Saturday, November 21, 2009

Introducing Alphini

brown labradoodle puppy
Well, folks, we have a winner! "Alphini" ("Alfie"), formerly known as "Orange Boy," is our newest recruit.

When we got to Dixie's Doodles in Georgetown, we found six of the most adorable, chubby little labradoodle puppies you could ever hope to see. Even after we'd narrowed it down a bit it was still hard to choose. They were friendly, bold, bright, and lively...not to mention as cute as could be! It was as if they were all saying, "Pick me, pick me!"

two puppies lick my face
Puppy temperament testing seems to lie somewhere between art and science, but if done right it can really help choose the right dog for the job. Michelle, our Puppy Program Manager, exposed the puppies to various stimuli and then carefully watched to see what each puppy's reaction would be. She threw down a shake can, which startled the puppies, and watched to see how quickly they "recovered" and went to investigate the source of the noise. She held them cradled on their backs...
brown puppy on his back in Michelle's arms
...these puppies acted like that was no big deal at all.

After a few preliminaries, it was time for the Singing Christmas Tree of Doom. We pushed a button and the little tree wiggled, jingled, and burst out with a raucous, "Rockin' around the Christmas tree... "
three puppies and a plush animated Christmas tree
...but again, the puppies were pretty unfazed. In fact, I think they kind of liked it!

puppy chewing Michelle's pants
Puppies, let me clarify: Chewing pant legs is not actually one of the tests!

Ideally a potential guide dog would be willing to walk under things (running through an agility tunnel is great!)...

puppy dashes into a tunnel
...look up as well as straight ahead...
puppy grabs a dangling toy
...and negotiate unfamiliar surfaces (here, a wire grate, rocking back and forth, partly covered by a crinkly jacket. Alfie attacked it with great enthusiasm).

puppy pounces on a blue jacket spread over wire grate
Michelle also spent some time just observing the puppies as they played and interacted with one another. It wasn't an easy decision!
three puppies rush up to grab my fingers
brown puppy

But at last, Alfie won us over with lots of persistence and a dash of charm. We look forward to bringing him home after Thanksgiving!


Natalie said...

Aww... Ya'll are so cute! Now I'm definitely jealous lol. I'm so excited for you and Alfie! Can't wait for more stuff after thanksgiving!

P.S. Just saw Ben's new blog, it's so exciting getting to see a new part of service dogs. Ya'll did an awesome job with Dakota :)


Alphini's Puppy Raiser said...

Ohhh...thanks!! :-) Yes, I LOVE Ben & Duckie's blog. It's amazing to be able to watch them start off together. Happy Thanksgiving!

Erin and her Dogs said...

Aww he is soooooo adorable! I don'tk now how you are going to be able to wait until after Thanksgiving!! :))