Where you come for your share of Puppy fun!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Holiday Update

It's been a long time since I last updated. I've been so busy with class work and even now I should be studying for my upcoming exams (yes we have them after the winter holiday). I just haven't been able to bring myself to start though. Maybe it's because I'm still recovering from having to wake up super early everyday for just one class. Or it might be that little black lab sleeping in the corner. Either or really! 

First off I'll start you off with an update from my puppy group back home. Both TITUS and HANK went off for formal training two weeks ago. They are both still in phase 0 which means that they still have to finish up their preliminary health exams. I'm guessing that Christmas may have slowed down all the specialized vets that come in to check their whole body over. My guess though is that they are both free from any dysplasias and the GDB vets check that out themselves.
Titus (black lab) in his kennel run at GDB when he raiser dropped him off.
Hank (black lab) in his kennel run at GDB when his raiser dropped him off.

Also, ELI his phase 8 this week! Good boy! Now he's just waiting for that perfect someone to come along.
Eli (black lab) in his kennel run the day that Hank and Titus were dropped off.

DARRELL was transferred back in October. I know he stayed in California but I just don't remember where. Hope he's doing well in his new raiser home.

We welcomed a female yellow lab named TINA to the group about two weeks ago. She went to a first time raiser. Her parents are Peidmont/Cognac, so if you have littermates we'd love to hear from you! Also, on the 22nd Nita welcomed her second puppy. Another male black lab named CAMINO. His parents are Bosworth/Lucille and we'd also like to hear about his littermates if you know of any. Manda will be getting her 2nd puppy in four days. A female black lab, litter letter "S" born to Sid/Maeve.
Tina (yellow lab) at her first puppy meeting.
Camino (black lab) wearing his itty, bitty puppy vest.

Now on to an update from here. Do you guys remember Vale (pronounced like valley)? Well we found out a few weeks ago that he qualified as a Guide Dog! Hooray! Now, they don't have graduations here. The person who your pup is paired with is given your contact information and if they want to contact you they can. Otherwise, you just have to be content in the fact that your pup is making a difference to someone out there. You do find out where your puppy is guiding though. I think Vale is somewhere in England but I can't really remember.

Frankie is getting bigger every time I see him. I had him for a weekend before the holiday and he came over on Boxing Day to get his present. A new nylabone that he really, really loved. He'll be a year old next month which means turn in day is just around the corner. He's pretty much ready which I can tell by the fact that I don't have anything to talk about in regards to improvement. He really is such a nice dog and is solid as a rock, but also a sweet, sensitive guy. I can't wait to see him again! Probably not until after exams though.
Frankie (yellow lab/golden cross) lying with our little holiday shrubbery.

Finally, I've been puppy sitting a little black named named Major. He's super mellow, super cute, and super sweet. Best part is, he lets me sleep. I mean, as soon I took Freya, Rocco, or Hilly out in the morning it was time to eat and play. Major likes to take a long after breakfast nap in the mornings which means I usually go back to sleep. When he isn't sleeping though, he's a pretty bad garbage mouth. He'll be going back to his raiser today or tomorrow (I honestly can't remember) but I think we'll work on not picking up dropped food, slippers, and my stuffed animals today.
Major (black lab) amoungst his toys.
Major (black lab) sitting patiently in the kitchen for food.
Major (black lab) sitting on his mat in the living room.

Oh, I said finally but I have one last picture to share. Freya got to go on a cruise to Hawaii this December as a GDB alumni cruise. Do you think she enjoyed it?
Freya lying on a deck chair on her back on the cruise ship.

Also, while I have no recent picture of her, Hilly is doing really well. We skyped over the holiday and she's loving having all the people coming in and out of the house. She still goes to the church with Marion once or twice a week and is a real help there. She become such a lovely dog and I can't wait to see her again.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Week at Auntie Erin's

*written by Frankie*

Hi guys! It's Frankie here over at my Auntie Erin's house. I've been here since last Sunday afternoon and I'll be leaving soon, but I didn't want to leave without saying hi to all of the blogging people out there.

On Monday I became a University student and attended my very first University class. I have to say, I don't see what the point is. I tried to pay attention to what was going on, but I just ended up falling asleep. Erin said that I was a good boy though, so I guess that's what normal students do in class too. So for the rest of the day and the rest of the week I just decided to sleep during the lectures and computer classes. Monday was the busiest day with four whole hours of class, but Erin said that I was such a good boy ALL day long. And I have a whole fan club of girls that like to "ooo" and "awww" at me. I decided to strut my stuff a little for the ladies. My overall thought on University is that I really, really like it and I can't wait to go back hopefully sometime in December. Though, I wasn't too big on having to wake up and get going early. But some mornings I would have to poke Erin to wake up because she would sleep through her alarm.

We haven't done much else this week. Erin has two papers to write so she's been working a lot, but school is just SO tiring that while she's working at home I usually take a nap until it's time to take Erin for her afternoon walk.

A couple of times we went on a free run in the park and we had so much fun! But, apparently it's not good to find a giant puddle created by the rain, jump in it, and gulp a bunch of murky puddle water. Erin threatened to give me a bath if I got any dirtier so I stayed away from the mud after that because I didn't want a bath.

Erin also said that she was really impressed with my lefts, rights, and finds. I can lead her home everytime and even without her asking I lead her to the correct classroom for our Thursday lecture. Once she even said left when I knew she meant right so I gave her a funny look and took us the right way.

We had a lazy Saturday, though we did have to go to the store in morning to get some food. It was a little boring, but there was this one guy who petted me without asking and Erin turned around to politely say that she preferred if people asked first since I was working and needed to focus on her when he got all...what Erin calls "lippy" with her. That was a little exciting. And then last night I got to go to my first rolpelying session. I wanted to play a dwarf, but there was already one in the party so I decided just to have a nice four hour nap.
Me asleep in the lecture hall during my first class on Monday
Me sleeping in our two hour workshop on Monday
Me with both paws on Erin's bed because I've just had to poke her with my nose to wake her up
Me running and leaping through the leaves during a free run
Me sitting by a tree next to the river
Me being a good boy at the roleplaying session

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Puppy Club Update

It's time once again to update on how PWAP is doing back home. I still miss the people and the pups a whole lot, but at least I still get to run the facebook page. Which, by the way, if you haven't "liked" it yet you should head over there and do that. We're so close to 300 fans and would love to reach that goal by the end of the year. But enough of advertising and on to the update.

SHEP was Career Changed about a month ago. Meghan has adopted him so at least I'll get to see him again when I'm home over the summer. He's also started fly ball classes. If you don't know what that is, I would suggest looking it up on youtube. It's pretty cool. Glad Sheppy gets to stay with group!
Shep in his Pet Ambassador Scarf
ELI headed off for formal training about two weeks ago. He's now in phase 1! For those of you who don't know what that means, it means that he's passed all of his preliminary health exams! Which means that there is a good chance that this boy will go on to be a Guide. He was always just one of the those puppies. Good luck Eli! We're all rooting for you.
Eli looking regal next to a lake before heading off for training
A day or two before Eli was taken up to GDB for training, Jen and her family got a new puppy off the puppy trukc. Please welcome yellow lab male KENO! His parents are David and Stacy and I think he's such a cutie. It's hard to think that the first time I see him will be when he's about a year old.
Keno the day he got off the puppy truck
We also got one more puppy. In fact, he only arrived yesterday. Emily and Meghan will be starting this little guy and then when Marley heads off for formal training he'll be transferring to Mary and Brenna. Welcome male golden retriever SAM! He's a super cutie and I'm, as always, terribly jealous of all the new puppies. I think it's safe to say that I want one.
Sam the day he arrived
That's all from my group back home. Frankie is coming to visit tomorrow for a whole week since I finally got permission to bring him to lectures with me. I'm so happy that I'll he's coming for a visit!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Guide Dog Week

I was so happy on Thursday for a number of reasons. For one, it was Freya's birthday and I always love having another year go by where all I hear is good things. And the second was that I was volunteering at the booth for Guide Dog Week here in Scotland. That meant I would get to see "my boy" Frankie.

I got to the mall a little early so I decided to sit down, have some coffee, and work on a paper for my psychological assessment class. When I was packing up to head to the upper level I noticed Frankie and his raiser talking with someone a little down the way. Now, the past few times Frankie has seen me he's gone a little nuts so I wanted to see what would happen if I fell in stride with them while they were walking. Now, it had been about a month since I had seen Frankie, so I did expect a little excitement. I definitely did not expect the greeting I received. I swear, he threw a little conniption fit. As soon as he saw me he lunged towards me and just would not settle. When I stepped a ways back to ignore him so he realised I wouldn't say hi until he calmed down, he started barking and scrambling towards me. While I know he was being really naughty I kinda felt a little loved and like I had been missed.

Anywho, he settled a tiny bit so I got to take his leash and say hi to the goof ball and then we headed upstairs. We were joined by a woman and her Guide Dog Yoosif (I think that's how it's spelled). He was such a handsome boy and they had just become a team in September. They seemed like a really good match. We all sat there and took donations and handed out fliers and let people say hi to both Frankie and Yoosif. At one point I went off to use the restroom and when I was leaving Yoosif's handler asked if she could get a picture with both Frankie and Yoosif with her. So, I handed the leash over and trotted off to the bathroom. When I got back they were still trying to take the picture and they had a perfect pose, but when Frankie saw me coming he went nuts and all I could think was, "Frankie you bad boy. You're with someone who's actually blind right now!" So I quickly walked the other direction and hid behind a pillar...all the time Frankie looking for me. They got the picture though after I was hidden.
Yoosif, the beautiful, black lab
For those of you who have been asking me about what harnesses look like here, I finally got a nice picture of one courtesy of Yoosif. The body bit is made out of white leather with the blue GDBA logo and a nice big yellow reflector in the front. The harness is removable and is make of yellow and black plastic. Yoosif had a handle sign telling people to back off...but nicer.
Tired Yoosif.
My Frankie boy. He's grown so much since the last time I saw him.
Why is Frankie making that ridiculous smile. Because he was actually telling me what he thought of me getting onto one knee when I wasn't going to be playing with him. Silly boy.

I think my favourite part of the day though is when a small child...definitely older than one but couldn't have been two came over and sat down right next to Frankie. He looked up and totally ignored this baby. In fact he continued to ignore him while the baby played with his legs, tail, and ears. Such a good boy.

After our shift was over we headed to the other mall. I wasn't signed up for a shift there but I wanted to be a little social since I missed the last meeting and see the new puppies in the area and see the "big" Guide Dog week set up. When we got there we saw training giving out blindfolded walks with dogs that were in training. I've done Juno walks back home and I've been wanting to do one here for such a long time to feel the difference in harnesses and what not. So, I got in line and got to do a walk with a beautiful border collie/golden retriever mix named Quaker. It was so much fun and he was such a good boy. He could guide me any time.
Me and Quaker. It's a little dark, but you sort of see him.
After that I was dying of hunger so I headed home. All in all, a good day. I don't quite understand why Frankie reacts the way he does with me. I don't have him for very long when I do have him and it's only been three or four times. But he apparently loves me. Not that I don't adore him, because I do. I love his little golden needy side that climbs into my lap when I'm on the floor and I love his confident lab side that can handle anything you throw at him. I guess I should just feel loved and not wonder why. I do have to say, if he was mine and was dropped I would have a hard time not keeping him. And I do miss him when I don't have him.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Happy Birthday Freya!

Happy Birthday to You!
Happy Birthday to You!
Happy Birthday dear Freya!!!
Happy Birthday to you!

A birthday collage for Freya featuring pictures of her on her first, second, and third birthdays.
As you may be able to tell, today is Freya's birthday. She turns 4 today! Thank you Freya for being...well not the perfect first puppy but my first puppy. You got me hooked. Happy birthday Freya! I know your fam has spoiled you today.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

New Photos of Freya

I love getting photos from Freya and her family. Absolutely LOVE it! I especially loved these as they show how far Freya has really come since she was a puppy. Freya was my love and she took a piece of my heart with her. But I wouldn't trade getting these pictures for anything in the world.
Freya taking a rest with her doggie friends. That's right. A REST.
Freya playing with her doggie friends.
Freya laying down with her doggie friend. That's right. LAYING DOWN.
One of my absolute favourites. Freya on her back being held by Mr.L.

Also, speaking of my pups. I had a Skype call with my father and even though I got my webcam and microphone fixed, Skype still wasn't letting me turn on my video (I'm a little annoyed). So my dad propped the tablet on the floor next to Hilly and Arwen while we talked. They came up to the tablet and sniffed and Hilly started wagging her tail a few times. I think it's fair to say my dad knows me well.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Nostalgia, Scared, and other Feelings

I'm just so...I guess the word is tired. I'm tired of my position with Guide Dogs right now. And I'm tired of really not being able to do anything about it.

I know that not raising a puppy full time is good for me. Really I do. And if I didn't I could find a way around it. So, let's not confuse my tiredness with angry or frustrated or even unhappiness. I'm enjoying my break from raising full time and I'm happy with being a boarder. And I more than love my Frankie-boy! If I were raising full time I wouldn't be able to spend time with my Frankie! But, there are times when I want a puppy of my own around to motivate me to do better or to make me feel like I'm worth something or just to have anything life form around in the house that can't talk or make me feel bad about myself. I know that sounds like I'm unhappy, but these instances are far and few between. I guess I'm not really tired of position with Guide Dogs. What I'm really tired of is feeling these momentary lapses of judgement where I think, "Raising a full time puppy! Now there's a good idea!" For those of you out there who are one a break right now, do you feel them too sometimes? I have to admit, if my landlord hadn't said specifically no full time puppies I probably would have broken down by now. Haha! It's funny to think that all of my strength is coming from a piece of paper I signed.

As for my puppy group, I love being in charge of the facebook page. Publicity is as big a part of puppy raising groups as anything else. How else would we get people to come to our fund raising events? I really feel like I've helped a little when I work on the facebook page. So that's not the problem. The problem is that this summer I came home and someone from the group asked me, "So, have you raised a puppy before." *shocked face* It totally took me for a loop and I almost wanted to shout, "Has no one been talking about me?!" Haha! I suppose that's my own vanity, but still...I was slightly taken aback by the question. And there lies the problem. I feel almost like a stranger when I get back. Everything and everyone is new. This summer really wasn't too bad because Alicia was there and we went to school together so there was more to talk about than just puppy raising and she knew all of my pups.

And it's not like I don't like meeting new people and bragging about my past puppies to them. I really, really do. But I kinda feel like an old lady. *In old lady voice* "When I started puppy raising you had to have special permission from your CFR to use the food protocol. And not every puppy had to wear the gentle leader." In some cases I'm also confused. *continues in voice* "What is the new fangeled idea?" Haha! I don't think I'm allowed to feel old at this age.

I do think that being involved with GDBA here has caused some of the confusion. I'll be standing there telling the pups, "Busy busy!" before I realise that that's NOT their command to go to the bathroom. Or I'll say "left!" and wonder why a puppy who's older than a year doesn't know their directions yet...and then I realise we don't teach them that in the states. *face palm* I did feel pretty bad for Crescent a few times those first few hours together when I got a little agitated before I realised it was me and not her.

I guess what I'm feeling is scared. In two years I have to make the decision to stay here or go back to the states. At the moment, the states is winning just based on the fact that there is nothing keeping me here (which I'm really hoping some people out there are happy about). Now you might be thinking that two years is a long time away. But let me remind you that I've been in Scotland for two years and they've gone by at light year speed. And if I go back to the states and start raising again...will I have to start from scratch? Will we have stopped using the word 'sit'?! What if we start training ponies!? So much can happen and I don't want to be the little, old lady who uses techniques from the past.

I kinda want this feeling of scared to go away. I don't think it will. But I'd at least like it to stop manifesting itself in my feelings towards Guide Dogs. I know what I'm feeling when I sit down and think about it, but when the feelings are fleeting it's hard to tell the difference between "scared of the real world" and "I just want a puppy". I suppose I'm tired of feeling scared.

Grown ups out there...did you guys feel scared when you were nearing entering the real world and did you try to stay a child by hanging onto something that you had done when you were younger?

I hope that this wasn't a downer for anyone. I've just suddenly realised that I am graduating in less than two years and then I'll be a real live grown up. I guess...at least Hilly will be there for me. *smiles*

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Confessions of a Puppy Raiser: One Year Ago

A year ago today Hilly had her last evaluation with my CFR, Jim. I don't think I've ever really posted about what happened that sealed Hilly's fate as a Career Change. When I last posted about Hilly's last eval I sort of fudged the truth a little. I didn't lie...I just didn't tell the whole truth.

Note: This is a long post. If you get half way through it and think "This is long!" it's because it is. So,
you've been warned.

We had just gotten back into town after being in Ashland, Oregon for a little over a week for the Shakespeare Festival. When driving to the eval I thought that my part in Hilly's training was over. That no matter what, I could not influence her future in the Guide Dog program. Mostly because, I knew what the outcome of the eval would be.

As always, I arrived early. This time though, I didn't just allow and extra ten to twenty minutes to allow me time to find a parking space (sometimes the parking is REALLY bad). Instead, I got to the mall about half an hour early. It only took me ten minutes to find parking, but after that, I just sat in the car with Hilly. I knew I would need this time. At some point I started to cry. Not the deep shaking sobs that would come later that day, just silent tears. Mostly, they were of frustration and anger at myself. Like I said, I knew what Jim would say...even if he didn't know it yet. As I was sitting there starring at a tree, I felt Hilly stirring next to me (the back seat of my little Mini Cooper was a little messy so Hilly was on the floorboard in the front seat). I looked over and saw her resting her head between the gear sift and the emergency break like she always did. But this time, instead of sleeping, she was looking up at me. She was bored. Bored of being a Puppy in Training and ready to move on. And she was tired. Tired of me trying to make her into something she wasn't. I invited her up on the seat which she cautiously took; always prepared to for the set up she was. When she was eye level with me I told her how proud I was of her and held her for just a little while.

It took me about fifteen minutes to compose myself so that I could walk in through the mall doors with confidence. (It just wasn't time for everyone else to know.) So, even though I arrived half an hour early, I was pushing time a little when I finally found Mary and Jim. Before Jim started asking about Hilly, we all took a walk. Now, some people get really nervous around Jim, but I don't. I hadn't been nervous at an eval since my very first one. But I was on that day. It's ture that Jim is kinda a grumpy gus sometimes and he is pretty "strict", but he's a really good CFR. He doesn't make snap decisions and trusts the puppy raiser's judgement on their own puppy. Anyway, we finished the walk and went back to the food court.

That's when Jim started grilling me on Hilly. I told him all of her wonderful qualities and about the HUGE progress she had made since she came off the puppy truck. Then he took her from me and checked how she was with handling and how she walked on a flat leash. She did great during both. Then Jim brought her back to me and I put her back in a down under our table. That's when Jim surprised me and said something like, "She seems all ready so I'll just put her on the next recall in two weeks." He started scribbling her recall date on his sheet of paper as I sat there momentarily in shock.

What happened next was kind of like an out of body experience. Remember, I was pretty sure my part in this little show was over; that I wouldn't have to say anything. My spirit...or the part of me that wanted nothing more for Hilly to go back in for training floated out of my body and was forced to watch in horror. Forced to watch as the words came spilling out of my mouth. Those words that I never thought I would have to say.
"I can't let you do that Jim..."

Jim and Mary both looked a little surprised...I guess I probably did too. I had to tell him about how Hilly was unreliable, how she talks to you when she sees a dog, and how she was great with GDB pups but not with strange dogs. I spoke fast and didn't meet his eyes. I didn't want to have tell him what had happened in Ashland. Luckily, I didn't have to. He agreed with me that dogs that were exhibiting her kind of behaviour couldn't usually make it to being a Guide Dog. And with that it was done. My spirit watched as Jim changed "Recall" to "Career Change" and it sort of whithered. He told me how he never thought she would ever get to the point she was at now and said that if she had one more month he thought I could get her further. I'm pretty sure he meant it too. Jim doesn't just throw around compliments. Even still, my confidence had vanished.

Then we left. I cried. I cried hard. We sat in the car for five minutes before I thought I was safe enough to drive. I think Mary knew something happened in Ashland because a week and a half later she asked, "What happened in Ashland?" I guess she knows me and how I wouldn't have ever taken her off of a recall for anything less than something horrible happening.

So, here's how I knew what would happen at that meeting. I didn't want to be the one to say it, but I knew that she wouldn't be going back in for training. In Ashland, there is something called "the Green." It's a square patch of grass in between the three theaters where there are free shows before the ticketed shows begin. Since it's outside, people are allowed to bring their pets and are always quite a few dogs out there enjoying the sun and being able to get out of the house. We found a nice place on the grass away from dogs which Hilly had maneuvered around without too much fuss which made me pretty proud. We'd been watching for about half an hour when it happened. Hilly had been doing so good all day and she was just lying on my left dead asleep, so I let my guard down just a little and enjoyed the show. All of a sudden I felt a pull to my left and I was suddenly lying on the ground. Hilly had apparently lost her little labby mind and was going nuts, but I couldn't see why right away. Hey! I suddenly found myself starring up at the sky instead of at the musical performance. I quickly pulled her back to me and put her in a restrained calming sit. This means that her body was in my lap, one hand was under her resisting chin, and the other was holding her body so that she had my body and my hand pressing on their side of her. I somehow managed to breathe calmly until Hilly was under control...which took a good five minutes. At that point I asked my mom what had happened and she pointed to the left. A new dog had come and sat about five feet away from us. My heart kinda broke right then and there, but there was still a little hope left that it was a one time deal and I could just overlook it. I set her on my right and didn't have an issue the rest of the night. Unfortunately, that incident made her take ten steps back. She was whining harder and louder than ever when she saw another dog and she had started to lunge again. She had given up and, to be honest, somewhere in that week and a half I did too.

Ignoring dogs just isn't who Hilly is and she made her choice. I would have been a bad raiser to have ignored it.

I'm still hurting from it a little. My confidence hasn't completely come back as a puppy raiser and I second guess myself more often than I should. That will come back with time and possibly another full time puppy. There are even still times when I wonder if I made the right choice to stop Jim. Of course these times usually come right before Hilly does something incredibly stupid that reminds me why she should never ever be in charge for someone else's safety.

Hilly still talks to you when she sees a dog she wants to say hi to. She still thinks that stalling cars are the coolest thing ever and will jump up and down and all around to see if they'll play with her. She is still stubborn about sniffing something until SHE is done sniffing it. Now, I'm still upset that she didn't make it, but I'm more happy that she's mine.

Friday, August 10, 2012

An Introduction: Meet Frankie

Hi everyone! My name is Frankie.
Frankie sitting in front of a flower bed.
Auntie Erin was thinking real hard for the past couple of days on how to introduce me properly to the blog, but I convinced her that I was old enough to say hi myself. I also convinced her to let me tell you all about the past three days. But first she says I need to introduce myself proper like.

As you already know, my name is Frankie. Sometimes Auntie Erin calls me Franks though...or Small Fry or Short Pants. I am really small for my age, but great things comes in small packages right? I am one quarter golden retriever and three quarters lab. And Erin says that I was exactly what they had in mind when they started breeder labs and goldens together...besides having lab fur. I am confident and what she calls "bomb proof", but I'm also really goofy and "needy". I know it's not cool for guys to like cuddles but sometimes you just wants to curl up in your person lap. I am also what they call a "sponsored puppy." That means that someone out there paid Guide Dogs a LOT of money to get to name me and in return they get pictures of me and get updates on me and, if they help set it up, get to meet me. I have not met my sponsors yet but we are hoping to meet them someday before I leave for harness training. Anyway, I'm almost 7 months old but I've known my Auntie Erin since I was a little baby. The reason I am only just now posting on the blog is because now about once a month I'll be over at Auntie Erin's. Sometimes she says it'll only be for a day, but it could be for a weekend or a whole week. It just depends on how busy she is at school. I think that's all you need to know about me for now.

Oh, wait! Fetch is also my most favouritest games.

Day 1: I gots to Auntie Erin's new house on Tuesday night and boy was I happy to see her! Almost as happy as I was to see her after she got back from being back home for a whole month. We did not do a whole bunch of stuff that evening cos she had some stuff she needed to take care of. I guess that's what it is like when you move into a new place. But we did go for a walk after it stopped raining so that she could show me where my potty was. My potty is a little away from the house as we only use the front garden for the first and last potty break of the day. Otherwise I use the field just about 10 seconds away from the house. The first time we went there I peed before we got there, but Auntie Erin said that was ok and we went all the way to the toilet anyway to see if I had to go some more. Now all she has to do is ask me to "Find the Toilet" and I pull her over to the little spot next to the tree where I also pee. After I got to use the toilet we went for a short walk onto the University campus. She says that I might get to go there to class one day so I should know where it is and how to maneuver through it before it is filled with students. Did you hear that? I'm gonna be a College Dog! Then it was bedtime since I had my dinner before getting to Auntie Erin's house.

Day 2: For all the puppies out there, your people will not like it if you drink ALL the water in the big water dish before bed and then start poking them with your nose at 4 in the morning because you gots to pee. Auntie Erin said that she was glad I did not pee in her room and woke me up, but also that I was not suppose to drink all of the water at once. So, I only get a little water at a time now to stop me from waking her up at what she calls "ridiculous o' clock in the morning." After I had peed we did get to sleep for another two hours before my tummy woke me up...so I woke Erin up. We both had breakfast and then she had a shower. Then we went for a walk in the park right next to her house. She let me off lead for only a little part of it since she was not sure if I would come back to her when she called. I guess she did not know that I like to walk right next to my human even if I am off lead. Then it was home for lunch time for the both of us. Then she took me to the grocery store after I got to use the toilet again. She made me wear the puppy jacket and I do not really like it. It is itchy and bothersome but she said I had to wear it in the store so that there would be no question that I was allowed in. She said I did mostly good on our trip but that I did not need to pee right before entering the store or right after we left. She is glad I did not go inside the store, but that since I had peed before I left that I should hold it until we got back home. After we got home we both had some dinner and then took our evening walk. Today is when I learned "Find the Bin." That's my command to take Auntie Erin to the Doggie Pot where all of the doggie poo is put. We did another route around campus, but this time we went a different way to and from. She said it depends on where she needs to be which way she goes, but that I would know the difference. On yesterday's route she told me to "Find Campus" and on this route she told me to "Find the Library". I know the library is on campus, but going to the library side puts us on a different part of campus. I am still really learning the route to and from campus, but she said the more often I go the easier it will be for me.

Day 3: Yesterday was kind of a lazy day. I did not wake Auntie Erin up at four. Instead I waited until my tummy woke me up at 6. Then we did the park again only this time I was off lead for the entire time and she brought my rubber stick. I gots to play fetch for a long time and gots really dirty cos, even though it was a sunny day, there was still mud everywhere. After playing fetch for a long time she says we need to take our walk through the park. So, we goes on the walk, but I decide that it would be more fun to keep a hold of the stick for the whole time. She did have to leash me back up when there was another dog near us, but she says I did very good because we I started running towards it she told me to "leave it" and then "come" and I stopped and then went straight back to her. We walked back through the park but somewhere on the way back she decides to get a picture of me. So, of course I barks at her because it is time to play not take pictures. After I let her take her dumb pictures we start walking again. On our way out we met this really old lab. He was a lot of fun and like to try and pounce on me, but he was a lot bigger than me. It turns out that he was a retired Guide Dog. No wonder the old guy did not mind playing with a puppy. Before he left he wished me lucks in my training and told me that being a Guide Dog was really, really fun. Then we went home and had a lazy day only to be interrupted by our third walk to campus. This time we took a route that was like half the first and half the second. She said she wanted to show me as much of the campus while no one was there so that I would not be overwhelmed if I came with here and there were students everywhere. Really though, how many students can there be? This time once we got off campus she told me to "Go Find Home" and I takes her all the way back home.

Day 4: Today I go back home with my raisers. Auntie Erin says that we'll take one more free run in the park before I have to leave though. She says that I have done really good because I have learned to find her house and find the doggie pot while I have been with her. And that I have gotten better on my right turns. They are harder than left turns. I'm not too sad about leaving cos I'll see Auntie Erin again in about two weeks for puppy class. She says I'm so funny at class because when we do a puppy swap I stare at her. Well!? I guy's gotta make sure that his person is still there and still loves him doesn't he!?

Until next time guys!  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A New Blog

I was going to post something up about Fun Day today, but I think it has to wait. I'm still trying to organize it to where I don't seem like I'm rambling. So, instead I thought I would share a blog with you.

Today is Dog Day for the students who are currently in class on the California campus. Dog Day is the day that the students meet their new partner for the first time. It is a day filled with high emotions. For some, they are wondering if they will love this new dog as much as the last and for others I'm sure it's a day that will go down as "one of my most memorable days" as they prepare to meet their very first Guides. For raisers with puppies in phase 8 of formal training this whole week is filled with anticipation as we wait to hear if our puppy is officially "In Class."

For this particular woman, today is not only the day she meets her next Guide but also the day she meets her first Guide from Guide Dogs for the Blind. I have followed her journey since she applied to Guide Dogs and have felt all the doubts and uncertainties that goes with making such a huge decision. I have also seen her overcome many of them.

This is her blog. It's called Six Feet Over and so far, she makes me smile. Seeing someone who is so happy, so excited about getting their new Guide really makes the whole puppy raising thing worth while. Whoever's puppy is matched with her is a very lucky puppy raiser indeed.

I hope you all join me in wishing this most recent class of Guide Dogs for the Blind a happy Dog Day and a successful three weeks of training!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Frozen Dog Treats

Note: I'd like to say that it has taken me over a week to post this. I started writing it back when I was still visiting my mom and every time I sat down to finish it someone said, let's go here or let's do this. It was frustrating. But here it is and soon will come my post from Fun Day!
Well, you've all heard me talk about Hilly's sensative stomach. She is allergic to beef, pork, and chicken. The chicken thing has always confused me because it is suppose to be something that you feed your pups when they have an upset tummy. I thought it might just be chicken food so when she was Career Changed I gave her a piece of some plain, boiled chicken. Guess who had to clean doggie vomit up not fifteen minutes later. This girl. Lessoned learned; no chicken for Hilly. The only base foods I have found that won't make her stool loose is lamb or salmon, but only certain brands.

Now, her stomach is doing much better. I mean, almost completely solid stools everyday. I don't think anyone knows how happy this makes me. And I know that it's a weird thing to be happy about. Maybe even to other puppy raisers who haven't had to deal with a puppy with constant loose stools. But for me, who had three puppies with super sensative tummies and a pet golden with the same problem (I did look into the whole "it being in the water" thing), this is something that makes me very excited.

She still can't handle much. Only duck or lamb treats that are store bought, but she can have carrots, cheese, and peanut butter and other homemad, all natural treats. This is frustrating and good all at the same time. All of the dogs get healthy treats, but we can't go out and buy treats willy nilly nor can we give the other dogs scraps of boiled chicken without finding something for Hilly to get as well.

In light of finding something that all the dogs can eat and considering the fact that Hilly and Rosie run to the refridgerator when they hear the ice maching I decided to make some frozen treats for them.

The first kind I made were peanut butter and low-fat yogurt treats at my mom's house. Hilly super approves of these treats! And so does the little dog Boo and the kitty Curley.
Three frozen peanut butter and yogurt treats in the shapes of a starfish, a hear, and a fish

Hilly with a starfish shaped treat
Hilly eating the starfish shaped treat

Hilly almost stole Boo's fish shaped treat

And then Curley the cat almost stole his treat. We ended up giving Curley his own treats after that.

The second came from a recipe that Mimi posted on her blog last year. It's vegetable stock (I tried to find low sodium but my local supermarket just didn't have it) with low-fat yogurt and a duck treat in the middle. All three of my pups really, really like it. My mom, back when I was visiting her, froze chicken broth and gave it to Boo. Of course Hilly couldn't have any of that, but Boo and Curley really seemed to like it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Puppy Group Updated

I know I've been a little M.I.A. recently, but I suppose that's what happens when you're busy. I got home (as in USA home) last Monday and I have some great pictures of Hilly and Fienna when Fienna came over for a play day. But, I'll have to post those up tomorrow or Thursday because today's post is all about Terrence.

Terrence was a male black lab who was a part of my puppy group until mid May when he was transferred to Lynn (Lynn you might all remember was who finished Rocco). Not long after his transfer he was Career Changed. He's just one of those dogs who just wasn't ever really meant to be a Guide Dog and he made that very clear. It's definitely always better that that happens before they go back for training. Anyway. his raiser here decided to put him up for community placement in hopes that he could become a different kind of service animal.

Now, have you ever met one of those dogs who are obsessed with nearly everything they can play with (and some things they can't) and are semi impossible to handle? Well, that was Terrence. A wild child. What Freya could have been had she not decided she liked Guiding (hooray for super duper hard puppies as first puppies!). Of course, you may wonder, what kind of service animal could he be as he is so hyper and so obsessive? A Search and Rescue dog of course!

We got word about a week ago that Terrence had passed GDB's search and rescue dog evals and that he would be heading for his official test. About a week after that we heard that he passed his official search and rescue dog test and would start training immediately! So, Terrence is now in training as a Search and Rescue Dog with the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (NDSDF)! It's a huge achievement because the NDSDF only have about 20 working dogs at one time so they're super picky. Terrence is also the first PWAP puppy who has been chosen as a Search and Rescue Dog!

I think it just goes to show you that every dog has their calling. Good Job Terrence!

Friday, June 22, 2012

An Ann Taylor Update

So, when I received the email from Ann Taylor I first thought that there might have been a mistake. Another situation where there was an honest mistake. It wasn't until I read it the second time when I realized that they were talking about Becky and Cricket. It's about that point where I began to rage. So, after being talked out of sending a new email right away I took a deep breath and thought about what I would say. I decided to go the route that there must have been a misunderstanding in my email and explained to them that I knew in this instance the dog was harnessed. I apologized for any ambiguous language in my first message.

I go this message back yesterday after all of the bad press and the retraction had started:

"As a follow up to our previous response, please see the below statement released to the press by
ANN INC. regarding this concern.

“We at Ann Taylor sincerely apologize to [Becky] for her experience at the City Creek store. Service animals are always welcome in our stores and this incident is not representative of how we approach customer service. In our previous statement we had said that her guide dog was unharnessed. This was not the case. We were misinformed and we are sorry that this incorrect information was released. We strive for 100 percent customer satisfaction. In this case we fell short. We are reaching out to [Becky] and her family to make this situation right.”

Again, we appreciate the efforts you have made to share your feedback with us."

While I think it is great that they are at least admitting to their being wrong to release the information that said Cricket was out of harness, I still wonder if they are admitting that because the sales clerk and manager really gave them false information or because they realised that saying that flat out lie wasn't going to roll smoothly with anyone let alone the people who know Becky and know the training of a Guide Dog. I guess this is just my cynical outlook on life. It doesn't rear it's head often, but sometimes I just can't help but think that the world is a horrible place. (Cheerful sentence huh?)

Anyway, the sentence that most intrigued me was, "We are reaching out to [Becky] and her family to make this situation right." Can a situation like this ever be made "right". In my eyes, the damage is done. Like I said in my last post, I'm not telling you to never shop at Ann Taylor again nor am I saying that I will never walk into an Ann Taylor again. But, the damage is definitely done and I'm wondering what they are doing to make it "right."

I don't think this is something that is so simple that just saying, "Hey, sorry our staff wasn't completely trained and threw you out of the store because you're blind and use a dog to get around. And about that whole 'blaming the situation on you' thing. Yeah...sorry about that too." will really fix anything. I guess it would show that they realize that they were in the wrong. But I just don't see a 'sorry' really going all that far.

Again, this might just be my cynical outlook on life coming up at an inopportune moment. But I know that when I'm told I am not welcome in a store with my Guide Dog puppy I to try to avoid it in the future. There is a Target that I have not been into in almost 4 years...of course, that is more because of how rudely Freya and I were treated. There have been other stores where after a few months I walk in with confidence (only if I have to) and I don't tend to have a problem again. It's not because I don't like this stores or don't respect their decision to not allow a service dog in training, it's more because my confidence is shot.

So much to think about in the next few days. I do enjoy a good moral discussion.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Another Ann Taylor Post

Hi People!  I know that this is pretty old news by now, but I wanted to share it so that it got as much circulation as possible.

I think I've mentioned GDB alumni Becky over at the blog Cruisin' with Cricket. But I'll say again that she is the most kind hearted and wonderful person I've ever had the pleasure of meeting...even if it is just over the Internet through our common interest of Guide Dogs for the Blind. Now, there are three posts that I think you all should read if you haven't already. The first one is Disappointed in Ann Taylor. The second one is Sharing. And the third is Finding Lemonade.

For those of you who don't want to go and read them all the short story is that Ann Taylor kicked her out of the store because of Cricket. Obviously, this is not only illegal but is also really hurtful. A bunch of us wrote in to Ann Taylor through their website to voice our concern and hopefully to get them to have more vigorous training when it comes to access rights of service animals. Here is the letter I received back from Ann Taylor.

"Thank you for taking the time to contact us.  We truly love to hear from our clients and appreciate your efforts to email us directly.

Please know that all service animals, including guide dogs, are welcome in all our stores at any time.  The situation you are referring to was a misunderstanding that occurred when a customer entered the store with an unharnessed guide dog.  In accordance with the mall regulations, dogs should be leashed or inside a carrier at all times.  When the customer entered the store with an unharnessed dog, the associate did not realize it was a guide dog, but upon realizing her error, she apologized and told the customer the guide dog could stay in the store.

Again, we appreciate the efforts you have made to share your feedback with us. At Ann Taylor, we want to help women put their best selves forward every day and we will continue to strive to make your shopping experience the best it can be."

Now, I have highlighted and bolded the parts of the email that were untrue. Hopefully you were able to see them without this help, but just in case. Apparently, everyone who wrote in got this exact same email.
Ann Taylor is now is the middle of a retraction as the PR representative was allegedly told that Cricket was out of harness (a ridiculous claim) and was also told that they were allowed to stay in the store. Of course, if this was the case none of us would have written in. Obviously, this is an example of someone trying to cover their own mistake by blaming someone else. I'm not too sure if Ann Taylor decided to retract this because of all the bad press they were getting or because the store manager really did tell them something wrong in order to cover her own mistake.
Now, I'm not upset that this happened. Things like this still do happen, though it does not usually involve a large corporation like Ann Taylor. Smaller organizations, much like the hotel we stayed at in Oregon for the Shakespeare Festival, have not fully read nor fully understand the terms of the ADA regulation involving service dogs. What upsets me is that they tried to make Becky look completely at fault instead of just owning up to their mistake and apologizing. As Becky says, she doesn't plan to sue and that all she wants is to educate. I like to think that I would have the same attitude, but I know when I received that email I raged for a full ten minutes straight before calming down and feeling sad. As always, Becky has made me feel like an inferior human being with her wonderful attitude and sweet nature.
Now, for something good that has come of all of this. If you go to the Ann Taylor facebook fan page or their Twitter Page you can see that the public has rallied to support Becky and Cricket. People are saying that they will never shop at Ann Taylor again and that there should be a public apology and all manner of things like that. I know one of things that Becky said was that she felt so alone when she was told that she was not welcome in with Cricket. I'm sort of glad that there is such support from the public. Now, I don't know if Becky will stop shopping at Ann Taylor entirely, but I think that she might not want to go back for a while.
I don't shop there often and I'm not telling you that you should never shop there again. While it was handled badly by the PR representative, it was an isolated incident (which is what they should have said to begin with). I've been into Ann Taylor with puppies before and have never had a problem. The point of this post is just to pass it on and hopefully to educate any new readers. ADA regulations state that service animals are legally allowed to accompany their handler anywhere.
I also think they has educated me a little. Normally, when asked to leave somewhere I say politely that it is a service dog in training. If still asked to leave I make sure that they are aware of ADA regulations regarding fully trained service dogs and then leave. Once though, when I was having a bad day, my voice did raise a little. I know that in the future I will be able to take a breath and calmly educate the employees. A learning experience for all of us I think. Though it is absolutely horrible that it happened.

Friday, June 15, 2012

2 Hours with Rachel

About a week ago I had the opportunity to watch a little 8 week old puppy for a couple of hours. The raiser needed a sitter for the whole weekend, but I wasn't available Saturday or Sunday so I said that I could watch her for an afternoon if she couldn't find anyone to do the whole weekend. It turns out that she had two separate things to do so it worked out well for me to take her last Friday for a couple of hours.

Again, the only thing I knew before the puppy came to my house was that she was a female 8 week old puppy. What I got was an adorable golden retriever named RACHEL. She was super tiny and super cuddly.  I kinda wished that she could stay the whole weekend, but I had a fun weekend with friends.
Rachel walking toward the camera
Rachel standing in an alert stance when she heard barking on the TV
Rachel chewing on the bunny
Rachel turning away form the camera with her eyes closed
Rachel is a dark golden retriever who is not as fluffy as others, but still a fuzzball
A closeup of Rachels face with the bunny in her mouth

Monday, June 4, 2012

Wilma's Visit: Part 2

First, some pretty pictures of gorgeous Wil sitting in our front room.

Wilma looking like she is rolling her eyes.
Wilma starring straight at the camera.
Wilma looking up at the camera.
Wilma with her head cocked to the side.
Now, after those pictures here are a few during our free run. On the last afternoon she was with me, I decided that I was going to try Wilma on a free run. If I haven't mentioned it before, we are allowed to take the pups on "free runs" which basically means off leash play time. There are, of course, some rules to follow when doing this. I really enjoy taking the pups on free runs especially when I know that they are able to handle it. I was a little nervous about taking Wil because I wasn't too sure how great her recall would be when she was distracted. I knew she would come when called when not distracted so I decided that I could probably, eventually, get her back. Turns out, I didn't need to worry.

I brought the no stuffing bunny for her to fetch and run around with. As soon as I told her to "run free" she took off with it in her mouth and made a huge circle before returning to me so that I could throw it for her. She totally loved it.

Now here comes the really funny part. I try and do free runs when there are not many dogs in the park. It usually means that the puppy won't be too distracted and increases the chance of them coming when called. When we got there, there was only one dog who was so engrossed in his ball that he didn't even notice us walk in. So, I took Wilma quite a ways away from him before telling her to play. She didn't even noticed him either at first. I'm fairly sure that he noticed Wil first and started walking towards us. Any other dog would have seen him noticing them and ran straight for them. What did Wilma do? She noticed him, looked, and sat down with the bunny in her mouth. Haha! She sat there until he got within five feet of us and just couldn't take it any longer. She ran straight towards them and they started playing and playing and playing. After they were done playing quite a few other dogs started pouring in so I decided it was time to leave.

She was just fine with that, though our walk home was considerably slower since she had tuckered herself out. Of course, I didn't leave without taking some pictures. She's such a photogenic puppy.
Wilma in a "sit/stay" looking at the camera
A picture of what Wilma did when she noticed the other dog walking towards us. She is sitting with her ears perked and a forgotten stuffed bunny in her mouth. Notice, she doesn't have the leash on and I did not tell her to sit, she just did it.
Wilma after playing with her new friend
Wilma with her giant tongue hanging out because of how tired she was
Wilma with her tongue hanging out of the side of her mouth
Wilma with her tongue hanging out of the side of her mouth and her ears perked
I was totally sad to see her go later that afternoon. I also don't think it helped that Lisa left for home that morning which meant that I was left in an empty flat. But mostly I think it was because I really liked her and wished she could have stayed longer. I guess it also meant that I would never see her again because she'll be going back in for training next month when I'll be home.

I think, as long as she passes her medicals, she could definitely make it. She does have a softer, golden side. But she settled after a second or two after every loud noise that startled her or just needed a little encouragement at points. But as long as you said "good girl" or "Wilma forward!" in a happy voice, she would realize that there was nothing to be worried about. *smiles* I wish her well and a part of me wishes that she needs to be sitted again before I leave. Haha!