Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Gail's Corner

November 4, 2011 Future Guide Dog in Training Gail is born!!!

Hello, our dog's name is Gail.  She is a beautiful Golden Retriever and is a Guide Dog in Training.  She is owned by Southeastern Guide Dogs located in Palmetto, Florida and is on loan to us for the next 12 – 20 months.  To learn more about Southeastern guide dogs go to www.guidedogs.org.  What they do is amazing and not one penny of taxpayer money is spent there.
Our job is to socialize and train Gail in basic obedience and manners.  Gail was born on November 4, 2011 and was approximately 10 weeks old when this picture was taken on January 13, 2012.  She is wearing her training cape which indicates that she is at work.  In fact, she was going to work with Michele on that day. 
We picked up Gail on January 12 at the Southeastern Guide Dogs headquarters at about 7:30 PM.  She had just finished a plane ride from Birmingham, Alabama where she was picked up from the kennels where she was born.  She and her litter mate, Tosca <sp> rode in the belly of a plane from Birmingham to Charlotte and then on to Tampa.   She endured a 1 1/2 hour car ride before finally reaching Southeastern Guide Dogs.   After having spent the entire day in a crate, she was obviously tired, hungry, filthy and scared.  We live about an hour north of Southeastern's headquarters so she had to endure another long car ride.    When we got home we fed her to her obvious delight.  She then bedded down for the evening and not a peep was heard from her for the entire night. 

On Friday morning, after having breakfast, Gail received her first bath and got ready for her big day at work with Michele.  As can be expected, she was a huge hit at the office.  Besides meeting all of Michele's co-workers, she also got to meet several clients, everyone at Tampa Bay Magazine, and Scott the UPS Driver.  The day went really well, between all of the attention and naps, the day went by pretty quickly.  Oops, I almost forgot to mention, Gail got to meet her new doctor on Friday.  Since Gail arrived at the campus and was immediately taken home, a veterinarian had not had a chance to exam her.  Dr. Woodman (Animal Hospital of Northwood) is also a Puppy Raiser, and currently has Shadow.  Gail passed her initial exam (10.12 lbs) with flying colors and even had "sweet dog" written on her record.

On Saturday morning we decided to give Gail her first exposure to the outside world. Our  first stop was Fresh Market where everybody ooh'd and ahh'd over such a cute little girl .  Both Michele and I were surprised at how well behaved she was in such a strange environment.    Remember, she had never been to or seen anything like this in her life.

Our next stop was Total Wines to pick up a couple bottles of wine for that evening's dinner with our friends Bonnie & Phil.  It was here that we received our first push back from store personnel about bringing a dog into the store.  We were told that our dog was required to ride in the cart.  After patiently explaining that she was a guide dog in training the clerk said okay, not necessarily totally believing us but she was not going to cause a scene.  We finished our shopping there and went home and got ready for Gail's first guests.  Bonnie's daugther, Raandi is also raising a SEGD puppy, Grady.  By the way, we have hardwood floors, and by Saturday evening, Gail was able to go up and down the stairs, slowly and cautiously, but still able to negotiate them - amazing at her age!

We all went to the park on Saturday afternoon and spent about an hour nosing around the leaves and pine needles.   We had previously been told by other veteran puppy raisers that there is no such thing as a quick trip anywhere.  We should expect to be stopped by almost everyone to talk about the dog and our experiences of helping to train a guide dog.  There's no question that that advice is totally right on.   Everyone from little children all the way up to senior citizens were fascinated by the Gail story.  That afternoon, Gail got to meet Michael, our 8 year old neighbor.  He's really excited about Gail, and asked if he could help train her.  We told him yes, he'd be able to help since we're going to have to expose Gail to things like bicycles, skateboards, bouncing balls, etc.

The next significant event was going to the park with the Clark family on Monday, January 19.    Sheldon is Michele's boss and he and Katie have three great kids , all of whom were really excited to meet Gail for the first time.  We decided to meet at a park to allow the kids and Gail to meet where there would be very few environmental distractions.  We had a good time and the kids were really happy about seeing Gail .  In fact, at the end of the outing, the kids were clamoring for dad and mom to buy them a new puppy.  After our outing at the park, we stopped at a Hallmark store and Michael's.  At Michael's we met a very nice lady who said that her employer was sponsoring a guide dog, Trooper, so she was familiar with the program.  That afternoon we headed down to SEGD to get Gail's picture taken for her ID card since it was too dark out the evening that we picked her up to do that.
While both Michele and I have been amazed about how well behaved Gail has been she still is obviously a work in progress.   There are a few skills that she has mastered with very little effort.  Sleeping, biting, barking and chasing Sneakers, our cat, are those in which she gets   an A+.  Gail thinks it's great fun to chase after Sneakers while Sneakers is hissing  and batting at Gail's nose with his clawless front paws.   

Honestly, Gail has done some very smart things in the first 10 days that she's been with us.  She has learned to go up and down uncarpeted slick stairs, spends virtually the entire night in her crate sleeping and making very little noise, sitting on command most of the time and being very well behaved around children and other dogs. 
Even though she is been a joy to have with us, she still has a long ways to go before she will be a calm well-adjusted dog.  She is challenged with leash control, food bowl excitement, biting and trying to bite pants, shorts or whatever else you may be wearing.  But, Gail told me only this morning that we need to give her a break.  After all she is only 11 weeks old and can't be expected to be perfect at that age.  However, we will consider it to be a minor miracle when she stops chasing the cat  (she says she can't help it, the cat keeps waving his bushy tan tail in front of her face) and becomes better behaved on a leash.  Can't wait.
The weekend of the 21st and 22nd was amazing.  Gail had her first restaurant experience on Saturday morning when we went out for breakfast at Rodie's, a local restaurant. She was very well behaved and here's a picture showing exactly what she did the entire time we were there.   She was calm and stayed under the table laying on the floor the entire time.  Later on Saturday, we went to a town nearby and took Gail out on the fishing pier.  We were very lucky to find two men fishing with a net and landing several Mullet as we walked up.  Imagine the puppy's face when she saw the flopping fish. She had a choice of barking, chasing or biting them but she only looked. 

We left there and stopped by the Trek store to introduce her to Morgan, Bart, Chris, and the rest of the gang.  She had her first experience with an air hose that they use to inflate the bike tires...  She was cautious, but curious about investigating it.
After that we left there to go to what we thought would be one of the most challenging experiences Gail had so far, an indoor flea market.  But, as with most of the other experiences, Gail surprised us both.  She was well behaved and despite meeting her first chicken and her first parrot, she survived it. nicely.  It was funny, Gail saw herself in a mirror that was on the floor for people trying on shoes, she stopped and kept walking up to the mirror to try to figure out where the other puppy was.  After all that excitement it was time to head home and take a break.  That evening Michele subjected Gail to getting her teeth brushed, it ended with Gail getting another bath because she had toothpaste all over her ears.
On Sunday, the 22nd, Gail had her second experience at a local restaurant while we had our breakfast.  We frequently visit Tiffany's, and everyone there was surprised when we arrived with Gail in tow.  We checked the floor for scraps of food (found a penny) and showed her how to do an "under/down".  As before, she was well behaved and paid no attention to the people around her, sleeping on the floor under a table doing exactly what she was supposed to do.
 After we finished breakfast we took what is probably an obligatory trip to Home Depot.  We cannot imagine a guide dog puppy that came from Southeastern  has ever avoided a trip to Home Depot.   That particular trip took a little longer than we expected since everyone wanted to stop and talk about our guide dog experience and how cute and cuddly Ms. Gail was.  She did really well, but was definitely surprised by the floor cleaning machine.  She didn't run away, but wasn't keen on getting to close to it either so we turned and went down another isle.

On the way home we drove through Tarpon Springs and stopped at a little farmers market.  Gail is like a magnet, everyone wants to stop and see the adorable little puppy wearing the coat.  I'm sure they'd want to see her with, or without the coat, but for some reason, it seems that the coat really captures people's attention and they want to know what she's in training for.  Time to head home and let little Miss Sunshine get some beauty rest.

It was off to Panera Bread for lunch on Monday the 23rd.  Gail didn't quite do as well there since the floor was full of crumbs and we could not imagine how good they smelled to her.   Yet, she managed not to embarrass herself or us and we finished lunch without a major incident. 

Gail is growing like a weed and she is as adorable as any other puppy.  She has put on more than 2 pounds since she came to live with us only 10 days ago.  Just prove how cute she is, here is a picture we took of her at an outdoor flea market on Sunday morning. 

More to come........


No comments:

Post a Comment