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Thursday, September 17, 2015

5th week update on Henry

This is an email we puppy raisers love to get:

September 17, 2015

Dear Puppy Raiser,

We wanted to let you know that Henry, #16112, has been in training for 5 weeks and has completed the first phase of training.  The instructor working with Henry has made the following comments about the puppy you raised.

Some of the things that Henry is doing well at are:

1.       Engaged with the handler and training

2.       Learning early stages of guide work well

3.       Obedience

Some of the things that the trainer is working on with Henry are:

1.       Minimizing his distraction level for blowing objects (ex. leaves)

2.       Heeling

3.       Minimizing  his distraction level for dogs

Along with this update which lets you know how Henry is doing at this point in training we have attached a photo of Henry in harness.  Thank you for raising Henry for our program!  Should you have further questions, please don't hesitate to contact Puppy Development.  You will also receive another update during the 13th week after Henry has completed their 12th week of training.

A side shot of a yellow lab/golden mix dog walking toward the left wearing a Leader Dog guide harness, with a handler holding it with his or her left hand. The handler is only visible from the waist down. The pair are walking on a sidewalk with a chain link fence and grass in the background.
Henry in harness!

The yellow lab/golden mix dog is sitting down with the Leader Dog guide harness on, with the handler standing behind holding a leash. The dog's body is facing left, but the dog is looking at the camera with a smile. The dog is sitting on grass with a chain link fence behind. The handler's legs are the only part visible.
Oh, Henry, please leave those leaves alone!

None of these things are a surprise to me (ack, we worked so hard on ignoring blowing leaves!), but I am particularly pleased that Henry is "engaged" with learning! And he looks happy...

Keep it up boy - you make me proud!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Now is the time...

Almost one year ago, I picked up this little guy from Leader Dogs for the Blind. Future Leader Dog (FLD) Henry seemed ready to take on the world.

A ground level shot of a small yellow lab/golden mix puppy standing facing the camera in front of a black statue of a German Shepherd dog. The puppy's leash is looped around the leg of the statue. The puppy is wearing the blue Leader Dogs Future Leader Dog bandana and is looking up a little bit with a proud expression.
FLD Henry, on the day he came home with me.

It was my job to help him get his start. To teach him the proper places to park and basic cues like "sit" and "down." To help him learn to settle and be comfortable and confident in new places, on a variety of surfaces, around diverse people. To encourage self-control and good manners.

I wish I had a nickel for every time I said, "OH Henry!" Like any puppy, Henry presented challenges. Like every puppy, I learned from him, too.

For those of you who helped us along the way, you'll remember Henry's "vocal" stage, and his insanity with blowing leaves. I am proud to say he worked himself through these things, learning quiet, how to settle, and that watching without pouncing is a much better option.

Henry was my easiest puppy to house train; he preferred to go to bed early and sleep late. Like Dutch before him, he learned "leg" - and learned it so well it was often a default behavior when he was not sure what else to do.

I will miss how he kept my feet warm in the morning while I sat and drank coffee with my hubby. I will miss his zany nose when he'd catch a scent during a hike in our woods. I will miss his digging in his doggy-toy box in the evening, Nylabones and Kongs flying across the living room just as the latest episode of whatever Netflix show we're watching comes to a crucial part of the story.

I have my paws crossed that one day Henry will serve to keep someone safe, but I know that his problem-solving skills and deep thinking will carry him far no matter what path he ends up exploring.

Thank you bugger, for a bright spot in a sometimes-challenging year...

A full-grown yellow lab/golden mix puppy is laying down facing the camera with his front paws on a cement sidewalk. In the background on the left is the black statue of the german shepherd dog. The yellow pup is looking to the right with his mouth open and tongue out a little, he is wearing the blue Future Leader Dog bandana.
FLD Henry, back at Leader Dogs for the Blind, ready for the next step in his journey. 

Dogspeed Henry!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

How to occupy a puppy

A young yellow lab/golden retriever mix puppy is lying sideways under a folding chair, facing right. He is wearing a baby blue Future Leader Dog jacket. He is intently licking the large end of a red Kong toy, which is filled with frozen kibble and peanut butter. There is a person sitting on the folding chair facing away from the camera, and a person to the left on a chair, and a chair to the right. The puppy is lying on a wooden floor.
FLD Henry works at his peanut-butter-kibble-filled-frozen Kong.

The same shot from the same angle, only the puppy is holding the Kong with both his front paws and his eyes are closed.
Working it. Hard.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Skyline troubadour

A thin, older man is propped on a tall wooden stool with a guitar in his hands. He is wearing dark pants and a dark vest over a light blue shirt, with a tie. He is also wearing a flat cap. The man is singing into a microphone that is on a stand in front of him as well as a music stand. Behind him is a stone fireplace with a wood mantel. A second guitar is in a stand to the left, in front of a window.
Troubadour Lee Fitzman picks it out.

We took FLD Henry to the first "Friday Fireside" for 2015 at the Skyline Event Center in Comins. The striking log building, run by the non-profit Economic Development Alliance of Oscoda County, is a "gathering place" for the community.

Friday Fireside is a free concert every first Friday of the month. The January entertainment was troubadour Lee Fitzman. An added bonus was the opening of an art show with the work of photographer Dave Rider, of RTL Images. (For an interesting story about Dave, click on this link: Another Sunrise.)

FLD Henry burst into the Skyline with his usual aplomb. The handful of people already inside didn't mind his exhuberance, they wanted to meet him as badly as he did them. Of course, being the good puppy raiser that I am, I redirected his attention and asked that he be ignored.

At least until he showed some self-control.

A low, closeup of a young yellow lab/golden retriever mix puppy. The puppy is sitting down and while his body is facing the right, he has his head turned toward the camera. He is wearing the blue Future Leader Dog jacket and a blue collar with his leash clipped to it. There are a few people in the background out of focus, sitting on wooden benches.
FLD Henry looks at me like he is thinking, "Okay, isn't this good enough?"