Monday, January 27, 2014

Puppy Fix!

It's been much too long again since I've written. So much has happened already in 2014 and I really should have wrote it down when it happened; instead of waiting almost a month to make a blogging appearance. (BTW, thanks for everyone who still reads and leaves comments). Although a lot has happened, I would like to tell you about mine and Nala's latest adventures. And, as the title would suggest, there is plenty of puppy involved.
Don't worry, we haven't gone and got another one. That said, it seems like this time of year always makes me want a puppy. Hopefully our newest friend will keep me out of trouble.
As most of you know, puppy raising for guide dog schools is something I've always wanted to do. Due to life circumstances, and one school flat out refusing us, Mr. K and I just have never had the chance. No, we're not puppy raising, but by the grace of some pretty amazing people, Nala and I get to be a part of a pretty incredible thing. Our latest adventure is two-fold, but one came about because of the other.
It all started with me talking with a fellow blogger about her adventures as a puppy raiser for Leader Dogs for the Blind, the school where I was matched with Jetta and later Glacier. LDB has recently embarked on a new adventure themselves and she was telling me all about it. As soon as I learned about the new program, I was hooked. I knew that I would do just about anything to help out. And, thankfully, they've agreed to have me along.
As many assistance dog schools are doing, LDB has started up puppy prison programs. Specially selected inmates are given Leader dog puppies to raise and from all accounts the prison raised puppies are incredibly successful as working dogs. What was more exciting for me was that one such program was recently implemented at a prison close to where I live. After a few email discussions, the puppy raiser said that I would be welcome at the prison as a part of puppy training days. I was over the moon. However, I missed my first opportunity due to bad winter weather and was quite disappointed. In the mean time, we had continued chatting and in a strange twist of fate, I ran into another of LDB's puppy raisers while out for lunch. Little did I know then that she and I would start spending time together, giving her 11 week old Yellow Lab some experience following around a trained guide dog and also as importantly, providing Nala the opportunity to work more while ignoring a very cute and persistent distraction.
We didn't initially connect on our own, but our lovely blogger friend put us in touch and we've had two outings now with the girls. She's also made it so that Nala and I have a reliable form of transportation to the prison program which makes things easier for me. Our outings have been to two local malls with a stop for coffee of course. It's been great swapping puppy stories and actually learning more about the training that the puppy raisers are responsible for. I always thought Nala and I caused chaos wherever we went, but it's nothing compared to two dogs-one of them being an adorable puppy-out in public. Nala and Kayla' puppy in training, are similar in colour and many people think that Kayla is Nala's baby. It's also been nice being around someone who is as crazy about dogs as I am. ;)
If all goes as planned, tomorrow we'll load the girls up and head over to the prison for a training session. She will swap her puppy for a dog who is almost ready to move on to advanced training for a few days. Jail breaking the puppies from time to time helps round out their training. Mr. K and I have discussed this aspect of the program and have considered applying. I know I'm more than willing. This upcoming Thursday marks another delivery of pups to the prison and an official puppy raiser training day. I had plans of attending, but somehow things have been turned on their head again. The cross country ski nationals start Friday and Coach T and I are driving the 9 to 11 hour drive to the venue on Thursday. So, unfortunately, this time is not our time. There will be another meeting though and come Hell or high water, I will be there.
Despite that disappointment, I still get my fill of puppy teeth/fur/breath with our unofficial training outings and also get to still go to the prison. I am so excited and grateful that Kayla's mom takes us along.
(For more information about LDB's puppy prison program you can go to the Leader Dog website or check out the blog Puppies Inside. After reading that blog I was very moved).


pattib said...

Yay! What a year for you...and for us! Good luck at nationals. And, for those interested, here is the link to my prison puppy-raising blog:

Amber DaWeenie said...

So good to hear from you guys again. What a fantastic program to be involved with. Best of luck to you and hope to hear all about it.

Hugs to all of you!

Yassine Labouch said...

the puppy is fixed now and welcome back, and i wish you will write daily

L^2 said...

Thanks for submitting this post for the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival, Jess. This sounds like a perfect opportunity for you!

Jenny said...

I'd love to be involved with something like that. Looking forward to reading that blog Patti