"Not My Dog": Tales from Puppy Raising

Thursday, May 31, 2007


Here's a link to a segment on GEB that aired on WCBS in New York. Aren't those pups dolls? Makes me want another baby pup again ... well, maybe not right away!

Cute puppies on TV!

Friday, May 25, 2007

The pup who started it all

Chance was the first GEB pup we babysat .. and there we were. Not messing him up during our week gave us the confidence to be puppy raisers.

So I'm thrilled to report that Chance has now graduated from ATF! He will be going to Qatar to be an explosive sniffing dog. We are proud!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Where the wild things are...

Early mornings in Maine during the spring and summer make you appreciate what you have. Our yard is awash with birds. The rose-breasted grosbeaks are back, and Bob has spied the Baltimore orioles, though I haven't had that luck yet. The goldfinches are back to their canary yellow hue, shrugging off the winter drab, and the feeder outside the kitchen window is the wildlife version of a line at the all-you-can eat buffet.

This morning, as we left for Andrew's t-ball game, we saw a large wild turkey sauntering across the road, right into our yard. This evening, as we came back from getting ice cream, we spotted a large doe pronking towards the woods as we rounded the corner towards our house.

The evenings still have a bit of a nip, though the days have warmed up. Last night, we watched the fog roll in and settle in the lulls between our small hills. Being at the top of the hill, we watched as our neighbor's lawn became encircled by fog within 20 minutes.

It's times like these when you appreciate that, if nothing else, having a dog gets you outside to look around.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Back in the saddle

I think, cautiously, that Nettie is out of heat. I had the day off, so with Andrew in school for the afternoon, we went to our town's downtown to work.

I was worried about how the layoff would affect her, but so far, so good. There is a very busy intersection in town with a lot of truck traffic, and we walked and crossed the street there a lot. She didn't seem to mind. She was true to form -- started off totally "la, la, don't hear you, am not listening to you!!!" and then within 5 minutes, settled down and started working. Whatever. We ended up working for almost an hour. I even took her to the coffee shop because I felt pretty good at how she was doing. She did great there! When we were waiting for our drink (I decided to stay, b/c no one was there), she did want to sniff another person who came in, but she got refocused. Yes! She lay at my feet so prettily and nicely while we were there. She did get a doggie biscuit and a cup of ice cubes, as it was unseasonably warm here today, and she was pretty pooped out.

The only bad thing about today was that I'd figured I'd work Nettie and then go for a run before Andrew got home from school, but Nettie's work was going so well, I pushed it longer than I intended. So no time to run today. With husband out of town for 10 days, not going to be running any time soon! I am thinking, though, of seeing if our babysitter could come by some evening for just a couple hours so I could work Nettie in town and go for a run.

Oh well. I don't know why, but I registered to run the biggest 10K around here on the first Sat. in August. OH WAIT! I committed to doing it before we got Nettie!! THAT'S IT !! Anyway, I'm still trying to train and fit that in, too. I'm pretty confident I can handle it. I ran 5 miles a couple weeks ago, and I did run a 5K course Thursday night and finished it in about 27 minutes, roughly an 8:45 min/mile avg pace, according to my Nike+iPod, which I truly, truly love.

I think I love my iPod running thing so much because it's all about the hard data.

As we all know, puppies are pure speculation, work, luck, worry and hope.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Murphy goes to the big city

I got Murphy's report today, and I am so relieved. It was good! All "good"s except for one "fair" in restaurants/social settings.

Here's what they said:

Murphy has continued to progress in his training. We have most recently been working on the final phases of traffic training and platform training and exposure. He was a little tight initially on the platform but with time to relax and in learning the appropriate response for the platform he was able to relax and display that he is safe and displays the appropriate response to both the platform and also traffic. Murphy is very comfortable and responsible while on the platform.

Murphy’s street work continues to be the same. He has a nice solid work pattern. His distraction continues to be average. He is learning that it is ok to work amongst distraction. He can be refocused through both voice and leash.

Last week Murphy ventured to NYC to train in the busy environment and also to ride the subways. The hustle and bustle of the city adds a significant amount of work pressure to the dogs. Murphy handled it well but along with it being busy the city also adds a significant amount of distraction too. There are many dogs of different breeds and sizes and also many new smells. Murphy’s work was nice he handled the city and all that is has to offer very well. Initially he was hanging a little left not uncommon for his left behavior to reappear in times that he feels stress or pressure but by the end of the first block he had settled himself in and had a very nice route. He was unfazed by the subway and had his usual reaction to distraction. I was able to address the distraction with him and then he was able to continue working. He passed several dogs with out giving them a second look; he prefers the small yappy ones. We will continue to work on this. Murphy has struggles a bit with pedestrian clearances. They can be the hardest to teach as most people move out of the dog’s way.

Murphy is a sweet boy who has a nice established work pattern. He shows good problem solving skills. Murphy will do well in any environment he handles environmental pressure well. He does need and finds support in is relationship with his handler. This is a good thing, in turning to the relationship foundation between handler and dog he has learned how to support himself. I look forward to continuing his training and completing final blindfold in the weeks to come.

I had to laugh because 'small, yappy ones' were always his biggest distraction when he was with me.
I am so proud of him. The report is a little bittersweet. I had begun to wonder, when I hadn't heard, whether there was a problem, and so I was thinking just a little about having him back.

But this is what we trained him to do. He's one heck of a dog.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

A few (retroactive) pictures

Here are few cool ones from when we were (digital) camera-less

This one was taken on the ferry to Peaks Island. Isn't it like a GEB recruitment poster?

Nettie loves her toys .. and she likes to keep them all nearby. When she plays, she likes to keep two toys in her mouth as much as she can.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Making the most of things!

I am so ready for Nettie to get out of heat, if only for the chance to be able to take her out more widely again! I don't know about her, but I'm getting kind of tired of our rural road. It used to be that practicing obedience at the end of the cul-de-sac was a challenge for her -- so many wildlife smells! But now, I swear she's almost yawning at me... "You want me to do a down? Oh, fine. Yes, of course I see the chickadees in the tree, but I'm not falling for that distraction because I know you have kibble," she's thinking.

Today at least there was a cop doing a speed trap at the top of the hill where our road meets the main road, so that was a new distraction! She did well, although she was definitely paying attention to that car that isn't ever there.

I think she's ready now to go to the local town coffee shop and be ok. They allow any dog, so she doesn't have to have her jacket. It's just a little small and I didn't want to take her there til she's ready, because if she acts out, she can create an issue quickly and there's no real good place to pull her off and regroup. We'll see. (There's multi-tasking for you, if we start going there in the morning.. hmm, can I do a one-handed dog walk with a latte in the other? Is that a GEB-approved maneuver?)
(Just kidding. When I handled Murphy there, I'd order, run out and put him in the car and run back in for the caffeine.)

Sarah got her report on Diego yesterday, so I have fingers crossed that I'll hear about Murphy today.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Waiting ...

"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. ... Live the questions."
-- Rainer Maria Wilke

I am hoping for a report on Murphy this week, and this quote, which I've always liked, is more apropos than ever. I haven't gotten a formal report on him since March 5, and I saw him in late March. I did finally ask our AC when I might hear, and she said she thought I'd hear something this week. I keep telling myself no news is good news.

I don't think it's much of an exaggeration to say that I probably think about Murphy daily, or nearly so. If I were to tell anyone outside GEB that, I'm sure they would think I was pining or obsessed or something. However, I think it's more a reflection of how much I have invested and how many hopes I have for him. I wonder a lot about who might be the best match. I wonder a lot about whether he/she will want to keep in contact with us. I love Murphy -- if it doesn't work out for him, he will come home. But I want to see him be a guide, plain and simple. What I think would hurt is if he becomes a guide and his person chooses not to stay in contact. And I know that has happened to some people in the Maine region, who now have no idea of how the dog is doing.

I think when you care for them that deeply, on some level, you just have to know that things are good for them.