Friday, June 14, 2013

As Kyra Grows

It’s been awhile – sorry to all of those who are eagerly awaiting Kyra and Hero updates. Well, let’s start with Kyra.

So, Kyra accompanied me on my trip back up to Flagstaff and was, of course, a sweet, loving puppy the entire ride. I was concerned that she would struggle with a long ride at such a young age but she was fine. We had to pull off a couple times when she became fussy and obviously had to use the bathroom, but overall she just wanted to cuddle.

Once we got to Flag, it was time to drop her off with our co-raising family: Dave, Lisa and Andrew Foss. Let me just pause in my Kyra anecdote to mention this amazing family. The Fosses have raised two puppies that are now working Guides: Kent and Fresno. And then they stepped up and raised Hero for about 5 months before he went back to school. Long story short, I couldn’t do any of this puppy raising thing without them and I am so grateful that we are raising Kyra together. My Guide Dog family is amazing!!

Anyway, Kyra meets her other family and it is obviously love at first sight. She loves them and has the best of care. Which is great, because soon after we dropped her off, it became apparent that she had a female issue that was causing all her weird peeing episodes. The Fosses were awesome in dealing with that, and I am happy to report that Kyra is now a completely healthy, happy puppy on the road to being potty-trained.

During the past two weeks, I’ve seen Kyra twice at our weekly meetings. She is growing so much and is learning quickly! I think that she is an incredibly smart and observant pup. She knows sit (when there’s food involved) and is becoming very responsive to her name. She is still very eager to please and loves attention and cuddling. It is impossible to not love her. I am so excited to watch her grow!

My weekly update from Dave mentions that she is doing quite well with housetraining, has no problems with the stairs, is being introduced to her Gentle Leader, behaves well on a tie down, has good leash behavior for her age, and climbs in a car by herself. He also referenced to her many quirks, including her confusion at whistling, her tendency to get wild when she’s sleepy, and how she likes running water and eating ants.

I’ve noticed that Kyra has an essential level of confidence. Nothing fazes her. Everything is new and exciting and she explores without a fragment of fear. She is so curious and willing to learn. She loves other dogs and plays really well. Kyra loves to play tug-of-war with the older dogs and doesn’t nip on them as much as the typical puppy. She also loves people and becomes strongly attached in a short amount of time. When she takes food from our hands, she is very gentle and patient – only using her tongue and not stretching for the treat. Overall, I think Kyra will be known for her giant personality in her tiny body.

As for Hero, he is still in Phase 0. I don’t know much about him, except that he has recovered from being neutered and is very happy, as we would all expect. I miss that dog every single day but I can’t wait to watch him change the world and live up to his name. 
Hero in his training days with CocoPup Salsa, now in Phase 6 of training!


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Kyra's First Adventure

Kyra's personality emanates from her tiny body every minute. Today was a fun day for the little trooper! She slept through the whole night without any crying, although we awoke to a small accident. And then it's play, play, play...especially when she spots Buster.

Buster and Kyra bonding.

After sufficient play time, we went to Kyra's first puppy meeting this afternoon. She was passed around from person-to-person, and ignored the other dogs and distractions around her. I have no doubt this little puppy is going to be both fun and challenging to train! After the meeting, we stopped at PetsMart, Trader Joe's and Macys, all accompanied by a lovely pup in our arms. Kyra is very affectionate, and loves to be held. 

Kyra cuddling in the car.

Kyra is doing much better in the crate. We are now rewarding good crate behavior with food, which is doing wonders. She's very apprehensive about many things, the crate and the car being the toughest. Lots of praise and food rewards will do the trick with this one. 

Kyra showing her ferocity with the Jolly Ball. 

Playtime with Kyra is an adventure in itself. She is gentle, but loves to play tug and hop around clumsily after Buster. She's just a little bundle of happy, and it that way she reminds me of Hero. It doesn't take long to attach.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The First of a New Chapter

Hero and Kyra meeting for the first time

Today was the end of my first chapter with Guide Dogs for the Blind, and it wasn't an easy day. Hero was the first puppy I raised to become a Guide Dog and he did so awesome in his first stage of training that he is getting sent back to San Rafael to finish up with formal training and get partnered! And so the goodbyes commence...

We arrived at the meeting place around 1:00 with an unfazed, 14-month-old sweetie who taught me more than I ever taught him. Hero has been the most amazing pup to raise. Always happy, always bringing a smile to everyone's face with his giant personality and jovial demeanor. However, I've always known this moment was coming, and my excitement for his future overtook my apprehension to let him go.

                                          Hero when we first brought him home last June.

Hero was excited to see all the other dogs at the puppy truck, including his sister Hava. Then the parade of puppies begin. It is so awesome watching the new blank slates of puppies get presented to both new and repeating raisers. As raisers, we all think we are changing lives, but in reality, our lives are the ones that are most changed.

And then my name is called. A double-cross golden/lab is presented to me...Kyra. From the very moment she was placed in my arms, I knew I had a completely different puppy.

Being presented with Kyra

So much happiness and excitement in the air!!! But then the tough part comes...Hero is called back to be loaded on the truck. I'm so proud of this little guy! He gets his "ticket" and then jumps right up into the truck, ready and prepared for his new adventure!! And all I want is one more hug. He's going to do so well at Guide Dog school, and he is going to love it - just like every new situation he's been placed in this year.

Hero ready to board...with me a bit more hesitant.

Kyra is a firecracker. SO much personality in a really tiny body. She is much different than Hero was as a puppy, which I expected. Kyra is a bundle of energy and is extremely eager to please. I think she is going to be so much fun to train and to work with, but also a major challenge. She is very clingy and wants to be held all the time, like a toddler. I can also tell that Kyra is very sweet and that positive reinforcement is going to work wonders with her. Just from one day she almost knows "come", and her relieving is awesome! Everytime we praise her she looks so darn happy.

Kyra also has some attachment issues. I am glad the Fosses and I are co-raising this one, because she will definitely benefit from being passed around. She hates the kennel so far, especially if she can't see us. First five minutes in the crate and she had a potty accident. But we're working with it, trying to make kennel time 'fun'.

Kyra's playtime is ridiculously cute. She is SO small and loves to hop around after Buster (our pet boxer). She is also a beast at tug-o-war and can already give Buster a run for his money. However, she is far more people-oriented than Hero ever was. She always runs back to us for approval. 

Regardless of all the differences, I am just overjoyed to once again be raising for Guide Dogs. It's such a worthwhile program and I learn and grow so much through every experience. I know Kyra will be a joy and I am excited to watch Hero progress!!