Saturday, May 9, 2009

Chantilly News

I just found out that my little girl, Chantilly, is in class to graduate!! That gives me a 100% success rate in the GDB world, so far! I'm very excited!!!!!!! Go little pirate puppy!


Friday, May 8, 2009



Faulkner (AKA the Nerd) - 40S1
black lab, male
current puppy in training

Faulkner will be one year old on June 8th of this year. He is an absolute goofball! The older that he gets, the more he reminds me of my second puppy in training, Baskin. This boy is wonderful. He knows his commands and does pretty much everything that I ask of him. We're still working on staying when Honey (our pet dog) is in the same room, but that's a hard one to accomplish.

Faulkner is pretty much the top of his class. Not only is he great with his commands, he is an excellent house dog. I've always had issues with my pups in the house. They are wanting to run around crazily and get into trouble all the time. Not Faulkner. He has the best house manners of any dog that I've worked with.

Now, while I sing his praises, the Nerd is not without fault. He has been known to dig and have the occasional accident. Every day shows improvement and I am SO happy with him! Today is Wednesday which means the club will be meeting. It'll be a short meeting since all we're doing today is showing up at the mall and trading puppies.

Why do we trade puppies? Well, it's a training tool for both us and our pups. The trade allows our puppies to experience a different life style than they're used to which is great for Guides and also allows the raiser to learn from a new pup. We can see what the puppy is doing differently and if they have problems for someone else that they don't normally have in their raiser home.

This week I'll be working with a Genesis Service Dogs pup named Valentine. She's a 6 month old Great Dane. And she's already huge!! She's having some issues with listening and self confidence so that will be what I'm working on this week.

Genesis Service Dogs is a local organization in Boise, Idaho that raises dogs for a variety of disabilities. Those of us working with Guide Dogs for the Blind sometimes help them out by taking in a pup to give us an experience with a different breed of dog and impart some of our training techniques if they are needed.

Below are some more pictures of Faulkner. The two "puppy" pictures are from when he was about 4 months old and the one in the snow is from when he was about 7 months old.

My Past Puppies

Well, these are my past puppies that I have raised for Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB).
I will have a whole post devoted to my current puppy, Faulkner, coming soon. The main reason for me putting them on this blog is to give anyone who may be reading some knowledge of them since I'm sure they come up again later. I honestly love every one of these puppies, no matter how long or short a time I had with them, they all managed to make me fall in love with them!

Yamaha- 4E57x
black lab, male
Working Guide

I got Yamaha as a transfer pup when he was 10 months old. I only had him in my life for about 7 months, but he was amazing. He taught me SO much about training dogs and mostly about patience! Yamaha is currently working as a guide.

Baskin- 4J32
black lab, male
Working Guide

I started working with Baskin when he was 8 weeks old, but he lived with another member of our club (4 Paws for Freedom) until he was 4 moths (16 weeks) old. He was a very easy going pup who was there for me through some though surgery. He was the puppy to teach me the most about starting out with basic obedience. Baskin is currently a guide working with Dawn and I still hear from them occasionally!

yellow lab, female
Working Guide

I worked with Donna for about 5 months. I got her when she was 4 months old and then transferred her to a brand new raiser in the club. Being the easy girl that she is, she was the perfect fit for a brand new raiser who wanted to be able to learn the basics and take her dog to school right away. The raiser that she went to, Emily, was the one to go to her graduation. Donna is currently working as a guide.

Chantilly (Tilly for short)- 49N1
yellow lab, female
Working Guide

Chantilly was the first dog that I was responsible for housebreaking. And boy did she teach me a lot about it! She was a more difficult puppy, but I loved her very dearly. When she was 5 months old, she was still having quite a bit of trouble with self confidence and we had to talk to Guide Dogs about it. They decided that they wanted her closer to the campus for closer examination. Of course, by the time that she was transferred, she was doing much better. It was very tempting to change my mind about it, but if I had, I wouldn't have gotten the chance to work with Gene. Chantilly was my pirate puppy and is currently working as a guide with Erica whom I get to talk to all the time!

Gene- 43M4
black lab, male
Working Guide

Gene was quite possibly my favorite puppy that I've been involved in raising. I love them all, but this boy has the best personality! He is quirky. But he was paired with a lady just as quirky! I was the third or fourth raiser that Gene was sent to. He was having some behavioral issues because he was with a brand new raiser family who didn't quite know what to do with so much personality. I completely understand their hardship because, even though he was my fifth puppy, he gave me a run for my money too! Getting to Gene's graduation was hard because I wasn't feeling too well and my mother was going to be out of the country. Luckily, my dad and I were able to work out a way to be there which was amazing! Gene is currently a working guide.

What is a Puppy Raiser?

My name is Kate Richardson and I am proud to say that I am a puppy raiser. I'm currently raising my 6th puppy in training. (You'll be able to read all about my puppies in a following post.) I got into puppy raising for my Girl Scout Gold Award. I never finished the project, but I got absolutely hooked on Guide Dogs!!

You may be asking, "Kate, what exactly is a puppy raiser?"

Well the 'definition' of a puppy raiser is pretty simple. A puppy raiser is simply a volunteer who takes in an 8 week old puppy and teaches it basic obedience, self-confidence, how to behave in public, and housebreaking. Like I said, the definition is simple. There is a lot more involved in being a puppy raiser that isn't in that definition though.

As a puppy raiser, you are required to attend a weekly meeting with the other raisers in your community so that your leader can check in and help you with any problems that you may have. A very important part of being a puppy raiser is being an informal PR person for Guide Dogs for the Blind. Lots of people will approach you when you have a puppy. Especially when you're at the grocery store, a movie, or out to eat. Those are activities that dogs are usually not involved in!

After you get the hang of Guide Dogs' training style, puppy raising becomes a lot more fun. I was stressed out about being perfect and not messing up my puppy for the first three months that I was a raiser. Once I calmed down, I began to have the time of my life! And then the time came for me to send my first puppy off to school.

Yes, that is the part of puppy raising that people most often ask about. "How can you give them up? I couldn't do it."

A very important part of that is knowing from the beginning that the dog does not belong to you. It belongs to Guide Dogs. You simply play the part of a foster parent. Just like a foster parent, you have a hugely important job and what you teach the pup stays with them for the rest of their lives. It can be very hard to believe that your influence for a year can mold a dog, but it's really true.

After you send your puppy away to Guide Dog 'college' they go through a 10 phase training program which generally takes 4-6 months to complete. Once your puppy has made it through those ten steps, they get paired with a blind partner that they work with for about 6 weeks. After that, a miracle happens. You get the letter telling you that your puppy is graduating. Not only that, but you get invited to the ceremony!

I've been to three graduation ceremonies and still get choked up when I talk about them. At a graduation, you get to spend about an hour with your puppy and the person that they will be paired with for the rest of their lives. Did you know that a dog can remember and recognize a person by their scent for up to three years? Keeping that in mind, imagine this grown-up dog that you had in your life for a year seeing you and turning back into a 6 month old puppy. It's amazing. They see you and go crazy!

After getting to know your puppy's partner you go to the ceremony. This is the part where most people cry. When your partner's name is called, you take the puppy that you raised on stage and get to give a little speech about your experience with that dog. And you get to hand the leash over and officially start your dog's career.

The really cool part of starting a dog's career, however, is that you are starting so much more. By agreeing to take in a puppy and turn them into a 'good dog,' you give someone their freedom and their life back. It's a very hard feeling to explain, but it's the most real feeling that you will ever have in your life.

For the past 5 years, I have devoted a huge chunk of my time and my life to this glorious program. I have NEVER felt it to be a sacrifice.

If you're at all interested in becoming a raiser, donating to the cause (yes, it's not for profit and anything that you can do is GREATLY appreciated), or just learning more, feel free to visit Guide Dogs for the Blind online.