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Friday, December 31, 2010

A Flashback on 2010

As today is the last day of 2010 I thought I would give a review of my and my puppies' lives over the past year.

January: I turned 18!!! WOOT! Arwen turns 8 on January 2, 2010. Rocco was born on January 20, 2010 (though I didn't know I was getting him at that time). Got a shock when I was told that Freya was most likely on the January recall and that she would be going to the Oregon campus. I was really relieved when I found out that she wasn't on the January recall. Turned in all of my college applications to the US. Amici gets off the puppy truck.

February: I had to say good bye to my Darling Little Girl on February 20, 2010. Turned in my UK University applications. Belle had her last litter for GDB on February 2, 2010 and I started pressuring my dad to let me raise again in hopes that I would get the little yellow male, Epic. Kendrick gets off the puppy truck a week or so before Freya's turn in date.

March: Found out I was rejected from Princeton. Puppy sat Tomales, Townsend, Royalty, and Rockford all in one month. Finally convinced my dad to let me co-raise a puppy with Mary.

April: Decided to get a puppy earlier than planned because the puppy kennels were filled to the brim. Found out we were getting a 12 week old male yellow lab from the Atrus/Peach litter. Welcomed little (or should I say giant) Rocco into the family on April 10, 2010. Found out I was rejected from Northwestern. Was accepted to Ekerd, Wake Forest, and Sarah Lawrence. Wait listed at Colby.

May: Found out that Freya was due to graduate as a Guide on May 29, 2010. I honestly never thought I would see the day. Met her amazing new partner and handed off her harness. Freya meets her brother Rocco. Graduated from High School on May 22, 2010. Started as Student Director for the school play Seussical the Musical.

June: Rocco and I go to my mom's house for her birthday and we go to Huntington Gardens. I believe this is the month that Rocco finally stopped throwing up at night. Rocco is legal this month in the first week. Found out I was accepted to University of Aberdeen in Scotland. Townsend is Career Changed.

July: Rocco and I got to a Grizzles ball game for the 4th of July and Rocco proves himself as a wonderful puppy. We got stuck going right by the fire works as they started going off (we tried very hard to get to the car, but it didn't work). While I was freaking out (honestly don't know why GDB allows me to puppy raise because I hate loud noises), Rocco leads me to the side and looks at me as if to say, "Momma, they're just fireworks." We get ready for Fun Day. Lance is handed out at Fun Day and Rocco gets to meet his little brother.

August: Rocco takes a Ferry Ride to San Fransisco and meets his other older brother (besides Colorado) Harvard and his partner. Along with two other guides and their partners. Rocco and I have to deal with the fact that no one in our group will be able to take him so we start preparing ourselves to never see each other again. Find out he's being transferred to Visalia with his brother Rocky! Erin is happy.

September: Rocco is transferred on September 13, 2010. I head off for Scotland on September 17, 2010 and start my classes at University. Winston goes off for formal training and his raiser gets married.

October: Freya turns 2! Colorado goes off for formal training and Tomales is Career Changed. Colorado is Career Changed a week into training for elbow dysplasia and is in consideration for D4D. D4D decides not to take him and he comes home as a pet. I continue to get reports that Rocco is doing well with his new raiser. I get really homesick and almost consider going home.

November: Royalty goes off for breeder evals but is Career Changed soon after for hip dysplasia. First year in 18 years that I do not celebrate Thanksgiving. Have a realization about what I want to do with my life but decide not to leave Aberdeen because I realized I love it there.

December: Find out that Winston is going to graduate on December 11, 2010. I leave Aberdeen on the 10 so that I can make it to his graduation. I get to meet one of our newest puppies, Luther, and see Katlynn again. I get Rocco back for a month. I get to meet the other two new puppies Pauli and Danvers.

That's pretty much the entirety of my year. Hopefully 2011 will be just as wonderful and has the same amount of ups and downs. Otherwise it would be boring right? :)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Holiday Adventures (Written by Rocco)

This is my first holiday season and I gotta say that I'm getting a whole bunch of holidays in one.

First, Momma and I went to our club's Christmas party. That was a whole bunch of fun. I got a new blue kong toy there. Momma says that they need a special colour just for me because I have already bitten off pieces of it. So, I'm not really allowed to chew on it because she doesn't want anything getting stuck in my tummy.

Then Momma had Auntie Lilly over to celebrate the Solstice. They exchanged their gifts and made yummy food (not that I was allowed to have any of it) and watched movies and just had a great time.

Now we're here in Arizona spending Christmas with my Momma's step-dad's side of the family. It's the Jewish side of Momma's family. While I didn't get to open my presents on Christmas day I did get a present from Santa who, by the way, you're not suppose to be scared of. I find this a little hard to believe really. I mean, he can fly and he sneaks into your house late at night, eats all of your cookies and drinks all of your milk, and just leaves you presents. What kind of guy is this? I don't really mind because he got me a cool rope toy, but still, it's something to think about. My buddy Kendrick absolutely LOVES Santa Clause. He got so excited when he saw him at the mall that he forgot his puppy training and jumped on him. Momma couldn't take me to meet Santa this year because of time restrictions, but hopefully I'll get to meet him someday and ask him why he leaves presents for good little pups.

(This is Erin guys. The first video is one of Rocco meeting the singing Jingle Bell Puppy we have. He was infatuated with the thing. He thought it was great fun. The second and third video is Rocco trying to open his present from Santa. He was very good. That bag was on the floor for hours and he didn't try to get the rope inside until I told him it was "OK". In the first of him trying to get his present he looks at me like, "I'm not suppose to pick up the paper, but I can't get it out without touching the paper." So, I moved the rope out a little and he decided that he would just lay down and play with it instead of pulling it out of the bag so I eventually just took it out for him. The last is him playing with his new rope toy.)

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Santa Visits GDB

I received this poem from Mr. L a few days ago and thought I would wait until Christmas to share it. It was written back when GDB still used German Shepherds and Kennel Cats...though I'm pretty sure we still have one Kennel Cat there somewhere. Or, maybe, that was when Freya was a baby that I saw him.

Anyway, I enjoyed this version of, "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and I hope you will too.

Santa Visits GDB

Twas the Night Before Christmas and the kennels were still,
With most dogs now asleep having eaten their fill.
The Labradors sprawled out, quite snug in their beds,
While visions of ANYTHING edible danced in their heads.
The Goldens and Shepherds curled up on the floor,
Some twitched in their sleep some even did snore.
The dog food was stacked in the feed room with care,
In hopes that a trainer soon would be there.
On the window ledge, one of the kennel cats did lay,
Surveying the lawn at the end of his day.
Something was different that little cat knew.
Tonight something would happen, it had to be true.
For that day as the workers left to go home,
They wish "Merry Christmas!" before starting to roam.
The dogs had noticed it too during this past week's walks,
The trainers seemed just that much happier and eager to talk.
In the mall where they worked through the maze of people and stores,
There were decoration and music and distractions galore!
Most dogs pranced along without worry or fear,
But some barked at the man on the sleigh and those fake looking reindeer.
The cat was almost asleep too when he first heard the sound,
A whoosh through the air and a jingle around.
It reminded him of a dog's collar when the animal shook,
But this sound kept growing. He'd better go look.
From the ceiling their came a faint sort of thunk,
As the kennel cat climbed the highest pile of junk.
Once before people had worked on the roof,
And came down through the trap door to a chorus of "Woooof!"
But the dogs still were quiet, all sleeping so sound,
As this man dressed in red made his way right on down.
He patted the cat as he climbed past his spot,
Then made his way right to the trainers' coffee pot.
A Shepherd sat up, not fully awake,
Then a Golden followed her with a mighty loud shake.
That did it! All the dogs sprang to life with loud noise,
In spite of the din, the old man kept his poise.
He filled the pot and it started to brew,
Then he pulled up a chair and took in the view.
Dogs all around him, so carefully bred,
He knew their jobs well, the blind people they led.
Some had stopped barking and looked at him now,
While others delighted in their own deafening howl.
Laying a finger in front of his lips,
The jolly old man silenced the excitable yips.
"You all may not know me, but I'm Santa Clause,"
The old man smiled and took a short pause,
While he filled up his mug with hot liquid and cream,
"I've always wanted to stop here. It's been one of my dreams."
The cat had climbed down and was exploring Santa's sack,
"Yes, little kitty, that's an empty pack."
Santa smiled as he drank and looked at those eyes,
Deep brown ones and gold ones held wide in surprise.
Some of these dogs he'd seen just last year,
In their puppy homes, cute and full of holiday cheer.
He'd seen the effect of the pup on the tree,
But now they were here at the school, just waiting to be.
"I didn't bring you presents or bones just to chew.
I'll tell you something better, what you're going to do."
"You all will work hard and the trainers will share,
Both praise and correction, gentle and fair."
"You'll go lots of places and face big, scary things.
You'll ride buses and subways and hear fire sirens ring."
"Cars will drive at you but you will stand strong,
Not moving into danger, not moving towards wrong."
"And then just when you think that this trainer's the best,
The kindest, and funniest person, toss away the rest,"
"That trainer will begin to ignore you and give you away,
Handing your leash over despite your dismay."
"Now the person who pets and feeds you will be
A blind person. That's a person who can't see."
"This man or woman may see just a tad,
But their view's missing parts or their focus is bad."
"So you, well trained dogs, will act as their eyes,
You will work as a team and discover the size"
"Of this great world we live in, because you will go
A million new places with this person, you know."
Santa sipped at his coffee and looked over the brood,
Knowing what he had to say next might sound kind of rude.
"Not all of you will make it and become canine guides,
Your time here isn't wasted though. You won't be cast aside."
"Some of you will be drug dogs and some will find bombs,
Some will become pets in a home with a dad and a mom."
"All of these things are important. People wait on long lists,
To receive such good dogs as you, the school folks insist."
The last drop of coffee had gone into his cup,
As Santa turned, smiling at each wide eyed pup.
"The best gift of all is to give something back.
That's why there's nothing for you inside of my pack."
Draining his mug, Santa went to each pen,
And petted and scratched each dog again and again.
"Now next year, and many more after that,
You all will give gifts where ever you're at."
"You might lick the hand that's had a bad day,
Or notice a car and step out of the way."
"You might help catch a crook or discover some loot,
Or just bring some joy to a tired old man in a funny red suit."
"Your master will love you and treat you with care,
In return, your training and trust will always be there."
After the last dog had been petted and soothed,
Santa put away the coffee pot and made ready to move.
Up the ladder he rose to the door high above,
With a smile and a wave as he slipped on his gloves.
And all the dogs' ears were pricked as he disappeared out of sigh,
"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night!"

~I have no idea who wrote this but it wasn't me. Wish that I could say that I did.

Rocco and I are in Arizona right now. We're not having what you would call a traditional Christmas by any means. We're in a hotel with no tree or stockings, but that's alright...I guess. It sure doesn't feel like Christmas in this hot of weather, but I get to spend it with Rocco so I'm pretty darn happy. He got to open his present before we got here so he could play with it in the hotel room. Santa brought him, early because he knew that we were coming here, a very, very large rope toy. Rocco absolutely loves it.

With that I leave you with:

Rocco and I hope you have the very best holidays out there no matter what you celebrate. Chanukah, Kwanza, Christmas, Solstice, or anything else that I don't know about, I hope it's a very happy time of the year for you all and that you get, or got, to spend it with friends and family.

Happy Holidays from Erin and Rocco (and Arwen, Rosie, Mia, and Lucy too!)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

11 Things at 11 Months

Hey Bloggers! Can you believe that I'm 11 months old now. Momma sure can't. She keeps looking at me and shaking her head and telling me that I'm a "moose." Whatever that is. Maybe it's slang for extremely handsome dog. I'm thinking that's it because as we all know, I am incredibly handsome...but I'm generally modest about it.


Anyway, this here are my 11 things at 11 months...

11 of My Best Traits and Commands:
1. Every time someone tells me to sit I sit. I'm really good at that.
2. I'm pretty good at "down", but not as good as sit. But I'm still pretty amazing at that.
3. My "puppy push ups" are still very, very good. Momma makes me practice them at least 4 times on our daily 2 mile walk. I don't understand why though because I am so very good at them.
4. I'm such a cuddle bug. Momma really likes to get down on the floor so I'll cuddle with her. Hey! I might be 11 months old now but I'm never too old to sit in my Momma's lap and let her love on me.
5. I finally grew into my tail. At least that's what Momma says. She says that I no longer have a skinny little tail that just whips behind me. Now it's a nice poofy tail.
6. I walk really nicely now while I'm working.
7. I play really well with Rosie. Momma said she was worried about me being too rough with the little thing, but of course I realise that I'm not suppose to play rough with a little baby.
8. I settle down really quickly. When Momma tells me "that's enough" I stop playing.
9. I wait for my food until Arwen and Rosie have their bowls in front of them and they start eating. It's really hard sometimes, but Arwen is the "old girl" and she gets to start her meal first.
10. I don't chase the cats anymore. Do you guys remember when I used to want to chase the cats all the time. Well, I don't do it anymore! I'm very proud of myself.
11. And the most important thing is that I've been a really good boy all year. Are you listening Santa? A very, very good boy all year.

11 Commands and Traits I have to Work on:
1. The "Stay" command. I just want to go where ever my person goes. Momma says I can't do that though. I have to wait until she comes back and tells me that it's "OK" for me to move.
2. Momma says that I have to learn to stop when she does. I just like to keep going, but I'm apparently not suppose to do that.
3. I need to work on walking with a loose leash while we're just taking out walks. I walk great when I'm in jacket and I'm working, but when it's just a for fun walk I tend ot pull really hard. I just want to have fun though and see what's out there.
4. I need to learn to not play so rough with other dogs. I know to be calm and behave with Rosie, but she's just a baby. Apparently I'm not suppose to be rough with other dogs my size as well.
5. Just because Rosie is carrying around something does not mean it's a dog toy. This is a rule I have to learn. Rosie likes shoes...and she was carrying around one of Momma's flip flops. Of course I thought it was a dog toy so I start chewing on it. This, I have since learned, is a "no no."
6. Just because someone is on the floor does not mean they want to play...I have to learn this.
7. Auntie Arwen does not like having my teeth on her nose.
8. I should "do my business" even if Rosie is trying to get me to play with her. Momma doesn't liked suddenly being pulled across the yard early in the morning.
9. Momma likes cuddling...she does not, however, like it when I sit on her face.
10. Not everyone wants to be licked over and over and over and over and...well you get the point.
11. I should wait until the person says "Hi" to me first instead of going up to them and shoving my head under their hand.

11 of My Favourite Things:
1. My sterile Marrow bone. I love it so much!
2. Playing "tug". Oh gosh! I could play that all day.
3. Running around in the yard with Rosie (or Toledo). Unfortunately it's been raining.
4. I love it when I get my "Good Boy" treats when I'm good around other dogs.
5. I love seeing all of my friends at puppy meetings. Momma and I are going to the Christmas party tonight.
6. I love laying on my bed at Momma's house and than having her sit down with me to watch TV.
7. I love all my doggie brothers and sisters...though sometimes they don't love me playing with them.
8. I'm a lab so of course I love my food.
9. I love the fact that I'm getting to go to Arizona with my Momma and Grandma and SG(stands for step grandpa) Jesse.
10. Sometimes Momma needs to read out loud to stay focused so she reads to me. I don't really understand the books sometimes, but I love that she reads to me.
11. Momma likes to dance with me. Sometimes she put on music really loud and then dance all over the room with me. It's great fun!

So there we go! I turned 11 months old yesterday! Happy 11 months to my brother Rocky and my sisters Romy, Regina, and Reann. Oh! Momma got a letter and a cool Christmas gift from my sister Freya. She can't wait to tell you all about it! :D

I will leave on the note that again Santa...if you're reading this, I have been really, really good all year. I mean really good. And all the bad things I have done...well I've tried to stop doing them...so I think that maybe...a nylabone ring would be a fun thing to find in my stocking this year. :D Please and thank you!

Puppy Kisses,
Rocco

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Pick Up Day

I'm sorry but I have no pictures of the day I went to go pick up Rocco for our month together.

Last Monday (December 13) I drove to meet Rocco and his new raiser in between our two towns. We were stopping for lunch together to talk about Rocco and what he needs now as a puppy in training. She and I drove up at more or less the same time and then it was time to see my boy. She got him out and he didn't recognize me at first, but he was very excited to see me when he realised who I was. He was just the perfect puppy during lunch. No one noticed that he was there and we had a wonderful lunch together and we talked about what he needed. But it's not much. He's such a good boy.

Now, one last thing I would like to say about the pick up day. They had told me that he had grown, but they didn't tell me he was a moose! I mean, he's HUGE! He's got a nice, stocky, lab frame with his big, square head. And to think! He's only 11 months old! He's just gonna be a BIG boy. He's also very, very handsome. Unfortunately he knows that he's good looking and he takes advantage of this. :D Thankfully he still acts like my little boy and cuddles with me whenever he gets the chance.

For the past week we've just been having so much fun. He really is just a perfect puppy. He's confident and loves to work and is good at it. :) I think I might have another graduate on my hands here. But I'm not going to count my chickens before they hatch and will continue to act as I always do about the recall date and formal training; I am paranoid about the puppies passing their medicals. So, we'll see. For now though, he's just a wonderful, wonderful boy.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mostly Wordless Wednesday

You can guess what this picture means. :)

Yep! Rocco is home for a month! :D Another Post to come soon about the pick up day.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Winston's Graduation (Picture Long Post)

So, Saturday was Winston's graduation. I, of course, went. This was the day after I arrived back in town so I was a little sleep deprived. But I still went to see Mr. Wiggles and Katlynn. Mary and Lance, and Jen and Luther and Kendrick (and Jen's husband and son, Pete and Niel) went up to Guide Dogs really early in the morning. This was no problem for me seeing as I was awake at 4:30 in the morning as my body believed it to be 12:30 in the afternoon. After the long drive we finally got to meet up with Katlynn, Winston, and his new partner.
He was so excited to see everyone that he wouldn't look at the camera. Katlynn and her boy!
We found at that while in training Winston went into foster care because he really didn't like the kennels. He was just too excited. So, his foster family came to see him graduate as well. Jumping on his foster dad.
Such a happy boy.
Trying to play with all of his friends.
Katlynn brought him a Nylabone Ring. He liked to show all of us that he got a new toy.
Then it was time for us to leave Katlynn and Winston and his new partner so that they could go take pictures and finish talking. We took our seats in the audience and waited patiently for the ceremony to start.

At the beginning of every graduation they show a little puppy just ready to go home to its raiser family. This little one is PUMA. We're thinking he's an Alonzo puppy. Alonzo was raised in the other puppy raising group here in town.

Then the ceremony started. Winston was one of the last puppies, but we finally got there. :)

Katlynn walking her boy across stage.
Katlynn handing the harness off to Winston's new partner.
He gave me a nice look at the camera.
A look back at his Mom.
You can tell he's really happy with his partner.

Winston just started posing for the camera didn't he?
So, I really like this picture because Winston is looking all grown up and alert and his partner is just smiling!Quite possibly though, my favourite picture of the day.

Time for Katlynn's speech.
She didn't cry at all during her speech.
You can see our Winston looking all alert and ready for work.

At the end of the ceremony we are allowed to go back and have refreshments and talk to the graduates again. So, that's what we did. We all went back and congratulated Katlynn and Winston's new partner. They seem like they're just the perfect match. Guide Dogs did it again. Then Katlynn had to leave.

Winston saying good bye to his Mom.

I'm not going to lie. I cried a little, but not during the graduation. I cried when Katlynn and I said good bye. You see, Winston and Freya were best friends. Ever since Katlynn and I and Freya and Winston shared a room together at Fun Day in '09 the two dogs were inseparable. Katlynn and I also became pretty good friends. So, with Winston graduating and Katlynn now living in Utah and Freya graduating and me now living in Scotland...well, I guess I just realised that we're all growing up and we aren't the same people who started puppy raising together. So yes, I did tear up just a bit when I realised that it would be a long, long time before I see Katlynn again...if our path cross again at all.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

An Update

Well, I've been away for a while now and I thought I would just give you guys a quick update on Rocco...and me.

First, I'm leaving for home this Friday! YAY! I don't know when I'll get to see Rocco, but I'm hoping it be soon after I touch down in California on Friday evening.

Secondly, Rocco is huge. Now, I knew he would be getting bigger but the pictures I posted of him on his 10 Month Day did not do Rocco's size justice. Now this might be because I am used to Little Freya. Rocco weighed more when I left him at 8 months old than Freya did when I left her in the kennels at Guide Dogs on her recall day. So, I'm not really surprised he's big...but still. I didn't give him permission to grow at all. :)

Thing I can't wait about Rocco #...I can't remember what number I'm on: The way he loves to lean on me when I'm working at my desk.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Holiday Giveaway, New Year's Puppy Swap, Sad News, and a Not so Worldless Wednesday

Gosh! I was going to take a break from blogging for a while, but so many things came up at once. Where were you guys in November I ask you? Anyway, let's start off with...

Holiday Giveaway!!!! done by Mr. Rudy who is a Guide Dog in training, but not with GDB. He's with Southeastern Guide Dogs (correct me if I'm wrong Rudy). Rudy is a handsome guy who just a bit younger than my Rocco. So go check out his blog with instructions on how to win his Holiday Giveaway! And, why not become a follower as well? He is pretty darn cute. It closes on the 15th so you better hurry!

Next let's go with the New Year's Puppy Swap. This is a very cool and wonderful idea thought up by (well, I don't know if she's the first person ever to think of this but it's the first I've heard about it) Brittany on Through Labs' Eyes. Basically, you get paired up with another blogger and you two send each other gifts for the humans and the people. I think it's a wonderful idea to get to know a blogging friend better. So, if you're interesting in making a new friend (both human and dog wise) then head over to her blog to check it out. :)

And now, I have to get on with the bad news. So, my leader has this great way of telling us of the dog's progress once they are in formal training. If they're going strong she'll send us the phase report and nothing will be beside the name. But, if something has happened she'll put a sad face next to the names. So, when I got an email yesterday that said "Royalty Update :-(" I knew something was wrong. In my naivety I thought, aw, she's been cut from breeding so there won't be any Royalty puppies. So, I was already a little down. Then I read through the whole message and got not only a little down, but very sad. Royalty was a puppy who came ready to be a Guide...or a Breeder. She's the perfect puppy and always has been. I can't ever think of a more well mannered puppy. It only seems right that Royalty, the dog who never had any real issues, would be CC'd for hip dysplasia. That's right, Royalty was Career Changed. This is the second dog in a row for my group to be dropped for some sort of dysplasia. Now, you might be thinking, "Erin, you weren't this sad when Collie was CC'd." Not true. I was, but in a different way. Collie was a dog you had to work with as most goldens are. Royalty came ready to work. There's a bit of a difference. But I'm just as sad because both of them liked to work and liked to be around their people and won't have the chance to work because of a medical reason. It's all very sad. But she'll make someone a wonderful pet!

And now, a break from blogging I think.