Saturday, January 28, 2012

Introducing River!

This is River. He is a seven week old future guide dog!  Raising a service dog is something that has been in the back of my mind for a while, and last year, I finally completed a puppy raiser application for Leader Dogs for the Blind in Rochester, Michigan.  There was a 6-9 month waiting list for a puppy, and right before Christmas I got a call asking if I could be ready to receive a German Shepherd puppy in a few weeks.  Of course I said yes! So, yesterday, Mom and I made a trip to the Leader Dog kennel to pick up this adorable ball of fluff!

Raising a service dog is very different from raising a pet.  There are certain toys he is not allowed to play with (such as tug ropes and tennis balls), and certain games he is not allowed to play (like, fetch).  He is never allowed off leash and also, has to be trained to relieve himself on command.  Perhaps the most well known, and most fun difference, is that he needs to be used to going anywhere a human can go.  This means we have access to places you would not normally see a dog so he can get used to the sights, sounds, smells, and distractions of everyday life.

We had our first outing last night when we visited the Walker family.  River was a little intimidated by their St. Bernard's barking, though we were no where near them, and wasn't too sure about the vacuum cleaner. But He had a blast playing with all the kids!

So what are we working on now? Top priorities include being quiet in his crate, house training, and learning to chew on appropriate items. (Not my fuzzy pink slippers!) We have also started learning basic obedience commands.  Using marker training, River has learned sit, and touch (touching his nose to my hand) in one day!  Other things he learned include where I keep his bag of kibble and how to tip over the garbage can... no, I didn't teach him those.

Stay tuned for more on River's progress. 
...I think I'm in for a year of adventures!


Candice said...

Mr. River needs to come visit us and get acquainted with Piper. She would love to see him. What an adorable little dog he is. He is so blessed to have you as his new mommy and trainer.

Mary said...

We will have to arrange a meeting soon before he gets much bigger! Looking forward to it :)