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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Dulcie's First Eval

Fellow puppy raisers for GDB will understand the nerves that appear when you have and upcoming evaluation with your CFR. I'm sure other puppy raisers understand these feelings but I don't know how other schools conduct the evaluations of their puppies. But for us, CFRs are sort of the hang man when it comes to our puppies.

To be honest though, I don't really get nervous during eval time. Oh, I used to. I was a quivering ball of nerves at my very first eval all those years ago. I suppose it might have had something to do with the naughty puppy I had then who will remain Freya. But over the years I have come to realize that it's best to keep calm. We all know that our puppies will be perfect except for the one day when your CFR is in town and the CFR understands this too. So, why let your puppy pick up on you nerves? It would just make it worse I think.

I suppose my attitude towards evals may have something to do with the fact that we have a pretty awesome CFR. He doesn't jump to conclusions or make rash decisions about our puppies. He asks for our opinion and our outlook on our puppy. And he treats the puppies as individuals. This, I really like. I've met other CFRs who treat all puppies exactly the same and expect every rule to apply to each puppy. That's always frustrated me and always made me glad that our CFR here understands that one rule may not work for every single puppy.

Anyway, Dulcie had her very first eval last Tuesday. Now, like I said I don't really get nervous during eval time. In fact, I was a little excited by the fact that I was going to another eval.

We got there a teeny tiny bit late because Dulcie's bathroom schedule was a little thrown off because of the transition to my house just the day before. But it was ok because we were waiting on Nancy and Harlem as well. In the mean time we all just sat around talking. Then it was time to take a little walk. Instead of going on the walk, Dulcie and I went outside for a little potty break. Jim watched us walked away and laughed at Dulcie's walk. She definitely thinks she's hot stuff. Her tail goes straight up and she does a little golden prance. After we got back in from her bathroom break Jim worked with Dulcie. He gave her a little love, walked in and out of the head collar, kibbled her, and more. When he handed her back do you know what he said? "I really like her."

Jim rarely compliments a golden and I don't think I've ever heard him compliment a golden that young. He said that she was better than most of the lab puppies out there right now (and he's a lab person so this was the highest of compliments). He said that she had a good, little personality and that she was a good puppy.

I don't think I can tell you how long I have waited to hear Jim compliment one of my puppies. I've always had naughty puppies who need a lot of work. But not Dulcie. No. She is a good puppy. Not that I don't absolutely love my other puppies, but Dulcie is definitely one of the easiest I have had. She is eager to please, isn't too distracted, and isn't a little chicken like most golden are at this age. She's confident and bold and isn't any more or less unsure of certain things than I would expect of any puppy.

I was so happy to hear that she is a "good puppy."

Now, please enjoy some pictures of my "good puppy" at 14 weeks old with my CC girl Hilly.
Dulcie out in my back yard with her jacket on and a big grin on her face.
Dulcie outside in the back yard with her jacket on and a smile on her face.
Dulcie outside with her jacket on. She's giving us a goofy grin.
Dulcie with her jacket and Hilly with her Pet Ambassador scarf . Hilly is smiling, Dulcie is sticking her tongue out.
Dulcie and Hilly in their respective gear. Dulcie is smiling, Hilly is not.
Finally a picture where both are smiling even if it's not the best picture.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Quick Hilly Update

Before I begin to tell the woes of Hilly, let me just say that Dulcie is super cute and she knows it! She thinks she is hot stuff...until she hears a dog bark or sees a trash can. Then she remembers that she's just a wee thing. Otherwise, she's a bold puppy. Right now she's at a puppy sitters while Mary is in San Rafael for Marley's graduation tomorrow (YAY!!!). We decided it would be easier for her to transfer to me on Sunday when Mary gets back since she's too young and shotless to attend graduation and there was no one in town her could watch her while I attended as well. So, Sunday is the day. Looking forward to it.

Now, on to Hilly.

I don't really know where to start. Ah, of course. This poor, poor dog. Seriously, my heart breaks for her. She's definitely had a rough time of things lately and is handling it like the little trooper she is.

For those of you who are new to the blog, Hilly was my third guide dog puppy. She was transferred to me at about 15 months old in the summer between first and second year of University (seems so long ago now...) for severe dog distractions. She came so close, but really never got over them and was career changed that August. In those short couple of months I had fallen head over heels for her and my parents agreed to watch her for me while I was still attending University. Of course, when I adopted her and convinced my parents to watch her I had no idea that she was going to break.

Hilly had always had food issues. I heard that the reason she hadn't been spayed before coming to me was that they were waiting for her to have solid stools...or at least not have diarrhea. When I had her she didn't have a great tummy, but she rarely had an upset tummy. But still, we had to be careful what we fed her. So, when she started having reoccurring ear infections, I suppose it was safe to assume that it was some kind of food allergy.

Let me explain. A couple months ago, when I was talking to my parents on Skype, I noticed that Hilly was shaking her head a lot and that Rosie was very, very interested in cleaning her ears. I told them to get her checked out by the vet since it seemed like she may have something in her ears. Turns out, she had an infection. The vet put some of this goopy, waxy medicine in her ears and they were on their way. Well, a few weeks later they were back at the vet because the ear infection hadn't gone away. Once again they put that goopy stuff in her ears. A couple of weeks later they were back because it had come back and once again they just filled her ears with the goop and put her on prescription food. That was probably a good idea as it really seemed like that goopy ear medicine wasn't working. The fourth time she went in they put more goopy stuff in her ears and gave her some antibiotics.

So, here I am, helping her finish off her antibiotics whilst feeling indignant that they tried this stuff not once, but four times. They even tried it twice before they thought of something else. She is doing better now on the prescription food and the antibiotics, but my only concern is that I'm pulling a whole bunch of gunk out of her ears and that when she's done with the antibiotics there's a good possibility that the ear infection will come back. I have a follow up visit on Wednesday where I am going to discuss the possibilities of putting her on an antihistamine and possibly getting some allergy tests run. I know they are fairy pricey things to get done, but I don't want her to go her whole life on this icky prescription food if she doesn't need it. I'd like to know what food she is allergic to so that I can get her on the raw food diet.

Why don't I want her on this prescription food you ask? It's helping her feel better you say? Yes, it has helped a little. The problem with it is that there is no oil to it so Hilly's skin is dry and her coat is brittle and a little dull. We use to give her salmon oil with her food to help with coarse fur (the only downside to the black lab), but we don't know if she's allergic to that. You begin to understand why I want allergy tests performed yes? Well, not only does it make her skin dry, but she's got hot spots. I mean, sure why not? She's already got icky ears, why not throw in a couple of hot spots too right?

So, she's on antibiotics, prescription food, and she's got some spray for each of her little hot spots.

Like I said, she's handling this all in stride. She gets a little annoyed when I try to go and spray her but she lets me eventually if there is a treat (prescription mind you) involved. But she's a pretty happy dog despite all of the head shaking and hot spots and icky prescription food. Hopefully there will be answers when we go to the vet on Wednesday.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

3 Years Ago

I must have started writing this post almost one hundred times...ok, that might be a little over exaggeration on my part. But I have started this post multiple times only to realize that I don't know how to put my thoughts and feelings into words.

On May 29th of this year my first puppy, Freya, had officially been working for three years. The day is one that I have looked forward to since 2010. Freya was such a special puppy. Not only was she my first puppy, but she was also the puppy who helped me through a ton of stuff that was going on in my life at that point. I loved her. Every inch of puppy. Freya was stubborn, smart, quick, naughty. She was by no means the perfect puppy, but Freya was the perfect Freya. Perhaps that statement doesn't make sense to those who don't know her, but it's what she was. What she still is. She is the perfect Freya.

I have written before about how long it took me to get my first puppy. But I wouldn't change what happened. I often thought that I was meant for Freya. That she would not have done as well with another first time raiser. But lately I've been thinking that this is the reverse of the actual truth. Freya was meant for me and I wouldn't have done as well with any other puppy. Perhaps if I had gotten my first puppy sooner I would have gotten an easier puppy. Perhaps I wouldn't have had to work nearly as hard as I did with Freya. But, would I have learned as much as I did? Would I be the same raiser today? Would I have enjoyed it as much? To be honest, I don't think I would have...to any of those. While each of my puppies has taught me something, Freya is the one who taught me the most and without her teachings, I don't think I would be as good as I am (maybe egocentric, but I don't compliment myself on much). I think, if Freya hadn't been mine, I wouldn't have become as passionate about raising as I am. In short, I wasn't meant for Freya. She was meant for me.

Some of you may be wondering why I have continued with puppy raising. Obviously I was attached to Freya and I had to say good-bye to her not once, but three times. To tell the truth, every time broke my heart a little. I have a vivid memory of the day I placed her in the kennels. Besides the oceans of tears I shed that day and the weeks leading up to and following it, I remember walking out of the kennels and meeting up with Falla and her raisers. Falla was coming in for Breeder evals (for which Freya had been taken off around the age of 9 months for distractions) and was one of the littermates I hadn't met before. Her raisers asked, "Oh, which one is Freya?" I turned around to show them which kennel run she was in so that they might go through the kennels to see her. Instead I saw Freya's face looking over the small concrete wall. I laughed and cried at the same time and pointed to her. I remember watching Freya and the Ls walk away after graduation. I hadn't cried all day, but I lost it then. I remember giving her a kiss and whispering, "be good" when I left from my visit with them. Yes, I was enormously attached to Freya. But it's this attachment that has kept me going all these years.

I don't think I can reasonably put into words how proud I still am of Freya. And how happy I am that she is where she is. She has her quirks and I'm very happy that she went to someone who understands and accepts them.

I got an email from Mr.L in response to my "three year congratulatory" email where I told him that Dulcie reminded me a little of Freya; bold, sweet, quirky. His response was that I must be mistaken because Freya is one of a kind. Truer words have never been spoken. Freya is unique for no other dog can match her intelligence, her confidence, her sweetness...her sheer quirkiness. Above I said that Freya was meant for me. I suppose that's only a half truth. She was meant for me as a puppy, but she was born for Mr.L.

What all of this is summing up to say is that I wish them many, many more years together as a team.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Lil' Miss Perfect

Dulcie (a.k.a. Dulcie Doodle Doo) has been home for almost two weeks now and all I have been getting are stellar reports.
Dulcie's sweet face. She's sticking her little tongue out.
She is mostly sleeping through the night and has been since the second night. She does get up once around midnight to go out to pee, but then goes straight back into her kennel and sleeps until 6:30am when Mary gets up to get ready for work. For a 12 weeks old puppy, this is wonderful.

She's also getting comfortable on the tie-down. I heard that she had a little issue with staying on the tie-down on the first day, but after that initial day she is fine on it. At her first day of work with Mary she slept on the tie down all day. Mary said she was such a good, good girl!
Dulcie sleeping on her tie-down. She's got her butt against the wall and her hind feet up the wall. 
Dulcie sleeping on the tie down at work.

Dulcie also went on her first official outing this past week. They went out to dinner at a pizza place and she slept at under the table the whole time.

And she went up and down the stairs at her first puppy meeting last Tuesday! And she didn't have any accidents while out either!
Dulcie going up the stairs
Dulcie going down the stairs

I might have gone and jinxed everything now by bragging about it and she might turn into a monster when she officially transfers to me in a little over a week, but gosh darn it! I'm super proud of her. I mean, I haven't even met her yet and I'm totally in love with her.
Dulcie playing with her favourite toy (the Jolly ball) with a "I'm too cool for school" expression