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Saturday, December 29, 2012

A growing puppy

FLD Dutch looks down from the balcony.

Ten days before Christmas we spent some time at Jen's. Dutch liked playing in the hallway, high above the living room. He was able to squeeze his head through the bannister posts.

Dutch croons.

One week later, he could not.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Close encounter of the feline-kind

Gus lets out a long, deep WOOF! He bounds down the stairs with Dutch hot on his heels. At the doorway Gus puffs up and stops dead at the edge of the carpet. Just beyond, Peanut is dozing on the treadmill.

Dutch careens around Gus. His feathery paws hit the tile floor as he spots the old cat. He backpedals, but slides beyond the protection of his 65-pound buddy. What is that?!

A brown, black, and white mottle cat sits on a treadmill and faces off a large black Lab and a 3 month old Golden Retriever ball of fluff.
Dutch skids past Gus when he sees Peanut-the-cat.

Gus bounces forward with another bark. Peanut hisses and lashes out like Muhammad Ali, her declawed paws popping Gus's muzzle from every direction.

He retreats.

Dutch can't contain his curiosity. He ducks his head and inches closer. Peanut meows a warning. Dutch calmly stares her down.

The cat is on the treadmill facing the camera, in a crouched position looking at the puppy. The golden fluffy puppy with a blue collar stands his ground and looks back at her.
Peanut-the-cat and Dutch have a stare-down.

Before long, Peanut curls up in her cat-bed at the front end of the treadmill; Dutch ventures onto the rubbery surface to investigate.

The cat is curled up in a light brown bed at the far end of the treadmill. The golden puppy is facing the camera at the other end, looking down and to his right.
Peanut-the-cat keeps a keen watch from the safety of her bed. Meanwhile, Dutch sniffs out the scene.

Cat and puppy truce.

Peanut-the-cat lives with Andy's daughter Jen and her husband Jeff. We visited them over the holidays.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

And to all a good night...

FLD Dutch wishes everyone
a very
Merry Christmas!

May you find fuzzy love under YOUR tree!

Friday, December 21, 2012

All in good stride.

Career-changed Gus is super tolerant of young Mr. Dutch.

Straddle his back and chew his ears while he's laying down? No problem. When Gus gets tired of it he gets up and wrestles Dutch to the floor.

Dutch pauses in  his ear-chewing. Who me? I'm innocent.

Grab his rear ankles? No problem. Gus dances his way through the house on light feet and keeps on moving.

Swing from his tail? This doesn't seem to bother him at all.

Gus takes refuge on the couch, where he knows Dutch cannot go. Dutch still has hold of Gus's tail!

By the end of the evening, Gus is ready to relax. Dutch is not. We have to be careful--Gus jumps onto our laps to get away from the youngster, whether we're ready for him or not!

Andy relaxes on the couch after dinner. Gus plans his leap.

There is one thing, though, that Gus won't tolerate...

Keep away from my stick!

Anybody's guess

Andy says, "Dutch is going to make it."
             (He means as a working Leader Dog.)

How do you know? I ask.

"Because if he can stand up to Gypsy, he'll be just fine."

With every new puppy, my crabby old mutt Gypsy makes sure everyone knows who's boss. Lip curled, her worn-down teeth bared, she snarls and growls. This usually causes a new puppy to keep a wide berth.

Not Dutch.

FLD Dutch considers Gypsy's threat.

From a safe distance, he give her a Golden warble back.

Another Gypsy-under-her-breath-snarl and Dutch decides to hightail it out of there!

After a couple of weeks, a growing-bolder Dutch ignores Gypsy's warning to "leave Andy's shoes alone!"

Last night Dutch was curled up tight in a ball, his back tucked against the blue dog bed under Andy's desk.

Gypsy was in it.

And she wasn't snarling.
      (You'll have to take my word on this. When I went for my camera, they both got up and moved apart.)

Gypsy looks at me as if to say, "What's with this pup?"

Dutch sings another Golden tune and works his charms on the old girl.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Road trip!

FLD Dutch traveled downstate with me this past weekend. Everything is "new" for puppies, but this trip proved to be filled with exceptionally new experiences for the little guy. Okay, he is not so little--16.9 lbs at weigh-in for his second round of shots at Leader Dogs for the Blind.

An almost-five-year-old blond headed girl (my niece Zoey) holds a fistful of kibble. She just figured out that "Dtuz" will sit on her command. Dutch, a fuzzy 10-week-old Golden Retriever sits in front of her looking up in anticipation. Behind them are coats in a pile and hanging on hooks belonging to family members who came to the cookie bake.For instance, Dutch attended our family's annual cookie bake. Here he is sitting for my niece, Zoey, who had trouble saying his name.

Zoey learned that whenever she called "Dutz" he came running for her! (It might have been the kibble she clenched in her tiny fist.)

The blond five-year-old is sqatting with eyes closed, her right hand reaching for the floor for balance. The 10-week-old Golden Retriver puppy has one front paw on her knee. He might have just given her a puppy lick!
What a giggle erupted after a surprise puppy kiss!

FLD Dutch also hung out at Anderson Music during my niece Elaina's French Horn lesson. His head tilt was the epitome of "My Master's Voice" as her notes came pouring through the bottom crack of the door.

Later, he wasn't too sure about the music that came out of Natalie's tuba.

The fuzzy Golden Retriever puppy has his head inside the bell of a tuba.
What's in there?

The puppy has his head pulled out of the tuba like he wasn't sure what happened. My niece, Nataile is in the background with her fingers on the pads.
Whoa! What was that?!

Natalie is sitting on the floor about to blow her tuba. Black Lab "Rosie" is looking back at the camera with the white of her left eye showing. The puppy is in front of her looking away from the camera and at the tuba.
Natalie prepares to toot her tuba. Cc'd Rosie looks over as if to say, "This is going to be good!"

The puppy is sitting in the corner between a floor lamp and a cabinet. Mostly you can only see his head and his big black eyes.
One toot later and FLD Dutch is hiding in the corner.

My niece Sofia is sitting on the floor with the puppy, who is partially hidden behind a horn case.
Sofia coaxes Dutch out of the corner. He peeks around the horn case to see if everything is okay.

The black lab is licking the puppy's face as he sits behind the tuba, which is on the floor. The puppy's head is stretched back.
Rosie says to Dutch, "It's okay pup, don't be afraid, it's just a lot of air!"

Natalie is to the left and is petting the puppy, who is sitting near the tuba that is on the floor. My other niece, Claire, is sprawled out on the ottoman looking on.
Natalie lets Dutch check out the tuba.

The puppy is pawing the tuba with his right front paw.
Guess this big old horn isn't so bad after all!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Puppy photos

Just a few fun shots of my GROWING puppy.

Dutch has gained 3 pounds in less than two weeks!

A close up shot of  Dutch's fuzzy face as he's laying on the floor. His left front paw is holding down an ice cube.
FLD Dutch loves ice cubes almost as much as Scout did!

Dutch and Gus playing in our living room. Dutch has his nose wrinkled up, ears flopping and eyes closed. Gus has a moon eye with a wide open mouth full of big white teeth. It's all in fun, it just looks scary!
Sometimes Lab-wrestling looks scary!

Gus is laying on the floor licking a blue Kong that is between his front legs that are stretched out in front of him. Dutch is sprawled on Gus's back and he's biting on Gus's ear. Gus is too preoccupied to care.
Gentleman Gus puts up with the young upstart climbing on his back and chewing his ear. He has a Kong filled with kibble!

A side view closeup of fuzzy Dutch. Only his front legs and body is in the frame. He is in mid-jump in the snow, kicking it up behind him. His brown leash is under his belly.
First snow! Yippee!!!

A low frontal view of Dutch standing in the snow. He has some snow on his nose from digging around in it. His brown leash runs between his front legs. In the background is our full woodshed and a big oak tree.
What's that on your nose, Dutch?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

FLD Dutch, week 2

A typical training moment...

Dutch sits and cocks his head, his dark eyes melting my heart. When he doesn't get anything, he drops to his belly and ducks his head looking up as if to say, Will this "down" get me a treat?

Nope. We're working on "mat" this session.

He belly-aches at me and pops up to a "sit." That still doesn't get it. He mumbles. He gets up and circles around and happens to step on his mat against the wall.

YES! Dutch whips his head and trots over for his treat. He repeats with the sits and downs but quicker this time he goes over to the mat. I wait. He turns and sits.

YES! He bounces over for his treat and turns back to the mat, foregoing the sits and downs. At the mat he drops right into a "down."

YES! I bring the treat to him.
Dutch inhales the bit of kibble, flips around and bounds out of the room. I follow. He heads right for the back door. 

Yahoo! We're making progress! I clip on his leash and we're out the door to "park."

Gus wants in on the "mat" action.

Good old Gus puts up with the new pup!

Here, Dutch, let me show you how to do "mat."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Walking blind

Thomas Dockham is a nature photographer. His assistant is a black Labrador Retriever named "Bubba." As Dockham puts it, "The things he [Bubba] has allowed me to do, that I felt I could not do before I had him..."

Bubba is a Leader Dog. His job is to guide the visually impaired Dockham safely from place to place. Dockham set himself (and met) a goal of walking 1000 miles over this past summer to raise money for Leader Dogs for the Blind. Of course, that meant that Bubba had to walk too. Bubba has his own FaceBook page and this is what he posted a week or so ago:
Oh, I forgot. On August 13, I saved my client (my pal) from a bus that blew a red light...I have been taking him to the doctors for knee pain and they said he pulled a kneecap tendon and an IT Band. He's doing better, he finally is listening to the doctors and ME!!"
"But you know what," Dockham said, "I am alive. Because of HIM."

Dockham has put together a 22-page booklet, Walking Blind, A Different Point of View. The book contains photographs that Dockham has taken, with the help of Leader Dog Bubba.

I've got one on order. Dockham has promised me that he'll sign it, and get Bubba to put his paw-print on it too! 

To order one for yourself, or as a gift for others, visit Dockham's photography website here: Dockham Photography.

Good work, Bubba! (And you too, Thomas!)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tuesday's Training TIP: Learning

FLD Dutch is nine-weeks-old today. We've had him just over one week. He came to us already knowing how to SIT before being fed (although we need to work on holding that sit) and petted. And he's not too bad on a leash. Well, he's not afraid of it and doesn't fight it.

Dutch is learning every minute! I plan at least two short "training sessions" every day, but really, a young pup is like a sponge. Here's a list of some things he's learning every day:

1. name recognition--He's getting that pretty well, although when I started teaching him "touch" I discovered his name sounds like the command. He loves to run and find me when I call his name from another room.
2. sit--As I said, we're working on duration. He's learned to give me eye contact before he can bolt to his food dish, so we're making progress. He also sits before having the leash clipped on. We've also started working on "sit" from the "down" position.
3. wait--That coincides with the sit before meals, but also before I open his crate door so he's not rushing out like a banshee.
4. touch--He's catching on to this one so much so that whenever my hands are near he touches his nose to them!
5. leave it--I've started adding the "leave it" verbal cue and surprisingly he's responded to it a few times when he was trying to get into something he shouldn't, like the computer cords under Andy's desk.
6. park--He doesn't whip his head around to look at me anymore when I say "good park" as he's peeing--maybe he figures it doesn't get him a treat. Repetition is my friend. I'm learning his signals, and a few times he's headed for the back door on his own!
7. settle--Not sure he's "getting" this, but he does settle down pretty quickly when I stay after him. He loves his crate and settles in right away at night.
8. loose leash walking--Instead of only working on this when I'm out and about with him, I've taken to short walks in our driveway or down our road. Just to work on keeping a loose leash. I'm positive this will help. If he can't do this at home, he can't do it anywhere else!
9. stairs--He has no problem up or down the few steps out the back door. He needed some encouragement down our basement stairs, but raced right up them on the way back--he was off leash, so not a problem.

FLD Dutch is learning much more than I've listed. He's learning to leave our old crabby dog, Gypsy, alone and that cc'd Gus is okay to play with. He's learning to not chew on things that aren't Nylabone or Kong toys. Actually, he is learning so much it makes me dizzy!

He is even learning "down." Here is a short video showing his progress. I've been working with him several times a day for a few days and you can see how quickly he can learn!


Monday, November 26, 2012

Busy, busy, busy

*Warning...explicit photo of FLD Dutch at the end of this post.
FLD Dutch is making himself right at home.
Even on Gus's "mat."

Our first week with FLD Dutch...

Not enough trips outside to "park." Loose leash practice on the driveway and down the road in front of the house. Racing around with Gus in the yard. Nearly every day a short trip somewhere.

Here's a list:
  • visiting friends (one dog, one cat)
  • post office
  • bank
  • hair salon
  • winery
  • grocery store
  • coffee shop
  • Rose City Cafe
  • traffic work around "downtown" Rose City
FLD Dutch is more interested in my camera than holding his "sit" where I had posed him. But he kept a nice loose leash!

All in all, a very good first week. And...Dutch has let me sleep six hours at a stretch every night!

Good boy, Dutch.
Learning to ride on the passenger side floor.
All this learning makes for a very tired puppy. Looks like Dutch is completely comfortable here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Introducing....FLD Dutch!

Andy and I couldn't wait to get back to the north woods. Coming home, even after a fun-filled trip with family, is like a batch of warm chocolate chip cookies just out of the oven. By the enthusiastic leap into the van when we picked up Gypsy and Gus from my sister's, I think they felt the same way. (Thank you girls, for watching them for us!)

For one of us though, coming "home" was a totally new experience.

Future Leader Dog Dutch!

FLD Dutch wasn't sure about his two new furry buddies--Gus, who bowled him over in greeting, and Gypsy, who snarled at us as much as to the little guy. Not another one!

Before we passed Flint on I-75 N, Dutch was fast asleep, cuddled in my arms. The ride home on pick-up day is the only time I indulge; soon enough he'll learn to curl up at my feet on the passenger floorboard.

Dutch is the fifth puppy I am raising for Leader Dogs for the Blind, but my first Golder Retriever. He is eight weeks old today and weighs in at a hefty 12.8 lbs!

Dutch's first puppy-breath kiss!

So far, FLD Dutch seems to be a content and confident puppy. His breeding host family and LD volunteers have done a tremendous job helping him to realize that "SIT" gets you just about anything--pets, praise, treats, and sometimes dinner!

Gusto-Gus learns "gentle" with our new boarder, and is proving to be very generous. Here he is with a toy he brought for Dutch; when we went outside to "park" and check the furnace, Gus carried a log out of the woodshed and dropped it near him. Nice, Gus, but we don't need another dog emptying the woodshed!

Gypsy, on the other hand, created a different reaction from Dutch. When he approached her as she played with a toy, she gave a deep-throated growl. He hightailed it into his little crate. Smart puppy!

It doesn't take much to tire out a young pup. Dutch shows his preference for the soft-life.

We're in for a fun ride!

Sunday, November 4, 2012


A second email from Leader Dogs for the Blind came with news on FLD Scout...
The dog you raised D#13647 Scout has been in training for 5 weeks and has completed the first phase of training.  The instructor working with Scout has made the following comments about the puppy you raised: 
Scout is doing well at:
1.   takes treats nicely
2. being attentive to handler
3. has picked up curb work
Scout is working on:
1. vocal behavior
2. jumping on the handler when excited
3. scent distractions
4. has exhibited food possessiveness over food towards other dogs
This update lets you know how Scout is doing at this point in training.  Thank you for raising Scout  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 Scout has completed their 12th week of training.

Well, it's nice to hear. The things that Scout "is working on" is a bit worrisome to me, but mostly not a big surprise.

Remember my Tuesday's Training TIP: BE QUIET? FLD Scout was the noisiest puppy I ever raised. But she did come around with some "work."  Now that she's off to Leader Dogs, where her life might be more of a challenge, I'm not surprised that she's letting them know SCOUT IS HERE.

Hmmmmm. This was a thing she started not long before she left for her formal training at Leader Dogs. We did our best to ignore this attention-getting behavior.

I don't know how many times I thought, "Scout could be a search and rescue dog" when she stuck her nose into the air to catch a scent. Sometimes I wondered if she was part bloodhound her nose was so busy!

I didn't see this problem with Scout and food (check out my post about Labrador vultures).  But she was always quick to steal another dog's toy--except for the old girl, Gypsy. I never felt like she was aggressive about darting in to take a Nylabone away from Gus, or cc'd Rosie, just very, very fast.

Keep up the good work my little Scout. And mind your P's and Q's!

Here sits a very well-behaved FLD Scout in a one-room school house at the Ogemaw County Fair last July. Natalie and Sofia sit too.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

At 2 weeks...

Leader Dog "mom" Amber is being an excellent mommy. She keeps the puppies clean and fed. Their eyes are still closed.

And mostly, when they aren't eating, they sleep.


LD mom Amber takes a rest in the whelping box after most of her puppies had dinner. They eat, they fall asleep, they roll off mom.

They also like to sleep in a row.

Phyllis picks up a puppy so she can clip her nails. Eyes and ears are almost open and their snouts are getting longer!

Clip, clip, clip! This puppy is learning early not to fear the nail clippers.

The puppies doubled their weight in a week.

Aren't they precious?