Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sorry, this post is a little bit late, and it looks like it's going to be a long one, but hopefully it will be entertaining.  Well, maybe more so for you than Gail...

Not much happened on Monday, but our neighbor, Michael brought over his soccer ball and trophy to have his picture taken with Gail.  Unfortunately, Gail was in over excitement load to see him so it was difficult to get a picture with her sitting still...

Tuesday brought a new experience for both Gail and me...  As usual, she went to work with me, but that afternoon for the first time I included her in a client meeting in our conference room.  The first part of the meeting went fine, but all of a sudden she went into melt down mode.  She was barking and trying to bite at my hands.  Trying to keep my cool, get her calmed down and not be too disruptive to my meeting was difficult.  If I told her "no noise" and put my hand around her mouth it just encouraged her to bark more and bite at my hands.  After about 10 minutes of trying to calm her down I quietly took her in my office and called Roger to come and rescue her.  We went back into the meeting and she calmed down a little bit, but I couldn't count on how long that would last.  About a half hour later, Roger showed up and saved the day.  Fortunately the client is an animal lover (she volunteers with her local humane society) and she understands the puppy phase we're going through.  As a matter of fact, she kept telling me it was ok and that as far as she was concerned Gail could stay.  Everyone in my office has been very supportive of Gail being there so I try to make sure that I respect them while still providing exposures for her, and occasionally that means that Roger has to bail her out.

Wednesday did not start out very well.  Roger kept Gail occupied while I got dressed for work and when I went to get her so we could leave she started jumping up and biting at me.  I'm sure you've heard the saying "what part of no don't you understand?", well no was definitely not in her vocabulary.  Before it was all over, between her toenails (which were clipped a few weeks ago) and her teeth, she had ruined the skirt to my suit.  Needless to say, a wardrobe change was in order.  We finally made it out the door, to the office and got settled in.  Surprisingly, given how the morning started, the rest of the business day was pretty exceptional.  I was in and out of my office numerous times without Gail making a fuss, and at lunch time, I actually left her in my office while I went to the kitchen and ate a sandwich (I was gone for about 10-15 minutes) without a peep out of her!  When I came back, she looked up at me and I bent down, petted her, and told her how proud I was of her!  Around 2:30-3:00 she had about five minutes of fussing, and again around 4:00, but fortunately, she calmed down fairly quickly.  But... (you knew there had to be a but) after we got home and she had her dinner we went for a walk and she turned into Ms. Shark Teeth again.  This time she left a couple of holes in my jacket.  I'm hoping we make it through this stage quickly otherwise we're going to go broke buying new clothes.

Thursday night took us to our semi-monthly Puppy Raiser meeting (sorry, no pictures since it was dark out).  We met in the parking lot at Amscot and worked on some obedience training.  Gail was not having a perfect night.  She decided that she was personally (or puppily) responsible for collecting every piece of gravel in the parking lot.  Needless to say, we spent a lot of time getting her to drop what was in her mouth.  Carolyn, our Area Coordinator gave us some good ideas on how to work with Gail when she pulls on her leash, hopefully we'll be able to remember and follow through correctly.  We also did a walk along Gulf-to-Bay Blvd. which is very busy and for any dog can be pretty intimidating (not to mention that it was dark outside), let alone a young puppy.  Gail did fairly well (if you don't count pulling at her leash) but there was a car and a truck that really got her attention and caused her to try to move away from the sidewalk with the noise that they were making.  

Friday was pretty much like the rest of the week, but we did have another day at work where she let me leave my office numerous times (including 15 minutes at lunch) and she didn't fuss.  Hopefully we reached at least one breakthrough this week!

Our first outing on Saturday was to Dr. Woodman's office so that Gail could get her last set of vaccinations - yeah!!!  She also got weighed (23-1/2 lbs) and had a pedicure.  Dr. Woodman pointed out at least 4 adult teeth that were coming in - Thank God!  Maybe there will be an end in sight to the teething, at least my hands and arms would are hoping so!

Originally we were going to head down to Gulfport with our friends Bonnie & Phil, and their dogs, Mozie & Chloe, to a dog rescue event but Bonnie had called on Friday and said that the event organizers were warning people about distemper due to not knowing if the rescue dogs had been properly vaccinated, so we scratched that outing off the list.

The next plan was to go to the Pasco County Fair so Gail could see cows, horses, pigs, etc.   Strike #2... after talking to one of the assistants at Dr. Woodman's office we ruled that out since Gail had just finished her vaccinations that morning.

Ok, onto plan #3... we stopped at Cracker Barrel for breakfast (Gail did really well with her under/down) then decided to head to St. Pete to the farmer's market.  The Al Lang Stadium is next door to the market and the Rowdies Soccer Team was there promoting their team.  As we entered the stadium there was a group at the top of the ramp that had a really large drum.  I asked if they would try to make some soft sounds with it to see what Gail would do.  At first, when the sound was soft she stood and looked at the drum, but as it got louder she tried to move away from it.  I guess we shouldn't plan an outing to a symphony anytime soon.  She also didn't like a floor grate that would make noise and flex a little as you walked over it.

We went back outside and several of the Rowdies players were out there kicking a soccer ball around.  Gail watched them and tried to lunge for the ball...  obviously, as a future guide dog chasing balls is not a good thing, so we held her back and tried to get her to sit and watch them.  Roger had bought a souvenir ball on the way into the stadium from a volunteer named Shelly, who as it turns out will be volunteering for the walk-a-thon.  We got players Keith Savage (#22 - Gulf Breeze, FL), Andres Arango (#3 - Medellin, Columbia) and Tsuyoski Yoshitake (#10 - Mie Prefecture, Japan) to sign the ball and have their picture taken with Gail.  Hopefully we'll be able to make it down to see a few of their games this season.  Go Rowdies!!!

On our way back to the car, we stopped to talk to a family with two little girls.  As you can see, Gail was very gentle with them and didn't even mind when the baby was covering her eyes or holding her under the chin (sorry about the "mohawk" look in the last picture, it was a little windy out).


We also stopped and talked with a very nice couple from VA that have a house in Tampa.  We spent quite a bit of time talking with them about the SEGD program.  They clearly love dogs (especially Golden Retrievers, so Gail really caught their attention) and appeared to very interested in the program.

On the way home we stopped by Lowe's to pickup some rope to make an extra long lead for Gail and on the way out of the store we couldn't resist (like anyone can...) buying a few boxes of cookies from the West Central Florida Girl Scout Troop 318.  Thin Mints for me, and Thank You Berry Much for Roger.

It had been a long day, so it was time to head home and give the princess (me, not Gail) a much needed nap.

Sunday morning started out with the usual, breakfast at Rodies (we really need to get a picture from there).  Gail did really well with the under/down until about halfway through the meal when she decided to let out a soft "woof".  She did that several more times and we responded with what were hopefully quiet, but forceful "no noise" commands.  It took a minute or two, but she finally settled back down and saved us from getting any nasty looks.  Actually, several of the tables around us understood what we were doing and were very nice about everything.

Since Gail had finally completed her vaccinations, we decided to go to Petco because we were interested in buying a portable crate for future trips.  Toting her big crate down to my mother's house was kind of a pain.

It was kind of early for the store to be open yet so we made our weekly trip past the eagles nest and got to see one of the babies standing up in the nest and eating breakfast (don't know what, but that's ok, I don't need to know).  We had found out last weekend that 2 baby eagles hatched around Christmas.  It's funny to be in Florida because you don't think about Christmas being the time of year for new baby animals.  As a matter of fact, I've just started watching a live eagle cam in Decorah, Iowa (it's really cool, and if you're interested you can check it out at that I discovered last year and the 3rd egg was just laid this weekend, so it will be early April before those eggs are hatched.

Sorry, didn't mean to get off track there...  anyway, we headed to Petco and as it turns out, they didn't have the crate we wanted in stock, but another store about 20 miles away had one so off we headed to that store - Gail was getting her fill of cool pet stores all in one day.

When we got done there we called Gigi, the pet sitter that occasionally watches our cat, Sneakers.  We thought we'd stop by and let Gigi meet Gail.  Gigi loves animals (which is a good thing for a pet sitter) and was oohhing and aahhing over Gail.  Unfortunately, she probably won't get an opportunity to watch Gail since she goes with us everywhere.  Oh well, there are some things that Sneakers likes to claim as his own, so time with Gigi will have to be one of them.

We decided to head back home, but first we made a lunch stop at Henry's Chicago Style Hot Dogs it must sound like we eat constantly - but, really we don't).  As we went to sit down, a little girl in the booth behind us saw Gail and said "she's wearing a cape".  The billboard advertising is definitely working - lots of people recognize the dogs when they see them.

When we got home, we setup the new crate so that Gail would get used to seeing it and practice getting in and out of it before actually having to use it.  It's kind of funny, we haven't had any problems with her current crate, but she wasn't too sure about this one.

Sneakers on the other hand wasted no time in getting in and checking it out.  He looks kind of funny in it since it's so big, and he's so small (well not really, he's actually pretty big as cats go, not fat, just tall and long).

The rest of the day was pretty quiet, just some R&R to get ready for the new work week.

Until next time....

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The week of February 13 was fairly tame.  With the exception of Thursday, Gail spent the week with Michele at work.  Michele provided her with plenty of social interactions such as a grocery store, the cleaners, and various places she would take Gail.  Gail was with me for a couple afternoons and a full day on Thursday.  Except for a few run ins with our cat Sneakers, she continues to make progress.  Thursday completed our fifth week of having her with us and she's made amazing progress in some areas and very little progress in others. 
For example, when she first came to our home she had a fixation and excitement over food that was almost unbelievable.  There was no way that she could be controlled when food was in front of her.  Over the course of the last couple weeks she's made an amazing transformation in that when food is placed in front of her, she waits for our approval before she begins to eat.  She doesn't eat like a starving underfed homeless puppy,  It's more of a very controlled approach.  Also, she rides on the floor in the car (never on the seat), sleeps in her crate with not one soiling accident so far and does not get on furniture. 
There are two areas where Michele and I are hoping and praying we will see miraculous results.   She has absolutely no manners for the most part when she is on her leash.  At times, we do think that she has lost her mind.   The second area is her insistence on making our cat a playmate.   Sneakers is over 14 years old and frankly he is far past the game of chasing and being chased throughout the house.  For most part, he just wants to be left alone.

At the market waiting for the crowds
Today was Saturday, February 18 and the three of us made our way to St. Petersburg Saturday Market to help with fundraising efforts for Southeastern Guide Dog's walkathon to be held on March 3rd.   Gail and several other program puppies were in attendance helping to attract all the market shoppers to the booth.   As usual, Gail, being a small puppy, was the star attraction for most of the day.    There was an amazing number of people that stopped by to say hello and pet the puppies. 

Two beautiful Gail lovers
Duke, a seasoned veteran
Michele and I have both become convinced that little girls really love little puppies.  Here, two young ladies shower their attention on Gail.  They were adorable and handled her like she was a priceless doll. 

Filthy, wet and tired

Unfortunately, it had rained on Friday and the parking lot where the Market is held was still wet but none of the dirt and debris had been washed off.  Gail became a mess from laying down and rolling over for people to pet her "tummy".  No one, including Gail seemed to mind the dirt except me and  Michele.  Our shift ended about noon and we came home immediately to take a bath, both Michele and Gail.  She is amazing in the shower (we mean Gail) because she really likes the water.  She doesn't even mind her face being washed, just don't get soap in the eyes.

Tomorrow, it is off to another new adventure.  We are thinking of the state fair ..........


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Today's post will be relatively short since Gail and I have been with my mother the past few days following her eye surgery and haven't been doing too much in the way of outings except visits to the doctors' office and a couple of trips to Publix.

Gail is sound asleep at the doctor's office.  The only problem occurred when she stretched out and bumped the foot pedal and caused the chair to begin reclining...oops!

Gail and I headed home Saturday afternoon, but first we made a stop by Viscaya Prado Veterinary Clinic in Cape Coral to visit with Dr. William Kroll, Sandy and Kim.  Dr. Kroll was the primary care veterinarian for our Shih Tzus, Gizmo (2007) and Gadget (2010), and our cat Sneakers when we lived in Ft. Myers.  We spent Saturday mornings at the clinic for approximately 1-1/2 years for fluid treatments for Gizmo when her kidneys started to fail so we got to know everyone there pretty well.


 Dr. Kroll & Gail

Kim & Gail

Sandy & Gail

When we returned home, Gail went crazy when she saw Roger.  She was wiggling around like she was made out of jelly.  She hadn't forgotten about Sneakers either...  she chased after him just like she did before we left, oh well, we'll just keep plugging away at trying to teach her to respect him and his space.

Today has been pretty quiet.  It was 35 degrees and windy when we woke up this morning which as those of you that live in Florida know means that you stay inside and hibernate.  We made a short trip out for breakfast at Bob Evans (it took about 10 minutes for Ms. Gail to settle down) and then drove past the eagle's nest (only saw 1 eagle sitting near the nest) before coming back home.  We've had some on and off challenges with trying to keep Gail and Sneakers behaving themselves, but otherwise it's been pretty quiet.

We can't wait to see what this week has in store for us!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hi everyone, it's Gail!

I've been watching Dad and Mom (I hope they don't mind me calling them that) work on this blog thing so I thought I'd try my paw at it and give you an update from my point of view.

Monday was a quiet day at work, but Tuesday was pretty exciting.  I started out the morning with a walk before Mom took me into the office and I got to see my first squirrel - Wow, what a cool start to the day!  The little guy ran across the sidewalk about 10 feet in front of me and up a tree next to the sidewalk.   He only went up the tree a few feet and then hung upside down by his back paws and looked at me while munching on an acorn.  I briefly pulled at my leash to see him, but then I decided to sit down on the sidewalk to watch him watching me.  Mom let me stay there for a couple of minutes before telling me it was time to go to work.

After everyone got to the office I attended my first office meeting.  I felt really important about being invited to the meeting and couldn't wait to start contributing to the team and sharing my ideas!  I hate to admit it, but it did take me about 10 minutes to completely calm down and stay in my under/down.  I guess it must have been the excitement about all of the great ideas I had bouncing around in my head (an ice cube fountain, Kong toys for everyone, mandatory squirrel hunting walks every few hours, etc.).  Unfortunately by the time it was my turn to share my ideas, I was sound asleep under the table.  Oh well, I'll guess they'll have to wait for the next meeting.  The rest of the day was pretty quiet, but I did get to walk past the "squirrel tree" again, and hesitated briefly to see if he was still there, which he wasn't - maybe next time...

Wednesday started out a little different...  Mom took me out at 4:00 a.m. but she didn't make me get back in my kennel like she normally does.  Instead, she started getting dressed and the next thing I knew there was a funny bag on wheels that she laid on the bed and started putting her clothes in.  When she got done with that she started gathering up my toys and food & water bowls and carried everything out to the car.  I was really confused, my toys were one thing, but my food & water bowls???  I hadn't even had breakfast yet!  But wait, it gets worse, she and Dad carried my kennel down the stairs and put it in the car too!  I kept wondering if they were tired of me and sending me back to Birmingham.  They finally got done loading everything into the car, and then Mom came and got me.  She had me say goodbye to Dad and Sneakers (I promise I won't chase him anymore, just don't send me away!) and then put me in the car with her.

I laid down and stayed really quiet for what seemed like forever, but Mom finally stopped the car and took me out at a house I had never seen before.  Come to find out, I was in Ft. Myers, and the house belonged to my new Grandma.  Apparently Grandma needed to have to have eye surgery (something about cataracts and a corneal stem cell transplant - whatever that means) and Mom came down to take care of her for a few days.  Whew!!!  I was really relieved to find out I was just going on a short trip and not being sent back to Birmingham.  After we got to Grandma's I had my breakfast (good thing, my tummy was starting to rumble) and then a few hours later we got in Grandma's car and headed for St Mark's Surgery Center.  A guide dog in training going to an eye surgery center, how cool is that???!!!

I did really well at the surgery center and stayed under the chair and slept while we were waiting for Grandma's surgery to be completed.  A really nice nurse finally came out and said it was time to go home (she really wanted to pet me, but I had my cape on).  It was the end of the day and no one else was in the waiting room except us.  Mom needed to throw away her drink container so she put me in a sit stay and walked to the trash can which was probably at least 40 feet away (no joking), and believe it or not, I stayed!  Mom was really proud of me!!!  By the way, I know this is off the subject, but I'm getting really good at staying calm and waiting for my food and not eating it until I'm told to "take a break".  Anyway, we went and got the car and waited for the nurse to bring Grandma out.  Mom took my cape off when she put me in the car, so the nurse was able to pet me after she helped Grandma get in the car.

Grandma's surgery requires that she lay flat on her back for the first 24-48 hours so we got her back home and settled in for a long winter's nap.  After awhile, Mom took me to Publix to pick up something for dinner (for her, not me - I just had my puppy kibble) and again, I got to meet a lot of really nice people that wanted to know about me and the SEGD program.  We headed back to Grandma's and hung out for the rest of the evening.

This morning, we were up at 6 a.m., had breakfast, went for a walk and then took Grandma back to Dr. Palmon's office (Southwest Florida Eye Care) for a post-surgery checkup.  Dr. Palmon told Grandma that everything looked good so far, but that she would still need to lay flat on her back again today.  After lots of attention from the really nice staff members at SWFEC we headed back home to hang out and start working on the blog.  We have to go back to SWFEC tomorrow morning because Mom has a checkup, so I'll get to see all of those nice ladies again - I can't wait!

Have a great day, and I hope you enjoyed my post!

Next time I'll try to figure out how to include pictures...

P.S.  I know this will probably sound like a broken record, but please remember to check out my SEGD Walk-a-Thon fund raising page at

Visaully impaired people that receive puppies like me depend on every dollar raised at the Walk-a-Thon.  Remember, you can bring your dog and walk with us.  Thank you!!!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

For those of you that haven't seen it yet, Gail has a fund raising page for the SEGD Walk-a-thon being held at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg in March.  You can help Gail with her fund raising goal at 

This week at work was pretty uneventful except for a few days where Gail decided to test the waters and bark whenever I had to leave my desk to grab something off the copier, etc.  I tried a few different things such as giving her a small Kong with a puppy treat inside when I had to leave, especially if I was going to be gone for a couple of minutes, but the thing that seemed to work best were ice cubes.  In addition to keeping her occupied, it also helped with her desire to chew on things.  Kind of like giving a baby a frozen teething ring.  To help break up the monotony of the day, Roger would come pick up Gail in the afternoon and take her to the park or some other outing.  It's good for them to have some bonding time too. 

Saturday morning (2/4/12) started out with a visit to Dr. Woodman's office.  Gail was due for another series of vaccinations (4) and a general checkup.  Unfortunately, Dr. Woodman found a flea (ugghhh) so he went ahead and ran a flea comb through her fur.  He found no evidence of a flea infestation, but to be cautious he gave her an extra dose of flea & tick prevention medication.  It's possible that she picked it up on the way into his office while she was busying outside as the area around his office has a lot trees, leaves, etc.  Gail also got her first pedicure (it sounds so much more sophisticated than nail trimming) while she was there.  Our little girl is growing up fast - at 13 weeks she is already 18 lbs. 13 oz. and I think about 20" long (shoulder to butt) and 16" tall (top of back to paws), of course trying to measure her is a little difficult since she won't stand still.

When we got done at the vet's office we decided to head down to Sarasota and check out the Southeastern Guide Dog Discovery Center.

Before going to the DC we stopped by Critical Care & Veterinary Specialists of Sarasota to visit Dr. Anne Chauvet (sorry, we forgot to get a picture) and introduce Gail to her.  Dr. Anne is a veterinary neurosurgeon and she and her staff were terrific to us when our Shih Tzu, Gadget had to undergo 4 major back surgeries several years ago.  Dr. Anne is very active with animal not-for-profits and fund raising in Sarasota, and for those of you that live there, you've probably seen her picture in the paper more than once.

Anyway, back to the DC...  When we arrived all of the staff and volunteers were excited to see Gail.  Besides being an adorable puppy, she has a somewhat unique honor of being one of the few pure bred Golden Retrievers in the program at this time, so she tends to generate a lot of attention.

We spent about 45 minutes visiting, and Gail stood inside the front door for most of that time greeting people.

While she was visiting with this cute little girl she started to go into attention overload so we decided to go around the corner to a lounge area and take a time out for a little while.

Before we left, we made sure that we picked up a few items, a hat for Roger, a set of Kong keys for Gail, and believe it or not, a catnip toy for Sneakers (Gail decided to take home a peace offering for him).  It had been a busy day, and with all of the vaccinations, it was time to head home and let Gail get some beauty rest.

The rest of the day went by pretty peacefully.  We may have had a small breakthrough with Gail and Sneakers (maybe it was the catnip toy).  Somehow, Gail managed to get Sneakers to chase her around the dining room table for several minutes without any hissing on Sneakers' part, or tail grabbing on Gail's part.  Fortunately Gail is still small enough to make it under the chairs as they ran around the table, but at the rate she's growing, she won't be able to do it for much longer.

Sunday (2/5/12) began with a trip to Rodie's for breakfast.  Our server was amazed at how much Gail has grown since we were there two weeks ago.  Today we sat a table not too far away from the hostess station and front door, so there were a lot of people going by.  Since we were at a table and not a booth, Gail was much more exposed to all of the activity, but she handled it like a pro.  She only tried to get up a couple of times, but was easily put back into a down position.  The biggest problem she had was that her tail kept sticking out from under the chair; fortunately, no one stepped on it!

We left Rodie's and decided to go to Bed Bath & Beyond and Sports Authority.  We didn't need anything at either store, but with the tight aisles at BB&B and the variety of items at SA we thought it would be a good exposure for her.  We also stopped at Dick's Sporting Goods on the way back home.  The most exciting thing that she encountered there was a man that was trying out putters and hitting golf balls on the little putting green.  She sat there and kept watching the balls go from one end to the other.

The rest of the day hasn't been very exciting, sleep, sleep, and more sleep.  She's probably storing up her energy to watch the SuperBowl!  She hasn't let the cat out of the bag yet who she's rooting for, but for some reason, I think it might be the Patriots - we'll have to see...

By the way, during our outings, it's been amazing the number of people that have seen the new SEGD billboards.  Many people will say things like, "oh, she's wearing her cape" in reference to the it's not a coat, it's a cape billboard.  The other billboard that's really cute is the one that says "some superheros fly, others sit and stay".  The billboards are all over town, so keep an eye out for them as your driving around.