Saturday morning (1/28/12) we woke up early and got all of the important things (busy, breakfast, busy) out of the way so we could head out for our first outing of the weekend. By the way, for those of you that aren't in the SEGD program, "busy" is the command for a puppy to do their business... Anyway, after we got done with all of that, we went to Tiffany's for breakfast, and had another successful under/down, but the big event of the day was yet to come.
SouthEastern Guide Dogs is getting ready to host their annual fundraiser, a walk-a-thon in March, so they setup a booth at an open air market in downtown St. Petersburg to try to generate interest in, and registrations for the event. They needed some puppy raisers to volunteer to help so we decided to take Gail and head on down there. We met Miranda and Helen (and her guide dog Troy) there and started talking to people as they stopped at the booth. Although several other raisers and dogs also showed up, it should be no surprise that Gail was the star of the show as she was the youngest dog there.
Helen (left, petting her guide dog Troy - below), and Miranda (center) are employees at SEGD. We had a great time with them and the puppy raisers and ambassador dogs and owners throughout the day.
For the first month or so, a young puppy gets a "free pass" on the rule about not being petted while in coat (or cape as the case may be if you've seen the it's not a coat, it's a cape billboards - very cute!) since socialization is an important part of their training. As long as they are behaving and have four (paws that is) on the floor, they may be petted even if they have their coat on. Although we were allowing people to pet Gail, we did explain to them (in a polite way) that allowing that to occur is only temporary as she will need to associate wearing her coat with "working" as she matures and works her way through the program. Needless to say, a number of people took advantage of that free pass to pet little Miss Gail, including the ones that you see in these pictures. We think she made a great ambassador for the day, and hopefully that will be reflected in registrations and fundraising for the walk-a-thon. If you'd like to know more about the event, please visit the events link at www.guidedogs.org In addition to participating in the walk-a-thon (it's dog friendly), you may also help Gail raise funds at www.sitstaygive.org/gailscorner
Gail got to meet Brooke and her mother at their booth, Molly's Suds (they sell environmentally safe laundry detergent). Brooke and her siblings would really like to have a puppy, so she was fascinated with Gail and came over to the booth a couple of times to see her. We stopped by their booth before leaving to say goodbye. Maybe puppy raising would be an option for them???
These two nice young girls have a teacher that has been a puppy raiser so they are familiar with SEGD. They've also been down to the campus. Who knows, maybe they'll be future puppy raisers!
This adorable little girl wasn't much bigger than Gail, and was trying to figure out how to pet her. She finally managed to do it, and giggled the whole time!
Before we left the market at the end of the day, Gail had an opportunity to meet her first horse, Henry (I think that was his name). She did incredibly well meeting something that is enormous compared to her. It took her a couple of minutes, but she gradually approached Henry and even smelled one of his hoofs! As you can see, she doesn't appear to be too concerned about him.
Since it was a long day (8:30 - 2:00), and probably at least 100 people stopping to see Gail and pet her, we decided to head home and let the little princess get some beauty rest.
Sunday (1/29/12) This morning started with another restaurant outing. We decided to head to Bob Evans in New Port Richey, where we were greeted with smiles, apparently there is another puppy raiser in the area that visits that restaurant, so they weren't surprised to see Gail. I think that maybe one of the things that people have a hard time understanding is that when they see such a small dog, they think that someone's trying to pull a fast one and sneak their dog into a restaurant or store. We really haven't had any problems, but I'll bet that as Gail gets bigger, we won't get quite so many "are you sure that's a service dog" stares when we enter a public facility. This time we sat at a table instead of a booth, so the under/down took a little bit longer for Gail to adjust to, but she managed to do it without too many crumbs making their way to her tummy.
When we were done there we made our weekly drive past an eagle's nest that we discovered last year to see how things are progressing for the 2012 nesting season. We got lucky and were able to see both mama and papa eagle sitting in a tree very close to their nest. I'm sure there are some minor renovations that need to be done to the nest to get it ready, but all in all, the nest looks pretty good. We can't wait until there are babies in the spring.
After that, we stopped at the Best Buy store in Clearwater. I needed to find a wireless mouse and keyboard for the office, so we thought it would be another great exposure for Gail. As you can see, Gail isn't too interested in shopping for computer components. After finding the keyboard & mouse, we decided to walk around the store for a little bit. We've discovered at home that Gail occassionally likes to watch TV, and it was no different at the store. We completed our shopping and decided to head down to Tropicana Field (home of the Tampa Bay Rays for those of you who are not local) where a home show was being held.
Tomorrow is another day, and an opportunity for a new adventure...