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Caleb About Town
And the importance of “lap time” for future Guide Dogs
Caleb at his recent vet appointment.

Happy New Year! As I sat down to write this I realized Caleb is 4-months-old today and time is already flying by. It has been a busy month around our house bringing home a new puppy during the cold winter months has its challenges. The days are shorter and colder and potty training takes time, sometimes lots of waiting time. Luckily, Caleb figured out that the quicker he did his business the faster he could resume his position in front of the fireplace.


Turns out Caleb’s a very fast learner all around, which I attribute to his Labrador genes and perhaps the food rewards. It goes without saying each and every dog has their own unique personality and we often compare the traits of our previous Guide Dog puppies. Solstice was our sassy girl, Laker was our mellow moose, and Caleb, he’s our lap dog. He’s sort of a diva—a very adorable and loveable diva, as we are coming to learn. He’s been especially great to have around this week as it marks the one-year anniversary of Noah’s passing. Caleb loves nothing more than to spend hours snuggled up on a lap, which is just what I’ve needed lately.
A few weeks ago, Caleb went to our amazing vet for his final set of puppy shots; he came through with a superb health report and won the off-the-chart cuteness award from the entire staff. Before he completed his vaccinations, we were careful to avoid interactions with unknown dogs. While it’s critical that young puppies begin socializing early, it’s more important to protect their immune systems from potentially dangerous infections. Luckily, we had a few Guide Dog puppy club meetings to get him acquainted with other dogs being raised in our club, and a meet-and-greet with Arden (now Artie) and a visit with Andera (now Andhi). He’s now well aware that the bigger dog always calls the shots and you need to respect your elders, important skills to learn early on. Now that he’s vaccinated we have been venturing out on more advanced socializations and outings.
We try to do at least one socialization or outing per day ranging from a trip to the post office or a restaurant to the movies. Our outdoor activities are limited by the cold Central Oregon winter and the attention span of a 16-week-old puppy, so we end up going to the movies, a lot. Caleb, of course, goes with us. He also makes a perfect chick-flick date when my husband Alex is not around.
Last weekend, we were leaving the theater and stopped by a family who mentioned they too were puppy raisers from Medford, Ore. After a few minutes of chatting, we learned they had raised Caleb’s mom Tulin! It was a great treat for them to meet one of Tulin’s puppies and also for me to learn a bit about his mom. Hopefully, we’ll get to see more of them as they have a vacation home in Central Oregon and visit often. As Caleb gets older we’ll do more outings per day but since he’s still such a pup we like to ease him into all the stimulation the world has to offer. Guide Dogs for the Blind provide raisers with some general guidelines for age appropriate outings for puppies.
In addition to outings and socializations, Caleb is subjected to daily puppy-handling exercises, in his mind this translates to lap time. It provides him with a certain level of comfort being handled and touched all over. Vision-impaired guide dog users rely on touch to maintain grooming, weight management and general health of their canine counterparts. So it’s very important that Caleb allow me to clip his nails, brush his teeth, clean his ears and manhandle him without squirming. He does not seem to mind it at all.
We are also beginning to work on some obedience commands, more to come on that topic. But suffice to say Caleb already walks calmly on a loose leash, responds to his name, sits when asked and waits for his kibble. Not too shabby for a baby pup!
I’d love to answer your questions in future blog posts; please feel free to ask me about puppy raising in the comments section below.


Megan Minkiewicz has raised six puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. Over the next year and a half, she'll write about her adventures as a volunteer puppy raiser for The Bark blog. She lives in Bend, Ore., with her husband Alex, a Quarter Horse named Chip, and a one-eyed goldfish named Flobie and Caleb. guidedogs.com

Photo by Kristin Wolter.

CommentsPost a Comment
Please note comments are moderated. After being approved your comment will appear below.
Submitted by SaraG | January 25 2011 |

Can you tell if your puppies are going to msake it through training successfully? What are some early signs that things aren't going well?

Submitted by Anonymous | January 25 2011 |

I don't think I could say goodbye to a dog after spending so much time with him. I sometimes pet sit for friends, and the worst part is leaving and I know I'll see the dogs or cats again very soon. But to be that close and work that hard only to say goodbye? How/why are you able to do it?

Submitted by Anonymous | January 25 2011 |

Hi Megan,
I am a puppy raiser as well. I am currently raising my 3rd puppy. I just had a quick question. You said that Caleb learns quickly with food rewards. Does this meen that he has already been placed on a food protocol?
Sydney and current puppy Hanalei

Submitted by Megan | January 26 2011 |

Hi Sydney-

Caleb was part of the GDB Oregon Puppy Pilot Program which familiarizes puppies starting as young as 8 weeks to the sensation of wearing a body harness, preparing them to easily adjust to wearing a Guide Dog harness when they begin their formal training. In addition, the pilot program introduces the puppies to be polite about taking treats so they will be prepared for food rewards used in formal training. Caleb is learning the "on your mat" command so he has been introduced to food rewards for that.

Submitted by Speedy | February 2 2011 |

Hi Megan!
Imagine my surprise; I hope;)
is this the Megan I knew CA?
Linda & I are living in North Atlanta!
Best regards & keep up the great work!

Submitted by Shez | February 10 2011 |

More pictures of Caleb please!! And when is he coming to CA for a visit?

Submitted by Anonymous | February 10 2011 |

Is Arden a Robin X Cabby puppy born 11-8-09? We are raising Atlanta who is from that litter and she has a brother named Arden. I was wondering if they are littermates. Atlanta does not have a recall date yet.

Submitted by Megan | February 11 2011 |

Yes, Adren is from the Robin/Cabby litter, they are most certainly siblings! Cabby was also raised in our Bend, OR puppy club and he's a great dog too. Arden has been career changed and now lives the life of luxury w/our friends where he's found a new career as a model & office manager for Ruffwear. He's much happier in his new career.

Submitted by Anonymous | February 11 2011 |

Thank you for writing this wonderful blog - and of course, thank you for all the wonderous things you do as a puppy raiser for GDB! I work in San Rafael and how fantastic to get the word out about what puppy raising is all about. None of the pups would make it to graduation without all of your hard work. It's surprising how many BARK readers there are out there that are current or past puppy raisers. My gratitude to all of you! Tulin is a doll. Extra belly rubs to Caleb and tell him I'll be looking for him at recall in another year!

Submitted by Savannah | February 13 2011 |

i am 12 and i am going to get a guide dog puppy myself. I think it would be really cool. cute pup by the way.

Submitted by Nancy | February 19 2011 |

I'm raising my second puppy for Pilot Dogs ... first was a black lab and she made it "all the way"! I was so proud! As for the person asking how you can give up a puppy you've had for a year; that is the question I am asked more than any other. It's hard! However, it is so worthwhile and once you learn they have graduated to being a guide dog, it's just terrific!!!

My current pup, Lily, is an adorable yellow lab with a pink nose. She's a beauty!

I'll be reading the blog ...

Submitted by Laur | March 1 2011 |

Megan, I live in Bend and saw you mentioned in the recent issue of GDB. We have been on a wait list for some time, hoping to get a career change dog for our son with disabilities. So far, no luck. Would enjoy chatting with you to get your input on what we can do while we wait and any other options for kids with disabilities. I didn't see how to contact you other than this blog. Thanks.

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