Guide Dog Pup, Jacob
Jacob is a fun-loving black Labrador who is currently undergoing his formal Guide Dog training in Launceston, after living with volunteer Puppy Raisers in Hobart.
His brother, Jerry, is also undergoing his formal training in Launceston, so the boys get to see each other regularly; almost every day in fact!
Three cheers for me! I have officially graduated from my formal Guide Dog training and will soon get to meet the person I will be helping for the next eight years. How exciting! This is the moment I have been training for. It was a lot of hard work (on my Puppy Raiser’s and Instructor’s part too), but it was all worth it.
We celebrated with a big party, and lots of people came and clapped when I went up on stage and swapped my “Learner coat” for “working harness”. It was a big moment, and I am very proud of what I have achieved. I am also proud of my brother, Jerry, who also graduated on the day. You can read about it here!
Thank you for following me through my doggy-bloggies. I really do hope I can update you in the near future, and tell you how I am doing and who I am helping!
It’s been a while since my last doggy-bloggy, and that’s because I’ve been in formal training!
I’ve moved up to Launceston to undertake my Guide Dog Training with a special Instructor, and so far so good! I did have some problems with lameness recently, so I am still doing shorter walks than before. But the good news is that I’m starting to extend my walks again and I’m particularly happy if these walks include going to by favourite café, “Swamp”!
Wish me luck!
Over the last few weeks I have been perfecting some of the skills I will need as a Guide Dog. I have been practicing on travelators and escalators and have discovered that I don’t need to fly off them; just a little jump at the end to protect my soft paws – who knew?! I was struggling a little with stairs, but our Instructor, Kim, gave my Puppy Raiser some tips and now I am a whiz at them, and I know that I need to step onto the first step when going up stairs and I don’t pull or lag behind when going down the stairs.
I have also been practicing in lifts. I went in a glass one at MONA! I was a bit surprised when it moved but my Puppy Raiser wasn’t worried, so I settled down quickly and enjoyed the ride. While we were at MONA we went into an exhibition with lots of people, dark rooms, loud noises and flashing lights. It wasn’t my favourite experience so we didn’t stay too long, but while we were there I coped really well and just focused on my job.
I went to the Botanical Gardens recently and my Puppy Raiser said I behaved perfectly! I wasn’t worried about any of the different surfaces and I wasn’t distracted by the people who were watching me or the many birds that were walking, swimming and flying around. We went to the café and I was very happy to have a snooze in the sun and look out over the gardens.
I have had a few special doggy playdates over the past few weeks, which I have loved. Denby, an older Golden Retriever, came to stay for a few days. We didn’t play too much but she taught me that it is okay to be outside, even if the humans are inside. I liked having her there but wasn’t too sure about her playing with all my toys so I kept a close eye on them. One of my best friends, Nancy Drew, came to stay for a whole day and we barely stopped playing, even when we were both too tired to stand. I share an office with her Dad and I was very disappointed that he didn’t bring her in for me to play with on the Monday. At work, I met up with Abby, a former Guide Dog puppy who now has another important role. Abby and I had met a few times at work (and we were perfectly behaved with our working clothes on) and our parents thought it might be fun for us to meet up without our coats and have a play.
Over the last few months I have really been growing up, or ‘maturing’, as my Puppy Raiser calls it. I really know that when I’m wearing my coat I need to be focused on my job and I don’t even get distracted by other dogs anymore! Well, most of the time…. When I’m not wearing my coat I love to meet nearly every dog, especially the little ones who bark and try to chase me. But now that I am a bit wiser I don’t try to bowl over every dog I meet. My Puppy Raiser says I am very good at reading other dogs and I approach them carefully now. I trot past slowly and let them approach me and if they’re not interested I leave them alone. This is really important as it means my vision impaired owner will be able to let me play in off leash areas and know that I won’t get into any (much) mischief.
I have been to a few new places over the summer. I went to a big noisy Christmas party where there were hundreds of people – and hundreds of people dropping food – but I was very good and mostly just napped on people’s feet. We went on a big bus to get there and back and I behaved very well. Lots of people were looking at me, talking to me and trying to get in sneaky pats but I just ignored them all. One of my toughest tests has been a visit to MONA for an outdoor concert. The people and music didn’t worry me, but there was a chicken wandering around! I was lying so still that it didn’t notice me until it almost walked on me. I really wanted to meet it, but I was working so hard to make do with a sniff from afar.
Over the summer, I have been visiting lots of different beaches which is one of my favourite things to do. I still love playing with other dogs and sniffing every single object on the beach, but I have also discovered that swimming is quite fun. My Puppy Raiser also loves swimming and when she dives under the water I swim out to check on her and then head straight back to shore and wait for her in the shallows. I’m still a bit wary of big waves but they are fun to jump over!
I’m getting older (I’m almost 2!) and I’m learning lots of things and experiencing lots of different activities. I even went on a plane recently. Being in Sydney was awesome! Waiting at the check-in was not.
I’m getting pretty good at recall. That’s going to be very important when I’m working with a person who is blind or vision impaired. They’ll need to know that I will come back straight away and touch their hand. I get it right most of the time, but I’m working on making it 100%.