Snowmageddon

You might have heard the northeast area of the country got some snow this week. It’s true, folks. Winter happened…all at once….in one day. Northeast Pennsylvania is still digging out. Lucky for Granger and I, everything was shut down on Tuesday, which meant I didn’t have to go to work and she could get all the snuggles she wanted. We had about 18 inches when we got up in the morning. After that first time out in the snow, she was OVER IT. I’d open the door for her to go out, and she’d stop halfway out, as if to say “Ugh. It’s still here?! And there’s MORE?!”

My thoughts exactly, Granger. We ended up with almost 3 feet.

I didn’t even bother shoveling until Tuesday night, so I was all about Netflix and baking and eating way too much sugar all day. Granger was wiped out from running around and playing, so she was all about snuggles. So many snuggles. I got big puppy eyes every time I sat on the couch – “But Mom…don’t you wanna sit on the hard floor with me?” Since she’s not allowed on furniture, I couldn’t resist. She fell asleep on my lap multiples times and my heart melted. Every. Single. Time. She doesn’t often sit still for long, but when she does, she’s a cuddler!

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Granger is a little more used to the snow now, especially since some of it froze into little ice pellets she can munch on. She can’t quite see over the snowbanks in our front yard, so now that they’re a little packed down she climbs on top of them to watch the cars go by or the kids at the daycare across the road….until her paws break through the top layer of snow. Then she’s stuck. I probably shouldn’t have laughed as hard as I did the first time that happened.

Her new favorite toy is a tennis ball. She’s finally learned to not run head first into the dining room chairs when the ball rolls under them.

Yep. Proud mama right here.

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Teeth and Training

One of my roommates was on vacation until yesterday, so for the past week, Granger and I have had the house pretty much to ourselves. We played, learned, snuggled, and scolded our way through the week. When she’s calm, she’s the perfect puppy – does what she’s told, chews on only her toys, and gives lots of kisses. When the energy hits, on the other hand…

One of the biggest struggles I’ve had as a puppy raiser is having to communicate to other people what isn’t okay for her to do. Biting is one of those things, even if it’s playful or not biting down hard. “Oh she’s teething, it’s okay…it’s cute!” Sure, it might be now. But we’re raising her to be someone’s eyes. That means she needs to be better behaved than most family dogs, and we’re raising her with that expectation. If she’s allowed to bite now, that creates habits for down the road that could potentially be dangerous for the person she’s placed with. In a nutshell, she’ll be largely responsible for someone’s life and we can’t raise her with anything but that in mind.

Okay, rant over.

For the most part, Granger is doing amazingly well. I made some treats for her over the weekend and have been using them to train her. She’s doing really well at “sit” and “come”, and she’s getting there on “stay.” Don’t worry, it’s not all serious business around here. She chases her toys and her tail and gets plenty of sleep and snuggles.

She’s still exploring the house too – I caught this video of her under the table the other day:

If that doesn’t make you smile, then I’m sorry…but you might be heartless. ☺

Parenthood

Huge props and standing ovations to all you mamas with infants and toddlers out there. I’ve been a puppy mama for 3 days now and let’s just say I’m glad I was prepared for lack of sleep. 

Granger woke up 4 times last night to go outside. This involves me putting on my coat, getting her out of the crate next to my bed, getting my shoes on, going downstairs, and, finally, going outside for her to squat for 10 seconds then lay down in the grass because she’s so tired. If it was warmer out and not frowned upon to sleep in your own front yard like a homeless person I might join her. So, we go back upstairs, she goes back in her crate, and I go back to bed to try to sleep for another couple hours.

But then in the morning, when Granger’s had her breakfast and I’ve had my coffee, we run and play and she pretends she can get away with biting everything. She’s exploring everything with her teeth right now – walls, floors, rugs, furniture, cabinets, you name it. But to her credit, she stops almost as soon as I scold her…usually. According to one of my roommates, she whines at my bedroom door while I’m at work. When I come home, she comes outside with me and won’t leave my side. She sits at my feet while I clean the kitchen after dinner.

See?

No matter how draining the night might be, she finds new ways to melt my heart every day. 

But seriously, let’s hope this whole sleeping thing improves soon.

And So It Begins

Today was Puppy Day. And it was glorious. My heart has never been melted faster. 

Granger has already fallen asleep on me multiple times. For those of you who have had the pleasure of having a baby fall asleep in your arms…this might be better. She knows just where to curl up, especially when I sit Indian style (criss-cross applesauce for you politically correct people out there..). Granger climbs onto my lap, all 12 1/2 pounds of her, turns around a little, and plops her cute little puppy butt right in the hole made by my legs. Normally she falls asleep there in about 15 seconds. Seriously. I’m not exaggerating at all. I forgot just how much puppies need to sleep.
Right now I’m listening to her fast little puppy breathing as she’s fast asleep in her crate next to my bed. In a few minutes she’ll probably start snoring, and guess what? I don’t care. I’ll probably spend the next few weeks of my life in a semi sleep deprived state since she won’t sleep through the night at first, but that’s okay. I’m so excited to watch this girl learn so much within the next few months, and I’m even more excited about the fact that I get to help her.

Oh and P.S. – If you go to a play or recital and can pick between flowers or a puppy to present to a cast member, always go with the puppy. My roommate will agree. 😊

Adventure Awaits

You know that feeling you get when an event is coming and you’re equal parts excited (like happy-dance-every-time-you-think-about-it excited) and overwhelmed or anxious?

That’s where I’m at right now.

Two days from now is Puppy Day. It’s been on my calendar all month. All the necessary steps started to be taken months ago. Puppy Day seemed so surreal, like some far off thing in the distance that might never actually get here.

Yet here it is….almost.

Let’s back up a little, shall we? This isn’t just any puppy. This is a female English yellow lab named Granger that’s been bred and born at Freedom Guide Dogs in Cassville, NY. She has been born with a purpose, although she doesn’t know it yet. She will become someone’s eyes – their guide through the basic life functions we all take for granted: crossing the street, opening a door, walking up and down stairs. She has a long way to go before she’s ready for that.

That’s where I come in. For about a year, with the help of my roommates, I will be raising Granger to be a well behaved dog, a model citizen, if you will. Then, when Freedom Guide Dogs is ready for her, I’ll drop her off as she takes one more step closer to fulfilling her purpose. I will probably never see her again.

I know what you’re thinking because I’ve heard it from other people way too many times to count. “Oh, I could NEVER do that. Don’t you get attached?!” The answer is yes. Yes, I do get attached. My family has raised puppies for Freedom Guide Dogs for many years, and we loved each and every one of them like it was part of our family.

But here’s the thing. It’s not about me. If it was about me, I wouldn’t be doing this.

(Although it does make good logical sense for me right now – it’s not a long term commitment and I can’t afford the cost of having a dog on my own. Thankfully Freedom is an amazing foundation that also covers vet bills, and most vets give discounts for service dogs.)

But it’s not about me. This is about giving someone their life back. Will it be hard to raise her, and eventually give her up? Absolutely. But like I’ve told many students I’ve had the privilege of investing in, if it was easy it probably wouldn’t be worth it.

So join me on this adventure, as I post pictures, updates, anecdotes, venting sessions, and videos. Maybe this will connect some fellow puppy raisers. Maybe this will expose many more people to Freedom Guide Dogs. Maybe no one will ever read it and it’ll just be an excuse for me to write about this part of my life – this exciting, scary, overwhelming, totally worth it part called “Granger”. Who knows.

I do know one thing. This is going to be an awfully big adventure.