Monday, February 23, 2009

Sweet Petunia

I am excited to report that "Petunia" has successfully made it through the 10 phases of formal guide dog training...the last step before being matched with a blind partner.  

Petunia, as some may recall, was the sweet black lab pup Glenn and I had the pleasure of "practicing with" before Honeydew arrived.  She was about the same age that The Dew is now at the time.  She was amazing, and really helped us understand what life would be life with a guide dog pup at our side. That first trip to the grocery store with her was one of the most stressful things I have ever done -- Petunia was a champ, I was a complete bundle of nerves.

Of course, getting to this point doesn't guarantee anything.  She could still be career changed at any point (there was another pup from our club that got this far, but was then let go because she was too distracted with cats!).  Getting to level 10 is a fine accomplishment, and we are proud to have spent a few days with Ms. Petunia.  She certainly set the bar high for Honeydew.

The pictures are of Petunia when she was staying with us for a few days. 

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Day in the Life - Article

A recent newsletter from Guide Dogs for the Blind has a little description of what life is like for the pups when they go back for the formal guide work training (leading a blind partner, working in a harness, etc.).  If you are interested in what life will be like for Honeydew (knock on wood!), then you might enjoy the article.  You should be able to open it by clicking on the "newsletter" link above.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mall Rats

Tonight we had the puppy club social (monthly outings in public with the dogs).  This one was a bit of a race through a large mall - different stores were worth a certain amount of points (difficult stores because of small aisles, dark, smells, loud music got more points).  

Of course, Glenn and I despise malls.  We were talking about it, and we quite literally think that the last time we actually walked through a mall was over 10 years ago!  So, this was torture.  We couldn't believe all of the much perfume and fragrance that you could literally taste it! Yuck!  

Honeydew did a great job.  She got nervous near a fountain with fish, but we think it was because she was startled by her reflection in the glass by the pond.  Otherwise she did great.  Yay!

The pictures are from our adventure - 
1) The group gathering, 
2) Glenn and The Dew coming out of Victoria's Secret (haha!), 
3) Some pups in the glass elevator, 
4) Glenn in his own personal hell (not only is he at the mall, but he is surrounded by children in the play area!) - Honeydew looks like a devil dog
5) Honeydew greeting a stuffed puppy.  So cute.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Tug of War

Honeydew has been very bored today - spring fever I think.  So, we just had a smack down game of tug of war.  She was beating me for a while, but in the end I I always do.  :)  

She is now snoozing under the computer desk, no doubt dreaming of the day she beats me at this game!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Musical Chairs

Puppy Class tonight was entertaining.  Last week, when we did "off leash recalls" (dog on one side of the gym, you on the other, tell them to come) some of the people had to repeat themselves (say "come" more than once, which is a no-no) because they thought their dogs couldn't hear them.  So, this time the trainers brought a stereo, which they played really loud while we did the same exercise.  That will teach us to make excuses!

Somehow, this turned into playing Musical Chairs.  This was entertaining, because people sort of forgot about their dogs -- and while diving for the seats they would drag their dogs 20 feet across the gym floor.  The poor dogs were getting tangled in leashes, being pulled over and under chairs - it was total chaos.  Amazing what people will do when there is a little competition added into the mix. 

Honeydew and I finished about middle of the pack - we just don't seem to have that competitive spirit.  Plus, Honeydew is quite smitten with a gentleman that often comes to the meetings and has puppy-sat her in the past...his name is Thor.  Thor was there, so she wanted to go visit him rather than walk in circles around chairs for no apparent reason.

The picture is of me and The Dew before we got booted out of the game.  

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Sticky Feet

Tonight Honeydew and I had to attend Puppy Class by ourselves, as Glenn was out of town for work.  It was an interesting night - the dogs had to walk on various surfaces.  They walked over tarps, roof shingles, rugs, grates, wooden lattice, etc.  The best surfaces, however, were the runners of bubble-wrap.  It was funny to watch how the dogs responded to the noise and feeling of the bubbles popping.  Some dogs got nervous about it - others, like Honeydew, thought it was a blast.  I fear she thought it sounded like farts...which made her giggle...just like her dad [Glenn] giggles when he thinks about farts.  Uggh.  Two peas in a pod.

Of course, I also had to tell the group about our recent adventures with the dog bite.  It was sort of stressful, especially because there are other puppy club members that had their puppies transfered to other raisers in the same situation (and we got to keep Honeydew, WHEW!) - but everyone was nice about the whole thing and hopefully learned some important lessons vicariously through us.

The photos are of the dogs with all of the various "surfaces" they have to walk on laid out.  

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Feeling Better

I am happy to report that Honeydew is doing well with her injury.  (For those that haven't heard, last week Honeydew got bit by a strange dog in the lobby of my work building. At the time I didn't think there was an injury - no blood, she didn't act in pain - but it turns out the dog did get a piece of her and she ended up with an  abscess in her cheek from a puncture wound.  This required some minor surgery, a drain tube, stitches, antibiotics, etc.).  

While it annoys her, she has come to terms with her cone collar.  At first, when she ran into something with it, she would freeze and stand there confused.  Now, she just plows ahead!  It is best to get out of her way - because if she hits something she just pushes forward even harder.  She has scraped our kneecaps off more than once!  Emma and Tully (our other dogs) are being fairly forgiving of Honeydew's bumbling and wandering in the cone - and all 3 cats just keep clear of her.  Honeydew has become quite skilled at figuring out how to continue chewing on her toys - although sometimes the toys fall under the cone so she spends a few minutes trying to chew them through the cone.  Eventually she figures out what is going on and adjusts the cone so she can get to the goodies.  I have attached a couple of pictures of our little satellite dish dog and her toys.

She goes in tomorrow (Monday) to get the drain and stitches in her cheek taken out.  Guide Dogs has given me a series of activities I need to do with her at work next week in the area where the dog attack happened...lots of treats and kibble help make sure that she isn't traumatized by the incident and that she associates that part of the building with positive things (kibble and love) rather than negative things (where a stupid lady let her dog attacked her for no reason....erggg).  She is a brave heart and a fearless soul - lots of spunk - so I am not overly concerned that this incident has phased her in the least.  

Guide Dogs for the Blind will keep an eye on her moving forward to make sure that they don't think anything more needs to be done.  They may have her go with some of the professional trainers to do a more in depth evaluation.  Their main priority is to ensure that this incident doesn't cause Honeydew to become nervous or anxious around strange dogs - as that can cause a problem for her blind partner (e.g. shying away, loosing focus on her guide work when near a strange dog, being aggressive toward strange dogs, etc.).  Honeydew needs to remain confident in all situations - including those that require her to be in proximity to strange dogs.  I think she will be fine.  To date, she has been overly excited to see other dogs - so maybe this incident will tone that down a bit...but I won't hold my breath.