Saturday, April 6, 2013

A New Guide Dog- Meet Favor!

Since Rei has been facing various medical issues, the very difficult decision was made to retire her.   Thus this meant re-applying to the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind and the prosepect of training with another very young dog again.  

I filled out my application and completed the process as needed in early January, and very shortly after received word that GDF thought they had a dog that would be a good match for me and needed to get my home interview done ASAP.    We got that done and basically I told them I wanted another Rei. :)   I told them I wanted a dog that could handle stressful situations and LOTS of kids on a regular basis and walked at the quick pace I like to walk.   I told them too that it was important to me to have a dog that was quick to make decisions and go with it, allowing me to not focus so much on directing the dog, but on my surroundings.    I said that I preferred smaller females but I'd take whatever they thought they had that would fit the requirements above. :)

So I was invited to come to the April class at GDF to receive a very different breed.   I would be receiving a Smooth Coated Collie/German Shepherd cross.    We got our stuff all together and flight arrangements were made and then it was time to finalize Rei's retirement.   We

Day 1:   Arrive in NY.
We had the kids spend the night at a friends house so that they wouldn't have to get up super early, since I had to be at the airport around 6:40am.   Mike and I got up and gathered the last of my stuff and headed to the airport.   They gave him a pass too to assist me back to the gate, so we worked our way through security and then went on to the terminal.   We hadn't eaten breakfast and since we had to be there so early, we had planned on eating breakfast together at the airport.  We did so at Champs and had a really good breakfast burrito there :)   Then we made our way to the gate and a lady called out to us and asked if I was headed to GDF too.  She was headed to GDF for her first dog and a little nervous.   Unfortunately we werent sitting close together and the plane was a full flight, so we didn't get to talk on the flight.   We took off and made our way to Reagan Airport.  Then we caught our connecting flights there and met up again at La Guardia in NY. :) 

Trainers Barb and Jody picked us up and we mad the 45 min drive back to the foundation, arriving there about 2:30pm.   When they were able to get our bags all unloaded and brought to our rooms, it was about 3pm as I began to unpack my suitcase.   Opening up my suitcase, I saw Rei's harness laying there to turn back in.   With a knot in my throat, I picked it up and walked down the hall to find a trainer.  I came to Jody first and the tears just began to flow as it was the final piece of Rei's retirment.   I turned and headed back to my room and continued to unpack.   It wasn't terribly long- about 4:30pm that my trainer, Greg, came to the door and came in.   He asked if I wanted a dog today, and I simply replied- It would be nice. :)   He said that he had a female smooth coated collie/german shepherd mix that  he had trained by the name of Favor.   He said too that he hadn't been a fan of the smooth collies when he worked with them in the past, so when he was asked to work with Favor, he wasn't crazy about it but was willing to give it a shot since she was half German Shepherd too.   Well, the rest was history and she stole his heart. :)   He quickly said he'd be back in a few moments and left the room in a hurry.

The amazing part of this is the circle that this has come to in my relationship with GDF and my dogs.   If you will remember, both Honey and Rei came from the same Asheville, NC puppy raising group.   Libby Bagwell was the Puppy Advisor for that group and I was already friends with her too as she was a part of raising both Honey and Rei, and she had rasied SAM, in memory of Matthew Thomas.    Well, Libby is the caretaker of a German Shepherd breeder for GDF.   Roxy had been bred to a merle colored smooth coated collie and had a litter of two puppies, both females.   One was fuzzy and looked like a collie and the other was Favor, who looked like a German Shepherd.    So I'm still connected to the Asheville Puppy group, even with my third dog from GDF. LOL!   It also turns out that Favor is the FIRST GDF bred smooth collie/german shepherd cross to graduate as a guide dog.

So Greg brought Favor to the room and little did I realize what I had in store for me.   As he handed me the leash, she spun around and when he stepped back she began to yelp, whine, and cry and amped it up even more when he left the room as if I was killing her!   Greg gave me a few moments with her and asked if I wanted to walk her up and down the hallway.   We tried to make our way out the door and she literally flipped like a fish around backwards and whining all the way as she was NOT happy about the fact that I was on the end of the leash instead of Greg.   We struggled to get up and down the hallway several times and before I knew it, it was time for dinner.  

The three of us that got our dogs and were doing combo training, we brought our dogs to dinner and Greg had to sit at the other end of the room furthest possible from her and she was up and down all throughout dinner.  We made our way back to the room and I was able to get a few pictures of her and she came up and nosed me to see who I was, but paced back and forth around my bed and to the door and back over and over and over again.  We went out for our first break at 8:30pm and she was willing to pee but for the most part watched Greg's every move.  We came back in and I put the blanket down that I'd brought for her and gave her the bones too that I had.  She soon tied out  or became bored and settled down on the blanket that I'd offered for her.

Favor standing attentively looking to the door for Greg to come back.  She stands very tall, her back nearly even with the top of my bed and the black and tan markings of a typical shepherd.

 Favor standing at the door looking at the handle listening for Greg.

Favor on the blanket and playing with a bone for her.