Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ruh, Roh!

I guess every guide dog puppy in training has to leave their family with something to remember them by and I'm no different.  Recently I was laying on the dining room rug, Mom and Dad were both about 5-10 ft. away thinking that I was playing with a toy, but as you can see, I wasn't....

I just thought the rug needed another white circle...

During a recent trip to the SEGD Discovery Center in Sarasota, I got to meet these two children.  They were not brother and sister, but as you can see, we all had the same "golden" hair.

Just call us "Goldie Locks"

Recently, one of my business associates, Tracy, got a new puppy named Simi.  Simi is an Italian Mastiff & Great Dane mixed breed and is 4-1/2 months old.  The picture below isn't the greatest, but as you can see, Simi is almost as big as me and I'll be 9 months old soon.  Simi is going to be one BIG puppy (and I mean that in the nicest way)!

Hi Simi!  I sure hope we can be friends...

On some recent walks Mom and I have seen this little fellow a few times in the drainage ditch between the road and the sidewalk.  He's only about 2 feet long, but hopefully he'll find a new home soon before he gets any bigger!

I'd hate to meet his Mama!

Good thing I didn't confuse him with all the
little lizards that run around...

Since I started tonight's post with my destructive behavior (really, I'm not that bad) I figure I should close with it too...

One of my favorite toys is what we call "keys to the kingdom".  A few months ago Dad & Mom bought me a set while I was teething and I fell in love with them, but recently I've gotten a little more aggressive about chewing them.  Dad & Mom noticed that I had started chewing of the key notches on the ends so they bought me a new set.

Within 15 minutes I had managed to destroy the yellow key...

It hasn't taken me long to finish off the red and blue keys either...

The funny thing is that I don't eat the pieces I chew off, I spit them out in a pile on the floor... 

'Til next time...  Puppy hugs, Gail

Yes, that's THE rug in the background...

Monday, July 2, 2012

Then & now...

This will be a very short post...

10 Weeks

8 Months

Puppy hugs, Gail


"Fore!" is shouted as a warning during a golf game when it appears possible that a golf ball may hit other players or spectators. The mention of the term in an 1881 British Golf Museum indicates that the term was in use at least as early as that period.  The term means "look ahead", and it is believed to come from the military "beware before", which an artilleryman about to fire would yell alerting nearby infantrymen to drop to the ground to avoid the shells overhead.

Other possible origins include the term being derived from the term "fore-caddy", a caddy waiting down range from the golfer to find where the ball lands. These caddies were often warned about oncoming golf balls by a shout of the term "fore-caddy" which was eventually shortened to just "fore!".

What would we do without Wikipedia???

Whatever the origin of "fore" is, at least I didn't encounter it during a recent golf event that I attended.

My neighbor Jeff invited me to attend a golf event that he organized for Rogan & Associates.  The charity that Mike & Jennifer Rogan chose to sponsor was Southeastern Guide Dogs, and Jeff thought that it would be great for me to be the official mascot of the event.  I never turn down an opportunity to be the star of the show!

Jennifer & me

Mike & me

Dad & Mom made sure that we arrived at the Bayou Club early so that I could greet the golfers during the registration time.  Walking past the golf carts all lined up freaked me out a little bit, but then I saw Jeff and forgot all about them.  Next to Scott, the UPS Driver, Jeff is my most favorite person (outside the family that is).  It didn't take long for people to start coming over to say hi to me.

Jeff & me

My neighbor Catherine (left)

Good morning!

I really liked Carter, and I think he really liked me!

After the golfers started the round I hopped in a golf cart, well, was coerced into a golf cart and headed over to the 5th hole where Mike Rogan was hosting a closest to the pin contest.  As you can see, the rules were very simple...

After awhile we got back in the golf cart (it was a little easier this time) and drove around the course cheering on the players along the way.

This isn't so bad after all...

The geese hopped back in the pond as soon as they saw me

My friend Carter practicing his putting

Back at the 5th hole I kept checking out the Rolls Royce that was the prize for closest to the pin.  It was actually a chauffered weekend in the Rolls, but that would've been good enough for me.  By the way, I hope you notice that I'm doing a very good "Sit/Stay".

Isn't someone going to open the door and let me in?

After the round was over everyone met back at the clubhouse for lunch, announcement of the tournament winners, a raffle, the silent auction and a formal introduction to me.  What a great way to end a fun day!

Zzzzzzz.... Gail
I think I'm a fish in dog's clothing...

I've told you how much fun I've had at the beach, well guess what?  You can have almost as much fun in a kiddie pool!

Hmmm, what's this?

Now if I only had some sunglasses
and one of those foofy umbrella drinks!

Photographic proof that I blow bubbles in the water!

Even though I can't really swim in the pool, it sure is a great way to spend a hot Florida afternoon when there isn't time to go to the beach.

Maybe I could try surfing next...

Puppy hugs, Gail
Old MacDonald had a farm...

On my recent trip to Fort Myers to visit Grandma I got to see a whole herd (I think that's what they're called) of goats.  I thought FTM was a metropolitan city, well, maybe not quite metropolitan, but a city, not the country.  Mom took me over to the fence to say hi, but they weren't very friendly.  Of course, I'm sure it had nothing to do with me bouncing around like an excited puppy.  Even though they didn't want to say hi, I hope I still get to mark it as an exposure on my checklist...

This little guy was smaller than me

Wow - Look at all of them!

Why won't they come over and talk to me?

Another first for me was an automatic car wash.  Let me tell you, it wasn't my favorite exposure.  Mom decided that her car needed a bath so we stopped on the way to work one morning at something called a brushless car wash.  I was laying on floor of the front seat minding my own business and then all of a sudden these funny looking arms started spraying water and some funky colored stuff all over the car.  The arms kept circling around the car and just when I thought it they were done, they'd go around again.  As if the funny looking arms weren't enough, the biggest hair dyers you've ever seen came to life and hovered over the car - holy cow, that scared the you-know-what out of me!  Mom tried to talk me through it all, but I wasn't buying it.  If I could've fit under the front seat I would've been there!  I hope she doesn't decide her car needs another bath anytime soon...

What do you mean I don't fit under here?

Until next time...  Gail

Chill'n at Grandma's - Peek-a-Boo!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Holy Kitty Box Batman!

I'm not sure what it is about a kitty box, but I've heard from other puppies that you have to check them out at least once, so the other morning when I was supposed to be eating my breakfast I snuck into the laundry room to find out what all the hype was about.  Mom was sitting about 6 feet away from my food bowl and she thought I had gone to get a drink of water, but to her surprise I came running through the kitchen and into the dining room.  She quickly realized that I had something in my mouth and came running after me.  She caught up to me and told me, "NO, drop it!" which, believe it or not, I did.  She grabbed my collar and made me follow her to the powder room to get some tissue to clean up the ummm... kitty poop that I had mined from the box (I'm glad she didn't take any pictures this time).  I have to admit, it really didn't taste that good, so I'm not sure why the other puppies get so excited about it.  Maybe it's an initiation rite of passage in joining the puppyhood...  (P.S. the litter sticking to your nose is a dead give away that you've been up to no good!).

One of our recent Puppy Raiser meetings was held at Celebration Station in Clearwater.  Talk about a place for puppy sensory overload!

We started the meeting outside and worked on some unique exposures, the first of which was the rain and thunder.  I don't recall any of us being super freaked about the rain or the thunder... good thing since it was a first for many of us.  Next, Carolyn walked around shaking a plastic jug filled with coins, blowing a whistle, jingling keys and finally wearing a funny thing on her head called a sombrero.  Being a dog with Scottish heritage, sombrero was not a word I was familiar with.  I have to admit it was pretty funny looking, but at least it didn't scare me.  I didn't mind the whistle, but the container of coins wasn't my favorite.  While we were practicing our exposures a number of people stood inside and watched us, and a few even came out and walked through the puppy circle of acceptance to get to their cars.

Dad with Sunny & Fred with Jam
Guarding the door

Carolyn testing our reaction to the whistle

Making the rounds with the jar of coins

More coins...

Carolyn says she has 4 of these
things called sombreros...

Next we headed inside to experience all of the loud noises, flashing lights and kids.  We started out in a meeting room upstairs where Carolyn shot Nerf darts around the room to see if we would try to grab and play with them, or shy away.  Most of us were curious and several puppies tried to grab them, but most of us were really good and watched them land on the floor in front of us.  After that we started walking around and checking out all of the machines.  I wish I could say that it was a cool experience, but quite honestly, I didn't really like most of the machines.  I can't figure it out, I was ok at the bowling alley with all of the noises and lights, but for some reason, the machines at Celebration Station were different.

Stick up your paws!

Bobby chill'n after the meeting

Stephanie & Coastie heading out into the great unknown.
I sure hope those machines don't attack them!

If Coastie isn't scared, then neither am I... (yeah, right!)

Dad getting a shot with a bird's eye view

Recently we (yes, there's a mouse in the pocket) decided to buy a new TV for our living room which led us to HH Gregg.  Have I mentioned how much I like to watch TV?  I really wasn't too keen about that shopping experience.  I've been to Best Buy before and I've stood in front of the TV's and watched them in the home theater department (see one of my first posts for photos), but for some reason this trip stressed me out a little.  Mom knew I was stressed so she took me outside so I could busy again because she was afraid that she'd have to clean up a mess inside.  Shortly after going back in we picked out our new TV - Thank Goodness!  I couldn't wait to go home!

As a result of the new TV we decided that the seating in the living room just wasn't adequate so before you knew it we were going furniture shopping.  We visited several local furniture stores and again, I wasn't real happy walking around through them.  I think it has something to do with all of the close quarters and winding through the furniture.  I guess we'll have to keep working on that...

I had heard that Mom and I were going to visit Grandma again for a few days and before you know it, it was time to go.  Grandma was having her 2nd eye surgery and just like the 1st one, she would need to lie flat on her back for 24-48 hours.  We got up early on Wednesday morning and hit the road for Ft. Myers.  Good thing we left early and that I like riding in the car because there had been a bad accident on the Courtney Campbell Causeway which shut down the east bound lanes so all of that traffic into Tampa was being re-routed in the same direction we were headed.  It normally takes us about 45 minutes to reach the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and that day it took an extra hour!  Even with the delay we made it in plenty of time to take Grandma for her surgery.

Shortly after we arrived in FTM we headed over to the surgery center.  A manager at the surgery center came over and asked what I was being trained for and Mom explained that I was a guide dog in training for people with visual impairment.  She thanked us and then disappeared behind the counter (kind of like the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain).  While we waited for Grandma's surgery to be completed Mom talked to a really nice lady that loved dogs and was very interested in me and what I was being trained for.  Me, being the perfect angel that I am slept very peacefully under Mom's chair throughout the afternoon.  Well, maybe not perfect, because there was an incident where a little boy who had been there for about an hour decided to stare right at me and say "look Mommy, puppy".  Needless to say, that was all it took, I let out a couple of short barks.  Mom told me "No Noise" and quickly escorted me out of the building for a few minutes.  When we came back in I settled back into my "down, under" beneath her chair for the remainder of the afternoon.

Who would've known that I was soon to become an expert at shopping for TV's and furniture...  Mom and Uncle Paul decided that Grandma needed a few upgrades to her house, so before you knew it, I was back at HH Gregg and a local furniture store.  We picked out a new love seat with power recliners (Grandma was having trouble putting the footrest back down with her old recliner) and a TV.  After a few small bugs in getting everything setup I think that Grandma was really happy with her new toys.

My next exciting (not) adventure was our puppy meeting this Saturday at the Countryside Mall.  Before we even entered the mall I was pulling at my leash and being somewhat un-cooperative.  When we met up with our Area Coordinator, Carolyn, she asked Mom if she had arranged a puppy camp for me.  Mom said that I would be going to stay with Sylvia and her dog Denny in July.  Carolyn suggested that I might also want to do a puppy camp with Justice's Mom & Dad (Justice just went in for formal Guide Dog training last week).  While Sylvia is an experienced raiser and has Denny as a mature, calm, gentle influence, Karen and Bob's puppy camp would be more of a boot camp.

Waiting for everyone to arrive

As an introduction to boot camp, Mom handed over my leash to Bob - Uh, Oh!  As promised, boot camp began early.  I decided that I really wanted to pull on my leash (remember, we've been trying different collars & harnesses to correct this) and Bob was having none of it so off we went on several loops around the mall.  Walking around and around the mall is all we did while the other puppies were working on their Good Citizen Test, coin-operated kiddie machine exposures and a scavenger hunt (headless mannequins, life size dummies, etc).  I was definitely not part of the circle of acceptance that day.  I'm not sure who was more tired at the end, Bob or me?!!!

Mom handed me off to "Boot Camp" Bob

Katy is saving her energy for the scavenger hunt

Bob's trying to lure me into his web
with a little facial massage

Tabina, the newest member of the group

Lining up for the Good Citizen test

As usual lately, standing outside the circle,
only this time with Bob

Good Citizen Test - Being greeted by a "stranger"

Oh yeah, here I go...

Karen & Babe waiting for their
turn with the "stranger"

Coastie says, "never met a stranger I didn't like..."

Everyone is getting their ears and
paws rubbed by a "stranger"

Checking out coin operated kiddie rides

The little ones didn't seem to mind the kiddie rides

And they're off!!  The scavenger hunt begins.

I'm still having to stay with Boot Camp Bob

Liz & Tabina

For as bad as Saturday was, Sunday was the MOST AWESOME DAY I think I've had so far!!!

We got up and dressed and headed to (you guessed it) Rodie's for breakfast.  To start off with, I did my "sits" at the door very well.  Several people saw us arrive and shortly thereafter, the people sitting in the booth behind us left.  They stopped at our table to talk about what else?  ME!  It was clear that the woman really loved dogs and was very interested in ME.  She kept talking in an excited voice and leaning over and looking at me under the table. I was absolutely perfect as I laid under the table and ignored her (I wasn't trying to be rude - just following protocol).  Dad & Mom were SO proud of ME!  :-)

While WE (actually they, there wasn't anything on the floor menu this morning) were eating breakfast they decided what WE would do today.  Mom suggested going to Honeymoon Island and checking out the beach.  I had no idea what a beach was, but I'm always willing to try new things, even if they turn out not to be my favorite, so after breakfast we headed back home to pack up a few important things (sunscreen, water, chairs, towels, etc.).

When we got to the "island" we had a bit of a walk before we actually got to the beach.  The walk to the beach was extremely exciting to me as at least a MILLION dogs had been through there before me and I felt that it was my job to check out each and every scent along the way (had to make sure there were no bad dogs lurking in the bushes).  When we finally reached the beach we staked out "our spot", got chairs setup, etc. and then headed for the water.

Oh, water!  That's what they meant by the beach.  I've never seen so much water in my life!  At first, I wasn't too sure about the waves that were rolling in directly at me, but Mom waded out into the water and coaxed me in.  Wow!  I can't believe how fun it turned out to be.  Dad moved a little further out (not quite waist deep for him) and I quickly learned how to swim!  Swim, can you imagine?  A dog swimming???  It didn't take me too long to figure out that the beach and swimming were totally AWESOME!!!  Mom walked me up and down the beach a few times so that I would have to pass other dogs (and people), but I really didn't care, the water was just so incredibly fascinating that only another Golden Retriever named Wilson was able to divert my attention.  Oh, by the way, I think I forgot to tell you that several times after coming out of the water I decided to go "Tazmo" and run in circles and get this, I started digging holes in the sand!  Did I mention how AWESOME I thought the beach was? I can't wait to go back!!!

So this is what they were talking about

Are you sure those waves won't get me?

I know I saw a shark!
I'm getting out of here and fast!

Maybe I should walk with the waves to my side

Getting braver

I can swim!

This is so much fun I don't want to get out

Hey Sneakers, wait 'til you see this litter box - it is GIANT!

When we got back home, Mom made me take an outside bath and then we headed out for lunch and more furniture shopping.  This time the shopping was a little better.  Maybe a few more times and I'll get this shopping stuff down...

Time to take a break

'Til next time... Puppy hugs, Gail!