Tuesday, December 25, 2007

...Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night!

Monday, December 24, 2007


Peace on Earth

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Holiday Gift Exchange

It is tradition each year to bring a gift for the puppy gift exchange at our puppy club holiday party. This year, LW brought a cute, little stuffed Rudolph reindeer –“squeaky noise included”. Other gifts for the holiday exchange included treats and snacks. These various and sundry holiday offerings were then lined up on the floor, and starting with the youngest puppy each is given opportunity to sniff and then select their favorite. LW as a 6 month old, is still among the youngest, so with her turn, there were plenty of interesting packages from which to choose. Wonderful, delicious holiday offerings including nylabones and snausage treats as well as colorful stuffed animals (the likes of which my granddaughter would envy); it was a puppy’s greatest dream. So, off we go with the anticipation of sniffing each and every secret surprise, of savoring the moment and after careful selection making the “perfect choice.” Our goal: to obtain the best available gift to be gleaned from this stack of endless holiday joy possibilities. So when her turn arrives, LW grabs the first bag she comes to (sigh) and claims her prize. (PS to the raiser who brought this gift, my apologies) As we unwrap this prize and much to the delight of LW, what was revealed is by far the ugliest blue “thing” you could imagine on the planet. In my mind’s eye, I could already hear the crowd of onlookers, in a manner similar to the gallery of a golf match when the star player misses the putt by mere inches: “ohhhhhhhh!” As I stared down at the object which has four blue appendages hanging from an oblong object that could have been a blue head….or was it the other end? I wasn’t sure. But LW absolutely loved it! She couldn’t have been happier if you’d handed her a bag of kibble! After closer study, this small blue furry mass appeared to be an Octopus albeit with only four legs. As a result, we have now named it the “Quadrapus” and since that fateful night she claimed it as her own; LW is rarely without it. We’re unsure if its because she’s merely inquisitive, and like us, wants to know exactly what it is, or if she’s intrigued by its beauty. They say there’s a gift for everyone and its these varying tastes that “make the world go round”. But in this case, I think its merely the canine equivalent of a time honored human tradition. The “quadrapus” can be considered the “fruitcake of dog toys.”

Saturday, December 15, 2007

You Can Do It, LW Can Help

Our local home improvement center held a free children’s workshop. The project was a “make and take” memory box, the perfect handmade gift for the upcoming holiday season. This was another great opportunity to get LW out and used to the type of environs in which she would be working one day. It was the picture of perfection as these future Ty Penningtons and Martha Stewarts arrived to build their “hands on” present. The first several children to arrive were escorted to long tables, which were set up in preparation for the day’s activity complete with boxes of popcorn. The youngsters were then instructed on how to complete the task at hand. After tying on their own little orange apron, they reached for the nearest hammer and the banging began. Within moments of the first nail being smacked with a hammer, hundreds of children appeared, a hundred and forty-three to be exact. Suddenly, chaos and mayhem erupted, popcorn went flying everywhere to the sound of hammers pounding away, and there in the middle of it all sat one little black lab puppy!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Don’t Drink and Guide

As of this writing, the first light snowfall of the winter season has hit the Garden State and temps are hovering in the teens and twenties. While this is a minor inconvenience to motorists and outdoors aficionados, it wasn’t entirely unexpected. Media outlets o’plenty actually predicted more snow than was received. This; however, didn’t stop those who heard it from planning for the worse and in my travels the signs of it were everywhere. While standing in line at the local Home Depot, I overhead someone enquiring about the price of snow blowers, and saw carts stacked high with rock salt. At the auto parts store, I handed the clerk a spark plug. “What’s this for?” he inquired. “A snow blower” I replied with a frown. “Preparation or wishful thinking?” He asked. “My reasoning is that if its in perfect working order, we won’t get a flake.” (sort of a reverse take on the car wash and rain theory) He laughed and turned to get the plug from a huge rack of parts behind him. Many people were bagging the last of the leaves to place at the curb prior to them being covered with snow on the grass. Like everyone else, my prep plans included getting up the last of the leaves, so I set about doing this last week with the help of my little, black, enthusiastic friend. As I raked and bagged, she perused the fenced yard with abandon, casually looking and sniffing about. As time passed, my attention was drawn to the fact that she was paying particularly close attention to one bush. A closer examination showed some fruit and seeds on the ground, which seemed to draw her attention (and appetite) like a magnet. Glancing up, I noticed a tree in close proximity to the fence line had dropped some late season pomegranate-like fruit… I also noted that LW had consumed many of these quickly (including their seeds) before I could shoo her away. Needless to say, a few short hours later, like a kid who had consumed too much candy, this minor bit of gluttony came back to haunt us both. Soon, my nice clean yard was dotted with bits of color (that’s all I’ll say here) and after one of the worst hacking noises I’ve ever heard, we relived a scene from the movie alien. Ahhh!!!! Where’s Sigourney Weaver when you need her? At any rate, I quickly consulted those “in the know” about this fruit and determined its harmlessness. My sources did indicate however this fruit (some of which was already into fermentation stage when consumed by my little holiday reveler, was filled with lots of natural sugar!) Now, we all know what fermented sugar turns into, don’t we? And, so, the holiday cheer continued for hours. Bouncing off the fence with exuberance and flying about the back yard with reckless abandon it occurred to me the only thing missing was the lampshade. Let the Holiday festivities begin!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Holidays: A Time For Shepherds

Being the only female in the pack, it appears LW is learning her role well and is busy getting the boys in line. By her apparent way of reasoning, someone has to do it and the boys are just happy to be boys, while someone has to take charge and impose martial er, uh, puppy law. With this in mind, it is now clear LW is operating under the “I know best” set of rules; meaning that when she gets corrected for jumping on the sofa (or anything else for that matter) she looks directly at you as if to say “Me? Surely you don’t mean me! You must be referring to the other two!” Glancing around, I have to laugh as the other two are lying on their beds being so well-behaved. In addition, she has become quite inquisitive of other dogs, especially while at the bimonthly puppy meetings. This leads to a bit of frustration while trying to work on various obedience commands. Again, she looks around as if trying to determine for whom the command is actually being issued. What has become most apparent lately is that she has become a bit of a tyrant. I laugh to myself as I picture her (wearing a sideways ball cap and having squinty eyes) lurking in a dark corner of the hallway next to the lunch room entrance, ready to trip other dogs and demand their lunch money. Yes, LW with all of her labby enthusiasm, has become a dog bully!

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


I think its reasonably certain that dogs can't tell one day from another, and I am sure LW did not know Thanksgiving was this past Thursday. However, I was feeling a twinge of guilt, as we enjoyed the holiday at The "Mohonk Mountain House", poor LW was off to the kennel for some plain old kibble. So, prior to the holiday, we took some time with her to visit a local pumpkin patch.

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Career Change

As mentioned previously on this blog, not every puppy raised actually makes it through the entire program and becomes a Seeing Eye Dog. This can be for a myriad of physiological or behavioral reasons. However, as we alluded to earlier in the “Family Day” entry, many of these dogs instead go on to successful careers in law enforcement. Another possibility; however, is their permanent adoption by the puppy raiser, where they will find a home with a lifetime of love and care awaiting them (and where many of them go on to help in “showing the ropes” to the next generation of aspiring Seeing Eye pups). One such example is Orlando (whom you’ve seen mentioned and pictured). Orlando was permanently adopted under this situation, Trish picks up the rest of the story:

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

A Hole To China

LW here again. Sorry I’ve been remiss with my updates lately, but things have been quite busy as finals are approaching. You see, I found that once my exploration of the outside world began, it only highlighted how much I really didn’t know. So, you can imagine how I jumped (and barked) at the chance to attend college when Trish offered! In just a matter of days, I knew college life was for me! How does it get better than this? I have my own place, under the desk, with a great view in the chemistry classroom, other people are receiving the lecture (not me for a change), the complaints about the cafeteria offerings resembling dog food is not a problem and (best of all), no financial aid is needed as future Seeing Eye dogs with their foster parents or blind partners can attend for free! I’m even considering starting a fraternity: Labda, Milkbone, Labda! (the secret paw shake has already been invented). Though chemistry is interesting (as it causes humans to swear and pound their hands on the desks frequently for some reason) my major will be human transportation and logistics with a minor in archeology (as you can see, I‘ve been working on credits for my minor in the back yard, which so far have yielded two brightly-colored bugs and some rocks comprised of limestone. I‘m sure China is down there somewhere and I‘ll find it by the end of the week).

Wags and licks! LW

Saturday, November 10, 2007

For Our Veterans

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

Squirrels and Acorns:

Squirrels and Acorns: Two of the finest fall treasures,

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

The Night of Haunted Hounds

Wednesday night brought about the feeling of uneasiness, as the full moon hung itself high amid a pitch-black backdrop devoid of stars. A shadowy mist hovered low above the moist ground littered with the leafy yield of trees having sacrificed their once green patches in their annual fall ritual. The sound of a slight breeze filled the air, yet strangely, nothing more! Had even the crickets run for home on this eerie night? As I slowly approached the building in the distance with its massive structure silhouetted vaguely against the dark by the few shards of light piercing the clouds above, my eyes were drawn to what appeared to be rectangular shape. Approaching with care, I could soon see it was a door. It’s metal handle, gleaming slightly in the moonlight, beckoned for my grasp. Peering around, as if ensure no being man nor beast were watching from afar, I tugged mightily at the handle. With the groaning, strained sound of metal on metal, it slowly creaked open, the sound reverberating into the hallway beyond it. Without much thought, I quickly stepped inside. To my left, a staircase led to a second story and yet another mysterious set of doors. I knew why I had come;I was there to see what lay beyond these gates. What I found was chilling! Stepping through the last set of doors was like traversing a gate to another world; I was greeted with the sight of creatures large and small of all shapes and sizes and colors. There were golden goblins, scarry shepherds and labs as dark as midnight itself. I could see this was no ordinary gathering; this night brought special purpose. The banner on the chamber wall was imprinted with an emblem that read "4-H." I could only assume, on this night, that meant "Haunted Hounds Howling Hall." These creatures bore a myriad of disguises, each spookier than the next. As they moved about the room, tails wagging with delight at this gathering in honor of hallows eve, there was eating and drinking, barking and sniffing. But soon, almost as quickly as it had begun, the creatures disappeared one by one thorough the outworldly gates and into the mist until soon it was only me and the chilly night air. Was it all merely a dream?

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!

First Place

Second Place

The "dymamic duo"

Somethin' fishy going on here!

Tutu on 4 (legs!)

The Party's Over

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Through the wonders of the internet we have found LW's brother! Although, he is large, he resembles his sisters here in our club.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Crush:

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


For nearly as many years as most us reading this have been alive (yes that would include you Mom and Dad) we’ve been hearing that famous jingle “…clap on, clap off….THE CLAPPER!" Today, when you see the commercial, its kind of like watching an old movie; the video is grainy, the clothing long outdated; and the old lady cheerfully clapping the light off before she goes to sleep has probably been using her clapper in the “great bedroom in the sky” for at least three decades now. (see the classic commercial again here: The Clapper)

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 ."

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Full Circle

... and back in the dirt!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Pure Energy

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

The morning begins

As the first light of dawn breaks through the window, and night retreats again into its own sleepy darkness, I lie in bed reveling in the last few moments of quiet. Slowly, I can feel sleep beginning to overtake me again when …..WAIT! What’s that? There it is again! the pitter patter of paws growing louder and louder by the moment. As if on cue, my mind suddenly resonates with the first strains of the “Jaws” theme. Duh nuh…….duh nuh……duhnah dunah, duhan, dunah…. I peer down to my feet and there it is: a solid black tail flipping cheerily through the air, circling as if closing in on its prey (in eerily similar fashion to the dorsal fin of a Great White Shark as it prepares to devour its next meal). As I’m beginning to wrap my mind around the dangers that lay ahead, the stuffed bear (a family memento) which once stood proudly displayed at the end of the bed is gone!! Grabbed by the ear, it is ripped from its resting place and goes under. With lighting speed, the Land Shark has struck!! In moments, the tail resumes its circling and one by one other items begin to disappear: the shoes were next, trash can lids gave way to the relentless attack, yielding their treasure of discarded tissues. At this point, I realized it’s down to me! I must be brave; I’ll face that land shark head on! From…..uh right here under the blanket! Within moments, the land shark is in full view, sparkling brown eyes staring as if deciding which appendage should go first. The rows of razor sharp teeth head directly for my hand. As I am calling for help, Murf comes to the rescue. Like a stealthy dolphin, he circles around to size up the situation and without notice the land shark jumps into the waters again. This time in pursuit of Murf! “I think we’re going to need a bigger boat!”

Sunday, September 23, 2007


During the summer months, the local puppy club suspends their bimonthly meetings. While on this brief hiatus, many members take the opportunity to visit county libraries giving “puppy demos” so others can learn about the program.

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

The Mystery of the Tissue

What is it that lurks deeply under the surface of the common household Kleenex, or for that matter, any brand of tissue? What dark mysteries unseen provide such temping olfactory delights that serve to draw dogs large and small to them like magnets to steel? In some twisted plot, has the Tissue Manufacturer's Association of America planted a subtle hint of Milk Bone, perhaps aromas of Beef or Cheese in the fibers of these products that only dogs can smell? In addition, have they conspired with the people at Charmin and Bounty to perpetrate this conspiracy with all paper products? It would certainly seem so. How else could one explain that LW and seemingly every other dog on the planet attempts to scarf down these paper products as if consuming a T-bone made-to-order? Regrettably, we may never know the answer to this; but interestingly, out of adversity can come triumph. Not only does their evil plot inadvertently help sell more paper products; 24 hours later it results in a self-cleaning dog. Hmmmmm. More on this story as it develops.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Good To Go!!

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

Humans: An Easily Trainable Species

I’m back again, did you miss me? Now that I’m thoroughly familiar with the surroundings of my foster home, I’m starting to learn more about my human benefactors. I think if I were a human, I would major in research, as I enjoy conducting little experiments. My, how trainable humans are! You see, by reacting with certain stimuli in the home environment, I can get them to make predictable sounds (sort of a Pavlovian concept in reverse)! I’m not sure what they mean yet, but the one pronounced “No!” is delivered with a sharp tone, as if someone had just pulled their tail (I‘m sure it must be bunched up in those fancy leg cover things they wear). The other one has a softer,more pleasant multi word affectation: “Good Girl.” I think that one means--go ahead, try something new and let’s see what happens.

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.

Good Girl!

Good Girl!

Ok, probably also no!

Good Girl!

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!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Terrible Twos

LW is 12 weeks old. Let’s see: 1 calendar year = 7 dog years; 12 weeks is 3 months, 7 divided by 3 equals 2.3 dog years. Yes, by doing simple math, one can confirm she is definitely in her “terrible twos!!” OK, so maybe we didn’t need to do the math to come to this realization. Perhaps the events of the last day are adequate proof:

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…”

Thursday, September 6, 2007