Holly still has a puppy face.
Casey still has a puppy face, too!
The girls are energetic, lovable, and smart but they can be a challenge
sometimes with reactivity to other dogs, chasing wildlife, and
displaying other types of impulsive behavior.
I've written a lot about two-year-old Don since we got him at 13
weeks old in the fall of 2019. He was purpose-bred at Southeastern Guide
Dogs in Florida to hopefully become a guide or service dog. Like other
accredited assistance dogs schools, SEGD breeds for excellent health and
suitable working dog temperament and not conformation (i.e., looks, as for a
Don in an elegant "dating app"
pose on one of the beds when the sheets were being washed
"Dapper" Don in one of his many
bow ties; he loves going up and down these
playground steps where we
practiced when he was a guide puppy in training.
Handsome dude in one of his
holiday bow ties
We were Don's volunteer puppy raisers and trained him with the
Atlanta SEGD group. He was released at the beginning of the pandemic
last year at not quite ten months old and we happily adopted him.
Don was determined to be too low energy, low confident, highly
sociable, and highly scent-distracted to be a working dog, but those
very qualities make him the perfect pet for us older folks and a doggone
fine certified therapy dog. He has excellent manners, doesn't chase
wildlife, and wants to please.
Don (and Casey) both got the kissy
Don is curious about other
critters, like this bird at one of the facilities we visit
for pet therapy, but he never
wants to chase other pets or wildlife.
As different as their personalities suggest, all three of these dogs
get along great. Casey and Holly accepted Don readily into their pack.
The dynamics are often amusing and not always what we expect.
As Casey gets older, she plays less with toys and other dogs but
several times a week she initiates a game of keep away with "the kids"
(Holly and Don). I call her the Instigator because she teases them, then
hunts for a safe place if Holly gets too rough.
Holly and Don play tug with the
Bumi while Casey watches.
Maybe I can hide up here on the sofa . . .
Casey's opinion of her July 4 photo shoot
Holly is insatiably energetic. She's a manic ball-chaser but we have
to limit her activity after finding out she has dysplasia in both front
elbows. She had surgery to remove a bone spur. That helped her limping
but if she walks or runs too much, she'll start limping temporarily. So far she
hasn't needed pain meds, as long as we limit her activity.
With her high physical energy squashed, we have to keep Holly more
mentally stimulated with training and games. And we joke that she "needs
a puppy," our standard comment when one of our dogs has needed more activity
with another active dog.
Holly jumps out of the puppy pool
with a ball while Don watches.
Holly has a soft, vulnerable side, too. Ever since she's been an
8-week-old puppy she's had a stuffed puppy to cuddle at night or for an
What's different than any other dog we've had, however, is that she
will suck on the puppy's head while holding it still with her paws and
rocking a little bit. She'll do this for several minutes until she goes
to sleep. It melts our hearts:
But usually she's a live wire!
Unfortunately for Holly, Don is wired to be a couch potato. He has
never been a really playful puppy, even when he was just a few months
old. He'll play with Holly for a few minutes, even running zoomies
inside or out, but he's done pretty quickly. He loves to play keep away
and tug with Holly but again, only for a few minutes.
The "kids" do share an interest in watching any kind of animal on TV.
They especially like to watch dogs or similar creatures:
Don is also my Velcro Dog and even though he's the newest member of
the pack, he resource-guards me from the girls.
I think it's mostly his temperament,
although as a guide puppy in training I had to keep him close to me
unless he was in his crate. If one of the girls is next to me on the
couch, or in the dog bed closest to my desk, for example, Don will nudge me
and give me imploring looks to make them move out of "his" spot.
Based on size alone, you'd think Don is the alpha dog in our pack. Based on
personality, however, I'd say it's Holly even though she's the smallest in size.
She's one spunky, silly, smart girl.
Both Don (below) and Holly love
to nap upside down,
legs akimbo, on the furniture or
Don's an "old soul" but he's got
a silly side, too.
We walk the dogs every day, rain or shine, hot or cold. They help to
get us out more than we might on our own (especially me, since I'm no
longer training for foot races). Most of their walks are on Peachtree
City's extensive network of paved multi-use ("cart") paths, but we also
take them on hikes at nature areas and parks.
Jim is still competing and wants to put
in more miles/day than I do, so he usually walks the girls either
separately or together. He can also handle them more easily than I can
if they get snarky with another dog. They are more leash-reactive when
he's walking them together than when they are alone.
Jim with the girls on a hike
Holly on a walk with Sue
Casey on an autumn walk with Sue
Even though Casey is older, she can easily put in 4-6 miles/day.
Holly wants to walk more but we limit her to 1-2 miles/day because of
We keep all the dogs on leashes on the cart paths in our
neighborhood, and the girls need to be leashed all or most of the time
on trails because they are impulsive and their recall isn't as good as
Above and below: Casey on
different walks with Sue
near one of the ponds in our
Don is soooo easy to walk. He loves every person and dog he sees but
he stays by my side if I tell him to "leave it." He can judge the body
language of people better than other dogs, and it's the humans he
wants to greet after a cursory hello to a dog.
Don's recall is near-perfect even when he's running loose by himself
or with another dog. He never chases wildlife, doesn't go running up to
people, and doesn't jump on anyone. I can hike with him off-leash on
trails but I put the leash on when I see someone else coming, and I keep
him leashed on the cart paths in town.
Don posing in sunbeams one
morning in our neighborhood
Don's cute head tilt
on a hike at Line Creek Nature Area
Playing with sticks in Line Creek
with our friends'
Golden retriever puppy, Moses,
who likes water better than Don
Sometimes we sit for friends' dogs or go hiking with them.
Holly loves having canine company; Don and Casey get along well with
other dogs as long as they aren't overly exuberant.
L-R: Holly, Casey, Aloha, Igor,
and Don watching intently while I fix a snack
L-R: Don, Aloha, Igor (in back),
We are approved sitters for our Atlanta puppy raising
group for Southeastern Guide Dogs but we haven't needed to sit for one
of those pups yet. It's a lot easier to sit for our friends' pet dogs
for several days than it is to be responsible for the training and restrictions that a
guide program puppy requires.
We have a happy life with our lovable Lab pack. As they say, dogs aren't our whole life, but they
definitely make our lives whole!
Next entry: photos from Jim's ultradistance foot
races this year
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Casey-Girl, Holly-Holly, & Dapper Don
© 2021 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil