We’ve recently spoken to Puppy Walker, Jean, to find out how Akio has been getting on with his training over the last couple of months. She told us that Akio has grown into a laid-back character who’s made good overall progress at this stage.
When Akio is on a training walk, he will walk nicely most of the time, and only pulls on occasions when he gets distracted by something, such as leaves blowing in the wind, or any birds that are nearby. Akio now proudly wears his bright blue Guide Dogs puppy jacket, which will help him get used to having something on his back in preparation for wearing a harness in the later stages of training. The jacket also shows the public that the pup wearing it is in training and shouldn’t be distracted. At this stage, Akio’s spending routine is a work in progress, but hopefully with time and practise he will improve in the coming months.
Walking around busy town centres doesn’t faze Akio at all and he copes
well navigating his way through the hustle and bustle. He’s equally
happy when Jean takes him to quieter places, such as a café. Recently,
Jean and Akio joined some other Puppy Walkers and their Puppy Training
Supervisor for a trip out. They all got to practise travelling on a bus,
walking up and down flights of stairs, going in lifts, and visiting a
café, and we’re pleased to report that Akio took it all in his stride
and coped really well.
Since having the last of his vaccinations several weeks ago, Akio has been able to go out for regular free runs, which he loves. He stays fairly close to Jean, but if he is running around a little further afield, Akio’s recall response is good to both voice and whistle. If he’s busy playing with other dogs he will generally take a little longer to return, which is to be expected for a pup of his age.
Akio loves going to Guide Dogs puppy classes, although he does get very excited to be around all of his canine friends, so it can be a little challenging for him to settle in this environment.
When Akio is at home, his playful side comes out and he loves to pick up any children’s toys he can find. Fortunately, he won’t chew them, he just likes to carry them around. Akio also enjoys playing with his own toys too, and his favourite is one with a rattle in it which also has a thin thread that looks like a tail. Jean told us that every day Akio will pick the toy up by the tail and go to the same spot on the rug and shake it whilst turning around in circles about 20 times. Jean’s never seen a dog do this, but Akio seems to be enjoying himself, and she said it is quite funny to watch!
Jean’s pet cat, Jack, still hasn’t made friends with Akio yet. Whenever Akio hears the cat flap shut he runs to see if he can say ‘hello’ to Jack. However, Jack will normally wait until Akio is fast asleep in his bed before he sneaks past him.
We hope that you’ve enjoyed Akio’s latest pupdate - it sounds like he’s making good progress in all areas of his training. We look forward to sending you his next report card in a couple of months’ time.
Akio’s visit to Yeomans Toyota Eastbourne –
Tuesday 5th February
As you know, last year we raised £5,000 for Guide Dogs, which allowed us to name our very own Guide Dog Puppy.
Yesterday we were visited by our Puppy Akio, his Puppy Walker Jean, and also Alison from Guide Dogs, where they met customers and staff. We heard about Akio’s journey so far and everything he is getting up to. We learned that Akio would be staying with Jean until he is 12-14 months old, he will then be trained at one of the four Guide Dog training schools for approximately 26 weeks, before being assigned to a blind or visually impaired person to put the skills he has learned into practice when he is around 2 years old.
Jean has been teaching him basic obedience commands, and he has learned to wait for a whistle to be blown before tucking into his meals. He has also been getting used to the sights and sounds of traffic, and has visited lots of different places including supermarkets, a garden centre and coffee shops. He is responding well to the ‘busy busy’ toileting prompt, which is taught to all Guide Dog puppies. He is also used to car travel and takes that in his stride, which is a good skill for a young Guide Dog Puppy. He has quickly had to get used to Jean’s cat Jack, although Jack is not too impressed with Akio himself, this might change over time though!
We shall be keeping you updated on Akio’s progress, so make sure you check back for more news as Akio continues on his training journey!
UPDATE - New Year, New Puppy!
We are thrilled to announce that our Guide Dog Puppy has been born during the Christmas break.
Our Puppy is a boy and we have named him Akio.
Why did we choose the name Akio for our Puppy?
The name Akio is a Japanese baby name and it’s meaning is ‘Bright Boy’.
The Toyota Chairman is also called Akio, so we thought that this would be the perfect name!
Akio Toyoda was born on May 3, 1956. He graduated from Keio University with a degree in law in April 1979, and then from Babson College in the United States, with a master's degree in business administration in 1982. He joined Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) in April 1984.
Mr. Toyoda's career has included postings in every phase of automotive operations, including production, marketing and product development, both in Japan and internationally. Outside Japan, he served as an executive vice president and board member at New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI), Toyota's production joint venture with General Motors in California, starting in April 1998.
In January 2000, he returned to Japan and was named to TMC's Board of Directors in June. In that capacity, he took on the creation and supervision of gazoo.com, a website that contains dozens of virtual shops for consumer goods and services and also provides information about new and used vehicles. Also during this time, he supervised domestic marketing operations, operations in the Americas, and production management consulting. In June 2001, Mr. Toyoda became the chief officer of the Asia & China Operations Centre, and then in June 2002, he assumed the position of managing director
In June 2003, Mr. Toyoda was made a senior managing director (this title was changed to senior managing officer as of June 2011), and, in January 2005, he became chief officer of both the China Operations Group and the Asia, Oceania & Middle East Operations Group. In June 2005, he became an executive vice president and a representative director, where he was responsible for IT & ITS, quality, product management, purchasing, Japan and overseas sales, and overseas operations. In June 2009, Mr. Toyoda became president of TMC.
Akio has now been assigned to a ‘Puppy walker’ who looks after the puppies during the first weeks of their life. The Puppy walkers will start to teach him the skills that he will need as a future guide dog.
Our Puppy Akio will be visiting us in February, where we will share photos from the visit and an update on his progress.
Thanks again to everyone who donated the Guide Dogs to allow us to name our puppy.
UPDATE - Week 8
The puppies could be born at any time from now onwards. The bitch now needs to avoid any rough and tumble play or stimulation which might lead to the onset of early labour, as ideally the pups should spend another week in the womb. The bitch will probably begin 'nesting' at this stage, and you may even be able to see and feel the puppies moving within her tummy when she's lying down.
Towards the end of week eight, the bitch will start producing colostrum, the forerunner to her nutrient- rich milk, and then the milk itself. She will continue to eat as much as she wants, to prepare her for the birth!
UPDATE: Week 7
The bitch will begin shedding the hair on her belly in preparation for the birth. The puppies will continue to grow and develop, and now look almost completely fully formed.
The bitch will continue eating as much as she would like to, this triggers the bitch's body to begin to store calcium from the rich puppy food she has been fed until this point, an important mineral during the later stages of the pregnancy.
UPDATE: Week 6
The bitch will have a noticeably larger tummy and her pregnancy will be obvious to most people. Her tummy will grow on a daily basis, and her nipples will become noticeably darker. The puppies will begin to develop their markings and the skin pigmentation that will eventually determine their colour and looks.
The amount of food that she eats will be increased, and she will eat as much as she wants to.
UPDATE: Weeks 5 & 6
The puppies will continue to grow and develop, and look almost completely fully formed.
Amniotic fluid in the uterus increases in order to protect the pups around day 32 of gestation and the vet will no longer be able to detect the presence of puppies by palpating the abdomen. From week five onwards, the puppies are much less susceptible to developmental issues and defects. The individual toes begin to form, and claws and whiskers start to grow. The foetuses also develop their male or female sexes during this time.
The bitch's weight will begin to noticeably increase at this stage, she will be fed little and often, and puppy food will start to be thrown into the mix.
UPDATE: Week 4
A vet may be able to detect the presence of the developing puppies by gently palpating the abdomen. The eyes and spine of the foetuses begin to develop, and their faces begin to take shape. The foetuses grow to around 1.5 centimetres long during week four.
The fourth week of foetal development is considered to be one of the most formative stages of the pregnancy when the growing puppies are most vulnerable to damage and developing defects. At this stage of development, rough play and particularly strenuous exercise are limited.
UPDATE: Week 3
As previously announced, we have now raised the £5,000 required to enable us to name a Guide Dog Puppy. We are thrilled with the support we have received from Toyota UK, staff and customers to enable us to reach our target. The money raised will go to Guide Dogs so they can continue their important work.
At the beginning of October, we visited the Guide Dog Breeding Centre to see the great work that goes on behind the scenes. We were able to spend time with a Puppy Walker, who look after the puppy’s from 7 weeks of age until they are a year old.
We also found out that when a bitch comes into season (approximately every 7 months) she will be brought into the breeding centre for mating. Extensive research is carried out to select an appropriate stud dog and this is married to the bitch with reference to her own qualities. Blood samples are taken from a bitch due for mating to evaluate the progesterone levels, which rise at the point of ovulation, so they know she is ready for mating. While they always try to effect natural mating wherever possible, at times it is necessary to artificially inseminate. Guide Dogs are proud that their conception rates remain consistently high at over 90%. At approximately 4-5 weeks post mating, the bitches are checked for pregnancy using an ultrasound scanner and to determine the number of pups expected. The average gestation period is 63 days and the average litter size seems to be on the rise, currently at 7.2.
Our pregnant bitch is around 3 week’s pregnant at the moment, so what goes on during this time? The embryos begin to plant into the uterus and they will receive the nutrients and life support. The foetuses are under a centimetre long at this stage.
In approximately 10 weeks time, we will get a notification that our puppy has been born, and we will announce the name we have chosen, the puppy will also visit us in due course so everyone can say hello, so watch this space! Look out for updates - we will look at what happens in the first 7 weeks of the Puppy’s life and how they are prepared to become fully trained guide dogs.
We may have hit our target, but it’s not too late to donate to this amazing charity:
Find out more about Guide Dogs here: