This crew of 10 is 7 weeks old! They met their families a couple weeks ago and I’m pretty sure it’s fair to say they didn’t disappoint 🙂 The pups sailed through the weekend effortlessly since it wasn’t stressful for them to have visitors or be handled because they’ve been getting prepared for all of this from the very beginning of their lives. Mama Gracie soaked up all the love graciously too. She’s very laid back and happy to show off her babies, but likes to remind their admirers that she likes attention too. Speaking of Gracie, she and I are a brand new St. John’s Ambulance Therapy Team. Gracie went through the assessment process effortlessly and won the hearts of our assessors very quickly. She and I will be teaming up to visit local nursing home, hospital and schools.
Most of this crew is joining their new families in just over a week. We have one little girl who is staying for our 15 week program to continue her foundational imprinting, and then she is going to be trained as a psychiatric service dog. We look forward to the feedback as she goes through the comprehensive training and we’re already so proud of the change she will make in one very lucky lady’s life.
The pups and I continue to have full days. The pups are learning to love going into their crates and sleeping in there for short periods of time. It’s a work in progress to help them learn to love it, but families will appreciate what we’ve introduced so far. It’s not about putting them in a crate with a toy, shutting the door and walking away (or putting ear plugs in). It’s about helping them understand that it’s not a scary place, that it’s in fact their own safe place that they can go to when they need a break, a nap, or just hang out with their favorite toy. In order to establish this, we can’t just put them in there and walk away and let them cry it out. It takes time, patience, and consistency and lots of creativity on our part.
We’ve been for several rides in the van – either as a group or in small groups or individually. They have all become very comfortable and most of the time they explore for a few minutes and then curl up and fall asleep, missing most of the actual ride. But that’s just fine, that’s exactly what we want so they’re comfortable and easy to travel with.
Puppies have been exploring outside as much as possible too. They need to be able to explore, to pick things up with their mouths and learn about them, run through the grass, hear the wind, birds, vehicles going past as part of their development process. Of course we are always supervising them and remove anything unsuitable that goes in their mouths, but if it’s grass or leaves or sticks, we let them play until it becomes an issue. Unstructured play is so crucial in their development. This is where so much learning happens and natural brain connections. We have been doing a lot of training with them, and of course it’s very important but we wouldn’t have well developed pups if they didn’t spend the majority of their day just being playful puppies. As I type, I’m yet again reminded that I could just as well be typing a blog on healthy child development… the same rules apply. At the end of the day, we’re both mammals and our brain connections are made the same way.
Training wise, pups are very good at “sitting” before being pet or picked up. It’s pretty impressive to walk to their play area and after they initially stand on their haunches to see over the partition, many of them automatically go into a sit, as they’ve learned that sitting gets them good things (attention or a treat). They are all very quick to “come” when called and offer a sit when they reach us. We’re working on laying down, standing, and waiting as well. A new one this week is “place”. This one will take longer to master, but we’re planting the seed and they’re becoming familiar with what’s expected. All 10 puppies effortlessly go up and down a short flight of stairs, which will make transitioning to homes with stairs much easier. It won’t be long until these little balls of fluff are big, and carrying them around won’t be a desired task. The earlier they can learn to do things such as stairs, getting in and out of vehicles, and walking through doors independently, the better it is for everyone!
Hopefully Thanksgiving Weekend brings you time to remember what you have to be thankful for… regardless of our situations, there is most definitely ALWAYS something to be thankful for. The two biggest things that come to my mind is (1) my kids – who are the reason we brought Glenannon Station Retrievers into fruition. In order to be home full time so I could be a constant figure in their lives, we paired a love of goldens with my experience in early childhood development & helping families. I will admit, it isn’t always easy. Running our breeding program and looking after a home and family does not equate to big suppers waiting on the table, well organized home, and having everything looked after all the time. I am certainly not the stereotypical version of the stay home mom and my teenagers especially will be happy to tell you that meals are often plain and laundry often not done. The truth is, without our kids, I likely could find that perfect balance of working from home and being on top of everything within our life. But, what good would perfect balance be without the 4 kids who make our house a home. Our kids are the reason we’re doing this, they’re the reason it’s harder to do… but most important, they’re the reason we are so very thankful for this not-picture-perfect but absolutely blessed life we have.
The 2nd is my husband (1st and 2nd come in no particular order haha). He works so hard to give us everything we need, both at his paid job and at home. He works long days, and then comes home to help with the dogs, the kids, the household, and still makes sure he’s on time at almost every sporting event our kids have or to take our kids on a hunting excursion. All the while practically standing on his head to lighten my work load. He is here for us, unconditionally, all the time. I definitely don’t thank him enough and I’m sure he often feels the work he does is unappreciated, but it couldn’t be farther from the truth. I couldn’t do … and wouldn’t want to do… this crazy, unperfect-but-blessed life with anyone else.
Happy Thanksgiving Weekend Everyone… I hope you too can dig deep and find what it is that you’re thankful for.