Yesterday I learned that my puppy princess, Kia, is graduating. When Guide Dog Puppies are recalled, they go to "college." College consists of eight different phases, after which the dog is assigned to a class. Those eight phases can take anywhere from eight weeks for six months to complete.

  • Phase 0 is the arrival period. The dog gets to go for walks, cuddle, meet a kennel mate, have community run playtime, and go through health screenings.
  • Phase 1 is when formal training begins. The dog learns about clickers and relearns about food rewards. Basic commands are reinforced and new ones are learned. The dogs get to learn how to run on a treadmill too. The dogs learn about their harnesses.
  • In Phase 2 the dogs get to go to town. The trainers make sure the dogs can withstand squirrels and loud noises.
  • Phase 3 is devoted to preliminary testing. Dogs are tested on their commands, how well they deal with being handled, and food refusal.
  • Dogs learn intelligent disobedience in Phase 4. Throughout training, we've never expected the dog to react rapidly. That's to encourage them to think. The dogs need to be able to say "No" when the human wants to walk into a car.
  • Phase 5 covers traffic training and city work. Dogs learn how to deal with barricades in paths.
  • In Phase 6 the dogs learn new sidewalk techniques and are introduced to platform edges.
  • Phase 7 is for advanced training.
  • Phase 8 is about finishing, pre-matching to humans, and final testing.

Kia has completed her eight phases. She is now in a class with her person. Her person's name is Dorothy, and Kia will be living in Tennessee.

We are trying to figure out if we can make Kia's graduation ceremony now. It'd be our last chance to see our puppy princess and give her cuddles. But, we only received eight days of notice. Plane tickets for four people with eight days notice are expensive, and it seems crazy to spend that type of money to see your puppy for an hour. Especially since we can meet Kia's human on the telephone before graduation.

At this point, it all depends on if Leon can get the day off before graduation, because bus fare is about 1/3 the cost of plane tickets.