Bob, the third Seeing Eye puppy my family raised, is off to puppy college. Our area coordinator picked him up this morning. Bob, true to form, was happy to see her and left home without any fuss. We were sad to see him go, but (hopefully) he’s off to do great things.
Bob, a male German Shepherd Dog, arrived at our house at the tender age of seven weeks in early December 2017. Our goal was to teach him basic obedience while socializing him to the larger world. Over the last year we took him to work meetings, softball and baseball games, the Easton Farmers Market, and even New York City. He went to bookstores, hardware stores, and anywhere else that would accept him and provided a good training opportunity (the exceptions were restaurants and grocery stores; going to those places is saved for his formal training with the Seeing Eye).
Raising Bob was particularly challenging for me because I broke my right ankle only a few weeks after we got him. Training a puppy from the sofa is nearly impossible; training from crutches isn’t much better. I couldn’t really work him until I got the cast (and then the boot) off and he wasn’t particularly enthused about listening to me until I was able to consistently take him to work in Summer 2018.
Still, it all worked out. The crutches inspired a new training regime at our puppy club meetings, where we have people walk around with crutches in front of the puppies so they get used to these weird three-legged humans. My daughter, who wanted to raise a German Shepherd Dog, stepped up when it came to taking care of Bob and handling some of the training. She took over his early morning feed-and-walk routine and took on dog training responsibilities in our club. My son, who wasn’t as excited about Bob, helped out a lot as well (a puppy, after all, is still a puppy).
Bob turned out to be a great dog. As German Shepherds go, he’s pretty calm. He rarely whined or barked, and although he always wanted to know where his people were, he didn’t freak out when he couldn’t easily find them. He handled city traffic easily and was great in work meetings His only real work was being a little skittish around loud metal sounds and the occasional falling baby/puppy gate, but we worked on that. He’s super affectionate and loved to give early morning licks to anyone who made the mistake of getting to close to him. I can’t say those early morning licks were greatly appreciated by anyone aside from my daughter, but as his signature move, it certainly gave us something to remember him by.
Will Bob make it? We’ll see. He’s a good, solid dog who likes to work and took well to his training. That said, he needs to pass his physical and four months of advanced training, and a lot can happen in that time. If all goes well, we’ll be at his town walk sometime in early summer. That’s when we get to watch from afar as his trainer walks him through his paces in Morristown, NJ.
As for us, we’re taking a little break from puppy raising this winter. Indiana, our eight-year-old Labrador Retriever, and Hank, our two-year-old Lab/Golden mix (and a former Seeing Eye pup who didn’t make it) could use a break. We’re not done though; the plan is to get back to puppy raising with a new puppy — a black Labrador retriever or Lab/golden mix — in May 2019.
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A close-up picture of Bob on this last day with the Newquists. Credit: Ken Newquist