"Not My Dog": Tales from Puppy Raising

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Weird coincidence

I forgot to mention this below... While we were waiting to have our portrait taken with Nettie and Rachel, my husband Bob noticed a photograph that looked strangely familiar in the display case... It's the Portland Press Herald building, where I work (for now, anyway!)

Many, many times I have walked Murphy and then Nettie right where the man and his guide are.... Too funny!

(I couldn't get a good shot without the glare and I didn't realize until we got home that I had captured Bob and human puppy's reflections as well. .. One other thought: I am so glad Bob came along -- I knew Rebecca would not get a good morning nap, and she did not, and I knew she'd screech during graduation and she did! ... Our RM, Bessie, told me that she would have taken Rebecca out for me so that I wouldn't have missed it, but I didn't know she'd be there. )

Wow ... Whew ... Better late than never?

I feel like I'm almost all talked out about graduation, having sent lots of emails to friends about it and posted an account on our Maine GEB website, too.

For the first time in three years, we aren't preparing for a pup, we don't have a pup in the house and we don't have a pup at GEB in training.

It's different.

I am very happy about Nettie and her match. Rachel is a wonderful, really neat person and I wish her the very best. Nettie, I think, will thrive in a college setting. I was thrilled that she remembered us -- and equally thrilled that, as we sat and chatted in Rachel's room, that it was Rachel that Nettie would check in with as she took a break from playing with her toy or wandering around.

(Nettie, however, did keep staring at Rebecca, as if she was thinking "Just what is that, and when did you get it?")

I didn't cry. I did at Murphy's graduation -- tears of pride, of course. Tears that we had accomplished our goal, that he had made it.

I don't want anyone to misinterpret this, but Nettie's graduation was almost anti-climactic. Perhaps I had gotten arrogant, but I always believed in my heart that Nettie would be guiding. I was momentarily rattled when she was pulled in July*, but I always expected her to make it. Murphy is a wonderful dog, but there were times where I didn't know if guiding was his destiny, so his graduation was a little more emotional.

(* as for the pulling her from class in July ... Rachel had a very interesting observation. She said Nettie seemed a little sad when she got her, and very, very eager to show her that she knew how to do what she was supposed to do ... We both thought it sounded like it was a little rough for Nettie to get pulled, too.)

Anyway, here are a couple pictures.

Rachel and Nettie in the ceremony

Nettie greeting Andrew afterwards .. note, the four on the floor!

Friday, August 15, 2008

And we're off!

No late pullback this time from GEB ... looks like the match is a go! It had better be -- we'll be on the road in a few hours.

Random thoughts:

-- Having not done a road trip with an infant in oh, nearly 7 years, I had forgotten how much stuff you have to pack for them. It's even worse than hauling along puppy gear! (Just make sure you're set with diapers or poop bags, depending on the species.)

-- I have the sweetest husband in the world for rearranging his schedule to come along, to save me from a solo road trip with infant and 6-year-old. A big MWAH to him. (Although part of me thinks he's just paranoid that Andrew and I might come home with a puppy from the CDC tour ... just kidding, honey.)

-- From the how not to behave file: Our RC sent an email reminding everyone to not grab the dog and take off with it for a walk. What?? Yes, sadly, apparently at least one raiser has done this at graduation. Yikes. I'm trying to be charitable here, but wow.

-- This time, the scrapbook for Nettie's owner has been done for several days. Longtime readers may remember that Murphy's got finished at 1 a.m. on the day of graduation, on the hotel room bathroom floor while my son slept in the room. :-) You do get wiser as you get older.

-- Mostly I'm just excited for Nettie and her owner. Nettie was such a pleasure to have in our lives -- well, almost all of the time, but that's true for any pup or kid.
What always stood out about Nettie was how much she liked to think and to work. We believed from the time we first babysat her that she was probably going to be a guide, and it's a thrill to be proven right and to see it happen.

I'm still taking the Kleenex, though.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention!

Nettie is in class and may graduate on Aug. 16 if all goes well. She is currently paired with a woman from Lawrence, Kansas. I can picture Nettie working at a university setting, and I think that she would be very happy doing so! She was always happiest out working. I am excited and proud for her. Now, just have to hope that human puppy will cooperate and be good during graduation. Older human puppy is far more easily bribed -- a new book and Gummi bears will do the trick.

(Actually, we used to play a training game with Nettie in which Andrew would also do the commands -- down, stay, sit, bow -- along with her and his 'kibble' would be fruit snacks. Fortunately, I never goofed and fed the wrong kibble to the wrong one.)

Back to topic. Another of our Maine dogs, Fiera, also is in class, and hopefully will be making friends with Princess Coral really soon!

I really enjoyed puppy class last Saturday. I took Rebecca along and actually ended up getting a chance to work Genevieve, a wonderful 5-month-old pup. Yes, you can work a smaller pup with a baby strapped to you in a Baby Bjorn. .. not saying I would do it on a day-to-day basis, though! I also experimented with shooting some video for our Maine GEB website. I really like some of the new work with the dogs on a long line.. I used to do that with Murphy & Nettie and it was always fun and effective with them. I also love the new "get dressed" command for the collar!

Monday, August 04, 2008

The waiting game

I went to puppy class on Saturday, and our RM said that I should know by Thursday whether Nettie will be in the August class. I have my fingers crossed!

Princess Coral, welcome to reading the blog... We have at least four dogs from Maine who are class-ready, so if Nettie doesn't wind up with your friend, maybe one of her buddies will!

Will write more on thoughts from Saturday's puppy class, doings, musings on graduation, etc, but human puppy has only decided to go back to sleeping through the night recently .. and my uncooperative time clock has still been waking up at 4 a.m. even when she doesn't!