Patrick, GUGP's 2015 Guide Dog Puppy

Patrick, GUGP's 2015 Guide Dog Puppy
GUGP Website

29 September 2015

Patrick is growing!

Hi everybody! Sorry if my last blog was a little sad, I promise this one won’t be. Patrick has been with us for two and half months now, and boy has he grown! I can’t believe it—he is as tall as I am now! None of the other puppies I have helped raise have grown this fast.
He is doing pretty well, but can still be an annoying little brother at times. He is always moving! If Patrick wore pants, I would say he acts like he has ants in his pants. I thought that I had a lot of energy, but Patrick even wears me out sometimes. When he does finally tire out he likes to lay really close to me. He’s actually pretty sweet when he is tired.
Patrick is learning a lot. He finally knows to go potty outside like me and Ozzy, which is nice. I don’t like potty inside the house—it makes Mommy upset. He also know how to walk with us much better now, but sometimes likes to hold either my leash or his own leash in his mouth as we walk.
He can still be very loud at times, especially if another dog barks or if he sees another dog, Mommy is spending a lot of time trying to help him with that.

Patrick has also earned a little more freedom in the house and he is constantly trying to get someone to play with him. He likes to take toys to Mom or Dad and drop them at their feet or in their laps and stare at them.
He will also bring toys to me and ask to play tug. I love playing tug! But don’t tell that to Patrick. I like to be cool and say, “ I guess I will play with you—if no one else will.” I don’t want him to know that I actually like playing with him, it may go to his head. Sometimes I let him win ... just to be nice. I do worry though that he is going to get so big that I won’t be able to win if I want to. Ozzy is also starting to play with him a little and Patrick likes to try to play keep away with toys with him. Patrick is pretty smart and tries to outwit Ozzy, but Ozzy is pretty smart too.

Now that Patrick is getting a little bigger, Mom and Dad have been taking him out on his own more often. I don't like this as much. I don’t like being left out. But Mom has made a little special time for me too. We recently went to the pet store, just the two of us. She let me see all the little animals there, which was fun. I tried to convince her to let me get a pet rat because they were so cool to watch, but no luck.
I did guilt her into buying me a new toy and a special treat, hehehe. I have great sad puppy eyes. I learned this trick from Eli—he was the master of the sad puppy dog eyes. When we would go to the store when he was still with us, the people at the checkout would just keep giving him treats! His eyes had special powers on people, I’m good, but not Eli good.
Ricki attempts to channel Eli in order to get a bite of that yummy sandwich.
Oh my Dawg! I almost forgot to tell you about Sebastian! Mommy brought home a super tiny kitty last week. We had a naming contest and Sebastian was the winning name. l really wanted his name to be Koda, just like the bear I met at Disneyland.
I was a little frightened of him at first, but he was calm and nice. Anyway, I love kittens! They are really fun to lick and clean. Ozzy really likes him a lot too, I think he misses his kitty, Fidget.
I’m trying to be as helpful as possible with Sebastian because Mom’s pretty busy with so many other things. The first week we had him Mom had to get up in the middle of the night to feed him and I would always get up with her to see if she needed any help. Ozzy just kept sleeping and wasn’t very helpful. He prefers to just play with him rather than help with the hard stuff.
Patrick is very interested in our older kitties and wasn’t sure what to make of Sebastian when he first arrived. I think Patrick thought Sebastian was a toy at first and tried to grab him from Mommy’s hand. Mom and I have taken some time to show Patrick how to be calm around a baby kitten.
I have to say I’m really proud of Patrick. He actually took the time to slow down and listen to what we were trying to teach him. He can now sit quietly next to Mommy and me while Sebastian gets fed. Anyway that’s all the update that I have for now. I think I hear Sebastian crying so I better go help Mommy get him fed and clean.
Wags and kisses,

24 September 2015

GUGP and Puppy in Training TV

Is it easy to start a web video series about puppy raising?  No. The number one most difficult part about starting a web video series for me was getting that first Puppy In Training TV video published. In fact the series was supposed to start with the puppy before Dublin.

It all started shortly after turning in puppy in training No. 1, Stetson.

Puppy in training Derby at the beach
Before picking up Derby, puppy in training No. 2, I had a grand idea to document his journey as I had done with my first pup, Stetson, on the Puppy in Training blog. This time, however, I would use my brothers camcorder and publish videos instead of writing on a blog.

Armed with my brothers camcorder and a couple of friends, we drove out to Guide Dogs of America to start Derbys video adventure. I got some nice video clips of Derby and his littermates at GDA puppy pickup. The following weeks, I took more great footage of Derby and his pals playing at puppy kindergarten, obedience classes, and outings.

Then everything went wrong. I had no idea how to edit a video. I had no idea how to do voice over or talk to the camera. I still dont know many things about creating a good video, but Im learning.

So what happened to all the great footage I had of Derby? I took baby steps. I edited and put together a short movie of Derby and his two siblings Dexter and Dutch attending puppy kindergarten. These movies were never posted to Vimeo or YouTube, but instead I shared them with my fellow puppy raisers when Dexter and Dutch went on to guide dog college.

I also uploaded short movies of Derby testing a slow feed dog bowl.  Derby was a fast eater and sometimes choked on his food (I know, unusual for a Lab). I put together these movies using my Macbook, iMovie, YouTube, and my brothers camcorder (I think I may have had a tripod, too).

Raising Derby taught me the basics of web video and gave me the foundation I would need before launching Puppy In Training TV.

The Influence Of GUGP on Puppy In Training TV

Dublin working hard at the office
I remember as clear as day: Growing Up Guide Pupin my Google Reader Dogster news feed.  I clicked through to find an embedded YouTube video with the heading, "Check out this week's vlog for an update on our favorite guide pup's progress. Ricki is getting so big!"

It was so cool!

The featured video was episode five, so I went back and watched episodes one through four, and saw my future web series unfolding before me.

Amie and Matt put together something much better than I could have ever dreamed of and it gave me the template I needed, motivation, and inspiration to start my own web video series.

I had no idea what I was doing when I picked up the camcorder and started shooting video of Derby two years earlier. Growing Up Guide Pup helped me get more organized. That night I started writing the scripts to my first few episodes for Puppy In Training TV.

  1. Ep3

I tried to put together weekly episodes like Growing Up Guide Pup, but I found it way to difficult to keep up. I was lucky to get one episode a month published to YouTube.

It took over two years to publish my first episode of Puppy In Training TV. In August 2010, I uploaded Puppy In Training TV - Ep1 - Picking Up Your Puppy to my YouTube channel.

If I had never discovered Growing Up Guide Pup, I would never have completed my vision of a web video series about puppy raising.

The Influence of GUGP on Puppy Raisers

Ive been fortunate enough to get piles of positive feedback from the Puppy In Training TV video series. I can only imagine that the influence of Growing Up Guide Pup is ten-fold of what Ive experienced.

What does GUGP do for puppy raisers?

  1. It brings in new puppy raisers. I would guess that GUGP has brought in tens, if not hundreds, of new puppy raisers across the country.
  2. GUGP shows puppy raisers some of the many outings they can go on with their puppy in training, from the ball games to county fairs to Disneyland. Getting your puppy out and about and used to public places is a big part of puppy raising.
  3. Training issues. Puppies don't come to puppy raisers as a finished product. GUGP shows that our puppies arent always perfect. It takes time, patience, persistence, consistency, and a lot of other adjectives to get your puppy ready for guide dog college.
  4. Help! I bet Amie and Matt have had to answer thousands of questions about puppy raising. Growing Up Guide Pup gives puppy raisers a forum to ask experienced puppy raisers questions like, How do you give up your puppy?  I could never do that…”
  5. This might just be my own personal thing, but GDB Fun Day! Ever since I saw the episode on Guide Dogs for the Blind Fun Day Ive wanted to go.  Maybe someday youll see me and my puppy in training at GDB Fun Day at the San Rafael campus.

What do you guys think?  Has Growing Up Guide Pup influenced you in some way?  What has GUGP done for you?

Thanks Amie, Matt, and Ricki for all youve done with GUGP and heres to your continued success with GUGP 2.0!


Have a service dog or puppy raising story you'd like to share? Send it to us! We will be featuring posts by guest authors on a regular basis.

15 September 2015

The variety of service dogs

If you're a fan of Growing Up Guide Pup, you probably know a fair amount about guide dogs and their job. You know that Golden Retrievers and Labradors are the most commonly used breeds, with a smattering of German Shepherds.

However, a service dog can be any size or breed, as long as the dog possesses what it takes to do his or her job. And these dogs can help disabled people with a variety of challenges, not just visual impairment. I'd like to introduce you to some of the amazing dogs whose handlers I've gotten to know in my time in the service dog community.

Age: 2.5 years
Breed: Rough Collie
Status: Fully trained service dog (owner trained)
Job Description: Mobility and life assistance
Favorite Task: Retrieving objects and getting items off of shelves
Favorite Off-duty Activity: Roughhousing with his brother, Soren

And, sometimes, dressing up like a bunny.
Naughty Moment: Lucas once got into his handler's makeup when he was off duty and chewed up all her lipstick. She came home to him covered in red. When he was younger, he also once ate all of her left shoes. 

Rico Suave
Age: 9 years
Breed: Papillon
Status: Fully trained service dog (owner trained)
Job Description: Medical alert & psychiatric service dog
Favorite Task: Leading his handler to exits
Favorite Off-duty Activity: Sleeping
Naughty Moment: When Rico was still in training, he once crawled under a bathroom stall divider and scared the woman in the next stall by looking at her. 

Age: 2 years
Breed: Shetland Sheepdog
Status: Fully trained service dog (owner trained)
Job Description: Medical alerts (including blood sugar, migraine, low blood pressure, and heart rate spikes). Psychiatric work such as deep pressure therapy, interrupting self-harm behavior, and response to panic attacks.
Favorite Task: Engaging with his handler to interrupt flashbacks
Favorite Off-duty Activity: Playing with a flirt pole
Naughty Moment: Gir enjoys counter-surfing for goodies.

Age: 2
Breed: German Shepherd/Newfoundland mix
Status: Service dog in training (owner trained)
Job Description: Mobility support and psychiatric tasks
Favorite Task: Retrieving objects
Favorite Off-duty Activity: Swimming

Age: 8 years
Breed: Rat Terrier mix
Status: Fully trained service dog (owner trained)
Job Description: Psychiatric support, minor mobility tasks, retrieving
Favorite Task: Searching rooms before his handler enters
Favorite Off-duty Activity: Killing and unstuffing squeaky toys

Doogan (Full Name: URO1 CH'PR'PPK's Sir Doogan Gooseberry CGC TT)
Age: 3.5 years
Breed: American Pit Bull Terrier
Status: Fully trained service dog (owner trained)
Job Description: Medical alert and mobility assistance
Favorite Task: Carrying all the things, no matter what the objects happen to be
Favorite Off-duty Activity: Posing for the camera and strutting his stuff in the show ring

Age: 2.5 years
Breed: Standard Poodle
Status: Fully trained service dog (owner- and program-trained by Dreamrun Dog Training LLC)
Job Description: Mobility/balance, medical alert & response, anxiety alert & response
Favorite Task: Finding "grandma" and picking things up
Favorite Off-duty Activity: Playing with his frisbee, flirt pole, or tennis ball launcher
Naughty Moment: Watson once destroyed his bed inside his crate.

Age: 2 years
Breed: Beauceron
Status: Fully trained service dog (owner trained)
Job Description: Mobility assistance and medical alerts
Favorite Task: Retrieving objects
Favorite Off-duty Activity: Playing ball, raising puppies, swimming, swimming while retrieving balls
Fun Facts: Voltaire is originally from Burgundy, France, and was able to fit under the airplane seat as an eight-week-old puppy. He is now over 100 pounds!
Voltaire with one of "his" puppies

Age: 6.5 years
Breed: Doberman
Status: Fully trained service dog (owner trained)
Job Description: Psychiatric and light mobility assistance
Favorite Task: Deep pressure therapy and interrupting behaviors
Favorite Off-duty Activity: Running on the beach
Fun Fact: Bruce, being a Doberman, is pretty high maintenance when it comes to chilly weather. No matter how many layers he's wearing, though, he's always professional.


08 September 2015

Saying Goodbye

Many people think that dogs don’t have feelings, but we are actually very sensitive creatures. We feel emotions just like people. I get really excited every time I see a tennis ball. Happy when my mom and dad get home from being gone or when I see my friends. Upset if I make a mistake and displease my family. Annoyed when my new little brother, Patrick, tries to take my toys or pesters me to play when I’m tired or not in the mood. Worried and anxious when I’m left alone somewhere I don't know well. Sad when someone close to me leaves.

I have gotten used to new friends and foster siblings coming into our lives and leaving, I never know what or when my mom will bring home. In my five years on this earth, we have had a few foster kittens and puppies stay with us, and I've helped raise four other guide dog puppies in training.

In fact, just before Patrick came we had a two foster chihuahua puppies that stayed with us for a couple of weeks.

I know that these fosters are usually temporary, but some stay longer than others. The guide dog puppies usually stay the longest. Every once in awhile a foster will stay with us permanently like my little brother Ozzy—and me, I guess. But often we say goodbye and these friends go off to live with others. These goodbyes aren’t too difficult because we know that they are happy, loved and well taken care of. We even get visits sometimes like from my previous little sister, Pilaf, who didn’t make it as a guide dog. She is over for a visit right now and is keeping me company as I write this. Sometimes our goodbyes are not happy ones, and I get very sad.

I have had to say goodbye to three family members over the years. The first was my kitty sister, Faith.

She got sick one day and went to the vet and never came back. I was confused at first but Mom explained that she went to heaven and I felt a little better. I still miss her—she was always so nice to me ... but she did like to hog Mom’s lap.

The second family member was my big brother Eli, my best friend. We did almost everything together. We went for walks, played tug, got yummy treats and snuggled. He was sick for awhile but was really brave for all his doctor appointments and medicine. I did my very best to help take care of him.

When he went to heaven, Ozzy and I got to say a final goodbye. We both miss him so much. Our house isn’t the same without him.

The third was our little special kitten, Fidget.

I helped Mom raise him. He was an orphan when he was just a tiny newborn. He was more bonded to Ozzy than me, but I still miss him snuggling up against me for comfort.

The other day my mom came home from work and sat me down and gave me the news that my oldest and best friend, Lucy, joined Faith, Eli, and Fidget in heaven. This made me very sad. But my mom was there to comfort me and we spent a lot of time talking about the fun times we had together.

Lucy lived with one of the veterinarians my mom works with. When I went to work with my mom, I often saw Lucy there. We sometimes would hang out in the same kennel together, and if our parents weren’t too busy, we would have play time.

Lucy also came for sleepovers when her dad went out of town and couldn’t take her with him. It was always so much fun when she came to stay. Eli, Lucy, and I were the three amigos, the best of friends. We would have fetch contests to see who could get to the ball first. She was amazing at fetch and my best competitor.

We often went for walks and off leash adventures together and had fun tearing up toys together.

We even took trips to the snow with Lucy and her dad—those were awesome trips!

Lucy was also always a great help with raising me and all the other guide dog puppies. She was very patient with puppies but also firm with them if they got too pushy. I was really looking forward to her helping me out with Patrick—he can be really pushy sometimes and I think he thinks it is fun to annoy me. Puppies always listened to her, and Patrick laughs at me and doesn’t take me seriously when I try to tell him to knock it off. I could have used her advice.
Lucy with guide dog puppy Chanel.
Having to say goodbye to one of my best friends this week is what inspired me to write about this topic instead of giving an update on how things are going with Patrick. I just wanted humans to know that we dogs do mourn and need time to get over the loss of our friends and family members. Thanks for listening to me talk about my feelings. It has made me feel better sharing some of my favorite memories.

Wags and kisses,

01 September 2015

Bringing back Growing Up Guide Pup: A Cause for Hope

As we head back to California on another Growing Up Guide Pup adventure, I ponder what to discuss for my premiere topic on the GUGP blog. I usually don't have a problem finding a topic I want to blog about because it seems I always have something to say. Amie tells me I never shut up.

As we work out of our mobile work station—a 2001 Toyota Highlander—returning through Lake Tahoe, I find myself in a bit of a mental freeze. I don't know if it's the foul stench of that disgusting rest stop in Nevada, or the gas station pizza near the California-Oregon border I should have avoided like the Black Plague. All I know is my brain is fried, so I ask Amie for ideas.  She says, "Why don't you talk about bringing back Growing Up Guide Pup and what it means to you?" Given that Amie and I often come to the rescue for each other, and she has not failed me yet, I take the idea and will run with it ... so here goes.

Bringing back Growing Up Guide Pup means many things to me, but most importantly it means hope.

Guide puppy in training Pilaf at a fire station.
Hope that we at GUGP can make a difference with our non-profit. Hope that the many obstacles we have observed in the service dog world may be addressed in some fashion. Hope that our various forms of new media will inspire more service dog volunteers. Hope that GUGP may help attract more financial backing to the service dog industry.

Hope that puppy raisers will have increasing societal tools for training, as well as the support of governing laws and culture to allow them to do their job at the highest level possible. Hope that service dog teams will find their lives more productive and easier to live as culture moves towards a better understanding of disabilities. Hope that people will acquire knowledge about service dogs' crucial role, and not assume this is just a person who put a jacket on their pet.

Hope that service dogs may be able to help increasing numbers of people with disabilities. Hope that service dog organizations will look towards a unified goal of helping the disabled regardless of economic, societal, fundraising, and political obstacles that may get in their way. And most importantly, I hope that GUGP will take all these needs and shake them up, stir them around, and pour them into a glass for enjoyable consumption. 

In the following years, the likelihood of coming in contact with a working service dog team will reach critical mass, yet the general public has limited knowledge of these wonderful animals, their jobs, and how to interact with their handlers. The demand for more service dogs to help people with disabilities will grow and the level of awareness and understanding will need to grow to keep up. Growing Up Guide Pup would be honored to assist as much as we can! 

Matt with his and Amie's first guide pup, Macklin.
Five years ago Amie and I observed that despite dozens of service dog schools in existence, something was missing that not too many organizations prioritize. What is missing is education that bridges the gap between the service dog world and the average person who knows nothing about the topic. I hope our that our new media approach and other developing visions for Growing Up Guide Pup may directly improve this area. Service dog schools have their hands full with their primary missions of breeding, training, and partnering service dog teams. Growing Up Guide Pup's goal is to raise awareness about service dogs, service dog etiquette, and service dog laws. This is an important public service to assist the service dog organizations throughout the world.

Therefore GUGP's hope is to:

1. Continue displaying the joy as well as benefits of raising service dogs.

2. Provide education and understanding to the general public, so people are familiar with services that service dogs provide, and how to engage when near a working service dog team.

3. Spotlight service dogs, service dog users, and service dog training organizations.

4. Advocate for service dog users, raising awareness about issues including access and what rights are granted by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

5. Raise awareness about fake service dogs, whom they hurt, and what we can do to fix it.

So as I see it, a cause for hope is what bringing back Growing Up Guide Pup means to me.
Now let's get back to work!