Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bad, Bad Dog!

Honeydew's in trouble!!  Bad dog.  Very bad dog.  

She stayed at home by herself yesterday, because both Glenn and I had meetings that prevented us from taking her to work with us.  Glenn came home in the middle of the day to check on her, and everything was fine.  But...when he got home from work, he discovered that she had shredded one of his work dress shirts.  To make matters worse, it was his second most favorite work shirt.  Bad dog!  She has really never done anything like this before.  

Of course, just the day before Glenn was given a "Most Valuable Player" award/certificate from a lady he works with for being the best dressed guy in his department.  He was wearing the shirt Honeydew destroyed on the day he got this award he had laminated so it could be preserved forever...and on display for all to see as he strutted his stuff around the office.  I think maybe Honeydew was just trying to keep him humble.  It's a hard job, but someone has to do it.

So, now, Honeydew won't be allowed to be alone in the house for long periods of time.  We will go back to giving her this privilege slowly.  Starting with only being alone in the kitchen (blocked off with doors and gates) where she can't get to anything to destroy.  The trainer also recommended getting a 'special toy' that she is allowed to have during those times when she is expected to be good.  Sort of a treat to make being alone less stressful.  In the end, I think we assumed she was ready to be left alone for longer than she could tolerate.  Time to dial it back and set her up for success instead of failure.  I guess, this weekend, we will have to go get Glenn some new duds so he can keep up his reputation as a fashion trend setter!

Friday, April 24, 2009


Awww...nothing like snoozing in the sun with a buddy.  Honeydew and her BFF Bodine, the kitty.

Friday Adventuring

It has been a crazy few weeks, so I took today off from work to relax.  Honeydew and I went on an adventure downtown - with the primary destination being the ceramics show.  She did a great job weaving through the crowds of people.  The best part was the look on everyone's faces when we entered the part of the show where all of the glass work was (fused and blown glass art) - clearly they were thinking "here comes a dog in a room full of breakable glass at nose level".  But, Honeydew was a champ and didn't break anything.  If anything, they honestly should have been more worried about me.  We also came upon an international fencing competition -- imagine a huge room full of hundreds of kids in fencing attire, whacking each other with swords (or "epees", isn't that what they are called?).  She was very confused by it all, but didn't shy away from the sudden movements and buzzers, and kids wearing big mesh masks on their heads.  The pictures are from our trek home.  We stopped to enjoy the sun in the grass - she promptly fell asleep.  We rode the train home - she fell asleep on that too.  Apparently, keeping me from breaking clay pots and glass sculptures took a lot out of her! 

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Today we attended a graduation ceremony for Guide Dogs.  It was a great experience.  6 dogs, with their new blind partners, graduated.  This was a class that went through a new trial program they are doing -- usually, there are 12 students and it takes 4 weeks, with 4 students per instructor.  They have tried this new system of 6 students, 2 weeks, 2 students per instructor.  They weren't sure how it would go - but it turns out that, at least with this group, it was very successful.

At the graduation, the puppy raisers (standing behind the seated graduates in the photo) walk the dog across the stage and present the dog to the blind partner (although, the blind partner had already been working with and bonding with the dog for several weeks).  The blind graduate talks, the puppy raisers talk, etc.  All very sweet and emotional.  

It is amazing to see how firmly bonded the dogs and their new blind partners are.  You can see that they have started to become a true team - even in just such a short time together.  Several of the blind graduates talked about how much they trusted their dog already -- truly, trusting the dog with their lives.  They were from all over the US and Canada.  Everyone from a highschool student about to go to college, a kindergarten teacher, and a competitive swimmer.  What adventures these dogs are about to embark upon!

Of course, we are nearing the time when Honeydew will head back to campus for her training.  I think today's adventure was a good way for us all to start getting in the right frame of mind for the next step in her journey.  As we walked around the campus, I could imagine her doing the same walk with her trainers, and eventually (knock on wood) her new blind partner.

Guide Dogs recently put out a new video - which I think is a great summary of the amazing things these dogs can do as part of a team with their blind partner (click link above).  The ladies in the video at about 3:00 minutes in have the BEST job...they volunteer to come and handle the baby puppies each day, so that they get used to having their feet, ears and mouths touched from day one.  They also brush the puppy's teeth.  How cool!  But, I'm a sucker for baby puppy breath.

Spring is here!

Some cute pictures of The Dew at the Guide Dogs campus.  We went for a hike around the campus (Boring, Oregon) with Sierra, one of the new pups in our club.  This was Sierra's first big walk - very exciting!

The "Observation Room"

Today we went out to the Guide Dogs campus (in Boring, OR) so they could evaluate Honeydew in the "Observation Room".  This was basically a room set up like a living room - complete with a couch, table, TV, kitchen counter, etc.  However, it was a VERY messy room, with all sorts of "appropriate" and "inappropriate" toys and materials laying all around.  For example, garbage cans full of tissues and yummy smelling food.  Socks, shoes, stuffed animals, etc.  We then all watched Honeydew in this room through a one-way mirror (we could see her, she couldn't see us).  It was fascinating to watch what she did when she thought she was alone.  At first, she was really excited and ran around the room picking up toys and bones, bringing them to the dog bed and chewing on them.  

Eventually, however, the novelty wore off and she suddenly realized she was in a strange room and didn't know where we had gone.  At that point she got a little stressed out and paced the room, whimpering now and then - showing no interest in the toys.  When she would sit quietly, I would go back into the room and reward her for calming herself down.  She would immediately pick up a toy to show off for me...and as soon as I walked back out of the room she would spit the toy out.  Very funny.  

A few things surprised us -- she got on the couch (ack!), she put her head in the garbage once (until the trainer lady banged on the door and told her not which point she gave the garbage can a wide berth in the future).  We were impressed that even when the trainer put a platter of food on the floor (Cheetos mixed with dog kibble - now that's Party Mix!), Honeydew smelled it, but seemed to understand that it wasn't ok for her to eat it without being told to do so.  She left it alone, even when she was alone in the room.  How many dogs would do that?  All in all, the trainers said that she did a good job, and that they were particularly impressed that for being such high energy dog she calmed herself down when she got stressed...and she didn't go after anything inappropriate (toilet paper, balls, stuffed toys, socks).  YAY!  Good job Honeydew!                                  

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Grocery Adventure

Tonight at puppy class we did an outing to the neighborhood grocery store.  It was fun being in a train of puppies out for a walk.  We had to climb the back steps of the store - which was very exciting for Honeydew because the garbage compactor was located below...and it smelled WONDERFUL (she thought).  We then had to take a whirl through the grocery store.  Honeydew is a pro at this...she has out-grown her desire to smell everything on the shelves.  There was a wild rumor of "spilled coffee beans on aisle 2", (a good test to see if she would try to eat stuff off the floor) but when we arrived they were gone. Honeydew got off easy.

Letter of Thanks

Below is the text from a recent Letter to the Editor of our local paper (The Oregonian).  I don't know if it will be published (I don't read the paper), but I thought you might enjoy reading it here.  Bryson, the Guide Dog in the letter, was actually raised in our Puppy Club.  Go Team!

As we get closer to the time when our dear little Honeydew heads off to puppy training "college", it is a nice reminder that we are doing this for the right reasons.

April 7, 2009 

Terrence L. Blosser, Pataskala, OH

Letter to the Editor The Oregonian

To Whom It May Concern:

As a recent Guide Dog for the Blind graduate  I want to take a moment and share a reflection of my experience with all of you.

I was accepted for the Guide Dog for the Blind program.  I arrived in Portland on March 9th, 2009.  From there, I went to the Guide Dog for the Blind campus in Boring.  I stayed there until graduation and flew home on April 5th, 2009.

 I was matched up with my new guide dog, Bryson, a yellow Labrador Retriever.  He and I trained, as a team, throughout parts of downtown Gresham, the suburbs of Gresham, downtown Portland, the suburbs of Fairview, at the Clackamas Town Center Mall as well as a few other sites.

I could not have asked for a better environment for training.  All of the people that we encountered were absolutely wonderful.  They were very understanding and compassionate people.  I truly feel that we could not have asked for a better place to receive training.

While there, it became very obvious to me that the people there also are very proud and supportive of Guide Dog for the Blind (GDB).  Many volunteer at the GDB campus, many are puppy raisers and many make financial contributions to Guide Dog for the Blind.  I was truly humbled to learn all of the generosity exhibited by the Oregonian people.

At my graduation, a young girl talked about raising money for GDB by donating all of the proceeds from her lemonade stand.  A Brownie troop raised funds from their Girl Scout cookie sale.  A Girl Scout troop also raised money for the program. 

In closing, I say: To all of the people and merchants in Gresham, Portland and the surrounding areas, I want to say “Thank You” for being understanding, compassionate and warm towards us Guide Dog for the Blind students.  Words alone cannot express gratitude that I feel.  I will always remember my stay there with fondness and appreciation of the people of Oregon.

To all of the volunteers, staff, instructors at Guide Dog for the Blind, I thank you all for a pleasant experience.  Everyone was understanding and very professional.  Bryson and I have bonded very well.  I look forward to a nice journey with Bryson at my side.

If anyone is interested in helping this wonderful organization, please go to their website;


Terrence L. Blosser

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Get Well Grandma!

This week, Honeydew had the difficult job of supervising Glenn while I was out of town (I was at my parent's house in Bend while my mom had knee surgery).  They even had to go to puppy class without me!  (which I hear involved "role playing", one of Glenn's most favorite activities! Haha, not.)  It appears Honeydew did a good job, as all of the critters, including Glenn, were happy and healthy upon my return.  I sure did miss them.

Honeydew had an exciting adventure while I was away - she went to the open house for a new Guide Dogs for the Blind office located in downtown Portland.  Honeydew went with another member of our puppy club.  The event was very crowded and there were a lot of other guide dog puppies there.  It sounds like she had a blast and was relatively well behaved.  Whew.  Always stressful when someone else takes her...wondering if they are going to think "my goodness, your dog is completely out of control."  Glenn said Honeydew came home, ate dinner, and then immediately passed out on her bed for the rest of the night.

Honeydew hopes her Grandma to feels better soon...and thanks her for the juice bottle, she is enjoying it immensely.

Lastly, you might enjoy this adorable video of a very sleepy Guide Dog puppy!