Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Zane Train Part 1: My First Depot

Howdy Guide Dog Puppies,

Good morning, fellow pups.

So you want to be a guide dog? Have you really thought this through? I bet you are having some fun and probably lots of work at your first depot - your puppy raiser home.

This is your cuzzin, Zane, and I want to share a series of thoughts over the next few weeks on what it takes to be a guide dog, which I consider to be the highest calling for Labrador Retrievers.

I was born in February, 2006, I can tell you that once you leave your real Mom when you are about 5-6 weeks old, it's time for basic training with your puppy raiser family.

That's me in the picture with my new puppy rasier Dad, Gary - ain't I cute?! I was only two months old - still a baby!

I think I had the best family, but I have heard from several of your Moms and Dads that they are raising my cousins and this is an important part of your training. Let me share my story.

When I arrived at the Topanga kennels in mid-April, 2006, I was fed and given a room for the night with a few other lab pups. They barked a lot and I didn’t sleep well that night. The next day, my puppy raiser family, the Johnpeers, arrived to pick me up.

I met Gary, the Dad, Vicki, the Mom, and Katie and Kimberly, their daughters. Such a warm friendly and loving group of people - they just kept hugging me and really making me feel special.

Well, if I have to leave my Lab Mom, Kauai, these people sure seem like a great new family and the life of ease and relaxation, playing all day, eating all day, ah-h-h, this will be the life!

Boy, was I wrong!

They kept me on the floor of the car all the way home, although I really wanted to be on the seat where I could see better. They spoke softly to me and petted me a lot and kept saying “you are a handsome boy, Zane.”

They thought I might be scared, but it was not as bad as leaving my mother in San Rafael or the ride to Topanga inside a cage in a van or the night I spent at the Topanga kennels with all the other barking puppies and dogs.

What a surprise when we got home about an hour later to find that they have five other old cars! Maybe some of these other cars don’t smell so bad or make as much noise.

I felt like a movie star - pictures were taken upon my arrival and I soon pooped on their floor, which didn’t seem to make them too happy.

In fact, they wouldn’t let me pee inside the house either. Heh, what’s up? I usually just go potty when I need to. This is not fair!

They took turns taking me to the back yard to try to get me to go potty outside. They kept repeating “do your business” over and over.

"Do your business?"

I don’t even work yet . . . I’m too young . . . I don’t have a business!

I finally went potty just to shut them up. Then I heard them say “Good Boy!”

I heard someone else say they wanted to house break me. Sounds bad, but then after “doing my business” and getting that “Good Boy” response, I figured out going potty outside was a "good thing."

I especially like checking p-mail. Lots of good messages have been sent in their neighborhood. Oh, I sure would like to meet her! I could not believe that so many different dogs were on our street!

I learned quickly that I was not the only dog in this household. The expectation that I would always be the center of their attention quickly passed when I found out that the Johnpeers had other animals in the house.

Their pets, as they referred to them, include a big large eared Basset Hound and a fuzzy bob-tailed Cocker Spaniel. Harvey and Homer ware their names and they didn’t seem at all like the animals I had seen at San Rafael and Topanga.

But then I met my new buddy, Marcel. This guy looks just like my Dad, Baker. And he is so much fun! I get to run around and play hard with him, bite his ear, try to steal his toys. Wow, I’m really going to enjoy this new home!

My Step Dad, Gary, seems to treat them differently than me, something about them being pets while I’m supposed to be a “service dog”- whatever that means.

Oh yea, they also have something they call James, a yellow cat. Looks just like a fur ball to me. And this strange fuzzy thing doesn’t seem to like me much (or anyone else in the house for that matter), except maybe for Katie, the oldest daughter that feeds him.

Their house is an interesting place. It has two stories which means it has a set of stairways that lead to the upper level, where I sleep. With my short little eight-week-old legs, I couldn’t even get up to the first stair. Let me share more about this in Part II.

If those of you reading this would like to share your stories about being a puppy and going to a new home for training, as I am sharing, please do. I would love to hear from you!

Becoming a guide dog is a special calling. It took a community of LOVE to make me who I am today.

Big Licks & Belly Rubs,

1 comment:

Emily and Suede said...

It's great to hear about your adventures back in the days of your puppy raising! Can't wait for more :)