Sunday, December 27, 2009

Band of Brothers

Honeydew just spent the holidays at our family's house in Bend, Oregon. This place is like Disneyland for dogs. In addition to having lots of acreage to run, squirrels to chase and deer poop to eat...she gets to run with a pack of big male dogs (her favorite, being the big American bulldog named Tony). I think she likes trying to show these boys who's boss. The pictures are from a walk we took yesterday - through a winter wonderland!

In the group photo you can see the pack (click photo to enlarge), "Honeydew's Band of Brothers"...from left to right: Tony (American Bulldog), Larry (Boxer), Cooper (Border Collie), Mackenzie (Golden Retriever), Fosters (Australian Sheppard), and then finally Miss Honeydew (well, her rear end anyhow).

Look At Me!

Today there was an article in The Oregonian (click the link) about the doggie day care place that we take Honeydew. A fellow Guide Dog puppy raiser emailed us about the article -- because Honeydew is mentioned.

I couldn't imagine why they would have written about Honeydew - I mean, there are probably over 20-30 other dogs there at any given time. Why notice Honeydew?

Well - I think the description of her in the article says it all! The need to be the center of attention! How embarrassing! At least it is confirmation that she does indeed have an absolute ball when she goes to day care. No wonder she comes home so tired and has to sleep for two days to recover!

In case the link above doesn't work - here is what the article said about our little girl:

"Honey Dew, a compact yellow lab, doesn't mind being second-best, as long as she can be the center of attention. No wonder she's spinning madly and yip-yapping among the two or three larger retrievers who give chase until their target throws herself onto the ground, paws in the air and chest exposed for playful whacks and nips. "

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Honeydew Sausage!

Today, Honeydew experienced every lab's dream.

While we were at work she somehow got into her dog food container. She ate, and ate, and ate - until she quite literally couldn't fit another kibble down her gullet. Which, for a lab, is a lot!

She is currently walking around the house like a little stuffed sausage! It is really more of a waddle. Normally she has a nicely defined waist - but not anymore! In the picture you can see that she can't get her back leg all the way down to the ground because her belly is in the way!

Don't let her fool you with this pose - she isn't as miserable as she looks in the picture. Actually, she is quite smug and has a bit of a smirk on her face.

We will keep a close eye on her to make sure she doesn't have any medical problems - but I am guessing she is just going to feel like most of us will in a few weeks after Thanksgiving dinner!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Doggie Day Care!

We tried a new experience today - Doggie Day Care. I tried taking the Dew to a dog park the other day, but she is so intense and her energy level so high that she got the whole pack at the park worked up. I decided that day care might be a better, more controlled option.

Based on a friend's recommendation - I took her to a place not too far from downtown, which will work well in the future since I work near there. Honeydew had to pass an evaluation - and she did fine.

They then let her into the large yard with all of the other dogs (I am guessing there were 40 dogs in there). She immediately went running around the yard at full speed - a total spaz. She finally calmed down and spent the next 20-minutes smelling every square inch of the enclosure.

I came home to see if I could find her on the web cam feed they have -- I can catch little glimpses of her only now and again because she is always on the move. Just a few minutes ago - on the web cam - I could see the all of the dogs running in big circles, followed by staff trying to calm them down...only to realize that the chaos was being caused by none other than our little Dew, who had convinced the other dogs to chase her wildly around the yard. How embarrassing. Hopefully, she doesn't get kicked out!

Pictures are of her when she first entered the yard.

P.S. I am happy to report that Honeydew officially had a blast and was invited to return. They said Honeydew seems to think that doggie day care is the best invention ever, and that during the entire 4-hours she was there, they only saw her sit once - and then that was only for about 30 seconds. They said she ran and played the entire time. It must be true, because she immediately feel asleep as soon as she got in the car to go home.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sniff-Sniff...Where's the cheese?

Today we tried out a new job for Honeydew - "Tracking" (think search and rescue, without someone's life on the line). We took an all day tracking workshop. It was a blast!

I had no idea that dogs could just do this, almost without any training. An absolute "plug and play" adventure. In early training you use tools to help both you and the dog be successful (putting out flags to mark the track for the human, and dragging raw chicken on the ground to mark the track for the pup).

Honeydew instantly knew what to do - I could hardly keep up with her she was so intent on the track. Even if we had to wait for a while for our turn - which meant that the scent spread over a wider swath of path - she still worked it well...nose to the ground, weaving back and forth, back and forth over the scent trail as we wound our way to the end point (which was usually a leather glove with string cheese inside - oh the excitement!).

I think that Honeydew loved it most of all because she got to do three things that were always against the rules as a Guide Dog puppy....she was allowed to smell the ground and follow her nose (instead of following me, at my side), she got to pull hard on the leash (pulling in the harness when she has the scent is encouraged) and she got to eat string cheese she found on the ground. She definitely thought that "being bad never felt so good!"

In the pictures you can see Honeydew and I giving this tracking stuff a try (small specs out in the field), my view of Honeydew's butt - which is what I was looking at most of the day, and Honeydew patiently waiting her turn. She was really into this and could hardly contain her excitement while waiting for the other dogs to finish the track. "Can that pomeranian puhleeze get a move on? What is taking her so long? Is it my turn next?"

I think we found a good "job", at least for the weekends.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Dew's Arch-Nemesis

The Dew has met her match in the "cute puppy" department - her arch-nemesis of adorableness. I don't think she knows what to make of the whole situation - this little creature is taking attention away from her!

This weekend we are puppy-sitting an adorable little 10-week old Goldendoodle puppy. He isn't a Guide Dog puppy - he is a mix between a Golden Retriever and a Standard Poodle.

"Dakota Cooper North" is his name, and he is an adorable ball of fuzz. He wasn't sure what to make of Honeydew at first - but once she started spinning in crazy butt-circles (see picture), he decided she was pretty fun.

Honeydew, on the other hand, is pretty sure that he shouldn't be allowed to chew on her bones - and she sits looking longingly at whatever he is chewing on waiting for her chance to steal it away (grass is always greener, I guess).

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Dog's Life

Today I took Honeydew over to Bend (OR) to visit my family. My brother and his wife have 5 large, male dogs. I wasn't sure what to expect - having never been around Honeydew playing with other dogs (we didn't let her do that as a puppy because she was so dog distracted).

Honeydew hit it off with their newest edition - a big American Bulldog named Tony (see the pictures). She played and played and played with him. Chase, tug, wrestling. It was very cute. Needless to say, she snoozed the entire drive back to Portland.

I think she thinks being a 'normal dog' isn't half bad.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Home Again!

We got the call today that Honeydew was being "career changed" - which means she won't be a Guide Dog for the Blind after-all. She did a great job, and made it through the various phases of training, but in the end it wasn't meant to be.

The pictures above are from our trip to get her today, including Glenn and I picking her up on the Guide Dogs campus, her sleeping in the car on the way home and checking out the house upon her return. She looks the same - still small and skinny, with long legs. She is very alert and definitely has more focus -- but is still the same goofy girl we knew before.

About a month before she was recalled, she began being nervous around unfamiliar men. We can't think of an incident that may have precipitated this behavior - it just came on gradually, and very inconsistently (e.g. sometimes she was just fine with unfamiliar men, other times she got anxious). It really only happened a few times - but was noticeable enough that we included it in our puppy write-up when we dropped her off for training. It seems that this behavior persisted and the professional trainers weren't able to get her past it.

So, we went to pick her up today - and to bring her home to be our beloved pet. Certainly there was always that small part of us that, on any given day, hoped that we would get the call that she wasn't going to be a Guide Dog - we missed her so much. So, this news is bitter-sweet. We are so very proud of her, and so thankful to the great trainers and staff that did everything they could to help Honeydew be successful.

Honeydew appears to be settling back into life in the "home" quite quickly. She has already made the rounds of the house (nose to the floor), greeted the cats and dug out all of her old chew toys. We have her outfitted with a new collar and a new bed, and tomorrow we will get her tags and license, etc.

Next - we need to find her a new "job". She is such a busy pup, that we need to find something to burn off that mental energy. Maybe agility, or something like that - although that just brings up visions of me tripping over my own feet trying to keep up with her.

It would appear that this is the end of her journey as a Guide Dog pup, and the beginning of her new adventures as an offical Crim Critter. It has been such a fun ride. We definitely plan to raise another Guide Dog puppy in the future - but for now, we will relish this time with The Dew back in our home.

The summary of why she was career changed is below:

SUMMARY: Honeydew is an affectionate, intelligent, alert and active female Yellow Labrador. She is aware of and interested in all that exists in her environment. Honeydew bonded quickly to her primary instructor and loved the learning process, especially when it involved the clicker. She enjoyed every Guidework learning challenge presented to her and met each one head on. However she did have multiple reactions to unfamiliar men (and a few women) particularly in the kennels but also intermittently when on routes. Extensive exposures using high value food, mentor dogs and mentor people were done with employees on campus and people on the street. She improved with these individuals, but there was no carryover to unfamiliar people.

Honeydew was slow to adjust to the kennel, due to the frequent reactions when people strange to her entered the building. Her adjustment improved with the addition of a roommate. However if her primary instructor was not present when a strange man entered the building, she would often run outside barking and could not be coaxed back in until the stranger left.

It is due to the continued reactions to men which are not conducive to the Guide Dog lifestyle that Honeydew is being Career Changed at this time. This reactive behavior is consistent with comments noted in her puppy raising history.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Thema Sitting

We are puppy-sitting "Thema" for a couple of days. She is a very sweet pup - and looks so much like Honeydew. When Thema first joined our puppy club it was hard to tell them apart.

Turns out, Thema's mom was a black lab and her dad was a 'red' colored yellow lab -- just like Honeydew's parents were. Thema isn't as leggy and skinny as The Dew - but very similar otherwise.

Thema settled into our home almost immediately - and has made fast friends with the cats. Bodine is pretty fond of her (see the picture of them hanging out above) - she must remind him of his best buddy Honeydew too.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Phase Nine!

Yay for The Dew. She keeps moving along through her training phases. Only one phase left...can you believe it?!

In Phase Nine, she is continuing to practice everything she has been learning (see earlier posts). She gets to do more relaxing residential routes with less difficult and more straight-forward work for confidence building. She is also doing advanced (more difficult) work that require higher level decision-making.

She is "almost Class Ready", which means that she is almost ready to get paired with her blind partner and begin training with them. In preparation for this, she is working with unfamiliar and novice handlers.

She is working with her instructors under a blindfold in several traffic situations. She is also still working on riding escalators, walking in sidewalkless areas, train/rail platforms, blocked paths, overhead obstacles and socialization.

Phase Ten, here we come!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Phase Eight!

Honeydew is plugging right along. She is now is Phase Eight! In this phase she continues working on what she has been learning to do...but everything gets more advanced. She is particularly focusing on sidewalkless routes - for example, maintaining a travel line to the extreme left of the roadway (facing oncoming traffic), working around obstacles on the roadway and immediately returning to the left edge of the road.

She is also learning to avoid the drop off of subway and rail platforms and riding on the light rail (she is a pro at this!). She is also learning to ride on an escalator - acquiring a safe stance, exiting safely, etc. She is always doing a lot of work in malls and stores (slower pace, elevators, multiple stairways, floor colors/textures, patience in shopping situations and intensive food avoidance situations - like the food court).

I keep watching for her when I am downtown - but I haven't seen her out training yet. I bet she is super cute riding on a escalator! We are so proud of her. Two more phases to go Dew!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Dorena Sitting

This weekend we "puppy sat" Dorena. Glenn - who always has to give everyone a nickname - is calling her "Heavy D". She is a great pup. Always amazes me how different the personalities are. She settled in right away with the other dogs and cats - although, she LOVES to try to get the cats to play with her. She is just sure those hisses and swipes are an invitation to play. She is going to work with me today - and we are going to ride the new section of the light rail train which drops off just a few blocks from my work. Very exciting!

One of Glenn's work friends said that he is pretty sure he saw Honeydew in downtown Portland training the other day. Oh, to see her in action - that would be a treat.

Above is a picture of Dorena. She has the most amazing "cat eyes", they literally glow almost a honey topaz color in the sun. The other picture is of Honeydew meeting Dorena when she was a new baby - all dressed up for Halloween.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Phase Seven!

Oh my - The Dew is now in Phase Seven of her training. Only three more phases to go. I am totally blown away and excited. What a good girl! Who would of thought she would still be hanging in there.

She is currently working on obedience and distraction training in various environments and with new handlers. She is also doing advanced guidework training (yahoo!) in downtown urban areas - learning to negotiate difficult crossings, curb approach challenges and pedestrian islands.

I should start keeping an eye out for her when I am going to meetings downtown, maybe she will be out training. Of course, if I see her I can't let her see me - which would be sad - but boy it would be fun to hide behind a bush and watch her in action.

She is learning to keep her handler safe around traffic - even learning to back up when a vehicle gets too close. She is learning to make "emergency decisions" with traffic problems in order to keep her team safe. She is also learning how to inform her handler of objects that are totally blocking the travel path and then working out a route to go safely around them. She is also being trained to look up (above her head) for obstacles. Certainly don't want her walking her handler into a low hanging tree branch!

Keep up the good work Honeydew, we are so very proud of you!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hunk a hunk a burnin' love!

As some may know...I have always had a big weakness for firemen...and if they are in a big red ladder truck (the type with a driver in the front and the back), then I absolutely swoon. So embarrassing! So, tonight, I was very excited that puppy class was going to be held at a local fire station! Hubba hubba!

It ended up being a great experience for the pups - they blew the air horn and ran the sirens. They even had a guy (probably the poor rookie) get dressed out in all of the gear so the pups could meet him. They also introduced the dogs to a medical transport gurney. All in hopes that the dogs will have seen and heard this emergency equipment before if and when their blind partner needs assistance or is caught in a fire.

I could have stayed there all night...but Glenn finally dragged me back home.

In the pictures:
1) Puppies learning about fire engines and fire fighters.
2) Pups listening to the sirens. Click on this for a closer view - my favorite picture of the night. All the pups have that cocked head - "Hey, what's that noise" look. Of course, unlike normal dogs - they aren't allowed to vocalize in response to the sound.
3) Another pup intently listening to the siren sounds.
4) Dorena greeting the fully dressed fireman. Funny how excited the pups were to great him - even though his gear smelled strongly of smoke and his voice was strange because he had the oxygen mask on.
5) Dogs investigating the gurney. Several of them slobbered on it - and one tried to jump up on it to go for a ride.

Phase Five!

Honeydew is now in Phase Five. Good for her! We are so proud of her. In this Phase, she is being tested for consistent responses to "Sit", "Down", "Heel", "Come" and "Stay." She is also exposed to heavy distractions (food, other dogs, toys) where she has to stay focused and respond to commands. This is the stuff that I think is likely the hardest for her - because she has always been so very interested in everything else that is going on around her, from other dogs to leaves blowing in the wind! She also has to refuse food when it is offered (e.g. someone trying to hand feed her a hot dog).

She is also now entering the formal harness training. This means she has full freedom to make decisions and some mistakes to normal guidework responses (e.g. stopping at streets, crossing streets in a straight line, moving forward at a constant pace, turning 90 degrees with command "left" or "right", etc.).

She also starts working with the instructor under a blindfold on urban/suburban street route (for distances of about 14 blocks). During these training exercises she has to understand the skills she needs to use to keep her handler safe, and she has to do obedience drills when distractions are present (e.g. a fun puppy across the street).

She does more challenging obstacle courses where she has to lead her handling through difficult obstacles, requiring her to develop problem solving skills and Intelligent Disobedience (which means, refusing to follow a command like "forward" if it isn't safe to do so). Amazing.

She also gets a lot more love and attention. They focus on providing extra relaxing time for the dogs during this progressively more stressful learning stage of formal guide dog training. She gets to play with other dogs, get groomed, play with her handlers and technicians, spend time hanging out at the desks of staff and relaxing walks through the gorgeous and forested campus. Good times Dew, good times!

We are thrilled that she is, technically, half-way to the finish line. BUT - so much can happen between now and Phase Ten, and each phase from here gets progressively more and more difficult to master. Good luck little miss Honeydew - we are all pulling for you!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Phase Three!

Well, Ms. Honeydew has made it to Phase Three (of Ten) in her training. Yahoo!

What happens in Phase Three?
  • Obedience and distraction training. In addition to learning to be spot on with 'sit', 'down' and 'stay'...she is learning to 'heel' and to put herself in a 'heel' position while the handler is moving (this is so that the dog always goes to the right spot and faces the right direction so the dog doesn't disorient the blind handler).
  • Getting used to wearing and working in the harness (I bet she looks so cute in the harness!).
  • "Pattern Training" - which means using very positive training that gets the dog used to doing guide work mechanics, but without making errors or corrections. All of the training is very upbeat and positive. Through this, she will start learning to stop at streets (regardless of curb type), clearing the handler on all sides (e.g. making sure the handler walks around/past obstacles to the side or overhead), moving forward at a consistent pace, etc.
  • Obstacle course practice (eventually, she will have to lead a blindfolded instructor through the course).
  • Learning to jump in/out of the transport van crates, riding comfortably in the crates.
  • Learning to avoid or refuse food on the ground or offered by others.
  • And, of course, lots of playing, socializing and going for walks with the handlers.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


We are puppy-sitting "Futura" for about a week. She is a sweet ~8 month old Guide Dog puppy (the first photo above is from when we first met Futura, when she was 8 weeks cute!).

Futura is very calm - such a departure from Ms. Honeydew. She took to Glenn immediately - wants to be next to him all the time. Apparently, I'll do in a pinch...but Glenn is the cat's meow. She has met Ruben (the evil black cat - see the picture above) and did great with him. I believe this is the first time she has stayed at a place with cats. Later today we will introduce her to the other cats and the dogs. She will go to work with us this week. It is nice having a pup in the house again.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Phase One

Every couple of weeks we get a "Phase Report" from Guide Dogs that lists all of the dogs that are currently in formal training (it is about 10 pages long with about 160 dogs on it!!). Yesterday we got the first one with Ms. Honeydew listed. She is in Phase One - which means that she is getting checked out by the vets, going for walks, getting used to kennel life, etc. She gets to go on campus walks and have play sessions with the instructor assistants, along with daily grooming. Sort of like being on vacation, if you ask me.

I am working on hunting down the names of Honeydew's litter mates so that I can track their progress as well. There is one named Harvard, he too is Phase One...and another named Hayward in Phase 5. I am pretty sure they are her brothers. We have met two other brothers - Hector and Heath. I don't see them on the list. Keep your fingers crossed that she makes it through Phase Two - which is where they do "dog distractions", oh my. That is going to be so hard for her.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Moving On

Tonight was our first puppy club meeting without The Dew - we met in a local park. A great place to gather on such a beautiful summer day.

It wasn't as hard as I thought, being at the meeting without Honeydew. It helped to be surrounded by the other pups and supportive raisers. Apparently, the invite to the meeting only went out to the yellow labs, not the black labs (see picture above)! The black labs must have been holding their own meeting in another park.

Another puppy from our club, Louise, was matched with her blind partner today. So exciting! A lot can change while she is in this last phase of training - we will keep our fingers crossed for her. Louise was only about 9 weeks old when we started going to puppy club meetings - and I was pretty sure she was the cutest puppy I had ever seen in my life! So sweet.

No word yet on how Ms. Honeydew is settling in - but she is a spitfire and I am sure she is giving the Guide Dogs staff a run for their money. Next week we will be watching a Guide Dog puppy named Futura (I think she is about 6 months old) - so we will get our puppy fix soon. Until then, our other dogs (Emma and Tully) and 2 of the 3 cats (one of them is pure evil) are getting lots of extra love and attention.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Good Luck Dew!

Honeydew is at her new home now.  We dropped her off earlier this morning.  It was easier than I expected, mostly because Honeydew was so happy and excited to be there.  When we first walked in the door, Honeydew was immediately greeted by a huge white/brown cat named "Chester."  Chester came right up and started rubbing up against Honeydew - and Honeydew gave Chester ear kisses (one of her favorite things to do with our cat Bodine).   So many new smells, and dogs and toys.  She was so elated that every muscle was tensed - causing her toenails to make scratching noises on the concrete as she literally vibrated with excitement.

We got her settled in her new kennel, where she ran around in excited circles smelling all sorts of wonderful things.  She has lots of puppy friends in the other kennels.  This week the vets will do physical exams to make sure she is healthy - and if all goes well, she will get a kennel buddy (a male) as a roommate.  Just like the dorms at college (well, except my dorms were never co-ed).  They brought her a couple of bones/toys...and she was so excited that she chased and tossed them all over her kennel.  As you can see from the picture above...they have no shortage of toys to play with (pic is of various toys/bones stacked on a table)!

Of course, I cried in the parking lot afterward....excited for her, but sad for us.  Her absence will certainly leave a big hole in our family.  Goodbye and good luck, little miss Honeydew...until we meet again.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

An End, and A Beginning

Tomorrow is the big about 12-hours Honeydew will be off on the next phase of her journey. Glenn and I are actually really excited for Honeydew, and we know she is going to have a blast. If she is meant to be a Guide Dog, then so it will be - and we will be so proud.

We spent the afternoon out at the Guide Dogs campus. We attended a ceremony where three dogs from our puppy club graduated with their new blind partners. The pictures from the ceremony didn't turn out very good (horrible lighting), but pictured, from the left...Leo (black lab male, who loved to eat everything...tissues, his leash, his collar), Clea (yellow lab female, she was a bumble-bee for halloween), and Cruz (yellow lab male, who was darn near perfect because his raiser is our puppy club leader). There were a total of six blind people from all over graduating -- California, Florida, Texas, Connecticut and even British Columbia.

After the ceremony, Glenn and I (and Honeydew) took a tour of the campus. While we had been out there several times, we have never gone for a formal tour. I think it was good for Honeydew to get the lay of the land before it becomes her new home tomorrow. My favorite part of the tour was walking past the kennels...and seeing little yellow and black lab heads pop up above the kennel walls to see who was walking by. Up, down, up, down. It looked like that "whac-a-mole" game with random puppy heads popping up and down all over the place.

In the second picture (above) is Clea's puppy raisers, Clea and her new blind partner - getting to know each other. It is up to the blind person if they choose to keep in contact with the puppy raisers. Some do. Some don't. Regardless, there is nothing but appreciation and gratitude on the part of the blind person toward the raisers, the trainers and all of the other volunteers and donors.

The last picture is of "Winslow". He is the newest addition to our puppy club. One nice thing about doing this - while you have to give them back when they get older...there is always an adorable little puppy waiting in the wings to give it a go.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

So Long, Farewell....

Well, this has been a week of bitter-sweet goodbyes for Honeydew. She has been making the rounds at both my work, as well as Glenn's. And, tonight was Honeydew's last puppy club class. She got to say goodbye to the trainers and her other guide dog puppy friends (which apparently requires the smelling of each other's butts). It was nice to talk to some of the more seasoned puppy raisers - to get their support and words of advice about what things will be like to drop her off on Sunday and wait anxiously for news of how she is doing.

Tonight's class was held at the child care center (long-term, 24 hour care) at a local hospital. Staff brought several of the children down - which was great for the kids and the dogs (I couldn't take any pictures though). Many of the kids were so visibly excited to see the dogs prancing around the room. One boy would almost float out of his wheelchair he was vibrating with so much excitement. It was great for the dogs to hear the vocalizations of some of the kids - and to be near the various sizes and styles of wheelchairs, and even wheeled beds. It was nice to hold the puppy class a location that served our needs, but also made the day for these kids and the hospital staff. Good times all around - and a nice way to finish off Honeydew's time with the puppy club.

Friday, July 3, 2009

A Big Girl Now!

Well, it's official. Honeydew goes "off to college" (recalled to Guide Dogs for formal training) on July 12. Today Honeydew and I are headed over to Bend so that she can give kisses and say farewell to all of her family in Bend, especially her 'grandma'.

We will drop her off around 10AM on the 12th. They give you a lot of time to say goodbye, and even let you help get her new kennel set up, hangout with her in the new kennel, meet the staff that will be taking care of her, etc. It is nice that they try to make it a positive experience, rather than just dropping her off at a door.

While I am certainly sad to be giving her back - I am also terribly excited for Honeydew. This is going to be such a fun adventure for her. She is a very busy dog - always interested in new people, places and experiences. So, going into the kennels with other pups (geesh, her head is going to explode she will be so excited) and learning new skills will be very fulfilling for her.

That same weekend (July 11) 3 dogs from our puppy club that have made it through the program and are now matched/training with their new blind partners will be graduating! We will definitely attend the graduation - not only because we know the dogs and want to support their raisers, but because it will be great reinforcement that giving Honeydew back the next day is worth it. Nothing more inspiring that seeing a blind person head off into the world with their new guide dog. Absolutely, positively, worth the sacrifice on my part.

Thought I would include some of Honeydew's baby amazing to remember how little and wiggly she used to be!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Portland Walking Tour

Today our puppy club did a walking tour of downtown Portland (with a guide).  It was think that I have lived in Portland for so long, yet learned and saw so many new things.  I realized that I tend to walk past amazing old building and artwork without even noticing it!  

All of the puppies did a great job - it was a long and hot adventure.  We walked all over town, into some old hotels, down along the river, on the floating walk-way, etc.   We were quite the sight - especially with 14 dogs touring through several fancy-pants hotels in downtown Portland, like the new (and very cool) The Nines, which is in a restored 100 year old building.  The tour took over 3 hours - we were all exhausted by the time it was over.

In the photos: Walking through Pioneer Square (Portland's "Living Room"); Taking a break along the waterfront; Honeydew watching the geese float by in the river; Taking another break near some funky artwork that makes noise; Walking across the Steel Bridge - lots of bikes and runners, so we had to hug the rail.