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Guide Dog Puppy – Day 1

January 6, 2012
Guide Dog Puppy

Guide Dog Puppy puts carer under paw.

The Family limey received a 7 week old Golden Labrador Yesterday. This puppy is destined to become a Guide Dog and so is not a regular pet at all, or even a pet for that matter, this will be a working dog and he will need to be treated as such.

We’ve never had a dog of any sort before so this will be a challenge for us, but something that we are looking forward to.

As a child my family had several dogs over the years. In Zambia this was a necessity for a white family, for security reasons. So these dogs were not treated as pets either. They were guard dogs, they lived outside and the garden was large enough to not require them to be taken out for walks.

So all in, this is going to be a new experience for us and I will be putting occasional updates on the experience.

Getting Approved

Since it is my wife who will be taking the biggest responsibility in the care and training of the puppy, it was her who did the interview with the Guide Dog Association and received the approval. It was a relaxed check, basically to assess the suitability of our house and us as a family. We were also given a brief run through of the responsibility of caring for a Guide Dog in its first year.

There are rules

This puppy is not ours; we only get to look after it for the first year. There is a point to this first year of training, the puppy needs to be trained and prepared for life as a guide dog. Everything we do with the puppy during this first year is with the aim of turning this puppy into an effective Guide Dog in the future.

We have to toilet train the puppy to go in a specific place in the garden, this is because you can’t expect a blind person to clean up after their Dog while they are out and about. We also have to make an effort to get the puppy used to crowds in various different places, shops, public transport, basically as many public places as we can.

While play is allowed, we are not to play fetch games with the puppy as he has to learn to come to the owner on command. We also have to train him with a whistle, to eat on a whistle blow and to return to us on a whistle blow.

This is by no means a complete list of our responsibilities for the next year, but it does give an indication of our role as carers and not owners.

We will have regular contact with and support from the Guide Dog Association so we are not in this alone.

Personally, I am looking forward to the challenges to come, it won’t be easy and it’ll certainly be a change to our normal everyday life.

First time didn’t work out

We were originally supposed to get a puppy back in November last year (2011) but on the day before he was due to arrive we received a phone call to say he had a heart murmur and had been withdrawn from the programme. We later heard that he had been put down.

Puppy’s First Day

Yesterday was second time lucky for us and puppy arrived as promised with a handler and we were given a run down on what to achieve in the first few weeks. We’re told he is a small puppy and at the lowest weight that puppies are typically given out to their first carers.

With daughter and school and the wife out for an appointment I had the pleasure of a few hours alone with puppy in our kitchen on his first afternoon with us.

He seems a quiet and relaxed puppy and seemed to want to spend a lot of time getting attention from me. It wasn’t long before he was tired, but I couldn’t get him to rest in his dog cage. He kept getting out and seeking the warmth of my body. Eventually I was able to let him doze off and then transfer him into the cage for his nap.

Those first few hours appear to have made an impression on him and now the first sign of him being tired is him seeking out my lap and curling up.

As part of the package of stuff we received with him, we were given a cut off from his early-days blanket. This is a blanket his mother and brothers and sisters all slept on. We put this in his dog cage last night to try and encourage comfort and familiarity; however he seems to be ignoring it completely after giving it a brief cursory sniff.

First Tasks

Our first tasks are to get the puppy used to hearing the whistle and food time and to get him to do his toilet outside in the garden. We have to associated the word ‘busy’ with wee and ‘big busy’ with poo. Its not gone so well yet, but then it is January and its cold outside and he certainly is not liking that.

It is early days and we’ll have to see what the next few weeks bring.

  1. Congratulations on day 1 of puppy walking! How was your first night? It sounds like our two puppies arrived on the same day, maybe from the same litter. Rochester is one of 12; mum Odelle, Dad Rosco.

  2. limey permalink

    Hi and thanks for the comment.

    You beat me to it, I was about to make a similar comment on your blog. I showed it to my wife and we agreed our dogs were likely to be siblings. The parent names to match so you have confirmed it for us.

    Our Puppy is called Tout.

    First night was good, he went to sleep quickly and quietly and we didn’t hear anything until 5 this morning.

  3. I just got my eight week old puppy yesterday. I didn’t take him out yesterday to go potty as it was his first day with me and I wanted him to feel a bit more comfy before I made a lot of demands on him. So, I took him out today, he just sat and shivered in the cold. 😦 It is very cold here in Wyoming too! He is so tiny, and looked so forlorn sitting out there in the cold. (I went out too so I understand how he felt!) Will see how it goes. Good luck with your puppy! 🙂

    • limey permalink

      Thanks, and good luck with your too.

      I suspect its not quite as cold here in England, but it is cold enough to put this little puppy off when it comes to doing his stuff outside.

      We’ve not taken him out on the lead to explore yet as he’s not had his full set on injections. So he’s only seen our garden at the moment.

      • Yep, he doesn’t like going out in the cold one bit. I understand, don’t want to either. 🙂

        I bought the smallest collar I could find, it is still too big. Someone mentioned a cat collar. Might have to try that. Have you taken the dog out yet?

        • limey permalink

          The Guide dog association gave us a lead and collar to use so we didn’t have to worry about that one. The collar he has is quite lose, even on the smallest hole; not lose enough to slip off though.

          We have taken him out for a short walk around the block, but not on a lead; we’ve carried him. We’re told we can do that, but not walk him where there will have been other dogs until his next jabs. He’ll get those in 2 weeks so not long now.

          • I will find one, eventually. I am not taking him out very much. It has snowed here and is going to again. He is so small, with those short little legs his tummy, and other parts, touch the snow. 😦 So I don’t think it is a good idea at the moment. I wouldn’t like someone placing my tummy in the snow.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. The puppy, no name as of yet. My project for Project 365, a photo a day of the new puppy! Day 1 | Four Blue Hills (A repository, of sorts)
  2. Guide Dog Puppy – The First Weekend « A limey's ramblings
  3. Guide Dog Puppy – Week 1 « A limey's ramblings
  4. Guide Dog Puppy – Month 2 « A limey's ramblings

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