Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Boo! 2009

It is that time of year again when we all dress up like crazy ghosts, goblins, and gorillas! It is Halloween time and for our puppy club meeting this past week, we held our annual Halloween Party. We had costume contests, games, and tasty treats! It was tons of fun and everyone loved to dress up the puppies in adorable outfits. Here are a few of my favorites:

Raelyn made her appearance as a high-profile international soccer star.

One of our new puppies as a hot dog with accompanying condiments.

Roman paying homage to his namesake.

Nutella looking cute as a pumpkin.

Our resident artist Picasso.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Raelyn at 8 months!

Raelyn has been a part of our household for 6 months already! In some ways it seems like she has just arrived, but in others it feels like she has been around forever. The most exciting (in a bad way) thing that happened this month was she actually destroyed the first thing of value EVER. She has never shown interest in chewing on anything except her toys. She will leave the kitty toys and random power cables alone so nicely! However, a new power cord was utterly irresistable. Luckily it wasn't plugged in and she only managed to eat a small amount of plastic and copper wire before I caught her. No complications or lasting damage was done, so WHEW! We still went through the worrying and calling the puppy leaders and a really helpful vet tech who is a member of our puppy club. With all of their help, it all worked out fine.

Besides the random chewing on power cables, life with Raelyn has become so normal. She is picking up on our habits and knows our routine.
-She definately knows when it is feeding time.
-She knows when we are going to go on an outing and what she has to do before we leave.
-She knows when she has to go in her kennel for bedtime.
-She knows how to be patient and sleep in the car even for long periods of time.
-She knows when she has to behave not pay attention to people and walk without pulling.
-She knows how to curl up quietly under the restaurant table.
-She knows how to sit quietly through biology lectures and labs.
-She knows to relieve in her relieving spot and not indoors or randomly during outings.
-She knows she isn't supposed to sniff people's crotches, but she'll still slip every once in a while.

Even though she has learned to do and knows so many things, she is much the same dog as she was when we first got her. Happy, stubborn, headstrong, fearless, and most of all FRIENDLY. She just loves everyone and everything. She wants to go home with everyone we meet and wants to play with any fuzzy creature on 4 legs.

She is a joy to have around and is a very positive presence. During the next month, we need to work on some behaviors that are not very becoming of a respectable guide dog. We are going to work on not jumping and getting overly excited when meeting new people/animals. We are going to work on not chasing the kitties around the house and leaving them alone. We are going to work on her ability to sit and stay in once place without getting restless when not on tie-down or in her kennel. We are going to work on the whining when the alarm goes off or when Raelyn is frustrated in her kennel because she can't come see us.

Overall, things are going really well and we have made much progress. To avoid worrying too much or getting overly stressed out, my new mantra is that we will do the best we can with her and the trainers will fix her weirdness once she gets recalled! :)

She couldn't get enough of the box we hid all of her toys in. She had so much fun sliding it around and sticking her head in to find the toy she wanted then pulling it out after much effort.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The dreaded in-laws...

We have been a borderline boarding house for these past few months. Lots of fun house guests staying and visiting. Recently, Dale's parents Dena and Dave (the dreaded in-laws) came to stay with us for almost a week. Even though I threatened to take them back to the airport a few hours after they got here (completely joking of course...), we all had a great time. The weather was fantastic, so we were able to get out and show off our new neighborhood.

Out of all of us, Raelyn had the best time hands down. She LOVED all of the attention that was showered upon her and with new playmates to keep her busy, she was in hog heaven. Dave especially was her new BFF and would follow him around the house constantly dropping toys at/on his feet.

We were able to show off Raelyn's calm behavior and all of the awesome skills she has learned in her first 7.5 months. She didn't bark or make any noises (other than her usual groaning and occasional whining). She followed all of her commands, even when given by our new visitors. She came to a restaurant with us and everyone forgot she was there until we found her wedged underneath the booth seat. Her toughest challenge was on our visit to the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park. There were so many distractions with the crowds of people and lots of dogs both on and off leash. She so badly wanted to run around and play with the little Chihuahuas that were zooming around us. She was a bit all over the place not surprisingly, but she remained reasonably calm and did great considering the circumstances.

It was a great visit and everyone had a blast! We enjoy having people come and stay with us as it always forces us to get out of our routine and have fun doing something different. So thank you Dave and Dena for FINALLY coming to see us! :) You are welcome back anytime, unless you won't let me win at cards...

Monday, September 28, 2009

A few more fun things...

I forgot to mention that Raelyn knows when we are going on an outing and gets super excited when she sees we are collecting all of her gear. As soon as we are on our way out, she quickly goes to the backdoor and hurries to relieve. Then she will come back inside and wait patiently by the front door as we put on her vest and leash. She is calm and sits while we get our shoes on and get all our things together. Then we are off!

She is also doing MUCH better about greeting people when they come in the front door. For a while there, when someone new came in the door she would race over and sniff like a crazy puppy. Now she will wait a good distance away and when you come in the door and tell her to sit, she will sit and wait patiently for you to come to her. It is a work in progress, but getting better every day!

Her new fun game to try and play is keep away. She tries to play that a lot now. Whenever she starts that, we stop play and turn around and do something else while not paying attention to her. She immediately will stop moving away and come over to us as she really wants to engage us and play. She knows we won't chase her, but she still tries anyways!

Raelyn at 7 months (and I'm a total blog slacker)

I know, I know. I have been a total slacker this past month as I haven't posted a thing about puppy even though I was "hounded" by more than a few people for the latest Raelyn update! My lack of posting has been for two reasons: On e is because school has started so keeping the students in line takes away from my blog time, but really the main reason is because Raelyn has been doing so great that we are in a fantastic routine and nothing out of the ordinary has happened in a while!

Raelyn hasn't had any relieving incidents in over a month. Hurrah! She stares intently down the stairs when she wants to go, so she gives clear signals and will wait patiently for us to notice. She hasn't had any problems on outings either. When we go to Dominican, she has her potty spot and she'll go right on command without any trouble. She has also stopped needing to go so frequently, so that has really helped as well. She can hold her pee better and only poops 3 times a day (sometimes 2) instead of having to go pee every 2 hours and pooping around 6 times a day.

She isn't whining nearly as much as she used to. She really only whines when the alarm goes off since I don't let her out right away. Other than that, she is in her crate during class and does fabulously! She isn't a distraction at all. She will just hang out and either watch what is going on or just rest. She hardly makes noise and the students totally forget that she is there. I am so glad that it is going as well as it is. The students and the other staff love to see her around campus and always ask about how she is doing. They are all so excited about her.

A few weeks ago she had some weird blister/pustules on her chin that were coming out of nowhere. They were looking a little scary and we went to the vet and he said that she had a common case of puppy acne. It was most likely caused by a skin irritation that got infected by skin-dewelling bacteria. We just need to keep the area clean and she should grow out of it. It has gotten considerably better, so it looks like it is healing nicely.

She such a pleasure to be around. We have had a few overnight house guests and she takes right to them. She wants to play with them and show them her favorite toys. She has a very friendly and sweet disposition so she is a joy to take out and about. She has great self control and resists chasing things and meeting random people.

The main problem now is that whenever she meets someone new, she is SO EXCITED! You would think that is totally attention starved and hasn't seen a person in years. This is a problem when I let her meet people when we are out as she has to learn she just can't tackle them and stick her nose in their crotch. The funny thing is once the person is no longer new (like if we hang out next to them for a while), they aren't interesting and she could care less about meeting them. She is still very interested in other dogs and pulls on the leash when she is excited, but it seems to be getting better. She got approved to be on food protocol for distractions, but I just haven't had the opportunity to implement that training yet.

Raelyn is now 7 months old and HUGE! She has grown a ton since we first got her (duh). It was hilarous as we went to a puppy meeting recently and we met up with her older puppy friend Amity who used to be ginormous compared to Raelyn might be bigger than she is! Crazy. Her head is about mid-thigh level and she probably weighs around 50 lbs. Tall and sleek! She gets comments all the time from people about how she is "such a goregous dog with a beautiful shiny coat" (like she needs any more reasons to be a diva!).

She loves to play with her large hard chew toys which she never liked before. She will carry them around with her and then drop them in different places, so every night I have to go to her "drop off" spots to collect all of her toys and put them away. She also LOVES to do lab loops. These are where she tucks her tail in and then takes off and sprints around in a loop. She doesn't go anywhere special and there isn't any reason, she just likes to run around in circles. Then she'll get tired and as quick as she got possessed by the crazy, she stops and gets a drink of water and lays down to chew on the toy she was carrying around.

She has made so much progress just in the 5 months that we have had her and it has been so fun to see her grow and change. She is a fantastic puppy with a lot of potential! :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

First day of school

Raelyn had her first day of school yesterday when she sat in on my biology lab class at Dominican. She did really well! She was pretty high energy while we were walking on campus and in the building since a lot of students were around and making eye contact with her. She was so excited to meet everybody. I tried to keep her calm and kept the greetings to a minimum since she couldn't handle it.

During a meeting with another professor she sat under my chair and hung out. She would whine, but stopped when I tugged on her collar. Room for improvement! Once we got into the classroom, Raelyn hung out in her puppy house (travel crate) during the entire class session and was calm and quiet the whole time!

Raelyn also receives a zillion gold stars for relieving twice on command in the appropriate area! There is hope for her yet. She will be getting lots of practice this semester as she will be going to class 3 times a week.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fun at Fun Day!

Each year Guide Dogs puts on an event to thank all of the puppy raising volunteers called Fun Day. This year we were able to attend with Raelyn and we all had a blast! We were able to meet 2 of Raelyn's 10 litter mates.

Raelyn with her two of her litter mates (Roscoe and Raider) in a licking frenzy!

We also met the family who is the breeder keeper of Raelyn's mom that took care of her and her litter mates after they were born for a month. They told us that Raelyn was the favorite of the bunch as she was runt of the litter. Although she was the runt, she was always the one pushing everyone else out of the way and was always the "Queen of the Hill". That explains a lot! Apparently she was feisty, independent, and tough right from the beginning!

Raelyn getting attention from her first puppy raiser while the breeder keeper family looks on.

The girl who first took care of Raelyn when she was born holding her first ever collar. How tiny!

While we were there at the kennels, we obviously had to visit the ridiculously adorable puppies!