barrel-chested and muscular. He resembles his dad, Farrell, even more, I would say, based on the photos I've seen of Farrell. I'm guessing he's at least 80 pounds now -- whew! His coat is as gorgeous and wavy as ever; he even sat on my feet to have a neck rub like I used to give him.

One last fierce hug, and Susan and I kenneled him. I also saw Maddox, who is in the next-door kennel and looks quite well, too.

Then I went to the CDC and spent the afternoon with Jane, who oversees the breeding. She walked me through how she decides to breed -- or not -- and we used Murphy's litter for a test case on why none of them bred. Then she and I went out on a brood/stud walk, where we went to Brewster and evaluated 10 dogs that were under consideration. It was fascinating to talk to her about the data and how she makes her choices, and then watch her evaluate. I ended up working a potential brood, Pandora, for Jane because she had three workers and four dogs in that group. (I was incredibly nervous that she would think I wasn't very good at working the dog! )

Luckily Pandora is an incredible dog. It looks like she will be bred, and in another "it's a small world" moment, she might go live with Farrell's family.

We finished off by Jane working out a mating and explaining to me how she chose the pairing. I will be watching eagerly to see how the Passion/Vernon puppies turn out!

everyone at GEB is so dedicated to what they do. The atmosphere is so dedicated. It seems like almost every staffer is raising/fostering, too. I got to meet Nia, Nettie's sister. I was introduced to Nia, and I immediately asked as soon as I heard "N" if she was the N306 litter, because she's about the exact same size as Nettie, and only slightly darker.

I have to think that there are a couple book chapters in the day... I think I first started thinking about a book pitch was when I read "Marley and Me" and it just made me so mad, that I wanted to tell people about how you can really work with a dog.

Anyway, the other "small world" moment was when I stayed in the guest house and my room had a photo of Diego, the pup that Sarah raised. It was nearly 10 p.m., I'd worked all day and then driven almost 5 hours, and I just laughed. It was such a perfect circle.


  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger The Puppy Raising Roller Coaster, At 3:27 PM  

  • AWW! You saw Mork and McGee! How exciting. I hope they were behaving well. What an awesome trip!! That would be really cool. I really need to update my blog so that people dont have to ask which dogs I raised. lol. Im just having such a hard time getting through Yellsea's blog post as she was a very emotional raising experience.

    By Blogger The Puppy Raising Roller Coaster, At 3:28 PM  

  • So sorry you had a bug, they aren't fun. What a great day you had! Susan is so much fun! I shadowed her, and she is so passionate with what she does. That was so nice you got to see Murphy! They do fill out with muscle from the harness work. They look so amazing, though! Pandora is now living with Farrell and, from what I hear, is such a great dog! Thanks for filling us in!

    By Blogger Sarah, At 4:16 PM  

  • That is Cool,do you think by seeing what they are looking for in the dogs, and watching the training helped you with Nettie?

    Just wondering!
    I wish i could do that! Ah the pain of living 15 hours away from the schooL!

    By Blogger Erin & Rei, At 9:27 PM  

  • Erin,
    It was great to watch Susan work, but she was teaching things that they're not supposed to learn w/ us.. for instance, she was teaching learning to pull in harness. (Longtime readers of the blog will note that I spent a LOT Of time convincing Murphy NOT to pull me down the street.)

    I did pick up a couple great tips from Jane when I worked Pandora, though. She noticed I was starting myself as I said "let's go", so I've been working really hard not to move myself until I say it!

    By Blogger Angie, At 5:31 PM  

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