Lou Travis just can't get enough puppy love and licks
"Are you ready for some puppies?"
The question was asked by Jenna Bullis, Guide Dogs for the Blind's breeding manager, as she stood on the steps of a "puppy truck" that had just arrived in the parking lot of the West Linn Albertson's on Saturday, Aug. 17.
The truck, with 13 puppies on board, had started at the organization's San Rafael, Calif., campus, and was making a stop in West Linn to hand over three yellow labs before spending the night at the Boring campus and then going on to Burien, Wash., to deliver 10 more pups and pick up three adult dogs for the trip back to San Rafael for final training.
In West Linn, the three puppy-raisers in line for the dogs, who had already raised at least one guide dog puppy for the non-profit organization, waited for their names to be called.
First up was Lou Travis, a King City resident who got her first puppy Paige early in 2012 and raised her until April 2013, when she returned her to the Boring campus; Lou then returned to the campus in August to participate in Paige's graduation ceremony as she was presented to her permanent handler, Beth Allred, a 27-year-old blind woman from Colorado. (The Regal Courier did a three-part series on Lou's journey and couldn't resist the opportunity to catch the puppy drop-off.)
The puppies in each litter all have names starting with the same letter, and Lou was getting a "G" dog. As Jenna stood on the truck steps and held up an adorable 11 ½-week old female, she said the almost-white pup was given the name Gobi for the sand of the Gobi Desert, which covers a large region in northern and northwestern China and southern Mongolia.
Lou took Gobi into her arms, and the puppy, probably relieved to be out of her spacious travel kennel, started licking Lou as if she had known her all her life.
Another member of Lou's Beaverton-based Sightmasters club, Steve, got Gobi's sister Gracious, and Barb, who belongs to another guide dog training club, got Iris, while about a dozen people from the clubs watched in delight.
Each puppy-raiser also was handed a bag containing such essentials as a leash, toothbrush and a baggie of food, and after lots of photos were taken, the three puppy-raisers were off on their new adventures.
Gobi's first adventure happened immediately afterwards, as Lou and her friend Chris Casebeer went to Lou's company picnic.
Then Gobi needed some time to recover, according to Lou.
"Little Gobi is doing great," she said a few days later. "She slept a lot on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, and finally started showing a little spunk yesterday. She's a very soft, sensitive dog and is very sweet. She likes to be right with me all the time. She has slept through every night, has a good appetite and is catching on very quickly to things like 'Go to bed,' 'Come,' 'Do your business,' 'Wait' and 'OK' but is having a little trouble with 'Let's go.'
"Once she gets going, she walks pretty well but will often times just sit down and then lie down, and it takes a lot of work to get her up on her feet and moving again. We had our first little pup meeting last night, and she did pretty well for a new pup The two sisters, Gobi and Gracious - already dubbed 'Gracie' - did very well during the training last night considering they are just off the puppy truck. Gracie is a bit bigger than Gobi but just as cute and sweet!"
Lou can already see some major differences between her first puppy Paige and Gobi.
"Paige came off the puppy truck pretty tired, but she got her spunk back after a good night's sleep," Lou said. "She was very quick to pick up basic commands just like Gobi, but she didn't have the 'Let's go' problem that Gobi has. With Paige, every time I said, 'Let's go,' I had to have my running shoes on because she was ready to move! I had to work hard at getting her to not pull on the leash.
"There are some similarities in behavior, but they both have very different personalities. Both are very smart and pick things up quickly. I think Paige was a little more confident at this age, but in time I think Gobi will gain confidence.
"I'm having a blast with Gobi. She's very cute and very sweet, and I've really missed having a pup in the house. I'm back to having hair everywhere and 'treasure bags' in all of my pockets."
Days later, Lou added that Gobi "catches on very quickly, but she also has a bit of a stubborn streak."
Guide Dogs for the Blind always appreciates hearing from people interested in becoming puppy-raisers or volunteering in other capacities.
For more information, visit www.guidedogs.com.