Saturday, April 30, 2011

Down to Nearly Zero "Accidents" and Sleeping through the Night

Little Vinson is really figuring things out fast. He's now regularly sleeping until 6 a.m. without any middle-of-the-night trips outside; and he's really figured out how to tell us when he's ready to go outside. He calmly gets up and goes to the door.

As recommended by The Seeing Eye, we always use the same door to go out with him, and we always use the same part of the yard. Now he knows that, when he needs to go, all he has to do is go to that door and we spring into action.

Way to go, buddy!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Feeling Great

Vinson seems to be feeling great and is surprisingly active considering the size of his splint, although you wouldn't know it from this photo I just took in the office here at The Seeing Eye!

A Special Meeting - Take Your Kids to Work Day

Yesterday, The Seeing Eye participated in Take Your Children to Work Day, and Vinson was a hit. Approximately 10 puppy raisers and area coordinators were on hand to introduce themselves and the pups they are raising to the room of about 20 children.

After some question and answer time, the children were allowed to move from puppy to puppy and pet them while speaking with their raiser. Vinson was a big hit, gave lots of kisses, and had many return visitors for a second petting. He also got to see one of his siblings, who returned to campus for the special event.

Full of Energy Again

Vinson seems back to his normal self, save for the giant splint on his back leg. He's really moving fast and even tried to play with the cats a bit last night. The challenge now is to get him some exercise while keeping him safely on the mend.

We also clipped his nails last night, and he was very calm throughout - an easy guy to work with. Now that nice spring weather has finally arrived, he just loves to sit in the grass and sniff the breeze.

Vinson will be back at Highlands Veterinary on Tuesday night for his first splint and wrap changing, and for his 9.5 week DHPP inoculation.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Back to His Puppy Self, Cast and All

Vinson received a boatload of love back at the office here at The Seeing Eye today. He's rebounding fast and learning how to manage with the leg splint on. He does not seem to be in pain and is back to mild playing. Yes, his "peg-leg" looks a bit humorous as he hobbles along, but he is taking it in stride. Vinson decided to chew on the towel during filming of this quick clip, which I promptly corrected after the camera was off. Any soft items require total supervision to prevent digesting any "foreign bodies". 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

In Great Spirits

Little Vinson is doing very well after a good night of sleep. He's learning how to get around with what we're calling his peg-leg. He is playful this morning and had a great appetite, and has figured out how to take care of his business in the yard with his new setup. Sarah and I are both so pleased to see him acting like normal Vinson. Way to go, buddy! Now it's off to The Seeing Eye for another doggie-sitting day.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Broken Leg

Vinson's Camouflage Cast with a sock to keep it dry
It's been quite a challenging day. Vinson's vet appointment showed that he did indeed break his hind leg in his tumble, and now he's in a wrapped splint from toe to hip. His leg is completely immobilized although he is managing to get around very slowly. He is super tired but is not whining and is still managing to eat, drink and eliminate, albeit with some modifications to his normal position.

So, the adventure continues with this new wild card. Vinson will now be going to the vet once per week for the next 6 to 8 weeks for checkups, and as he grows, he will need his splint size increased to match the length of his leg.

With all of this going on, Sarah and I still needed to make it to a family wake today, and Vinson received wonderful care from Kathy at The Seeing Eye. He was even enjoying the company of a shepherd pup when I picked him up this evening. We have to travel again tomorrow for a funeral, and Vinson will again be spending the day in great hands at The Seeing Eye.

Rest and limited movement are now key to proper healing, so we'll now be very attentive to keeping Vinson comfortable and safe.

With all of that said, he still likes to give kisses and is handling the problem like a champ. His splint wrapping is blue camouflage. I have a feeling he'll be getting even more love and attention from all who meet him now. Photos and videos to come soon.

Just goes to show you never know what might happen, but you have to be prepared to deal with the situation and continue on, and that's just what we're all doing. With a little extra love and care, this will soon be behind him and he'll be back to hopping, jumping and running like a little puppy should.

Vinson Takes a Spill

Our cat, "Porter" tries to make Vinson feel better
A tough morning for the little guy. Vinson was super excited this morning and chased the cat into the bedroom. When the cat jumped up on the bed, Vinson apparently tried to follow, but of course he couldn't make the leap. He fell on his left hind leg and cried like an upset child.

Now he is resting calmly with Porter trying to help him feel better, but Vinson won't put weight on his leg.

We are able to touch all parts of his leg, foot, toes and hips without triggering pain, so it seems likely that he strained or sprained a muscle rather than fractured a bone, but we will leave the final diagnosis to the Pro's.

Following what The Seeing Eye Puppy Raising Manual states, we immediately called our area coordinator and our local veterinary office. The coordinator recorded the incident and will pass the information to Seeing Eye vets, and we will update her (and this Blog) after his appointment at 11:00 a.m. this morning. As required by The Seeing Eye, our veterinarian will call The Seeing Eye for authorization before any X-rays will be taken.

Sarah and I feel very badly for the little guy, as you can imagine. There's nothing more sad looking than a sad, cute puppy.

This is another part of raising a puppy - given their tiny size and high excitement level, accidents can and do happen. The procedures are clearly defined in the manual, so it is up to you to follow them to a T.

Keep little Vinson in your thoughts today and we'll update the Blog as soon as we know more.

Monday, April 25, 2011

First Frontline Treatment

Vinson had his first Frontline treatment tonight. He was so tired after playing with the neighbor's child that he just laid on the floor and didn't mind at all. We had waited 24 hours in between giving him his first heartworm medication and applying the flea and tick treatment just to be sure he didn't have a reaction to either. With space in between, if he did have a reaction, we'd have been able to figure out which treatment was causing the problem. Reactions to both medications are very rare though, and little Vinson's good to go.

Packing for a Sleepover

Vinson will be staying with a dedicated, very experienced puppy-raising coworker Tuesday night while Sarah and I are traveling to attend a family gathering. I am lucky enough to work at a place full of loving, experienced raisers, but If you are considering puppy raising, it is very important to think about what your plan would be when life's inevitable curve-balls mean you have to be somewhere without your puppy.

Who will look after the puppy? Do you have a kit prepared - you'll be responsible for filling out the puppy sitting forms, providing vet forms in case of emergencies, providing pre-measured meals, dishes, toys, a crate, etc. When you're signing up to become a puppy raiser, take some time to determine two or three people or households that you would look to in these situations.

Sleeping on the Job - and Dreaming

Down to 3 Meals Daily Today

As part of his growing, today Vinson is reduced to three daily feedings instead of four. He will still receive the same amount of food in total, with the eliminated meal being divided and added to breakfast and dinner. We will not add any food to his lunch meal, as this meal will go away too when he reaches 16 weeks of age.

A Big Hit at Easter Celebrations

Vinson was a huge hit at two Easter celebrations yesterday. He visited two new houses and lots of family and friends. He didn't make a single mess in either house, and is really getting the hang of standing by the door and looking back at us when he needs to go out.

Vinson was incredibly amused by dandelions. He would sprint toward them and then chop off the flower with one quick nip (with myself or Sarah quickly reaching in and removing the bitter flowers from his mouth).

After getting home, Vinson was more worn out than we've seen him and slept very soundly.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Weekly Weigh-In

Today, Vinson weighs 9.8 pounds. He has gained 2.3 pounds in one week!

After giving Vinson the news, he quietly began chewing on the scale.

Happy 8-Week Birthday, Vinson!

Vinson is eight weeks old today. How are we celebrating? Well, it started with a little poop on the living room floor! After clean-up, we played outside in the mild weather. Later, we're heading off to meet some family for Easter celebrations, so Vinson has a big day in store.

Eight weeks is also the age when we begin Vinson's heartworm and flea and tick medications. We gave him his first heartworm chewable this morning and will wait a day or so before giving him the first dose of flea and tick treatment. By not starting the two medications on the same day, it makes it easier to figure out which treatment is causing a problem should he experience any type of reaction.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Growing Every Day

Vinson is growing steadily and we notice progress in what he can do every day. Today he made it up four of our stairs, and he can now come up the three  cement stairs from our "park" area on his own.

Sarah and I will be weighing Vinson weekly to chart his progress. Look for the first update on his eight-week birthday.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The First Bark

Tonight we heard Vinson's first bark. One of our cats was on top of a cat tower/toy we have, and Vinson isn't quite big enough yet to jump up on it. He wanted to play with him, and began play bowing and vocalizing to get the cat to play. At one point, we heard his first bark! High-pitched and cute. Just another waypoint on his path.

More New People

Sarah and I had some friends over for dinner tonight, and Vinson really enjoyed meeting and playing with them all - including their 4-year-old son. He loves to run in the yard (on leash) with children. When he's had enough and is tired out, he makes tiny whines that sound like a baby bear or something you'd see on the Discovery Channel. What a guy?!

Another Busy Night

Vinson's favorite place to sleep is a cat bed!
As Vinson continues to grow and become more active, little piddle mistakes and wake-up calls for trips outside at night continue - as is quite normal at this tender age. Like all puppies, Vinson explores new textures and items with his mouth, and his tiny puppy teeth can be quite sharp! We're following the recommended correction methods to let him know what is okay to chew (his food and toys) and what isn't (everything else!).

Vinson continues to be an overall calm pleasure to have in the house. Once he's done his business, he's content to sleep. His new favorite bed is actually a cat bed!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Vinson's Explorations

Meeting the Phone Repair Man

The phone repair man came this morning to replace an old phone line - actually, it was two men. Vinson was very intrigued, loved meeting them and gave them a big lick. At one point, Vinson did try to have a taste of the wire on one man's phone line tester. We quickly gave him a firm "no" with a light squeeze on his muzzle to reinforce that this is not a behavior that we want repeated. He responded quickly, and then went to sleep for the rest of the time they were here!


Following the guidelines that The Seeing Eye provided, Vinson is eating four times per day on a regular schedule. We will switch him to three time per day when he turns 8 weeks old (next Monday). At 16 weeks of age, we will switch him to two meals per day, a schedule he will then stay on indefinitely. At 1 year of age, he will be switched from puppy food to adult food, but still on a twice daily feeding schedule.

Given his young age, it doesn't take long for what goes in to "come out". Within 30 minutes of any meal, we always take him out to our park time area. 

All Worn Out

Vinson is currently sleeping with his face tucked against the couch!
Vinson gave us a couple of wake-up calls from his crate last night. It takes time to develop a regular schedule, and it take quite a while for a puppy to physiologically develop good control over his elimination schedule.

Sarah and I rotate nights - one of us "on duty" one night, the other the next. We make sure to keep a quick outdoor outfit, shoes, etc. very close by and ready to go. When we remove Vinson from his crate for a quick outside trip, we carry him until outside to ensure no messes inside.

Following the puppy manual provided by The Seeing Eye, we always use the same door when we take him out to eliminate, and we always take him to the same area. We encourage him by saying "park time", and provide positive reinforcement by praising him when he does eliminate in the right place at the right time.

"Piddle" accidents are inevitable in the beginning. We've had a few. They are very small spots and easy to clean. As part of our puppy proofing before Vinson arrived, we rolled up and removed our wool rug from the living room, as wood floors are much easier to clean.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Just Played with the Neighbors

Vinson met the neighbors after his dinner tonight and loved playing in the yard with their 3-year-old boy. They had a blast running in circles. Vinson likes to get hopping really fast, often ending in a rollover since he hasn't quite got all of the coordination figured out just yet. He had a big smile and enjoyed laying in the grass in the sun for belly rubs. Now he's sleeping on my foot on the nice cool wood floor. More new experiences to come!

Another Tough Day at the Office

Vinson Loving Days in the Office at The Seeing Eye

New Progress

Vinson wrapped in a Seeing Eye blanket
Little Vinson slept through the entire night without needing a bathroom break - just his second night with us! We were very impressed, and he seemed quite proud of himself this morning. He fell sound asleep wrapped in (ironically) a Seeing Eye blanket. We placed him in the crate with the blanket and he immediately was down for the count.

Closer Still

As we were winding down for bedtime last night, one of our three cats got brave enough (ironic, since he has claws and is twice Vinson's size) to share Sarah's lap with Vinson. Looking forward to when they realize they can cuddle and play together!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dinner's Done - Time to Sleep

Vinson sleeping after refueling
Tiny little tail at dinner time
Vinson enjoyed his dinner and is ready to play. Look at his tiny, cute tail!

Learning & Adusting Quickly

Vinson seems to be getting the hang of the schedule - riding to and from work. He slept quietly all the way home in his crate. He's sleeping on the floor between my feet as we speak. More photos and videos to come!

The Puppy Hiccups

Little Vinson has the puppy hiccups, but they don't bother him!

Vinson Doesn't Mind the Rain

Vinson is proving very content with the rain - so much so that when he's supposed to be taking care of business, he might just lay down in the wet grass. Good thing for towels!

What Supplies Come with a Seeing Eye® Puppy?

The Seeing Eye provides a very comprehensive package of guidelines and supplies with new puppies when they go out to meet their raisers. Here is a list of just some of the items we received:
  • A medical card with the pup's history, birth date, tattoo number and all key dates for inoculations and medications
  • A medication packet with heart and flea/tick medications
  • A collar, official Seeing Eye tag, leash, packet of food, shampoo and wipes
  • Approved toys (Hard chew toys only - no soft toys that could be eaten)
  • A comprehensive binder containing all of the information about the rules and guidelines for puppy raising
  • A DVD about raising a puppy
  • A detailed schedule of where the puppy can go and the types of interactions it can have at specific ages
  • A letter to present to local businesses and other public places you may want to expose your puppy to
  • A bandana for the puppy to wear when visiting approved public places
  • Official puppy raiser identification cards
  • Emergency contact and procedural information
  • Veterinary visit forms
  • Coupons for puppy food and various dog items you may need

Vinson Does the Moonwalk

While trying to figure out his new Seeing Eye® puppy tag, Vinson inadvertently learns the moonwalk.

Cats Venturing Closer

Cat inching closer to Vinson
As the night went on, the cats became more courageous. Vinson didn't seem to know what the big deal was - he is ready to play with them.

Vinson's First Night at Home

Size comparison: Vinson's just a little bigger than a shoe!
Vinson did great for his first night in a new house - especially considering we have three cats that are twice his size!

He did get a little fussy on the ride home from work, but it was also the longest car ride he's had to date. Once home, he was ready to explore. We hit the yard first to take care of business, then headed inside to learn about slippery wood floors and big kitties.

Vinson quickly fell for Sarah when she got home, and they spent lots of time exploring the house and playing. Once he was worn out, he decided to take a nap with her.

Vinson took to Sarah immediately

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sleeping Soundly

Vinson has had a busy day but he's doing great adjusting. He met lots of people here at The Seeing Eye, played a little and now he's sound asleep behind my chair. Sarah can't wait to meet him after work tonight!

We Meet - Vinson is Here!

Vinson and Ryan meet; Jill, my area coordinator is holding him
Just met the new puppy, "Vinson", a male lab golden cross 2. What does that mean? A lab and a golden retriever were bred, and then one of the offspring from that pair was bred with a lab.

Vinson is a lighter color than many yellow labs - almost white, and with the golden in him, his fur is much longer than a lab.

Vinson's mom is "Jasmine" and dad is "Linus". He was born on Sunday, February 27, 2011, and is 7 weeks and one day old today. His weight? Just 7.5 pounds!

Like all Seeing Eye puppies, he is tattooed in his ear with a number. His number is 2011167, meaning he was born in 2011, and he is the 167th puppy born this fiscal year.

He just had lunch and went out for a bathroom break. More to come...

Today is the Day!

And so it begins! Today is the day that Sarah and I will receive the puppy we'll be raising. We were told a couple of weeks ago that today would be the date and which litter the puppy was in.

The work at home and in my office began shortly after learning our "arrival date", following the guidelines The Seeing Eye provided to make our home and work areas "puppy proof".

After lots of anticipation and preparation, we're super excited to meet the puppy and begin our new venture as official puppy raisers.

Working at The Seeing Eye and raising a puppy is a unique situation, in that we are allowed to have the puppy on campus and in our office with us during work. There are some conditions that apply, due to inoculation schedules and the amount of dogs on campus.
  • Puppies have a special spot to relieve themselves, apart from where the working dogs go.
  • On-campus puppies have to be carried in the building until 14 weeks of age, again, based on specific shots that they can't get until that age.
  • The puppy will be crated when not outside or on lunch.

I'll be posting photos as soon as the puppy arrives!

The Application Process

Before applying to raise a puppy, we had to accept the fact that the puppy will not be "ours", and that we will be raising him or her with goal of creating a fantastic guide dog and companion for a person who is blind. Yes, that means we will have to return the puppy to The Seeing Eye at the age of about 14 months, when it is ready to enter official guide dog training.

Working inside the organization has provided myself and Sarah a unique opportunity to connect to the mission. We've puppy-sat for puppies that have now gone through training and our out working, guiding their new owners through daily life. That feeling - watching that transformation - is quite powerful.

The application process is detailed, and describes what to expect, but also allows the organization to determine if you are really ready to be a puppy raiser. There are lots of questions to consider, and you provide references (which are checked!) just like you would on a job application. You are expected to attend puppy club meetings to get a feel for the process - my wife has attended meetings at the Sussex County club, and I have attended a meeting with the on-campus puppy raiser club here at The Seeing Eye.

The clubs provide additional socialization for the puppies, but also are a major educational tool to help ensure we're producing calm, confident dogs that will make great guides. Club leaders arrange outings to public places like sports games, malls, parades and other situations that help the puppies learn, experience and grow. The club environment also allows raisers to work with different puppies, exposing the puppies to new handlers.

Once references are checked and you are accepted into the program, the wait begins. Raising a puppy for The Seeing Eye is an honor and a priveledge, and as such, the list of families waiting for a puppy to raise is long. Wait times can vary depending on breeding cycles and other factors, but expect at least four months, with specific breed requests taking much longer.

The Process Began in April, 2010

Ryan Puppy-Sitting

Shortly after joining the staff here at The Seeing Eye, my wife and I got involved in puppy-sitting for staff puppy raisers. We jumped right in, sitting for a 9-week-old German shepherd and a large one-year-old black lab for ten days.

After that experience, combined with the mission and seeing guide dogs changing lives, Sarah and I decided we would apply to raise a puppy for the organization.

Since that time, we've had the pleasure to share our home with many Seeing Eye® puppies who needed a place to stay for a night or two; and I've enjoyed having lots of canine company in my office in Morristown.