Sunday, January 31, 2010

Golden Gate Kennel Club Dog Show

Since I don't have Reyna right now, I decided to go San Francisco today and attend the Golden Gate Kennel Club Dog Show at the Cow Palace. It was a great show, and there were so many Labradors!! I have been around "guide dog" labs for so long, that seeing these labs at the show made me realize how different our labs look from other labs. First off, these labs were stocky and square. They all were some much wider than the guide dogs, and they all looked over weight! The other big difference was their coat. Guide dog labs have a much smoother coat. The labs at the show had coats more like a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. Seeing these labs made me realize how much our guide dog labs have a look of their own. It must be that fabulous breeding program at GDB!

A yellow and a black lab at the dog show
A large yellow lab in a crate looking at the camera smilingThree yellow labs at the dog show.  Two are in laying down in crates and one is standing outside of the crate. These are some BIG labs!
There were many other breeds at the show, and here are some pictures of a few of my favorites.

A large male golden retriever in his crate

Bassett Hounds
Two bassett hounds sleeping after a long day at the showA bassett getting some affection and loving it The bassett who win first place in it's class And my absolute favorite.....Dalmations!

A black spotted dalamtion standing and posing for the photoA dalamtion in a crate snuggled up on a red bed Dogs Rule!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

School Preparations. . . A post from Judi!

Reyna is going to start going to school with James, so Judi is slowly introducing her to everything associated with that, inculding the bus ride. Here is an update from Judi:

James and Reyna standing in front of the bus
Just thought I would let you know how our trip to the bus went. Had a little of everything....lots of cars going by both ways. Reyna was really good. She sat with James and his friends. There were the two kids with James and then there was a group of kids who were really out of control. We avoided the group that was out of control. Reyna was great when the bus came. She walked up and looked at as if she was ready to get on with James. (Not yet, but soon Miss Reyna!) We walked back and encountered a huge truck and trailer. I put her in a sit on the corner to watch it because of the noise. Two bicycles went by and she had no reaction to them. Yay!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Missing Reyna

Reyna is with Judi and James this week. My house is just so quiet without Reyna here. The quiet house makes me really miss her. The break is nice, but Reyna has so much personality that I really feel the void when she is not here. These are the things I miss:
  • Her happily greeting me at the door
  • Her tail that wags like a propeller
  • Her brown eyes looking up at me
  • Her snuggles
  • Her playfulness
  • When she puts her head in my lap over and over again to get my attention
  • Our walks together
  • Playing tug with her
  • Holding her nylabone wishbone while she chews it
  • The way she is like Velcro to me, following me everywhere
  • The way she stops when we are walking in house to let me get in front of her
  • Her snoring
  • The sounds of her dreams
  • Her dinner dance

Good thing Judi sends me email updates to let me know how Reyna is doing and what they have been up to. I'll post that here as soon as I get one.

A Quacking Penguin?

(Pictured is a stuffed Penguin that was used as a distraction at our club meeting)

Last night we went to our club meeting and the theme was distractions. They brought out all kinds of distractions, such as a cone, a bowl of dog food, a stuffed cat, and a walking Penguin. Reyna ignored all of the distractions, except for the walking Penguin. This Penguin quacked like a duck, and that really caught Reyna's attention. She didn't go after it or anything, she just stared at it very intently until I was able to redirect her attention. I think it was the quacking that really captured her interest, after all, she is a bird dog!

(Pictured is a dog's head on a birds body)
Probably one of the hardest things we do with these dogs is teach them to ignore their natural instincts. They have to learn to focus on their work and ignore their urge to get distracted by the birds and the quacking Penguins!

Monday, January 25, 2010

"Nice or not so nice"

I love the fact that puppy raisers are now able to use marker training. It is one of the most powerful tools when it comes to training dogs. As of right now, we are using marker training with the "go to bed" command. Many puppy raisers are also using marker training for certain issues they are having with their dog. The use of the marker training is done on a case by case basis, with approval from our CFR. How it works is that instead of using a clicker, we use a verbal marker (the word "nice") when we get the behavior we want to mark. One of the cardinal rules of marker training is that if you say the word "nice" you must ALWAYS give the dog a treat. Even if you have marked the wrong behavior. When the pup hears the verbal marker "nice" it is basically a promise to your dog that you will be giving them a food reward.

Here is my problem. Reyna has been trained with the verbal marker "nice", so she knows that word and she is very in tune with it when she hears it. She knows exactly what it means, she will get a treat! Well, when Reyna and I where at graduation, we where with two people who were using the food protocol with their dogs. So Reyna kept hearing the other handlers saying the word "nice", and she thought it was marking her behavior and she kept looking up expecting a treat. It was really hard and actually disruptive and confusing for her. All she kept hearing around her was "nice", "nice", "nice". This was really confusing her and it was making her a little irritated. What is the best way to handle this situation, from the dogs point of view? I did not have the option to leave, because I was riding with one of the puppy raisers who was using this protocol with her pup. So by the end of the day, Reyna thought the word "nice" was really "not so nice" Any suggestions?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Reyna in the Rain !!

(Pictured is Reyna wet in the rain in her puppy coat during our walk)
Despite her name, Reyna does not like the rain. So I have been making a point to take her out on walks when it is raining. Today it was raining, so Reyna and I headed out for a walk. I noticed when we were walking that although Reyna does not like the rain, she is starting to tolerate it well. I even made her walk through some puddles today. That sort of excited her at first, like she wanted to play and splash in the puddles. But after I gave her a correction, she settled right down and started walking through the puddles.
We were both completely soaked by the time we came back from our walk. But it is really important that the guide dog pups learn to work in the rain. Glenda and Wendy are out everyday, rain or shine. I went walking with them the other day and we got caught in a huge down pour. It was really bad, but Wendy was required to keep working regardless of all of the wind and rain. It was at this moment I realized how important it is to socialize and work the pups in the rain.
(Pictured is Wendy with her rain coat and boots on before our walk in the rain)

(Pictured is Reyna standing in the leaves in the rain)

Reyna was the type of dog who despised even getting her feet wet, but she has come a long way! I hope this inspires you to get out there in the rain and walk those pups :-)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Who says Guide Dogs can't learn to drive?

(Pictured is Reyna in the car looking out of the window as if she is driving)

Today we went to the Guide Dog graduation on the San Rafael campus. Reyna was riding in the back seat on the floor, until about half way over there. She then decided she wanted a driving lesson. She put her front two feet up on the space between the driver and the passenger seat, and stood there as if she was getting a driving lesson! She was very observant of the windshield wipers as well as the other cars on the road. Then miss Reyna caught a glimpse of herself in the rear view mirror and she got really happy about that. I realize this was not exactly Guide Dog appropriate, but who could resist when she did this.

(Pictured is Reyna sitting in the back seat of the car with her head resting on my shoulder)

Well, I sure couldn't. At least not for a few minutes. She was so sweet just resting her head on my shoulder like that. What a love! Aside from the driving lesson, Reyna had a day full of great socialization. We went to the graduation, and Reyna had to work a little bit to keep her composure around so many other dogs. Especially the breeder dogs that kept coming up to her. Once she settled down, a working Guide was behind her sniffing her butt the entire time! So it was hard for Reyna to lay still with that going on for over an hour and a half, but she did it! The same working Guide actually tried to hump her a few times! Yikes! After the graduation we socialized for a bit then we went over to BJ's for a late lunch. After that we came home, then we went back out to dinner. She was such a trooper today! Good girl, Reyna!

Friday, January 22, 2010

My secret to happiness!

When my son, Tyler, came home from school today he said he was feeling a little down. There was no reason in particular for him feeling this way, he just felt blue. So I gave him a hug and went to heat up some left over Chinese food for lunch. After I was done eating, I looked over and saw this:

(Pictured is Tyler laying on the floor. Reyna and Starling are asleep on top of him, covering him like a blanket.)

Now isn't this the best medicine? A blanket of Labradors. That is my secret! The love that radiates from these pups is the best therapy for anyone feeling a little down. Now matter how blue I feel, puppy love ALWAYS makes me feel better.....every time. These dogs seem to know just when you need a Labrador blanket. The pups sensed that my son was upset and they covered him in puppy love. This is my secret to happiness and I wanted to share it with you! Wrap yourself up with a Labrador blanket next time you need a boost of happiness.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Review of the Blue Kongs

Wendy's handler, Glenda bought four of these new kongs. These are suppose to be stronger than the black extreme kongs. Glenda said she gave one to Wendy and she destroyed it within 3 minutes! She gave me the other three kongs for Reyna and Starling to try. Starling had pieces coming off of it within 5 minutes. So far Reyna is the only dog who has not destroyed the blue kong, but she is not a strong chewer. So I am not impressed with the blue kong at all. If your dog is a stronger chewer, stay away from the blue kong and get a Goughnut!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Passed with flying colors!

(Pictured is a close up of Reyna's face and she is looking up at the camera)

Reyna had her one on one evaluation tonight. Tami, our CFR, was impressed with her. She was most impressed with Reyna's leash responsiveness and how nicely she walked on a loose leash. Tami said Reyna was like butter on a leash and she also said Reyna was like a Porsche (vs. a truck). Tami was also very impressed with Reyna's low distraction level. When we arrived, Tami was working with one of the pups on dog distraction. They were using Reyna as the distraction. Reyna stayed in a down as the other pup lunged at her and tried to engage her. She was sooooo good! She didn't move an inch or react. After that we walked around and Tami tried to get a reaction from Reyna by bouncing a ball at her, squeaking toys, putting cheese on the floor, making funny noises and putting a dog food bowl with a really yummy smelling treat at her feet. She wasn't going to be fooled by Tami's distractions.

I asked Tami when she thought Reyna would be recalled back to Guide Dogs, and she said she thought it would be around 15 months. She also thought it would be a good idea of James (one of my co-raisers) started taking Reyna to school with him. That will be a great experience for her. So there was nothing we really needed to work on at this point. Reyna is doing awesome! She made me very proud :-)

Is it self preservation or genetics?

Contributed by: Dianne B. Phelps

Stephanie and Tony brought Reyna to my home for a visit the other day. They were helping me with some computer issues, and Reyna came for a play time with my working guide dog, Hibiscus and to visit my retired guide, Primrose. Reyna and Hibiscus had a blast playing and showing off for the humans who were watching.

(Pictured is Reyna and Hibiscus laying next to each other at a guide dog graduation)

At one point in the afternoon, Reyna acted as though she might want outside. So, I offered to take her. I am not convinced she really did anything for I was afraid to touch her on her back when she stopped moving as I do with my own grown dogs. On the way back inside, Reyna and I were positioned so that as we walked back into my house, if she walked straight ahead she would have to walk into some patio chairs which sit to the left of where we were. In this situation, Reyna, a puppy, could have stopped or jumped up and into the chairs to find her way out or what she actually did which was to move to the right strongly in an effort to clear her around those chairs. When this nine-month-old pup did this, I was absolutely amazed because she felt like my current guide dog, Hibiscus and retired guide before, Primrose doing the same thing.

Guide dogs aren’t usually expected to guide with just the leash, but in a heel, most guides tend to walk slightly forward of the blind handler, and if something is in the way, they do react to it much as they would in harness. I always see this as the sign of a really good guide and was totally amazed to see this action and body communication from a nine-month-old puppy. Had we been farther to the right with the chairs on the right in our way, I doubt she would have tried to clear me in this way, but because of our position, it caused her to move both of us just as a fully trained guide would with all the strength and communication I usually experience with my fully trained dogs.
(Pictured is Reyna and Hibiscus laying down and Reyna is using Hibiscus as a pillow)

All I can say is, “Good job! Reyna!. You are well on your way to becoming a guide with this demonstration!” We will never know for sure whether this was simply Reyna’s need for self preservation or whether a certain type of guide dog intelligence is in the genetic code of these pups.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Let's light Reyna up!

I realized I haven't posted anything about Reyna during Christmas time. I guess that is because I did not have her over Christmas, she was with James and Judi. I did manage to take this photo of her, so I thought I would share it.

(Reyna sitting in front of a christmas tree wrapped in christmas lights)

Monday, January 18, 2010

One On Ones

This Wednesday is Reyna's one on one evaluation with Tami, our CFR (community field Rep) from Guide Dogs. It is a way for Tami to see Reyna's progress and identify any issues she may be having. These evals are always sort of nerve racking for puppy raisers, because we want our pup to do really well. I think Reyna will do fine, but you never really know until it is over. Reyna has had some issues with silver reflective type surfaces and I wanted to talk to Tami about this.

But tonight I took her out and she walked right over a silver surface without any problem! Good girl, Reyna. That surface used to really freak her out, but all of a sudden she is fine with it. So I'll keep my eye on this, but I don't think it will require any special protocols at this point. Reyna is with Judi and James right now, so it is pretty quiet in my household. Wish us luck at our one on one!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Reyna learns "Go to Bed"

Reyna was having a little trouble with this command. She thought part of the command was to jump and spin in circles, then lay down on the bed. My puppy leader asked that I work on this command and see if I could teach her not to jump and spin. The goal is to have her walk to the bed, lay down and stay with just one "go to bed" command. The idea is that I could give her this command when someone comes to my door. She would go to bed and lay there as I let my guest in, and then I would release her once my guest is inside. Oh, and this is one of the commands puppy raisers can use food with. Click the video to see the results! (She does it perfectly!)

Yay ! A Post From Judi

I would like to add how wonderful Reyna is around babies and little ones. She has been so good and patient with both of our Grandchildren 18 months old. They now practice telling each other to sit, and go to her bed. They point, say her name and tell her to sit. She is a wonderful addition to our household and as a first time raiser, co-raising her was the best decision.
(Reyna laying on the grass with her puppy coat on)
She has been pretty lazy this weekend with the rain but very busy watching Grandchildren run back and forth. She has taught them not to leave food on the floor for her, and to give gentle pats. They lay down next to her and talk to her, and their favorite thing to do is take turns locking themselves in her crate. She finds this very amusing.

Reyna's life Changes. . . . .

Last November, the person who was co-raising with me decided it was in Reyna's best interest if she no longer co-raised. This was a difficult decision on her part, to say the least, but in the end I supported her decision. At this point, I was not sure what I was going to do. From my perspective, I had two choices. I could raise Reyna full time, or I could find another puppy raiser who wanted to co-raise Reyna. I decided that it would be best for Reyna if I found someone to co-raise with me. I was at the point where I could not take her to work with me everyday, and I would feel bad about her being left alone during the day.

(Close up of Reyna laying on her bed with her head tilted)

During the time when her first co-raiser was thinking about not raising her anymore, Reyna was on a five night puppy sit with a new puppy raising family. This family happened to be my husband Tony's employer. Well, after some discussion, they decided that they would like to step up and help out with Reyna. It would be beneficial to both of us. It would benefit them by starting off with an older dog, rather than a puppy, and they could learn more about raising before they got their own puppy. It benefited me by having help with Reyna when I was working, etc.

As it turned out, this new arrangement has been a wonderful partnership. Reyna's new co-raisers are Judi and James Rowe. They are doing a very nice job with Reyna. Reyna has responded very well to this transition and we now have consistency between both households, which is really important when co-raising. Thank you to James and Judi for joining us in raising Reyna! I am hoping they will be posting their experiences with Reyna here as well.

Halloween and our "Queen"

Our puppy club has a Halloween party every year. We are asked to dress our dogs up in a costume that represents their name. We are told this actually has a purpose in training the pups. It teaches them to be tolerant of things on their body, which helps reduce body sensitivity! So knowing that Reyna means "Queen" in Spanish, we couldn't resist this one. Take a look!

(Reyna in a royal dress complete with a crown on her head!)

It's Official!

(Reyna in a sit with her guide dog puppy coat on for the first time)

Reyna's receives her official Guide Dog puppy coat. This means that she is ready for the socialization part of her training. I believe she is around 12-14 weeks old in this photo. She loved that puppy coat from the first day we put it on her. To her, it means that we are going out and doing something FUN! To this day, when she see me grab the puppy coat, she comes running!

Reyna learns to swim

(Reyna in the water on the step of the swimming pool, cooling off)

When Reyna was about three months old, it was in the middle of summer and it was HOT! On this particular day, it was about 108 degrees. So I decided to introduce Reyna to the pool....and she loved it!

(Reyna swimming off of the step into Tyler's arms)

Things I love about Reyna

This was something I wrote a couple months after we got Reyna.

(Reyna laying on her bed doing her head tilt!)

The sound she makes every time she yawns
The way she looks up at me and smiles when we are on a walk
Her speckled nose
They way she always wants to have her head on my foot
The way she breaths when she is sleeping
Her sleepy face
Her droopy brown eyes
Her kisses
The crease between her eyes
The sound of her pattering feet
The way she tilts her little head
Her dinner dance

Little Reyna

Reyna progressed with her training, and we worked with her to realize that she was NOT the queen of the house. After a few weeks, she accepted that fact and she became a real joy. Reyna did very well on tie down and in her crate.

(Reyna sleeping on a tie down)

The one thing we had problems with during the first month we had her was digestive issues. Eventually, it was suggested that we take off of Science Diet and put her on Pro Plan. Well, that solved the issue!
(A close up of Reyna's face. She is laying on the grass and her nose is pink and black speckled. Too cute!)

Welcome to Raising Reyna!

First off, I realize that I am starting this blog nine months late. But you know what they say, better late then never. Reyna is a nine month old female yellow lab who is a guide dog in training for Guide Dogs for The Blind in San Rafael, Ca. I will do my best to summarize the past nine months of her life, but I think I will end up just hitting the highlights and moving forward from there.

Reyna is pictured at six weeks old playing tug with a chain hanging from a fire hydrant

(Reyna at six weeks old is pictured playing tug of war with on a chain from a fire hydrant.)

Reyna was born on 3/25/09 at Guide Dogs. Her parents are Buffy and Baker. Her litter had nine pups! They are Raffi, Razzle, Rene, Rocchelle, Rocio, Rolex, Rory, Rosetta and, of course, Reyna. Reyna's name means "queen" in Spanish. And, well, she pretty much lives up to her name. This photo above was taken when Reyna was six weeks old at Guide Dogs in the puppy play area. This photo pretty much sums up Reyna's personality. For the first few month of her life, she was co-raised with my family and another member of our puppy club. Here are some photos for Reyna when she was around 8 weeks old at her co-raisers house.

Reyna is pictured at 8 weeks old running with a leaf in her mouth

(Reyna at 8 weeks old pouncing in the grass)

Reyna is pictured at 8 weeks old in the grass attempting to chew a leaf

(Reyna at 8 weeks old running with a leaf in her mouth)

(Reyna at 8 weeks old in the grass attempting to chew a leaf)

As you can tell from the pictures, little Reyna has personality. As a pup she was fun, but also a bit bossy and dominate. Many people think that is a negative thing, but it is not. There are two types of dogs dominate or submissive. Reyna happens to be dominate. This trait give Reyna a lot of confidence and initiative. It is a good trait to have in a Guide Dog!