Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Home Again!

We got the call today that Honeydew was being "career changed" - which means she won't be a Guide Dog for the Blind after-all. She did a great job, and made it through the various phases of training, but in the end it wasn't meant to be.

The pictures above are from our trip to get her today, including Glenn and I picking her up on the Guide Dogs campus, her sleeping in the car on the way home and checking out the house upon her return. She looks the same - still small and skinny, with long legs. She is very alert and definitely has more focus -- but is still the same goofy girl we knew before.

About a month before she was recalled, she began being nervous around unfamiliar men. We can't think of an incident that may have precipitated this behavior - it just came on gradually, and very inconsistently (e.g. sometimes she was just fine with unfamiliar men, other times she got anxious). It really only happened a few times - but was noticeable enough that we included it in our puppy write-up when we dropped her off for training. It seems that this behavior persisted and the professional trainers weren't able to get her past it.

So, we went to pick her up today - and to bring her home to be our beloved pet. Certainly there was always that small part of us that, on any given day, hoped that we would get the call that she wasn't going to be a Guide Dog - we missed her so much. So, this news is bitter-sweet. We are so very proud of her, and so thankful to the great trainers and staff that did everything they could to help Honeydew be successful.

Honeydew appears to be settling back into life in the "home" quite quickly. She has already made the rounds of the house (nose to the floor), greeted the cats and dug out all of her old chew toys. We have her outfitted with a new collar and a new bed, and tomorrow we will get her tags and license, etc.

Next - we need to find her a new "job". She is such a busy pup, that we need to find something to burn off that mental energy. Maybe agility, or something like that - although that just brings up visions of me tripping over my own feet trying to keep up with her.

It would appear that this is the end of her journey as a Guide Dog pup, and the beginning of her new adventures as an offical Crim Critter. It has been such a fun ride. We definitely plan to raise another Guide Dog puppy in the future - but for now, we will relish this time with The Dew back in our home.

The summary of why she was career changed is below:

SUMMARY: Honeydew is an affectionate, intelligent, alert and active female Yellow Labrador. She is aware of and interested in all that exists in her environment. Honeydew bonded quickly to her primary instructor and loved the learning process, especially when it involved the clicker. She enjoyed every Guidework learning challenge presented to her and met each one head on. However she did have multiple reactions to unfamiliar men (and a few women) particularly in the kennels but also intermittently when on routes. Extensive exposures using high value food, mentor dogs and mentor people were done with employees on campus and people on the street. She improved with these individuals, but there was no carryover to unfamiliar people.

Honeydew was slow to adjust to the kennel, due to the frequent reactions when people strange to her entered the building. Her adjustment improved with the addition of a roommate. However if her primary instructor was not present when a strange man entered the building, she would often run outside barking and could not be coaxed back in until the stranger left.

It is due to the continued reactions to men which are not conducive to the Guide Dog lifestyle that Honeydew is being Career Changed at this time. This reactive behavior is consistent with comments noted in her puppy raising history.


  1. Career changes are so hard, no matter the reason but when the pup is allowed to come home there's definitely a level of sweetness to them! I'm happy Honeydew got to return home to you and she'll settle with age, to some extent! Enjoy your new pet, it's obvious to me she's happy to be home as well! :-D

  2. Sorry to hear she was career changed. My Ellie was career changed on Friday for the same reason. Her other issues they believe could have been worked through... but this new people (especially men) thing... just made her not make the grade. It's nice having them home though! :D Can't wait to hear all about her new adventures!