Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Kristal & Kenna

Kristal met her sister today, for coffee. They are so alike it was a good job we had slightly different leads attached to them. At nine weeks old, both are a bit mouthy... ie. they've discovered they can BARK. I've had pups who got a real fright the first time they produced a proper bark. They nearly jump out of their skins. 'Where'd that come from?'  But not these two. I think they've been vocal from very young as their bark is quite strong and deep. Got to put a STOP to that!!!

They were very pleased to see each other, but I couldn't say that there was any recognition of a sibling connection. Oh joy! Just my size. Let me at her... sort of thing. Yep, you've got a better toy than me... well, we'll swap, shall we?

Before long our leads were entwined like knitting so we had to bring things to order. Calm and steady, calm and steady. Out of the puppy bag came the distraction chewy toy and peace reigned for a while.

When we got home Kristal insisted on giving me a helping hand with the washing! There's something organic about wet washing. The temptation is just too much. I have to remind her that she's a GUIDE dog not an ASSISTANCE dog.

Oh no! Not my Elle McPherson knickers... please.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Krazy Kristal

Okay... when I first started blogging I told myself that I wasn't going to devote these pages to doggy doings. But what can you do when you have a creature like Kristal in situ? Just a few more photos and then I'll put puppy capers on hold for awhile... but,  whoops.... no, hang on... I sense a wee coming up. Off we go... 'busy busy!'

All credit to her, she's been excellent at lettting me know when she wants to go out. You have to learn to recognize the signs, but the signs are definitely there. She will squeak at me and look up appealingly.  Once outside, and this amazes me, she rushes off around the corner of the house to the designated peeing place. This is at 8 weeks old.

She will now sit and WAIT in front of her dinner bowl until I blow my whistle. This is a conditioning ploy, so that later on when free-running, she will come to the sound of the whistle. It's a useful tool for blind people as they can't see in which direction their dog has run off when free running, or how far away the dog is. When a few of us puppy walkers are in a park together, if one person blows a whistle then ALL the pups will descend upon the whistle-blower and expect a treat. One puppy walker flat on her back, trampled by eager to please pups who all came when called.

Leadwork is coming along well, although Kristal  likes to carry a length of lead in her mouth, something we discourage Guide Dog pups doing, but she'll grow out of that. It's a comfort thing.

She has a natural curiosity about everything, and, in typical Labrador fashion, everything has to submit to the taste test. Shoes, in particular, hold enough scents to drive a dog nuts!

Oh, joy... a cardboard box. Who needs store-bought fancy toys? 

Royal Canin - that means there was food in here. Better check it out.

Can't see anything.

This needs a closer look. I'm going in.

There definitely was food in here.

Let me at it! Let me at it!

You never know who to believe these days.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Kristal's here - seven weeks old.

Guide Dog pup Kristal's arrived... and don't we know it! Two nights of constant barking, objecting to having the door closed on her indoor kennel. But hey, I have my kitchen cupboard knobs to protect. Don't let HER call the shots was the advice from my supervisor. Okay, so husband and I shared what turned out to be our last pair of ear-plugs. One each. It sort of worked. Then last night, night 3, she was fine. No crying no mess. She just needed to establish that when we go out of sight, we do turn up again.

As it happens, Sparky, our 3 year old ex pup, is still with us on his holidays and Kristal has immediately fallen in love, spurning the re-cycled mattress (pillow slip stuffed with old jumpers) I'd prepared for her in favour of snuggling down with him. He is so gentle that he just moves over to make room for her. This arrangement is alright while under supervision, but trustworthy and patient as he is, I'd never leave them unattended. Every dog has its limits, and Kristal's persistant searching for nipples in all Sparky's warm crevices might soon become too much for him. I won't take the risk.

I lost her at one stage on her first day. There she was out in the garden playing football with Sparky and giving him a good run for his money. It was when she started chasing him and hanging onto his tail that I had to step in and stop the game. Bold? Oh yes. I can see we have a little madam here with a mind of her own.

By coincidence, Kristal's sister, Kenna, is being puppy walked in the next village. I'm sure we'll meet up for outings together. It will be fascinating to compare progress and problems.

Kristal's already been out for her first coffee. And husband is confident that she will be a star attraction when I leave him standing outside a shop with her. (I usually emerge to find him surrounded by young women... he loves it.).

So, watch this space. Take note of the new spelling... she arrived minus the Y and with an I in her name... and don't for one minute be fooled by that put-upon expression.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New puppy - old house.

When selling a house and welcoming a new Guide Dog puppy coincide, life can get a bit hectic. Our new pup, Krystal, is due tomorrow and her arrival is coinciding with the first viewing weekend of our house sale. Mmmm! Two ways to look at this. Do you think of the pup as a selling point... to draw people in and make the place memorable... a bit like the Andrex puppies? Or do you take the advice of the agents and hide all evidence of dogs completely, especially their smell. But that seems crazy in a semi-rural property. Surely people coming here will want a dog, won't they?  Can we have a dog now, Mum? I can hear the kids in my head. (I have lots of potential buyers in my head.... just none on the ground, yet.) But no, agents assure me that the smell of coffee or bread baking (are you joking!) is preferable to the smell of dogs or puppy wee. And filling the air with the scent of floor cleaner and air freshener is a dead give-away that you're trying to cover up something.

Anyway, clearly a plan of action is required and husband needs to act quickly on my instructions as soon as the phone goes to inform us of a viewing. All puppy toys, bowls, blankets, 4-hourly feeds measured and bagged up, water, cleaning agents ... oh, and the puppy too.... will be bunged into the indoor kennel (cage) and the whole shebang lifted into the back of the car. Then we'll tootle off to who-knows-where until we get the 'all clear'.

Hang on, we've forgotten Sparky. Sparky is an ex-Guide Dog pup, now a 3 year old, who is having his holidays with us. He's a real gentleman, but boy, does he moult... so while husband is loading puppy et al into the car, I need to whip around with the vacuum cleaner and waft the doors open and shut a few times to encourage a bit of fresh air. Oh, and I mustn't forget a quick poo patrol in the garden. Guide Dogs are trained to use one area... but accidents happen.

Golly, gosh, I'm worn out already. And how many times are we going to have to go through this performance? It doesn't bear thinking about. And I bet husband will forget to put the toilet seat down.