A Week with Caleb


August 24, 2014

A Week with Caleb

It's now been a week since Caleb arrived at our home. So far, Cosby has handled things quite well, though the novelty wore off rather quickly and he no longer plays much with Caleb. He doesn't dislike the new dog, he simply seems not to care for playing in general--nothing new for him. Caleb, on the other hand, is a bundle of energy most days and loves nothing more than a long game of tug or fetch. We even tried a small plastic pool, since labs are supposed to love water. Both dogs ignored it for a while, but eventually, Caleb hopped in and splashed about for a minute. Cosby remained thoroughly uninterested, until he eventually took a long drink of water from the pool, then walked away to smell some flowers.

In the house, Caleb is still kept close to his handler, and Cosby is still allowed to roam free. The two interact well, and aside from one occasionally trying to lay on the other's bed, they don't really interact much. Sometimes they'll chew on their bones at the same time, but that's about it. Well, except for that one timeā€¦

Cosby was laying on his bed, and Caleb was chewing his bone about five feet in front of Cosby. A second bone was nearby, and Cosby looked to be not particularly interested. My sister called Caleb to her for something, and as soon as he was away from his bone, Cosby, to everyone's surprise, took a single leap from his prone position, snatched Caleb's bone, and started chewing on it, grinning as only labs can grin. When Caleb returned seconds later, there was a moment when we humans wondered if there might be a fight, as both tails ceased wagging. Thankfully, it didn't come to that, and the dogs chased each other around for a couple minutes before Cosby laid down with the bone, the clear victor. Caleb ran over and laid down on Cosby's bed, as if to say, "If you get my bone, I get your bed. Go ahead, drop the bone and make me move, I'll just take the bone back then." I would have liked to see how Cosby handled that, but the rule is that each dog stays on his own bed, that way they both have a place they can always go to where the other can't be, a place all their own. Thus, my sister had to call Caleb off Cosby's bed. In fact, a little while later when both dogs had their own bones and had briefly chased each other, Caleb retreated to his bed and looked back at Cosby as though saying, "Ha, you can't follow me here, I'm in my safe place."

Feeding is also quite amusing if both dogs happen to be around (they use the same food and set of bowls). When Caleb gets dinner, Cosby usually runs into the room and sits in his usual spot, obviously hoping to get fed. He continually switches his wide-eyed gaze from the food bowl to me, in quick twitches of his head, while his tail never stops wagging. He has not yet tried to go for the food while Caleb is eating, and I doubt he will, but he has never had to share his bowls before so he's still figuring out the new system. I'm told his face is absolutely adorable while Caleb gets food and he doesn't.

My sister and I have taken a few walks together. At first, there was a bit of trouble with both dogs responding to one handler's commands, especially "forward", but they seem to have quickly figured out to listen only to their respective owners. When one follows the other, the trailing dog always wants to get in front, but neither one takes that desire to unsafe levels, and the leading dog does not actively block the trailing one. If we walk on opposite sides of the street, both seem to have about the same pace, though Caleb sometimes moves faster than Cosby--no surprise, as Caleb is larger and pulls harder.

Overall, Caleb and Cosby are getting along well, and act similar on walks, though in many ways they are opposites. Caleb is a black lab with a target weight of 73 pounds, a solid build, very large ears and paws, a thin coat, and an extremely affectionate, excitable nature. Cosby is yellow, 65 pounds, solid but has a good amount of extra skin on him and a fluffy coat, and is very reserved and not given to the displays of affection common to labs. They guide well, Caleb's mistakes as a brand new guide dog notwithstanding, yet Caleb pulls very hard into targets while Cosby slows down as he approaches them. Our mother is used to Cosby's slow approach, so it almost gave her a heart attack when she saw Caleb eagerly speeding toward a curb for the first time. She thought Caleb was going to lead his person out into traffic, while Caleb was just racing to get to the curb so he could be praised for finding it. Cosby will let me pet him for a few minutes, then walk away, while Caleb will snuggle with his person for hours; Cosby is motivated mostly by food, with praise a distant second, while Caleb seems as happy to get a food reward as a "good boy"; Caleb will play fetch for ten to twenty minutes, happily running after a toy and bringing it back, while Cosby might grab the toy and run around with it for a minute, then drop it and go sniff about the yard before heading inside. The two are very different, yet each matches his owner's personality perfectly. Guiding Eyes did a remarkable job with the pairing, as they always do.


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