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: