"Not My Dog": Tales from Puppy Raising

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.


  • Alright Nettie!!! I was wondering how you worked with Nettie on walking with you off leash, like that as that would be a great help for me and new puppy!

    By Blogger Erin & Rei, At 5:27 PM  

  • Erin -- I started with having her on the leash, but not holding it in my hand. Or I would hold the leash but not have it clipped to her. If she went ahead, I'd just wait and act as I would have if she were pulling on the leash, and reward when she came back. I also used lots of kibble(!) and always make sure to use the 'let's go' command when I want her to stay with me. Hope that helps.

    By Blogger Angie, At 7:10 PM  

  • YEY Nettie. Congrats to you and Nettie on a stress free eval! We all need those. I love my RM (trying to get used to that) but I still get nervous at evals. I love Bessie. Shes a great lady! What a fun outing with Ginny! I hope this pictures turn out as I would love to see Glacier's sister now. I have pictures of her at about 9 weeks and that the last Ive seen. I know what you mean about the new vs old rules. I would love to put Glacier in under the new rules. She is doing so well now and needs a job bu I woud take her back if she didnt work out anywhere else. Nettie is growing up so fast. It is hard to believe that she doesnt have to go to evals in January! Enjoy your time together. She sounds like a wonderful dog!
    ~MeKalea and GEB pointy Wrangler ong a puppy switch

    By Blogger The Puppy Raising Roller Coaster, At 10:49 AM  

  • Aww.. you're RM is Bessie? She's great! Anyways, that's great that Nettie had a pretty good eval. It's so easy to get attached. I didn't realize about that new rule and how it effects pups in training now. I'm sure you'll make the right decision though.

    By Blogger Jamie, At 6:42 PM  

  • Yes, Bessie is our RM! She's so great!

    By Blogger Angie, At 9:45 AM  

  • Glad that eval's went well!

    I think I like the new rule. The old one left me torn when Puma was released - I really wanted him to have every shot at being a working dog, but I did not want him to be somebody else's pet.

    By Blogger Kelsie, At 9:53 PM  

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