Nov 28, 2010

It's Not the Cold, You Know......

We thought Joey might enjoy some cooler weather, so we took a short trip to Kissimmee to the Gaylord Palms resort to see their “Ice!” display.  This is a big indoor ice sculpture display kept at about 9 degrees.  No, that is not centigrade.  That is walk-in freezer cold, Back home in Nebraska or Ontario cold.  Cold enough that they warn you NOT to lick the ice.  Everything in there but the floor is made of ice.  They give you a parka when you walk in, but hat and gloves are your own responsibility.  I figured that if Joey showed any sign of being cold, I would just take him outside.  We weren’t inside for more than a couple seconds when Joey went totally nuts!  He was jumping up and down like a rabbit, and even squirmed out of his guide dog coat.  We were trying to get his coat back on and found out that he did not like the gloves we were wearing.  We finally got him calmed down and he was just fine thru the entire exhibit.  I made sure I knew exactly where his tongue was at all times.  He is extremely fond of ice cubes and here we were, surrounded by millions of pounds of it. 

 I don’t think Joey ever knew it was ice, I wouldn’t let his nose get very close. 
He didn’t show any signs of being cold while we were in there, but when we walked out into warm air again, he went nuts again.  It took longer to calm him down this time.  It became pretty clear to us that it wasn’t the cold that bothered him, it was the sudden temperature change.  Once we had a normal dog again, we saw Santa Claus was visiting Kissimmee today.  Well that saved us another trip to the mall.  We were able to get our boy’s yearly photo with the great bearded one.  Only this year, we had one extra face in the picture.  Joey IS part of the family. 

He was just great with Santa.  The costume didn’t seem to affect him at all, it was just another person that he wanted to have pet him.
After a walk out to the car to put away our purchases from the gift shop, and to let Joey “busy” and have a drink, we headed back in for the “Snow” exhibit.  This was definitely a waste of money.  Anyone in central Florida considering going to this resort to see these exhibits should skip “Snow”.  “Ice!” is worth the admission, “Snow” is not.  Since we were already in there, we made the most of it.  Joey loved the snow.  He got to walk around on it, stood under the snow machine, and best of all, was able to put his nose in it. 

I was so worried that the snow might confuse him about whether he was inside or out.  There were signs warning people not to eat the snow, but they didn’t include the word “yellow”.   My worries were all for nothing, as Joey maintained his professional image.  Of course, there wasn’t a big temperature difference in here; only normal room temperature cooled down just a little by having all the snow in there.  If Joey ends up in one of the northern states, I hope this exposure today helps him get thru his first winter. 
To sum it all up, one dog, plus or minus 70 degrees, equals crazy rabbit.  Add gloves, equals confusion.

Nov 27, 2010


We are decorating the house for Christmas and Joey has shown a great interest in everything we are doing.  There are lots of lights and shiny things, musical things, jingle bell things, smelly candles, six foot soldiers, three foot Santas, oversize nutcrackers, Christmas village, and of course, the irresistible Christmas tree.  Now, years ago, we had two dogs that loved Christmas trees.  One of them in particular loved confined spaces, and would constantly crawl under the tree.  She would forget how big she was when she was ready to get up, and the tree would get knocked over.  Joey started trying to crawl under just once, and got stopped.  He hasn’t tried again, yet.  He does love the ornaments hanging there right in front of his face.  I kept him on a leash when I first let him approach the ornaments and he sniffed them, but left them alone.  But, just like a bank robber that goes into a bank a few days before he pulls a heist, Joey was just casing the joint.  He patiently waited until he was off his leash and we had our backs turned.  Next thing we knew, there was a hunk of chewed up plastic laying on the floor near the tree.  I don’t know if he pulled it off the tree, or if he happened to knock it off with his tail before chewing it.  I put him back on leash and walked him back and forth by the tree and he completely ignored it.  Later, we found another chewed up.  We need to do some more work on this. 
Joey had another first today.  We had just walked out of the mall after a short shopping trip and I took his coat off to let him “busy” before getting in the car.  He sniffed around a little bit, got right up next to a bush and proceeded to lift his leg.  Southeast Guide Dogs wants us to discourage male dogs from lifting their leg to pee.  I gave him a sharp tug on the leash to move him away from the bush.  The leg came down, but nothing else stopped.  He took a couple steps, but by the time he caught his balance enough to squat, he was finished.  Finished?  Yea, finished all over my flipflop!  I guess I caught him by surprise when I jerked that leash during his “private moment”.   A big milestone in the development of a male dog and I had to shut it down.  Sorry Joey, but you are still a big boy, even if we have make you squat. 

Nov 20, 2010

Kinda Hot for That, Isn't It?

The Old Town HOGS Poker Run was today at the Harley Davidson dealer in Brandon.  The dealership and the Harley Owners Group put on a great event to raise money for the “Paws for Patriots” program at Southeastern Guide Dogs.  My sons and I took Joey to get some good exposures for him, and to help the public understand what the program is all about.  Now I personally was never interested in owning or riding a bike, so they were last thing I was interested in looking at.  I wouldn’t have any idea what I was looking at anyway.  Shovel head, knuckle head, phillips head, they all look the same to me. I probably learned more about motorcycles from watching the TV show “American Chopper”, than from anything else.  And like a lot of people, I only watch that show for the dysfunctional family dynamics.  I can admire the craftsmanship of a beautiful custom bike, but I would have a hard time determining what parts are customized and which are stock.  I just don’t know enough about them.  I would feel a lot more at home at a MOPAR muscle car show. 
But, I had a great time talking to everybody about guide dog puppies and answering the inevitable questions about “How can you possibly give them up?”
My young sons were looking at the cool stuff at the silent auction, and checking out the Wing House girls.  The girls would come over and ask if they could pet Joey, and of course I would say yes.  They would bend over in front of me and I would feel my wife slap me in the back of the head, even though she was at work miles away and I wasn’t looking, honest I wasn’t!  My wife, Cindy, is the bike fan of the family.  When we win the lottery, she will be looking at Harleys while I am looking at boats or finding a real cherry hemi Cuda or Challenger.  She was heartbroken when she had to work today instead of coming out here. 
I got to meet some puppy raisers from the St. Pete group, but the puppy I really wanted to meet wasn’t there.  I wanted to meet meet a black lab named Elvis.  Joey and Elvis have the same sponsor and I was hoping to get a picture of the two pups together.  Elvis, if you are out there, lets do lunch sometime. 
I had a great time and all the people were wonderful.  But why are they all walking around wearing black leather jackets, vests, and chaps when it is 80 degrees? 

Nov 14, 2010

Nice Warm Campfires

Had another campout with the Cub Scouts this weekend.  This time we went to a wilderness park about an hour away from home.  Joey should have had some good exposure to deer while we were walking around, but he was too interested in the sticks and acorns we were walking over.  He never looked up long enough to see the deer we encountered.  By the time I could get his head up, the deer would be gone.  He did get to see some armadillos.  He would see them before they could see him.  As soon as Joey would change position to get a better look, the little armored gophers would spot him and turn away into the trees. 
This time, Joey got to experience a camping tradition he didn’t get at the previous campout; campfires.  Last time, he was in the tent with mommy while most of the kids and parents were sitting around the fire.  This time, I was still nursing the last days of a bad cold and stayed close to my tent and my own little fire while everybody else was at a big central campfire.  Joey loved sitting at my feet and at times was fascinated by the fire.  We stayed close enough to the fire to keep the skeeters away from us, but far enough to keep Joey from sticking his nose on the metal fire ring, or waving his tail over it when turning around.

Joey accompanied me on a little excursion to pursue a hobby I have not spent much time on since getting a puppy; geocaching.  This is like a high-tech easter egg hunt.  We use GPS coordinates to find small caches hidden by other people.  These are usually ammo cans or other waterproof containers with small toys and stuff.  If you see something in there that you (or your kids) may want, you take it and leave something else in it’s place.  No matter what else may be in the cache, there is always a log book to sign with your distinct username and date you found it.  I was hoping that Joey’s hunting dog heritage and keen nose may help me find them.  He didn’t get to  help me too much.  One cache was in a big pile of dead timber that I had to climb around in after tying him to a tree.  Another one we just couldn’t find.  It was too well hidden I guess.  Joey’s fascination for sticks, leaves, and acorns overpowered his search for human scent on a tupperware  container hidden in the woods.  Or, maybe I am just not capable of recognizing his reaction when he does get the proper scent.  I guess I will forget about trying to use him as a tool, and just stick with having him as a companion out on a nice hike.

Nov 4, 2010

You Said We Were Going to a Party

 Nov 4

On one of our walks a while back, Joey and I went down a small dead-end road that I had never been down before.  Near the end of the road, a group of peacocks crossed the road in front of us and congregated in the front yard of a house.  Yesterday, we found ourselves going down that road again and the peacocks were still there in the same yard.  Joey’s hunting dog heritage was prominent, as he watched them intently, but never broke stride on our walk.  A small tug on the leash easily got him turned back to the front, but only for a couple seconds.  He liked watching them.  As we walked, I started wondering if a flock of peacocks had a distinct name, like a gaggle of geese, covey of quail, or bevy of swan.   At home, I went on-line to do a little research.  I found a group of peafowl, (peacocks are male, peahens are female) is called a “Party”.  It can also be called a muster, pride, or an ostentation. 
I always ask Joey if he wants to go for a walk and ask him where he wants to go.  This morning we went back to see the party of peafowl.  Yep, there they were, in the same yard as always.  Across the street, a man was working in his driveway.  I stopped and asked him if the peacocks were pets, or a wild flock that just seemed to have adopted that yard.  He told me that several years ago, the old Ukranian “Dr. Doolittle” that lived there, fed a couple that somehow wandered into the area.  Nobody knew where they came from, but they never left. 
The guy I was talking to said he had seen us walk down his road before and asked me if Joey was a guide dog puppy.  Joey was not in his coat, so the question took me by surprise.  He said he thought so by the way Joey walked that specific distance ahead of me on a slack leash.  Then, when we were talking, he could see that Joey was still a puppy, and not old enough to have been career changed.  He also noticed how well behaved Joey was and that I put him in a sit when the guy asked to pet him.  I asked him if he had raised a guide dog puppy before.  He told me his daughter and son-in-law had raised a bunch up north. 
Joey, your cover has been blown.  People that know guide dog puppies can recognize you quickly.  But don’t worry about it, it’s a good thing. 

Nov 1, 2010

Joey---- little kangaroo?

I have been spending a lot of time recently out in the back yard, trimming trees, pulling weeds, etc.  Joey is enjoying this cooler weather outdoors.  I made a mistake when I picked up a stick and chucked it toward a garbage can I was using for yard waste.  Next thing I knew, that same stick was laying by my feet again and Joey was shaking with excitement.  I picked it up and threw it again and he took off after it.  He ran about halfway to it, then started hopping like a kangaroo.  I threw it a couple more times and he did the same thing, running halfway, then did the kangaroo hop.  He was having too much fun with that stick, so I went inside to get a kong toy.  He ran after the kong, but didn’t do the roo hop.  I tried holding on to the kong and threw the stick again, and the roo hopping came back.  Threw the kong-- he just ran.  Threw the stick, Do the Roo!   I figure that he only did the kangaroo hop with the stick, because it didn’t bounce around after it landed.  The kong was still bouncing around different directions when he was running after it.  I guess the roo hop makes it too hard to concentrate on where it is going. 
I don’t want him to get too fixated on the stick, so I only throw the kong now.  I know there will be plenty of sticks around if I want to see him Do the Roo again.