Saturday, June 29, 2013

Knox Is Growing!

Knox turns 10 weeks on Sunday. It's hard to believe that he's been here for over two weeks! I didn't realize how much he has grown until I was looking back at my photos from our first few days.

These pictures range from our first couple of days until now. 
Bear with me as I learn how to take pictures. Anyone want to guess how many disastrous pictures I went through before getting these eleven ones that show up on this post? Hint: a lot.

2nd full day
Knox's soulful puppy eye on the second full day with him.
The right half of his face is in the frame, and he is looking slightly downwards.

2nd full day
Knox was so sleepy on our first few days!
He's sleeping, facing slightly left, his body is coming out the top of the frame.

2nd full day
Knox is lying down, his right paw tucked under him, his head up, and he is looking left.
A Nylabone is in the upper right corner.

3rd day
Knox's head is facing the left side of the frame, his nose down. 

Knox is an interesting puppy to work with and is full of contrast as far as his skills. He has never once barked in his crate, is amazing at "come", "okay", food refusal, and waiting for his dinner, but he so far has utterly no understanding of "sit" and is determined to lick every floor in the world. We're working on it, because right now his goal as a floor licker clearly don't align with my goals for him as a guide dog. Knox's current favorite quote is "The floor is thine Popsicle!"

3rd full day
Knox is lying down, looking right,  his right paw extended outwards 

3rd full day
Knox is lying down on a green blanket, facing left of the frame, a bone in front of him.

3rd full day
Knox is lying down on a green blanket, his chin over his bone,  looking up

My family is going on a camping trip this 4th of July weekend, so Knox is going to stay with my leader for a few days. I'm excited for him to get to spend some time with someone who knows what she's doing. (She's on #28 right now.) I hope she'll have insights on what there is to work on with Knox.

4th day
Knox is lying down, facing the top right corner, a Nylabone in his mouth.

Took me a while to get more photos... A week and a half later, he's a lot bigger.
Knox is sitting on the left side of the frame, looking up, a baby gate behind him. 

 Today we had a meeting with our CFR, (who is amazing!) and I got permission for food protocol for garbage mouth. Yay! Also for some reason, she wants us on food protocol for dog distraction, even though he showed less interest in dogs at the meeting than most of the baby puppies, and he's always been incredibly great around dogs for his age. I think that she might have gotten him mixed up with another black pup who was having some issues (which she dealt with ingeniously). I'll talk to my leader before working on that. The CFR's methods and ideas were negative punishment and and positive reinforcement based, which of course I love. I think I'm going to try to get food protocol for excitable greetings, because he has that issue with any person other than my sister (who is my coraiser), and I.

Knox's second week. Chew that rope!
Knox's head is in the upper right corner. He has a rope toy between his paws and in his mouth. 

Food protocol once was something that was once used only after many options been exhausted, but I found out today that GDB is now expecting to see food protocol used on almost every puppy at some point, and it's often the first thing that is tried when a behavior issue pops up. I think that they started noticing that dogs on food protocol for a particular weakness usually will end up making that weakness become their absolute, unfailing strongest point. The powers of positive reinforcement...

I started working on his garbage mouth and I am absolutely delighted with how quickly he is learning. It's so much more fun for me to reward him with food than to dig stuff out of his mouth. We used some dead little leaves, some hairs that we brushed out of the pet dog, a blanket, my cell phone, his tube of doggy toothpaste, a lunchbox, and then it got boring so I added a Triscuit cracker and a couple of kibbles. It's a true gift to be able to watch his little puppy mind wrap around the concept that ignoring what he sort of wants (junk on the ground) will get him what he really wants (food!)

Knox's second week. Looking very innocent, puppylike, and big.
Knox is lying down, his head in the center of the frame, looking up.

Monday, June 24, 2013


I am a puppy raiser. (You’re thinking, “Who woulda thunk, your blog title totally doesn’t give that away”) Yes, I am a puppy raiser for Guide Dogs for the Blind. I find this astounding.
In order to get to this point, it took many words, a whirlwind of emotions, a large quantity of thoughts, much anxiety, a few tears, several moments of bated breath, a streak of pure good luck mixed in with a few good ideas, a lot of hard work and dedication, and finally, so much waiting.
I can’t say how long it took to be done being a “soon-to-be puppy raiser”, because I truly don’t know. Depending on the perspective it could be six years, three years, a semester, seventy-seven days, or even fourteen years.
Whatever amount of time it was, I pressed through much of it fixated on reaching this one moment of my lifetime; receiving a puppy. It was abstract to imagine the realization of a concept which had obstacles that seemed to reduce the likelihood of actually getting there to something infinitely close to zero. Beyond that, it was hard to imagine that some day, there would be an actual, tangible puppy with me, who would have a particular name and personality, and that I would wake up every morning without some impossibly long seeming number silently hissing into my ear the number of days left...
It seemed improbable, that I, a typical person living a typical life, would become a member of a group of some of the most lucky people in the word; people who’s lives are touched by assistance dogs.
In order to become one of the luckiest people in the world, I had to be dedicated. I fought my way through rough waters, more often than not, failing to accomplish what I hoped to achieve, but not giving up, nevertheless. I will say, that in the end, many things wound up turning out a different way than I had originally dreamed of, but everything is perfect the way it is, for now. Anyways, I have been dedicated, and that has payed off. I will continue to be dedicated, in order to fulfill the ongoing mission of a puppy raiser. But, so very much more importantly than what I have done to get myself here, I must thank everybody who has helped me on my way:
I would never have had the motivation or inspiration to take the first steps of a long path to becoming a puppy raiser without each of you dedicated bloggers, who all share the triumphs and the setbacks, the beauty and the pain, of puppy raising. Every writer who’s blog shows up on my blogroll should feel honored that they helped add another puppy raiser to this world. Without the help of each one of you, I wouldn’t be a puppy raiser, and this first post, a collection of words about dedication, would never have come to fruition.

I dedicate this journal of my life as a puppy raiser, first and foremost to you. Thank you.

Elijah, in particular, I dedicate this blog to you, for almost two years ago, through your writing, being the first one to show me that yes, I can. For showing me that it is possible for me, at my age, despite the obstacles, to become a part of this miraculous journey. Not only that I can, but that I really should. Thank you for being the spark of inspiration that started it all. It is because of you that I am a puppy raiser.
I dedicate this blog to my Guide Dogs leader, who has been the person who made it ultimately possible for me to be a puppy raiser. I am so lucky to have you in my life.
I dedicate this blog to Guide Dogs for the Blind, for the work that they do to bring people with blindness and visual impairments independence. I am grateful for the gift that they have given to me, which is the privilege of helping to further this mission.
I dedicate this blog to my parents and family, who have overall, been supportive of my ambitions as a puppy raiser. I am grateful beyond words for that. Thank you.
I dedicate this blog to my incredible humanities teacher who taught me how to love to write. Not only to practice writing, but force my way into it's secrets. I continue and will continue to grow as a writer because of the excellent foundation you have given me. If I ever get any readership, know that I can thank you.

I sincerely thank you all.

In addition:
I dedicate this blog to everyone who becomes my puppies’ future partners, so they can experience the moments of their dog’s lives that they spent waiting for their dog to be ready for them. I hope that someday you will read this, and get to go through our adventures alongside us. I know that you will love your dog as much I love my puppy.
I dedicate this blog to everyone out there who will someday become a puppy raiser, whether you are counting the number of days left, or you just stumbled across my blog while looking into ways to give back. I hope that my journey combined with the journeys of others will show you how rich and fulfilling the life of a puppy raiser can be. I hope to see you join the communities of both puppy raisers and bloggers.

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of my path to puppy raising, and to everyone who will continue to be a part of this journey. This blog is for you.

This is Knox, my first puppy for Guide Dogs for the Blind. He was born on April 16, 2013, to parents Jaika and Parson. These photos were taken on June 13th, 2013 the day that I received him. Note that now that he has settled in, he is no longer as sleepy.

Knox is on the right side of the frame, resting his head on a Nylabone toy.

Knox lying down, his head about in the center of the frame, Nylabone in front of him.
He's tied-down and asleep.

Knox is on the left of the frame, lying down, on tie-down. A toy is a few inches in front of him.
His head is down and he is looking up in a very innocent and adorable manner.

Knox is lying down his body extending from the left.
A Nylabone is in the background. He's sleepy.

Knox the Guide Dog Puppy
Knox is lying down, his face and paws visible on the right side, a toy to his left.
He's very cozy.