Future Leader Dog (FLD #1): Murphy Fox

I picked up Murphy on August 24, 2015. I was so nervous, I had to bring my brother with me. He was only 7 weeks old, weighed only 11 lbs and was all wrinkly and cuddly. I immediately fell in love! As I was unemployed he immediately became my daily focus. We worked on potty training, house manners, walking on a loose leash, meeting and greeting strangers and basic commands. I was determined to expose him to as much as I could in the short time I had him.

We went on many adventures together and I even braved cramped Airline travel multiple times. Murphy grew quickly and so did his personality. While confident and rarely afraid he was a curious, outgoing goofball who made friends quickly!

Here is a short re-cap of our travels and adventures in the year I had Murphy:

Downtown Chicago for 4 days at the Historic Palmer House
Los Angeles, the Pacific Ocean and San Diego for 10 days
A ride on the Amtrak to Detroit
Trip to Los Angeles, up the coast to camp in Big Sur for 4 days
Traverse City Lake living on Old Mission Peninsula
The Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena

We went to hotels, libraries, malls, movie theaters, restaurants, art festivals, carnivals, parades, and almost anywhere we could that would allow it. Murphy LOVED meeting new people, especially children. We attended several events at schools and colleges and he did well in every environment. He was always eager to please, learn new things and explore new environments.

I returned Murphy to Leader Dogs on July 30, 2016. While it was one of the hardest days, I knew he was meant to help someone and we had trained hard to prepare him for his time on campus working with Guide Dog Mobility Trainers. I looked forward to the updates I would receive and wished him good luck!

I received my 5 week update with a picture of Murphy loving life in the kennels and my 13 week pictures of Murphy in Harness and couldn't have been more proud! When I received notification he was being placed with a client on November 30, 2016 I was overjoyed. Leader Dog Murphy Fox is now in Wisconsin with his client. 

Future Leader Dog (FLD #2): Jaxson Bear

I picked up FLD Jaxson Bear August 19, 2016, only a few weeks after dropping off FLD Murphy Fox. I was eager to begin training again and was suffering from boredom in a “dog-less” house.

FLD Jaxson was immediately different than Murphy. He cried and whined on the way home, didn't want to come inside after parking and was just fine wandering away from my side (in the fenced backyard). We fell into a routine quickly, and I was a far more confident Raiser the second time around.

We took our first plane trip immediately after he received his second round of shots, again to Los Angeles. We attended a Los Angeles Angels game at 13 weeks and braved the LA Malls. FLD Jaxson has been a far more serious puppy, he is eager to train and learn but often thinks about things before he decides to do them. While still highly motivated by food like FLD Murphy (they are Labs!) he makes the decision and often requires a more high value treat beyond kibble to motivate him in more challenging situations.

Again, I am blessed with a happy, well mannered and friendly puppy. I have learned the challenges of working with a dog who thinks a bit more than my last --- he's a smart cookie and often studies situations. He learned his bandana and mat very quickly and excels in obedience classes.

My family also adopted a career changed dog from Leader Dogs so I am currently training two puppies. Growing up with another dog in the house and having a “brother” to learn from and rough house with has also added to the fun!

He also picks up on things by watching my pet dog, or myself. I learned the hard way he could open doors at 5 months. At 11 months he is a lean but muscular 54 lbs. 

FLD Jaxson Bear is set to return to Leader Dog for his formal training July 29th, 2017. While I will be sad to see him go he has taught me a lot as a Raiser. I feel the challenges that teachers have everyday as each student learns and excels under different circumstances. Jaxson is truly a thinker, he often amazes me in the things he chooses to do and has learned without formal training. He anticipates what I want (in order to get a reward) and will often come to me at home and run through several commands to try to gain my attention and a treat when he's bored and wants to work. He is also water obsessed (see the videos on Instagram:AdventuresInPuppyRaising) and will find a way to play in it, wether that's turning on the bathtub water on his own or dragging the kiddie pool around the yard until I fill it. 

Leader Dog has approved my application to raise FLD #3 and I request pick up September 2017. Hopefully a yellow lab will be born in August to make that a reality.