Thursday, November 22, 2007

Tai's Evaluation

Around nine months or so, a GDA dog goes to spend some time up at the kennels for their evaluation. The trainers (or puppy department) takes the puppy out into public, goes through their commands, and makes a general report of where the puppy needs to improve, what they do well, etc. We dropped Tai off, and then picked him up on the way to the mountains this past weekend.

We got the wiggly black dog back, and then noticed the envelope stuck to the wall - "Tai". We took a deep breath, opened our eyes, and read his eval.

First off - "energy level - high!". Complete with exclamation point. "General behavior - excited". Gee, you think? Tai has a TON of energy, however his brother Truman usually has more. And 'Rooman only got a MODERATE energy rating. Evidently, Tai didn't get all of his "play" out with his roomie at the kennel or had been pounding Red Bull, so he was rarin' to go when they came to get him for his eval. His obedience commands were rated good. He did fine in public, was excited but able to contain himself around other dogs, did NOT stalk the kennel cat this time, and over all did a good job.

In the comments section, they did comment that Tai can be a tougher dog to handle just because of his sheer size, but he knows exactly what is expected of him with commands and takes correction well. He's just 74 pounds of hurry-up-let's-go. No further evaluation planned. And since we've had him back, we see that he's turned a corner. His recall is really very good, and he is much faster at executing his commands.

All said and done... I think we'll keep him. At least until next August, anyway!

Monday, November 19, 2007

And Then We Said Goodbye




We went to Lake Arrowhead in the local mountains this weekend. We met my parents, our brother, sister-in-law and our niece there at an uncle's cabin for the weekend. We took Paige and picked Tai up from GDA on our way, as he was up there for his nine month evaluation (see the next post).

We were up there to hang out with the family, but also to hand Paige off. She is going to live with my parents. My mom is very excited to have her, she's always loved Paige - they even share the same birthday.... and Paige is a sucker for anyone who rubs her belly. Mom and Paige have plans already - obedience (for mom and Paige to get used to each other), agility (I promise to get video of Paige the moose going through the weave-poles), and therapy dogs.

We've now been through three turn-ins, and IMO, this was harder. I know that my parents will be good to her (and from the looks of it, Paige already has them wrapped around her paws), and we will get regular updates. But still. It was still hard to drive away, with those huge brown eyes wondering where we were going with Tai.

I cried all the way down the mountain.

And I know she's fine. She went home with my mom and dad, and has an upstairs bed, a downstairs bed, a dog run, a big backyard, and oh yeah, a huge fleecy squeaky bone that she's convinced is straight from heaven.

We get to see Paiges on Saturday when we go down there - we're going with my parents to San Diego to see my alma mater (Go Frogs!) play at San Diego State. As soon as we find the camera, we will post some pics from this past weekend.




Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Return of the RamPaige and Tai-rade

video

This is what happened when Tai got his big sister back. Can you even tell who is who?

The Last Call

As some of you GDA people know, we got a call from GDA on Friday.

Paige has been released from the program.

When I spoke to the head of the puppy department, she said that Paige's dog distraction is too strong to continue. We knew this was a problem when we agreed to take her on just about a year ago. She made progress, but as many of you know, the stress of the harness and making decisions can bring out issues and difficulties in all dogs. She lamented that Paige is such a sweet girl and that her guide work was really excellent, but that this was one difficulty that she would not be able to overcome, and they did not want to break her spirit.

What followed next was a jumble of mixed emotions - and still kinda is, in a way. I called Matthew at work and explained what had happened, still feeling stunned - after all, we got Paige's second postcard not that long ago. He was able to leave work, especially since his supervisor had known Paige, with very little trouble. I, on the other hand, not being able to bring a dog to this job, had a harder time, complicated by the fact I couldn't find a single person higher than myself. I left my boss a phone message and email with a quick prayer for understanding, and left.

We called our wonderful area leaders, closest friends, and then dropped off Tai with his puppy friend Weeko. We had no idea what to expect - this is one part of the process we had not experienced, and did not want to have Tai the 72 pound teenager to distract from whatever might happen (more on him in a sec). The drive up there was odd, because while we were both sort of emotional, both of us were also feeling guilty for feeling happy. We were reminded that this truly is a win-win: it's a win if she's a guide, but it's also a win if she's not. We just didn't know what to do with this win, yet.

Paige had just had a bath and the head of the kennel department brought her to us still pretty damp, but it was a damp, wiggly, happy Paiges that barrelled towards us. She knocked off my sunglasses and me onto my butt much like her "big brother" Voight does when he sees us after a long absence. She immediately pushed her head into our chests as hard as she could - Paige's ultimate gesture of love and affection. We were told all the necessary paperwork would be mailed. We walked her to the truck, she jumped in like she'd never been gone, and sighed a very contented sigh.

Matthew picked up Tai, and I stayed with the Paiges. I got a text message before Matthew left to come home: he knows. Tai had glued his nose to Matthew as soon as he saw him - Tai was scenting his sister! When Tai came out into the backyard, they barrelled at each other, tails a-waggin'. Tai is now fully as big as Paige, weighs as much, with much bigger feet. We think that she's wondering what we fed him while she was gone.

Paige is not going to be staying with us. A part of why we do the whole GDA thing in the first place is that we don't have a dog door for a puppy and truly, we are pretty busy people (as our spotty blogging record attests). It would not be fair to take Tai everywhere and Paige hang out at home by herself. Paige is going to stay with my mom, whose last dog passed away the same day we turned in Liam, August 2006. Mom always wanted to do therapy dogs with her Watson, but he turned out to be ill of health and therefore cranky. Paige will be perfect.

So it turns out that from getting Paige to getting Paige BACK is almost a year precisely. We are still adjusting to the change. We are still pretty emotionally out of whack currently, but these past 36 hours have been amazing on so many levels. We will have Paige until next weekend, and then she will go on to her new home and next adventure.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Happy Birthday to our Paiges



Our big, sweet baby girl is two years old today. It has been almost a year since she came to us, a silly moose with a lot of love in her heart to give.

We miss her dearly, but after passing her first test, we know she is exactly where she's supposed to be.

Happy Birthday Paige!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

That's our girl, part II


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Calendar Time


I love October. My wife and I started dating in October, got married in October, our favorite holiday is in October, plus hockey starts in October, what more do you want??

Sorry, back to the dog thing. So, it brought me great joy to flip over the calendar to October and see Liam, Voight in harness, and our friends' (and area leaders' puppy), Mika as the picture for the month (my wife keeps telling me to write about Mika and her special place in my heart, but that will have to wait until a later time). Enjoy this picture from the 2007 GDA South Bay calendar, featuring three of the prettiest black dogs we know.
For the rest of the story, well, we will let Jenny take care of that.


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

He Even Does The Laundry

So, over the weekend we were being domestic, doing pretty mundane stuff.

This is how he came out of our bedroom. No posing involved.















I've no idea how he got under a pair of my jeans. At least he helped sort the darks from the whites.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

That's Our Girl!

There are so many things I would like to name this post, most of them words like "WOOOHOOO", "YEAH!!", "MY PAIGES!!", and other general sounds of excited happiness. We got Paige's first postcard from the school. It's been six weeks since we gave her back, and other than a spurious "she's okay" from our source, it's been a long six weeks.

We got back from the Walk For the Animals, and there it was. You see, one of Paige's brothers has been dropped from the training ("career changed" as we call it) a few weeks ago, and that upped our nerves a bit. And keep in mind, she was close to being dropped before she came here, and she was never good with the crate, which is how they travel to training sites when they are in for training. But we had faith.

She's a long way from graduation, and she still has at least two big tests ahead of her. But she's that much closer, and we can't tell you how good that feels. And for the curious among you, this is what we get:


We Went To The Animal Fair...

(Does anyone else remember that children's song?) I digress. Today was the Long Beach Walk For The Animals. It was held at a local park, and all various and sundry animals were welcome to come and participate in a 2K or a 5K walk. GDA has always had a presence, and our area leaders were at a conference, so this early this morning, we packed up the EZ-up, GDA banner, etc, and went to represent our wonderful organization.

We were set up next to a dog supply type booth and the opossum rescue booth (complete with live opossum). Tai was, as usual, uber interested in everything. The biggest distraction to him were the small dogs. I'm not sure at what point today we actually managed to convince him that the Chihuahuas and other tiny barking things were NOT squeaky toys to be chased, but he gave up after awhile and managed to relax and be a good representative of our school.

Our mission was to sign up new puppy raisers, pre-order our 2008 calendars, and generally promote awareness. We think we have a few families interested in being puppy raisers, but the calendars were a no-go. We did however speak to a few people about their family members who were visually impaired. We gave them the info in order to connect with our school to see if they would qualify to receive a guide. That we may have recruited graduates as well as puppy raisers was very satisfying.

At about noon, the Walk had various religious leaders of the community come and do a Blessing of the Animals. Tai and his friends waited in line to be blessed by a local priest. Tai did his best to have respect - he slurped the priest, threw a paw at him asking to be pet more, and then tried to drink the Holy water the father was holding. Sigh. Tai makes an impression if nothing else.

Sunburned and feeling that we had our mission was accomplished, several us trooped over to a local mall to have a bite, where upon Tai finally crashed, having missed his post breakfast, prenoon, and postnoon naps, and oh yeah, walked 3.1 miles with Matthew.
Here you can see some of our group hanging out at our booth, promoting GDA and awareness everywhere:

Friday, September 21, 2007

Happy Birthday, Brudders!!

Happy birthday to Liam and his brother Lomax (as well as the rest of the L's, wherever they may be)! It's hard to believe that it's been slightly less than three years since we brought him home, and only slightly less believable that he has been a guide since early February.

We sent an email to his partner, and will be sending a gift as well - Liam loved Nyla-rings, as you can see!! (credit to Jenny for taking, and naming, this picture: "One Ring To Rule Them All..."


We're sending out many hugs, ear-rubs, and kisses to the L's! Happy Birthday!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Paige Update 9/15

According to our sources, Paige is doing well. Actually, the conversation went something like this:

Me: "Is our girl doing okay?"

Our source, whom I will call Juno, responded (while looking around furtively, then nodding head) "Yes, she's good."

All we needed to hear.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Tai's Fan Club

So this weekend, we have plans to go to a concert. This would not be a Mozart LA Philharmonic type event, but of the loud rock variety at a local arena (no, locals, we're not going to LA Invasion). Given that, we would not subject Tai (or any dog) to such an event, so we were looking to farm him out.

I don't know how it is with other schools (please tell us, just for grins), but when we are in a situation where we need a pup to go elsewhere, we either take them to the school to be kenneled or we have them puppy sat. It was a pretty simple email I sent to our area leaders, asking if someone would take Tai for the weekend.

Then the deluge started.

I believe the total was three phone calls, six emails since about ten this morning when the email went out. And I wouldn't be surprised if more came. (Tai will go spend the weekend with a family who has had a graduate, but is not currently raising, so they are just going to love him to death.) Seriously, though, I can just see it now... Tai, being stalked by the paparazzi, ending up on TMZ.com... And truly, what a little ham he is, too. Anywhere he goes, he assumes that everyone is there for HIM... to pet him, talk baby-talk to him, you get the general idea. This popularity thing is obviously going to his head!

Okay, y'all, I'm getting tired. Time to put His Highness to bed!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Obedience 101

Tai has been a lot of things, a second puppy, a little brother, a really big boy, but he is also the very first one we have had to complete our obedience class. Let us explain. We attend an obedience class down the street from Matthew's work, as do several of the guide dog pups in our group. It is held on Monday nights - but so are our monthly group meetings. Ergo, we have missed classes - and it just so happened that with both Voight and Liam, our monthly meeting fell on the last obedience class - so truly, we have never "completed" class. Our instructor, Chris, is an exceptionally nice guy (he would like to raise a GDA pup, but given his line of work, he cannot, so he lets all of us GDA people come for free) and he completely understands why we miss class and doesn't mind.

Tai went this past Monday to class. We had actually lost track of the classes and didn't know that this was the last one, so when Chris told us to put our dogs on a down stay, and walk around the corner, we weren't sure how it was going to go. Everyone walked around the corner and we were followed only by a little Pit bull who didn't want to be separated from her mommy. No Tai. Hmmm. Chris had us come back to about 12 feet in front of the row of dogs, and then turn and walk away from them. I (Amy) walked away from the dogs, and did not hear the scratch of claws on asphalt. I reached the other side - and only three dogs are left: a gigantic Rottweiler, Tai, and a chocolate lab. We then had to walk back to the twelve foot mark, say the dog's name, and then turn and walk back. I tried to give Tai the I'm-saying-your-name-not-recalling-you look (if that even exists), said his name firmly, and walked back to my spot. While I was walking back, I'm mouthing to the people watching "IS HE STAYING?"

He did. The chocolate lab broke, and ran after her daddy. Still Tai stayed. Just him and the Rottie.

We then had to walk back, kneel down, say their name again. Rottie sat there. Tai couldn't take it and RAN into my arms. I caught him in full run, gave him a squeeze, and told him he was a good boy. Seven and a half months, and doing down stays - on a day, that truly, he had been a bit of a knucklehead. That's m'boy.

There is another story here - but it wasn't our pup. Very dear friends of ours raised a GDA pup named Willow a few years back. She was joy personified, the happiest dog that ever has lived. She did the same obedience class - except when everyone went around the corner, she looked left, looked right - and led a full-on mass break of all the dogs. One of our friends, who witnessed it said it looked like Willow had a "Sound of Music" moment - running in the hills, happy as can be - and just happened to take all of her friends with her. Willow has been a guide for a couple of years now - and from what we hear, is still as happy as ever.

Maybe Tai will follow her lead in about a year and a half...

Saturday, September 1, 2007

What do YOU call it?

video

Some people call it the Labrador Shuffle. Some call it the Kirby Derby, the crazies, the scoots, warthog, the zoom-zooms. We call it:

RAMPAIGE!

(sorry, we just figured out how to get video on here - we're a little slow)

GDA Golf Tournament



Every year, GDA has a golf tournament as a fundraiser in Southern California. This year it was at the Calabasas Country Club. Puppy raisers are sometimes asked to work at the tournament, not only for set up, but to be on the greens or at the tee, a puppy in hand, to talk to the golfers, encourage them, etc. We have been asked to work the past two years. Last year we took Epcot, a friend's puppy, as we had just turned in Liam. This year we took the newly-neutered Tai, who (of course) was his usual uber-confident self.

It was held a few weeks ago on a Monday - we got there very early in the morning; the men helped set up the easy-up canopies for those on the tee boxes who had no shade, distributed coolers, etc. The women were mostly helping sell the tee packages, raffle tickets, etc. Amy and Tai were assigned to the putting contest, which took place before the tournament started.

At first Tai wanted to help - "I'll get that little white ball for you, sir!" After awhile he ignored the ball, although he did not understand, sitting on the green as we were, why it was occasionally raining golf balls. One would plunk down, and he would look around like "Did you see THAT? Where did that come from?" Tai was also borrowed to be on the "photo hole" where golfers would take pictures with the puppies. Although his belly shaved from his surgery, who WOULDN'T want their picture taken with such a pretty boy, even if he is seven months old and ALL BOY? (I believe the word "pistol" was used, much to Amy's dismay, but he wasn't a bad pup...just his usual confident boy self).

We had the banquet after, and there was a live auction for a tour of the Ronald Reagan Ranch, as well as a silent auction. Tai didn't care. It was cool inside the dining room, and before we knew it, out he went! Poor little dude had had a long hot day, being petted, photographed, and complimented. We were honored to work the golf tournament, and have had a fabulous time working each time. Although Tai won't be here this time next year, if we work it again, it will be
hard to top moments like this:

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Next Paige Begins


Well, we have survived another turn in. One year ago this past weekend, we gave Liam back to the school. Little did we know that we had yet to meet our Paige, and that we'd be going through another turn-in in a year. (And yes, the idea that Tai is not quite seven months now and that in a year he'll be about nineteen months, ready to go, has hit us like a ton of bricks.)

In the tradition that was inadvertently started when Voight went In For Training, we decided to have a turn-in party for the very last huzzah, allowing Paige to say goodbye to her friends, two and four legged, before she went off to be a guide. And truly, it wasn't just Paige: of the five dogs going in from our South Bay group, four were present - Paige, her brother Palmer, Reese, and Kipper. We invited quite a few people, puppyraisers and colleagues from work, as well as family members - and ended up with about twenty people and twelve dogs. And for the record: two Golden-doodles, one Golden-Lab cross, and nine labs.

These dogs continually amaze me - with all of them running amok in the backyard, there was nary a grunt or growl. When they got a little too rambunctious, the leashes went on and everyone was calm. The highlights: Ember, the Golden-Lab, leading the charge(all twelve dogs) with a ring toy in her mouth, around Matthew and THROUGH our friend's legs; Tai deciding that Oceana was THE prettiest female he'd ever seen and tried to "prove it"; Paige getting her last loves from, oh, basically everyone.

So everyone went home pretty dang tired, and Paige was no exception (Tai went with his friend Weeko home, so we could have our last night with Paige). She got into bed, thumped her tail contentedly, and was out and snoring before you could say "g'night".

The next day: as Matthew says, turn-in is a really good thing. That they got there and are going to be trained for guidework is the whole point. But it still kinda sucks.

We got there early (gluttons for punishment, I guess) and spent a bit of alone time with Paige in one of the dorms that the school has for the graduates (they had part of the building under construction; usually these rooms aren't open). We told her that we hoped that the next time we saw her, she'd be in one of those rooms with her new partner.

As we have said, you get there, you have lunch, and they talk to you about what is next for the dogs, that you can call and check on them at any time, and that you have Given The Gift. I have to say that we were impressed with the trainer who spoke to us. She was very reassuring, explained the next few weeks in much more detail that I have heard before (how they divide the dogs among the three trainers, for example), and told us which trainers would have this string of dogs. Incidentally, one of the trainers who will be working with Paige's string also worked with both Voight and Liam, and another trainer worked with Liam's string as well - a very good thing.

And then it was time.

You take the pictures with the littermates, and then you walk down to the kennels, and they start announcing who goes where with whom. Our little girl was in kennel four, with her brother Palmer, whom she knows and likes. She went right in, seemed very much at home, jumping up to look into the next-door kennels to see her new neighbors. We believe that Paige spent a lot of time in the kennels before we got her, and she's never been known to stress there, so that is one comfort. Then it was time to leave.

We told her that we love her, to try her very best and be the good girl that we know she is. We know she's in the excellent hands of the kennel staff, as well as the trainers, but it's amazing how much you miss her as soon as you shut the door.

A friend of ours once said that instead of the puppies getting medicine for heartworm, it should be the puppyraiser, because the puppies always worm their way into our hearts. Amen.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

It's Time


Well, on Saturday, it will be time. Paige is really going in for training. She's come a LONG way, and we couldn't be more proud of her...but....

anyone know of a country that doesn't have an extradition treaty?

I know, I know, we have to give her back, as we gave Voight and Liam back before her, but this is the really hard part. The two of us have differences in how we perceive turn-in also, but it's one of those things that everyone handles differently.

It's been hilarious, the people who have wanted "their last Paige kiss/ hug/ puppysit/ step on the foot. I got a call today from the lady I dropped Paige off with: she had taken Paige to the OTHER lady who's been helping us with the pups while I can't take one to work. The other lady wasn't pleased that SHE hadn't had her last puppysit of Paige (sorry, tomorrow and Friday Paige will go with her daddy, and Tai will be puppysat).

It has also been very hard not to have a pup with me (Amy) at work. I miss the thump-thumps of the tail when I sit down in my chair, the small (or large) snores emanating from the corner.

We're going to miss her.

I don't know what all happens at other schools when you give your dog back, but with us, we have a luncheon up at the school, they have speakers that tell you how wonderful you are, that you have Given The Gift, but still:

You take your dog down to the kennels. You take their collars off. You kiss them goodbye.

You turn around and leave.

Someone asked us after our last meeting why we didn't cry when we talked about turning the Paiges back in. It was nearly four weeks ago. It still wasn't real. And we were dealing with other changes, my new job, etc. Trust me, I'm making up for it now.

We are so proud of Paige, and we truly love what we do. We wouldn't stop doing this for anything. But as our friend tells us, it's like a rollercoaster to raise a guide. The car goes up, the car goes down. You just hang on for dear life.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Verdict Is In...


They are going to fix Tai.

Tai came home from his "pre-evaluation" on Wednesday. He had a GLOWING report: he is ahead of the curve, learning-wise, for his age, and is learning self control appropriately.

That being said, he's a lot of dog.

The instructor who gave him his evaluation was the same that looked at Amy during obedience last weekend and asked "How's Paige doing?"...except.... Amy had Tai. We told her, we don't lie in those monthly evaluations where we say that he's an ox.

(BTW, we weighed him at school: 58 lbs at 6 1/2 months of age. Lord, are we in trouble.)

We appreciate that Tai will be fixed early, and will skip the raging hormones phase, and in that, may not learn some of those habits that could interefere with guide work later on. It was also nice to have an early evaluation to know that he is not lagging, being the "second child" if you will. We asked what we should be working him on, or what concerns they had.

"Nothing. Keep doing what you're doing".

Yes, ma'am.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

2 Years



Happy 2nd Anniversary to Voight and his best friend Willow, both who have been with their partners for two years as of July 31st.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

A Moose By Any Other Name...

I know occasionally other fellow puppy bloggers have posted lists of favorite nicknames for their respective pooches. GDA's company line is not to nickname the dogs, so for example, they might not want you to name your pup Victor, because they would be afraid it would turn into Vic (sorry, that one's taken anyway). That being said, EVERYONE we know nicknames their pups, which is a normal sign of affection. The only real difference is that when giving commands, we use their correct and full name (most of the time, anyway) So, without further ado, the not-official-nickname list for:

Paige


Paige-a-roo, RamPaige, Paiges, Yellow Paiges (yes, she's black, but you need to see her rolling in dead grass), Paiger, Moose, Delicate Little Flower, Ow-Get-Off-My-Foot, Gremlin, Big Love, Habibi (thanks to my wonderful Egyptian friend), You've-Been-Paiged, Paige-Ra (not like She-Ra, like Moth-ra), Baby Girl





Tai

Tainormous, Tai'erd (tired), My Tai, TaiZilla, Tai Chi (yes, we forgot to consider pun potential when selecting his name), Ox, Close-Your-Mouth-When-Kissing-Me, Barky-Pants, Bottomless Pit, Sir, Little Love, Bicious Veastie, The Dark Lord, Captain Ridiculous, Major Lee Ridiculous, Little Boy

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Dark Lord and Voldemoof

With all the Harry Potter hysteria going on - yes, I (Amy) finished the book, Matthew's speed-reading it right now - I take you back to a few weeks ago when we hosted Jenny and Truman over at our place for a little puppy shuffle time. Figuring that everyone was tired, we took Tai, Truman, and Paige to see The Order of The Phoenix.

We must refer you back to the LAST time that we took Tai to the movies, one of us has STILL not seen all of Pirates 3. We figured that that was a while ago, he's so much older, it will be fine.
He did not have an accident in the theatre. Yay. However...during the movie, Hagrid's dog Fang (a very cool looking Neopolitan Mastiff, BTW) barked on-screen.

So did Tai. So did Truman. Off-screen. (Paige lay there like a bump on a pickle.)

The poor people in front of us jumped (they must have thought they had surround sound), but at least they had a good sense of humor. And then it happened again. And again. Finally, Jenny and I got wise and decided that everytime Hagrid came on the screen, or any type of creature, dog-like or not, we would bend down, ready to give the quick correction.

We spent the last hour of the movie in the hunched-over position. So because Jenny had decided that Truman belongs in Slytherin (and we know that usually Houses run in families, Sirius Black aside) where else to put Tai than the House that spawned Snape, the Lestranges, and of course, Tom Riddle?

Sure, he LOOKS all sweet and cute, but....Tai is none other than.... The Dark Lord!

If He's Not Broken, Do You Fix Him?

Well, we asked. We asked again. I won't say that we downright begged, but I've considered it. Since Tai turned about four months old, we began asking the school -

"Are you going to fix this one?"

You see, with all of our dogs being left intact until at LEAST fourteen months, and two of those being male, it would be different to have a dog neutered early. Before the hormones. You see where this is going. We finally did get an email from the school, finally. "Sorry, guys, we're going to leave him intact for awhile". The school did schedule a "pre-evaluation" for him (and possibly the two remaining brothers) to go to the school this weekend, and come home next Wednesday. We're really not certain what they can to in such a short amount of time (being only six months and not fully developed yet, most medical tests wouldn't be appropriate), but hey! It's the will of the school, and heck, maybe we just aren't destined to have pup fixed early.

Lest you think I'm being hard on him, Tai's not a bad pup (he really is a good boy) - he's just BIG, and truly, hasn't developed any of the behaviors yet that would come from being intact. But as our obedience instructor said last night:

"He's six months now? In six more months, that's going to be a whole lot of dog to be intact!"

Our point exactly. So right now, Tai has two career paths, "options", as it were: be a guide, or be a potential breeder. But it might be easier from a behavioral standpoint if they were to remove his "options" sooner rather than later!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Mammoth

We did something 4th of July weekend that we had never done before with any of our previous dogs - we took both of them on vacation with us. Matthew's dad has a place up on Mammoth Mountain and so we met Amy's parents, brother, sister-in-law, and five month old niece Eleanor (Ellie) there for a long weekend.

The dogs did great - and boy, did they get dirty! We hiked to Devil's Postpile, a natural hexagonal rock formation, one of only two in the world (the other's in Scotland, for anyone who's interested) and from there, to Rainbow Falls. The pups had never been on trail before (and really, we had never taken a dog on trail before). They were out of jacket, and were allowed to free-range a bit on leash. They were so curious about EVERYTHING! "Oooh, look! A bush! Oh, look, a pinecone! Can I eat pinecones?" The way back was a bit much for Amy, who already had not been feeling well,... and a lot of the trail home was uphill. Well, let's just say that Amy can't say that Paige never did anything for her. During the more extended uptrail parts, Amy held onto Paige - and was pulled up the hill. Can you say uphill assist?

We hiked to Inyo Crater (which to Amy sounds like a joke, but seriously, that's the name), sat around the house and played games, cooked, and basically enjoyed being "away" for a little while.
Matthew, Tai, Paige, Amy, with Ellie and her parents above, at Inyo Crater.

The other really neat thing was seeing both the pups with Ellie. When the pups had seen Ellie the first time, it was Paige who was very solicitous of the baby. This time, it was Tai, barely more than a baby himself, who was facinated by her. He wanted to be near her, smell her, lick her hands and feet (and face, as we found out when he woke her up from a nap on her play-pad). The sweetest time was when we found Ellie asleep on her play-pad, with Tai asleep with his head facing the baby.


And of all of us, guess who were the two who didn't want to go home?




It made us realize that we could go to new places with both dogs, and have a good time too. Having two on vacation was an adventure to say the least, but with Paige going IFT soon, we can't say how glad we are to have gone.

Open House 2007

We know we're more than a month behind, but Guide Dogs of America's annual Open House was last month. Open House is a time where the public is invited to the school for tours, demonstrations, the silent auctions, while the puppy raisers come to help out, run their puppies through the "puppy trials" (an obstacle course, if you will, of combined distractions and obedience), and oh yeah, run the kissing booth.

This is the third time that we have had the...pleasure?...of running the puppy kissing booth (nah, it's not bad). Hey, puppy kisses for a dollar, what a great racket - all we have to do is get pups who kiss (which HAS been a problem from time to time - sometimes they get performance anxiety, or decide that they will NOT kiss another stranger)! Each pup gets a 15-20 minute shift each, although there are some that will get us through the shy or no-show pups (Mika, we're looking at you!). We usually rake in $200 or so, depending on attendance.


The puppy trials are always fun. Amy's dad has still not got over that often times there are hot dogs on strings, swinging from the trees. Basic obedience, distractions in many forms (goats, blow-up plastic pirates, bubble machines, popcorn and dog cookies...) as well as veterinary exams are rated. Neither Paige or Tai placed this year, but it's not about the ribbons, it's about the fun (and the learning, right?).
And did we mention that this year, the theme was "Pirates"?

Everybody say, "ARRRRRRRGH"!!!

We're baa-aack!

Sorry, all, we seem to post only in spurts. Everything has been pretty crazy with taking two dogs on vacation/ Amy getting a new job/ life in general.

So, just a quick update and we will get back to our regularly scheduled posting.

Paige goes in for training August 11. She has also gone through a transition, as Amy cannot take a pup to work - so Paige (and sometimes Tai) has been going to a puppy raiser friend of ours who is retired (and has a pup) during the day. A co worker recently asked "Do you have to pay for the child, er, dog-care?" No, it is through the generosity of friends that we are still able to maintain our two dogs until Paige goes IFT. So Paige has been making friends and being a friend to other puppies in training.

Tai is still Tai - ginormous and silly. His new thing is barking. It's not usually random, but in response to being startled or hearing a noise for which he cannot see a cause. However, it's "BARK!" and we tell him no, and then, under his breath "woof". Fellow raisers, you know what this sounds like - a quiet bark without a dog opening his mouth. The exchange usually goes something like this:

(random, generic noise)

"BARK!" "NO, quiet!"

"woof" "No!"

"woof" "no, quiet!"

"woof..."

He always has to have the last word. Tell us this isn't like having a kid.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Another First

Tai had his first bath. Sure, he looks so sweet and innocent and CLEAN in this picture. What the picture can't show you: the fact that Matthew had to be IN the tub with him to keep him from drinking all the bathwater, the post-bath Labrador shuffle (the characteristic tuck-the-butt-under-and-run that Labs do), and the rolling in the dead grass afterwards. Ergo, we came to the conclusion that really clean puppies don't really exist, it's all an illusion promoted by Labs everywhere in order to get more baths/ time in the water/ rubbed on with towels.

The Great T Swap


Yes, we're here, but life has been getting in the way of keeping you all updated. First, let us talk about The Great T Swap. Tai went to stay with Jenny for a weekend, while his brother, El Presidente Truman, came to stay with us and Paige. Tai, unlike our first two dogs, is not used to being an only puppy, and we thought the change would do him good. Truman, being an only puppy (and one with seemingly boundless energy), got to play all day with the Paiges. Both brothers enjoyed the change... although we're pretty sure Paige is asking when SHE gets to be an only puppy again and when do the little-bundles-of-energy get to go play somewhere else!



Paige and Truman got along just fine, romping in the backyard. Truman was cracking us up with what we and Jenny dubbed the "yellow dog defense". You throw the toy, Paige runs to get it; Truman stands his ground, waits for Paige to get the toy, then runs to grab it for her - conservation of energy as it were. It is amazing to us that two dogs can be so similar and yet so different. Their expressions are so similar, although when one is yellow and one is black, it is harder to see. Truman is built slightly taller and slimmer (both boys we are guessing are more of the "English" type Lab - big feet, stockier bodies, big blocky heads) than Tai who is about five pounds heavier. It's so reminiscent of Lomax and Liam (I must refer our newer readers to previous entries): the yellow dog being a little more tall and slender, and the black dog being shorter and stockier (although both of the L brothers were more the American type Labs).

That same weekend, Jenny met us at our house for a multidog outing to see Pirates of the Carribbean: At World's End. Jenny elected to kennel the Truman, while Paige and Tai went to the show. We'd like to say that we liked the movie, but one of us is still withholding judgement, having missed a good 25 minutes of the middle. Tai kept popping up from his down-stay at our feet. Upon further inspection, his chest was wet. So was the towel he was lying on.

Uh-oh.

So Tai was carried out of the theatre, into the lobby, where he, um, sprung another leak. So he was then carried at a run out the door (the sight of a 38 pound labrador being carried out must have been a sight), to the nearest planter that didn't contain something with thorns. He went there, too. He was then taken across the way to the parking lot where he went TWO MORE TIMES and THEN got "big busy". After that, he walked very calmly back into the movie and promptly fell asleep. At least HE wasn't concerned about what part he had missed in the movie! After that, we returned to get the Truman who had had a nice nap, and went to dinner, after which we swapped the brothers back.
All and all, a good experience (albeit a learning experience for the humans, ahem!), and proof that with a puppy (or two or three) life is NEVER boring (but can be embarrassing, nerve-wracking, amazing, humbling...).

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Love at First Sight?

(And yes, the one on the right is ours. The one on the left we had to give back.)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Lights Are On....

and someone's home!

Voight "got it" at 12 mos. Liam "got it" at six months. Tai is "getting it" but he's still very much a baby, truly too young to "get it". And then there's Paige.

Those of you who are veteran puppy raisers will attest - there is a time when the pup just all of a sudden just "gets it". It's the "OH, you don't WANT me to chase birds/ cats/ my tail/ socks" realization where the lightbulb above their head suddenly begins to shine.

Paige had a puppyhood that was less-than-optimal. For those our readers who are new, Paige was given to us at 12 mos of age, and as sweet as she was, she didn't know much. She didn't know to wait for her food, not to rush out the front or back door (did we mention we live on a very busy street?), and would pick up socks as readily as a toy. She learned quickly however, and here we are, six months later.

She gets it. In my mind, she "got it" when I (Amy) took her to Westwood with me for my class at UCLA this past Tuesday. After the first time she went with me, I didn't think I'd bring her back. She pulled and pulled, and discovered what pigeons are ("Oooh, what are those? I like those, can I chase those?") and would NOT get busy. This week, she was a very different dog. She didn't pull half as much (she still does and probably always will, which will cease to be a problem when they put her in harness), and while she LOOKED at the pigeons, no attempt was made to break forth and conquer said birds. She went under the table without being told while I studied before class, and laid under my chair during class. She also gave very sweet kisses to my prof, proof that she's looking out for me and my grades too!

Beyond that, her recall has improved tremendously, even with Tai hanging from her neck. And FINALLY, she learned the formal "come". I'm not sure how other schools do it, but when our dogs are told come (especially on leash) they are expected to come to your left side, turn around and sit, facing the same direction you are. (This is so the graduate knows where the dog is when they put the harness on.) This was another thing Paige did not know when she came to us. Fortunately, Matthew teaches the formal come extremely well, and Paige learned the come and turn around part. She would never sit. So Tuesday, as we got into the elevator at UCLA, I told her, "Paige, come". She turned around, looked at me, and sat.

"OH, you want me to SIT at the end of this command. I can do that!"

Yes, all. The lights are on, and someone's home.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Growin' Up Indeed!


Well, the little boy is passing developmental milestones all over the place. We don't think he can open his mouth without at least one tooth falling out (Amy HATES it when they lose teeth) and now this - Tai went with our friends Nancy and Ann to the goodbye party for one of the trainers at the guide dog school yesterday. They commented that his collar was too snug and went to adjust it, only to find that he'd outgrown his baby collar. They also had to let out the tummy strap of Tai's puppy bib. The upshot: small he ain't, because he has about THEEEEES much room before he's bustin' out of the bib too!

So we put Paige's jacket on him... and found that he is long enough for the Big Boy jacket. Sure, it looks like a dress, but we had to email the school and ask for a jacket (because by the time it gets here, he will be too big for his bib)! Why don't they stay small forever?

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Black Snapper Strikes Again...

Sometimes there's no where to hide from the sharp teeth of... the Black Snapper!!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Due to overwhelming popular demand

Due to overwhelming popular demand, Paige is once again extending her stay here with us, and we couldn't be happier!

Regular readers of this blog will know that Paige was scheduled to be turned in for formal guide dog training on May 19th. Two trainers at Gda have decided to continue there careers elsewhere, so the May turn in has be cancelled, and Paige will be with us until August.

This also means that we will have two dogs for the next four months. Tai will be around 8 months old when she goes in. That is a long time with two dogs. However, we are grateful for the extra time with Paige. She will benefit greatly from it and have a better chance of succeeding as a guide with the extra time to mature and get her obedience sharpened up.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Look Closely





So the question is:



Whose paws are whose?
















We did this as an experiment, mostly because one of us thought that Tai and Paige's feet are the same size. They're not, but they're darn close! Maybe it's also because everywhere we go, a lot of that we hear is "Wow look at those feet!" "What big paws he has". Sometimes it is accompanied with a pitying look for Amy, who is on the petite side - a sort of "that-puppy-is-going-to-be-walking-her-in-a-few-months" look. But we beg to differ.

This pic makes it a little more obvious...

It's Good to Be a Guide...

....who is allowed to sleep on the bed. Night-night, Voight.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Then There Were Three...

The past two weeks have been chaotic to say the least. We've always been a "one dog" family, so having Tai and Paige together took some getting used to. Then along came Voight.


There only being two of us, there were plenty of hectic moments. That being said, we are so honored and grateful for our relationship with Voight's partner that she trusts us enough to watch Voight while she was overseas. There is also something very special about having three of the four dogs we have raised together. Here they are, posing in their respective attire: Tai in his puppy in training "bib", Paige in her puppy in training jacket, and Voight looking mature in his harness (We had his harness, but obviously we did not use it when he was here. We only put in harness for the picture. When we took him out in public, it was in jacket like Paige, although his did not say "puppy in training".)


It was also interesting to have three dogs in that it put Voight back in our vocabulary. I was channeling my dad's mom for most of the time, going through roll-call before I got the right dog I wanted to call/ correct/ feed/ whatever. My sentences began "Voi-Pai-Tai - STOP IT", or whatever. Liam's and Mika's (whom I don't think has made an entrance into this blog yet) names were thrown in there too. I found myself echoing my Nana again - "If I'm looking at you, I'm talking to you".


So anyway, my inabilities aside, having the three posed a few problems, mostly that Voight does not like young males. Period. He was fine playing with Suki, a female only three weeks older than Tai. Voight is in no way a mean dog, but I think he gets a bit... jealous, competitive maybe? - with other males, particularly those who are young and intact. Add that to our Tai being a little instigator - subsequently, Tai ended up being farmed out to be puppy sat. We are supposed to puppy swap, and we do feel that this was a very good experience for him. He came home with glowing reports from both families who watched him (sorry, proud parent moment). It was also good that he was gone, because Paige was still recovering from her altering and Tai seemed to want to remove her stitches (consequently the little girl has staples in her tummy, but they will be removed tomorrow).


Voight was a pleasure to watch - and because he is someone else's dog, he comes with, shall we say, a certain disregard for uber-strict puppy raising rules? Voight sleeps with his owner ON the bed... it's a challege the first few nights to get used to an 80 pound Labrador who insists on being a cover hog. Voight also plays tug with his partner's husband - which we obviously never have, until now. There is a reason that we don't teach our dogs that - Voight nearly pulled Amy over on the first tug. Not a good thing.


Paige also benefitted from having an older dog around - she seems to be more confident and assertive with Tai, who came home yesterday. Paige would play and steal Voight's toys, and "teeth-rattle" or "sword fight" with him, and the benefits seem to be her being less of a softie when it comes to Tai. We caught her laying down last night with Tai, which we thought was adorable until we realized her noggin was holding his head down, along with her paw. He had this look on his face that said " 'Ello? Shishter? Can 'ou move your facsh? Pleash?"


So Voight went home to his mommy, and Tai is home with us. It was a hectic two weeks, but very much worth it... although we have a new appreciation for those of you who handle two or more pups on a regular basis!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Paige Update

Hi all, just a short note to let you know that Paige had her surgery yesterday, and will come home today about noon to start recovering. We've only had boy dogs before, so we now understand that altering a female is much more in depth than altering a male (as I recall, Liam came home bouncing off the walls). Please, your thoughts for a speedy recovery back to her very sweet Paigey self!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Tai likes water


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Labrador Shuffle

Today, we did the Labrador Shuffle. Not the tuck-the-butt-and-run kind of shuffling madness that comes on all Labs occasionally, but the Tai goes here, Paige goes there kind of a shuffle.

Today, we got to have our first dog that we raised, our first graduate, Voight, come back for two weeks. We are so honored that Voight's partner trusts us with "her boy" while she leaves the country. So Matthew took Tai to another puppy raiser's home for a respite of Paige (Voight doesn't especially care for puppies), and Paige stayed home while Amy went to get Voight. He's nearly four years old now, but the same old Voight. It's so many memories flooding back - the very frantic kisses, the galumphing run, the intelligence.
For example, he ran to the back door (keep in mind, we don't live in the same place as where we raised him) and rang his bell (we tie a jingle bell to the doorknob) to go outside (we're trying to teach Paige and Tai, but they haven't got it yet). When Matthew pulled out the toy basket, he went straight for "Turtle", his favorite toy, shaking it with great satisfaction.

And how is Paige with this, you ask? Is she the same slightly jealous girl that plays with Tai? Well, (and Jenny, this is for you), if Paige could speak, it would have gone something like this:

"A BOY! You brought me an OLDER boy! I like boys. Boysboysboys"

Paige is in love, following Voight around, flirting and trying to take his toys.

And again, we are way behind in posting, but we had the urge to post tonight, to share that our biggest boy is back... for a little while, anyway.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Another Fateful Call

Yesterday we heard from the Guide Dog school. Louise, head of the puppy department was calling to let us know that Paige's hip Xrays had come back, and her hips are not good enough to be a breeder. She is to be fixed and will go in for training with her siblings on May 19.

I will confess sadness that she isn't going to be a mommy, mostly because with her experiences with Tai and other puppies, she showed great interest and aptitude, but I honestly believed that even being fixed, she wouldn't go in for this Turn-In. I thought they would wait, also because she is a rehomed dog. I was wrong. And to be honest, I'm not ready to go through our second turn-in in ten months.

So the next six weeks will be interesting, time for more intensive training, as well as that our first dog Voight, a working guide in Orange County, is coming back to stay with us for two weeks while his partner goes out of the country.


Please keep Paige in your thoughts during her surgery, as well as in her preparation to be turned in. She has come a long way since we got her in November, a 12 month old who barely knew how to sit. We believe in her - and more preparation too!

Monday, April 2, 2007

We Interrupt this Blog for One of Our Favorite Dogs

While we love our pups, we love other puppies too and we wanted to share this story, as it is one of our favorites, as well as involves one of our favorite "other" dogs.

A very dear friend of ours raised Dusty, who is now six, and a working guide dog. Dusty's partner has had some medical problems that are preventing Dusty from working as a guide, so Dusty (or the Dust-Bucket as she is affectionately known) has been home with her puppy raiser for awhile. In order to keep her in public, she went to work with Amy a while ago. Dusty, being a dignified lady, is a bit more aloof than these "hi-pet-me-please" young pups. In Amy's office at her junior high school, Dusty was less than impressed with the bells, the kids banging on the door to talk to Amy, and the eager hands wanting to pet her. She calmly took it all in, looked around, and promptly took a nap.

Toward the end of the day, one of Amy's co-therapists came in to say hi, and process some cases. The other therapist asked if she could say hi to Dusty. Amy released Dusty from her (self imposed) down-stay. The other therapist began to baby-talk to Dusty, but when she did, she reverted back to her native Spanish. The change was amazing.

Dusty's ears went up and tail began to wag (Dusty is very unique in that when she wags, her tail is pointed down and only the tip moves, but the happier she is, the smaller and faster the wags). She ran to bring her new friend a toy. She even gave very gentle Dusty kisses, which are few and far between for most of us. And then Amy remembered - Dusty's partner speaks Spanish also. Upon further investigation, Amy's co therapist and Dusty's partner are from the same city.

Dusty is bilingual.

Dusty now has a permanent place in the therapist's heart, but the story doesn't stop there. Dusty's puppy raiser took her to visit her partner soon after - and she told Dusty's partner the story. He loved it, but not only that, he shared with everyone around about his amazing bilingual guide dog. He is so proud of her.

Below is Dusty, with our little Tai. It almost looks as if Tai is asking Dusty for her guide dog secrets...


We're still here...

Well, we have been a tad busy lately, so we have quite the blogging backlog. While we get them written, we leave you with this:
Enough said?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Mirror Images

I can't tell if it looks like we are glimpsing Paige's past or Tai's future, but it does look like this could easily be a before and after picture. All I do know is this is stinkin' cute.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Tai-normous

We just got back from the vet...we wish it had been for the "happy vet visit" where the vet just gives him a once-over and a treat so that he learns that the vet isn't Public Enemy #1. Mr. Tai has been...busy-ing with great frequency, so in he went.

But the point of the story - this little tank boy weighs 15.3 lbs at 8 weeks. He's grown a ton in just a week. I wonder about the old wives' tale about humans, multiply the height x2 at their second birthday and that's how tall they would be (I would have been about 5'8''. Not so much.) and if there is anything similar in puppies... because with the rate this boy is growing, he stands to pass Paige sooner than expected!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

the brothers

It's Monday. The day of our puppy group's monthly meeting, however Tai is too young to attend, so he gets to stay home with dad. As an added bonus, his brother Truman is also going to be staying with us for the evening.

OK, by show of hands, if you had to pick one of the following to describe what the boys did for the majority of the night, how many of you would pick; played, wrestled, or just acted like boys? How may of you would pick; slept and laid around?

The correct answer is:












They slept. After an initial battle of trying to get two 7 week old labs to sit and wait for their food and the subsequent relieving afterwards, this is how they spent the majority of their night. There were a couple bouts of playtime, more as the night wore on, and by the time that Mom and Jenny made it back, the boys were out of food coma and romping happily in the kitchen.





Monday, March 12, 2007

Welcome to TaiPai!

Tai's first day at home was fairly calm. Auntie Tina and Uncle Ron came over to say hi. He had his first meal (sitting before he ate, of course - just a really brief sit). He went outside many times to get busy. He was generally fussed over, cuddled, and held. He'd been somewhat feisty, shaking his toy lion with great vigor, and marching around like he generally owned the place.

His buddy Salem came over on Saturday, who is three weeks older and about half again as big. Salem is a beautiful boy, and is full of beans, and so he and Tai had quite the afternoon of playing I-will-eat-your-tail-no-I-will-bite-your-nose. They even managed wear themselves out for a nice long nap, curled up together in one fuzzy black ball on our kitchen floor.

Salem was there because his puppysitter, our friend Nancy, went with Matthew to get Paige from her breeder evaluation. Her heart test was only about twenty miles away (as opposed to 50 miles to the school), and so we picked her up directly from there. Also coming home was Jessie, a slightly older white-yellow female, and Victory, a slightly younger black female lab. Matthew called to let me know they were outside when they got home so I could take Tai to meet his big sister Paige.




First, I had forgotten how big Paige is. She is really magnificent, big and solid and - barrelling straight at me. My life flashed before my eyes. I can't imagine what Tai felt. It couldn't have been too traumatic, because soon they were circling each other (Tai was more under Paige than anything else) and wagging enthusiastically. And then - Tai must have been a wee bit confused, because he had a "are you my mommy?" moment, and began rooting around for a snack from Paige's very-much-not-a-mommy-yet flat tummy.

The look on her face - "WHAT does this kid think he's doing?!"

Surprisingly, she didn't give him what-for. And truly, she hasn't yet. There has been one time when she gave him a warning noise, but it was so small, it might have not existed. He loves to chase after her when she's chasing a toy, and she often will put her head down low enough that he can grab the toy too. He also wants to (ahem) assert dominance, but that doesn't work out so well, because she takes that big ol' noggin of hers and gently knocks him over. He bites her ears and lips, and she does not complain. She's such a champ.

We missed her so much. And not that we haven't thought she is good, but - wow. Her obedience didn't suffer after two weeks in the kennels, and she is setting a very good example for little Mr. Sassy Pants Tai.

So now they are hangin' out, being the pups that they are - Tai happily snoozing in his kennel and Paige next to my chair (did I mention they both snore?). We wouldn't trade them for anything!!

Welcome to TaiPai!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

My (Our) Tai

My Tai. TaiDown. Tai'ed up.


However you want to call him, the T litter came home yesterday. Below, left to right, are: Thatcher, Trooper, Tia, Tori, Tai and Matthew, and Truman and Jenny.


He is adorable. Beautiful. He's at least eleven pounds if he weighs anything, has big fat paws, a short muzzle, and a big blocky head. He also has several small white markings - like his "big sister" Paige. He has two small marks on his chest, under his arms, three of four of his paws... and (ahem) "racing stripes" down below!

At first, he was holding back, calmly surveying the cooing people as they each got their pups. Once we walked to the grass to try to "get busy" for the first time, he began to show that he has some spirit. And the spirit was moving him to eat grass. And his leash. And Matthew's beard.

Don't get me wrong, it's all adorable puppy stuff, we just haven't seen it in so long!

It took a little while to get home, as it's fifty miles from the school to home, AND traffic going anywhere on a Friday in Southern California is bad. Tai calmed down after about five minutes of fussing, which we have discovered is par for the course with him, and promptly fell asleep on Amy's feet.

He came home and began to explore the living room, his living room crate, and the outside, as well as his two new "packmates" - our cats, Beeker and Flash. Fortunately, he met the calico Beeker first, who is the more tolerant of the two (smoky tabby Flash has been known to hit first and ask questions later) and so far, no fireworks. He also discovered some of his toys - the tennis bone, the rope and jack (thanks Tina and Ron), and his froggie. There was brief froggie (a rattling puppy toy) wrestling, but Tai gave up after froggie kept winning.

He was TIRED. He slept most of the evening and was only active for a little while before bed. He transferred to the bedroom crate just fine... and only got up twice, so we're only slightly sleep deprived. His schedule is about three and a half hours, so up at two, up at five, up at seven thirty.

Today, a friend, Salem, comes to play while Matthew and a friend go to get our Paige as well as two other pups from their breeder evaluation and then Tai gets to meet his Big Sister Paige.

We're pretty sure she is going to be so excited as if to say "Oh, boy! You got me a puppy, and it isn't even my birthday!" (she loves the little ones).



More to come. But in the meantime, enjoy!