Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Little History and a Lot of Excitement

A few posts ago I promised that I had some exciting news to share.  In order to understand to the full how excited I am, I need to give you a little of my puppy raising history.  It is complicated, but I have gotten many questions as to how I started, so I figured it's about time anyways.  ;-) So, here goes!

I first got introduced to puppy raising when friends of my family started raising for The Seeing Eye (they are on #4 now).  In 2010, I saw a booth about Southeastern Guide Dogs at a 4-H event, and became really interested.  So, February 2011, my mom and I filled out the application to raise for them, only to find out the next week that they did not have a puppy raising group where we lived.  Some more research and we found Guiding Eyes for the Blind.  They have a great map of their regions on their website, and oh. my. goodness. I was so excited that they had a group in my town.  We filled out their application, and within the week were in contact with our group!  

In April, we started Pre-Placement Classes to get our first puppy that summer.  At the same time, we had researched service dogs for my uncle (who is now on the waiting list for a CCI dog), never thinking we would be raising for any other organization.  I did my mandatory puppy sits before getting a puppy, but July 22, 2011 - two weeks before Mr. M was supposed to arrive - my parents break the news that we are moving to another state that winter.  One that Guiding Eyes does not puppy raise in.  I was totally heartbroken.  

We decided that we could still be puppy sitters until we moved.  Bless my poor mother, who put up with many different puppies coming through our house, and the rush of hiding everything "dog" to run out of the house for a showing.  But, I am so thankful for the months of sitting; we learned so, so much in the process.  

In September, I went back through a bunch of old emails in search for the organization that raised assistance dogs.  Ahh!  I found it and went straight to Canine Companions for Independence's website.  

By this point, I had learned a lot more about dog training (still learning), and was quite picky about who I would raise for.  I knew that I could not raise for someone who did not use positive reinforcement/treat training.  Tie this with our geographical location - it was pretty impossible.  Although CCI did not have a puppy raising group here, their program is set up so that you could raise on your own.  

Sign me up! 

We sent in our official application in December 2011 from a hotel room.  Totally oblivious to the fact the my first Puppy in Training was born two days prior.   

Sorry I lied, that was a lot of history.

I am incredibly thankful that CCI has allowed me to raise, but not having the great support that I had with GEB's puppy raising group has been really hard.

So here comes the exciting part!  Two weeks ago, Young II and his first-time puppy raisers joined the CCI family!  Yup, they live ten minutes from me!  I met his wonderful raisers in January, but have not met Young yet.  I don't think I have to say it, but I am so, so, SO excited to have another yellow-caped puppy around here!!!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Play Time

 It has been raining so, so much in the last few weeks.  Our back yard is incredibly muddy, so when I don't want to/cannot give him a bath, we go up to the playground at out town's elementary school.  It is completely fenced in and only a five minute walk from our house, and the surfacing is much softer than the tennis courts.  Add to that the fact that Dante loves playing on the equipment, and he has an absolute ball whenever we go!

Thursday, February 21, 2013


 Last Sunday was my birthday, and Dante had a crazy weekend!  

On Saturday afternoon Dante got to go bowling for the first time.  It turned out to be more challenging than I expected.  It was different than any other outing he has done because my family and I were moving back and forth, but he was expected to lay still on a tie-down.  It took pretty much the whole time for him to somewhat understand this, and I think we will definitely be going back.

Dante standing up watching me about to bowl.


Finally settled down (and NOT eating the shoes, thank you very much).

That night, my mom and sister threw me an (almost) surprise party.  My dad, Dante and I went out for pizza at Mellow Mushroom.  Let me just say, they were fantastic about him!  Oh, my!  It was a busy Saturday night, and they went out of their way to give us a four-chaired table in a corner so that he would be out of sight and have some extra room.  While Dante needs to be comfortable anywhere, it was really nice to have him out of the way (read: hardly anyone interrupted us to comment about him).

When we got back home, Dante was pretty freaked out, as he had never walked into that many people.  My mom took him into the kitchen to get his dinner, and poor thing, didn't want to come back out.  After a few minutes he did, where he realized that all his favorite friends were there, and all was well with the world again.  

My mom, Dante, and a friend.
 Dante spent the rest of the night in his kennel, as he had had enough excitement for one day. 

 Sunday was church, out to lunch, then home while I went to a friend house. After all of this calmed down, we realized that Dante is scared to death of balloons.  Sure he has seen them in stores a bazillion times, but never in his house.  So, this weeks has been filled with lots of de-sesitization  to balloons - even rubbing peanut butter on them.  While he is far from accepting them, I think we are making progress.  The life of a puppy raiser, sometimes it feels like one step forward, two steps back...

Thursday, February 14, 2013


On Wednesday morning we had a field trip to the Symphony!  This was Dante's first time at something like this, and only his second time in Downtown Memphis.  Come to think about it, I don't believe I ever posted about his first trip.

Five-month-old Dante sitting on Beale Street.  May 2012

This picture will have to suffice.  But, back on schedule...

Since this was a special program for schools, there were hundreds of kids.  Oh my goodness, I have never heard so many youths yelling "PUPPY!" at one time.  But, they were extremely good about not touching him or trying (too hard) to get his attention - thank you!  Focus is something we are really working on with this people-loving dog.

Dante was slightly stressed walking into such an overwhelming theater, but we sat down anyways, and he was comfortable after a few minutes of watching and working though a couple commands.  He settled nicely into his corner, and slept through most of it.

Getting out was....fun?  We got out of the theater, but between all of the classes leaving, and new ones coming at the same time, we sat in the foyer for close to 25 minutes for it to calm down enough to get through the doors. ;-)

Sitting in the foyer

Just outside the doors in front. of a sculpture

Whispering what a good boy he is being :-)

Very thankful for so many wonderful outing opportunities!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Boot Camp

Training.  Commands.  

As a Canine Companions puppy raiser, I have 30 (yes, thirty) commands to teach this pup.  These range from simple commands like "sit" or "down," to something you wouldn't think about like relieving on command, to more advanced commands such as putting his front paws up on a wall or counter so that he eventually will learn how to retrieve a purchase or hit the light switch.  

 The first fifteen or so commands are easier because the little firecracker has to know them just so that you can live with them.  The rest are quite fun to teach, but not necessary for everyday life in your homeThis can possibly lead to ummm...laziness in teaching these.  After all, he doesn't need to know these right now.  

About two weeks ago as I was filling out Dante's monthly report, checking all the pretty little boxes of each command he knows, I had a moment.  "Oh shoot!  This dog is fourteen months old and I still have three command to teach him!"  

That, and the fact that my mom just booked our flights for his Turn In in August, got me seriously thinking about the precious six months I have left with Dante and the (long) list of things we are still working on.

So, this week has been a bit of a boot camp for Dante.  I decided it was about time I teach the "roll" command.  Honestly, we have tried this a few months ago without much success.  Dante just gets so excited that I want him to roll onto his back, that we can only do it a few times before we have to take break and calm down (hey, if you have any tips on teaching this, they are welcome)While he doesn't know it yet, I think it is safe to say we are finally making progress - albeit a little!

So, now that I have admitted this to the world and have you all as accountability, I will update in a few weeks as to how this is going :-)

P.S. There is some exciting news to share, but you will have to wait a few days! :-)

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Yesterday, Dante had a play date with his favorite friend.  

 Izzy is a friend from church's dog.  She is a four year old, beautiful German Shepherd.  She is amazing with puppies, and when Dante was younger, she really taught him a lot about appropriate play.  They haven't played in a few months, but they remembered each other right away. 

They get along famously.

Dante and I are both thankful for great friends to play with (and get tired out by)!