Dave the Guide Dog

Tonight my family and I had the privilege of speaking with Dave's forever person.

Dave is a guide dog. You know how cool that is to say?

His person just kept expressing how thankful they were to have Dave. How Dave turned their lives around and gave them the confidence they needed to succeed and continue in life.

My family and I are beyond excited Dave's person wants to keep in contact, share pictures, and chat about Dave's puppy-hood and his future.

Raising a puppy is like raising a child. All the teething, late night/early morning potty breaks, potty training, house breaking, store manners, exposures, dealing with any fears, issues or illness that may arise. Then they leave. They go off to college and you don't hear anything for months... (my goodness, are they partying or studying?!?)
Then in Dave's case we hear he is pulled from the guide dog program and in Veterans assistance, then wait, back in the guide dog program and them seemingly a few shorts weeks, matched and already gone! So crazy, such an emotional roller coaster. But oh, so exciting.

Tonight's phone call made my day. My family stayed up for a while reminiscing. Talking about funny things Dave did. Talking about how we are so proud of him.

When Dave's person reads this blog, I want you to know how proud we are of him. He is a pretty cool boy with big, exciting future ahead of him. I hope you enjoy his blog!
We know he is loved, cared for and adored by his new family. We can't wait to send our box full of his stuff to you!

   Meagan and Family
The Boyle family in Tennessee on vacation. Scarecrows and pumpkins are decorations behind them during a trip to Gatlinburg


Amazing News!

I cannot believe I haven't posted an update yet! And such a special update is needed!

We got a call from our amazing Area Coodinatoor, Sue. Sue shared that Dave is no longer in the Veterans Assistance program... but BACK IN GUIDE DOG TRAINING!

*insert screaming, laughing, tears, shock... then wait.. what? How did that happen?

From what we were told and understand... Let's just say Dave is "pudgy". His momma is pudgy and Dave takes after his sweet momma. Well, Dave lost some weight (i.e. romping with the other dogs, working) and the joints in his hips somehow developed more and when they retook his x-rays, they are now guide dog working worthy! Say what?!?!

We were a little shocked to hear this... we never heard of this happening with dogs before and asked if it had. Leave it to Dave-Man to surprise everyone and change that! Dave is the first dog for Southeastern Guide Dogs for this to have happened to. Let's just keep our fingers (and toes and eyes) crossed that everything stays the same.

I know Dave is going to to great. He's just cool like that :)



Dave is like Sprite?

My family went to Southeastern Guide Dog's 30th anniversary open house a few weeks ago. We saw our friends who are wanting to be puppy raisers and while walking with them, we spotted our sweet Ellie May with her person... she went nuts. But within 5 minutes, she was back by Paul's side and ready for her working coat to be put on. I could not ask for a better person for Ellie. They work so well together!

Ellie in a sit leaning against Paul's leg

After that we moseyed over to Leslie, who is head of the Puppy Raising Services. She is also in our puppy group. While talking with Leslie, she mentioned that Dave's trainer is here and happened to be standing right next to us :) 

 Now let me share some polite puppy raiser etiquette. When you turn your dog into "college" you are not permitted to have interaction with the dog. At all. It is best for the dog that way. Trust me. The dog needs to focus on working and doing what they have been bred, born and raised to do! As well as not distracting the dog, it is impolite to distract the trainers. They are there to help you 110%. BUT, when your dog is in school, it is a good idea not to bombard them with questions, ask them about your dog, how are they doing, etc. One way I heard it put was, imagine if every puppy raiser (approximately 200 puppy raisers!) came to the trainers and asked how their dog was doing in "college". That's a lot of questions. So, it is best to just wait until reports come in. OR ask your Area Coordinator.

Being polite and biting my tongue, I introduced myself to Dave's trainer. She said "I just have to give you a hug!" I was a little shocked (I don't mind hugs, but I wasn't expecting that!) She was so excited to meet me and my family and was more then happy to give a report on Dave.  She described Dave as a little like Sprite!! She said "You know, when you take a sip, it tingles and bubbles in your mouth. That's what Dave's personality is like. Bubbly, ready to go and a pleasure to work with. I have no doubt he will do great". She reports that Dave is doing very well. He is in training to become a Veteran's Assistant Canine! We are so excited for him!

Not only did we meet Dave's trainer, but also another trainer who worked with some of my other dogs! Such a heart warming-day :)

Meagan and Dave's trainer... both have huge smiles on their faces!

Clarkie's trainer, Meagan and Dave's trainer pose for a picture

30th anniversary cake, complete with a dog in coat and harness decorations!

Thank you Southeastern Guide Dogs for understanding how hard it is to give up these sweet pups! Keep it up!


Over the years...

Molly 1B6
Golden Retriever
Certified Therapy Dog
since 2007
Raised in Florida with her first puppy raisers, but finished by my family.
Molly as a very fluffy puppy! Molly is standing beside a huge metal water bowl.

Molly all grown up with her blue puppy in training coat on. TECO our power plant is behind her.

Clarke 8M6
Golden Retriever x Yellow Labrador Retriever
Working Guide Dog
since 2009
Raised in North Carolina as a puppy, but finished by my family here in Florida.
Clarke as a cute little puppy with her blue working coat on...
Clarke all grown up sitting on our friends dock with the water behind her.. she was such a sweet girl!

Eve 2X8
Black Labrador Retriever
Working Guide Dog
since 2010
Raised by my family.
Eve as a puppy sitting in overgrown weeds.
Eve all grown up on our friends dock with the water behind her... Eve is laying down and smiling at the camera.
Ellie 12PD10
Golden Retriever
Veterans Assistant Canine
since 2011
Raised by my family
Ellie sitting on our porch smiling at the camera with a hot pink bow in her fuzzy hair. This girl knew how to pose!
Ellie sitting in our front yard. As Ellie got older, she became a little more serious. Ellie is looking very determined and focused in this picture.

Dave 3FF10
Black Labrador Retriever
Raised by my family
Dave as a puppy laying under our couch with his head and front paws sticking out.

Dave looking very distinguished after a romp in the yard.  He is quite a handsome dog.

To be a guide dog or breeder, a dog must be perfect from head to toe. Ears, Eyes, Teeth, Neck, Shoulders, Elbows, Feet, Heart, Lungs, Internal Organs, Hips and Knees. For working as a guide dog, they also have to be sound in training, and not afraid of anything.

Dog Anatomy Diagram
Yesterday, we found out our sweet Dave-man, is a little less then perfect.

While I was at work, my mom got a call from our Area Coordinator, Sue. Sue informed us Dave will be neutered. And he has been dropped from the Guide Dog program due to slight hip dysplasia.

Dropped meaning not suitable for guide work, but can excel in other programs. Such as Veteran Assistants, Canine Companions, Therapy Dog or Ambassador Dog. 
There are a lot of mixed emotions. A little sad, kind of happy, maybe a touch of confusion. Sure you would think after all the hard work we did making sure Dave was ready, we might be really upset. But in all honesty, I am SO glad they have the technology to x-ray the dogs hips and elbows and check for dysplasia. I'm also glad they have all the other opportunities for Dave-man.

I was kind of hoping that Dave would make a breeder so we could be his host family. But somewhere out there is just the right job for Dave. And I cannot wait to see what happens next!

Dave's next step is to pass the Canine Good Citizen test and will go from there.

Since I have yet to raise a puppy who becomes a breeder, I guess my puppy raising days are not over!


missing him (last pictures at the beach)

The good thing about not having a puppy... not as much dog hair floating around!

Meagan and Dave sitting on the wood steps at the beach. Meagan and Dave are looking at each other.

 The sad thing about not having a puppy...  your VERY persistent morning alarm clock is gone.

Meagan and Dave sitting on the steps, Dave is wearing Meagan's sunglasses and giving the camera a huge smile!

The good thing about not having a puppy...  I get to sleep in a tiny bit!

Meagan and Dave on the walk with the beach, bright blue sky and puffy clouds behind them. There is even a tiny little island off in the distance.

The sad thing about not having a puppy... no more surprise (furry, might I add) shower buddies.

Meagan sitting while Dave in his blue puppy in training "cape", stands in front of her.

The good thing about not having a puppy is... no more poop scoopin' duty.

Collin makes a great photographer... Collin stood on the board walk rails and took this picture looking down at Meagan and Dave.

A sad thing about not having a puppy... you don't meet as many people while shopping or hear excited little kids yell "look it's a super dog!"

Meagan and Dave sitting on steps... both looking out over the water. Meagan is hugging Dave.

The good thing about not having a puppy... no more stepping in messy dribbles from the water bowl.

Meagan standing on the beach bench while Dave does a stand-stay on the ground.

The sad thing about not having a puppy... no more before bed snuggles or kisses.

Meagan and Dave sitting on the board walk.

The good thing about not having a puppy...  I can eat a whole bag of raw baby carrots BY MYSELF!

Meagan sitting on a wood barrier while Dave sits and smiles beside her. There is an oak tree behind them.

The sad thing about not having a puppy...  I don't have anyone to share my carrots with.

Meagan sitting cross-legged while smiling at Dave and Dave sits beside her. TECO (our power company) is in the background.

The good thing about not having a puppy...  no more shopping sprees at the petstore. Thanks to Mr. chews-a-lot, our toy supply was constantly being refreshed, rending my wallet very thin.

Same position as last picture but both are smiling at the camera man.

The sad thing about not having a puppy...  no more needing to schedule my morning routine around a busy break, feeding a dog and a small play time. (yes that's a sad thing)

Meagan giving Dave a big hug! Dave's huge pink tongue is hanging out.

The good thing about not having a puppy... no more welts and bruises on your legs from a very strong tail, that is attached to a very happy dog.

Yet another good picture by Collin... Collin takes this picture standing on the bench, looking down, while Dave and I sit on the walk looking up... Dave has a great smile on!

The sad thing about not having a puppy (the hardest one for me!)...  no more glad-to-see-you-missed-you-so-much-even-though-you've-only-been-gone-15-minutes, greetings at the door.


January 14th

"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened" Dr. Seuss.

The day picked Dave up from Southeastern was so exciting... getting a puppy is always a happy day. It seems like yesterday our sweet Dave could fit in our arms.
Todd, Diona, Meagan (holding Dave at 9 weeks old), Collin and Kaitlyn the day we picked up Dave from Southeastern Guide Dogs
Meagan holding a 18.8 pound Dave-Man
Dave and Collin starting their special bond
Kaitlyn's first of many kisses for Dave

Our little man in front of a bush of bright and cheerful yellow flowers
Dave in his orange and brown sweater
Meagan holding Dave's head while Dave looks up at Meagan with adoring eyes

Ellie's sponsors holding Dave with Freeport, their golden retriever sitting nicely in front of them... Dave's paws almost never touched the ground that afternoon!

Meagan and Dave in the pool!
Evan playing with Dave... the rubber stick toy was the most favorite between the two of them!

Kathy, Dave Kelly's wife, giving Dave some lovin' during a visit

Meagan Dave on our friends' dock... Dave is getting so big!
Full grown Dave giving trainer Karen some loving licks

Our big boy at the beach!
Meagan and Dave riding the elevator at the mall
January 14th was pretty emotional. But we made it through and Dave did amazing! Dad, Kaitlyn and I were the only ones that went... mom was sick with a yucky cold and Collin wanted to stay home. The new "Guide Dog U" program is pretty neat. I must admit, I really wasn't keen on the idea. I like to drop the dog off, and cry, sob, blubber on my way home. But this new program made it special. And too, it was neat being able to meet and talk to the other raisers who raised your puppy's kennel mates.

Dave's coat, leash, puppy collar and choker collar hanging on it's hook in my room
Our last family picture together.

Collin and Dave said goodbye to each other

Dave saying his goodbyes to mom
Dave with his big 'ole head in my lap on the car ride to the school

Dave's goofy face... he's not sure what's going on.

Southeastern Guide Dogs sign

Southeastern Guide Dog's welcome to Freshman Orientation sign

Dave and Meagan in front of Southeastern Guide Dogs stone

Dave and Meagan with Dave's welcome sign... it has Dave's name and baby picture on it.

For some reason, the trainers tend to look like vultures on IFT days :)... 5 trainers standing in a half circle almost unable to contain their excitement to meet their next string of dogs!

Kaitlyn and Dad's final goodbyes

Switching the leashes

Off Dave goes... such a good boy!
After handing our dogs over to the trainers, we were sent to the puppy kennel. For some amazing loving of course! These were the smallest puppies I've ever hugged. They were six weeks old and super super sweet... makes it hard to walk away!

Dad holding a yellow lab puppy... I tried to get dad to hide it in his jacket, but the puppy was too squirmy!

Meagan and a black puppy and a yellow puppy in her arms... puppies are amazing therapy!

Meagan holding a black and tan puppy... I think we need one of these next!

a momma with her puppies in the whelping box... these pups don't even have their eyes open!
After puppy hugging, we went back to the gazebo area and did a blind fold walk... it was my dad's first time!
Dad doing his first blindfold walk... the dog's name is Dakota

Meagan doing a blindfold walk with trainer Karen and guide Charlie
Once everyone was back from puppy hugging, the school did a volunteer service award pinning (the pin represents 500 hours of volunteer hours... but we all know, as someone stated at the ceremony,  the first 500 hours of raising a puppy is just in the first month!) and we listened to a visually impaired gentleman speak about his experience with his dog, Max. Everyone had tears in their eyes listening to how grateful he was for Max. In the 5 years the team has been together, Max and his person have traveled to Italy as well as all over the USA.
Meagan getting pinned with the volunteer service award 
When we were getting ready to leave, Meagan asked a trainer about where to put the dog food Dave had left over. She said she would take it and followed us out to the car. Come to find out, this trainer will be with Dave! That was pretty exciting!
Meagan and Dave's trainer!

Dave, we love you. Use your smarts. Be a gentleman. Respect your elders. Walk nicely on the leash. Eat your carrots (good for eye sight ya know). Don't be too rough. Don't party too much.
But most of all, do your best. It's up to you now little man. Make your momma (both me and your birth mother :) proud!