Friday, July 25, 2008

"And now a word from our sponsors..."

On the way home from SEGD, I was able to go through all the puppies’ paperwork to read about who their sponsors are. I found out that Bob is named after a beloved father, who has left behind a very proud family who chose to sponsor and name Bob in his honor. They live relatively close by, in Sarasota. I feel privileged to raise Bob in honor of his namesake. I am glad they wish to communicate, and I have already been in contact with them. Thank you for sponsoring Bob 2K8!

I would like to encourage all the Puppy Raisers to blog the puppy-that-they-are-raising’s progress; it is a wonderful way to keep sponsors up to date on the puppy’s progress, as well as being a nice history of the puppy’s first year (or so) to share once he or she is matched. It is the Puppy Sponsors who help make what Southeastern Guide Dogs does a reality. A blog would be a nice ongoing thank you. Many of us will share photos here or there, but wouldn’t it be great to share every little thing that the puppies do to amaze us with others who would be equally impressed?!

So it is with Bob’s sponsors and their family in mind that I will once again blog puppy progress. I hope that everyone who loved Bob will check in to monitor progress of “puppy Bob.”

Bob working from home with Tracee

Photo Disclaimer: Bob does not jump up on furniture, or normally sit in my lap, or type on the laptop, this was a completely posed photo, I know better. Note Bob’s self control and poise as he waits for the photo to be taken, and you will see this is an excellent exercise using the “stay” command. Perhaps posing him for cute-sie photos isn’t necessarily endorsed or recommended; however, to pose a particular photo every once in a while isn’t going to begin a bad habit or ruin his career. Apologies in advance if this photo has offended anyone. He is not sitting in a dishwasher or on the Dumbo ride, so I do know right from wrong when it comes to puppy raising. Just thought it would be a cute photo op as I stopped to love on Bob as I worked, and there was a camera nearby.

Bob Arrives!

I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek at the puppies earlier in the day, as I made the trip to SEGD with Thresa to pick them up, but normally, you don’t get to meet them until the Pretty Puppy Pick Up Party…

This time, the party was held at Joan’s home. A Pretty Puppy Pick Up Party is much like a puppy baby shower. Everyone comes to meet the new arrivals, usually bearing gifts. Everyone gets intoxicated, not on alcohol, but on PUPPY BREATH! Lots of puppy kisses are given, lots of pictures are taken, and lots of paperwork is done. There are many papers that need to be signed before you can take the puppies home.

Bob 2K8 & Tracee at the Pretty Puppy Pick Up Party

It had been a long day, and now it was getting late. It was time to go home. This was the first time I have had to take a puppy home by myself, as Dan had always come with me, but this time, he had to work. It is most challenging driving home late at night, in the dark, on a side of town with which I was unfamiliar, and having to continually correct a new pup, so that he would remain on the floorboard.* (Though he was on a tie down in the truck, he still wanted to hop up on the seat.)

[*THAT is the hardest thing, for me, about being a Puppy Raiser: NOT letting these puppies do things that you might normally let a puppy do, if it were your personal pet; that is what is difficult. Giving them back is not the hard part; these puppies do not belong to me, they belong to SEGD. I am often asked, “Isn’t it hard to give them back?” I always reply the same way: “No, not for me.” (Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE these guys to death.) “This isn’t my puppy; he belongs to Southeastern Guide Dogs. When it is time for them to go back, I am proud. They have a job to do, and when it is time to send them in for training, it’s off to bigger and better things!”

What these dogs do is so profound; it brings tears to my eyes to think about what they go on to do. If anyone was ever on the verge of being a Puppy Raiser, and they had the chance to experience the pride and excitement that comes when a puppy you have raised has been matched, they would do it in a heartbeat! No, it isn’t hard to give them back when I know what it is that this pup can do for someone else. My son really summed it up before we raised our first SEGD puppy. After telling both children that we were getting a puppy, then telling them what kind of puppy (a guide dog puppy) I asked them if they were going to be okay when we had to send the puppy back in for training. Jameson was 9 at the time, and with compassion and wisdom well beyond his years, he responded, “Yes, Mommy, because the person who will get him needs him more than we do.” That still brings tears to my eyes. (My daughter, who was 7 at the time, quickly retorted, “Yeah, and then they’ll give us another puppy!”)]

Consistency is a MUST for these puppies, equally as important as praise. Oh, how I bet so many of us would love to snuggle up with these sweet little pups in our beds, but we don’t do it. We would love to let them chase tennis balls, but we don’t let them. I’m sure there are many other things that we would love to let them do, but they are not our puppies, so we don’t let them. Being consistent from DAY ONE is the key. So, as day one was upon us, I made the 45 minute drive home in the dark repeating, “Off!” then “Good boy! Good off!” nearly a thousand times before Bob finally gave up and went to sleep.

When we got home, Bob was greeted by baskets full of toys in every room. (As a pup, he will spend most of his playtime in the kitchen, which is tiled, until he masters housebreaking. At this point, he also spends time on the lanai, with another basket of toys, in the yard in the exercise pen, and in the master bathroom, with yet another basket of toys! There is a basket waiting for him to grow into in the living room once he is older, fully housebroken, and has his big dog teeth.) I took a few photos of Bob and his toys when we first got home, but it was pretty late, so it was on to his crate in our room.

Nothing but the best for these pups: Bob (as did his predecessors) has many crates throughout the house, at work, in the truck, etc., but the bedroom crates are top notch, they are metal and wood to match the master suite. Bob’s first night was very manageable, as we only woke to go “busy” outside a couple of times. No noise & no accidents- good boy!

The Bob Bulletin Begins...

It was a long 2 months being puppyless… Bear (5H7) moved on sooner than I thought he would. That was okay. But as I’m sure like most Puppy Raisers do, I immediately tried to focus on the positive- the NEXT puppy! Though I had hoped for another black lab, there did not seem to be any available without further wait, so I agreed to raise a “Dreamer” puppy instead. Dreamer is a breeder hosted by my A.C. What I knew about the puppy I would raise was that he was, of course, a boy, and he was yellow. He was the largest in the litter at the time. Dreamer is a sweetheart, so I figured her pups would be, too.

Bob didn’t start off being called “Bob,” as I didn’t know his name until about a week before I got him, so during all the puppy preparations, we jokingly referred to him as “Brutus”, as he was so much bigger than his brother and sister. His brother has been named “Top” and his sister is named “Mandy,” both are being raised by Puppy Raisers in our group, the First Coast Puppy Raisers. Our Puppy Raisers are from as far south as St. Augustine to as far north as just over the Georgia border, and everywhere in between!

June 27th was the day- I drove down to Palmetto with Thresa to pick up 5 pups, all 3 of Dreamers pups, and 2 Goldadors, Marc & Friendly. I had planned for that day for about a month, made arrangements to be off from work, to have the children babysat, to have everything in place before the “baby” would arrive. I had only seen a few photos of him as a tiny pup, and he and his brother look so much alike. They had actually traded places; Bob was the bigger, lighter one early on, but by the time we picked them up, Top had gotten bigger, and Bob had gotten darker!

It has been said that, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression,” lucky thing my first impression was to fall completely in love with Bob, who, at the time, had just finished a leisurely dip in the pool, and was quite the soggy-puppy, muddy mess! He was handed over to me much like a newborn would be handed to the proud new mother- soaking wet in all his glory! And, at that moment, I became his new “mother” for the next year or so…

Bob 2K8