January 30, 2014
Tammy sits in a corner with the lead raisers of the new pups; even inmate raisers have contracts to sign and paperwork to initial.
Meanwhile, everyone else visits and fawns over FLDs Ashely and Chewy and the other puppies.
|Fawning over FLD Chewy.|
|FLD Nell meets FLD Ashely.|
One of the men questions me about a scene in the Mutual of America video, "Inside to Outside Initiative - Prison Puppy Raising Program." ARUS Rob had shown them the video that premiered at a special luncheon in Rochester Hills earlier in January.
The scene in question shows an Iowa inmate tossing a ball for one of the puppies in the prison yard. We often tell our raisers that fetch is not the best game to play with our retriever breeds, as the game can get a puppy too "ball obsessed" and interfere with working.
"But in the puppy manual it states that fetch is okay if it is 'low key.' Just what is 'low key?'" the inmate asks.
We chat about how low key means no over-hand throwing, that if you play fetch it is important to use a variety of toys and not just a ball (in fact, we discourage balls altogether), how the puppy should not get so excited that it cannot be redirected to do something else.
"Teaching your puppy that bringing things to you is a game could be a good thing, especially if your puppy has something it shouldn't," I say. "But if your puppy gets too focused, I would stop playing fetch." A ball-obsessed dog who forgets it is working and lunges after a rolling ball dragging its handler will not be a safe guide dog.
I suggest other games, like putting the puppy on a sit/stay and hiding a favorite toy for it to find. "Use a word such as 'search' instead of 'find,'" I warn. "Find" is a cue the pup will learn later when it becomes a working guide dog. (Find the chair, find the door, find the counter...) Leader Dogs asks that puppy raisers avoid words that are used when the dog is actually working.
It seems like too many rules sometimes, but keeping in mind how things might later impact a blind or visually impaired handler makes it easier to comply.
And now, just because FLDs Ashely and Chewy are so darn cute, here they are again!
|FLD Ashly with her new raisers.|
|FLD Chewy and his happy raiser.|