Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Homecoming Goodness

Be prepared to be inundated with tons of adorable puppy pictures! Picking up Rio and introducing him to his new home was a blast!

(Someone must have told Rio that the way to win my heart is by snuggling his head on my shoulder.)

In case you haven't figured it out yet, Rio is a transfer puppy. About eight weeks ago, my club leader told me about three lab puppies that were coming to Utah that weekend. Two had homes, but the third was a starter puppy. She asked if I would be interested in finishing the pup. My intention had been to start my own puppy, but on a whim I said yes and cannot be happier with my decision.

(Rio cuddling on my lap outside my friend's condo.)

I thought all three pups coming were female black labs. That was almost right because two were. I laughed out loud when I found out that the starter puppy was a male yellow lab. All four of my puppies have been MYLs. If I ever raise anything different, I won't know what to do.

The day Rio came to Utah, we had evaluations with our CFR. It was at that meeting that I found out that Rio was officially mine. My CFR also let our club guess his name. It only took about 30 seconds to guess Rio. I love Rio's name! It's my favorite puppy name and the only one I would have chosen for a pet dog. (Sorry Turk, Mesa, and Kyle.)

Rio was started by the leader of the club to the north of us. I never got to meet Rio in person before yesterday, but I did get to see pictures of him via a text, a blog, and facebook. I couldn't wait to see the boy in person.

 (Holding Rio out so that I could see his adorable face.)

Ever since my first puppy club had two gorgeous red colored yellow labs, I've longed for a red puppy of my own. Rio fulfilled my wish! I'm seriously so excited about his darker color.

(Red Rio showing off his fun speckled nose.)

I wasn't the only person eagerly anticipating Rio's arrival. My neighbors, friends, club members, family, and students we're all excited to meet him as well.

(Rio meeting my neighbor. She loves my puppies and is super excited that Rio plays gently.)

Of course, the most important meeting was when I introduced Kyle and Rio. Things couldn't have gone better!

 (The first sniffs as I let Kyle free from his kennel.)

Kyle and Rio are adorable when they play together. Kyle is great at matching his play style to other dogs' styles, so the boys hit it off well from the start.

 (Kyle and Rio sniffed each other for about two seconds before they began roughhousing.)

To wrap up the massive amounts of pictures, I took the boys into the backyard for some shots in their puppy vests.

 (Kyle whispering secrets into Rio's ears. Hopefully he was giving Rio tips for being the best guide pup possible.)

Rio needed a head shot for our club website. He is about the easiest puppy to photograph. I just love this adorable face!

(Rio with an charming head tilt and wrinkly eyebrows.)

After all the camera happiness, it was time to just snuggle Kyle and Rio. My friend Katie was with me to pick up Rio, and she acted as our photographer. Since both boys wanted attention, Katie stuck around, and we took turns cuddling both puppies.

 (Rio enjoying Katie's lap.)

There are tons more pictures and stories, and Rio hasn't even been home for 24 hours. The next year with Rio is going to be a great one!

Mostly Wordless Wednesday

(Rio, me, and Kyle in our back yard.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Introducing #4

Just over an hour ago, I picked up male yellow lab #4. My new little boy is Rio. More information about the little guy and his big brother will follow later. For now, I'm going to go love on both of my puppies.

7.5 Hours until #4

Puppy #4 arrives in 7 1/2 hours. I cannot wait to meet the little one! It's seriously affecting my productivity at work.

It's not too late to cast a vote on who's coming. So far nobody is right, so you still have a chance to win.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

16 Things at 16 Months

When I wrote Kyle's 15 month post, I was not sure this post would ever be written. Can I tell you how much I love writing this post and knowing that there will be a 17 month post in April? Life is happy right now!

Without further ado, here are 16 reasons I'm thankful Kyle is still with me.
  1. My students love Kyle. They were seriously unhappy about the idea of a February recall. Now, Kyle will be with them until three weeks before school gets out.
  2. Kyle doesn't misbehave in the house, but he can be a bit rowdy at times. I'm excited to fine tune his manners so that Kyle's partner will love his behavior on and off duty.
  3. Kyle and I love hiking together, and it's just now getting warm enough to hit the trails on a frequent basis.
  4. Kyle will be an amazing mentor dog for puppy #4.
  5. Kyle was a transfer puppy, but I'm getting as much time with him as raisers typically get with puppies they start.
  6. Kyle's a morning dog, and I'm not a morning person. His enthusiasm to greet the day always makes me smile. How can you be grumpy with a tail wagging, cuddly puppy rubbing against you? It's impossible.
  7. I get to raise two puppies at once! The weeks with puppies outnumbering me will be a fun challenge.
  8. I'll never get enough cuddle time in with Kyle. We can continue pretending like he's my lap dog for a few more weeks.
  9. It's wonderful to take a dog in public that you know will behave nearly perfectly every time. That's Kyle!
  10. I know I can trust Kyle, and he knows he can depend on me. It takes a long time to build that bond.
  11. You can never do too much fine tuning with puppy's training. Every extra training session Kyle and I get in will further tip the odds of graduating in Kyle's favor.
  12. I've never had a lab this age. Turk and Mesa were recalled before 16 months, and Mesa was in formal training for quiet a while before he was career changed. It's fun to watch Kyle become more of an adult dog. (There's still plenty of puppy left though.)
  13. I've stockpiled sterilized bones for Kyle's chewing pleasure. He gets to stick around long enough to enjoy destroying them.
  14. My spring break is in a couple weeks. Kyle and I will have a lot of play time and outings during our week off.
  15. A couple weeks ago I couldn't come up with any outings that Kyle hadn't conquered. Now I have a fun list of new places we are going to visit over the next few weeks.
  16. I love Kyle. Just thinking about his recall can make me tear up. I'm thankful for each extra day we get to spend together! Someday he'll be someone's partner, but for today I'm thankful Kyle's my boy.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mostly Wordless Wednesday

 (Kyle and Boo chowing down on their breakfasts.)

I'm fully convinced that speedy eating is an inherent Labrador gene. Boo may be half lab, but Kyle is full lab. That means Kyle is always the champion of the food-eating race. Boo is a strong second place contestant though.

*Don't forget to guess the gender, breed, color, and litter letter of the pup arriving next week.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Game Time

I'm no good at keeping secrets, but I've held this one in for several weeks now. Aren't you proud of me?

Kyle's going to be a big brother!

Part of the reason I was surprised by Kyle's late recall date was the fact that I had already applied for a new puppy. Since that pup is arrives on March 29, I'll have two puppies in training for six and a half weeks. The idea overwhelmed me at first, but now I'm looking forward to the adventure.

In anticipation of the new arrival, it's game time. When I found out about Kyle's transfer, I shared each puzzle piece of information as I gathered it. With puppy #4, I'm doing the opposite. I'm not going to tell anything. Instead you get to place a guess in each of the following categories:

Gender, Breed, Color, and Litter Letter.

The first person to guess correctly will get a care package with a couple of Kyle's favorite toys. After all, Kyle has to be a part of this, or he'll get jealous. If nobody guesses correctly, we'll draw among the people who get 3 out of 4 correct. The game closes when I post a picture of the new pup.

*If you know the answers, please don't play. Your prize is being in on the secret. :)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Invention of the Flexi-Belt

About two weeks ago I stumbled on the best puppy training discovery ever. I shared this idea with fellow club members, and a few have adopted it for their own. It's time to pass on the trick to others.

You'll need two items you probably have laying around your house: a flexi leash and a belt.


If you cannot tell what's going on in the picture, I threaded my belt through Kyle's flexi leash to create a "flexi-belt." Now Kyle has 16 feet of freedom. My hands are free, but I can reach him whenever needed.

Almost instantly, I've seen a marked improvement in Kyle's house behaviors. His barking is deceasing, and there's no way for Kyle to run "lab loops" through the house. Plus, we can practice stay and come while I go about my daily tasks.

Kyle is a pro in public and reasonably well behaved at home. With our last two months together, my goal is to get Kyle's house manners to the same stellar level as his public manners. I've tried other methods of directing Kyle, but the smarty pants always finds a way around them. (For example, he'll carry 20 feet of long line in his mouth just so he can run.)

The true test this weekend was one of our many road trips to visit my sister. Since Kassie only sees Kyle every other month or so, she is a great judge of his growth. The verdict: Kassie repeatedly complimented Kyle on his improved house manners. It's working!

I challenge other puppy raisers to try the flexi-belt while working on house manners and basic commands. Afterward, leave a comment and let me know if it works for you. Also, if you have any fun puppy training tricks that you've developed, I'd love to hear them.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

101 Retrievers

Today at puppy class we finally snapped an updated picture of our club. Three puppies were MIA, but we needed something more updated than our Santa picture. Don't we have a bunch of good looking pups?

(Left to Right: Antigua (FYL), Jacinda (FBL), Julimae (FYL), Keiko (MBL), Kyle (MYL), Snickers (MCL), Sugar (FGLD), and Lacole (FBL). Not Pictured: Breeze (FYL), Clyde (MBL), and Silvana (FBL).)

A few puppies, including Kyle, needed updated pictures for our club website. Here's Kyle's new mugshot. This picture made me realize that his puppy jacket needs to be adjusted. I guess he's grown more than I thought

(Kyle sitting regally for the camera. Don't be fooled. It took a lot of human antics to get him to look at the camera.)

After all of the seriousness of a meeting and pictures, we let all the puppies off leash. It was hilarious to watch all of them run and play to their hearts' content. Chase, tug, and keep away were the preferred activities. Kyle decided on his own to play leapfrog and jumped over three other dogs at once. It was quite the feat.

(This is my favorite of the play shots because Lacole is caught almost in midair. You can tell she was busy chasing Kyle.)

After always having to behave and ignore each other at puppy class, I guarantee this is one meeting the pups will be sure to remember.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Confessions of an Assembly Ditcher

Confession: I rarely attend the assemblies at the high school where I teach. I'd rather hide in my classroom and get some work accomplished. Here's the really terrible part--I'm a horrible example for students.

At the start of this school year a few kids discovered that they could ditch the assemblies and play the stash of games in my classroom instead. Since the students and I have such a good time, I take Kyle's puppy jacket off and let him play as well. It's good times for all!

(Kyle playing tug with a student.)

Kyle has impressed my students in the past by pulling them in rolling chairs. This week he simply pulled a student across the floor. I wonder how he'd do attached to a sled in Alaska?

(Before this picture, the girl was sitting along the wall. Kyle pulled her several feet. I love the smiles on everyone's faces.)

After an hour of playing, Kyle actually had to take a breather. We were all stunned when he lay panting on the floor.

(Kyle in need of a water break.)

Never fear, Kyle recovered within minutes and was ready for another round. It was a good day for all involved.

(Kyle with a big puppy grin right before class started again.)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

(Kyle posing as a moose due to a student's hands behind his head.)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


For the past three months Kyle has been having digestive issues. Everything goes in just fine, but it doesn't always come out quite right. Enough said.

Kyle switched to adult food shortly before his issues started. Thus, we aren't sure if the problems are related to his food or something else. My leader decided to weed out any health issues before we start playing with food choices.

This may be silly, but Monday was my favorite vet visit ever. Usually our vet gets us in immediately, but today we had a few minutes to wait. Kyle and I met some of the best people and their dogs. It was oddly fun to have to wait our turn. Plus, Kyle was a model pup and held his sit for quite a while. (I hate the idea of Kyle's head being near all the dog germs on the floor. It seems like asking for a repeat visit. Anyone else feel the same, or am I weird?)

Kyle passed his physical exam with flying colors. He appears to be the model of perfect health. I was thankful for hours of puppy handling because Kyle didn't bat an eye when the vet probed and prodded every nook and cranny of his body.

Finally, there was nothing left to do but collect a sample. The vet doubted my ability to return with one within a couple minutes. Is a dog trained to relieve on command all that uncommon? Needless to say, Kyle once again demonstrated his training without a hitch. Good boy!

The verdict? Kyle gets a couple weeks of antibiotics, and if they don't work, we'll start experimenting with new foods. In the meantime, I've found the first thing Kyle won't eat...his pills. He spit the first one out and gave me a disgusted face. It had to be pretty bad for that to be his reaction. Gross!

P.S. I smiled when I noticed that the vet stopped putting my name on Kyle's pill bottles. This one says, "Guide Dogs for the Blind."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

May 12th

Until tonight, I thought the first Utah puppy truck of the year was going to be in April. A fellow club member texted me and let me know that it is actually coming on May 12. My leader later confirmed that at our meeting.

What does that mean for Kyle? Unless things change, Kyle will be with me for another two months!

Kyle arrived on May 9, 2010. Since he was a transfer puppy, I never expected to keep him a full year. Instead, I mentally prepared myself for him to be recalled at the end of February when he turned 15 months. Now it looks like we'll just barely pass the year mark together.

(Kyle the day I picked him up. He was such a wiggly ball of fun that day.)

Now that we have a lot more time together, I need to find interesting things to entertain Kyle while training him. The way I figure it, we can use this time to further tip the odds in Kyle's favor for successfully graduating. First off will be cementing "stand" and perfecting his off leash recall. However, I'd also like to come up with new outings for him.

Has anyone out there kept a puppy in training until almost 18 months? I'd love to hear your ideas for outings and activities to work on Kyle's training as an older pup.