Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Back to Normal...For Now...

Alfie's sitting in a bed of jasmine vines at the base of a tree
Monday we got Alfie back from the Travis County Jail, where he'd joined guide dog puppy Piper at the Pawsitive Approach Program. I forgot my camera in the car so no pictures...rats! I enjoyed meeting his handler. She'd obviously done some good work with him and you could tell Alfie liked her a lot. She said that he did "test" her at first, but then settled in and worked well. Other than being too vocal toward Piper (which alas, doesn't surprise me), it sounds like he did all right (even on his down/stays, hooray!) They said they'd be happy to have him again any time. That was good news -- I'm always worried about how "my" puppies behave away from home!

My time away was truly wonderful, but of course it's good to be home, and good to get back to routine. Today I took Alfie with me while I ran some errands and decided to stop by Garden Ridge since I've never worked him there before. I asked him to "find the girls" (ladies' restroom) and he took off confidently to the right. I was pretty sure they were to the left, past the registers, but then again they'd done a remodel so I gave Alf the benefit of the doubt. Sure enough, he went straight to them! Good boy!

Alfie's got more excitement coming up on his calendar: on May 8 we'll be going to Splash Day, an annual fun event hosted by Guide Dogs of Texas. A few of us raisers will be doing a swap at that time, so I'll come home with a new puppy for a month...stay tuned for that! Going to live and work in a new environment with a new handler is always a good learning experience for the puppies.

top view of Alfie, blue work jacket on, as he gets ready to jump in the open door of the vanNew people? New places? Let's get going!

8 comments:

Mimi and CC Cabana said...

Wow, a month is a long swap--although I suppose the first couple days are the hard part, and then everyone gets used to it. Great job on finding the "girls", Alfie!!

3 doxies said...

Hey, found you guys through Toby's blog. Alfie is just way gorgeous...what kind of dog is he?
I can't even find the bathrooms in stores half the time...good boy!!!

Alphini's Puppy Raiser said...

Mimi -- Yep, I always miss "my" puppy when we swap!! But...I know it's good for him. Widens his world so much. And a different puppy is a fun challenge too.

3 doxies -- Welcome!! Alfie's a multigen Australian labradoodle (see explanatory link on the sidebar). I think he'll be a great guide dog one day...he loves his work! :-)

Ruby's Raiser said...

Great work, Alfie! How do you train him to "find the girls"?

Alphini's Puppy Raiser said...

Ruby's Raiser -- Actually, it's not as hard as you'd think. ;-) We teach other "finds" first (e.g. seat, trashcan, etc)...you give the command, then use a treat to lure him to the right object. Then you praise him, USE the object (sit down, throw something away), and give him the treat. We use the same procedure for restrooms, only there are 2 commands: find the boys (men's) or find the girls (ladies')...obviously I'll need to recruit male help for the men's b/c I'm not about to use a men's restroom!! :-) He has to take me to the handicap stall if available, since that's easier when you have a dog. It's actually an easy one for dogs to learn because it's a scent find (to a dog the men's and ladies' smell NOTHING alike!) I have heard several GDTx clients say this is one of the "finds" they're most thankful for! :-)

Ruby's Raiser said...

Excellent, thank you for the explanation. I hope to raise a Guide Dog puppy in the future, I'm very interested in the different kinds of training.

Becky said...

I can see the advantages of the 'swap' -- seems like it helps them be so adaptable. Cricket goes with the flow. that is so cool he is able to find the girls ... very handy!

Lisa, Ellie and Hosta said...

WOW - you are pretty awesome Alphie. That is cool they can tell the difference in restrooms. Never thought about that. Glad he got a good report. Yeah, a month is a long time - Hosta's in a swap (kinda, I'm puppyless) now and although it's for 4 days, I'm lonely without him! :D Yay for doing well on the stays!