Sunday, June 27, 2010

GDB trains service dogs and creates friendships!

Reyna and I, Glenda and Wendy and Stephanie and Pete standing in front of the W Tree.

One of the most rewarding things about being involved with an organization like Guide Dogs for The Blind is the friendships it creates. My newest friendships are inspired by a mutual love for “Wendy”, the last GDB pup I raised.

A photo of Wendy in harness with fall leaves in the background.

As some of you may know, Wendy’s handler, Glenda and I have become very close friends. We like each other so much we actually get together every week! After Wendy graduated, I sent Stephanie, Wendy’s trainer, whom I did not know at the time, a slideshow that was a tribute to the work she did with Wendy. Click here to view the photostory I sent to her. I created this as a thank you for all of her hard work, and I honestly did not expect a response. But to my surprise, I received the following email.


I can’t express enough in words how deeply appreciative I am of your sincere ‘Thanks’ and for taking the time to put together the video. Wendy is so photogenic. I was surprised and happy to see the photos from working her around the obstacle course at graduation. As you can tell, I kind of like Wendy :) Well, I like all my dogs, but she was so cute with that extra ear flap causing her left ear to hang heavier.

I would love to meet Glenda and please, pass my e-mail address on to her.

I hope you have a happy holiday and a good New Year.

Take care,


And just like that, two new friendships were formed. Stephanie, Glenda, “Wendy” and I have gotten together on many occasions. But it is really our love for Wendy that has brought forth our new friendships. Many times I also bring Reyna with me when I go visit with them, and Reyna and Wendy have become best friends. They really love spending time together, and it is hard to pull them apart. Well, Reyna really loves Glenda too, so it makes it really hard to convince Reyna when we need to leave :(

Our latest adventure together was this past weekend. We all went hiking together. Glenda had Wendy of course, I brought Reyna and Stephanie the trainer brought her dog Pete. We hiked along a creek bed with water falls. Glenda and Wendy were way out in front of us, leading the way. It is hard to keep up with those two. Eventually, we made it down to the water and we let the dogs play in the water to cool off. The path way down to the water was not exactly easy, and it really wasn’t good for a blind person and a guide dog. But of course, that didn’t stop Glenda and Wendy. On the way down to the water there was a big drop off which was hard to navigate, and then there where rocks every where that created a very difficult surface to walk on. Good thing Stephanie the trainer was there to help Glenda down to the water. I just kept thinking to myself, if Glenda got hurt her husband would never let me take her anywhere again! But thankfully, both Glenda and Wendy made it safely!

Reyna walking in the water checking out a twig.

When we got down to the water, Reyna was instantly fascinated by a twig that was in the water. She tried picking it up a few times, but she decided it was not her thing. So what was her thing?

Stephanie, Pete and Reyna at the creek.  Reyna is out in the water splashing and digging at the rocks on the bottom of the creek bed.

Well, believe it or not, it was digging for rocks! Reyna was absolutely fascinated with all of the rocks on the bottom of the creek bed. She was just overwhelmed with all of the choices she had. She would dig and dig at them and look all around until she found the perfect rock. Then she would pick it up and hold it in her mouth!

Reyna standing perfectly still in the water looking down through the water to find the perfect rock.

Wendy, Pete and Reyna all playing the the creek together!

While Reyna searched for the perfect rocks, Wendy and Pete enjoyed playing fetch with sticks. They both enjoyed it when we would throw the stick up stream a bit and they would both rush over and see could get it first and bring it back to us.

A close up of Wendy splashing in the water.

Pete playing in the water!

Pete had one other fascination that had nothing to do with the water. Well, he is a cattle dog, and within a few feet from where we were there were free roaming cattle! I thought he did a great job containing himself. Yay Pete!

A Pete distraction!  A cow roaming free just a few feet from the creek where the dogs were playing.

We spent a long time at the waters edge as the dogs played. It was a nice way to take a little break from hiking and cool off a bit.

Wendy and Reyna hanging out in the creek together just cooling off.

Reyna doing a play bow in the water.  What fun!

After the hike we all went back to Glenda's and we hung out for a while. Then we decided to end the wonderful day with Margaritas (thanks, John) and Mexican food! I would like to thank Glenda and Stephanie for their wonderful friendships and GDB for making it all happen!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Guide dog pup or agility dog?

Reyna and Jesse after doing the agility course.  They are sitting in from of a jump with huge smiles on thier faces and their tongues hanging out of their mouth!

Yesterday, we went to my sisters house for a Father’s Day BBQ.   My sister has a dog named Jesse, who is an Australian Sheppard.  My niece, Sara, who is a little dog trainer in the making, has made a make shift agility course out of garden tools and other things in the yard.  She has trained her dog Jesse to run trough the course.  She really wanted to see if Reyna could do it, so I told her she could try it.  I thought it would be good for Reyna’s confidence. It took some time, but before long Sara had Reyna going over the jumps and running through the course.  The course started with a jump, then she had to run up the stairs of a slide and then run down the slide, jump over a few polls on the ground, then it ended with another jump.  At first, Reyna would go around the jumps, but eventually she got the idea from watching Jesse do it and from Sara encouraging her .  The photo above was taken after both the dogs completed the course.  Think they enjoyed it?

Here are a a couple of video clips I got as Sara was teaching Reyna how to do the obstacles.

Reyna makes new friends!

My niece Sara and Reyna in the dugout together at the softball game.

My niece, Sara’s softball team was in the championships, so we went to Napa to go watch her game. I also thought it would be a good experience for Reyna, since she has never been to a softball game. It was really hot that day, and there was little shade, but Reyna made herself comfortable by a complete stranger!!

Reyna snuggled up to her new friend she met at the game.  Reyna is sitting as close as she can to the womans chair, the the lady has her arm around Reyna.

Believe it or not, Reyna has never meet the person in this picture with her. But Reyna quickly made friends with her, and wormed her way right into this woman’s heart. After a while, Reyna laid down next to this woman and she was the happiest dog in the world. Look at the grin on her face in the picture below. She is sure a happy dog!

Reyna laying down on the ground at the softball game.  She is looking up at the camera with a HUGE smile on her face.

Sara’s team won their first game, so we wanted to stay for the second game, which was the championship game. There was about 30 minutes between games, so we went over to see Sara, and Reyna went into the dugout and made friends with the entire softball team!

Sara is holding Reyna in the dugout while Reyna meets two of Sara's teamates.

Two of Sara's teamates gentle pet Reyna on her face.

Reyna was great and she allowed all of girls to pet her. I think Reyna thought she had died and went to heaven. She got so much attention from all of the girls. Reyna was good about letting everyone greet her, and she didn’t jump on anyone. She was also good because she didn’t lick anyone who was petting her. Reyna kind of just laid there and soaked up the love!

Reyna is laying on the ground as three teamates pet Reyna.  One of the girls has her hand over Reyna's nose, and Reyna is not licking her.  Good girl, Reyna!

Sara, Reyna and one of Sara's teamates. Reyna is resting her head in one of Sara's teamates lap.

The girl who Reyna is resting her head on told me she wants to be a Veterinarian. Reyna must of been able to tell she really loved dogs, because she wouldn’t take her head out of this girls lap. Of course, the girl was just loving it, and above is a photo of my niece Sara, with the girl and Reyna. Look at how content Reyna’s face is.

Sara holding Reyna in the dugout while they visit with some friends.

I really like these next few pictures. You can tell how much Reyna and Sara love each other. What sweet interactions!

A very sweet picture of Sara giving Reyna a hug and a kiss.

Reyna rolled on her back while Sara and Reyna are face to face with each other.

Reyna and Sara sitting in the dugout together.

Amongst all of the fun, we did have an opportunity to work on some food avoidance training. In the photo below, Reyna demonstrates self restraint as Sara eats a pretzel in front of her. The funny thing is that Sara dropped this pretzel on the ground and salt went flying everywhere and the pretzel landed right on Reyna’s head! I am sure you are wondering if Reyna devoured the pretzel. Well, I am happy to report that she did not! When it happened, she looked up at me like “Oh Mom, what do I do now?” I told her what a good girl she was, and she just sat there starting at what was left of the pretzel.

Reyna in a sit starring at Sara's pretzel.

The great news is that Sara’s team won the championship game, and below is a photo of Reyna and Sara with her trophy. Look at the smile on Reyna’s face!

After the game, Sara and Reyna together as Sara holds up her trophy and Reyna is grinning from ear to ear!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Best friends :)

Wendy in harness and Reyna in her puppy coat.  They are both sitting right next to each other in the back of my car! Too cute.

Wendy and Reyna

Reyna goes to work!

Yesterday, I took Reyna to work with me. I am a Dental Practice Management Consultant, so I go to various dental offices every day. Reyna does great going from office to office with me. It is really good for her because she has to adapt to what ever situations we are faced with. Since I am not an employee of these offices, I do not have my own desk, and Reyna does not have a designated “spot” like most puppies in training do. I run staff meetings and trainings most of the time, so Reyna has to just find a place on the floor and curl up and go to sleep while I work. Take a look.

Reyna at work curled up on the floor in the tighest ball.  She is sound asleep while I work.

A post from Judi!

Reyna on the Pier in a sit, looking up at the camera.

A few weeks ago, I took Reyna to San Francisco. We went to Pier 39 first and it was so crowded it was hard to maneuver. Reyna got a little stressed with all the people walking so close to her, but she never stopped walking. Once we got out by the sea lions she could hear them but couldn't see them. They were barking and she didn't know where it was coming from, plus there was a really large boat warming up its engine to take off. When we finally got close, she was a little reluctant because of all the different noises and people crushed around, but once she could see things and put a visual to the noises she was just fine. We kept praising her and telling her how good she was doing. She really enjoyed watching the sea lions!

James and Reyna looking over the edge of the pier at the Sea Lions.

Reyna and James looking down at the Sea Lions from the Pier.

We then walked out by the water and we just stood there and enjoyed the view and let her relax. We then walked back on to the pier and she stood next to the big merry go round while Mia and Darcie rode on it. She was great.

James and Reyna standing in front of the Merry-go-round!

But this is really interesting, she would refuse to get ahead of Mia in her stroller, it was almost like she was protecting her. If we got behind or ahead she would speed up or just wait for Darcie to catch up. Reyna was always touching Mia with her nose just to make sure she was okay. We had lunch and she was great...and then went to the Aquarium. It was soooo crowded but she was just wonderful! She was so relaxed and she just laid down and looked up at the fish.

James and Reyna in the Aquarium standing in front of a tank of fish.

Judi at the Aqurium showing Reyna the fish.

On the last level there were touching exhibits. James was walking her from place to place and I made a trip to the restroom because he wanted to keep her. On my way literally fighting my way through the gift shop, I almost tripped over a working guide. I touched his arm and said hello, but he was very shy Indian man. He was there with his family and he said he had his guide for about two years. I think he said her name was Evelyn. By the time we got back with Reyna, he was gone. I looked outside but couldn't find them. Anyway, we went on down to Fisherman's Wharf and a stop to look at the submarine and liberty ship.

James and Reyna look out at the water from the Pier.

After that we started heading back to the car. Over all, most people were respectful of her working and just looked, but other people did not understand. One Chinese man would not stop "clicking' his tongue at her while we were eating, even though I told his English speaking daughter she was a working dog. Anyway, Reyna was a very pooped puppy last night. Oh and we had no relieving or surface issues :) We wanted to get on the streetcar but they were so jammed I thought it would be a very bad experience for her, so maybe something to be done on a weekday. All in all I think our trip was a huge success!