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Hector checking out Simons tools!
This has been a particularly quiet week with Hector.  We were getting some work done on the house so we really didn't get out much.  We were getting rid of warped draughty doors so we don't freeze next winter!!

Hector was really good when the carpenter was here.  At first I dropped him to Nikita's house because I thought he would be a nuisance but I had him here all Thursday afternoon and Friday and he was very good.  There was a lot of noise from the industrial sander, drill and other machinery but he was not phased by it at all.  He did help to empty Simon's tool box every now and again robbing some nice chewy rawlplugs or pieces of wood but other than that he just rummaged about or slept.

Hector:  Simon's toolbox was like a treasure trove!  It was very exciting, pity they wouldn't let me play with it for a bit longer. 
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When Hector got to see Nikita on Wednesday he discovered that he likes the water and is a natural water baby.  He jumped in and out of the water puddles and plunged into some deep spots but never got nervous or afraid of the water.

Hector:  This is myself and Nikita having some fun at the beach!  We love to chase around after each other!

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Roundstone, a quiet fishing village in Connemara.
This will be good for us because all going well he will come on holidays with us to Roundstone in the Summer where we will be on the beach every day weather permitting. 

Hector: "I can't wait for Roundstone.  From what i've heard it sounds like it is going to be a lot of fun.  Apparently there are loads and loads of beaches for me to play on as well.  I really do love to swim and play in the water."

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Getting in-touch with his feminine side
Myself and Alice had a night in during mid-term break watching a movie.  Hector came running in with a pink bow from a flower wrapper which he thought he could chew on.  I took it off of him and within a few minutes he  fell asleep.  Alice thought it would be cute if we tied it to his collar for a giggle.  Here is Hector having a pink moment!

Hector: Hey who put this on me when I was asleep, that was a bit cheeky!

Aidan brought him to vote on Friday evening. Not sure whether Hector had any influence over Aidan's decisions or not, who knows.  Can you believe I forgot to go with them for a photo opportunity.  He got a fair bit of attention while he was there.  People came over to talk to him and to joke about who was going to be voting, Aidan or Hector!!

Hector:  I know my politics and I won't be telling anybody who would I would have voted for if I was given a chance to put my mark on the ballot paper.
This morning we popped out for a while and took a bus trip to the chemist for some medicine we needed.  Hector does not mind going on the bus at all, I think he actually enjoys getting on and off the bus.  most people are very curious and often stop to have a chat and ask all about puppy-walking.  I am always happy to tell them about what I do and the different stages the dog goes through in their training.
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A trip on the bus to go to the chemist this morning.
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Hector minding the medicine bag while I paid the pharmacist.
Well goodbye for this week.  I wonder what we will get up to in this coming week, I promise I will try and keep my camera with me and have plenty of pictures of his trips and adventures! 
 
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Do pups look like their owners?  That is a good question, maybe more to the point could Puppy's look like their Godfathers!!!  If we were to take off puppy Hectors little jacket I think there is a real resemblance.  Who looks like who?
Check out the link below for some that really do look alike.
The blog this week is about having more fun and not too many paparazzi moments. Therefore,  last week, Hector had time to have more fun than previous weeks gone by.  Well there was a little exception, we had a video photographer who was creating footage for a screensaver.  We had great fun trying to get him to lick a window on the outside, while the photographer filmed him on the inside.  We tried, two types of honey(he preferred the wild flower honey), golden syrup and marmalade.  It took a good  hour to get enough footage!  We had to keep cleaning the window every few minutes, so it would not look smudged.  We are waiting to hear back to see if it was successful or not.  Keep your fingers crossed that it worked!

Hector:  Oh boy, my tongue was worn out by the end of that filming session, but I did enjoy all the sweet goodies especially that wild flower honey, it was definitely my favourite!
Hector loves time with other dogs to play and run around in the park etc.  The beginning of the week didn't fair out so well, due to the poor weather, but after a while you really have no choice but to get out and get wet because Hector needs his walk.
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 We got to the park and the beach this week and boy did he enjoy it, Nikita and himself had a ball.  The two dogs had plenty of freedom, running through water on the beach or up and down mucky mounds in the park.  They were filthy by the end of our trip to the park.

Please click on the photo gallery tab at top of page to view more photos of Hector at the beach and the park.

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Now who is chasing who?
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Hector running through St Annes Park.  Nikita had just got away from him and he was in hot pursuit.

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Here are the two beauties waiting patiently for a treat when we were at the pond in Saint Annes Park, last week.

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Nikita and Hector after their run in the park with their leads on, ready to go home.  See how wet and mucky the two of them got, it is harder to see it on Hector as his coat is dark in colour.

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Hector trying to sneek up onto the front seat.
As you can imagine, Hector travels in the car a lot with me, as I said before Hector is like my side kick so he comes most places with me.  I am a fairly busy mum doing the usual running around on errands, shopping, dropping the girls to activities etc.  Hector got used to traveling in the car with very few hitches, but he is inclined to try chancing his arm at sitting on the seats.  Unfortunately, that is not allowed and anyway after a morning in the park running through mud you would not want him on the seats.

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This is Hector acting as my navigator!!  Not sure I could trust him but he thought he was doing a good job.
Hector: What do you mean "he thought he was doing a good job", I was doing a great job, we would have been heading to Belfast had I not barked when you were about to take the wrong exit off the motorway!

 
Well, we are now into week three of the blog and I hope it's starting to read a little better.  Not that I am looking for the Booker Prize, but my family have told me that my grammar and paragraph structure is appalling!
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Look at those quirky ears!!
As you can imagine, Hector is growing in front of our eyes; he is getting taller and has at last started to fill out.  He was really scrawny a few weeks ago, his ribs and hipbones were sticking out.  Now, you would say he is a lean dog, but not a skinny dog.   He has a really nice glossy and shiny coat, which makes him look even more handsome.  His ears do this funny 'sticky out' thing. I am not sure if that’s to do with teething (apparently dogs ears can do funny things when they are teething) or his German Shepherd instinct, which would make them naturally stick up.  Anyway, I think it looks cute and quirky!

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Can I get in there and help myself?
Did you know, that at four months of age, puppies are right in the middle of teething and chewing can become a big issue?  Around this age, puppies often have moments of hyper activity and as a result of the hyperness, they sometimes tear around the house, running on top of the furniture, practically bouncing off the walls. This is a release of their natural energy and is to be expected. It has also been observed, that puppies tend to show an immature sense of 'braveness' and may get up to things that they wouldn't have done when younger. This may be described, as the pre-adolescent stage when some puppies show more independence. Hector is guilty on both counts!

Hector:  Now hang on a minute; I haven’t chewed any furniture or shoes.  I chew on the things you give me for my teething.  Don’t try and make me out to be a bad boy and the hyper moments, they have been rare.  As pups go, I am not too bad, just look at my sweet face!

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On Wednesday, we had a really good Puppy Class. The Puppy Class included a walk in Phoenix Park, near the American Ambassadors Residence.  There were 10 pups ranging from 4-10 months of age.  We started out doing some exercises on dog and human distraction.  The idea was, that Suzie (our Puppy Walking Supervisor) held Hector in the middle of the circle of puppies and their puppy walkers; I walked away from the circle and when she let Hector go he was to come to me, without being called or getting distracted by the other dogs and people, if possible!  Suzie let Hector go and much to my surprise and pride of course,  Hector came straight to me.  What a good boy!  Each owner and pup had a turn.  All of the dogs did very well at this exercise. 

After our Class, we went for a lovely walk and a free run around the back of the American Ambassadors Residence.  We walked through some wooded area where there were some very young nettles.  Unfortunately, Hector and Nikita’s paws are young and sensitive and they got stung on their pads. Ouch!  They both whimpered and licked their paws on the way home in the car, but once home and much to our relief, they were fine.

Hector:  Oh poor us, those nettles were so stingy, but Michele rubbed some nice soothing gel on which helped. 
The park was so much fun!!!  It was great to hang out with some of the older dogs.  Big dogs are so cool! Hpwever, sometimes they get fed up with us little guys and say we are a bit of a nuisance.  They just don’t remember how much fun it is to be really young and learning new tricks and stuff!  Older pups can be too big for their own boots from time to time.  However, it was good being with them!


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Here is Nikita posing for the camera at the end of our walk, isn't she sweet?
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Friday, was Hector's moment to try out Politics.  I'm not sure that he is going to pursue that line of work, but it was a great experience. Hector and  8 month old Chenna (Puppy Walked by Marguerite) met up with Eamon Gilmore, Head of the Labour Party, at Paddy Powers Bookmakers on Baggot Street.  Paddy Powers have chosen the Irish Guide Dogs as their charity for 2011.  They hope to raise a few thousand euros from the Election Campaign alone!

It was quite an ordeal for the puppies because they were caught between the politician, his handlers, journalists and photographers.  There was lots of photos taken and instructions being given to Eamon Gilmore, about what was the best pose with the dogs, from the photographers, and questions from the journalists.  The best comments were: “Well Eamon, is this a three-way debate we have here” and “Who are the other dogs?”

Needless to say, after that session Hector curled up in his bed, banished all thoughts of a Political career and had a big snooze dreaming of running free in the fields!

Hector: Oh my Goodness, who would have thought that all this paparazzi stuff was such hard work? I think I'd like to just have a quiet afternoon now, thanks very much.

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Chenna and Hector with Eamon Gilmore at Paddy Powers
On Sunday, we went to my nephew's baptism.  Hector came to the church, where he tried to upstage the baby, by doing small little whimpers and noisy yawns.  I don’t think anyone really noticed us, well I hope not!  Fortunately, he was not that loud and the baby got to be the center of attention for the day.  After the church, we went for a celebratory drink and lunch.  Hector also had his lunch (his dog food that is) and afterwards he relaxed amongst the guests in front of the fire for most of the afternoon.  It truly is a dog’s life!
Hector:  Last week was so busy, I hope we can chill out this week.  I am only 16 weeks old and I do need some down time.  I wouldn’t mind a nice walk/play on the beach or  go see Nikita.  Hope your catching all this Michele!
 
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Hector 7th February 2011
Welcome back to Hector's blog.  We got really good feedback from the first blog.  Thank you so much for following it!

This week Hector is 16 weeks old and almost 20kgs in weight.  He just went down from 4 feeds a day to 3 feeds a day. As he is getting older, he is getting longer walks which he is happy to go on, he actually enjoys the walks now! He is teething at the moment, you can see the new teeth coming through. This is causing him to chew a lot, so we give him plenty of things to chew on like hard chew toys and chew sticks.  If we didn't he would eat the furniture and shoes etc.  All in all he is making good progress.
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This is Hector sitting and waiting.
I wrote a lot last week so I didn’t get a chance to tell you about the Puppy Class from the week before.  So let me tell you about it now:

Classes are normally divided into 2 sessions.  The first group is for pups up to 5 months.  The second is a group for pups between 5 and 12 months.  There is an overlap to allow the younger dogs to greet, meet and play with the older dogs. 

At our Puppy Class, we had 5 pups - Hector, Nikita, Hector's sister and two more Golden Retriever‐German Shepherd cross pups that were 9 weeks old; who are adorable, big balls of black fur.


In the Class, we worked on getting the pups to sit and wait while we walked away and then back to them.  We always reward their patience when done. The next thing we worked on was recall.  Suzie, our Irish Guide Dogs Puppy Walking Supervisor, held a pup at one end of the room while the owner walked to the other end.  Then our pups had to follow us and ignore all the other dogs who were gathered together.

Hector: Well, I hope you are all suitably impressed.  See I am not even looking at all the other pups.  I will do anything for a treat!

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After that exercise, the older boy and girl pups arrived and there was time for us to have a cup of coffee and chat, swap information and tips.




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Here is Hector meeting his sister at Puppy class
Hector: I have to admit my sister is very clever and really well behaved.
See how she is sitting and waiting and how impatient I am, because I just wanted to go and play. 

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Oh my poor tummy!!!!
At lunchtime on Thursday, Hector would not eat his food and was drinking excessively.  He walked away from his lunch and got into his bed.  It was then that I noticed his stomach was really distended.  I brought him to our vet Denis Shannon to have him checked out. 


Denis said he looked like he had gorged on something, what? I don’t know. He advised me to observe him closely, give him small amounts to eat and to call anytime if he became distressed.  What a great vet!
 
Fortunately for us after 24 hours, he was ok but I had plenty of 'you know what' to pick up in the garden the next day.  The joys of Puppy Walking!!!

Hector: Oh my goodness, I really and truly felt awful.  I won't tell you what I ate , but I certainly will never do that again.  It was definitely not worth it.

Due to Hector's tummy incident on Thursday we decided to take it easy on Friday.  We had a very relaxing morning and then Suzie, our P.W. Supervisor, called at lunch time to give us some more special diet food.  This is not that much different to the other food we were on but it is what they call raw food.  Apparently, this is also very good for dogs with sensitive stomachs which we now know Hector has. 
Tuesday, 8 February:
Today I brought Hector into town.  We went and visited the restaurant staff upstairs in Avoca on Suffolk Street.  The staff in Avoca have always had time for my Guide Dog pups, they are really nice and very welcoming.  He sat under the table and sniffed at all the crumbs for the first few minutes and then he just settled down and slept, while I had a quick cup of tea.

We walked up and down all the stairs in Avoca.  Hector took some of the stairs a bit cautiously, but didn't try to go too quickly.  He was also very well behaved in the restaurant.  These are all big achievements for a young pup like Hector.

I then walked up Grafton Street and went in to the bank to do a lodgment.  There were a couple of Managers, who were so nice and really curious about Hector and his training. After the bank, we headed back to the car park and used the elevator, which was another new experience for him.  He sat calmly in the lift and did not get distressed when the doors closed or the lift moved.  This was a successful day out!

Hector: For such a young guy I found this all a little difficult, but nothing to be too scared about.  It is tiring, so as soon as we got home and after my lunch I caught up on some beauty sleep.

Well goodbye till next week.  I plan to get some photos at Molly Malone statue at the bottom of Grafton Street and The Spire on O'Connell Street to send to Hector's 'Godfather' Hector Ó hEochagáin in Galway.

I keep forgetting to bring my camera with me.  I will remedy this as soon as possible.

Take care, Michele

    About this Blog

    Welcome to Puppy Hector's Blog:
    Follow RTE 2fm's "Breakfast with Hector" adopted pup's progress as he trains to become a guide dog for a person living with sight loss or an assistance dog for families of children with autism.

    RTE 2fm & Hector Ó hEochagáin:
      RTE 2fm's Breakfast Show Crew and host Hector ÓhEochagáin have been supporting pup Hector since adopting him at 8 weeks of age. During the last year, they have been helping us create awareness about our work and just what goes into into training a guide dog. Their support has been invaluable and has helped to raise much needed funds towards Hector's training. 


    About the Blog Authors, Susan Turtle and Michele Munnelly:
    Susan Turtle has been with Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind as a trainer for over
    13 years. Puppy Hector joined her in January this year to commence Early
    Training. She'll be keeping you posted on his progress over the next few months. Prior to January, Hector was with Volunteer Puppy Walker, Michele Munnelly who helped him get started
    on his journey to becoming a guide or assistance dog.  
      

    About Puppy Hector:
    Hector was born on 17 October 2010 and is German Shepherd x Golden Retriever. He is an intelligent, lively dog destined to become a life changing partner to a person living with sight loss or a family of a child with autism.   

    The role of a Puppy Walker:
    A Volunteer PW fosters a pup
    from 8 weeks of age to 12 months. During this time, the
    pup becomes part of their lives
    at home. A PW cares for and trains the pup to become a well rounded, confident, calm, willing, mannerly and socially acceptable dog.  The main focus
    is on obedience and socialisation, ensuring the pup is comfortable in many different environments like shops, restaurants, buses, trains, busy streets and malls etc.  Also the dog must get on with and not be distracted by people and other animals.  All of this provides the pup with a solid foundation for their future training and role as a guide or assistance dog. All training is done through positive reinforcement, learning should
    be fun, "a happy pup is a willing pup".

    Supported by PW Supervisors:
    Volunteer PWs are supported by our PW Supervisors who provide training and ongoing guidance. This is done through practical Puppy Training Classes, home visits and one‐on‐one training in supermarkets, shops, train
    stations etc.  The PW Supervisors provide valuable guidance and support to help equip our Volunteers for the task at hand and to monitor each pup's progress. All veterinary fees and feeding costs are covered by The Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind along with placing pups in homes when Volunteer PW's go on holidays.

    Come on and become a Puppy Walker for Irish Guide Dogs!
    It is a commitment but one that is rewarding and great fun!
    Go to www.guidedogs.ie to apply!

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guidehector@gmail.com www.puppyhector.weebly.com Hector having a snooze in his cozy dog crate after our walk and bus ride this morning