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Monday, August 29, 2011

Rocco's Graduation (Part 2)

*Warning: LONG and LOTS of pictures!*

When last we left off during our exciting "tail" of Rocco's graduation, it was just about time for all of the puppy raisers to meet in the Day Room before presenting their dogs.

First off, no one came to get us so we were wondering if we should head down to the Day Room or not. When we saw all of the other raisers there we thought it would be best to go too. We'd been sitting with Rocky and his raiser for about five minutes when Rocco's trainer came in, saw Ms.D, and looked very relieved. Haha! Apparently they had been looking for her. I swear, no one came to get us.

A picture of Rocco (R) and Rocky (L) in the Day Room.

Anyway, for those of you who don't know, this time in the Day Room is a time for you to be alone with your puppy. You spend an hour getting to know your puppy's new person, but these fifteen to twenty minutes is for you to really say good-bye to your puppy. It's actually the second hardest time for me during the graduation. It was especially hard with Rocco. That's not to say that I love Rocco more than I love Freya so saying good-bye was easier. With Freya her graduating was like a big "take that!" to everyone who thought she couldn't make it so all I was thinking was how proud I was of both her and myself. But I always knew that Rocco would graduate so not having that "take that!" attitude, I found myself trying really hard not to start crying before going on stage. Both Mary and I took advantage of our time alone with Rocco.

Rocco jumps up on his Mother Mary and gives her a kiss.

Rocco and me sitting down in the Day Room
Rocco in Harness. He's looking so mellow and mature.

Rocco and Rocky laying down and being absolutely perfect!

I got down on the floor and cuddled with Rocco.

He was very affectionate and lovely. It's almost like he knew what was going on.

Well, after the opening and the presentation of the new Breeders and the CSI: Miama stars presenting an award to a real life Blind pheorensic scientist it was time for the dogs to be reunited with their blind handlers. Freya and I were one of the last...Rocco and I were one of the firsts. Still tyring not to cry we walked out on stage and presented Rocco to Ms.D...I also gave a horrible speech. I had it all planned out in my head and I knew what I was going to say and then I got up on stage and was like "Rocco was my second puppy *trembly voice* and...uhh... *"Erin, don't you start crying now!* he was special..." I don't cry at these things because all I can think of is the happy stuff. I cry after, but never during. It was an odd experience for me. I totally forgot to mention how much easier it is to give up your puppy when they go to a wonderful person and Ms.D is simply wonderful. *face palm*

Mary and me walking Rocco on stage. My head is down, but I swear that's just how I walk.
Ms.D giving her speech. I'm still holding Rocco because she gave her speech before taking him. He was so bad on stage.

Me handing off Rocco's leash. She handed me the microphone without taking Rocco and so into the mic I said, "Here, let me just give you this." *face palm* I'm sure I sounded horrible.

Then we got refreshments and Rocco got to say hi to Lance again before leaving. Now, Ms.D went down the hall with her husband to get some dog food and left us in the room with Rocco and her best friend. Mary and Ms.D's best friend started talking so I just sat down on the floor with Rocco and started petting him and told him how he had to be a good boy or else I would be so disappointed in him. And that, my dear friends, is when I started crying. That also happens to be the point when I started crying at Freya's graduation. When I was left alone after presenting her. I think it's going to be a trend now. But, yes, I started crying and Ms.D's best friend looks over at me and says, "Don't you start now. You're going to make me start!" Haha!

Rocco (R) and Lance (L)

Then it was really time to say good-bye and to watch my boy walk away from me.

Rocco walking away with Ms.D and her husband. "You know you're a puppy raiser when you find such joy in handing over your dog's leash to someone you just met."
A close-up of them walking away. "You Know you're a puppy raiser when you'd rather see your dog walk away than stay."

It was a lovely graduation and, if I haven't said it enough, I can't believe the great matching powers of Guide Dogs for Blind. My first puppy went to the absolute perfect person and now my second puppy is starting his new life with the absolute perfect person for him. Good luck and many Guiding years to Rocco and Ms.D!

*This post might have caused me to cry*

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Rocco's Graduation (Part 1)

*Warning! LONG and LOTS of pictures*

Graduation day for me started out really early in the morning. Mary and I wanted to leave at 6:30am just in case there was traffic, but Candie was driving and she said that we could leave by 7am and be just fine. So, Mary and I are standing outside of Mary's house at 6:50 waiting for Candie. She was running a little late and, of course, Mary and I were going crazy. Haha!

We ended up getting there just fine and a little early. It was just enough time for Mary to check Lance into the kennels and for us to go to Panera and inhale some soup before checking in at the Day Room. We sat with Rocky's raiser (who also graduated yesterday) and talked about how excited we were and how nervous we were to meet their new people. We waited a full 30 minutes to meet Rocco's new person and see Rocco again. I think it could be considered torture, but while we were sitting there a training comes up to us and says, "I was Rocco's trainer." It doesn't always end up that the dog and its trainer end up in class together. She told us how much she loved Rocco and that he learned really fast and really easy. Then she told us that Rocco was going to the most wonderful lady. It was so good for us to hear that because we had tried to call Thursday and Friday and never got through.

Finally, it was time to see our pups again. With Freya they led in all the graduates and let the raisers meet them there. They're doing it a little different now and leading the raisers to the graduate's room. I like this way a lot better because you're alone with the graduate right from the beginning. Also, last time at Freya's graduation, I was the last raiser to get paired with their puppy. This time Mary and I were the first (probably because Rocco's trainer was there and wanted to match us up first)! We went straight to their room and this is what I saw;

My first glimpse of Rocco and his new "mom," Ms.D.

Rocco's trainer wasn't lying. Rocco was paired with the most wonderful lady I could ever imagine! I could tell that she and Rocco were already totally in love with each other, but Rocco's heart is big enough for all of us. So, as soon as he saw me he decided that he would not be the good Guide Dog I know he is and went a little nuts! I brought both of them a gift in a lovely bag and guess what...Rocco ripped it when he jumped towards me. Haha! Right away Ms.D handed the leash to me (perfect way into my heart). I tried getting down with Rocco but he was just too crazy! So I said hello standing up. Ms.D also had people coming to the graduation as her cheering team and they were wonderful too (gosh, Canadians really are lovely people. I know people joke about that, but I think it's totally true). They adored Rocco so much and that's so nice to see.

Because Rocco was being so good Ms.D decided to give him a little treat. He's such a lab! His entire attention went from everyone to directly on her.

Rocco looking up at Ms.D after she gave him a treat. "Please Mom! Can I have more?"

But then he decided that he wanted to pose for the camera and be sociable. He's such a cutie pie! I don't know if you can tell from some of these pictures how BIG he's gotten but Ms.D said he was 72.5 pounds! He looks so good and has filled out so nicely.

Rocco looking straight at the camera with a goofy smile.
Rocco with Mary and Me. The light wasn't that great, but we're all smiling!

Rocco with Ms.D and Mary and Me. Rocco is looking right at Ms.D!

Then it was time for pictures. We were led from the room to the picture place and took all of our pictures. Obviously Ms.D got her picture alone with Rocco then Mary and I took a picture with her and then we did separate raiser pictures.

Rocco and Ms.D in the picture room.

A close-up of my handsome boy in his harness!

Mary with Rocco and Ms.D in the picture room.

After pictures we were allowed to visit some more. I of course took more pictures. We exchanged gifts and Rocco knew that there were a lot of toys for him and he kept looking over at the suitcase where they were packed! Silly boy! Ms.D had also never heard that Rocco will be Mr. May for the 2012 calender so I got her one of those.

Rocco and Ms.D with the dead present bag.
Rocco smiling and looking all happy in harness.

Then it was time to go back to the Day Room and get ready to present our puppies. Stay tuned for Rocco's Graduation (Part 2) either later tonight or tomorrow.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Another Question

I keep getting these questions and this one I just couldn't wait to answer (mostly because otherwise it never would be answered!) Haha! Anyway, Kat&Holly of Making of an Angel asked me how to read the phase reports.

Now, first thing you must understand is that all service dog organizations have a different way of tracking their puppies who are in formal training. Formal Training is after the puppy has left their puppy raiser and goes to certified instructors to receive more advanced training. Now, for puppy raisers for Guide Dogs for the Blind, once your puppy is in formal training he/she is almost completely off the radar for 3-5 months. The only time we hear anything about our puppy who is at their formal training is every Thursday when the phase report comes in (occassionally we'll talk to one of the trainers who happen to be training our pup but the most we get is "Oh, I really like him!" and no, sadly, we dont' get visitation rights).

Guide Dogs for the Blind has 8 phases of training (not including medicals which is classified as "phase 0"). In the back of our puppy raising manual there is a detailed list of what goes on during each phase of training (things like what new commands your puppy is learning, what they should already be doing without fail, and when their designated blindfold tests are).

This is how the phase report goes:

Name of Puppy: Puppy's ID number: Breed: Sex: Phase

So, I'll use my boy as an example:

Rocco (his name) 4Y13 (his ID number) LAB (his breed) M (he's a boy) phase: 0-8 (what part of training he is in)

Phase 8 is the last phase of training. Generally, if a raiser has a dog in phase 8 they will say that their puppy is "class ready" (or ready to become a Guide) even if they aren't too entirely sure (remember, we don't get any information about our dogs besides a little number once a week). A lot can happen in phase 8 and there are quite a few dogs who are dropped after making it that far.

Rocco is a little special though because he is no longer on the phase reports. He is what we call "in class". This means that he has been paired with his blind parter and is going through his training and initial bonding period with his partner. For GDB this class period can be 2-3 weeks. Blind clients who are getting their very first Guide are in the 3 week class and those who are on the second to their one hundred and first Guide are in the 2 week retrain class (Melanie, if you're reading, let me know if I've got that correct). For these 2-3 weeks the puppy is not on the phase report, but he's/she's still in training. The class period is a time for dog and person to bond as a team. They're working on the commands the puppy learned in training and learning each others' work habits. Then after the 2-3 weeks raisers are invited up to the campus for their graduation (where I will be this Saturday!).

I know that was a little long winded, but I wanted to answer your question as thoroughly as possible. And...I hope it did answer your question well! If I missed something again, don't hesitate to ask. When I'm not in school I have all day to do nothing!

Phase Report

Rocco 4Y13 LAB M In Class!!!!

Rocky 4Y14 LAB M In Class!!!!

Regina 4Y16 LAB F 0

Hermes 46Y1 LAB M 3

Halette LAB F Spayed and Healing

Belle puppy EATON is in phase 8 this week!!!! YAY!!!! And Belle puppy EPIC is still going through medicals in phase 0. Also, Belle puppy ESTEE has been chosen to be part of GDB's breeder colony! Hooray! Hoping for an Estee puppy when I get home. She's also been at Belle's breeder keeper's home for about a week on a trial. I'm so hoping that Ken and Nancy are going to keep her. I would love to see pictures of Estee's future litters. Ken, Nancy, Belle, and Estee are going to be at Rocco's graduation THIS SATURDAY, so I'll get pictures of them together. *If you know Estee's raiser don't tell her about Estee being on a trial with Ken and Nancy. I'm not sure if GDB or Ken and Nancy has let her raiser know. But I had to share to good news about Estee.*

Some Long Awaited Answers

Alright, so Elijah from Miraculous Journey has asked me a few questions which I just keep forgetting to answer. Don't worry Elijah I'm not ignoring you, I just have this bad habit of forgetting to put something into a blog post.

So first you asked way back when if I was raising Hilly in the States or in the UK. I'm really sorry this took so long to answer. I raised her while home on Summer Break. My CFR found a transfer that just needed a few months to see if she could get into formal training and that was Hilly. So I took her on because she would either go back or be CC'd right around the time I would leave. We all know how that went. The only thing I wasn't really expecting was me wanting to keep her. I thought that since we would only have such a short time together that I wouldn't get all that attached, but alas, her puppy self pulled on my heart strings. Here are some pictures of the jackets for you.

This is a Guide Dogs for the Blind puppy jacket in the States.
This is a Guide Dogs for the Blind puppy jacket in the UK

This is the Harness that Guide Dogs for the Blind uses in the States

This is the Harness used by Guide Dogs for the Blind in the UK

We all have our different jackets and harnesses used and these are just for Guide Dogs for the Blind. Other Guide Dog organizations use different jackets and different harnesses.

Which brings me to the second question you asked about Hilly. I got her on June 10, 2011. So we're just going on 3 months together on September 10. Unfortunately my flight leaves back to Aberdeen before our 3 month anniversary. But we'll celebrate before I leave.

And now, you asked why I'm a vegetarian. It's for a bunch of reasons, but there are two main reasons. 1) I don't like the taste of most meats. Pork and Beef just never really tasted good to me. I would eat them when I was little but it was by no means my favourite thing to eat. 2) The way America treats its slaughter animals is appalling. What I find is that most people don't think about where their food comes from. I could never do that and I don't like the idea that most of the packaged meats we find in our grocery stores comes from animals that have been shoved into a cage far too small for them for their entire lives and have never seen the sunshine. The way Europe treats the animals they raise for food is definitely more morally correct. I don't care if anyone out there thinks that chickens and cows don't have souls or sentient thought or whatever. Every living being can feel discomfort and I feel that if we are going to nourish our bodies with their dead carcasses that would should honor and respect them. Being a vegetarian has actually helped a lot in the UK. Meat is a lot more expensive over there.

Hope that answers your questions Elijah! Please don't be afraid to ask questions. It might take me a while to answer them, but I get there in the end.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hilly's Last Meeting

This was a very special meeting for Hilly. We have a tradition that we celebrate when a puppy in our group moves on into the next phase of their lives. This is a tradition that I started over a year ago. I'm pretty proud of myself for starting the tradition of cookies or other such treats to celebrate our dogs. Today's meeting was Hilly's special celebration. I even made her a nice cake and everything. Check it out!

Hilly's cake. It says, "Proud to be a Career Change"

"But wait Erin," you say, "I thought you said that Jim was really proud of Hilly's progress?" Indeed Jim was. He was very impressed with how far Hilly came. He even went as far as to compliment me...TWICE (if you know Jim you know he can be a little negative at times, but all for the right reasons). The problem is that Hilly just couldn't get to the end. She overcame so, so much in the short time that I had her and I think she could have gotten to a recall if I had her for a little longer.

I'll tell you what happened. Jim was all set to put her ont he September 5 recall. He even had "recall Sept. 5" written on his paper. Then he just had to ask how she was with dogs she didn't know well. I wasn't about to lie to him, so I told him the honest truth. The truth apparently wasn't good enough to keep her on that recall. So...oh well. She was officially CC'd for being "unreliable." That just means that she would sometime react around dogs and sometimes wouldn't. She chose specific dogs to act crazy around too. Mostly little dogs or dogs with pointy ears. She would whine. You can't have a dog in harness whining because they're not aloud to play with the other dog.

In truth, by the end of the week he gave me to see if I could work some miracle, I didn't think it was the right choice. She was showing little improvements every day. I won't lie and say that I think she definitely would have graduated, but I would have liked to see what would have happened once she got into formal training. But, I'll never get that chance so there's no use in dwelling on it right?

What I know now is that Hilly is my first Career Change and is my forever girl. Check out her blog to keep up with her.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hilly's Last Chance

As most of you know, Hilly came to me as a last resort. This is why I got her so old! (Ok, so 14 months isn't exactly old, but to puppy raisers the pup is old as soon as they hit one year) So, instead of Career Changing her at 14 months she was sent to me for what I like to call "remedial training". When I was told, "She's really dog distracted." I thought to myself, PHST! Can't be more distracted that Freya was. I can do this. Of course when I finally got her my first thought was, Why in the world have they kept this dog in the training this long!? I quickly found out it was because Hilly had the best work ethic as long as there wasn't another dog around.

So, for almost the past three months Hilly and I have worked really, really hard in getting over her dog issues. Let me tell you, this girl has made me so proud. We've overcome one obstacle after another and she just keeps getting better.

This is a picture of Hilly at her last Blind Babies outing. She's being loved on by 4 kids at the same time and is doing great! She loved the attention.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Hilly's Last Whole Foods

I shop at Whole Foods a lot. It's not necessarily because they have good prices (because they really don't anymore) or because they sell only organic fruits and vegetables (because while farms do have to go through lots of vigorous standards they can still cut corners). I shop there because I am a vegetarian and I can get some food there that I really can't get anywhere else. Also, they sell pretty darn good dolmas in there pre-made food section!

So, since I shop there all the time for vegetarian options people really get to know me and my dogs. When I had Freya there was one cashiers that I would always go to because he knew me and my dog by name and asked all the time how she was doing even when she was back in training (it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he was cute).

Today, Hilly got to say goodbye to some of her fans. Some of her fans include the cashiers and baggers who have come to know me personally just through talking about Guide Dogs. Other include little kids that she has never met before. I know she'll miss going to her Whole Foods where everyone loves her and thinks she is just the bees knees.

She got to strut her stuff today when a runaway tomato got caught under my foot. I kicked it and away flew the bright red ball. Thank you Hilly for not chasing it through the produce section and starting a wave of "That dog didn't even try to eat the food on the floor!" Phst! Eat it? Her? Never!

Hilly's Last Eval

I thought I would tell you guys what happened at Hilly's last eval.

Hilly's last eval was on August 11. That was almost two weeks ago, but I've been so busy with Rocco graduating that I haven't really had time to sit down and write this post. So excuse the lateness of this post.

We arrived at the designated meeting space of our evals just a few minutes ahead of schedule. I was hoping to get there fifteen minutes ahead of time to walk Hilly around a little so she wouldn't be super active during the eval, but it took me almost ten minutes to park. Needless to say I gave up that idea and just walked the long trek from my highly coveted parking space to meeting area. I suppose I should have expected a bit of a parking hassle as we were meeting at the major mall in town.

Well, we walk in, say hi to The All Knowing Jim and start our walk with other Puppy in Training, Luther. Jim has us do the normal things like go up and down stairs, ride in an elevator, tested the puppies' food protocol, walks them in and out of a head collar, and gets down on the floor with them.

After all of walking around Luther and his raiser leave (they did the talking before the walk) and if was time for Jim and I to talk about Hilly. I won't lie and say that I wasn't nervous about talking to Jim about Hilly and her progress because I was. I think I might have been more nervous at this eval than I was at any previous one. It turns out I really shouldn't have been all that nervous. At the end of the eval Jim was not only impressed with Hilly, but impressed with the work I had done.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Letter! (And Some Lasts)

I got the official letter today! The one that tells me who Rocco is paired with and where he's going to be living and working. So...guess where he's going!

Ontario Canada!!!!!!

I can't believe he's going to Canada. I'm so very, very excited! This will be the second puppy in a row to graduate and go to Canada! Pauli and now Rocco. He's also been matched with a woman. I expected him to be matched with a man because of his size.

Now, I'd like to point out...I have a working guide in South Korea and soon a working guide in Canada. When will I get a dog working in California? Haha!

On to the Hilly update!

Hilly went to play with Bella today. Bella is the new wheelchair guide for the lady who lives in my town. I went to help her shop today. Hilly and Bella are best friends. They're about a year apart in age, but they definitely love each other. This may be the last time that Hilly gets to play with Bella and it was definitely her last shopping trip with them.

She also went to her last hair appointment today. I know my hair stylists is going to miss her. She loves all of my puppies. Hilly (and all of my puppies) loved going there because they knew that all rules were pretty much put on hold. The hair ladies got to pet her and love her.

I can't believe she's doing all these lasts. I think tomorrow we'll be going to Whole Foods for the last time to say good bye to all of her fans there. We'll also be going to the movies tomorrow to see Hilly's last movie.

Phase Report

Rocco 4Y13 LAB M In Class!!!!

Rocky 4Y14 LAB M In Class!!!!

Regina 4Y16 LAB F 0

Hermes 46Y1 LAB M 2

Halette LAB F Spayed and Healing

I'm so glad to see Regina on the phase report this week! I can't wait to see her fly through the phases like her brothers have! I'm guessing she was probably on breeder watch and was spayed, but I could be wrong. But since Rocco's whole litter wasn't in the littermate booklet this year I'm thinking she was already back up on the campus. I'm still waiting to hear about Reann. Maybe she's made it as a Breeder! Then I'd have lots of puppies to request when I get back! Haha! Belle puppy EATON is in 8 this week!!!! Hooray. Other Belle puppy EPIC is finally on the phase report after being neutered and is in phase 0! This is a very exciting phase report for me.

Also, go over to Ashley's Blog and hear the good news about Medford (from Fame's famous "M" litter).

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Not So Wordless Wednesday

This Little Guy Plus...

One of these Harnesses


Four very happy Raisers!

That's right! We got the call yesterday late afternoon that Rocco was in class and due to graduate on August 27, 2011. I'll still be in town so I'll get to go! This is the retrain class so I'm wondering who Rocco has been matched with and what kind of Guide they had before. You know you always worry if their new person is going to love them as much as you do, but I find that worry a little less prominent as Rocco's person isn't new and since I've gone through it before and know that no matter where they go they are absolutely loved.

Oh! Rocky is also in class and will be graduating with Rocco on August 27!

10 Days to go before I get to see my baby boy again!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Last Baseball Game and Scrapbook

This past Saturday Hilly and I went to her last baseball game. She was so, so good (as always). She sat down under the seat and immediately fell asleep. She only woke up to drink some water and walk with me to get some fries. She did look up when the mascot "Parker" walked by us. She gave me this look as if she was asking, "Momma, what kind of dog was that?!" I had to tell her that it wasn't a dog but a giant, orange bear. Haha! We left before the end of the game because it was going so, so slow. It was about 9:30 when we left and it was only the top of the 6th.

Our team was also...sucking. That's the kindest way I can put it. Our pitcher got hurt at the top of the 4th and they brought in some new guy who should not be a pitcher. I don't ever pretend to be able to play like those players out there, but I think if I had been paid to do it and had two innings to warm up I would have been pitching better than he was. I wouldn't have been walking two people or so every inning. So, unfortunately, Hilly's last baseball game wasn't the best but I think she had a lot of fun

Pictures for you...Hilly sitting under the seat

Hilly being an awful good girl and not eating the peanut shells

Yes, I was shocked that she smiled for the camera too

Hilly is still smiling for the camera under her seat.

Hilly laying up against the seat in front of her. Yes, I am the raiser of a nut.

The last picture I have for you is the first page of Hilly's scrapbook. For those of you who don't know, I always do an old fashioned scrapbook for my pups.

Page 1: A turquoise page with a small soft yellow border a little in from the top and bottom. There are four pictures of Hilly. The three big pictures go diagonally from the lop left to the bottom right. In the top right corner there is a small picture of Hilly with "Guide Dog Puppy #3" to the side of it. Also going diagonally along with the pictures is her name "Hilly".

Friday, August 12, 2011

Thirteenth Phase Report

Rocco 4Y13 LAB M 8

Rocky 4Y14 LAB M 8

Hermes 46Y1 LAB M 1

Halette LAB F Spayed and recovering

Belle puppy EATON is in phase 7 this week! Woohoo! Go Eaton! One more phase to go buddy!

We haven't heard yet about Rocco. What's happened for the past two dogs to graduate (Jonah and Pauli) is that they were on the phase report on Thursday (that would be yesterday) and then on Friday (today) Mary got the call that they were in class. This is what I'm hoping is going to happen with Rocco. If not, maybe he's in the retrain class that'll get their dogs on Monday. I found out recently that Rocco's second raiser wouldn't be able to make it if he graduated on August 27 and I'm not able to make it for the next graduation on September 18. So, I've decided that whenever he decides to graduate is just fine because he'll have someone there no matter what. Of course I'm hoping to see him, but if that doesn't happen I'll get to talk to his new handler and that'll be just fine with me.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ashland, Oregon Trip

Our trip to Ashland was so much fun for both Hilly and myself. It was so great to get away for a vacation. I have to tell you, people in Ashland were much better about dealing with a service dog than people here are. I didn't have one person just come up to Hilly and start petting her. Everyone asked first! It was such a nice change of pace.

Now, Hilly did...marginally well in concerns to other dogs. I definitely see an improvement from when I first got her. At the same time, I can see how much work she still has yet to do and realise that she's running out of time to impress me. With that said, I think she can at least make it to a recall date. But we'll talk about that later...

We broke up our trip to Ashland into two legs. So our first stop was Old Town Sacramento where Hilly met a pony. This confirmed my belief that she trots like a horse. Here's a picture of Hilly sitting in front of the general store sign in Old Town Sacramento. She's actually sort of looking towards the camera which is strange for my camera shy girl.
When we did finally reach Ashland the next day we checked into the hostel. Now, the husband and wife team who runs this place was not at all comfortable with me bringing Hilly. When I called to make sure they were fine with me bringing a service dog in training they originally said no. Their reason for this was because they had previously allowed a service dog stay and it wasn't a good experience so they just decided no more dogs (including service dogs) ever. They said it was because they just weren't set up for service dogs. I did try to explain that that was very much illegal and the ADA Regulations really don't care whether or not you set up your business with service dogs in mind (I said it much kinder of course). The woman said that she didn't think it was illegal no deny a person with a service dog (uhhhh...yeah, it is!), but she would check with her husband. They did eventually let us stay as long as I didn't allow Hilly in the common areas (i.e. the kitchen, bathrooms, and common living room) and as long as I vacuumed every day and if I didn't they would charge me an extra $50 cleaning fee. (I almost pointed out that making someone pay for their service dog in any form is also illegal, but I let it slide). When we got there it was clear they didn't know what the point of a service dog was and how they should behave. I'm pretty sure that the woman thought I would just let Hilly run loose in the common areas which, as a respectful and responsible service dog trainer, I would never do. I could also tell they didn't know how to speak about service animals because some of the things she said were really, really offensive to me and I'm just a trainer. But I kept my cool and decided that I would email them some ADA websites and tell them to contact the ADA hot line if they had any questions in the future, but also tell them not to give someone with a fully trained service dog the same hassle they gave me.

Well, after biting my tongue for a good half an hour as the woman explained the rules we freshened up and went to the green show before going to the first of our four plays for the week. I've already told you that Hilly wasn't stellar around other dogs and this was great practice for her because a lot of people bring their dogs to the green show. There was an incident that ended up with me on the floor, but we won't go into that. However, Hilly did do stellar during all four plays and all the green shows we went to (except for that one time I ended up on the ground). Two of the plays involved loud noises and Hilly did fabulous. While I...well, I jumped in my seat once, but that was all. I obviously didn't take pictures while we were in the shows but here's a picture of my pretty Hilly laying down on the green.
While there we also decided to go to Crater Lake. For those of you who haven't seen it I highly recommend going. It's absolutely gorgeous.

Hilly posing by the Lake

Hilly looking majestic by the Lake

Hilly and me sitting at a vista point

Hilly, my grandfather, and I at the vista point

Hilly, my mother, grandfather, and me at the vista point

We also went to a winery where Hilly and I spent and hour taking pictures and wandering around. (For those of you who are curious you are not allowed to participate in tasting even if your mother is there. This is what my mother thought was true so she took me along...) At least I got this cute picture of Hilly. She's sitting in front of some willow trees around a small pond at the winery. Unfortunately, you can't really see the grape vines in the background.

The week was really very nice. I also got to meet retired GDB Breeder "Kimmy". It was pretty cool to meet her and her ex-breeder custodians now owners. She wasn't too thrilled about meeting Hilly. She was clearly done with puppies. Haha! Here are a few more pictures for you from the week.

Hilly and me standing with one of those people who pain themselves bronze to look like a moving statue. This one was dressed up as Shakespeare. He (or she, I really don't know) was very nice to Hilly and Hilly didn't seem to mind at all that this bronze person was petting her.

Hilly and me on the Shakespeare Stairs. They're just normal stairs, but some rich person paid to put them in so he named them.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mostly Wordless Wednesday

A picture of the GDB harness...

The harness is on my mind as of late with the hope that Rocco will graduate soon and Hilly's possible recall on the horizon...eval with Jim tomorrow. Don't know if I'm ready.

Monday, August 8, 2011

New Class

I would like to congratulate the class that just graduation from the San Rafael campus this past Saturday. May you have many years together as a working Guide Dog Team.

And I would like to welcome the new class to the campus today! Dog Day is Wednesday...wonder if Rocco will be in there somewhere.

*sits by the phone and waits*

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Twelfth Phase Report

Rocco 4Y13 LAB M 8

Rocky 4Y14 LAB M 8

Hermes 46Y1 LAB M 1

Halette LAB F Breeder Eval

Belle puppy EATON is in phase 6 today! Hooray! Oh, and remember way back when? When the "E" puppies had just been placed with their raisers and ELI contracted Parvo? Well, a few weeks back he was CC'd for hip problems and guess who he was placed with. He was placed with the vet who saved his life as a puppy. I think that's such a lovely story. I hear he's happy and healthy where he is and I wish him the best of lives as a spoiled pet of a vet.

As of right now, we're really just waiting for "the call" for Rocco. I'm so proud of my goofy boy and I just can't wait to see him again!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Let There be Light

Yesterday I posted that Hilly really needed to get better about not picking up things that didn't belong to her. I'll try and explain this a little better.

First of I'll simply explain why we don't want this behaviour. The reason we don't want puppies picking up things that aren't toys is because A) these dogs are mostly labs and when I lab gets something in its mouth there is little hope you'll get it back in one piece and B) we don't want the puppies to start playing keep away with items such as shoes or socks. Besides this it could cause problems down the road if the puppy decides to move around items in their future blind partner's house.

Now, I'll tell you what Hilly does. About once every two or three days Hilly will all of sudden come running to me and drop something in my lap. It's never chewed, she doesn't try to play keep away, and it's usually something that fell on the floor early that morning that I was too lazy to pick up and put back on my desk. I am confused as to why she does this and at first I tried telling her "No!" (which is a word I don't use except for special occasions). Now, I'm not making a big deal of it at all. I take the thing she's brought me and ignore her in hopes that this would make it seem like I don't care if she brings me a gift or not.

Well, this hasn't completely worked and this episode was just far too funny not to share.

I never worry about my puppies in my mom's place because she keeps her place very clean (unlike my room...). So, my pups are always off-leash. Early that afternoon Hilly brought me my mom's box of earplugs that had fallen on the ground and then went off to play with her toys. Now, if you think a box of earplugs is weird (well, except for Mr. Dagan of course) listen to this. This set of parents are Buddhist (if you have any concerns about this please keep them to yourself) and part of being Buddhist is chanting or praying twice a day in front of the alter for at least 15 minutes if you do it all. So, we're all sitting around the alter praying and all of a sudden I look over and see Hilly walk in with a giant flashlight in her mouth. She prances over to us, drops the flashlight at my feet, and looks very proud of herself and the prize she just brought me. We all burst out in laughter and my step-father proudly proclaims, "She's found enLIGHTenment!"

It really was hilarious. It's one of the reasons I don't punish her for doing this. She always looks at me as if to say, "This was on the floor. I helped pick it up for you!" And hey, I wasn't going to tell her "no" for finding enlightenment. *GRIN*

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

16 Things at 16 Months (Late)

Alright, so I know I said I would do this tomorrow, but I have absolutely nothing to do right now as I'm sitting at my Mom's in LA (oh, didn't I tell you? Hilly and I took the train and bus to LA and tomorrow we head up to Oregon for the Shakespeare festival) so I decided to do it now.

I thought I would so something a little different for my transfer girl. I want to talk about how much she's progressed in the month and a half, but I also want to talk about how much more she's got to go until I can definitely say "She's ready." or "I think she can do it." Since 16 is a nice round, even number here is what I'm going to do; a half and half. Eight of these things will be things that she's improved on in the past month and the other eight are things that she must improve on in the next month. Those which she has improved on will be even numbers (they will also be coloured in BLUE) and the things that still need work will be odd numbers (which will also be coloured in ORANGE).

16 Things at 16 Months:

1. Whining. Hilly no longer barks when she hears dogs that she doesn't see, but she still whines. It's a ridiculously cute whine but it's still gotta go.

2. Hackling. I'm so proud of Hilly on this. She used to start hackling (for those of you who don't know, hackling is when the hair near the top of the dog's front legs stands up and sometimes the hair at the base of the tail will stand up too) when she first saw a dog and they would stay up for quite a while. Now, her hackles only go up when we pass the dog and go back down real quick.

3. Leash Corrections. Hilly still needs to listen to the leash better. When she knows what she wants she'll go after it no matter what I do. She's gotten better at "listening" to the head collar, but it's not ideal. (At least I'll have a really buff left arm)

4. Walking Past Dogs. Whenever we saw another dog on our morning walk we would go to the side and stop. I'd have Hilly sit there as we watched the dog go past. Now, we can walk past dogs about... three feet to the side. She's still not at right next to the dog, but I think she can get there.

5. Walking Past Dogs. While she's gotten a lot better during morning walks I think it's because it's in a familiar place. She still needs to work on going past other dogs that she doesn't know in an odd place like a store or mall or place she doesn't expect them.

6. Being Calm. Hilly is just astounding me at how far she's come in this category. Remember when I told you that she stimulated very easily? Well, now there can be lots of noise, a dog, and a fast moving object and she will stay *kind of sort of* calm.

7. Getting Back to Calm. While Hilly has made strides in staying calm sometimes she looses herself. When she does lose herself, it takes her a while to get back to that calm that I'm so proud of.

8. Keeping a Steady Pace. This is something that gave me the most annoyance when I first got her. Walking during a morning walk she would near tear my arm off. When we were out in a store she would go at a snail's pace. I thought this was boredom and/or unhappiness. It's not that she's unhappy at least. Now, we have more of a consistency between walking and working.

9. Controlling her Sniffer. Hilly really likes to smell. For a normal dog, this is fine. For a Guide Dog...it's not so fine. We don't want her pulling her future blind partner *hopefully* over to a lamp post to sniff the smells when she's suppose to be Guiding the person. So, we're working on that.

10. Focus. Gosh! I was so worried that she would never get focused. Now, she checks in regularly which is lovely.

11. Going Down Stairs. Going up stairs she's a pro. Going down stairs she decides that she needs to drag me down in a high speed trot.

12. Pooping. Finally! Got her on a schedule and with no bad tummies!

13. Recall. Ok, so this might have been partly my fault but her recall has gotten pretty terrible when off leash...but only outside. She'll come every time when she's off leash in the house. I think it's because of Rosie and her tendency to run full speed into Hilly as she's coming to me which causes Hilly to forget what she was doing. We've been working on it and she's doing better, but she's still got a while to go when I call "Come!" and she needs to decide between me and the interesting smell/toy/Rosie.

14. Trotting. Ok, this isn't something that she ever needed work on, but it's something I absolutely love about her. She trots like a pony.

15. Picking up Stuff. Ok...so she doesn't pick up things that don't belong to her...often. When she does she brings them to me. It doesn't happen every day. But she does like to bring me some weird things (tune in for tomorrow morning's post).

16. Dogs in General (both good and bad). Here's the scoop. Hilly really has gotten a lot better with her dog distractions...but, she's got such a long way to go. Sometimes, it seems like she's really gotten it. Other times, like today, she's like that dog I picked up from the puppy truck over a month ago. It's hard for me to say right now. At this exact moment...I don't know if she can become a Guide. She's ready to go back for training, but I'm so worried that she'll have a relapse...kind of like what she had today, when she gets to somewhere new.

I've still got about a month with her and I really hope that she gets it. She will...

Fun Day (Part 3 - Ferry Ride)

Our club goes on the ferry into San Francisco after Fun Day as a special outing. Of course, the leaders decide whether or not the puppy is old enough or confident enough to take the ferry. This year all of our pups were old and confident enough to ride the ferry. It was really nice to have a big group on the ferry. I didn't take it with Freya way back in '09 because she was the only puppy old enough at the time to ride the ferry and last year there were only three puppies who went. So, it was really niec to have *almost* the whole group this year.

First off, the ferry ride was the first day we were trying Hilly on more food. Let's go into this lovely story about how Hilly got her food increased.

On Fun Day we went over to the CFR booth to get Hilly's body score (she was "ideal" with a 5, but the All-Knowing Jim said she could gain 5 pounds and be fine) and the CFRs noticed that she was drooling (like, icky drippy thick goop drool). One of the CFRs said that she was obviously stressed and when I tried to say that she wasn't stressed just expecting food for being very, very good around all these other dogs she wouldn't let up. Thankfully, the All Powerful Jim came to my rescue and said that Hilly wasn't a stressful dog and that I should try uping her food by a quarter cup every meal.

So! Hilly got more food that morning and had more food in her bait bag and her drooling wasn't *too* bad. It was more like a stream instead of a river. (And since then her drooling has gotten so much better)

We boarded the ferry and all the puppies did wonderfully. Here's a picture of Hilly of the ferry.

Hilly on the ferry. She was a little concerned because I had left her momentarily, but nothing like she used to do.

Hilly and Lance cuddle up on the ferry. Hilly is resting her head on Lance's rear end.

Then we got off the ferry and the puppies did great crossing the street in busy traffic and then waiting for the bus we were going to take to Pier 39. We ended up waiting through two busses before we decided just to walk to the Pier. We thought it was a great idea until we remembered that Snyder always walks at a turtle's pace and then we remembered that Schroeder and Snyder and Lance have pano. Haha! So, it was slow going to the Pier. Hilly did great considering all the dogs and noise distractions. She didn't get too excited and over zealous. I was proud of her. Hilly also was nervous, distracted, or scared when R2D2 came around for a visit. Hilly standing next to R2D2. She is not impressed.

We didn't have a lot of time at Pier 39, but we had a good lunch and walked around a little and Erin got fudge! I love fudge! We also discovered that Tippin would love to come live with Erin in Scotland. :D She's such a fun, adorable, cute puppy. I'm thinking about seeing if we can't to a puppy swap for a day before Hilly goes back just so I can see how Hilly does with another person...and so I can spend some quality time with Tip.

We then walked back to the ferry terminal and right across the street there is a really cool water display. Hilly loved it and thought it was so cool to walk around and under the water. Not all the pups had the same joy as Hilly though. I must admit, it's some pretty intimadating stuff. But Hilly, as always, took joy in her work.

Hilly is front of the this amazing water display.

Then we got back on the ferry, back in the car, and went home. I really wish I had gotten a picture in the car on the way home because Hilly rode the whole way asleep in my lap. Since she's not a cuddler, I was very happy with this new turn of events. :)

Up next...Hilly late 16 month post.