Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Boy Who Never Grew Up

I believe that there is a fine line in blogging too much and too little for the world to see.  While I want to stay 100% truthful, this blog is a representation of myself, Dante, and even though there is a disclaimer on the sidebar, of Canine Companions as well.  

I have made some comments as to Dante's weaknesses, but have not really elaborated much because, well, Dante needs some dignity and I don't think it entirely necessary to air our "dirty laundry."  ;-)  But with that said, we still need to be honest about it.  

 One of Dante's biggest strengths is his confidence.  He has had very few issues with fear that we have had to overcome and is always up for some new adventures.  But being over-confident is an issue that we are still working through.  He has a very assertive personality, which can lead to some clashes and "battles" over who is really in charge around here.  We are still having some episodes of playing "keep away" or out right blowing me off.  Dante is still such a puppy, all he wants is to pull me into a game with him.  Over and over again, we are told not to chase him, and I really do know this is the best way to end itBut is so much easier said than done, especially when he takes off with something small enough to swallow, or my beloved chacos.  But when I just walk out of the room and ignore him, he drops it right away and finds something approved to do.

I seriously wonder if this puppy will ever grow up.  Dante has seemed to have found his own private Neverland, and it doesn't look like he wants to come back to reality any time soon.  I know that Goldens can take longer to mature than some other breeds, but sometimes I can't help but get discouraged because "nobody else's 16 month old puppy does this anymore."  

I keep repeating to myself that He. Will. Grow. Out. Of. This.  I hope.  Maybe.  

To be completely honest, I am trying really hard not to panic.  I have a little over three months until Turn In.  I know I shouldn't worry, because each dog chooses their own path, but I am getting nervous at the prospect of Dante being away from me and left all on his own to show his true colors at CCI College.  Every dog has their quirks, but I feel such a responsibility for him to have perfect behavior.  I know that this is unrealistic.  I really do.  To all of you who have turned in puppies already: did you feel this way?  I sometimes think I am a little wacky, hehe!

And there I go again, writing in a direction I hadn't originally planned.  I am hitting the Publish button holding my breath.  Words of wisdom are always welcome :-) 


  1. Hannah,

    Oh my goodness yes, the feelings that you are describing is exactly how I feel a few months before every turn in. (I am in it right now with Partner). For me, it starts about 3 months before turn in, dies down after about a month and then resurfaces a few weeks before their recall date.
    Every single time I go into complete panic mode: working double-time on commands, getting 3 times the outings in and practically working the poor kids until their little brains are fried; all the while kicking myself for not catching these problems sooner haha.
    I honestly think though that this last minute cramming has helped all of my dogs. But the truth is, they don't have to be perfect. No dog will walk out of CCI as a perfect dog.

    Don't worry too much about Dante not seeming mature enough. You will be surprised at how a dog can go from a complete (for lack of a better word) "Dingaling" to a grown up show-off of a dog in as little as a few weeks.
    For Partner, it was almost like a light switch went off in his head. I was beside myself a few months ago because we were only a week away from an evaluation and Partner seemed to have lost his brain. He had been driving me crazy for a couple of months. One week later his brain was back and seems to be here to stay.
    Don't stress too much about when it will happen, just know that it will eventually.

    Wow I talked a lot haha sorry if this doesn't help you. I just want you to know that everything you are feeling is completely normal ;)

    1. Thank you so much Sydney! It helps more than you know. I love the description "dingaling," hahaha! It fits perfectly! I am so glad that Partner is doing well :-)

  2. Normal!!! As you know, I have only gone through this once and for all the good that Haddie-is, there were many quirks that existed too. And like you, airing the dirty laundry to the level of the dirt is not my forte either. I am honest, but I like a little privacy and respect for our family who is trying our best at Puppy Raising. Don't beat yourself up. I KNOW that you are awesome, and Dante is too. And then you get to stew while Dante is in AT and you only get to hear updates 1x per month ~ and the longer he is there, the more you wonder "how can it be because (insert laundry list)". Welcome to my world - the greater unknown can drive you crazy. I feel like I am always clarifying "As of this moment" Haddie is still in AT, mostly because I can't believe it. Not that she isn't qualified, but we KNOW our puppies - and then there is also an element of beaming pride that your pup is still in the program - and then there is an element of reality-check so you aren't disappointed if that phone rings for a COC notice within the hour of you stating your pup is still rocking it in AT. I am talking a lot too ... HAHA ... you are part of the Puppy Raising Family and we ALLLL get it. Normal. Relax - and Continue to have FUN because your time with your best buddy is before you. Take in every crazy, every calm, every perfect moment. This is HIS JOURNEY!!

    1. Ahh, I am such a planner and - and dare I admit - control freak. ;-) I am beginning to wonder if post turn-in waiting is going to kill me!
      Thank you for your kind words! It is a conscious effort to remind myself to just enjoy these last few months with Dante, the summer will be over before we know it!

  3. Hannah, you seem to have a slightly creepy habit/talent for perfectly describing my thoughts, my puppy, and, well, kinda my life :P

    Haha, Novel still plays Keep-Away too and it can be SO frustrating! And his behavior isn't perfect, and he still wiggles and licks too much when he greets new people, (to be perfectly honest...he still sometimes nibbles people's hands :|) and he gets distracted by dogs and sticks and pine cones and water bottles and really anything that can be picked up in his mouth. And he still struggles with the side command and has to be lured into "roll." And...Good gravy, why have I just bared all our secrets? Basically, no, Dante is not the only puppy who "does this anymore" and I'm pretty sure that you are no more wacky than the rest of us ;) Heck, compared to Novel, Dante almost sounds like an angel!

    Still, the other day I met a woman who had seen Novel and I walk across the stage at a school event the week before, and she couldn't stop raving about his "amazing behavior and focus." I had been so nervous that evening and kept feeling like he was in the way/bothering people and wasn't exactly behaving his best. She kept comparing his behavior to guide dog team she knew and raving about how good they both were. It was terribly encouraging to know that he was respected by someone who knew a real working dog team.

    I think part of the reason why I constantly wonder if I'm doing a good enough job is because I don't really have anything to compare myself to. I don't know any CCI teams. While I can watch videos and read the blogs of other puppy raisers, the only real standard I have to go by is the perfect one set forth in the puppy raiser manual as the goal to strive for...which isn't a bad thing. But I also think it can put extra pressure on us who are out raising on our own to feel like we HAVE to reach that goal.

    Wow I talked a lot too. lol. Please excuse the overabundance of words.

    1. Bahahaha! Your first sentence! I am really looking forward to August when we get to meet - I think we are going to have lots to talk about!
      I have to tell you that a while ago I read one of your posts, and immediately gave the laptop to my mom and said, "you need to read this now." When she was done, she asked "When has she met Dante?"
      Dante still have a few other things that we are working on. It seems that by the time we get one thing under control, another issue pops up. :/

  4. Hannah, I love your blog SOOOO much. I'm afraid I can't offer any condolence because I've never actually raised a GDB puppy (although its my #1 dream and I'm trying to talk my parents into it right now), but from the sounds of it you and Dante are both doing great. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thank you so much! It took my parents some convincing too, but they are fully on board now :-) Do you have a blog? I'd love to follow!

    2. No problem, its fun to read. By the way, I think you are a very talented writer. Yeah, I'm hoping that's the case with my parents, but neither of them are animal lovers (at all) and they don't really understand my love for them. So we'll see. Uhh, yes. Although I don't actually have any posts yet... but as soon as I do I'll let you know. I'd love for you to follow. Thanks! :D

    3. Hannah, I also love your blog SOOO much. I am not currently a raiser, but I will be, once 46 more snail-paced days pass by and I receive GDB puppy #1 off of the puppy truck! It took my parents a mighty bit of convincing too.

      I also had to compromise a lot. I wanted to raise for CCI, because I'm not at all fond of GDB's current training methods (Now GDB is actively working on making puppy training methods as fantastic and food centered as with the IFT guides, so... by the time I go to college....), but anyways, after a phone call and a lot of desperate emails, CCI insisted that they won't let youth raisers take puppies to school, and that youth raisers under 16 aren't even allowed to hold the leash in public without an adult co-raiser there, (which I find odd, because I've seen some internet articles and videos that show high school students with puppies at school, not to mention the CCI puppy raiser manual socialization guide which says school is okay for 6+ months, with approval). Do you have any insight on if any of this was exaggeration on CCI's part, or was it just me being confused?

      Anyhow, now I am going to be raising for GDB, and despite the not so great training methods, I'm going to love puppy raising more than anything I've ever done before. I know that I'll find another time in my life for CCI.
      This waiting, waiting, waiting, though, is going to make me explode!

      Just. Forty-six. More. Daaayyys....
      Anyways, I can promise that I will have a blog at that point. I'll send you the link when I get it set up. I owe a blog to the puppy raising community and the cloud of puppy raiser hopefuls out there on the Internet. If it weren't for puppy raiser blogs like yours, I wouldn't ever raise. My deepest dream (other than puppy raising of course:-)) is to have somebody be able to tell me that I inspired them to raise, just as I can say Hannah, that you inspired me.

      It must be frustrating seeing that there are things that you know Dante is capable of, but that he isn't showing you. Given the comments, it seems to happen to all raisers though. I'd say, just try to focus more on what you can do to work on his issues, than what the issues are themselves.

      So, that was wordy. Once my blog exists outside of the confines of just my imagination, and inside of cyberspace, you will see that I always end up writing about ten times more than I intended.

      Good luck with Dante!

    4. Thank you so much for your kind words! I would love your blog address when you get it set up!

      I know your frustration with training methods; there are some schools that are not "caught up" for lack of a better term. But I know a few GDB puppy raisers that are great and do use treat rewards. It is nice that they are revamping some things too. GDB is an amazing organization that does so much and cares for their dogs, volunteers, and graduates. All Assistance Dog organizations work toward the same goal of helping people with disabilities. :-)

      I always understood that CCI does not allow puppies to attend school. Public high schools can be a very stressful environment for puppies, and it can take a long time to introduce them in the most positive way possible. But with that said, I am blessed to be able to bring Dante to my Homeschool classes (about 20 kids in my class, we meet in a church), and I understand the convenience of being able to take them with you.

      I am looking forward to hearing more about your puppy!

  5. If you've done your best, then just rest on that. Since each puppy is unique, each puppy will respond differently to training/raising.

    Be proud of your hard work. You've done your best and that's all you can do.

  6. Oh, I couldn't have written this better myself. I think the same thing about Kimba. I am still at the advantage of saying she is a 'new puppy' being just six months old but I still panic. I go to class and see her siblings doing so well at the things we still struggle with and my brain goes crazy!

    What I worry about most though is her losing who she is. She is sassy and opinionated which is where most of my angst comes from. I love that she is a Diva and I don't want her to lose that but how will that translate in to be an amazing assistance dog? Time seems to go so quick in the life of a puppy raiser:)

    But things will happen as they happen and Dante has already pefected being a great dog. You love him and that is the biggest part of your job. The skills will come in time, trust that. Hugs to you and Dante! -Tysley & Kimba

  7. I had to giggle a little when I read your post. Airing our dirty laundry is not something any of us like to do on our blogs! Even my husband's sweet, CCI Hearing Dog Nettie has her moments! She's very well trained, yet has A LOT of spunk in her. But that's one of the things that we love so much about her! During our two week training at CCI, the trainer reminded us many times that although the dogs have been trained, they are not perfect. Each has their own personalities, strengths and weaknesses.

    You are doing a wonderful job with Dante. Feel good about what you've accomplished with him so far. One of these days I should do a blog post and air Nettie's dirty laundry! It might make you feel better!


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