Monday, April 30, 2012

#SAGApupVolt Is Really Hard On His Toys!

Look what he already did to the one we gave him yesterday afternoon!

Look what #SAGApupVolt already did to his new toy! on Twitpic

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#SAGApupVolt Is Six Months Old Today!

I can hardly believe it!
In six months time, he'll go back to SAGA for his six months formal training, and will then be partnered with his person as a working guide-dog! 
That is only one hundred and eighty two days away (I put a ticker in the top left corner of this blog so you can see the countdown)!
This morning Volt weighed 29.55kg on the vet's scale (so he's gained 1.75kg since last week), and I measured him at just under 54cm tall at the shoulder when we got home. He's a big boy. And our SAGA PDS guestimated his full grown weight at 30kg so he's well on his way to being all grown up.
He is now only eating twice a day and I think he misses his lunch, but he'll just have to get used to it.

Volt's adolescence is certainly challenging. He is still looking me in the eye and walking in the opposite direction when I call him to me- not every time, but he's certainly testing boundaries! He has not had any house training accidents though which is great, and he isn't digging more than he used to either. He is driving Louise bananas some days though- she gives as good as she gets most of the time thank goodness. And he's now so tall he actually bumps against the underside of the table on the veranda so its risky to have glasses standing on the table when Volt and Louise are having a game!
Volt responds to "down" as readily as he does to "sit" now which is great, but we seem to have gone a bit backwards on "stand" again...
He is doing really well on ignoring the barking of Thelma and Louise when he is in the house which is fabulous, as he is not a guard dog. What he is doing occasionally is growling if he hears something he's unsure of- which I can't hear or see of course- and I then reassure him that all is okay and I tell him to be quiet. He sometimes comes out of a nap barking! He's up and barking before he's even awake, sometimes even before Thelma and Louise start barking! The one day I was standing right next to him and the big loud bark that came out of him actually gave me a fright!
He's doing really well on our walks when it comes to ignoring distractions.

He's only been home a couple of weeks since his last stay at SAGA, but he's going back to kennels on Thursday morning as we're leaving for a week away on Friday morning. We'll fetch him again the following Friday and I am going to find out from our PDS if it will be possible for Volt to be neutered while he's there so that I don't have to send him back for another week at a later date.

How comical is this, he's not allowed to go upstairs without us inviting him up with us- he doesn't have free range of the house- so if there's someone upstairs he wants to see he sits on the first or second step and waits for them!

I just love this photo of a fast asleep Volt with his head scrunched up against the kitchen ladder!

We got him two new toys this weekend past as the Orka Stick we got him has been worn out! He now has a twisted, knotted length of stretchy rope which is awesome for itchy gums, and a bright pink knobbly ball with a length of rope through it. He likes them both a LOT and he seems to know exactly what are his toys even when they're brand new and just taken out of a shopping bag!

He's already chewed the ends off the green knotty rope!
And just so you can see how much he like his new toys, he fell asleep still playing with this one last night!

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Don't forget to check out the Twitter hash-tag #SAGApupVolt to see regular updates on my puppy raising adventure!

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Remember the five and a half week old "jelly babies" I mentioned a couple  of weeks ago? They are the XYZ litter and at 7 weeks old have started going home to their puppy raising families, I thought you might like some more photos!

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Don't forget to check out the Twitter hash-tag #SAGApupVolt to see regular updates on my puppy raising adventure!
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Monday, April 23, 2012

Its Been A Year...

My Taxi went over the rainbow bridge exactly a year ago.

My heart still aches a little when I look down the passage from my bed, half expecting to see him sauntering towards me with his tail straight up in the air.




Sunday, April 22, 2012

#SAGApupVolt's Weekly Update

Volt is 25 weeks old today - he weighs 27.8kg and is 52cm "tall" at the shoulder!
His growth has slowed down a tad, but he has bulk now that he definitely didn't have before.
He is eating 250g of Purina One All Breed Puppy Formula three times a day and he really loves his food! At the end of April when he's fully 6 months old, he will only be fed twice a day.

We are definitely in the "teenager" phase of his puppy-dom and his behaviour has taken a turn for the worse... The best advice I have received so far is to treat my huge puppy like he's still only 8 weeks old! Lots of extra reiteration on instructions like "leave it" and "no". And he has developed this little quirk where he will look straight at me and walk away when I am calling him- just like a toddler would do!
And he's all bouncy again when he sees his food bowl, more than he has been for weeks, and he has to be calm before he can eat because that is the behaviour I want to reward. He still sits and waits until I say "okay"- once he's stopped jumping around of course- and he looks straight at me not at his bowl which is awesome behaviour!
When I fetched him from SAGA's kennels on Thursday he was so happy to see me- but he didn't bark! I was so proud of him! And my fears of not recognising him amongst all the other dogs was unjustified!

He was sharing a kennel space with Hoby, who is a few months older and will soon be going back to SAGA for his formal training. They got on so well, and when we got home from kennels Volt fell fast asleep! He so enjoyed his week of solid play time! During their kennel stays the pups get walked every day, but apart from that there's no other serious training. I contacted our PDS and she said there were no issues with Volt and to carry on as we have been (YAY). We can also expect a home visit soon which I am not at all worried about!

on the way home from his week long kennel stay

Our walks are going so well! He is almost completely ignoring dogs AND people when we're in the street which is SO awesome! He is so comical- when I praise him for walking nicely and calmly next to me like he's supposed to, he gets all excited and speeds up! The leash is almost completely slack when we walk, except for when I have to slow him down or stop him, and if I stop walking and say "heel" he comes bounding straight back to my left hand side- although sometimes he stops to sniff along the way which he's not supposed to do.
We visited my folks' place this weekend past and he and my mom's dog Toppolino had so much fun! He is bigger than Toppy now, so Toppy works hard to make sure Volt knows its still his house, but Volt knows exactly how Toppy likes to play so instead of the wrestling he does with some other dogs, he and Toppy play "keep away" and do a LOT of running! My mom's older Boerboel- Cleo- is also relaxing more when Volt is at the house, and this last weekend she sat quietly and calmly on the veranda with us while Volt and Toppy played. My mom is very glad her dogs are behaving so well around Volt. And it bodes well for if we get another guide-dog puppy in the future.
This photo was taken on 22 December last year on the tiles in my mom's living room...

And this photo was taken on 21 April this year in the same spot!

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Today #SAGApupVolt Is 24 Weeks Old

And I have no idea what he weighs or what he's doing because... 
...he's been at SAGA kennels since Friday morning!

This is his first week at kennels with other pups-in-training of various ages, and he'll spend another week at kennels in May when my hubby and I go away for a bit of a holiday. I'll send him again in July and August, or maybe September... We'll see. Here are some photos of Volt in kennels when I dropped him off. The doors leading outside are closed because it was being cleaned when I dropped him off. None of the dogs wear collars in kennels because they play and rough house and no collar means accidents can be avoided.
Volt (closer to me) and Jaia
Volt (right) and Jaia
PDS Lerato talking to the 3 dogs adjoining Volt's kennel
Volt (left) doing his clown impression
SAGA kennels are immaculate- this is the bathing area
looking towards the passage of kennel gates- Volt is in the centre of the picture
During their time with their puppy raising families (and only after they are 4 months old) the puppies do week-long stays at SAGA's kennels for a few different reasons.
For one thing it helps them get used to staying at kennels as they will do when they do their six months of formal training. If the dogs are not used to staying at kennels at all, they could suffer stress and depression and won't be able to start their formal training until they are okay again.
It also allows SAGA to observe and assess the pup's training, behaviour and temperament in a setting other than their home. 
Very occasionally, they pick up an issue with a pup that their puppy-raiser family is unaware of, or a behavioural quirk shows up in kennels that can then be addressed before it becomes a problem.
Its also an important part of the pup's socialisation in that he (or she) has to eat with other dogs in the same space (which some pups are not used to) and some of his training will be put into practice.
Volt will be a year old at the end of October, so it won't be long after that that he will go back to SAGA for his 6 months formal training. He may be able to come "home" to us for Christmas- depending on what we plan to do by then. I actually had a shock when I realised Volt would be a year old in October already! All this time I have been working on him only going back in December because he will then have been with us for a year- but its his age that determines his return, not the length of his stay with us!

Anyhoodle, I'm not going to dwell on that now! 


After I dropped Volt off I walked back to the car, stopping to take a picture of the service dog training area on the way. If a service dog had been in training I would not have been allowed in, but there was no-one working there at the time. You can see airplane seats, wheelchairs, a door with a rope on the door handle, office furniture - all kinds of things that guide-dogs and service dogs need to be taught to deal with. This is where the old phones, eye glasses, remote controls and such that are donated are used for training.

And then I took a detour via puppy block! Visitors are not allowed in this building, but you can see the outside with the fenced enclosures where the bitches who are about to throw their pups are housed, usually from about two weeks before their due dates. The inside of each enclosure is air conditioned and fully tiled for easy cleaning with a built-in "bed" that is filled with blankets for the mommy-to-be. I did see some pups in an enclosure on the other side of the building- you can read about them here.

And as I was about to leave I got to meet Timba, who came bounding up to me when he was out for a stroll with his "mom", Sue. Timba is Volt's father, and this was the first time I actually saw him in the flesh. I was surprised by his size and how big his head is, and I was very surprised to see how much Volt is like him! The way he walks and runs, his face, his mannerisms... It isn't something one expects to see in animals! And several people who have seen Volt at SAGA have said how much like his father he is, and I got to see it today too. Timba is a BIG dog too at over 40kg, and in chatting to Sue about the dogs, it seems Volt may have outgrown his brother, Viking!
Volt's father, Timba
I will be fetching Volt on Thursday again. I am hoping SAGA will be happy with his progress so far, and whilst I want SAGA to be happy with his training, a part of me also hopes they will decide to make him a stud dog like his father because then he will live with us forever!


Its going to be very strange not having him in the house. He is such a snuggle bug! If he can he lies next to you or near you, and on Thursday last week in particular he was very "clingy". He whined to come inside if he was outside, he lay in the middle of the kitchen floor when I was baking and working, and lay at my feet when I was at my laptop. Then that night I was lying watching TV and he came and lay on the bit of my duvet that was on the floor!

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Don't forget to check out the Twitter hash-tag #SAGApupVolt to see regular updates on my puppy raising adventure!
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Friday, April 13, 2012

Caution - Extreme Cuteness Ahead!

These five and a half week old puppies belong to the SA Guide-dog Association's brood bitch, Jelly- which has led to them being called "jelly babies"!!
Isn't that so cool!?
These pups are the XYZ litter, so their puppy raising families are going to have a bit of a tough time naming them...
Aren't they just so cute!!? I could sit and watch the puppies for hours!!

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Don't forget to check out the Twitter hash-tag #SAGApupVolt to see regular updates on my puppy raising adventure!
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