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Saturday, February 7, 2009


There's a lot more to puppy raising than the training walks. A lot of Dakota's growing up happens right here at home. And he's been giving us an education of sorts, too -- in doodling.

doodle -- vb To live with a labradoodle.

Okay, so you might not find that one in your Webster's. But what else do you call it? There's sure a lot about Dakota that's new for us.

His attitude toward food, for example...Our last puppy, Willie, just lived to eat. I don't know, maybe most labradoodles do too, but this one just doesn't care very much about food one way or the other. In fact, it took him quite a while to take any treats at all on his training walks. At this age, the guide dog puppies are still supposed to be on two meals a day, but a while ago Dakota just up and decided he was done with breakfast. After some trial and error we figured out that we can still "trick" him into eating breakfast if, instead of giving it to him in his dish, we have him do some obedience work in the morning and give him his food as a "reward." Strange but true! At dinner time we feed him his meal; he leisurely eats about half of it; then he comes and tries to cuddle up to someone with his soggy beard before going and finishing the rest. He's perfectly healthy...I guess he'll just never have to worry about his weight!

Another interesting thing about Dakota is that he is much more touch-sensitive than our lab was. Maybe it has to do with his fleecy fur. We'll be walking along on a breezy day when the wind lifts a corner of his jacket and kind of flaps it up and he'll just whip around and nip at it. Or, more often, if I don't get the jacket adjusted just right before the walk, Mr. Sensitive starts kicking at the strap with one hind leg, all the while trying to keep up with me on the other three legs! I've tried to explain to him that this does not help people to take him seriously as a guide dog, but I think he actually enjoys it if people laugh at him! Let's hope he outgrows this little stunt.

Dakota's pretty sensitive to sounds, too. He wears a tag silencer over his dog tags (see right) or I think he actually might lose his mind. Come to think of it, I love the silencer myself so I'll have to agree with him on that one.

But his most dominant personality trait is that he just adores people. He lives to cuddle, love, snuggle and all that good stuff...and absolutely 100% wants to please you. Now if we can just channel that desire I think we could have a pretty good guide dog here! What do you think?

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