The adventures of SD Juno and SDIT Kaline (and their human, Colt).

31 May 2012

Outdoor play and STACKED PHOTOS!

There are so many gorgeous photos of the puppies from today I just don't know where to start! They got to play outside. I don't know if it was their first time or not, but it must have been very exciting! I tend to view things through my service-dog lens, so as I was looking through the photos, I was full of delight at seeing all the different surfaces and objects the puppies had to explore. There was wood, grass, rocks to clamber over—learning to be comfortable and relaxed on all manner of surfaces is very important. Plus it looks like the pups had a fantastic time.

Chilling in the grass.

Exploring the deck.

Insane cuteness from no-collar boy.

Exploring the rocks.

Additionally, Maura posted the first set of stacked photos! In case the word “stacked” doesn't mean anything to you when it comes to dogs, the term means that the dog (or puppy in this case) is standing squarely, with their back feet far enough back that their hocks are straight and their topline is nice (i.e. not hunched over or way stretched out). It may look easy, but it's really not! Not even with an adult dog—teaching them to stand properly can take a really long time, and getting puppies to stand in the right position, and stand still, is a big task.

Brown collar boy stacked.

Brown collar boy.

White collar boy stacked.

White collar boy.
No collar boy stacked.
Red boy stacked.
Red boy. What a face!

Black girl stacked.

Black girl.

Red girl stacked.

Don't you just love their fat little bellies? Precious.

Kaline's in-training vest came yesterday. I'll post photos once the patches are sewn on—taking it to the tailor tomorrow!

28 May 2012

The puppies are five weeks old!

I can't believe they're five weeks old already. They look like dogs, it's just crazy. Super squooshable dogs, true. I can't wait to start seeing some stacked photos and maybe getting more of a sense of the puppies as individuals. Right now, it's pretty hard to recognize anyone but the black boy with the white collar, the enormous red boy, and the teeny red girl.

One of the black boys—who knows, this could be the future Kaline!
It's getting so close and real. I just picked up a huge popup crate from a friend the other day; next weekend we're planning to take a bunch of stuff out of my room and put it in storage, so I have more puppy space. Just emailed my clients to tell them I'm taking two weeks off when he arrives ... Wow.

More cuteness. I just wish the video was longer—of course! Future Dobie parents who live close by are going to get to start visiting the babies. More than ever, I wish I could teleport!

23 May 2012

More stuff for the dogs!

Well, I finally ordered Kaline's in-training vest. He won't start wearing it in public for a while, but I want to be sure that 1) I have enough time to get all the patches sewn on before he needs it and 2) I have it when he gets here so I can take unspeakably adorable photos of him basically swimming in it.

This will end up being his backup vest—generally, I prefer the Petjoy Harness Vest (sometimes with saddlebags!) because it has the handle if I need it. And it looks more Serious And Professional. Obviously Kaline's not going to be doing any pulling for a very long time, so I'd rather he start off with this real light, basic vest. Why can't he use Juno's backup light vest? Cause I was an idiot when I purchased it and had “JUNO” embroidered upon it. Thus leading to all sorts of people going, “Look, a dog! Hey, Juno!”

I'm also in the process of ordering a kind of pop-up exercise pen, which I plan to use for both Kaline and Juno long-term at obedience trials. In the short term, I'm going to use it so Kaline can come out to training in the park without me worrying over him eating something/catching some sort of disease. Originally I was getting your basic six-sided pen, but then Lynn, the wonderful proprietor of Pet Place downtown, alerted me to a larger, taller pen which also has a top and bottom.

This baby.

If it isn't a ton more expensive than the other option, we're going with it. It looks awesome!

Juno also just got gifted a doggie puzzle. We put her dinner in it and it was pretty hilarious. She caught on fast. Definitely gonna use that for Kaline as well, provided he's as interested in his dinner as Juno is.

21 May 2012

Puppies are four weeks old!

Today the pups turned four weeks old, and it was “moving day.” Maura moved them into the main room, where they'll get to be around more of the bustle of the household. They'll also start meeting more people, including children, and they'll get handled by these people.

The pups in their crate, moving to their new spot in the main room. Look at those squooshy little faces!

This is incredibly important for all puppies, but especially for my little guy in his development as a service dog. Service dogs can't be scared of certain kinds of people—they've got to be relaxed around people of different sexes, sizes, shapes, colors, and ages. Juno gets randomly touched all the time by different people, despite all her patches. I tell people not to touch her, and try to block them if possible, but she's got to be relaxed with it happening if it does happen. A service dog has to be able to ignore the idiots and keep focusing on his or her job.

So the more things puppies are exposed to, and become accustomed to, at a young age, the better! Damn, I wish I lived near Maura so I could go visit.

19 May 2012

Why are you paying so much for a dog?

Purebred puppies cost a lot—that's why a lot of people, properly, adopt rescue dogs. It's also why a lot of people—stupid, lazy and/or ignorant people—buy dogs from backyard breeders, Craigslist, puppy mills and pet stores. I can definitely see why the initial price tag of a Doberman puppy would give a person pause.

So here are my reasons for going this route anyway—and why a dog like this costs what he does.

First of all, as should be obvious by now, this puppy is not going to grow up to be a pet if all goes according to plan. He is going to have an important job which requires him to have excellent health and temperament. Can you find a dog with excellent health and temperament in a shelter? Yes, you can. Can purebred dogs, bred by the most conscientious of breeders, still end up with health/temperament problems? Yes, they can. Still, going with an reputable breeder gives you an good chance of avoiding such problems. Plus, good breeders will stay in contact with you and can be an invaluable resource for advice throughout the dog's life.

There was a good article in Forbes a while ago about the true cost of a dog. If people are getting a family pet, I don't really think they should be going to a breeder, personally. I think they should be adopting from a shelter or breed-rescue. But some people really want a particular breed, for whatever reason. And if they are not going the breed-rescue route, then it's to the benefit of everyone (people and dogs) that they go to a reputable breeder, despite the higher price tag.

Not only is there the health and temperament consideration, but also the fact that when you buy a puppy from a backyard breeder, puppy mill or pet store—none of which do health testing, and which breed irresponsibly with no thought for bettering the breed, just for making money—you encourage such people to continue doing exactly what they are doing. A good breeder has maybe 1-2 litters per year; backyard breeders/puppy mill people view bitches as puppy-making machines, and want as many puppies out of each as they can get. Their puppies may be cheaper, initially, but likely not in the long run.

The people who think they're “saving” a puppy in these situations are flat-out wrong. You save a puppy when you adopt it from the shelter where this "breeder" has dumped it once it doesn't sell. When you "save" a puppy from a greeder, you encourage that person to put even more puppies in that unfortunate situation.

This explains why I went with a reputable breeder, and why anyone who chooses to go the breeder route should do so as well.

But why do the puppies cost so much?

Well, this post on Doberman Talk's forum does a great job explaining it. For those who would like a quick, dirty summary, here goes.

Good breeders spend a ton of money on their dogs. Showing in conformation is expensive, but generally no good breeder will breed an untitled bitch (there are some exceptions, of course—it's not always a red flag). Competing in dog sports is expensive—many breeders like to title dogs on "both ends" to show they really are capable of doing what the breed is supposed to do.

Other things are also very expensive. Like health testing. This is not just a vet check—we're talking hip X-rays, elbow X-rays, thyroid testing, DNA testing for von Willebrand's disease (a disease specific to Dobermans), CERF testing for eye problems and heart tests. No good breeder will breed dogs who are not health tested.

Then there are stud fees. And expenses for transporting the bitch. Then the expenses of caring for the bitch during her pregnancy (note, I'm not even talking about the general costs of just having a dog.) And then you have the newborn/toddler puppy expenses, which are considerable as well. No good breeder will skimp on these things.

After I read that post, I was amazed breeders don't charge more.

17 May 2012

The puppies are starting to eat (kinda) solid food!

They're so huge and gorgeous! These photos are from May 16:

I think this is the red male.

If the collars have stayed the same, then this is the firstborn boy who plopped into the daffodils.

Then here's a new photo from today, maybe of someone thinking about making an escape?

He or she really is starting to have a doggy face! By which I mean an actual snout, as opposed to a wee little smushface. Which is equally cute.

15 May 2012

Things I have so far for Kaline

I've slowly been buying things for Kaline, one or two items at a time. I think of it as delightful retail therapy (wink, wink). Here's what I've got so far!

  • Go Blue collar, medium size
  • Go Blue collar, large size
  • University of Michigan engraved I.D. tag
  • Bold Lead Designs six-foot leather leash
  • Brush (Juno's Furminator will be too much on a thin Doberman coat)
  • Two-bowl diner set
  • Antler chew
  • Extra-large wire crate with removable partition
  • Old-style (no extra plate) Sprenger prong collar, small links
  • Full-size used popup crate

Things I still need include:

  • Kaline's in-training vest from
  • Cheap, small crate pad (which I assume will get torn up at some point!)
  • Better supply of Nature's Miracle
  • Super-tough stuffies
  • Black Kong
  • Winter coat, likely a Ruffwear CloudChaser (probably won't get that until he's closer to full grown)
  • Tab

Things Juno has that Kaline can share:

  • Dremel (for grinding down nails)
  • Multiple dog beds all over the house, including the kiddie-pool bed
  • Bold Lead Designs 8-way leash for service dog work
  • In-Training clip-on
  • Stuffies of regular strength in vast quantities (I hope he is a stuffie sucker, not a stuffie destroyer—we'll have to keep an eye on that!)
  • Toothbrushes & toothpaste
  • i-Click clickers
  • Shark line
  • Dumbbell
I sent off the last bunch of moolah to Canada today for Kaline—just about six more weeks! I can't believe it. Maura said they were drilling something in the room where the puppies are today; all the pups were completely unperturbed and ignored it—and one actually went to investigate!

13 May 2012

A wealth of puppy videos

Happy Mother's Day to mama Dolce!

The puppies are going to be three weeks old tomorrow, and today Maura posted three fabulous videos! They're up and mobile, eyes open, vocalizing with incredible adorableness. In the next few weeks, we'll really start getting to see all the pups' personalities. Probably, after another three or so weeks have passed, I'll know which puppy is Kaline!

 Juno is quite the talker, when off-duty, so hopefully this means Kaline will be too! (To be fair, though, the puppy making all the noise in the video is the black female—evidently she was not happy that she had to have a bath.) I'm always having to tell new people, “Don't worry if she starts to growl when you scratch her butt, that means she's happy and you should keep doing that.” Sometimes if she's really feeling playful she'll make her wounded bear/Wookiee noises. And of course, when we're out at training in the park and she has to honor a different dog working, there's a constant stream of commentary from the Juno Peanut Gallery. You can tell her down, and she'll go, but the whole time she'll be grumbling or yodeling in hilarious protest.

I can't figure out how to embed the third video, which shows some of the pups playing, so here's the link!

11 May 2012

Travel plans (mostly) confirmed!

The parents have approved shipping Kaline early from Toronto! It may not be exactly on June 25, depending on the breeder's schedule, but it'll still be early! Freddie is over the moon and said she'll have me covered for the five or so hours on Saturday June 29 when I'm supposed to go to the Olympic men's gymnastics trials in San Jose. She has tons of great ideas already for things to which to expose the puppy. Exhibit A: Actual kiddie pool. (As opposed to Juno's enormous bed, nicknamed the kiddie-pool bed cause it's huge, rimmed and blue.)

Not that anyone cares but blogging may be out for a while—one of my training dogs slammed my hand in the car door by jumping on it while I was trying to open it. So typing is not fun right now.

10 May 2012

Puppy travel & possible registered names!

When you live in California and you decide to get a puppy from eastern Canada, you know that travel is going to be A Thing.

We (my dad and I) are currently somewhat on the fence about whether to fly to Buffalo to get the puppy, or to have him shipped from Toronto. It's more expensive for people to fly from San Francisco to Toronto; Buffalo is a little further from the breeder, but cheaper and then we wouldn't have to cross the border. The puppy flying from Toronto, though, is way cheaper than us flying roundtrip to Buffalo. Toronto has direct flights to/from San Francisco; Buffalo doesn't. I wouldn't consider a non-direct flight for the puppy by himself. With shipping the puppy, you also have to consider heat ... So there is a small possibility I could get him a week early if we go that route.

Tons of people—people who know what they're talking about—have told me that puppies are shipped by themselves on planes all the time with no physical or psychological ill effects. A friend just had her new little SD candidate shipped to her, and he's doing great. But I still make up worst case scenarios in my head. It's kinda what I do. So all things being equal, I'd rather go get the puppy, despite the possible hassles of traveling with two dogs and attempting to do a potty break with a baby puppy on our return layover. Knowing exactly where he is and how he's doing the entire time would make me feel so much better.

However, flying both my dad and myself to Buffalo is, um, really expensive and thus makes all things not so equal. Not even counting in the pet ticket for the way back. And this is if we took a red-eye so we wouldn't have to spend a night in a hotel. It's considerably more expensive than shipping the puppy. But ... Dad all of a sudden is kinda excited about the prospect of staying over and going to see Niagara Falls. That could help in getting us to Buffalo! Decisions, I am so incredibly terrible at making them sometimes.

See how the fence sitting thing works? All right, enough of the agonizing over travel. Here, have a picture of 17-day-old puppies.

AND ... Here are the three picks I'm sending off to Maura for Kaline's registered name. She has final say, and might not choose any of these three. It was great fun picking them anyway!

Gatehouse Michigan & Trumbull (The Corner, where Tiger Stadium was located in Detroit)
Gatehouse As Time Goes By (cause his dad's name is Ambermark's Play It Again)
Gatehouse Lucky I'm Cute (cause this is the L litter)

07 May 2012

Puppy class!

Sunday morning, I got to attend two puppy classes! I definitely want to take Kaline to these classes when I get him—I just hope there are enough other people with pups so that there is class.

The classes are run by Amy de Benedictis, the Puppy Lady, and they're awesome! The first one is called Play and Learn, where the puppies get to play with each other while the owners learn from Amy. Unlike a lot of “puppy socialization” classes, the puppies do not get to play non-stop and do whatever they want. Periodically, the owners have to go get their puppies, either through calling to them or actually walking up to them and putting a treat on their nose. They have to leave the play session, after which they are rewarded for doing so, along with doing a few more simple obedience commands. It's super for them: they learn that they do have to listen, even when they're playing, but that after coming back to their owners, they'll get to go play again too. They also work on familiarity with things like skateboards, obstacles like tunnels, and ramps.

The puppies are learning sit, down, a pretty excellent recall (SO cute to watch!) along with a handy “wait” command. Not nearly as formal as stay, it just means don't go forward. I use it a ton, especially when I'm out with four or five dogs and one of them randomly decides to poop in the middle of a sidewalk. So much easier to clean up quickly if your other four dogs aren't trying to yank you in all different directions!

The pups, unsurprisingly, are cute enough to make me completely incoherent. One is a beautiful dark brindle American Bulldog/pit bull/Lab mix—definitely my favorite! Then there's a real smart but somewhat nervous little shepherd mix, plus two incredibly floppy standard poodle littermates. During playtime, the pups always paired off, poodles together, mixes together. It was pretty funny.

The next class, for slightly older puppies, is Let's Go On Leash, where the pups learn things like heel and stay, in addition to their other commands. That class had two Labs (I love Labs!), a pug/beagle mix and a tiny shaggy brown-and-white mix.

I can't wait to get my little Kaline into these classes—I think they will be invaluable precursors to getting into the intense Saturday group class run by Freddie. The exposure not only to other dogs, but to random things like the tunnel, will be fantastic for him.

And speaking of Kaline, the litter is doing very well—they're two weeks old today, and their eyes are open!

06 May 2012

Puppies at 11 and 13 days

Puppies at 11 days

Black girl (probably)

Black boy (probably)
Red boy

Puppy pile!

 Puppies at 13 days
Little black pup on the reds

Sleepy puppy pile

Black pups want to play

Sleep pile

Juno in the city

Yesterday, after Danny, Juno and I went to another Giants game, we decided to make a day of it in the city. It was great fun, and I basically could not have done it without Juno.

A characteristic of fibromyalgia is a lack of energy—it's commonly associated with chronic fatigue syndrome. So entire days of stuff just don't usually happen. I paid for it a bit today, anyway (crashed after lunch, didn't wake up for about three hours), but it's Sunday, and I could do it.

So our first order of business after the game—where Juno again was a pro, didn't even eat one peanut shell—was to get a victory donut across the street, since the Giants won. So delicious. Then we made the trek back to the car. Along the way, Juno and I ran into a Random Drunk Guy, as is wont to happen after a Giants win, who got right in front of her and was going to pet her, with a lit cigarette in his hand. As you can imagine, we both went into major avoidance mode!

We drove to Pier 39, and walked all the way to the back to put in our name at Bubba Gump's. Then we went to this awesome pet accessories store, Le Beastro, the only one I've found that sells multiple tchotchkes with natural-eared Dobermans on them. I ended up getting some notecards this time, but I definitely will be back! I need more! Had a lovely discussion with the cashier as well, about how the U.S. is one of the only first-world countries where people are still allowed/encouraged to chop off their dogs' ears.

Dinner at Bubba Gump's was awesome. The line to be seated was in a narrow sort of corridor, and Juno blocked pretty perfectly while we were waiting. Then at the booth, which was raised about four inches or so from the floor, she got to curl up in the most adorable ball just at the edge. She could people-watch happily, with her feet and tail in safety. Plus Danny and I had room for our feet, woohoo!

Juno's big moment came after dinner, when we decided to walk over to Ghirardelli. Boy, did I need the pulling then. My back was starting to complain (it turned into full blown hatred after I leaned down suddenly to pull Juno back bodily as a passing dog lunged toward her), and I was pretty tired. I compare walking with Juno, when she's pulling nicely, to walking on one of those airport walkways. You're putting in the same effort (or less) as you usually do, but you're getting a lot more out of it. With her I can walk a lot faster, and with less effort, than I do without her, and it helps a ton.

We had about a twenty-minute walk each way along rather crowded sidewalks, which several times included uncontrolled dogs. (My idea of an uncontrolled dog: Dog dragging owner, on flat collar or worse yet, harness, by the leash.) I am vigilant and largely suspicious of dogs/owners I don't know, especially when the dog seems to have the upper paw. We tried to give them as large a berth as possible.

Juno was amazing, skillfully weaving through crowds and ignoring all distractions. Once we passed a crowd of girls, who Juno did not even look at, and you could tell where we were because each one in turn shrieked, “JESUS!” as we passed. Sometimes you wonder if people have ever seen a dog before.

We walked through Fisherman's Wharf, down several “hip” blocks that were just crawling with people, and finally made it up a bit of a hill to Ghirardelli. Juno once again smoothly worked the crowd, blocking for me in line, then hiding nicely under the table while we shared our sundae. And then she worked back through the crowds to get me back to the car.

Danny commented on the way home that I will be a very lucky person if Kaline ends up being as close to as good a service dog as Juno.

That I will.

02 May 2012

Pups at 9 days

Nothing quite like pictures of fat little puppies! Enjoy!

This little face makes me say incoherent things.
The little red girl, between two of her bruiser brothers (or maybe a brother and sister).

Giants game

Last night, Danny, Juno and I went to the Giants game! We actually ended up getting to see my friends Sonja and Nicole, who both also have service dogs. It was crazy we ended up at the same game! Sonja and her SD, Jolanda (who is the cutest little Australian Cattle Dog ever) came to visit us at our seats. I keep score during ballgames and won't move unless I am forced. Sonja fostered a litter for her local shelter, and it turns out she kept one of the pups, Chief, to train as Jolanda's successor! So that was pretty exciting.

Juno spent the game conked out behind my legs (and Danny's, of course—she's big). Despite worries about squishing her in a small space, that arrangement actually worked out a lot better than having her in front of our feet, which is what we did in Sacramento. She hardly moved at all, where in Sacramento, she was a bit fidgety sometimes. And amazingly enough, people were able to get by us without stepping on any of Juno's paws or her tail! Win.

After the game, we decided to take the elevator down. I do not do well in crowds (like the one going down the ramp). I ended up in a crowd anyway, waiting outside the elevator vestibule, and while we were basically trapped by people, with Juno blocking as best she could, some guy reached down and started fondling her ears. Normally I'm happy to educate the general public, but when I'm trying to hold it together, and Juno's doing her best to help, and someone jumps in trying to pet/distract, I am, shall we say, bitchy.

I smacked his hand lightly, and said, “Don't pet her, she's a service dog.” As if it wasn't obvious, what with the many patches and the harness. He looked at me like I was the meanest person ever. Don't care.

Then I heard Nicole and her family calling—they were in line too! So we moved back a little in line, and Danny got to meet everyone. Juno and Becker, Nicole's SD, were incredibly cute, having their little reunion. Even after we told them to go back to work, they kept sneaking sniffs. And you just have to laugh.

We got on the same elevator, and heard a lovely wonderful mother telling her kids, “Those dogs aren't for petting. They're working dogs.” I absolutely love it when I hear parents educating their kids. I also love going around with other SD handlers, because invariably they're much better than I at answering the various questions we always get.

Juno pulled marvelously all the way back to the car, and did pretty much the cutest thing Danny and I had ever seen. Normally she has no problem walking on any kind of surface, but we came up to this metal plate in the sidewalk (solid, not a grate), and totally nonchalantly, Juno jumped over it and then resumed her steady pulling. Barely broke stride. We were laughing about that for a while!