"Not My Dog": Tales from Puppy Raising

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sometimes I feel this way myself ...

Learning how to be good is hard work for a pup. This was taken in the car on the way home from the Pet Expo in Wilton a few weeks ago ...

Unfortunately, the pictures of Nettie and Ginny together didn't turn out. I could scream! It was in an old factory and my flash apparently wasn't enough. Hey, I'm a word person, not a photog! I'll have to see if Tiffany took any.
In the meantime, if anyone knows Santa, tell him I want a camera phone to replace my antique cell phone, which is circa 2003. I know. I'm surprised it even still works, especially since it somehow has dog hair inside it. :-)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Meeting and greeting

Just a quick note .. Nettie went to the vet on Saturday for her rabies booster and did pretty well, even with several dogs there (and Andrew along too!). The vet seemed quite taken with her. She weighed 56.4 pounds.

We have houseguests all week and she's behaving well for them. I kept her crated when they first arrived and then brought her out on leash. She got very excited for about 5 minutes but now has settled in and just treats them like family. I taught them the commands and hand signals and she minds them, too. I think she's enjoying having four adults to dole out pats -- last night she just made the circuit from person to person to get petted!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Smart girl!

Whenever I put Andrew to bed at night, Nettie goes into her kennel. The two bedrooms upstairs are off-limits to her, as the cat who hates her needs some "havens" ... and whenever Nettie has gone into those bedrooms, he expresses his displeasure by peeing. Yes, great fun. So it's easiest to let him win and Nettie just doesn't go there.

Anyway, a couple nights ago, I told Andrew, "Time to go put on your jammies."

Upon hearing this, Nettie rose, walked over to her crate, nudged the door open with her nose, and kenneled herself!

She now kennels herself as soon as she sees bedtime prep start ... I do believe she'd stay in the crate even if I didn't shut the door.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Things are almost going too well

OK, I'll start off by saying that I know I have to get some good pictures up! Now, I did take a camera to the pet expo that I'll mention below, but given the atmosphere, I was scared to take my husband's good digital camera, so I grabbed a disposable. Wise move, as it turned out, when Nettie and her half-sis scattered my bag's contents! So anyway, they'll be coming. Soon.

Now, on to the Nettie updates. Three key things to report on: Evals, pet expo and Nettie's sleepover.

We had evals two weeks ago, and again, Nettie did really well. We did something really fun -- shut the doors to a large room and our coordinator had us walk around with the dog with us, but off-leash, which she called 'ghost-walking.' Surprise, surprise -- something I've been doing around the house is paying off! I started emphasizing to Nettie that she walk with me, even off leash, in self-defense to preserve the cat detente. It is not easy to maintain cat detente when an exuberant Lab might burst forth anytime you come walking out of a door. i've found the cats are much less jumpy if they know that Nettie is WITH me, so that's what we've been doing. For once, I had an eval where I wasn't nervous! Bessie also recommended that I start teaching Nettie to 'label' things -- which I'd been doing as a game... 'bring me the kong, bring me a bone.'

I think it really hit me how little time there really is left, when Bessie said that since the next evals are in late January, I really don't have to bring Nettie to that one. wow.

The following weekend, we were off to the Pet Expo, up in Wilton, Maine. I spent the day there with Carol, who started Nettie, and Ginny, who is Nettie's younger half-sister (their dad is Evan.) Another raiser, Tiffany, whose pup is IFT, also came over to keep us company.

Both of the girls were DARLING. Nettie was very excited, of course, to see Carol, but she kept her composure very well. Carol was very excited and proud of her. Nettie spent the entire day out, behaving nicely around everything from a chihuahua in ridiculous costume to a great Dane (she barely came up to his chest!) She also greeted scores of humans and not once did we even have an attempt at jumping.

I think I got some very nice pictures of Nettie and Ginny together -- if I did, I'll send one to GEB for the homepage (and put it up here, too!).

Finally, this weekend, we went up to Acadia for a last gasp of scenery/hiking, so Miss Nettie had a sleepover at the house of some raisers who are between pups. Their last pup was much like Murphy -- an energetic, huge boy, even bigger than Murphy was -- so I think they enjoyed my petite girl and her lovely house manners. I'm told the highlights of her weekend were going to the supermarket and working inside and in the lot, and in having a play date with one of their neighbors' dogs this morning. It must have been a rowdy playdate, because she's been zonked since we picked her up around 3:30.

That's all the good .. our current dilemma, though perhaps moot, is this: GEB recently changed its rules in how it handles pups that don't make it as a guide. Under the old rules, the raiser could say they wanted the dog back before it would be offered to another organization, like ATF or state police or another school. Now, GEB is making all efforts to match the dog for a career change and then only offers the pup back to the raiser if a suitable career can't be found.

Nettie is grandfathered in under the old rules. We had been thinking that we were content to follow the new rules; we actually had been frustrated by the old rule with Murphy, because we wanted him to have a shot at another career if he couldn't guide, but we wanted him if he couldn't, and if we passed on him initially, there was no guarantee we'd get him back.

I'd told our coordinator at evals that we were leaning to playing under the new rules with Nettie, but I think both Bob and I are feeling torn about that now. On one hand, I want her to have a career -- I've worked very hard to build her skills and train her for something.

On the other, she's one great, sweet, smart dog and we've fallen for her.

As I say, it's probably a moot point. I'm biased, but she's been doing great lately. I know anything can happen in training, but I think she's got a great shot at guiding.

Maybe I'm just hormonal, but giving her up is going to be really hard .. not that giving up Murphy wasn't hard, but that time, I knew (no matter what my husband said) that a new pup was going to come along pretty soon. This time, for obvious reasons, that's not in the cards for a while.

And this house is going to seem quite empty without her.