Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Friday, December 7, 2007
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Last week presented a unique opportunity to watch an 8 month old German Shepherd puppy for a fellow raiser (we’ll call her “Miss T”). Historically, I haven’t been a huge fan of this “always on guard 4-legged, security system in a fur suit” species; I tend to prefer the “lets go for a run through the woods, catch a ball a 1000 times over, or go for a jump in the bay” type of dog. By comparison, Labs are the type of dog who show up at the beach with the beer and the volleyball net. In contrast, Shepherds arrive with the sunscreen and swimmies.
Upon arrival for her stay, Miss T was instantly greeted by a low “welcome to our pack, let me introduce myself, I’m Moufassa” growl from Orlando, a “happy to see you” wag from Murphy and a “stream train, flip you over on your back, sucker punch from LW.” After the introductions it seemed appropriate to place some distance between them. This would give all time to acclimate to their new “temporary” order in this impromptu pack. This was done by placing a baby gate between rooms and leaving the sliding door slightly ajar, just enough for a little “nose- to-nose” sniffing. While Miss T. opted to stay in the safety of the kitchen; LW discovered she could just push the slider over with her nose and scale the gate. In an instant, Miss T was pinned in the corner. With that, the bell rang (ding, ding end of round one) and these furry pugilists were returned to their neutral corners.
By day two, it appeared the tide had changed! Miss T, being a quick learner went on the offensive by jumping the gate and landing head log into the ensuing three dog circus. Rules appeared to quickly establish themselves…LW grabbing T’s collar appeared to be laying the ground rules for the new pack member…“see the couch?” “Stay off it, it’s mine!” “Oh, and that bone over there is mine too!” “And, forget about the squeaky dinosaur, yes….also mine!” Now the rules were established and pack order determined it was time for a trip to the park and the infamous 3 mile walk our pack gets each morning. This was where I got the shock of my life! From the moment I picked up Miss T’s leash, she forged proudly ahead, shoulders straight, head held high, walking at a brisk but steady pace. It was as if she’d completed her “formal” training and was already a dog guide! I soon discovered there was chemistry with this proudly parading girl. In that instant, my whole outlook on Shepherds changed. After the walk and upon our arrival home Miss T wanted to have a nap. LW, of course, had other plans, so out into the back yard they go, frolicking to and fro limbs flying in a blur. As the wrestling match began, I suddenly found myself rooting for the new pack member. Hmmm…what’s with that?
Friday, November 23, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
I was raising Vedette, (puppy # 2) at the time and received word that another raiser wanted to “give back” their 3 month old, “uncontrollable,” black male lab, who still needed to be housebroken. It appears they had decided raising him was not for them. On that very evening I took Orlando, but ONLY, until another suitable home could be found. He was the cutest little boy and quickly earned the nickname “Sweet Pee”(due to his housebreaking concern). A trip to the veterinarian revealed he actually had a bladder infection, which appeared to be at the root of the problem. By the second day, it was clear he had found his new raisers, he was to stay with us. Yes, he was a very high energy boy and yes he got into his fair share of trouble; besides “watering” everything he choose, both inside and outside, he ate my son’s homework notebook, a homemade birthday cake cooling on the counter, as well as an entire bowl of Halloween candy (that was quite a trick!). For the first few weeks, he remained leashed to me, as this made for quick corrections. Slowly, he learned what was expected of him and every day became more mature and handsome. After spending most days working with him and trying to keep him busy, we could see him developing into a well-behaved boy. I even taught him the “stay on the porch” trick; having young sons usually results in the front door always swinging open and I felt it important that Orlando learn not to run off. So he was instructed to lay on the porch and “rest”. He was the best boy, laying there for hours watching the children playing in the yard, other dogs walking by, and kids riding their bicycles past him, he never tried stepping off the porch.
When the day came for him to go back for training, I was heartbroken. Orlando’s formal training continued to nearly the end of the program, when it was determined he had “self right” or in laymen’s terms “he didn’t play well with others.” I received the call and decided immediately, he was to come home to us. He had been gone for 5 months, would he remember us? He was happy to see us, but he was happy to see everyone. Still, I wondered, did he remember? As we neared home, he became increasingly excited, at first sitting up when passing over the bridge, then whining as we turned on to our street. When I finally pulled into the driveway and opened the car door he took off. My heart stopped! He was out of sight for which was only seconds (but seemed like hours), when I looked up; there he was sitting on the front porch; right where he belonged!. He had a job and it was his job, all along, to watch over us.
For the last 11 years, Orlando has done exactly that. He has been with me through many of life’s most challenging obstacles and with each event he stood steadfast and has always been a comforting soul. To date, he has helped to raise 9 other puppies, all of whom went on to graduate as Seeing Eye dogs. Orlando a.k.a “Sweet Pee” is the best boy. It is his 11th birthday and I am glad he has spent his years with us as a “career change” dog. ~Trish~
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Wags and licks! LW
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Our Thanks, with Love
For those who protect us as we sleep at night
Keeping us safe, never fearing a fight
And all those who have worn the uniform proudly
Whose deeds and actions, professed their love loudly
For these bravest of patriots and those who gave all
To ensure our great nation would never fall
You stand as an example, a shining bright light
Of all that is good and noble and right
You go round the world, yet don’t ask a thing
To protect humans rights, allow freedom to ring.
We thank God for you veterans, surely sent from above
And we send you always our thanks with love!
Brian Moore 11/10/07
and remember those who were given a "One Way Ticket".
Friday, November 2, 2007
What would seem to the average human to be merely a morning walk, provides a young, impressionable Labrador with an exciting opportunity for exploration. Now, with the arrival of cooler weather and the rapidly fading hours of daylight comes a special fall treasure: the acorn! Nearly a half million of these little, brown, nutty-shaped packages have fallen at our local park, successfully attracting nearly as many squirrels. Not your average backyard garden-variety mammals, mind you but; brave, valiant, downright feisty squirrels! These timeworn park pros are fearless in the face of dogs, people, motorized lawn care equipment and large mobs gathered for soccer and softball games…what would another small puppy mean to them? As I watch LW and the squirrels compete for the small lawn treasures, I sometimes ponder if she’s actually interested in eating the acorns or just wants them because the squirrels do. Every morning marks the beginning of “the great competition.” The brave, little rodents scurry around to gather their winter meals and LW is on a mission! It appears to be her quest to single-handedly (or mouthedly) rid the park of every acorn, leaving the poor squirrels hungry for the winter. However, the squirrels appear to have other plans! Once an acorn is sighted, its “game on!” LW closes in just as the squirrels gather around in their huddle, making their plan to protect this prized meal (the only thing missing is the tiny blackboard with X’s, O’s and arrows). Nonetheless, with lightning speed the game commences: one distracts her by running right, while the other zigzags to the left heading straight up a tree; a third dives in to grab the acorn. LW, nonplussed by the attempted distractions faces off with the rodent “ball carrier” at the 50, when suddenly the game is called by a higher power. Booming from above she hears: “leave it!” And with that, the squirrels win by forfeiture. As we begin to walk on, a quick look back inspires a double take. Did I just see a group of triumphant squirrels gathering behind a tree and giving each other the high five? Gee, I thought they only did that in the Geico commercial.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Please enjoy these pictures from the Ocean County 4-H puppy club Halloween meeting and costume contest of 10/24/07.
PS. LW took second place!
The "dymamic duo"
Somethin' fishy going on here!
The Party's Over
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
At a recent meeting, it was apparent LW appreciates the social aspects of the puppy program. While she enjoys running and playing with other members of our club interestingly, she has also developed a long distance internet “crush” on a handsome blonde lab in California "Mr.October." Realistically, she understands there is a great distance between them, in fact a whole country; but it seems as though they are worlds apart. She lives on the East coast and enjoys the cold weather; he is a yellow boy basking in the golden California sun. Alas, they are from different schools and different ways of life; she knows there is not much chance of them living “happily ever after” and growing up to live on a farm in the Midwest with 3.2 pups frolicking around them. However, that does not stop her from dreaming. Each day she looks longingly at his picture and knows somehow theirs is a greater destiny (sorry, you’ll have to wait for the book to come out for more on that).
Monday, October 8, 2007
To this day you can still find these curious devices with the “As Seen On TV” marking on the box in virtually any lower end discount store (uh, a place that media people frequent by necessity, but that’s another story).
Oddly, these silly things do seem to come in handy for situations such as mine. Now, I’m not exactly sure who planned this (probably someone who read by oil lamp at night); but the outlets in my room don’t really seem to be in a cooperative location, no matter where you place the furniture. While this inspires creative decorating, it probably won’t help me make the cover of "House Beautiful" anytime soon. In fact, a quick glance and you’re more likely to get the impression I drink when I arrange furniture. But I assure you with this arrangement of outlets, it’s a distinct possibility someone instead drank when wiring them. Go ahead…find a nearby place to plug in a table lamp, I dare you!
At any rate, after much complaining to anyone who would listen about not having a way to control the lights from the bed (which makes for much stumbling in the dark), as a joke I received a “Clapper” as a gift. Ha! Perfect, I thought! Problem solved! However, what they don’t tell you in the commercial about these “handy” little devices is that they will turn the light on and off at the sound of ANY sharp, loud noise. Oh sure, there’s a sensitivity setting on the thing that’s supposed to avoid this; but that’s as helpful as a call to the IRS tax tip line. I must admit though, with this predicament, what the clapper lacks in control it makes up for in entertainment value.
Get one and let the fun begin! Nothing like the lights coming on at three in the morning at the sound of a sneeze or cough; laughing puts on a wonderful light show….on, off, on, off. And it starts a strange cycle: the more it flashes, the funnier it becomes; the more you laugh, the more frequently it flashes (laugh) on …..off (laugh laugh, laugh) onoffonoffonoff.
When LW first arrived, she was spending her nights sleeping in a crate next to the bed. Several weeks ago; however, when retrieving her from this crate, I realized her little legs were becoming giraffe-like as she grew. This meant it was time to move her to a “bed chain.” This is a chain leash commonly used by puppy raisers with the goal in mind being to train the pups to sleep next to the bed. This is important so that later, when working as a Seeing Eye dog, she will be used to staying there if needed during the night by her blind partner. The first evening on the chain was quite a challenge; LW has always enjoyed sleeping on the comfort of her blanket, in her crate and was not happy at the thought of “the bed chain.” Therefore, she started off with a slight whimper, after telling her “quiet” she want back to sleep. Fifteen minutes later the whimper turned to a short woof....uh oh, light on! “Quiet”, light off. “Woof” light on, laugh- light off. “Woof,” “Quiet” “Laugh” “Woof” on-off on-off on-off...onoffonoffoff” I guess that explains the strange looks I’ve been getting from the neighbors. How would you begin to explain the lights in your room flashing on and off like a disco at three in the morning? Next time I think I'll just drop hints for the "Stick Up Bulb ."
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Energy. It’s the rare commodity that many of us in the modern day lack. With our busy schedules: work, kids, school; soccer, karate, band or football practice, community volunteerism, and a career; for many of us, the energy required to keep up modern day life is in short supply. Every time I look at LW, I’m reminded what my father used to say when I was young and literally “bouncing off the walls” with youthful exuberance: “Gee, if I had your energy, I’d give mine away.” Now, well into my 40’s, I see his point. After having been married, raising two kids and being involved with many of the activities above and working in media from place to place for nearly 30 years; all while balancing all the responsibilities one must shoulder as an adult; I found myself gradually slowing down in recent years. Where has all the energy gone? Is it true there just doesn’t seem to be as much time for everything as there used to be? Furthermore, even if it is, why do I now find it much more tempting to begin a long love affair with the television and couch? I don’t think I’m lazy, just getting older and the pace of modern life is probably a little more noticeable than it used to be.
So, here I sit watching LW fly about the room, grabbing Murph in one instant, while diving into the toy box the next. A closet door opens, and with the deft maneuvering skills of a stealth jet performing a surgical strike on its target, Willow grabs a new sneaker and heads for the nearest exit. Following a 10 minute hot pursuit (which was unsuccessful by the way), I have to laugh as I catch myself thinking “Gee, If I had your energy, I’d give mine away.” Which prompted two other thoughts immediately: 1.) “Oh my God! I’ve become my father!” and 2.) “Wouldn’t it be great if you could bottle up this energy and sell it?” In today’s overworked, energy-starved world, it would sell like hotcakes!
As any puppy raiser will tell you, energy is one thing of which puppies never seem to run out. Science tells us a perpetual motion machine hasn’t (and isn’t likely any time soon) to be invented. Whoever wrote that obviously never raised a puppy. On just a few cups of puppy chow a day, they can grab more sneakers, raid more trash cans, chew on more objects and water much more of everything than you could ever imagine. If we knew the secret to this boundless source of energy, it would be equivalent to discovering the holy grail of youth! While an admirable goal, this of course, is impossible and probably impractical. The next best solution; however, might be to help them dissipate some of this energy, so at least you don’t run out before they do.
Renowned dog trainer Cesar Milan has a theory for controlling this energy. In his book “Cesar’s Way,” he suggests that dog owners can help animals by emulating many of the behaviors and conditions that are guided by their natural instincts. This includes making sure they get plenty of exercise on a daily basis (which is similar to the daily “migration” for food, if they were in the wild). Fortunately, there is a nice park nearby which is quite large and has much to offer, including a walking track that’s a mile with each round. So, three miles a morning can give me a huge advantage in the “great sneaker chase.”
Oddly, since taking LW, (Orlando and Murphy) on this walk everyday, coming home usually results in naptime for them and increased energy for me! Maybe, I’ve found the secret after all! Missing shoe? Bring it on!!
After a long walk; its nap time at the zoo!
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Because LW was placed in August, her first meeting was last week. In similar fashion to family day at The Seeing Eye, puppy club meetings offer time to visit with other local puppy raisers to share stories and tips and observe how much each other’s small star boarders have grown (this includes the obligatory comparisons as mentioned in “Family Day” in the blog archive).
In addition, it is also the time “summer puppies” (like LW) make their first meeting appearance. Interestingly, other raisers in the local club sometimes end up with littermates, which are siblings to either your puppy or someone else’s from the club. Such is the case with LW, whose sister LW II was there for a surprise family reunion. After several minutes of watching them together, it struck me at being fortunate that LW was wearing her day glow pink collar instead of the standard issue green, as it would have been difficult to tell them apart. Aside from a slight bit of sibling rivalry, and a brief indication of who was a little higher on the dominance scale (LW II), they appeared to enjoy the reunion and seemed to share common traits and mannerisms.
Pictured in this latest entry are the sisters together……enjoy!
Friday, September 21, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Today marks another milestone in the life a future dog guide! During the first several weeks in their new foster home, Seeing Eye Puppies are restricted in their outside activities. Puppies, much like their infant counterparts, need to be vaccinated against different illnesses. The Seeing Eye emphasizes the importance of limiting the puppy’s exposure to people and other dogs (both whom are potential carriers of the highly contagious and often deadly parvo virus). Of course, this is often difficult to do as word travels about this furry new face; and everyone is quite anxious to see her. While the dogs aren’t in complete isolation; their “visiting” is limited. For example, during her visits to work, her exposure has been confined to the lobby and studio only and at the local puppy club meetings, she must be held in one’s lap to regulate exposure to the others. As of today, LW is finally “legal”; her visit to the vet’s office this morning provided the balance of her shot series needed for the appropriate protection against parvo and many other serious illnesses. So now, after a seemingly long wait, LW can slowly begin her exploration of the world (and gain more exposure to the environs in which she’ll be working). With this in mind, its now off to the park with its nice walking path and a quick visit to work to see everyone and explore every room! Later, we’re going to travel to the local strip mall to meet some of the local business owners. And yes, we’ll be coming to a location near you!
Sunday, September 16, 2007
With that in mind, here are some of the stimuli and their corresponding reactions. I guarantee they will produce those same sounds every time I chew, bite, drink or otherwise interact with the objects pictured.
Fellow Canines, try this with your own family; its amazing! Now if only we can get them to bring the food bowl on command, we’ll be all set!
Sunday, September 9, 2007
6:30 a.m.: LW sounds her alarm, greeting me with a tail wag and a nibble on the hand as I retrieve her from the crate in which she slept. After a quick trip outside to empty, its back inside for some breakfast. While this sounds simple enough, along the way, she is distracted by something and is off and running around the yard. Soon tiring of this game, she heads back carrying a rock and two sticks. I am now faced with the task of removing these new “treasures” from the unyielding mouth of an alligator. After prying her mouth open, I am finally successful at getting her to respond to the “out” command. She drops the sticks but hides her archaeological find (the rock) in her mouth only to release this special prize at the sight of her kibble.
After a quick meal, four little, furry feet start to scamper (like Fred Flintstone starting his car) After all, there are things to do! First, she goes right for my sneaker, which luckily I can retrieve and place back in the closet (for safe keeping). Upon completing that, I look up in time to see a black tornado swirling past with slippers, which I am sure were placed in a safe hidden spot. As I am returning the slippers, there’s a growl from the kitchen; this can mean only one thing; in a surprise attack, she has bounced on Orlando! So, I am off and running to rescue him; however, upon my arrival there’s a sound from the porch, and I whirl around just in time to see a lamp and picture frame hit the floor. While inspecting this situation, I also see she has learned to climb up on the sofa and jump across to the end table; and naturally it makes perfect sense to a budding two year old to clear everything from the table (as it makes the perfect lookout tower) and make room to lie down. Trying not to laugh, I found my deepest voice and yelled: OFFF!! This time, she promptly listens, but not before grabbing the remote for a quick trip under the couch. It is now 7:30, and I am exhausted!
While catching my breath, I am reminded of something I once read: “…you should always remember that your child isn't trying to be defiant or rebellious on purpose. He is just trying to express his growing independence and doesn't have the language skills to easily express his needs…”