Puppy walking

An adventure in looking after a puppy until it is old enough to be properly trained as a guide dog for the blind.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Rockwell is now seven months old!

So this blog entry is about assessing what has happened up until now. Based on a comment yesterday, I went back to look at my entry of October 17, the one about Rockwell being a mad dog. I re-read it and realized that I had genuinely been afraid of his “devil dog” behaviour. At the time, I talked about it at length with the Puppywalking Supervisor and she was almost nonchalant about it - she said all puppies do this. Well, I had not experienced it (that I remembered) with Uma so it was new to me. Her advice was to put him in the crate when he got like that and then he couldn’t hurt himself or me. My problem with that advice (at the time) was that sometimes I couldn’t even catch him to put him in the crate! Anyway.

In re-thinking this problem now, I realized that here it is, 3 months later and Rockwell doesn’t even do this any more! Oh, occasionally after a walk he tears around upstairs (where he can get a footing on the carpet) and when I ask him to please calm down, he sighs and gets his bone to chew on. Very interesting to look back on a problem and realize that it has disappeared on its own. I figure he has simply outgrown it, as the PW Supervisor suggested he would.

I have also been second-guessing my raising of Rockwell, based on the comment. But this morning, I decided not to worry. It was about 7:30 and I heard him wake up. He gives himself a thorough hind-leg scratch. Then he gets up and moves to a new spot and does some ablutions. Finally, he comes over to my side of the bed and puts one front paw up and then the second and lays his chest across my legs, rolling his head to one side and happy to be just looking at me. I pet him and we just lie there for a moment and then he gets off and goes over to wake Peter up the same way. He licks our arms when we take them out from under the covers to fend him off. He is a happy puppy.

I remember what the PW Supervisor said: Whatever we goof up in the training, they can retrain him. What he really needs in his first year from us is lots of loving. And he is getting that.
Keeping me company.


At 9:59 a.m., January 21, 2006, Blogger Katherine said...

It sounds like he is doing really well - a credit to you and your hard work! Sampson wakes me up every morning in a very similar way - coming over to the bed, tail wagging furiously, licking any appendage within range. It's hard to start any day off bad when you see how darn happy dogs are every single day.

At 6:04 p.m., January 21, 2006, Blogger JuliaR said...

Thanks Katherine. They ARE always happy, aren't they?

At 8:00 p.m., January 21, 2006, Blogger L^2 said...

Hi Julia,
I'm just getting caught up on what's been going on the last couple of days with your command "issue". After reading all of the comments, all I can say is, I have a really hard time believing that everyone's dogs (pet or otherwise) are really as perfect as some blog authors try to lead their readers to believe. Otherwise, compared to them, Stella is/was the worst behaved puppy ever! However, as long as the dog guide organization is happy with your "job performance" with Rockwell nothing else matters.
I also think it is wonderful that you are able to get advice and assistance directly from the source (in person) whenever you need it so that you don't have to rely on others who may or may not be "qualified" to give training advice. I am very surprised at how often you mention a supervisor’s visit (every week or two?). Does the organization do this with ALL of their puppywalkers, or do you just happen to live close enough to the facility for them to want to visit you all the time? Just curious and impressed if they are physically/financially able to do this with everyone. Willow's school has hundreds of puppy raisers all over the the U.S. – they would never be able to afford to send staff members to visit each puppy and foster family so frequently!
Keep up the good work with Rockwell, and keep us posted on all the good and the not so good stuff too. :-)

At 11:42 p.m., January 21, 2006, Blogger Amy and Winter said...

I agree with you that the knowledge given to your by your organization is the most important. The advice that I gave you was just that...advice. Which means that it was an opinion of mine. When I wrote my comment I wasn't trying to imply that I was "qualified" to tell you what to do and I certainly wasn't in a bad mood. I enjoy helping people out, and I am happy to think that I know a bit about dogs. I also know that I have never met
Rockwell (although you describe him quite well on the blog, and he seems like a great dog)and that you have never met me before and are true in saying that people like me are "not ultimately responsible for him and his well being". Please know, that although you can't prove it :P I only want the best for your boy, and love reading your blog. Unlike your group, mine only meet every 6 weeks at best. Therefore advice from fellow raisers is greatly apreciated. As Laura mentioned, dogs aren't perfect all the time. I agree with that, and "puppies will be puppies" and deserve to be. None of my dogs have been
perfect, or ever will be for that matter..but to me they are just fine. The ones I train for the foundation do not get all the same liberties as pets though and they have no idea what they are missing out on, which is how it should be. They are by no means deprived of any love. We all learn from our
mistakes and things happen for a reason. Just try your best and always think of the future.

Buhbye, Amy and Winter (I like to catch snowballs too Rockwell!)

At 12:47 a.m., January 22, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Follow up to I^2's comments

You're right......none of us have perfect pet dogs or foster puppies. I have a dog in my home that went through formal SSD training and is quite the handful at three years of age (she was DQ'd for medical reasons). I've taken her through two rounds of obedience and still have problems with her-she's not consistent at all. Molson on the other hand, is a one in a million dog-his only downfall is a barking problem which is partly contributed to his breed (border collie) and he only barks when he's happy and playing. I wasn't trying to imply any of my dogs/puppies are perfect, nor am I an expert on training. After having four puppies in 4 years (2 who were very difficult to work with), I've learned some tricks that make things easier for me and was only trying to pass on something that might assist a fellow puppy raiser.

Julia, sorry if it came across any other way.

At 7:50 a.m., January 22, 2006, Blogger JuliaR said...

Hi Amy. Thanks for your comment that you left at 11:42pm yesterday [what were you doing up so late? :) ]. I was not upset by your advice at all. In fact that’s why I made the comment that I did which followed it. And when I re-read your first comment, I saw it was actually an explanation of why the “come” command is so important, which I agree with.
And Gwiz, your comment didn’t come across any other way than how it was intended so don’t even think about it. As you probably know, it was David’s comment that made me stop and think. I left a follow-up comment on his blog (which he referred to in his second comment). I did that because I wasn’t sure he read follow-up comments and I wanted to be sure he saw what I had to say which was as follows:
“David, I wonder about your recent comment on my blog where you wrote “and I for one have never been too proud to accept advice or constructive criticism.” I hope you don’t think I was rejecting Amy’s advice. The thing is, as I said to her, I DO know how important these things are and that’s why I was blogging about it. The first dog I raised for Guide Dogs was rejected for “food aggression”, a behaviour she had never shown in all the time she was with us. It came out during her stay in kennels. It didn’t make it less disappointing however, as we had really tried to make her the best guide dog puppy she could be. We’re now working just as hard and hopefully smarter, on Rockwell, to make sure he passes and goes on to become a useful guide dog. All advice is welcome.”
Not very alarming, I thought. So I did let myself get upset by his second comment. I don’t know if he intended to be so critical which is why I tried to make my comments so measured. Sometimes, what we write can have unintended consequences. I have seen this in emails and I have seen people get extremely angry with each other, just because of “tones” in emails, which may or may not have been intended. I didn’t want my blog or the comments section to disintegrate as I have seen some blogs do so I wrote the entry above, which I also tried to make calm and cool. Anyway!
As a final follow-up to Laura as well, yes, Rockwell’s school sends out someone to visit every two weeks, three at the outside. They are very involved and are there to help the volunteers (we puppywalkers) every time they are needed. So I am well supported and Rockwell is doing fine. I would like to thank all of you guys who gave me your support when I was was second-guessing myself here and we shall carry on from here!

At 8:37 p.m., January 22, 2006, Blogger David said...


I stand by all my previous comments and I invite you and any of the others who have commented to debate me on my own blog. http://davidanddogs.blogspot.com



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