Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Group Walk with #SAGApupVolt

This morning Volt and I met our SAGA PDS at the Lifestyle Home Garden Centre for a group walk around the shopping complex and the parking lot. 

Volt and I arrived a good 30 minutes early so that I could walk him around the parking lot and get rid of some of his energy before we met up with the other dogs. He LOVES seeing his SAGA buddies!

These group walks are a very important part of their training as the dogs MUST be able to walk anywhere without being distracted by anything. And walking with a whole lot of other dogs is great practice! We climb stairs, walk through playgrounds, walk the dogs in a circle and change direction, walk past the shops and restaurants, get the pups close to each other and walking in a line, whilst telling them all the time not to play or look at each other. It is hard because the pups know each other, and because they are "teenagers". We do allow them to greet each other, but work is work- and the leash and a training vest means no playing.

Tuppence and his mommy, and Volt and I waited until it was a "big circle" again before we joined the  group (the small circle is pictured above)
pups in a line, waiting for the other dogs to come up the stairs
We also walk each others' dogs a little as they need to be happy to walk with anyone, and some of our dogs are very mommy (or daddy) focused. 
Today we were joined by Oreo (black lab), Tuppence (black lab), Nordic (yellow lab), Kito (yellow lab), Otis (black lab), and Volt's sister Vegas (also a yellow lab).

I always get nervous when we do these walks because the dogs are being assessed whilst we're busy, and I always worry that I haven't done enough or I've done something wrong...  Apparently that is pretty normal for us puppy walkers, especially with our first dogs. 
Volt is three quarters retriever, which makes him inclined to pull on the lead when he's excited. Pulling is discouraged and corrected, but two hours on the leash means my left hand is very sore tonight. SAGA has said I can borrow one of their lovely soft leather leashes until Volt goes back for training as the canvas one I am using is very hard on one's hand when a dog pulls.

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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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Aunty Beags Is A Proper Puppy Aunty!

Today Volt and I had to go on a group walk with our SAGA PDS and several other puppies in training, and this usually takes a couple of hours. There's no way I can take Riddick with me as its a training exercise and Volt needs all my focus, and "Aunty" Beagle Momma very sweetly offered to puppy-sit for me again!
Beags told me how Riddick found one of Harry and Oscar's toys- a squeaky thing- and was chewing on it happily until it squeaked! He got a big fright and dropped it! I am giggling just thinking about it, and it makes perfect sense as there are no squeaky toys at home for him to play with.
Riddick LOVES Harry and Oscar's kennel in the garden! And when he decided it was time to have a nap, he chose Oscar's bed- much to Oscar's disgust!
Beags also noticed how much more active he is now compared to a week ago!
Thank you so much for the photos Beags!
And thank you for having Riddick again!

Oscar not impressed with the bundle in his bed
bounding along 
boys will be boys - off on an adventure with Harry 
checking out the drain 
first nap 
found the water 
gardening with Harry and Oscar 
I want to be a soccer player when I'm growed up 
into the kennel 
looking ever so grown up 
once over from Oscar 
playing with a squeaky in the kennel 
sniffin - with Harry keeping an eye on him in the background
soooooooooooo hungry

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

An Afternoon At Gilroy's With #SAGApupVolt

On Sunday at lunch time, we went to a place called Gilroy's to celebrate a friend's birthday. Its a pub and restaurant that brews its own beer, with the patrons seated outside, and considering it was a Sunday afternoon the place was PACKED!
Between the restaurant visitors and the entertainment it was a VERY noisy place, and there were lots of children- most of whom passed by Volt on the way to the play area as I had him benched to the long wooden table we were sitting at. We chose to sit at that end of the table specifically so that we would be out of the restaurant server's way, and so that we could make an easy exit should Volt need to go busy or get restless.

I had called in the week before our lunch to make sure Gilroy's wouldn't mind Volt visiting with us as they do not actually allow dogs. I explained that he is a guide-dog in training and still technically a puppy, and they said they would make an exception for Volt!
I was so impressed with Volt! He was very aware of the people and the children constantly going past our table, but he didn't make a sound! Several children and adults came up to him to say hello and he was so good- he didn't jump up or lick anyone nor did he try and pull away from the table! 
He lay and slept either next to the table or under my bench for the entire afternoon and most of the people at our table didn't even know he was there!!
He had a bowl of water next to him and every now and then I would give one of the children a couple of doggie pellets to give him as a treat.
About an hour before we decided to leave he started getting a little fidgety and bored, but I suspected it would start since we had already been there for a good four hours!
I was so very proud of him!

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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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Sunday, May 27, 2012

#RiddickPup Is Eight Weeks Old

He weighed 6.2kg on the vet's scale- once I could get him to sit still! That means he's gained a whopping 1.3kg in the last week! He outweighs Volt when he was 8 weeks old, so either he is going to be bigger than Volt or he's having different growth spurts to Volt's... We'll have to see.
He is now eating 80g of Purina Olympic Puppy three times a day, with Protexin (a probiotic) sprinkled on his breakfast and dinner.

He is doing so well with car travel! He still whines and complains at the start of a journey, but he is starting to settle down and sleep a bit now instead of moaning throughout the journey. It will be a while before I will be comfortable leaving him at home "unsupervised"...

Ooh and I blogged this week past about how training Riddick is a bit of a challenge and about his visiting Beagle Momma!

We are realising- as we spend more and more time with him- what he can and can't see. When we are outside for "busies" and for play time, he is quite happy to bounce around the garden after Volt and play and do some rough and tumble, and when he's had enough he quite easily bounds up the three steps leading to the kitchen door and waits to be let in again (he's not outside unsupervised for more than a few minutes). Going down the stairs is another story though- he doesn't seem able to judge how high the steps are and he will stay at the top rather than chance going down and hurting himself, and once or twice I have caught him jumping off the second step and landing on his face!
He can see our cats as shapes when they walk or run past him, and he can smell they're not dogs, but he's not sure how to handle them. And their hissing at him obviously puts him off trying to play with them.
He doesn't see as well at night as he does in the day, even with the lights on. In daylight and at night he will walk towards our call but he reacts much better to us tapping on the floor or snapping our fingers. At night he will walk towards the couch but can't "see" us on the couch unless we add an extra noise. He sees contrasts best.

What we have REALLY noticed is how different he is to Volt! Riddick is very, very "ma vas" (in English you'd probably say "tied to my apron strings")! He really doesn't like being alone and he will start howling  if he thinks he's alone in a room. When he gets sleepy he will seek out either myself or my husband and lie against our feet or against the couch we're sitting on. Unlike Volt he is really disinclined to just collapse in the middle of the floor and fall asleep when he's worn out. He's very vocal compared to Volt as well. He is also far more vocal than Volt ever was and if he grabs something he's not supposed to have he starts to run away with it if I say "no"!

Who can resist a sleeping puppy!??! Not even Volt is immune!! And let me tell you... I am hard pressed NOT to pick him up off the floor and snuggle him on the couch or the bed with me at the drop of a hat! I have picked him up and cuddled him on the couch with me a couple of times and he has already learnt- yes its that fast- that if he jumps up all cute in front of me I might put him up on the couch! That has to stop now!

Lookit the cuteness!!!

Volt and Riddick play together all the time!


Having Volt here to keep the puppy busy has been a big help! Volt is providing the snuggles that he would have loved to get from Thelma and Louise when he was a little pup!

#SAGApupVolt At Thirty Weeks Old!!

Thirty weeks old!
I can't believe he's already thirty weeks old!
And in just three days time he will be exactly seven months old!
Isn't he just gawjiss!!?! I know I'm biased, but I think he's the most beautiful guide-dog ever!

Today on the vet's scale he clocked in at 31kg, so it seems his weight is holding steady now. I will continue to weigh him though, because I think he still has some growing to do. He is still eating Purina One All Breed Puppy Formula, but now he gets a specific sized ¾ cup-full twice a day (SAGA gave us the cup we must use). He is well over the minimum height requirement so I am not going to measure his height again until its time for him to go back to SAGA for his formal training.

Our walks are going so very well! I come back from a walk relaxed and feeling happy. I have no tension on the leash unless I tell him to "stop", "wait" or "steady" if he speeds up, and even then its only momentary. If I change direction or tell him to "heel" he follows me immediately. He mostly ignores other dogs, cars, bicycles, motorcycles and people. With people and cars there's the occasional glance in their direction, and if another dog gets particularly excited or noisy behind a gate he may try to head that way, but I change direction or cross the road he listens almost immediately. Although, when we're like a a mall or something out he is far easier to distract than when we're out walking.

Volt and our new puppy, Riddick, really get on well! They play together and sleep together and having Volt here to keep the puppy busy has been a big help for me! 
Volt is jealous of the new baby though. He manifests this by immediately taking toys away from Riddick, deliberately bowling him over at a full run and trying to force him off any cushion or blanket he may be lying on. I know this is also dominance behaviour, and I don't leave them alone together for very long as I want Riddick also to learn that barking and growling during play is not on. Volt is also still in the "adolescent" phase of his growing up, and our garden is feeling the brunt of it with him chewing up a strelitzia and one of my pot plants. He has also taken to dragging Thelma and Louise's blankets out of their igloo kennel on the veranda and onto the back lawn! He doesn't dig holes though which is fabulous.

On Sunday we spent a long afternoon celebrating a friend's birthday with a lunch at Gilroy's. I called and made sure the venue would be okay with Volt coming along as they do not actually allow dogs, and when I explained he was a guide-dog in training they said they would make an exception for him and he would be welcome. Volt was exceptionally well behaved! The place was packed and noisy, and we happened to sit at the end of the table where all the children were going by to get to the play area! Lots of the children- and adults- stopped to pet him on their way past and he didn't jump up or nibble anyone, and I gave a couple of the kids a pew puppy pellets to give him as a treat! I benched him to the table leg and he slept under the table or next to it. He didn't beg or bark or try to go walk about. Everyone was very impressed with how well behaved he was. When we got home he had a good run-around, had some supper, and pretty much slept the evening away! Behaving himself for such a long time was very tiring.

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