Monday, January 29, 2007

Pages of Paige...

Now that I think we have the hang of this... meet Paige. Isn't she beautiful? She is our exception in many ways, and we love her for all of them. Paige is also a puppy in training for GDA, but her story is, in many ways, very different. We had been married only a few weeks, when (and this is always a fateful call) the school called. Could we possibly take a dog for a month? At this point, missing Liam terribly, how could we not?

Paige was given to us because her former puppy raisers could not complete their obligation, and there our adventure begins. We had never raised a girl before... and what a girl she is. In the few short days we had had her, she already had been nicknamed "our delicate little flower" or "tiny fragile blossom". Let's put it this way: diminutive she ain't. Paige came to us full into the adolescent stage where she was puppy brain and dog body, and didn't know where the rest of herself was located... hence, running into the coffee table became a hourly occurrence. And ladylike? Not so much... can this pup BELCH - and not just every once in a while. After EVERY meal, every drink. Finally, not being veterinarians, we're not sure if dogs have a septum. But if they do, it's deviated, because this girl snores as if every nap were her last!

Lest you think that she is all goofball, she is also the very sweetest dog we have ever met. Her mission in life is to love and be loved. She is never happier than to be in your lap (70+ lapdog), being scratched on the adorable white star on her chest. When she came to us, she was quite skittish, was afraid even to cradle. Once she figured out that that meant we were going to rub her belly... she was insistent that we do it more. Even now as she goes to work with us, all we have to say is "good girl, Paige" to see her tail thump contentedly. Voight and Liam were sweet boys, loved to give kisses, but they would want to lay NEXT to you, maybe NEAR you. Paige wants to be touching you, just in case you need a very gentle slurp.

It was love at first sight.

Paige's obedience has improved drastically, and this month GDA decided that it was best that she remain with us for the remainder of her training. She's learned that it is necessary to wait before food, to stay laying down at work, and that socks are NOT toys.

We think that Paige will be a great big sister to Tai, who (like our friend Jenny's Truman) is coming soon March 9. Stay tuned, same dog-time, same dog-channel.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

In The Beginning....

There was a middle. Well, we must say that it's not easy to start a blog smack-dab in the middle of everything. Let us digress, make a few introductions, and then we will continue.

We are amy and matt, volunteer puppy raisers for Guide Dogs of America. We became involved nearly five years ago when we were looking for dog of our own (since we were already owned by two cats). We visited the Orange County Pet Expo, a truly mind boggling place for all things animal. We patted and petted, were slurped by every permutation of dog possible, and then we stumbled upon the row where all the service organizations were housed. We ended up talking to a very nice couple ( now friends of ours) representing GDA who told us all about the organization, and invited us to the annual Open House. That turned out to be the kicker: amy would be graduating with her Master's degree that day - we couldn't go. We didn't get a dog that day, but we did hang on to the GDA application.

We talked about it, pondered, gnashed our teeth, and finally sent in our application about eight months later. We interviewed... and began the wait for our first puppy. In the interim, we watched other puppies for their raisers "puppy sitting": adorable Cayla, sweet Courage, the thieving Tanner, mama's boy Westin, beautiful Landon, michievious Gus, the perfect (and now very silly) Jetta... there were ten in all. Before THE CALL came.

Louise, the puppy dept. head at GDA, called. "Male or female?"
Did she have to ask? We would have taken three legged at that point. Ironically, I was already on the phone with Matthew. I clicked over.

"Okay, dear, male or female?" He chose male. A black male, letter V would be coming home July 28, 2003.

Yes, there began our first dog Voight. I'm sure we will tell you more about Voight as time goes on, but we learned and laughed and cried with him. He was tall and lanky, a big beautiful boy. We called him Voighters, the Voight Monstrosity. We turned him in November 6, 2004. He graduated with his wonderful partner in July 31, 2005.

The part we skipped in all of this was Liam. Liam was our second puppy raised, coming home six days after we turned Voight in. We thought it was best to get another puppy while Voight was in for training. When we turned Voight in, all we could think was "We're doing this again? To have our hearts ripped out again?"

Yep. Liam was...amazing. A smart, gorgeous boy. Our "small black bear". He loved to play, loved to work, loved his "grandpa" and the boat. Oh yeah, did Liam ever love the water... and the snow. Liam had no fear and lived with such joy in his heart. We will be posting more and more about Liam, particularly since he is also brother to Lomax, whose raiser Jenny has become one of our best friends.
So here we are. The middle. We got the call again: Liam is graduating with his partner Heidi in a week. We are honored and grateful, and so excited to report to all of this that not only is Liam graduating, but will be joined by his brother and best friend, Lomax, who has also been matched.

There are also two more in this story, our Paige and soon to be Tai. You will see much more of them, but this post is starting to take on record breaking proportions.

This is not about the end. There are beginnings to come. Welcome to the middle.