We brought Ferris home today! He was one of a litter of five (all black), and the others were Fia, Foxy, Fletcher and Frankie. Louise, who is in charge of puppies at GDA, told me that Fletcher is the “least attentive” of the litter and we may need to use more treats to get him motivated! Also that he loves water, which he proved by attempting to swim with at least two paws in his water bowl whenever possible.
The short car ride home went smoothly. The introduction between Ferris and Archie was also successful (we used a baby gate in the kitchen to separate them).
I wish potty training were going as well. GDA wants their dogs to always be on a leash when they relieve themselves. I think Ferris has already had five pee accidents in the house. But he has gone outside four times as well! He pees A LOT more than Archie did as a puppy.
So he will be sleeping in the crate next to our bed tonight. Hoping there’s not too much crying or waking up. I’ll let you know tomorrow!
Since I know my reading and writing time will be hampered next week by our PUPPY (!), I thought I’d study the GDA Workbook. The skills we are supposed to focus on for week one include crate training, learning “sit,” housetraining, and Ferris learning his name. Since these are all skills we successfully taught Archie (our three-year-old pet Lab), I am feeling (foolishly?) confident about these.
One aspect we need to focus on, though, is not using treats every single time. Archie is extremely food driven, and definitely looks for a treat every time he performs. With a Guide Dog puppy, it’s important that they don’t come to expect a food reward, so we need to use them more sparingly and randomly.
I am bracing myself for the first few nights. The puppy is required to sleep in a crate next to our bed. I am hoping he doesn’t cry all night, but sometimes that’s what happens. I’ll let you know!
It’s Wednesday night and we go to GDA (Guide Dogs of America) on Friday to pick Ferris up. I am simultaneously very excited and terrified. We’ve been watching the GDA puppy cam pretty obsessively over the past week. They showed a lot of Ferris’s litter, which is fun. Ferris is part of the “F” litter, so we sent in four “F” names (Fargo, Ferris, Finley and Franklin), and GDA picked one. They won’t use a name that another puppy has recently used, and they want to make sure it’s something appropriate for a Guide Dog.
I got our puppy raisers’ handbook tonight at the monthly meeting. There’s one section for each week so you know what you should (and shouldn’t) be doing as your puppy grows. Guide Dog puppies are not allowed to get on the furniture, play with tennis balls, eat table scraps, be called by a nickname, or go potty without being on leash, among other things. I think the no table scraps is going to be the toughest for our family.
We will have Ferris until he is about 18 months old, at which point he will return to GDA for assessment and advanced training. If he passes all his health and training clearances, he will be matched and become a working Guide Dog. If he fails, he will become a career change dog, and we have first right to adopt him. There is allegedly a six-year-long waiting list to adopt a career change dog!
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