Superdog II

Saturday was our seventeenth wedding anniversary.  We had a nice Mexican dinner at a place on Highway 19, and turned in early.  We both knew our gift would arrive Sunday.  Sunday was the day we picked up our second (potential) guide dog puppy.  Puppy number one is still at the re-education camp, working on her “issues”.  Our first superdog was too autonomous to be a guide dog, though she is still incredibly smart, strong, and full of useful potential.  The joke I tell myself is that she went there to learn something she never was. The training center is in Boring, Oregon.

I was so excited I woke up hours before the sun.  This time the routine was different.  Last time Mary went to Seattle to meet a plane arriving with two VIP littermates.  This time we rode to Tacoma with our main mentor-trainer to meet the puppy truck.  Puppies graduating from socialization training (1 year) and career-changed dogs were to be picked up, and new, untrained pups were arriving.  The truck has built-in kennels large enough for the puppies to travel together in pairs.  Like all but a few members of the organization, the truck drivers are volunteers.  Most of the money goes directly toward maintenance of the dogs.

 

We had been told our puppy would be a female yellow lab from an “S” litter.  Every dog in the network gets a unique name for as long as they are in service, or connected to the group in any way.  Because there are around 800 dogs in the network, and dogs can work as long as eight years, naming becomes imaginative.  One of the adolescent dogs I met was Coltrane, like the great jazz musician.

Our puppy’s name, Spice, was announced by the driver, the assembled raisers and trainers ooo-ed and aah-ed, and the dog was handed into the arms of her temporary guardian.  She’s more compact than the last puppy, more round and muscley.  She’s energetic, strong and intelligent, but I can already see a gentler, more compliant temperament.  She wants to be within reach of us at every moment, and though she licks, she does not put her mouth around everything, as the last one tried to do.

Spice eats well, sits with minimal prompting, and eliminates on concrete easily and properly.  There are advantages and obstacles with every dog.  The downsides to this one so far are that she’s very vocal if left alone, and she doesn’t want to go into a crate by herself yet.  She will fall asleep between our legs, but when placed in the kennel she howls and cries.  Last night she alternated between falling asleep for an hour at a time, then waking up and whining loudly and insistently.  By 4:15am I was too sleep-deprived to tell the difference between her needing to go out and eliminate, and just demanding contact.  Spice was relocated to the guest room with my wife, who wore earplugs and closed the door so I could catch a few hours sleep.

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22 Comments

Filed under animal communication, photos

22 responses to “Superdog II

  1. Congratulations of your wedding anniversary!

    Congratulations also on your new puppy! Spice sounds delicious and already reminds me of Mel B and Victoria Beckham, although her temperament doesn’t sound a bit like either of them!

    • Do Spice girls whine if they are left to sleep alone? I bet it’s also referring to the “sugar and spice and everything nice” part of what little girls are made of. Thanks, Robyn.

  2. Congrats on both the new dog and the anniversary! And good for you for working with guide dogs. Excellent program!

  3. Aaaaawww! What a cutie. Can’t wait to hear all about the trials, tribulations and fun with this one. Hope the wailing stops soon!

    Oh, and congratulations on the anniversary!

  4. Thanks for both compliments, Debbie-askimet etc. Cute, sweet and smart is easy to bond with. I do need some more sleep though (YAWN).

  5. Hi Mikey,
    Congratulations! I hope Spice works out well and soon considers her crate to be a cool place to go.

    • Thanks, TT. She’s already shown some improvement about being in the crate. Her fear is because of her preference for being physically attached to us at all times. She is still worried she will be left alone. She took longer naps today, and only whined vigorously for a few minutes each time.

  6. She’s beautiful. I’ve been involved in sponsoring several dogs for the blind (not actually training them). The organisation always sends out regular detailed updates and photographs; I’m really looking forward to yours. The one I remember most was the one who failed to make the grade – he was so endearing, and seemed even more so after it was announced that he had been withdrawn from the programme (and given to a loving family) because he couldn’t concentrate and was so easily distracted, for example, by birds flying past and people passing by. Good luck with your wonderful project.

    I hope you don’t mind if I leave the UK link for anyone in Blighty interested in sponsoring a puppy; it’s such a worthwhile thing to do.

    http://www.guidedogsgiving.org.uk/sponsorapuppy/?gclid=CJ-wyo-9xa0CFUhrfAodN19FBQ

    Thanks, Mikey (hope the link works)

    • The link worked, and you are welcome (as are all readers) to add links to info, media and services. Sometimes the spam widget puts them in a bucket, but I review those, and so long as the links aren’t to things being sold I publish them.

      There’s a good support structure here similar to those in the UK. It sounds like you were what we term a puppy sitter. We need people to foster and care for the dogs for short periods when we have emergencies or work commitments. This puppy raising project is as much a learning experience for me as it is for the dogs. I must endeavor to mirror their aptitude as best I can.

  7. Gemma Sidney

    Congratulations Mikey, I’m so pleased to see that you have a new puppy in your midst. I can only imagine how excited you must have been on the Sunday morning! All the best of luck for all the hard work ahead :)

  8. Congratulations on your wedding anniversary. Wishing you both many more happy years together.

    Spice is absolutely gorgeous. I thank God for Earth Angels like you every single day. Thank you for making a difference to the lives of people living with disabilities. Love you.

    • I’m hoping we can get this one to the point where we do things around the house blindfolded, and have to cue her without being able to observe her. We practiced that at a group meeting. It’s hard! Love you too. Hope you are well.

  9. You are a good man Mikey :)

  10. Cat

    Happy anniversary! I’ve only been alive one more year than you’ve been married. (Dear God.) And what cute puppies. :)

    • Yeah, and that’s marriage #2. Counting both, I’ve been married 24 years! I first made out “seriously” with a girl when Lyndon Johnson was President!!! Dear God indeed…

      Babies are cute so that we won’t eat them for dinner, I’m told. Always nice to see you here, Cat.

  11. Rae

    Congratulations on your anniversary! Also, can I have your puppy?

  12. LittleBro

    A couple years ago, one of the hosts (on the talk show I used to produce for the radio reading service for the blind) got his first guide dog. Darryl had only been blind for about a year at that point (from detached retinas), and he wrote a blog about the experience of going through three weeks of training with the dog. The blog is at http://darrylsdogblog.blogspot.com/

    In addition, we had him on the show in the guest’s chair shortly after his training, to talk about the experience. You can hear the archived show at http://www.wtbbl.org/errsaudio_all.aspx#talkshows then search for “Life with a New Guide Dog”

    It’s a good way to learn more about what the people who get these wonderful dogs go through. His dog’s name is Burgess, and he was one of the largest dogs they ever had in the program. You can see a photo of Darryl & Burgess at http://www.flickr.com/photos/guidedogsfortheblind/4368444494/in/set-72157623336640515

    • Thanks, Bro. Glad to have you here, and thanks for the links.

      (This is my younger brother commenting. I got to see him, and his partner, daughter, and granddaughter over the holidays. Great fun!)

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