Monday, April 30, 2012

Homework for this week:

I will not bark, jump or nip... I will not bark, jump or nip... I will not bark, jump or nip...   (3 down, 97 to go)

Unfortunately this week's puppy obedience class didn't go very well, in fact, it may have been worse than last week.  The class had barely begun when I decided to bark, jump up and nip at Mom.  Karen immediately pulled us out of the training circle and kept making us move further back from the other puppies.  She had Mom tell me NO once and then stand still looking straight ahead until I calmed down, even if it took a couple of minutes.  Each time I tried it, Mom had to do the same thing.  Eventually, I started calming down in shorter periods of time.  Karen talked about my box of acceptable behaviors and explained that it is this "BIG" and that the main goal is to keep me calm before having me start focusing on some of the commands that we were going to work on that night.  Over time my box of acceptable behaviors will become this "big".

Standing outside the circle of acceptance

At the end of the class, we spent a few minutes talking more with Karen about how to correct some of my behaviors.  Another problem area I have is pulling on my leash.  Since I'll be 6 months old on the 4th, she suggested that we may want to try a Martingale collar.  It's not as aggressive as a slip collar, but it will still apply some pressure when I pull at my leash.  Can you believe it, a Martingale for a Nightingale???  We'll just have to see what next week brings...

On Friday I got attend my first golf tournament.  Carolyn, our Area Coordinator invited the pups-in-training to an event sponsored by her company and several others.  Dad and I arrived and got to hang out with Helen and her guide dog Troy, Sylvia with Carolyn's puppy Sunny, Theo and her new puppy Trudy, Deb and puppy Abbott, and a few others.  The proceeds of the tournament were being donated to SEGD so having a few cute puppies on hand never hurts. We didn't have to do too much other than look cute - piece of cake!  Unfortunately I didn't get to ride in a golf cart - bummer!

Dad & I arrive at the tournament

Trudy needs a break

We were cheering on the
golfers in the putting contest

Hmm...  unattended golf carts,
I'm thinking it's a Caddy Shack kind of moment!

Saturday was a really busy day...

Out for breakfast, then a stop at Home Depot followed by a trip to Dick's Sporting Goods and Sports Authority to try to find a new frame for a tailgating tent.  After that we made a much needed trip to the grocery store (old Mother Hubbard had gone to the cupboard...).  Those were just our morning errands.

That afternoon we went to a health fair sponsored by Morton Plant Mease Healthcare.  Nancy and puppy Orchid were on their way out just as we got there.  We talked to them for a couple of minutes before heading in to relieve Cheryl and Jam, and Stephanie and Coastie from their duties.

Poor Nancy kept dropping things
and Orchid was losing her cape!

Coastie is the newest puppy in the group at 11 weeks old, and is sponsored by the City of Clearwater.  Clearwater is one of 14 cities that have a Coast Guard station.  This was our first time meeting Coastie, and I have to tell you, I'm jealous!  He's so adorable that people aren't going to pay two bits of attention to me any more now that I'm a "big" dog at 6 months old.

Greeting people at the health fair

Coastie was so tired he slept through most of the fair.

Stephanie's still going strong

Coastie checks out the fire truck

Can you say "adorable"?!!!

When we got done there we went to a school carnival.  Sheldon, my boss at Tampa Bay Financial Planning invited us to his kids' school carnival - wow, what an exposure for a pup in training!  All of the carnival rides, noises, smells, and people - talk about sensory overload.  We got to see Sheldon and his family and walked around for about an hour.  Believe me, I was ready to go home by that time.  I'm glad we didn't go at night when the flashing lights and music on the rides would have been going crazy.

Holy cow, what have I gotten myself into?

Lauren & Jack are having fun,
but I'm getting dizzy watching them go around and around

Cailey doing her "fake" smile... :-)

I think I might be afraid of heights

When we got home I was so tired I didn't even try to torment, um, I mean, play with Sneakers, can you believe it?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Yep, you guessed it, I met a cow this week!  I went to a puppy obedience class at the SEGD campus (I'll tell you about that later) and Dad decided to stop at a roadside vegetable stand that's on the way.  There's a pasture right next to the stand and there was a cow standing close to the fence eating a watermelon so Mom decided to let me meet the cow while Dad did his shopping.  As you can see, "Bessie" was just as curious about me as I was her...

Whoa!  What breed of dog is that???

What's that yellow thing
hanging from her ear?

I think I've found a new friend!
Maybe she'll share her watermelon with me.

After Dad got done shopping we hopped back in the car and headed over to the campus for my first puppy obedience class.  While we were waiting for class to start I got to meet Edgar and Helen and King Arthur, a.k.a. "Artie".  Before everyone arrived, Hedy, Helen's mom (she works at SEGD) took me for my first golf cart ride!  It wasn't like our cars and I was a little hesitant to get in, but with a little help from Mom who put my front legs up in the cart and encouragement from Hedy I made it.  Mom made sure she had hold of me and I stayed still as we took a quick spin around the front parking lot.  It turns out it was kind of cool and I'll be able to get more practice later this week (you'll have to wait to find out more about that in my next blog post).

That's one cool ride!

Puppy Twister with Helen, Gail & Artie

Artie & Edgar

By this time Karen, our trainer arrived and it was time to start puppy boot camp.  We began by gathering in a circle and introducing ourselves and telling everyone how old we were.  I thought a girl was never supposed to tell her age?  Anyway, after that Karen had us take a walk around the parking lot to work off some of energy and anxiety, at least that's what she said - I really think she was doing a silent evaluation of our behavior.  After a lap around the track we got back into our circle and started the class.

Off we go...

Karen talked about how we're supposed to sit by our "owners" side and that the leash should be loose, then moved onto teaching us to how to sit.  She gave the parents of Golden Retrievers (like me) a tip about how we like to try to sit facing our parents because we like to have eye contact instead of to their sides and that they should watch for, and work on that.

Notice where I'm sitting?

After a few minutes, I decided that I was bored and tried to get Mom to play with me - bad move on my part!  Needless to say, I attracted Karen's attention and before you knew it, she was taking control of my leash - uh, oh!  I tried a few times to jump around with Karen holding the leash but it didn't take long for me to figure out that she wasn't going to put up with my antics.

Karen said,
"yeah, the grass is greener on the other side, isn't it?"

At least I wasn't the only one selected
for private instruction...  of course, Edgar is only 14 weeks old.

We took another stroll around the parking lot to work on our leash control and came back to the circle and got pointers on how we did, and then worked on our "downs" and a few other things.  I wish I could say I did better the second time around, but alas, I found my leash in Karen's hands a few more times before the night was over...  We ended the night lying down while our parents rubbed our bellies, checked our teeth, and massaged our paws - kind of like being at a puppy spa.

Mars (right) looks like she's doing well

Ok, pay close attention for this next part...

This little guy is only about 14 weeks old!

Ahhh, it's finally over...

I think I may have been suffering from hunger pangs.  Normally I eat around 6 p.m. and that night I had to wait until after the class, so I think that I just didn't have the fuel to keep me focused and on my A game.  I hope that things will go better next time.

Earlier in the week Mom had a dentist appointment so Dad and I went with her (sorry, no pictures for this one).  No one seemed surprised when we arrived which is a good thing.  You never know what to expect when you go someplace new.  As it turns out, one of the doctors in the office has a therapy dog that he brings to work to help with patients that are anxious or afraid (like young children) - how cool! 

Dad and I sat in a corner of the examining room and watched while Mom had to swish some funny blue stuff in her mouth, get her teeth scraped, polished and finally cleaned with an ultrasonic cleaner.  Everyone thought that I would react to the ultrasonic thing, but I didn't.  I was really good and laid on the floor in the corner.

This week I also had a brief encounter with my first thunderstorm.  Mom opened the garage door and we sat in there for about 10 minutes listening and watching the storm.  I only heard a few distant rumbles of thunder and a couple of brief flashes of lightening - nothing to freak me out, but enough to get my attention.  I guess it wasn't a bad first introduction to a storm and maybe when the first big storm occurs it won't scare me too much.

Saturday we went to visit Grandma and take her computer back to her.  She had a little problem that required wiping the hard drive (whatever that means) and re-installing everything.  While we were there Grandma made a few minor adjustments to my big girl cape so that I could start wearing it.  Check it out...

My first puppy cape
(age 10 weeks)

Yeah!  I can finally wear my big girl cape!
(age 5-1/2 months)

Besides a few restaurant outings and walks to the grocery store, the rest of the week was pretty quiet.  It was raining on Sunday morning so we decided it would be a good day to just hang out and be couch potatoes, or in my case, a floor potato.

That's all folks... see you next week!

I'm trying to sleep, must you take a picture???

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

One step forward, two steps back...

I've pretty much gotten over using Mom's arms as a teething toy, but for some reason, my newest fascination is playing with rugs, and not the cheap ones...  There's really something cool about the edges of the rug that make them fun to dig at, flip over and then use my nose to push around.  I'm sure it's just a puppy phase and will pass quickly, but in the meantime, it's kind of fun, well except when I end up in time out.  Give me a couple of feet and I take a mile!

I also seem to have a fetish for shoes and toes...  I can't pass up a shoe left lying on the floor, or toes poking through sandals, so be warned, if I'm around you may be missing a shoe, or worse yet, you may end up with puppy slobber on your toes!

Ok, now let's see if I can identify some redeeming qualities about myself.  For one thing, I'm pretty darn cute, ok, everyone already knows that, so let's try smart.  Yeah, you already knew about that too.  How about funny?  I'll bet you didn't know about the comedian lurking inside me.  This week brought out a new side of me that most people didn't know existed...

The other day Mom was getting dressed for work and I was about 5 feet away laying on the floor with my head on my water bowl, only this time I wasn't sleeping (like other incriminating photos that you may have seen in the past).  I quietly stuck my nose in the bowl and before you knew it I was blowing bubbles in the water!  Mom turned and watched me and started laughing so hard that tears were streaming down her face!  Her laughing caught me off guard for a few seconds, but before you knew it, I was back blowing bubbles again.  She thought it was so funny that I did it a third time.  Unfortunately Dad was still in bed and there wasn't a camera close by to capture it on film so you'll just have to take my word for it that it actually happened.  Oh yeah, and by the way, Dad thinks he caught me doing it again tonight.  If the water on the floor was any indication, then he's probably right, but I'll never tell.  (PS:  Don't tell Mom, but her mascara ended up a little smudged the other morning - LOL!)  Tiny bubbles...

Now for the more serious side of things, my exposures for the week...

The first part of the week was business as usual, except for Thursday and Friday when I was an absolute pain in the you know where.  Both days I kept hearing the word "NO" go in one ear and out the other.  No noise, no biting, no chewing, in the left ear...  No noise, no biting, no chewing, out the right ear.  On Friday morning Mom actually sent Dad a text that said "Can you say MONSTER???"  Can you believe Mom would talk about her angel like that?  The bad part of that text is that Dad would be arriving at the office in about an hour to pick us up to attend a special luncheon that the guide dog puppies in training were invited to.  So far my behavior didn't bode well for what was to come for the rest of the day.

Dad showed up around 11:15 and we went to Ruth Eckerd Hall just a few minutes from the office.  They had arranged a lunch & learn for their employees and they invited Southeastern Guide Dogs to attend and make a presentation about the organization.  As part of that presentation, the PIT (pups in training - boy that's probably not a great acronym to use) were invited to be the show & tell portion of the program.  There's nothing better than cute furry little puppies to break the ice.

Ruth Eckerd Hall (Administration Building)

We were one of the first to arrive and of course since I was already having a not so great day, I decided to keep pushing the envelope.  I pulled at my leash, tried to jump on people, wanted to play with the other dogs, and just in general was a PITA (amazing how you change an acronym by adding one letter and it's still bad).  I know it's hard on everyone, including me when I act like this, but I'm glad to know that Mom & Dad still love me and recognize that I will have my puppy moments and bad days.  I don't know how much longer I can get away with that excuse, but believe me, I'm going to milk it for all it's worth!

As part of the presentation, we got to take brief a tour of the facility and meet many of the staff members, including the President & CEO, Zev Buffman.  I rolled over and let him rub my belly... I hope that helped make up for my puppy antics.

President & CEO Zev Buffman getting mobbed by puppies!

He really liked us!

I hope I redeemed myself ...
(I almost knocked the poor man over!)

Katy (left), Gail (center) and Legion (right)
Vying for attention!

I really like it when I'm
the center of attention!

Popi gets his turn

Dr. Don & Shadow taking a break

Break time is over, back to work!

Laurel (left), Gail (center - as usual),
Shadow (upper center) and Popi (right)

Have I mentioned how much I love people?!!!

Katie meets Katy - how sweet!

Everyone was extremely nice to all of us puppies, I only hope that we left them with a positive impression (I'm sorry I wasn't playing up to my A game that day!).  At the end of the day, they let us go out onto the stage and get our pictures taken - watch out Broadway, here I come!

Ric, Betty & Popi.  Cheryl & Laurel.  Mom, Dad & me.
Trudy & Legion.  Dr. Don & Shadow.

The curtain being raised startled me!

Cheryl & Laurel - Checking out the stage

All-in-all, it was really a great event!

Thank you to Sue Wilson at REH and Carol Cohen at SEGD for arranging the event!  If you get a chance, check out  They have some pretty awesome events that you can attend.  Just tell them Gail sent you!  Well ,on second thought, maybe you shouldn't...

On Saturday we attended our semi-monthly Puppy Raisers meeting at Largo Central Park.  Now I have to admit, when I heard the meeting was at a park, I thought, "ho, hum, just another park", boy was I wrong!  First of all, this park is huge!  Lots of trees and soft, green grass (not that I'm an expert on grass...), open space, playground areas, and picnic pavilions.  By the way, did I tell you about the soft green grass?

Waiting for everyone to arrive
(Bob & Justice, Carolyn & Sunny)

Nancy & Orchid, Sue & Katy, Roger & Gail

Roger & Gail, Sue & Katy

Karen, Susan & Shadow,
Young Mr. Woodman & His Ambassador Dog

Essie (center) is going in for formal training this week.
Good luck Essie!

It's really amazing what a small world this is, just a few weeks ago Uncle Paul called Mom to tell her about meeting someone at a conference in Atlanta that he had gone to grade school with eons ago in a small town in PA (if I told you where it was I'd have to kill you...  I think that was a line in a movie).  You're probably wondering how this story ties into our meeting in the park.  Well, let me fill you in...

While we were waiting for everyone to arrive a bunch of us were hanging out beneath the shade of a picnic pavilion.  Mind you, this pavilion had been posted as reserved for the day, but since we were only going to be there for a few minutes we didn't think anyone would mind.  Anyway, a couple of nice ladies came over to the pavilion and one of them started talking to Dad.  It turns out that she works at Ruth Eckerd Hall and had attended the lunch & learn the previous day and recognized him.  Go figure, you'd think she would've recognized me, or Katy, or Shadow, or Laurel... well maybe it's just as well she didn't recognize me since I didn't have a stellar performance on Friday.  It turns out that she was there for a family party; it must've seemed like a surprise party for her when she got there and found about 15 PIT (there's that acronym again, I really must get someone to help me come up with a better one) at their pavilion!  As it turns out, my fellow PIT, Katy and I had our picture taken with her at REH the day before.  I hope her second impression of me was much better!

Katy (left) - Gail (right)
It looks like she can't choose a favorite.  :-)

After everyone arrived we walked past the kiddie playground to find a spot to work on our obedience training.  Boy, do I wish we would've stopped in there and done our training!  All of the equipment looked nice and new and get this, they had AstroTurf for grass!!!  How cool is that?  Ok, well, I may have had a little problem a couple of months ago at Tropicana Field on their AstroTurf (mind you, I was only about 12 weeks old...) so it might have been a good idea to avoid it.  It was pretty fun to walk by everyone, it was like a little parade of PIT.  We even walked past a group of dogs that were there with the ASPCA learning how to socialize.  I wonder what they'd think of PIT Boot Camp?

We found a nice shady spot under the portico of a building and began working on our obedience training.  We weren't too far along when I decided I was restless and wanted to play.  Unfortunately, I let out a playful growl and Carolyn, our Area Coordinator heard it and wanted to know who had done it.  Can you believe it, Mom ratted me out!  FYI... growling is not an acceptable behavior for a PIT.  Mom got me re-focused pretty quickly and so on we went with the training.

Carolyn explains our obedience drill

Good thing Cheryl's paying attention
because Jam doesn't seem too interested

Jam is starting to get into it

Gail wants to make sure she doesn't miss anything
so she knows what to do when it's her turn
Two of the dogs, Cherry and Essie, are getting ready to go IFT (in for training) next week and since they were the most mature dogs there, Carolyn had them do a down/stay in the center of the walkway.  Our job was to weave in and out around them while ignoring them, and they in turn had to ignore us.  We also had to walk past the other pups in the group (see, even that turns into a bad acronym) without reacting.  I only goofed when I walked past Bobby, a 6 month old chocolate lab that just joined our group.  Carolyn said, "see what happens when a girl experiences her first chocolate?"  Get it, chocolate... chocolate lab???  LOL!  Carolyn is pretty funny too!  Anyway, most of us did pretty well with that exercise so we decided to head out and find the train.

Gail makes her way around the other puppies
without too much trouble

and then she meets Bobby, the Chocolate Lab
and gets distracted

The puppy parade passes the playground

We walked past the train depot and over to a railroad crossing to watch the train go by.  We split up and some of us crossed the tracks to watch.  After a few minutes, the train came by with it's whistle blowing and people waving.  It startled a few of us (me included) but we recovered pretty quickly and watched it go by.  We waited for it to come back again, but they must've decided to take a break so we wandered onto the next training spot.

Is this the right side of the tracks?

Or, is this the right side of the tracks?

Chug, chug, chug, chug...

Woooo, woooo!

All aboard!

Time to find our next practice area

What a motley crew!

We located a parking lot that was pretty remote and secure.  Carolyn pulled some sidewalk chalk out of her bag and started drawing boxes on the pavement.  What on earth could she be up to???  Next she had the "blonds" (yellow labs & golden retrievers) and the "blacks" (black and chocolate labs) split into two groups and had the "blacks"remove their capes.  She then explained that we would be playing Puppy Tic, Tac, Toe.  What???  Who's ever heard of Puppy Tic, Tac, Toe?  We went through some basic rules, picked a team captain and started the match.  The idea of the game was that each team placed a dog in a box (what are we, toys?) in a sit/stay until one of the teams scored Tic, Tac, Toe.  If the dog moved from the sit/stay 3 times then they had to leave the playing board. For pups under 10 months, their raiser got to stay with them (didn't want to be chasing us little ones around the parking lot).  As it turns out, the "Blonds" won 2 out of 3 matches, and the 3rd match was a tie - Go Blonds!!!  Whoever came up with the saying "dumb blond", didn't know us!  Who would've thought that a game of Tic, Tac, Toe could be so much fun?

Carolyn & Sonny demonstrate the rules

Bobby is the first to pick a square

Looks like the blonds win this one!

The board is full!

To watch a video of the game, click on the link below.  If the link doesn' work, you can copy and paste it into your browser.  Thanks to Cheryl McLean for putting this video together!

After the meeting, Stephanie, and Cheryl (Fred couldn't make it) and her PIT Jam invited us to lunch.  We decided to try a new restaurant and as it turns out, it was one that Dad had been wanting to check out for a couple of months.  We went to the Oaks Cafe and found a quite table in the back.  Jam and I were pretty tired from playing the game (he's a blond too) so we were very good and laid down and slept through the meal.  Auntie Stephanie had this really awesome looking blueberry french toast and Cheryl had red velvet french toast.  I've heard of red velvet cake & cupcakes, but never french toast!  Mom stuck with the traditional Cuban sandwich and Dad had shrimp enchiladas.  Me personally, I think that the red velvet french toast sounded pretty awesome.  It was really nice to spend time with Auntie Stephanie, Cheryl and Jam, I hope we get a few more chances before the big guy has to go IFT (probably this summer).

Speaking of IFT, Good Luck Cherry, Essie & Legion (he attended the REH event and is from the South Pinellas group)!  I know it's a sad day for you and your Puppy Raiser families, but it will be the 2nd best day for the people that get matched with you, the first is the day they complete their training with you and attend the graduation ceremony!

And with that, I think it's a good idea to end this weeks' blog!

Take care, and don't forget to check back soon!

Katy (left) & Gail (right)
Girls just wanna have fun...