Jan 22, 2011

In For Training Poem

No, Joey is not IFT for a few more months.  I found this posted on another blog and just had to pass it along to other guide dog puppy raisers.  Please enjoy.

I Send You Like a Prayerby Emily Overcarsh

I send you like a prayer
To shine in a land without sun
Where scents and sounds bloom
Like thunder over the expanse
Of the impossible black horizon
Could you have known where you were headed?
That all along you were a hero?
You were never mine to keep
So I held you just long enough
For you to grow into a savior
For the lost
And now I let go

I send you like a prayer
Like a fulfilled promise
I hang on to your scent in your blanket
That you're too big for now
And as the tears every mother has wept fill my eyes
Know that you carry my heart with you
To the land without sun
So don't look back now
Instead, look ahead
To the impossible black horizon
And shine with the knowledge
That you were born for this moment
Where you set a blind man free

(taken from "Two Plus Four Equals One - Celebrating the Partnership of People with Disabilities and Their Assistance Dogs" by Kathy Nimmer ISBN: 978-160844-716-9)

Jan 16, 2011

Looking at Manatees

This weekend, the manatee viewing area at the TECO (Tampa Electric) power plant celebrated their 25th anniversary.  It had been a few years since our family had been there, so we decided it would be a great outing for the whole family, as well as Joey.  We got there to find that the parking lot was closed and we were directed to another lot about a half mile down the road.  But, that next lot was full and we were directed to yet another one at an elementary school another mile down the road.  But, “Don’t worry, there is a shuttle bus to transport you” they said.  We parked at the school and I got Joey out expecting to let him “busy” before getting him into his coat and onto the bus that probably wouldn’t be there for at least 30 minutes.  WRONG!  The bus pulled up and people started hurrying to get in line for it.   Since it was only a mile and half back to the viewing center, Joey could wait.  Now, before I start getting comments about how Joey’s needs are more important than catching a shuttle bus, I must add that Joey had done his business about 15 minutes earlier, before we got in the car to come here.  We just make it a habit to give him the opportunity every time he gets out of the car, before we put his coat on.  He did a very nice “Sit, Forward Up” onto the bus like he had done it all his life.  Maybe he was just anxious to follow my wife and kids who got on in front of me.  We reversed the procedure for getting off the bus and went to find a place to pee.  After taking care of that business, we got some beads from a pirate that Joey determined did not require a second look, were handed some cookies that he likewise ignored, and we attempted to go look at some manatees.  This is a very nice place that the electric company built to allow people to come see the manatees, learn about them, buy manatee related products in the gift shop, enjoy butterfly gardens, and even experience a hurricane simulator.  But, it was built for the normal crowd of maybe a couple hundred on a single day.  With the few thousand that were there today, it was squeezing room only.  We made our way onto the main viewing deck over the water but there weren’t any manatees in the area.  We did see a lot of activity in the water a few hundred feet away.  There was another walkway heading out that direction, so we squeezed our way off the main deck to work our way down that way.  Joey did very well, only paying attention to the smallest kids, the ones about as tall as he is.  In this sea of bodies, everybody else was just legs and butts to him.  There was a small open space where people were taking pictures of their kids with somebody in a manatee costume.  I walked Joey thru that space in between pictures, allowing him a good look at the costume.  Joey gave that manatee the same attention he gave the pirate, none.  Out on the walkway to the other viewing area we were heading to, it was just as crowded.  A few manatees swam fairly close to us, but most were still on the far side of the channel.  We saw a bunch of fish and stingrays swimming, and even a couple sharks.  To be honest, it was probably the same shark, twice.  Joey either didn’t see, or didn’t care about what was in the water.  He was very interested in the pelican that flew very close in front of us.  The only other thing to merit any attention from Joey was the popcorn being dropped all over.  He didn’t seem to care how many people had stepped on it, he wanted it.  And I wouldn’t let him have it.  I’m sure he was able to snag a few pieces when I wasn’t looking, but I did my best. 
Maybe he should have been named Hoover.

Jan 11, 2011

IKEA, Big Distraction

We had been hearing about the Ikea store in Tampa and how it is a great exposure for puppies.  Whether we hear somebody talk about it at our puppy raiser group meetings, or we read it on somebody’s blog, everyone that has taken their guide dog puppy there has recommended it.  So we loaded up the boys and the dog and went on a new adventure.  When we got there, I noticed the large number of people walking in.  It was a pretty good crowd.  The first thing you see when you walk into the store is the escalator that takes you up to the showroom floor.  Since we can’t take guide dog puppies on escalators, we looked around for the elevator that we knew had to be there.  Right next to the elevator was the entrance into the marketplace.  We decided to check that first.  This was where they kept most of the smaller household products like kitchen products, bedding, etc.  When I heard people talking about this place, they mentioned the elevators, the crowds, and the smells.  What smells?  There isn’t anything here that has any smell.  And this place is so clean, it is almost sterile.  But, walking thru the bedding, Joey got a whiff of something that got his interest.  He found the down pillows.  There is his hunting dog heritage again.  Then, I found something that I just had to have.  They had coat hooks that look like the back half of a dog with his tail sticking up.  There were some black ones there, so I grabbed a couple to put in our boys’ rooms. 
We worked on “find the elevator” with Joey and went up to the showroom.  Working our way around there, we again found that a lot more kids than adults know about not petting the guide dogs.  After the first couple hundred people reach out to him, it is hard to stay polite.  Before I starting smacking people with the leash, we reached the end of the show room where they had the restaurant.  The kids were whining and it was getting close to lunchtime, so we went in to see what they had.  I took Joey to a table where he did his usual perfect “under, down”.  Cindy and the boys soon joined me with the food.  She was very impressed with the prices.  Lunch for 4 for $20.00!  But Joey was not impressed, he just laid there under the table sleeping. 
After going thru the checkouts at the end of the warehouse, we did encounter smells.  There is a small section there that sells foods from Sweden and has a small snack bar.
Joey did wonderful but I was completely distracted by the heavenly smell from those amazing cinnamon rolls.