Thursday, September 30, 2010

Reyna's Progress!

Close up of Reyna's face when she was a puppy!
9/30/10 - Reyna - Phase 2

Monday, September 27, 2010

GDB Homecoming!

Morgan holding Vienna as she has her front paws on his shoulders and she gives him a big puppy kiss on the face.  Morgan is laughing.

This past weekend I went to GDB’s Homecoming with Glenda who has my third puppy Wendy. We also decided to take Vienna along at the last minute. I had to work on Friday, so we didn’t get to the Hotel in San Rafael until around 5:30pm or so. We checked in and before we even had our bags in our room the phone rings and it is Vickie Kennedy and all I hear on the other end of the line is “Aloha”! Yes, Vicki is from Hawaii and she has been a GDB board member for many years. She invites us to come have cocktails and cheese in her room. You just got to love her! Glenda, Wendy, Vienna and I finally made it down to Vickie’s room where we enjoyed a glass of red wine and a cheese plate and just visited together. Vickie’s puppy raiser Gayle (who is my good friend) was also there with us. It wasn’t long before Morgan Watkins and his puppy raiser Nona joined us as well as Susie Cherry who was later crown “Homecoming Queen” at the dinner. Fun! We all visited and chatted and Morgan wanted to hold Vienna. So here are few photos of Morgan and Vienna together!

Morgan holding Vienna in his lap with a huge smile on his face.  Vienna is smiling too. Morgan holds Vienna while he kisses her on the head. Vienna settles into Morgan's lap.

We all hung out together until about 7:45pm, then we went to dinner together. At dinner, a few others joined us. Barry Stone who produced the move “Sniff” and his wife Kim, as well as the star of the Sniff, guide dog “Mikey” and his handler. Paul Walker, GDB’s alumni board chair and his guide dog “Avanti” also joined us. Here is a photo of some of us at dinner.

Vickie Kennedy, Nona, Glenda Johnson, Morgan Watkins, Susie Cherry and myself at the table during dinner.Vienna did not come to dinner with us. I left her in the hotel room in her crate so she wouldn’t be too overwhelmed! When we arrived back in our room after dinner, Vienna was sleeping. Vienna did such a great job in the hotel room during our entire stay. Here are a few photos of Vienna our hotel room:

See, Vienna REALLY is an angel! Look at her halo. No Photoshop involved :)

Vienna chewing a sterile bone with the whites of her eyes showing as she looks up at me and there appears to be a halo of light over her head. Vienna sitting near the bed in the hotel room looking cute.And here is my all time favorite photo of Wendy from the entire weekend. I love, love, love how spoiled she is. She deserved it!

A close up of Wendy's face surrounded by covers as she lays on the bed. This is a picture of Vienna's first ride in the elevator. She was so good!

Vienna in a sit riding an elevator for the first time.  Such a big girl!

After Glenda and I chatted in bed for a while, we both fell asleep well after midnight. Room service called and woke us up at 6:45am asking us how we wanted our coffee! So we got up and went to relieve the dogs. No accidents! Yay Vienna. After we had our coffee we went down stairs to breakfast, and as we were looking for a place to sit I saw Lynda and Tamera. Tamera is the first puppy I raised and I have not seen Lynda or Tamera since their graduation three years ago. I walked over to Lynda and gave her a hug, but I did not greet Tamera because she was still working. At first I thought maybe Tamera forgot who I was because she was so serious and she didn’t not acknowledge me at all until……..Lynda took her harness off and handed me the leash! Wow…what a reunion we had. Tamera reacted the exact same way she did when I saw her at graduation. She was jumping in the air, slamming herself into me with excitement. She would not stop giving me kisses. Over and over and over again. She went so wild, that people around us commented on how crazy she was acting, and then someone (I don’t know who) told them I was her puppy raiser and we had not seen each other in years. The people stopped and one started crying saying it was the sweetest and most emotional thing they had ever seen. Pretty soon I had an audience watching of guide dog volunteers and guide dog users. One of the volunteers from GDB actually held Vienna for me while Tamera and I reunited. Eventually, I had to make Tamera calm down, because she was getting a little too nuts. She rolled over on her back and I laid on the floor and rubbed her tummy. After she settled, I was able to get a picture of her. Boy, did we really miss each other!

A close up photo of Tamera as she is smiling.After all of that excitement, I barely had time to eat before the panel discussions began. Glenda and I did manage to scarf down some breakfast though. I saw Megan and Pasta and Sarah and her pup at breakfast. The discussions lasted about three hours. Vienna was an angel in a room full of 80 guide dogs. She stayed right at my feet and did not fuss or make a sound. Everyone around us was so impressed she was able to do that being only three months old. And so was I quite frankly. There were active guide dogs whining and having more trouble than Vienna. I couldn’t believe it! Take a look for yourself.

Vienna sound asleep on the floor with three dogs curled up next to her.

Vienna and Wendy sleeping face to face.

Vienna sleeping with her paw over Paros's paw.

Vienna sleeping in a tight ball.

Vienna sound asleep.

Vienna sleeping under the chair in the conference room.

See what I mean? No whining to go outside……nothing. She just hung out with the big dogs like it was no big deal! After the panel discussions, we met Lynda and Tamera for lunch. My husband and my son joined us, as well as Glenda and Wendy. We had to drive two cars to the restaurant, so I ended up taking Lynda and Glenda. It was quite comical as we were walking from the parking lot to the restaurant as I attempted to give two blind ladies directions at the same time. It sounded something like this. Glenda turn left. A few more steps, ok, now Lynda take a left. Then one of the dogs would just think they knew where we were going and they would start off in a totally different direction. Then it was “Everybody Halt!” I would go get the one that was off track and resume our walking. Pretty darn funny to anyone watching. But it was pretty stressful for me. I am completely used to directing one blind person and a guide dog because I do it all of the time. But directing two at the same time really challenged my verbal navigation skills! Needless to say, we all made it safely into the restaurant. We had a wonderful time catching up with each other. Lynda and I talk on the phone every now and then, so we didn’t have three years worth of catching up to do, but there was plenty to talk about. Here is a photo of me, Glenda and Lynda with our dogs outside the restaurant.

The three pups and their moms.  Glenda and Wendy, myself and Vienna and Lynda and Tamera sitting on a bench outside the restaurant.

I think they are both very beautiful people, don’t you? I am so lucky to have them in my life. I felt very honored to have THREE of my dogs at Homecoming! My first, my third and my fifth!

After lunch Glenda and I went back to Lynda’s hotel room and we visited. It was nice to have this special time with both of these wonderful ladies. While we were there, I took a picture of all three of the dogs together.

All three pups in a sit looking at the camera.

They took the harness of both Wendy and Tamera and the dogs played for a bit.

Tamera, Wendy and Vienna playing with a bone together.

Wendy and Tamera sitting together looking up at me.

We made it over to GDB around 5:30pm, went to the gift shop and then got a glass of wine and visited with everyone. I saw Dianne and Hibiscus, Marybeth and Tennyson, as well Jen and Nixon. It was so nice meeting everyone from the GDB Lounge, and I hope everyone enjoyed Vienna! We took our seats for the dinner and sat for awhile and visited. Then a student in class came out and asked if she could sit with us. We welcomed her to our table and heard about her first week of class. She was matched with a dog named “Rhea”. I am not sure if I am spelling that correctly. She was a very nice lady who had tried to find out if her puppy raiser would be at Homecoming, but no one would tell her. She was a retrain student and we very much enjoyed talking with her. I went over to see a few other friends at other tables, and they asked me to bring Vienna over. So, of course, I did. Before long, I had requests from every table around me to see Vienna. I went around to everyone one by one and let them hold Vienna. It was so wonderful because just holding Vienna brought such great joy to each person who held her. I love how puppies do that. People were even holding Vienna on their laps getting and posing for pictures. It was a lot of fun to be a part of. Vienna handled it very well and did not get stressed in the least. She was happy to just be flopped from one person to the next!

After dinner and the awards were over, we went back to the hotel and went to the hospitality suite, which was so packed you couldn’t get in. So Glenda and I went to the bar for a drink. Not long after we were there, Lynda called and I went over to get her so she could join us. Glenda and Lynda have the same eye disease, and they have a lot in common so I just sat back and listened as they both talked about their lives and their experience with blindness. This is a photo of Tamera while we were at the bar. Yep, she’s tired!

Tamera sound asleep at Lynda's feet while we were visiting at the bar.

Glenda left when her husband came to pick her up around 9:30pm or so. Then Lynda, Tamera, Vienna and I went back to the hospitality suite and chatted with some very nice people until around 11:30pm or so.

Tamera sound asleep stretched out on the floor of the hospitality suite.

Lynda took the harness off of Tamera and she gave me the leash and Tamera and I just sat on the floor together snuggling. I had Vienna snuggling on one side, and Tamera on the other. Life doesn’t get much better than that!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Lots of firsts!

Vienna sitting in our Hotel room by the bed.

This weekend we went to GDB’s Homecoming and it was filled with all kinds of firsts for Vienna! It was the the first time she stayed the night in a Hotel, it was the first time she experienced an elevator (she got a lot of practice with that!), and it was the first time she was around over 80 working guide dogs! It was also the first time she attended a meeting / seminar. She was the youngest puppy in attendance, and she was just as well behaved as all of those older, fully trained dogs. It was also the first time she met my first guide dog puppy Tamera, who was there with her handler Lynda. And it was the first time I have seen Tamera since graduation three years ago! (Yes, she remembered me and she went nuts!).

My first GDB puppy, Tamera who is a working guide in Southern Ca.

I’ll have a post about Homecoming soon. Just wanted to share some of Vienna’s firsts with you!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Reyna's Progess

Close up photo of Reyna when she was a puppy.
9/23/10 - Reyna - Phase 1

Well, she made it. She is finally in a training string and is currently in phase one! I see her brother Rolex, is still in the back class waiting. Hopefully he will be assigned to a string soon. This is a happy day :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

More restaurant work….

A close up of Vienna's face from underneath the table at breakfast.

Recently, we took Vienna out to breakfast. She has been in a few restaurants and has done very well, so I decided to take her to a more challenging place. The reason this restaurant is more challenging is because it is VERY busy, VERY small, and the floors are always full of distractions!

Vienna laying down underneath the table on top of my foot.

Because of all of this it took Vienna a few minutes to settle. But before long she found her usual spot right on my foot. She loves feet by the way. She just likes to be really close to me and she like to be touching me. This seems really sweet, and it is, but I don’t want her to become so attached to me that she doesn’t want to be on her own. So I asked my son, Tyler to take her for the rest of the time we were there. I thought for sure that within a few minutes, Vienna would be inching back over towards my foot. But to my surprise she did not do that at all. Instead, she laid down very nicely between my son’s feet. But she did not insist on touching his feet. I was really proud of her! Especially for not going after every piece of food on the ground. Good job Miss V!

Vienna laying nicely under the table while Tyler has her.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fake Service Dogs

A fake service dog sitting in a shopping cart.

Over the past two days, I have seen FOUR fake service dogs. The first was in a restaurant. Picture this. A woman who looks as if she is entering the Miss America pageant walks in to the restaurant pushing a pink stroller. Inside the stroller was a little purse pal type of dog, who was wearing clothes. The dog was even wearing rhinestone jewelry! On top of the dogs clothing, there was a little jacket that said “service dog”. Really? A service dog dressed in clothes, wearing jewelry and being pushed in stroller. Ya, right lady! People obviously don’t realize how stupid they look. The very fact that the “service dog” was being pushed in a stroller and not walking on its own four paws is a dead giveaway it is not a true service dog. I am sure if I asked this woman, she would tell me it was a “emotional support” dog. However, if she really knew anything about service dogs, she would know that therapy dogs do not have access rights.

One of the other fake service dogs I saw was today while I was shopping in Costco. We were checking out, and I heard someone question a lady about why her dog was in the store. Her husband pipes up and tells the store employee that it is a service dog. So I looked over and I saw yet another little purse pup who has no vest on what so ever. The dog was laying in the area of the cart where you would normally put a young child. The dog was laying on a pillow while it was being pushed in the cart. Come on people! If you have to push your dog in a damn cart, it is likely not a service dog!

I seem to have a radar for spotting these people, and when I see them it really upsets me. And it makes it difficult to train a real service dog when these little dogs are yapping, growling and barking at you. Besides the fact that this is completely illegal, it reflects badly on legitimate service dog teams and makes it harder for them to have their access rights. Service dog teams are granted access rights for the dog to help the person do something they cannot do themselves, or cannot do without great difficulty. Actually, dogs do not have public access rights, only person with the disability has these rights So what makes service dogs so different? First off, they have had at least 18 months to 2 years of intensive training, and are proofed to extreme levels. These are not just well behaved dogs, they have to be trained to such a degree that you can stake your life on them. They are also extensively groomed and very healthy to a level that it is safe for them to be in public places. This is not something that most pet owners have any real concept of. These dogs go through so much training to earn the right to be in public places, and it is very upsetting to see some one just take there pet and throw a service dog vest they bought on line on the dog and bring them in public places. That brings me to another way you can likely tell a real service dog from a fake one. If the dog is a true service dog it will have a harness on or a vest with the name of the organization from which it was trained. The vest does not just say “service dog”. I realize service dogs are not "required" to where a vest, but why wouldn't you have your dog where one if it was truly doing a service? It is easy to tell the vests that are bought "online" vs. ones that are issued from a school or legitmate organization. I haven’t even mentioned the problems these fake service dogs cause our real service dog teams. I also don’t think these people realize the liability they would have if their so called service dog injured a real service dog. In fact, I am willing to bet that they have no liability insurance on the dog that is supposedly providing them service. I am also willing to bet they think they are covered by their homeowners insurance, but homeowners insurance will not cover you when you are doing something illegal. Actually, these people probably have not even thought about their liability if their dog hurts another service dog. They are pretty much cluless! These people just need to keep their dogs out of places where they do not belong! Thank you very much :)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Back Class

Photo of Reyna's name on the back class board in Boring.  Photo credit to Martha G.

It’s strange to me how we find out information about our pups who are in training. Reyna has been in phase 0 for three weeks and I have been wondering what was going on with her. My leader told me that Reyna was being recalled to Oregon because they “needed dogs”. I wondered why if they needed dogs for training so badly, many of the dogs sent there from San Rafael where just sitting in phase zero? Well, I think I found out what is going on with Reyna. But it was not from a leader or CFR, it was from a fellow blogger! Martha G went to the Oregon campus today for an outing with her puppy club. She found out that when Oregon recalls dogs, they recall two classes. One class goes straight into training, and the other is what they call the “back class”. The back class waits for a later string to start training. I am not sure why they do recall this way, but I am sure there is a good reason. If someone knows why, please enlighten me. During this time, the back class works on obedience, and gets used to different collars, such as the head collar, etc. Reyna will need some extra work with the head collar, so maybe this is a good thing! I am so happy I finally got some real info. on my little girl. Thank you, Martha!

Progress with the head collar!

Vienna in a sit smiling as she wears her head collar.

I have been working with Vienna for a few weeks to get her acclimated to the head collar. We started off with the head collar protocol and did that for about a week. I worked her up to where I could buckle the head collar, but the collar was still loose. Vienna wore the head collar around the house just getting use to the feel of it. The next week, I continued with the protocol, but this time I actually fitted the head collar. She did well with that as she wore it around the house and played with it on. I tried to make sure she was doing “fun” things when she had it on. After several days of doing that, I started walking her with the head collar on, (but the leash was not attached). Well, that is were we ran into problems. She acted out in the typical way dogs do when they don’t care for the head collar. She pawed at it like crazy and basically just refused to walk at all. I worked with her over the next week, and she became much more accepting of it. A few days ago, I attached the leash to the head collar and started talking her on short walks. We had a really positive first walk, and Vienna didn’t fuss about it at all. I have been walking her with it on over the last few days, and she has completely accepted it. No pawing at her nose, no trying to rub it off on my legs, no refusing to walk, nothing. So it appears as if we have finally conquered the head collar. That was quite a process, but it goes to show you that if you go slow, and take it a step at a time and don’t try to rush the puppy, they do adjust to it.

Vienna walking beautifully with her head collar on.

I personally do not like using head collars because I like a dog who does not need some sort of apparatus to behave nicely on leash. I think of the head collar as a band aid and it doesn’t address and fix the issues. People also become dependant on head collars and that is not good. It is important that raisers work their puppies with a head collar as well as without so the dog and the raiser do not become dependant on it. Vienna by no means “needs” a head collar, but Guide Dogs asks that raisers get puppies in training accustom to wearing one. Many graduates use head collars, so the puppies need to be accustom to wearing one just in case their handler chooses to use one.

Vienna walking nicely with her head collar.

I was very happy with Vienna’s walk today because she acted as if she had never had an issue with the head collar. I am really proud of her progress, she did great!

On our walk I had an opportunity to work with Vienna on some different surfaces. One of the surfaces was a metal manhole cover. She walked right over it without any issues. Yay! This was so nice since my last pup had so many surface issues. We ended up working her through them, but it was sure a lot of work! Vienna has been such a nice puppy to raise so far. Let’s hope she keeps it up!

Vienna as she stands on the metal manhole cover.

Vienna as she walks nicely over the manhole cover.  Good girl!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Vienna’s first movie!

Vienna at the movie theater laying on the ground sound asleep on her blanket.

Tonight we took Vienna to her first movie. We played it safe and saw “Easy A”. Being just three months old, I thought Vienna was way to young for a movie. This was a homework assignment from my club and I was told that I should take Vienna even though she is still such a baby. I was worried because I wasn’t sure she would settle and I was concerned about her having an accident. Normally, I wouldn’t take a puppy until it was around 4-5 months old. But there is really nothing normal about Vienna. She is just a very well behaved puppy who seems to be mature way beyond her age.

We got there really early and got seats at the very top of the theater so we would have more leg room. I brought a little blanket for Vienna, hoping she would just curl up on it and fall asleep. And you know what? That is exactly what she did! She literally slept through the entire movie. I had to wake her up when it was time to leave.

Vienna streached out on her blanket as she sleeps during the movie.

I have to admit, that I carried her out of the theater because she had been sleeping for almost two hours and it was a LONG walk to get outside. I was thinking prevention here. As I was leaving the theater a young man came up to me with the most serious look on his face and asked me if he could have Vienna! Ya, right, like I was just going to hand over my puppy. It was funny because he did not have any expression on his face, like a smile or anything. He just asked me with a totally straight face if he could have her.

We made it outside and I found the closest relieving area, and Vienna immediately did her business on command. She walked the rest of the way to the car with the sleepiest little face and a sleepy little walk. What an angel!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Reyna’s Progress

Close up photo of Reyna when she was a puppy.

9/16/10 – Reyna – Phase 0

All of the dogs who went to Oregon are still in phase 0. Maybe Oregon is not as good at updating phase reports, who knows! I miss you Reyna. I hope you have a nice trainer and that you are learning lots of new things :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tonic immobility in dogs?

Tonic immobility, is a natural state of paralysis that some animal species enter by turning the animal upside down on their back. The animal can remain in this state for up to 15 minutes. You have probably heard about this in sharks, if you have ever watched “Shark Week” on the Discovery channel. But this is not something that has been observed in dogs, until Vienna came along.

I noticed it the first day I got her. I held her in my arms and she rolled on her back. Then she flopped her head back, rolled her eyes back in her head, and her entire body went limp and she didn’t move a muscle. She stayed like that until I rolled her back over. Over the next few days, if I picked her up and rolled her on her back, the same thing kept happening. She went into a state of Tonic Immobility. Whenever she is getting a little wound up, I can just roll her on her back and she instantly goes motionless and limp until I roll her back over. It reminds me of the sharks I saw on TV who did the exact same thing when they were rolled on their backs. In fact, some killer whales have figured out that when they roll sharks on their backs, they don’t move. This has become a hunting strategy for them. Pretty interesting.

Vienna goes into this state consistently, every time someone rolls her on her back. I find that most of the time she rolls herself on her back when she goes to sleep. So, even though research says tonic immobility does NOT occur in dogs, I think I have proof of it laying right here at my feet.

Yesterday, I told Stephanie about it and she wanted to give it a try. The first photo was taken right after Vienna was turned on her back, and the second photo was taken a few seconds later.

Stephanie rolling Vienna on her back.

Stephanie holds Vienna as she goes into Tonic Immobility.

So there you have it. Vienna may go down in history as one of the first dogs who can go into tonic immobility! Maybe I should let the breeding department at GDB know about this one :)

Vienna hangs out with the big dogs!

Yesterday, Glenda, “Wendy” and Stephanie came over and we went to lunch and had pedicures, then we went for a nice walk. I decided to let Vienna come along with us to lunch. In some ways, she is still such a baby, and in other ways she is like a mature guide dog. She is physically still so small, but her behavior makes me think she is older than she is. I have to keep reminding myself she is only three months old! Before we went to lunch, Vienna and Wendy hung out together. They were pretty darn cute. A real guide dog, and a little puppy in training who is full of potential.

Vienna and Wendy laying downn in the kitchen together.

We went the restaurant, and both Vienna and Wendy settled nicely. Here are a few photos of Vienna while we were at lunch. She really has this restaurant stuff down!

Vienna asleep underneath the table at lunch.

A close up of Vienna's face as she sleeps under the table.

Vienna rolled on her back as she sleeps underneath the table.

Vienna as she has inched over to Stephanie's feet.  Vienna is holding Stephanies feet with her paws.

And here is Wendy:

A close up of Wendy's face.

Wendy laying quietly under the table at lunch. What a pretty face.

After lunch we went home and dropped off Vienna, then we went to get pedicures. Wendy was so good and just laid by Glenda’s side while we were all pampered. We came home, then we took Vienna and Wendy for a walk. Vienna did really well walking and keeping up with Wendy. She also did a good job walking on leash and staying at my side. I was impressed with how long she was able to walk without getting tired. She was exposed to a variety of things such as traffic, people, bicycles, other dogs, strange noises, water and even some ducks! It was fun watching her discover the world! It was also great spending time with such wonderful friends :)