Category Archives: Pick-Up Day

Deja Vu

Truman looks thrilled to have another mini-me in the house, no? Riiiiiiight.

That’s okay. As I recall, the Jethro adventure started out in similar fashion. At first there was wild-eyed shuffling and living room donuts at the excitement of another dog to play with. Then, the realization set in: “Oh. He LIVES here. And he’s small, and loud, and annoying, and wants to chew on me. And the humans pay attention to him.” (By this I mean not that Truman is neglected in any way, but that paying attention to anyone but His Royal Grumpusness — at any time — is a serious violation of the Truman Penal Code.) And finally, the boys became friends.

I know we’ll get there.

So, to catch you up, yesterday was quite a different experience from my GDA puppy pickup days. I didn’t know as far in advance when I was getting a puppy, I didn’t get to choose his name (though I’m really happy with Sonny! Who knows where else that could have gone?), and I didn’t go to the school to get him. GDF is in New York, but they have a number of OOA (out of area) puppy raisers, so this is pretty routine for them. At least I’m within reasonable driving distance, and didn’t have to deal with getting my little guy at an airport! Fortunately, my Area Coordinator, who has been knowledgeable and helpful throughout the process, was able to bring him right to my house.

There’s not much else to tell, really. I got my bag of goodies — bowl, brush, collars, nylon leash, leather leash, chew toy, ear cleaner, fecal sample containers (a necessary “bleahrgh”), heartworm preventive, bag of dog food, and tiny yellow GDF puppy jacket — asked my AC some clarifying questions about some things that were in the manual, and that was that. For some reason that I’m sure is related to recent weather craziness (thanks again, Sandy), things on GDF’s part were a bit discombobulated, and I was missing a few items (training whistle and special training bone)…and my paperwork. Thus, I don’t yet know when Sonny’s birthday is, or when his shots are due, and I haven’t signed a contract. So, apparently, now’s the time to skip town with my cute new puppy!

I kid, I kid.

The rest of the day and night went pretty much on schedule. A little sniff-and-explore, a little chaos a la Truman, some logistical “uh…it’s been two years…how do I do this again?” moments, some brain farts regarding commands that are different, and a night full of unhappily crated puppy sleep interruptions. I will say that it’s a heck of a lot colder here in the middle of the night than it is in Southern California.

Little Sonny is a sweet, cuddly puppy. He’s easy to pick up and hold. He’s picking things up quickly and seems to respond to his name and “sit” already. Relieving on hard surfaces is coming along, but sometimes it takes him a while. He’s not too bitey, not yet hoovering too much (though he has a specific taste for cabinet and drawer knobs/handles) and he doesn’t jump inappropriately, even when he’s excited. But I can tell that he’s got confidence, and a stubborn streak (in a Labrador? SHOCKING).

But here’s the best part of the story. Sonny was supposed to come to me last week, but the delivery person got the flu, so we had to reschedule for this week. I don’t know why — maybe his other littermates had gone out to their raisers or something — but Sonny apparently stayed at the home of one of the trainers for a day or two. My AC told me that the trainer said, “I hope this one’s going to an experienced puppy raiser….”

And I just had to laugh.

That’s all for now. I need to go get some sleep. At least, I hope that’s what’s going to happen. I’ll leave you with one more shot of my yellow fellows, who are definitely settling in and becoming…if not friends just yet, at least Tolerant Big Dog and Only Slightly Annoying Apprentice Dog.

Big News in A Small Package

Everyone, meet Sonny. Sonny, everyone.

Sonny in the sunshine

We are raising Sonny — male yellow Lab #4 — for Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind (otherwise known here as GDF).

Sonny likes donuts

After a number of little speedbumps in the process, we are finally here at pick-up day…which, in our case, was more of a drop-off day. But more about that later. I have a puppy to snuggle!

Already tired? Me too.

SnuggleBears and Other Sweet Gifts

Puppies come home from GDA with an adorable little puppy kit — a nice GDA tote bag containing a bowl, a brush, a couple of collars, a nylon leash, a 5-pound bag of dog food, all the puppy paperwork, and my favorite thing: a soft toy for the puppy to snuggle with, which is meant to ease the transition from a snuggly puppy-pile full of littermates to a sometimes lonely first night in a strange place. Jethro LOVES his pink-and-blue hugging teddy bears, and always sleeps in the crate with is head resting on them. If this toy (which stays in his crate so he and Truman don’t tug it into a million formerly-adorable pieces of disembodied fluff) survives Jethro’s puppyhood, and if Jethro makes it to guide work, I’ll probably end up giving it to his new partner, along with the baby blanket I rubbed against all his littermates on puppy pickup day.

And speaking of littermates, we received the coolest thing in the mail from GDA today! GDA is very protective of information about their breeding lines and which puppies come from which dogs in the program, so even puppy raisers aren’t allowed to know that stuff. (They have good reasons; it prevents a lot of unnecessary freak-out on the part of people who might hear something about a dog who was dropped for a medical reason and fear that their related puppy-in-training or guide dog will also have the problem, blah blah blah etc.) But we got a DVD in the mail marked “From Grandma!” It’s full of still photos and video footage of Jethro’s litter in the puppy nursery, set to music like “Sunrise, Sunset” from Fiddler on the Roof. It must have taken forever to put together, and it’s the sweetest thing….

We don’t know who you are, Grandma, but if you’re out there reading this, thank you! We love it. Your “grandson” Jethro is doing well, and we hope you’ll give his mama-dog a kiss from us.


Pick-Up Lines

“Hey, sweet little thing. You smell nice. And your hair’s soooo soft. How ’bout comin’ back to my place?”

Okay, that was bad. Borderline gross, even. Forgive me; I’m tired. And I’ve been out of the blogging habit for so long, it’s tough to get back into the swing of things, especially when little puppies grow so fast and there are so many photos to share! So, let’s talk about puppy pick-up day, shall we?

This was Wolf’s first puppy pick-up day, and he was all grins and excitement. We got to GDA, received our sponsor packet (Did I forget to mention that Jethro is a sponsored dog, like Truman was? Free dog food FOR THE WIN!) and sat in the little room where the puppy department manager torments the impatient raisers with her patented month-long spiel of do’s and don’ts and information and sign-your-paperwork and so on that has to happen before the distribution of the furballs. The puppy kits are really nice; GDA is now giving out branded tote bags with the standard bowl-brush-leash-collars-food-bone-snugglebuddy supplies inside. And one of the “grandmas” of the two litters going home that day made a fleece blanket for each puppy, which was very sweet.

Suddenly, it was time. We stowed our stuff in the car, and brought back just the leash, small collar and blanket (to rub on all Jethro’s littermates so he wouldn’t be so lonely that first night away from them), and followed Louise to the courtyard outside the breeding facility.

Two litters were scheduled to go home — the “H” dogs (lovely little Lab/Golden crosses), and our “J” dogs. All yellow, all the time! We approve.

Wolf's first puppyThe wait wasn’t long. Because I’d done this before, I wanted Wolf to have the experience of taking the puppy from the arms of the giver. I think he wasn’t really sure how to hold the little guy at first…somehow it never crossed my mind to show him the best way to do it, but he figured it out in short order. This pack leader’s a pretty smart guy.

Immediately, I noticed a difference between this experience and my last puppy pick-up day: I could actually pick up the puppy. Not to bash my beloved Truman, but he came out squirming and bitey from day one. It was one big “DO NOT WANT” on his part, I’m pretty sure. But Jethro — while he does admittedly look, in this photo, like he’s seeking an escape route — seemed almost…passive. I was so confused, I almost gave him back and asked where they were keeping MY puppy. “Did you finally give me an easy one?” I asked. The puppy department laughed at me. “Come on, you know us better than that. Just wait ’til the Benadryl wears off,” they said. “We gave this one TWO.”

(I’m sure they were kidding. Please don’t go around thinking — or especially saying — that GDA drugs their puppies, mmkay?)

We know that some of the dogs from both litters are headed to the Washington puppy raiser group, so we don’t know how many J’s there are in total, but we did manage to snap a littermate photo of 5 of the 6 J-dawgs who went home that day (sorry, Jesse, we don’t know where you went!). I was sad that we don’t have any littermates in my puppy raiser group — which is a first for me, as both of my previous boys have grown up with their brothers — but I’m hoping to see some of these folks and their little J-dawgs at upcoming GDA events and puppy classes. Meet (from left to right) Journey, Joey, Jethro, Julep and Jeannie:

They came in several shades of yellow. Bunch of good lookin’ dogs, eh?

The trip home was fairly uneventful, aside from being a bit warm (little did we know it was just the start of a nasty, record-setting SoCal heatwave…but we’ll get into that in another post). Jethro settled in after just a few minutes of whimpering, and slept all the way to Torrance. He had to rest up, of course. He was about to meet his predecessor, role model, shuffle buddy, and career-changed “big brother” Truman.

Truman is always supremely happy to see other dogs (I sometimes wonder if he would have eventually become too dog-distracted for guide work, even if he had passed his medical and continued in training, but since that point is more “what if” fodder than anything else, we’ll move on). We figured out a game plan to introduce them without overwhelming the little guy, who probably had to pee something fierce after the long trip down the 405, or overwhelming the big guy, who probably had to pee something fierce after waiting for us to come home. While Wolf took Truman out the front door to do his business, I’d sneak Jethro through the garage and upstairs onto the balcony, where he could do his.

"Who is this, and why is he piddling on my balcony?"

We’re using the balcony because our back yard isn’t really set up for dogs yet; there’s a lot of unfriendly plant life and crevices full of spiders and random gardening stuff lying around. So Truman does his business in the front of the house, on leash, which has worked just fine for us so far. Unfortunately, though, both front and back are plagued with a variety of wandering critters: squirrels, opossums, raccoons, the occasional feral cat, and (my favorite) skunks. This renders either yard option quite inappropriate for teeny puppies who haven’t yet received their full course of vaccines. Thus, balcony piddling it is. Good thing it’s a sealed surface, with a handy garden hose nearby, because we will be doing this for the next two months. (Eight weeks. That’s a long time….)

The introductory sniff went well. Tails both great and small were wagging, and we had to get a good grip on Truman to keep him from shuffling wildly in the middle of the living room and running the poor little fella down. Truman even shared his big-dog bed for a while…until Jethro attempted to…assert his tiny dominance. (And this is where I let out a sigh for poor Truman, who for all his early puppyhood bravado and attempts at destroying all humans, somehow manages to end up every dog’s girlfriend. Sorry, dude. Let’s just hope this is merely youthful exuberance on Jethro’s part.)

The boys got to know each other a bit, Jethro rolled around on the floor looking freakishly cute and cartoony, and there were many trips (dozens? thousands?) to the balcony. There are always accidents, of course, because as vigilant as I am, I am never quite as fast as the first few drops of piddle on the carpet. And Wolf is new at this; it takes a while to get used to the “puppy’s about to go RIGHT NOW OH NO IT’S TOO LATE” signs. Doesn’t help that Jethro is more of a “stand and deliver” guy than a “squat if ya gotta” guy.

Before bed, we played some “name game” with him to get him used to being called Jethro, and to wear him out. Looks like it worked. On everyone.

Did I mention we’re tired?

The first night went fairly well. He did get us up about three times to do some balcony business (cold hose water on your bare feet is decidedly non-awesome at three in the morning, by the way), but he didn’t have a problem being in the kennel as long as the rest of his pack was also in the room. And he had his snugglebears toy to cuddle with, and the blanket we’d rubbed on his littermates.

I wonder what he dreamed about that night. I dreamed happy dreams, of being able to sleep in again someday.

Hi. I’m Jethro.

It’s been a busy week. We’re tired. More to come….

So Far, So Cute

The day went more quickly than I thought it would. After meeting Matt & Amy for lunch at Denny’s — where we were seated at the same table where we ate breakfast before our boys’ graduation a month ago, by the way — we headed to the school for puppy pickup. Because I had received Lomax as a year-old re-homed dog, this was my first pickup day. I was anticipating the works: an hour of fidgeting through Louise’s orientation, drumming my fingers and thumbs on my lap as I stared at the “puppy kits” full of leash/collar/food/bowl/brush and fuzzy comfort toys.

Since everyone picking up a puppy this time was an experienced puppy raiser, however, Louise cut things short. Mercifully short? Perhaps, for most people. I suppose there was a part of me that wanted to go through the whole painful process this time, just for the ceremony, if nothing else. Still, whatever brings the puppies out faster….

Then suddenly someone was handing me the little man, whose tiny tail was already wagging. It didn’t stop.

After putting some littermate scent on the blanket I brought for him, and taking some photos, and trying unsuccessfully to get him to “get busy” on the grass before our 30-mile trip home in Friday afternoon Los Angeles traffic, Amy and I put little Truman in the car for his first ride. He seemed up for the adventure:

After about five minutes, he stopped squirming and settled in for the trip. No car sickness, no piddling… good stuff.

The only thing that was a little rough the rest of the day was potty time. Poor Truman, who had had quite a big day, was a bit lost on the concept of peeing *outside*. Or, at first, peeing at all. For a few hours after we got home, he’d squat and leave a drop or two before I grabbed him and took him out, then he’d refuse to go. Then, when I assume he could stand it no longer, I managed to get him to go on the busy command and he let loose a torrent. As I write this, not quite 48 hours into our association, little Truman is totally down with the concept that going out that particular door, and hearing those particular words, means it’s go time. Good dog!

Of course, he has also decided that peeing in the soft crate in the living room, right on top of the towel/blanket/toy/leash/what-have-you, is also perfectly acceptable (so much for the theory that they won’t soil their beds). I could hardly give him less room in there, so I don’t know what he’s up to, but it’s not about being trapped in a crate that’s too big when you have to go potty. He loves that crate and will willingly trot right in there whenever he feels like it…including when he has to pee. But we’re working on that.

He was pretty tired Friday night, but still eager to play and explore and play the “name game” back and forth between Amy and me, to great comic effect. He wanted to chase his tail and chew his leash and scratch at his collar and eat every molecule of inappropriate material off the surface of the floor, like most puppies do. And by bedtime, we were both ready to crash.