Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Dew

Honeydew, and the rest of the Crim Critters (even us two legged ones), wanted to wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

"Arctic Blast 08"

Well, the weather here in Portland is pretty crazy (by our standards).  Below (attached) are some pictures from our Monday morning commute!  Much of it was by foot, through lots of snow and ice.  I actually wore my "Nanook of the North" snow boots - I haven't worn those since I left North Dakota! 

Glenn worked from the coffee/book store downtown (imagine that), and I worked from my office until the Mayor shut the city down and sent everyone home.  Most of the trains weren't running, and over 70 buses were stuck in the snow - including the one that goes to our house.  Ugh.  I waited about 45-minutes to catch a shuttle that was packed to the gills with the 100 other people that were stranded in town.  Glenn got tired of waiting and opted to walk home...5+ miles, in the deep snow.  

That is where he is as I type this.  He is following a couple on cross-country skis (towing a kid trailer that is also on skis).  He is pretty miserable and is likely wishing he would have waited for the shuttle with me.  Poor guy.  Luckily, he is heavily caffeinated...and this trek should cure him of the terrible case of "ants in his pants" he had from being stuck in the house yesterday.  :)  The odds of us going into work tomorrow are looking pretty slim, as this isn't going to melt and they are expecting more snow tonight.  I guess this is the worst storm to hit Portland since the 1960's.  Hopefully, it doesn't all melt at once and cause massive flooding like it did about 10 years ago ("500 year floods").

The photos are of the pups playing in the snowy yard.  A good "action shot" of Honeydew.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

More Snow Adventures

Hello!  It has been a while since a Honeydew update, so I thought I would send along a few pictures.  She is doing great.  She is getting bigger and smarter by the day!  She gets spayed this Friday, so that will take her out for a few days, but I am sure she will bounce back quickly.  At last week's puppy class she graduated into a "large" sized jacket - so that officially means she is getting to be a big girl.  One of the instructors said that she will probably continue to fill out, but that her height and length likely won't change much more.  We are still working on the new "go to bed" command.  We had to demonstrate it at class (see Photo 1) - and Honeydew had to go first.  She did a great job, much better than some of the other pups (which is always our goal! haha).  Our social outing this week was cancelled due to the weather, which Glenn loves because it is his birthday and now he can do whatever he wants that night (which will likely involve eating a Hostess berry pie and watching The Simpsons).

Other exciting news - Honeydew experienced her first snow storm this week.  She thought it was a blast, at first. She just ran around the yard smelling all of the snow. She didn't eat it, just wanted to smell it - over and over and over again.  It was hard to get a good picture of her because she had her nose to the ground the whole time.  Now she just thinks the snow is cold and over-rated and you have to drag her outside to "do her business". 

Sunday night I decided to take one of the light rail trains out to the airport to greet Glenn (he was coming back from California and really didn't have any winter clothes with him - it was approximately 24-degrees out).  So, I checked the train schedules and they seemed to be running with no problems from the snow and ice. So, Honeydew and I geared up and headed out into the white tundra.  Well, all the transit was running great until we got about 25% of the way there....then the track switches froze and trains were getting stuck on the tracks.  It took over two hours, two train rides, lots of standing in the blowing snow, and a VERY crowded shuttle ride before we arrived to meet Glenn at the airport - about an hour after we were supposed to be there.  It was one of those times I regret holding out and not getting a cell phone - as we had to keep going because I couldn't call Glenn an tell him to abort the mission and grab a cab!  Honeydew was a trooper, but was definitely ready to get home.

Photo 1:  Honeydew and the other class mates on their magic carpets doing the "go to bed" command. 

Photo 2) The Dew and a new bone.  I didn't realize until the other day that she was allowed (per Guide Dogs) to have the sterilized cow bones - she was in heaven.

Photo 3) Catching snow on her tongue.  :)

Photo 4) What a snow bunny!

Photo 5) Honeydew resting on my feet during our epic airport journey on mass transit!  I think this is the view that most people have of her when we are on transit - these little eyes peaking out from under the seat. 

Sunday, December 14, 2008

First Snow!

We woke up this morning to snow flakes (which is very rare here in Portland - in town)!  TV folks have been worked up about the proposition of snow for a week now, but usually nothing ever comes of it, so I half believed that it really wasn't going to snow.

This is Honeydew's first snow, and she wasn't quite sure what to make of it - spin circles in it, eat it, etc.  Mainly she just sniff, sniff, sniffed it.  This was one of the only pictures I got of her where her head wasn't stuck to the ground like a Hoover (is it time to throw that tomato plan away?).  Tully was being a little more subdued about the whole thing, she's been there and done that - I thought the picture of her turned out great, a definite keeper.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Magic Carpet

She is doing really well.  Getting so mature and calm (sometimes).  The last two weeks of training have been interesting.

All of the dogs are learning a new command, "Go to bed".  It has three parts -- go to the bed, lay down, and stay there until released.  The idea is that this will be a very useful command for a blind person so that, for example, if someone comes to the door they can give the command and the dog won't be in the way greeting the new person at the door, etc.  Traditionally, this would be trained by giving the command (Go to bed), putting them on the bed, making them lay down, telling them to stay, then correcting them if they sat up or moved off the bed...and praising them if they did right.  They wanted us to implement a new training technique for this command, called "operative training".  It is really a very foreign concept, and apparently is very hard for people with a lot of dog training experience to do because you don't get to correct the dog and show them what you want.

Long-story short, this is how it works.  You put out a bath mat or some other special rug, blanket, etc -- this is the "bed".  When the dog just happens to walk on the rug, you say "nice" and give them a kibble.  If the dog stays on the rug, you say "nice" and give them a kibble.  Pretty soon, the dog realizes that magical things happen when you are standing on the rug, so they will return to the rug in hopes of a reward, which you give.  Once they reason this out (if I go stand on the rug I get a kibble, and if I stay there I get more), then the rules change to be that they have to "sit" on the rug, and then eventually lay "down" on the rug - but you don't ever give them those commands verbally.  Honeydew was one of the "demonstration puppies" in class that night.  I was just sure she was going to fail miserably, because she is so distracted and high energy - she is in a big gym, surrounded by people and dogs - a very high energy situation for her.  But, once she got wind of the game and figured out she needed to be on that rug, it was amazing to watch her reason things out.  She figured it out after about 8 kibbles!  Then, when the rules changed (have to sit on the rug, not just stand), it was amazing to watch her face as she offered the trainer other was like she was saying "Hey lady, I am standing on the rug, give me a kibble.  Ok, that isn't working, what if I spin in a circle?  What if I jump?  What if I sit?  Oh, if I sit I get a kibble!".  Each time Honeydew would do a little dance of different positions or tricks on the rug, but eventually she figured out the magical formula was to sit on the rug...and then she did the same thought process (offering various tricks and positions) when the rules changed to laying down on the rug.  At one point Honeydew forgot the rug part and just sat in front of the trainer.  She had a look on her face like "Hey, I'm sitting, where is my kibble?"...but again, she reasoned it out and you could see a little light go on "Oh yeah, I have to be sitting on that rug thing", she literally stayed sitting, but bunny hopped (butt bumped?) the 4-feet across the floor to the rug.  It was hysterical.

Only after the dogs fully understand that going to the rug, laying down, and staying there is the right behavior that gets the kibble, do you start naming the command.  So now, at home, Honeydew understands that if she does those three things she gets a kibble, and now I am starting to tell her to "go to bed" and she is understanding that the command is the name of that series of actions I want her to do.  The amazing thing is that at no point during the training do I touch her, position her, correct her or give her a verbal or visual command (sit, down, stay).  It is all about her ability to figure out what I want her to do based on when she gets a reward (the word "nice", followed by a kibble).  It is the same technique used for "clicker training", but instead of the click they hear the word "nice".  Of all of the training we have done, this has been the most fun because you can see her actually using her brain and thinking/reasoning things out.  She is so interested in the activity and gives me her complete attention (which is rare!).  At this point, the only commands she gets kibble for are this one and "come" - which has proven to be a good approach because you can bet that she is always going to want to do those commands, even when there is an exciting distraction (like someone coming to the door).

At last night's class, I had to do everything blind-folded.  It was SOOO HARD!  It was really fascinating though.  For example, we have always been told that when doing the recall ("come"), that the dog needs to come all the way up to your legs and you have to grab their collar before giving them their kibble reward.  Well, after a while you forget some of those details -- they get close enough, you reach out to them to grab their collar, etc.  Well, when you do it blind-folded you realize that if you reach down and the dog isn't there because they stopped a foot or two away, that you can't find them.  Honeydew stopped short, so I just ended up feeling through the air at my knees, never feeling or finding her.  I am sure I looked like a complete idiot.  She did what I asked her to do (she "came"), but I hadn't been doing a good job of making her she came right up to my legs.  I never realized how important that last foot of space was because I could always see her and bend over to grab her and pull her closer.  It was also really difficult to figure out what she was doing on the end of the leash -- was she eating something off the floor? messing with one of the other dogs? smelling the hands or legs of the person next to me? etc.  At one point she got tangled up with the puppy behind us and it was so hard to figure out what had happened and to get them untangled.  It was hard to figure out if she was doing something wrong, and if she was, it was hard to figure out how to correct her, etc.  We spent the entire two hours blind-folded, going through our exercises, etc. Glenn was there.  He somehow got out of having to wear the blindfold!  He did a good job of helping to make sure that I didn't run into anything (which we all know, I am prone to do, even when my eyes are open!).

Lastly, Cole, the guide puppy we watched a month ago (Honeydew went to live with Cole's family, Cole came to live with us) was recently career changed.  That makes two of the four puppies that Honeydew came in with that haven't made it so far.  Ughh!  The pressure.  Cole was a super sweet dog, and I think the raising family might adopt her as a pet.  In the end, she just wasn't that excited about working for a living - and as she got older she was less responsive to commands, etc.  She will make a wonderful and sweet pet.  So, who knows what the future holds for Honeydew.  They say you can never predict if a dog is going to make it or not.  There was one dog in our club that was completely out of control, a total spaz.  That dog has just made it to the final training phase and will likely get paired with a blind person soon.  Who knew!  We continue to believe that Honeydew is destined for great things.  :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Halloween Honeydew

Well, tonight at puppy class everyone had to come in costume.  At first I thought it was a silly thing to do - but they explained that it was good for the dogs.  They have to tolerate what you do to them, they have to understand that sometimes other dogs don't look like dogs (e.g. encountering people that have their dogs wearing clothes in public) and that sometimes people don't look like people.   

Photo 1) Honeydew was a Fairie (or, maybe a bug?) - she was adorable!  Grandma (background) got to come to puppy class this week as she was in town critter sitting while Glenn and I went to Bishop (CA) for his 20-year reunion.

Photo 2) Grandy the pirate.  Arg!

Photo 3) Raisers had to be in costume too, so I had matching wings.

Photo 4) Honeydew greeting Dorena, the smallest puppy in our class.

Photo 5) It didn't take long for Honeydew to be quite bored with the whole costume thing!

Photo 6) Another "bug", Clea.  She was as thrilled as Honeydew about the whole experience.

Photo 7) All of the pups in a costume contest.  Fortune, dressed as a hotdog in a bun, was the winner.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Puppy Club Pictures

Time again for a Honeydew update, it has been a while.  She has had a lot of fun experiences recently.  We took our first bus ride to work - which was quite the fun trip, especially since there was another service dog on the bus - Honeydew wanted to play with her really badly!  She also had her first night away from home when she went to stay with a "puppy-sitter" so Glenn and I could attend a day-long event.  "Puppy-sitters" are folks that are approved and have the 'handling training' from Guide Dogs for the Blind (along with the various home inspections, liability paperwork, etc.).  She had a blast with that experience - she even got to go bowling with the puppy-sitter!  Geesh!  I have no idea what Honeydew's score was, but she has been dropping hints about wanting a personalized bowling ball for Christmas this year.

We are trading puppies with another puppy raiser this weekend - we are going to be watching "Cole", a female black lab that is the same age as Honeydew.  Cole is very shy and timid - scared of a lot of things - pretty much the opposite of Honeydew.  It will be interesting to see how Cole manages dealing with new people, new situations (like coming to work with me).  Cole has never lived around other dogs or cats, so our house ought to really open her eyes.

The past couple of weeks Honeydew has really mellowed out a bit, which is nice.  She still has her crazy puppy moments, but she is becoming more mature right before our eyes.  She is now able to roam around the house with just a drag-line (trailing leash we can grab to correct her) -- something we haven't been able to allow her to do up until now because she constantly wanted to chase the cats or pounce on the dogs.  

One last funny story to relay before the pictures....we were coming out of Barnes & Noble this week and before I knew it we were surrounded by little kids wanting to pet the puppy.  Their mother was trying to explain that Honeydew was a special working puppy, etc.  They were asking questions about why she was special and why she had that jacket on, etc.  I explained that she was a special puppy because when she grew up she was going to help a blind person get around.  One little boy (maybe 5 years old or so, I am horrible with ages) looked at me with a straight face and said "Can she talk?". I bit my lip to keep from laughing out loud and said "No" -- to which he made a very indignant face and said "Well, why not?" Clearly, she wasn't that special of a dog if she couldn't even talk for crying out loud!  It was one of the funniest things I have ever heard!  I giggled all the way home - his face was so priceless when he learned she couldn't talk.

Photo 1) This is one of the new babies, her name is Dorena.   She is sooooo cute.  She is only 9 weeks old and she already knows "sit", "stay" and "come".  I just love that puppies have such fat little bellies that they can't sit up straight!

Photo 2)  I thought this was a cute picture...the "down stay" is so boring!  Most of the dogs end up in one of these "are we done yet mom" poses.

Photo 3) A view of the puppy club - 15 dogs in total, ranging from 9 weeks to about 1.5 years. We spend about 30 minutes doing "boot camp" drills in circles and lines (walk, stop, sit, down, stand, walk fast, walk slow, stay -- over and over and over).  The girl bouncing the yellow ball wandered around trying to get the dogs to be distracted by toys, etc.  Honeydew was ok with that until she came out with a squeaky toy (one of those dang stuffed hedgehogs that all dogs love).  The Dew was beside herself to get that toy.  The two ladies in the middle are a couple of the trainers.  Honeydew and I are toward the back of the photo, you can see that she is almost as big as the other adult dogs now.  

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Puppy Sitting

We had a great day yesterday, and Honeydew did too!  Glenn and I went on a tour of the Bull Run Watershed. 

As a result of being gone all day, we had to find a "puppy-sitter" for Honeydew...and of course Guide Dogs for the Blind has a lot of restrictions on who can watch her, etc. -- has to be someone that has had the proper "guide dog handling" training, home inspection and waiver paperwork on file!!  Luckily, one of the puppy club members was "between puppies" yesterday (she has raised over 7 guide dog puppies, and her brand-new puppy was set to arrive today!).  Her husband loves Honeydew (calls her his "toasted marshmallow") - so we felt really confident leaving her with them.  She got to go on long walks, to dinner, the mall, the coffee shop - she even got to go bowling with one of the other guide dog puppies (his name is Cruz - like "cruise")!  We speculated on what type of bowling ball Honeydew would pick - I think a swirly purple one.  I am sure she loved all of the old smelly rental shoes!  Apparently she wasn't scared at all - which many of the puppies are (with all of the loud crashing noises, etc.).  

Of course, Cruz's raiser is also the leader of our puppy club - the main trainer we have - so it was stressful, sort of like Honeydew was going for a final exam or something.  We were a bit stressed about that (would she be out of control and the main leader would think we weren't doing a good job??) - but we were also looking forward to feedback from folks that have a lot more experience at this than we do.  Apparently Honeydew did really really really well - she didn't have any accidents, she didn't get into stuff in their house, she played nicely, etc.  They really wore her out - she could hardly keep her eyes open when we went to pick her up and she was sitting in their living room.  This was the first time she has ever been away from us - and she did pretty good.  The lady said that sometimes it takes a puppy a good day or more to get comfortable - but that Honeydew settled in within 2 hours and was responding to their commands and companionship like a pro.  She pulls on the leash while walking - she has always done that.  That was the only "bad" thing she mentioned in the full page write-up she did - the rest of the comments were glowing.  Whew!  They said she was a 'dream' - yeah Honeydew!!

Photo) Honeydew going to town on a plastic bottle.  Guide Dogs says it is OK for them to play with the thick plastic bottles (like OJ jugs or laundry jugs) until they break them down to the point where they can get plastic parts off, then they get recycled.  Honeydew LOVES these toys. I have folks at work bringing them in from home for me - she has built up quite the collection. 

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Lucky Lab Bike Ride

Glenn and I went on another big bike ride today - it was the "Tour de Lab" - a bike tour to each of the "Lucky Lab Brew Pubs" here in Portland.  It is one of our favorite pubs because you can bring your dogs.  At each pub you got pieces of a dog costume (first bar the tail, second bar the ears, third bar the nose).  Once you got to the last pub with all of your dog bits, you got a free pint of beer (in my case, rootbeer) in a Tour de Lab pint glass that you got to keep. We also got a couple of cool ride t-shirts - with a lab's head wearing a bike helmet. 

All total (including the ride from and back to our house) it was about 35 miles - so it was easier than the 50-miler we did a few weekends ago, but still challenging.  MUCH of it was uphill....up big hills! Never-ending, winding up and up big hills. Ughh.  I was slow up the hills, but I made it - there were many people that had to get off and walk.  Coming back down was great fun though!  There were over 1,200 riders - quite a site.  I took some photos - below....

Photo 1) The finish line...this is what about 1,000 bikes looks like.  It just went on and on and on.

Photo 2) Glenn, with his "ears" - and with his Lucky Lab...Honeydew is getting so big we can hardly pick her up anymore (she is fixated on the cat standing below her)!

Photo 3) A picture of The Dew...just because she is so darn cute!  She didn't get to go with us (lots of folks had dogs in trailers or baskets), but she was with us in spirit!  Toward the end of this month she is going to be in a parade, so that will make up for missing today (I asked if I could bike commute with her in a trailer - but Guidedogs said no, which is understandable...they don't want to risk something happening while she is back there that would make her afraid of traffic or bikes.  Oh well).

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Fun Day

Time for another (long) Honeydew update.  Today we went to quite the event at the Guide Dogs for the Blind campus (in Boring, Oregon).  It was "Fun Day", which is a full day of events, training, entertainment, etc. -- it is an appreciation event for all of the puppy raisers.  There were over 300 puppies in training there!!  It was a sea of dogs...and their raisers.  The only working guide dogs that were there were with their blind partners.  All of the dogs in guide training were in the kennels.  

So, for Honeydew, this was a crazy day.  She is very dog and people distracted...and we were surrounded by hundreds of them!  There were a few times when she lost control and went bonkers - but generally she did much better than we were expecting.  We often just had to sit at the side and let her just watch everything...then she would least until we got up to walk somewhere, then she was totally geeked up again.  Compared to a normal dog her age, she is very calm....but compared to the other guide dog puppies her age, she is a complete spaz!  We took some photos of our day (see below and/or attached).

Photo 1:  Some of the booths.  Many of the guide dog puppy clubs have booths and sell everything from t-shirts to toys, etc.

Photo 2:  Adorable little black puppy - calmly taking in the sights.  Wish he could teach Honeydew how to maintain control.  There were tons of little baby puppies there - and in the afternoon they were presenting new puppies (8-weeks) to their new puppy raisers.  Two of the members of our puppy club had to leave their dogs there today - including Petunia, the puppy we puppy-sat before we got Honeydew.  

Photo 3:  Michele and The Dew watching the people walk by.  Honeydew was pretty sure that all of these people just came out to tell her how cute she is -- it's all about her ya know.  What a nut.  

Photo 4:  Glenn and The Dew, with some of our puppy club members and their pups.  Honeydew has to hang out on the edge, because she can't control herself with the other puppies.

Photo 5:  They had an area set up where people could get together to meet the other litter mates of their puppy, and sometimes you even get to meet the parents of the puppy.  Honeydew and Glenn were talking with the crazy lady in the pink skirt (she never shut up the whole time we were near her!).  She is raising "Hubert", one of Honeydew's brothers - up in Washington.  She had her other guide dog puppy with her, so we could only see pictures of Hubert - he looks just like Honeydew, but has a white "Z" on his chest.  She has raised 8 puppies so far...and she said Hubert is challenging....and she proceeded to describe all of Honeydew's bad behavior (intense, distracted, lunging, mouthing, jumping, etc.).  She watched Honeydew and said that she and Hubert were very similar with respect to the issues they need to work on -- lots of spunk.  When we told her Honeydew was our first guide puppy, she made a shocked face and said "I can't believe they would give you such a challenging dog for your first one".   You can see some of the other people in the background, meeting their litter mates.  We were in a field the size of a baseball diamond full of people and dogs meeting each other, it was crazy!  Dogs, dogs, everywhere!  (and the strange thing....all of them were under control and none of them barked!).

Photo 6:  The younger girl in the blue sweatshirt was the raiser of Honeydew's mother, "Marikay".  They are from Elko, Nevada.  They came up for the event -- it was fun for her to see the puppies that her dog mothered.  She has raised 7 dogs, and was dropping off one (that was going into formal training) and taking home a new puppy to raise today.  Pretty impressive for a girl her age!

Photo 7:  This big black boy is "Hector", one of Honeydew's brothers.  Look at how big he is - never would have imagined they were from the same litter!  He was very sweet.  Apparently, Honeydew's father ("Eric") is quite a handful.  We went to the breeding area and they had books with pictures of all of the breeding dogs.  When we said that "Eric" was Honeydew's father, they all shook their heads...apparently, Eric is quite a challenging dog.  One of the girls even said "I don't care for Eric, I don't know why they ever made him a breeder".  "Heath", one of Honeydew's other brothers (who was in our Puppy Club) has already been "career changed" because they couldn't get him under control and he was getting aggressive.  I don't know what will happen with him - likely become a pet, or he might go into some other sort of training.  I guess Honeydew comes by her crazy behavior naturally.  :)  Hector (this photo) seems to have gotten the "calm and controlled" genes from his mother's side of the family. 

Photo 8:  This is a picture of one of the play areas for the dogs in the kennel.  The dog at the top of the slide was cracking me up...he would let the bone he was playing with slide down the slide - he would then slide after it - and then get it and run back up the slide and do it again.

The Dew in the News, kinda.

So, before we were able to get Honeydew, they took her to an event called "Pinot and Pups" - a fund raising event.  I just checked the Guide Dogs for the Blind newsletter, and there is a picture of Honeydew!  -- see page 5, with "Deena and Mike Bragg" -- Honeydew, working the rich folks for some money!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Official Jacket!

YAY!  Honeydew is now officially a guide dog puppy in training - she got her jacket tonight at our puppy meeting. 

The meeting was actually a "social" - once a month the club does an outing in public...ride the train or bus, go to the mall, etc.  This was our first such social (as the new pups have been too young to go until now).  Tonight it was an outdoor art show with artists who made garden art from recycled was a sea of people, totally overwhelming!  We drove around for about 20-minutes just trying to find a place to park, and ended up in a dirt lot a ways away.  

Honeydew did pretty good - but at one point she had a bit of a meltdown.  I think the new jacket (she isn't sure she wants it on), combined with all of the people and the other dogs, was more than she could handle.  She was like a little kid throwing a temper tantrum in the grocery store.  I finally had to drag her behind some bushes where she proceeded to buck like a wild bull and flop around on the ground like a fish.  She has never acted that way before.  After a bit of private time she calmed down and we went back out to join the crowds of people and the other puppy raisers.  She is still just a little pup - so I can imagine it was all just more than she could handle, especially because she is so much more intense about distractions than most of the other pups (who are just chill, sort of with a surfer's attitude or something).  

I (Michele) have been out of town for about 5 days -- Glenn did a great job of taking care of the little dear (along with the other Crim Critter Menagerie).  I can't believe how much bigger she got while I was away...she is starting to look like a little dog instead of a puppy! :( Tomorrow she gets to wear her jacket to work with me - everyone will be so proud!

Anyhow - attached are some updated pics of our big night.

Photo 1) Honeydew in her new jacket.  She is all color coordinated now...people always think she is a boy because of the green halter.  She doesn't seem to care.

Photo 2) Just a few of the pups hanging out at one of the art exhibits (there were a total of 13 guide dogs there).  There are 5 pups in the picture...kinda like "Where's Waldo".  The little one on the left, facing the camera, is Fortune - the pup that is so huge for his age (he is the same as Honeydew).  He has the biggest puppy belly and always seems to be straining under his own weight just to keep his head up.

Photo 3) Another picture of The Dew looking proud in her jacket.  You can see the intelligence in her eyes...that, or she is saying "seriously, if you don't get this thing off of me I am going to pitch another royal fit!"

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Puppy Class

Tonight I took some pictures at Honeydew's puppy class.  Next week we get to go on a social with the club - an outdoor art-show.  The best news is that Honeydew should (knock on wood) get her official "puppy in training" jacket!  She did very good at class tonight.  She taught Glenn everything she knows.  :)

1)  First photo is of some of the puppy club members.  As you can see, there is a blind lady (Liz) and her guide partner (Azisis, not sure of spelling) that join us.  It is great to get her perspective on what it is like to rely on a guide dog - and why we are teaching the things we are teaching (e.g like, in photo 3, why they need to ignore pine cones and not pick them up).  The puppy to her left (with the gray pony-tail guy) is Louise...she has always been our favorite of the puppies (until The Dew came along, of course!).

2) Glenn doing the rounds with Honeydew.  I think she was giving me the stink-eye.  You can't see all of the dogs in the background because of the in-shade in-full-sun lighting (of course, Glenn's bro, photographer extraordinaire, would know how to correct for that, but I am clueless).  Honeydew used to run and try to grab the tail of the dog in front of her, but she is much better about that now.

3) "Ahh, Dad.  What do you mean I can't have the pine cone!"  Such torture for little Honeydew.  They kept tossing the pine cones in their path as they were walking, or while they were on a down/stay.  So tempting...but thats a no-no!  So instead, many of them - like miss Honeydew here, just made sure they looked really pathetic about the whole thing.

4) Glenn and Honeydew in line with a bunch of the other pups.  She sure is getting big!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

More Pictures

Photo 1:  Honeydew in puppy jail.  She doesn't like this thing - she prefers her darker, plastic, kennel.  But it works well for the times when she isn't in the mood to sleep, but you need her secured.  The other animals wander past and taunt her.  Pretty much pure hell in her book.  She is so abused.

Photo 2:  Bath time!  She does pretty good in the bath, even though she looks pathetic.  I imagine it won't be long before she will be so big that we won't believe she could once fit in the kitchen sink!

Photo 3:  We had some folks come in and do some testing of our house for a study on moisture levels (to help set some national standards...I think our home will likely be the "don't build it like this drafty old thing").  Anyhow, Ruben was determined to escape to the outside world, even if that meant going through the blower fan itself - he would stand in front of it...his hair all blown back and lips flapping in the breeze.  Our house leaks pretty bad - but it isn't the worst they have seen (apparently some guy in Syracuse has that honor).  They put sensors in our home for a year, then come back and get them - and give us free recommendations on how to improve our home (that ought to be quite the tome).  They are currently in the attic measuring insulation levels, etc.  The fun part was when they had to turn the heat on to test leaks in the duct work....ahh, already almost 90 degrees out and the heater on full blast.  Wonderful!!

Photo 4:  Bodine decided to help them with their study.  He actually climbed onto the laptop (one of his favorite things to do) and started one of the blower fan tests for them!  Apparently, once it is started, they can't stop it - it just has to run the full test.  All of the testers started running around the house trying to get things in order for the test because Bodine pre-maturely started it.  They said he has potential and they might hire him to help them test some houses up in Seattle. About time he earned his kibble!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

More Puppy Pics

I thought you would enjoy these pictures as well.  An action shot of her doing battle with Ruben -- I think he won, he always kicks my butt.  And, who can ever get enough sleeping puppy pictures?

More Honeydew!

A couple recent photos of Honeydew - hard to believe how big she has gotten!!  My how time flies!  We have already out-grown two crates, and I just had to order even bigger ones today.  Geesh.  

We just got home from our weekly class with the other new Guide Dogs for the Blind puppies - the big boy, Fortune, already weighs over 35 pounds...he is only 12-weeks old!  Honeydew is doing really well - better than the other pups in some instances -- like coming when she is called, pooping on command - it's the little things in life! 

But she is REALLY distracted and intense -- wanting to lunge and jump at the other puppies, balls, kids, garbage cans, pine cones, you name it.  She is generally pretty good at home and at work with us, but being in that puppy class is too much stimulus I think.  She loves to chase and try to bite the tails of the dogs walking in front of her in class -- ughh.  We have a lot of work to do in order to break her of this "distraction" thing.  So hard being a puppy - everything is new and exciting.

She still appears to be on track to get her official green "Guide Dog Puppy in Training" jacket in about 4-weeks.  She has to demonstrate various obedience skills before she gets it, and this distraction thing won't be acceptable.  Once she has the jacket she will be able to start going into public places with us (store, bank, coffee shop, bus).  Until then, she will keep going to work with Glenn and I when she can (just depends on our schedules - as we can't take her to off-site meetings yet, and we both tend to do that a lot during any given day).  

Photo 1:  Relaxing in the sun after some playtime.

Photo 2:  First roadie - a trip up the Gorge to Hood River to meet her Uncle Matt, Aunt Michelle and Cousin Tyler (who is spending the summer kiteboarding there -- ahhh, to be 16 again).