Thursday, June 11, 2009

Dupree Explores the Rockies

Dupree's very first outing, other than to the vet and to our GDB monthly meeting, was on a weekend trip to the mountains with our family last weekend. We had no idea what to expect...

The first hurdle was to figure out how to fit us all in the van with luggage and Dupree's crate. So, we took out one of the seats to make room for the crate. No problem... plenty of room.

Dupree still doesn't want to get in the car - he never has. We give him the command, "kennel," and he just backs away. We gently nudge him closer to the car, and eventually lift his front legs into the car. Then he just stands there with his hind legs still on the ground, looking goofy. At that point, he isn't fighting it, and we just finish lifting him in. He seems just fine once he's in, and settles down right away. Is this a usual problem? He doesn't seem afraid of the car - he just would rather not bother. And it's the same getting out. He just stares at us with out moving. Huh.

Dupree slept all the way to the cabin - about a 3 1/2 hour drive. We stopped for a potty break, but Dupree got picky about the offered surface. (Ahem... where's my grass?) We've really tried to not get him used to grass, but I think the new smells distracted him. When he got out of the car, he just stood there wagging his tail, nose in the air, eyes closed, smelling the breeze. I can only imagine how exciting this must have been for him! It was really his first time he's been anywhere outside other than our yard.

He did great at the cabin, too. He was perfectly content on his tie-down, and had no problem settling down at night in his crate. What a great, dog-friendly place this was! It's a beautiful ranch with several cabins, animals, hiking trails, fishing, even an antique store. When we arrived, the owners had left us a welcome note (including Dupree), with homemade cookies. They also left Dupree a jar of biscuits (too bad he couldn't have any), biodegradable poop-bags, and his own towel. Wow. We're definitely going back there soon.

The next day we explored Aspen, and Dupree had his first experience in a restaurant. He settled down right away and slept under the table. We had more trouble with our squirmy 5-year-old than we did with the puppy.

Here is Dupree at the restaruant... quite a big event for a little guy. We were so amazed at how well he did. It's like this is old hat for him. If only he would behave this well at OUR table.

This is my favorite photo of the restaurant experience. He looks so little...

Here is Dupree walking down the long flight of stairs out of the restaurant...
And here is the family breathing a sigh of relief that we made it!
I'm surprised at how self-conscious I am bringing a dog into public places. I'm constantly wondering what people are thinking, if they're OK with me doing this, hoping I'm not annoying anyone... Of course there are lots of stares, too. I hope I get over this. Has anyone else experienced this early on? I'm sure I'll get over it.

Many, Many Firsts

Dupree has had so many "firsts" lately, I'm not sure where to begin... probably with getting his 4-month shots. That day really was a turning point for us, because it seemed to free us up - now we can take him out with us and not be so tied to the "no-more-than-two-hours-in-the-crate" rule. He was definitely ready... we think he was starting to get a little bored sitting around the house.

Dupree did great at the vet - he is such a people-loving dog, that anywhere that provides him with undivided attention is a great place in his world. He has so much extra skin, I don't think he even felt the shot. The trip was otherwise uneventful, other than the drive there with three kids and our 100-lb, manner less Bernese Mountain Dog, Clyde.

Dupree likes to puppy-play with Clyde. Clyde does not reciprocate. Clyde thinks Dupree is just plain annoying. So, we had no idea how the drive would go with the two of them together. The only reason we had Clyde with us at all was because the vet is close to my parents house, and Clyde was going there to spend the weekend.

The actual drive over went fine - we managed to keep them separated. Getting out of the car was another story. Trying to squeeze three kids and a puppy out of the van, with Clyde not taking no for an answer, was hilarious. The key was to make the door opening big enough for small children, but not big enough for Clyde. He was not happy.

After we got Clyde dropped off at Grandma and Grandpa's house, we went home to load up for a weekend in the mountains. Maybe that was a bit much for Dupree for his first outing, but it turned out great. He was an excellent traveller. YES! We are so relieved, because we love to take weekend-trips in the summer. Now we know Dupree will share our enthusiasm!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Yes, We're Still Here!

May is an insanely crazy month. Any mother of school-aged children knows what I'm talking about. But instead of listing a bunch of reasons why we haven't blogged in - what? - a MONTH, we'll just get on to our first order of business, and know that we'll be much more diligent after school's out (next week!) Now, on to Dupree!

First off, Dupree continues to prove to be a super-sweet little guy. Well, not so little anymore. But still adorable. We've encountered the usual puppy stuff, some very trying, and some very cute. Even with as crazy-busy as we've been, Dupree has adjusted into our lively household very well. Things have also worked themselves out with all of my volunteering at school and church. I've managed to never have to leave him for more than a couple of hours, and never more than once a day (except for very short errands). He actually seems very content in his crate, and I'm not feeling as guilty about my short absences.

Dupree has been a good sleeper from the get-go, and I'm so relieved about that. I had visions of getting up several times a night, but that never really happened. He whined a couple of nights for a little while, but not bad at all. He is very happy to crawl right in and sleep for the night.

Leah has been very on top of his training, and has spent quite a bit of time on the following:
* Let's go - pretty good at this when he's not distracted
* Wait - very good at this, especially before meals
* Sit - also very good
* Hand-placed down - not so great yet
* Kennel - pretty good when he wants to be
* Come - excellent! No-brainer!
* That's enough - very good
* Stand - not really getting this yet, but haven't spent much time on it

Some things that we're really trying to work on are:

- Not chewing on things (everything) when he's on his tie-down. Furniture and carpet especially. Even his tie-down itself.
- Playing gently with our big pet dog.
- Pooping on non-grass surfaces.
- Picking up anything and everything.

I'm concerned mostly with the "searching" for little crumbs at all times. One of the most convenient places for him to be on his tie-down is at our kitchen table. Since we're in or near there so much of the time, we like to have him there. He really likes to be close to us, so this is the best place. But I notice him actively searching for any little tiny crumb, and we can't seem to get him to stop. I sweep many times a day, so he's not really finding anything. But he's going to try! The other things we're working on seem to be normal puppy behavior that I'm sure he'll outgrow, but I would love some advice about the "searching" around the floor for whatever he can find. Outside is also a problem - pebbles, leaves, mulch... anything. Of course, we're always holding his leash outside so we can do corrections, but he is very persistent. Advice?

I hope everyone is doing well with their new puppies! We are looking forward to meeting Dickens! Dupree will be reunited with his brother!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Introducing.... DUPREE!

It's been way too long since we've posted... we didn't have much to update in the last couple of weeks, and you can guess how distracted we've been since last weekend! Thanks so much for the comments and suggestions for preparing for our puppy!

We welcomed Dupree last Sunday, and we are having so much fun with him. What a sweetheart!
So... here is what we've been up to. For a couple of weeks, Leah and I continued reading and re-reading our GDB manual and attending meetings. And asking tons of questions. And reading wonderful, informational blogs. And asking more questions. And buying toys and supplies. And getting more and more excited. We were down to the last two days, and heard that the puppy truck was delayed due to weather. ARG! We were so disappointed, but it turned out to be a good thing. The weather really wasn't safe to travel in. And we only had to wait one more day.

We arrived in Denver right on time, and listened to a great presentation about the history of GDB and a training demonstration. During lunch, we received an envelope with our "clue" for the puppy's name. The clue read: "You and me and your puppy." We quickly figured out that his name was Dupree (only because other people knew of the movie and told us- we had never heard of it).

We saw the puppy truck outside and knew that our puppy was inside, and it seemed to take forever for them to get the puppies ready.

Here is Leah waiting patiently for the puppies to be presented. And, I guess mom was a little exctied, too!

Finally Dupree was presented to Leah - the cutest puppy we've ever seen.

And the sleepiest. We were all walking around oooohing and ahhhhing over all of the puppies, and Dupree could barely keep his eyes open. We just can't get over how adorable he is. I've never known such a cuddly puppy - he absolutely loves to be held, and I love holding him. We make a great pair!

It was so much fun meeting other raisers in our region. Some people knew Dupree's mom and dad, and had great things to say about them. We even met his mom's raisers. We have such a great club - we're meeting so many wonderful people.

He slept all the way home, just as we expected. When we got home, we carefully introduced our pet dog, Clyde, to Dupree. Clyde, our 5-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog (our gentle giant) didn't take too kindly to Dupree. He was actually scared of him. Well, we'll need to work on that.

The first night was a breeze... he slept from 10:30 to 6:00. I was amazed, but I also didn't expect this to be the norm. And I was right. The next night, he barely slept at all. He spent most of the night crying. I was expecting something in the middle. The last two nights were pretty good - only needed to go out once, at about midnight, and was mostly quiet the until 6:00. I can handle that.

House training is our main focus right now. He hasn't had many accidents, because we take him out so often. We're teaching him to go on pavement so we don't have that battle later on, but he definitely prefers grass.

In general, Dupree is a very calm, sleepy, mellow puppy. He's not very playful - he tends to just plop down when we try to get him to play a little. I'm thinking it's just his young age, and he'll perk up soon. I'm in no hurry, though. I'm really enjoying this quiet, easy phase.

Our biggest challenge right now (and it hasn't been too bad) is trying to do my stay-at-home mom thing when I can't really take him anywhere. Picking up and dropping off kids at school and their extra-curricular activities takes up much of my time, as well as volunteering at school. So far, I've been able to handle it all without having to do much crate time, and I'm hoping it'll continue to work itself out.

Fortunately, there isn't a lot of school left, and Leah will be home full-time to help out. And we'll also be able to take him more places. In the meantime, I'm going to try to cut back on some of my committments and stay home more.

Off to bed... hopefully, Dupree can skip the midnight relieving session!

Thursday, March 26, 2009


We heard the news today... we will be receiving a yellow male lab, with the first name beginning with the letter "D." The photo we have in our profile is of a puppy we took care of for a weekend... can't wait to replace it with our own little guy!

Now that we've seen our names on the list, it really seems official. 3 weeks from today.. I feel like we should be getting ready?! We've done our research and have read the GDB manual almost cover to cover, have gone to every meeting since we started thinking about this, and puppy-sat many times. But I can't help thinking that there is more we should be doing to prepare... we'd love any advice for the beginners!

I understand that we are provided with the essentials (leashes, etc). I'm thinking about getting a dog bed this weekend, and maybe a few GD approved toys. Off to PetsMart!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Another beautiful weekend spent skiing in the Rocky Mountains. Perfect weather, great snow, friendly people, and breathtaking scenery. I find myself sometimes forgetting how lucky we are to live here. This trip, I made it a point to comment on the amazing snow-capped peaks that surrounded us – I want the kids to appreciate what an incredible place we live.

Our family of five stayed for two nights in Keystone, and went skiing and tubing. The skiing was an old favorite, the tubing a brand new adventure for all of us. I never knew a person could fly so fast down a mountain, unscathed! Tubing is definitely something we all want to do again soon.

Another reason we love Colorado… it’s dog country. Especially in and around the many ski resorts. Again, looking forward to the arrival of our first GDB puppy, I’m contemplating the dog-friendliness-factor everywhere we go. Yes, dogs are everywhere in the mountains. Even at the base of the slopes. Most on leashes, some not. Outdoor cafes, outdoor walking malls, parks. I was also much more observant this trip of people obviously traveling with their furry friends. I noticed many people walking dogs around the condo we stayed in – they may have been condo-owners, but maybe some of them were guests. Another thing I need to look into! Our family loves to take weekend trips to the mountains, and hopefully, we’ll figure out practical ways to have our puppy in tow.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


This weekend we had the opportunity to puppy-sit a guide dog-in-training... a 9-month-old yellow lab. He has a very sweet personality and we had lots of fun with him. We really got a taste of what it'll be like to raise one of these pups on our own.

Here is the little guy, "T," hanging out in our family room getting used to his tie-down. Because he isn't used to being around kids and other animals, he was constantly picking up kid and dog toys. It was difficult to let him have much freedom, because we found we had to always dig things out of his mouth. So... we pretty much had to take turns holding on to his leash and learning to live one-handed!

We had fun taking "T" on many short walks, a few stores, and even church. He had a little trouble sitting through church, and started the "puppy-leash-biting" thing, wanting to play. We had to take him out because we couldn't get him calmed down.

Above is a photo of Leah with her current charge... Leah will be the main puppy-raiser in our family. I know she'll do great!


We are brand new to "blogging," so we are trying to quickly learn the ropes. We should explain the inspiration behind starting this blog. I realized, as a mom, that I’m terrible at journaling – whether it be for scrapbooking, making memory books for my children, documenting special moments… I also realize that my memory is slipping, and I don’t want to forget a moment of this craziness! I really need to start a journal.

Leah, my oldest daughter, just turned 10. That statement alone amazes me. And how is it that I remember more about her birth than I do about my 5 year-old son’s birth? I’m forgetting the special and the everyday… the silly remarks and the monumental events. My hope is that keeping a journal of sorts will help me to document life’s extraordinary, everyday moments that I know will otherwise blur.

Back to Leah – and another reason for starting this “journal.” Leah has taken a very intense interest in raising a guide dog puppy for her next 4-H project. After months of discussion and researching Guide Dogs for the Blind, we all finally agreed to take on this project. As much as I love dogs and am inspired by this worthy cause, I had trouble imagining how this could fit into my life-style as a mommy of 3 very busy children. How could I possibly have a guide dog with me at all times when Leah is at school? Still not sure, but seeing Leah so excited eventually rubbed off on me and we’re going to tackle this. And I have to admit… I’m as excited as she is (almost).

Which leads me back to the inspiration of this blog… My advice to Leah was to keep a detailed record of this experience, because it will be one she’ll always want to remember. She’ll only have this sweet puppy for a short time (anywhere from 5 to 18 months), and we know it will leave an impact on our lives, and memories we’ll cherish. Not only will this be a tremendous amount of work, it will also be an emotional journey that we will all learn from. I want her to get everything she can out of this experience, and “journaling” would be a great way to do this. It may also serve as a place for other puppy-raisers to follow our journey and offer/receive advice and share stories. Or maybe inspire others to consider joining this cause.

Hearing myself give this advice to my daughter made me realize that documenting our family’s life should be more of a part of my life as well, leading us to consider beginning this blog together. So here we go! Updates coming soon on our adventures in puppy raising and anything else that strikes our fancy.