Training Pupdates

11Alive says goodbye to Izzy and Lauren

Izzy Pupdate 6-5-19

Izzy Pupdate 5-22-19

Izzy Pupdate 5-8-19

International Guide Dog Day

Izzy and I are enjoying all the nice weather we're having lately! On International Guide Dog Day, we had a unique puppy meeting at SunTrust Park to highlight how puppies in training go through extensiveIzzy sitting inside SunTrust Park socialization to prepare them for their future. Guide dogs must be confident in all situations so it's important for Izzy to practice navigating through a stadium and show that he is comfortable around all the sounds and sights, like Blooper, the Braves mascot! See media coverage here and here.

It's not all work and no play, though! Izzy is having a blast going to pool parties and dog park play dates. As summer warms up, play dates at the doggy pool and in the kiddie pool at home are the perfect way to ensure he stays cool but is able to get his zoomies out! 

Izzy and Collar Cues

Socializing Pupdate

Izzy visits a pet store.Izzy and I have been working hard over the last several months to fine tune his self-control in distracting areas! It's important for him to be able to guide his future handler safely without becoming distracted by sniffing things. Pet stores can be particularly challenging because they have many dogs passing through, lots of food smells, and small animal smells. I have focused on setting Izzy up for success on outings in order to reward him frequently for good behavior. All our work is clearly paying off because we were able to walk through this small animal section without a hitch! 

Izzy Pupdate 3-27-19

Izzy Pupdate 3-13-19

Izzy's Year Anniversary on 11Alive

Izzy Pupdate 1-16-19

Izzy on a NYC subway platform.Birthday Pupdate 1-9-18

Our recent trip to New York City was the perfect opportunity to highlight how much all our hard work is paying off! Izzy is growing up into such a well behaved dog, but keeps his goofy and snugly side prominent at home. While waiting for the TODAY puppy party, Izzy's self control around his siblings was show cased! We also explored a bit around Rockefeller Center including going down to the subway! Our visit to the MARTA station was a great way to prepare Izzy for the sights and sounds of the subway. Izzy also practiced walking over many different types of grates and cellar doors, met a horse, settled in a restaurant with his siblings nearby, and practiced self control around all the dogs and people giving him attention around town. Our visits around Athens and Atlanta prepared him well to be on his best behavior in New York! 

Puppy Squad 1st Birthday

Izzy's December Pupdates

Izzy's 1st Birthday


Izzy Holiday Update

Izzy sitting by a Christmas sleigh.The fall and winter are wonderful times to train puppies to have excellent self control in unpredictable situations. Izzy is learning to walk with a loose leash around leaves and other small items blowing in the wind. Because we never know when or how hard the wind will blow, we’re both kept on our toes and I’m able to reward Izzy frequently for ignoring things that are tempting to chase. 
Izzy also continues to get plenty of exposure to life-like items that can intimidate puppies because they stare and stay frozen. It’s important for Izzy to not only be comfortable in the presence of statue-like things but be able to walk by without pausing. I’d say Izzy is doing a fantastic job learning to have self control in these situations! 

Training Pupdate 12-3-18

The fall and winter are wonderful times to train puppies to have excellent self control in unpredictable situations. Izzy is learning to walk with a loose leash around leaves and other small items blowing in the wind. Because we never know when or how hard the wind will blow, we’re both kept on our toes and I’m able to reward Izzy frequently for ignoring things that are tempting to chase. 

Izzy also continues to get plenty of exposure to life-like items that can intimidate puppies because they stare and stay frozen. It’s important for Izzy to not only be comfortable in the presence of statue-like things but be able to walk by without pausing. I’d say Izzy is doing a fantastic job learning to have self control in these situations! 

Izzy on Halloween

Izzy Pupdate 10-17-18

Izzy visits Six Flags

Training Pupdate

Izzy in coat in front of the 11alive logo.Izzy continues to get bigger and smarter by the day! He has finally outgrown his puppy coat and has upgraded to his adult coat! This coat is much longer so that it hits closer to his tail. This helps him become comfortable with the sensation of something touching his lower back, where the harness handle will sometimes rest when he's a working guide dog. 

Izzy has also begun going to meetings and working with new puppy raisers. He is helping to teach them the ropes while learning how to be responsive to new handlers. The goal is to help Izzy transition more easily to working with his guide dog trainer and future handler. 



Izzy Pupdate 9-19-18

Guide Dog Handler Jamie Marks

Pupdate 8-15-18

Pupdate 8-8-18

Izzy back from vaca

Izzy on vacation

Izzy had quite the weekend! We visited my parents in Hilton Head, SC and Izzy visited the beach for the first time. He had a great time splashing around in the waves and running in the sand. Izzy stayed on a A wet Izzy on the beachretractable leash while on the beach to ensure he stayed safe while still having the opportunity to explore. It was important that I could pull him in close when other dogs and people were nearby. 

Even while having fun, I always wanted Izzy to keep one ear open to listen to me. I brought my food reward pouch to give him a kibble every time I called him back and when he would check in on his own. We love to make every new experience a learning opportunity!

Fireworks and Izzy Pupdate 7-3-18

Izzy Training Update 6-25-18

Heading into Atlanta is always a fun adventure! Today, Izzy went on his first trip to the MARTA station and did fantastic! The train is loud and can be overwhelming on first introduction. So, I made sure to feed Izzy a lot of treats to create a positive association with the sounds and sights of the train. On our return trip, I was able to feed Izzy fewer treats and he remained inquisitive but confident while the trains were rolling in and out. While exploring Midtown Atlanta, we encountered several large grates to practice walking over. This was also Izzy's first encounter with a "sea of grates" to walk over and he never skipped a beat! While downtown, Izzy practiced walking on a loose leash past pigeons, people, construction, skate boarders and bicyclists. I love seeing Izzy's progess on learning self control in these stimulating environments.

Pupdate 6-20-18

Pupdate 6-13-18

Training Pupdate 6-4-18

Izzy is coming along swimmingly in his training! He is finally learning to love the Georgia heat because it means he gets to go out and about.  We have made several trips to private dog parks where Izzy gets to play with other puppies in training and he can't get enough! 
Izzy in front of a fountain at the festival.
As far as outings go, Izzy is doing fantastic!  We went to the Alpharetta Art Street Festival last weekend where Izzy worked on loose leash walking through tight aisles crowded with people, children, strollers, and other dogs. We even got to see some large parrots who were making an appearance!  We also made a visit to the Avalon in Alpharetta where Izzy practiced walking through busy stores.  His favorite part of the day was getting pet by several kids and he enjoyed all the compliments he got on his good behavior! 

Izzy Pupdate 5-30-18

Izzy Pupdate 5-23-18

Izzy training pupdate 5-16-18

Izzy sure is growing up! We had our first big adventure in Midtown in Atlanta last weekend! Izzy proved that he could handle the traffic in downtown Athens so he had his first Izzy sitting at an art installationbig exposure to traffic in Atlanta. While sitting on the patio at Cafe Intermezzo, Izzy watched and listened to loud trucks hitting pot holes, motor cycles and cars revving their engine. As he settled "under" my chair, I randomly reinforced his calm 3demeanor as traffic passed and people and dogs walked by. 

After a leisurely breakfast with some of our best friends, Izzy and I made our way to the Woodruff Arts Center and the High Museum. We were so excited to be following in Charlie's footsteps! Stacy and Charlie trained there and they hosted Stacy's Veterans Portrait Project! Izzy practiced walking on a loose leash on marble stairs and on new surfaces outside. Of course, he got plenty of practice "staying" so we could get his photo in some iconic spots. What a whirlwind of a day! Izzy finished off his wonderful Saturday with a long nap.

Izzy pupdate on 11Alive 5-8-18

Izzy pupdate on 11Alive 5-2-18

Izzy pupdate 5-2-18

Izzy is coming along swimmingly in his training! He is fine tuning his obedience cues like sit, stay, and stand while remaining on my left side.  Izzy loves to offer eye contact so staying in the perfect "heel" position is tough, but he is beginning to understand how to position his body in relation to mine. 
Izzy looking up to give eye contact.
In addition to perfecting the basics, Izzy continues to go on outings daily to hone his focus on loose leash walking rather than interacting with his environment.  This means that he is learning to ignore things on low shelves, food on the ground and people who walk. Izzy's stamina improves by the day and now we are able to go on full length grocery shopping trips!  He is learning to walk on a loose leash next to me while I also maneuver a shopping cart.  In this photo, I have stopped to browse and Izzy is offering eye contact, waiting on me to give him his next cue!  

Izzy Celebrates International Guide Dog Day 4-26-18

Izzy training pupdate 4-19-18

Izzy settled under a chair.Wow, is Izzy growing up! Izzy weighs a whopping 30 pounds now and is maturing in a nice young man! He's beginning to understand what my expectations are for him at home and out in public. Through positive reinforcement, Izzy has learned to settle nicely at home and to chew only on his dog toys. Don't worry, though, he still gets plenty of play time with his big sisters, my two adult pet dogs. 

He is also learning to focus on me out in public rather than other tempting things like people, other dogs and food on the ground. I maintain his focus by rewarding him very frequently with kibble and verbal praise. Every time Izzy does a particularly good job, we step over to the side and throw a "puppy party" so he knows what a rock star he is! Check out the photo to the right where Izzy is demonstrating how he is also learning to settle in public places. While I sipped a cup of coffee at Octane Coffee Bar in Buckhead, Izzy stayed in a down next to my seat without trying to eat crumbs off the ground or greet the people talking to him. Good boy, Iz!

Izzy pupdate 4-11-18

Pupdate from Izzy and Lauren 4-4-18

Izzy at Posman Bookstore.Izzy is coming along so nicely!  At 13 weeks old, he is able to go on (slightly) longer outings so we went on our first big adventure!  We took a trip to Ponce City Market in Atlanta, GA. to explore the sights, smells and sounds of the eclectic shopping center.  Izzy took on the crowded stores beautifully and was well received by all!  In the photo to the right,  Izzy is browsing at Posman Books.  I made sure to give Izzy's little legs and brain a rest half-way through our outing and he did a wonderful job settling in the food court despite all the people cooing over him. 

In order to prepare Izzy for these types of outings, we have been practicing obedience and self-control at home and on short outings in public several times a day. Izzy loves our training sessions and I love watching him work out how to navigate the world! 

Izzy celebrates National Puppy Day 3-23-18

Izzy at the escalator platform.Pupdate with Izzy and Lauren 3-21-18

Izzy has learned so much over the last two weeks!  We have continued going on short outings to fun places like the grocery store, restaurants and the mall.  Izzy is learning to focus on me in these exciting and very distracting places and is gaining confidence every time we go out.

Check out Izzy exploring the platform leading up to the escalator in the picture to the right.  The escalator platform has a rough texture and it vibrates while the stairs are moving nearby which is all novel to Izzy. He wasn’t phased by it one bit! Izzy is also meeting all sorts of people everywhere we go - babies and children, people in hats, sunglasses, ball caps and hoods, with walkers and on scooters.  He adores everyone that stops to say “Hello!” and offer some scratches.  Check out his Instagram to continue following Izzy’s journey! 

Pupdate with Izzy and Lauren 3-16-18

Izzy at the post office.Izzy and Lauren Check-In 3-8-18

Boy what a week! Izzy’s journey started on the TODAY show where he got his first taste of being in the spotlight. Then, we caught a nice long nap on our flight home to Georgia before meeting two of his biggest cheerleaders, his big doggie sisters. Bright and early the next morning, we made our way to meet the 11Alive team. Everyone is so excited to help our “Puppy with a Purpose” grow up into a wonderful guide dog for someone who is blind or has low vision.

In our first 24 hours together, Izzy had the pleasure of brightening the morning of two fellow stars, singer Kelly Clarkson and UGA alum and current New England Patriot Malcolm Mitchell! Don’t worry, though, he loves everyone he meets just the same! Over the next few days, went to a few more low key places, like the post office and the grocery store, to continue building Izzy’s confidence in new places. Izzy is a champ at learning the ropes at home, too! 

I can’t wait to see where this journey is going to take our chunky puppy!

Checking in with Izzy 3-9-18

Introducing Izzy 2-28-18

Checking in with the Class of 2019

Charlie and Stacy return to TODAY 2-28-18

Revealing the name of the TODAY puppy 2-27-18

Class of 2019 visit Megyn Kelly 2-26-18

Meet the Class of 2019 2-26-18

Meet Izzy

Hi I’m IZZY, the new puppy at 11Alive NBC Atlanta.  For the next year and a half, I’m going to live in Georgia with my puppy raiser Lauren.  I can’t wait to spend my time down south!  We’re going to have so Izzy the yellow lab pup sits with a guide dog harness.many wonderful escapades together as we explore Atlanta.  I hope we can visit the Botanical Garden and Georgia Aquarium, and maybe see the Braves and Falcons play.  Lauren will teach me something new every day on my journey to become a guide dog.  Look for us on 11Alive and follow us on our very own Instagram page

January 2, 2018
Mom: Muffin (Yellow Labrador Retriever)
Dad: Pancho (Black Labrador Retriever)
Siblings: Seven brothers and sisters (3 yellow male, 1 black male, 2 black female)
This little male yellow Labrador Retriever loves chewing on bones and is fascinated by sounds.

Meet Lauren Cobb

Lauren Cobb grew up in the Atlanta, GA area and has always had a love for animals. Growing up with pets of her own, as well as interning at a local veterinary clinic during high school cemented her desire to pursue a career with animals.

Lauren with her Atlanta station yellow Lab pup.Lauren attended at the University of Georgia where she majored in animal science. In college, she joined the UGA puppy raising community for the Guide Dog Foundation, and as a full-time student, she raised two future guide dogs for the Foundation.

After graduation, Lauren continued to volunteer with the Foundation in a leadership role while working as a veterinary assistant. Her experience with the puppy raising program inspired her dream of working full-time with assistance dogs. A year ago, that dream became a reality: She was offered a position as a canine care representative for the Athens, Georgia, puppy raising group. 

Lauren is excited to share with America the process of raising a future guide dog that will one day become someone’s path to independence.

Get your Puppy with a Purpose

Photo of a black and yellow plush Lab toy with an GDF vest.