Feb 27, 2011

We got an award!

We have been given the above award by Fred and CD McLean, along with their guide dog pup, HRH Berkeley.  We are very flattered to receive this award from them as it was their exploits with their previous pup, Bingo, that inspired us to start our blog about Joey.  As a condition of accepting the award, we have to list seven things about Joey.

1. Joey is very fluent in what have we have learned is called “goldadore speak”.  When we are watching TV in the evening after work, homework, and dinner, he comes to us with a toy in his mouth, whining very loudly, wanting somebody to play with him. 

2. Joey is very talented in being able to pick up his kong, nylabone and blanket at the same time.

3. Joey will not remain in a stay for very long, but will sit by his food bowl for hours waiting for the OK to eat. 

4. Joey is a very big puppy, surprising everybody that at 90 lbs, he isn’t even a year old yet. 

5. Joey enjoys ear rubs.  He will lay his head in your lap, and force his nose under your hand, making you rub his ears.

6. Joey considers himself to be our sons’ guardian as well as a play-pal.  He escorts the boys to bed and patrols the hallway to ensure they stay put in their rooms. 

7. Joey LOVES ice cubes.  The only sound that will get his attention faster than kibble being poured into his dish, is the ice dispenser in the fridge door, which, luckily he hasn't learned to use yet.

We are sending this award on to another blogger we enjoy reading: Rebecca and her pup, Joe.

Feb 21, 2011

Joey is Growing Up

Joey seems much more mature since he came home from puppy camp.  His doggy distraction issues have definitely improved.  That was not surprising since his sitter has another dog at home and also works part time at SEGD.  So, Joey was around other dogs a lot, as well as professional doggy people.  Any first-time puppy raisers worried about puppy camp, this IS a very good thing for the dogs.  Yes, you will miss your dog, but if you are camping somebody else’s dog at the same time, you will have that void filled.  Maybe not completely, but close enough.  It’s fun to compare your dog to their’s. 
A couple days after he got home, Joey went with me and my youngest son, Colby, to his Cub Scout Blue and Gold Banquet.  For most of it, he stayed in a down-under at the table.  Most of the Cub Scouts already knew they couldn’t pet him, but there were some brothers and sisters that very politely asked, and I had to turn away.  It is very hard to tell a very polite young child they can’t pet him, but they seemed to understand.  Now if Joey was a cute little 9 week old puppy, the child might get a little upset that he can’t play with the puppy, but when Joey is much bigger than the child, I don’t think the kid is too upset about it.  The kid is probably relieved!   I still get surprised every time an adult asks me if he bites. 
During the ceremonies, I knew I would have to go up front with my son when it was time for him to get his badge, and I thought about leaving Joey under the table with a STAY command.  But, the badge presentations were taking longer than I knew Joey could remain in a stay.  So, we went up there together.  Joey was perfect and cameras were flashing like crazy.  Back at the table, after the meal, Colby had sat still as long as he was able, and had to go vent some energy.  He was running around with a bunch of the other boys.  Every few minutes he would run back to the table and fly into his seat.  Then he would jump up and be running full blast again.  That was more than Joey could endure  and he tried to chase after Colby.  He caught me by surprise, but I was able to stop him, catch the chair, and keep the table from flipping over.  It was such an amazing display of dexterity that nobody even noticed my fantastic feat. 

Oh, I found another one of Joey’s brothers in another group near us.  Kenny is the other black one in the litter.

His raiser was thinking that another dog that came to the group for finishing might be the last one of the four, but he ended up being from another litter born 9 days later.  So there is still one yellow goldadore out there somewhere that I still want to find.  Joey, find the goldadore.

Feb 18, 2011

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig

Joey is home!  Last night we had our raiser group meeting, so Barkley’s raiser and I met there early to switch dogs.  We wanted to give them a chance to settle down a little before going into the meeting.  As I pulled in, I was wondering if Joey was going to be more excited to see me, or another dog.  It turned out that his doggy distraction was stronger than his love for me.  He went after Barkley first.  I was a close second though.
After the dogs got a chance to get reacquainted with their raisers and calm down, we went into the meeting.  SEGD trainer Karen Mersereau was the focus of this meeting.  She talked to us about leash management and handled a couple of our pups to demonstrate her techniques.  She took the leash of one of the more “rambunctious” pups in our group and in just a couple minutes, had him behaving  very nicely.  It was clear that he knew the commands, he was just very distracted by the dogs and probably the people.  Karen’s lecture and demonstration was a very big help to us.  Thank you Karen!
In other business at our meeting, our AC (area coordinator) dropped some very good news on us.  We have been fundraising as a group for the Walkathon, in the hopes that we will be able to sponsor a puppy.  Our former AC passed away recently and we were planning to name a pup after him.  He and his wife host a breeder that has a litter ready to go to homes in a couple weeks.  We have been offered one of these pups!  One of the raiser families in our group that is between pups right now will get this new little black lab male named “Dave”.  ( I think this is a wonderful name.)  The rest of the litter will be going to Texas after the walkathon, so we feel very lucky to have gotten one of them.  I think everybody in the group will be anxious to puppysit this special guy.   And if I know his raisers, there will soon be another new blog out there, probably called "Dave's Everyday Adventures".
After the meeting, I got Joey home to rest of the family.  Everybody was very excited to see each other again, then Joey quickly settled down into his old routine.  It’s good to be home, eh Joey?

Feb 13, 2011

Oh Brother Where Art Thou?

Our youngest son was coming home from a Boy Scout campout today, but would get home too late for us to go to our puppy raiser meeting this afternoon.  So, this morning I drove out to the camp to pick him up a little early.  I took Barkley with me to let him experience a little bit of nature and more importantly, kids.  One of the reasons Barkley and I were paired up for puppy camp is that I have young boys at home and his raiser, Leslie, does not.  He gets limited exposure to kids.  I did not have him in coat while at the campground, so the boys got to pet him and Barkley got to play with them a little.  He was very fond of the kids and was trying to jump on them.  I let him have some fun, but insisted on him keeping all four paws on the ground. 
Our puppy raiser meeting today was at an Applebee’s Restaurant in Lakeland, which is a ways outside of our regular puppy raiser area.  The restaurant was hosting a “Dining to Donate”  with part of the proceeds going to Southeast Guide Dogs.  We did some obedience in the parking lot and were joined by a few puppies and raisers from the local group.  Before we started, I was talking with one of the ladies from the other group.  We were talking about the size of some of the pups.  She mentioned a goldadore that was in her group and how big he was, and not being a year old yet.  My ears perked up at that!  After a few questions back and forth, we both thought that Joey and this other dog might be brothers.  I think somebody made a phone call, because a little later, they were saying Joey and the dog in the other group, a big yellow boy named Albert, were indeed litter mates.  Too bad he wasn’t there today.  I made sure we got an email address of somebody in the group so they could forward my messages to Albert and we can establish direct contact.  I have pictures of the litter we took at puppy hugging two or three weeks before picking up our puppies.  I also have pictures of the litter the day we picked up Joey. 

One of these is Albert at 9 weeks

Albert did not have any other littermates in his group.  So there are still two other goldadores out there I haven’t found yet.  I hope that if they are in Florida, that I might meet them at the Walkathon next month.  I also hope to meet his parents. 
Meanwhile, back at the meeting, since we are puppy camping Barkley right now, and his raisers are camping Joey, we tried to avoid each other as much as possible to prevent our dogs from getting too distracted.  I don’t think Barkley ever realized that Mama was there. After obedience and the meeting, we headed inside to eat.  We were scattered around the restaurant and I don’t think that anybody that walked in after we did had any idea that there were about ten dogs in there, laying under the tables.  But there were probably some surprised looks when we started walking out, first one, then another, and another…….

Feb 12, 2011

Just About Barkley

Our youngest son is at a Boy Scout campout this weekend, and this morning the rest of us were sitting around the house discussing what we should do today with Barkley.  Cindy came up with the idea of going to St. Armand’s Circle, a nice little touristy shopping area in Sarasota, about an hour south of us.  I piggybacked on that idea, saying we could go to the SEGD Discovery Center, then have lunch at a place we saw on TV, then hit the shopping area, and finish with a piece of pie at another place we saw on TV. 
Barkley didn’t act like he was too interested in going.  That is one big difference between Joey and Barkley.  Joey is very excited about getting in the car.  He sits very impatiently while I open the car door, waiting for those golden words; “Joey, IN ”.   Then he jumps right in and lays down.  Barkley doesn’t really seem to care for the whole “get in the car” thing.  We say “ Barkley, IN “ and he walks over and put his front feet in, then just stops.  He looks back at me as if to say “You really want me to get in this car?”  He finally slowly climbs the rest of the way in.  By the time I get in, he is usually asleep.  We get to the Discovery Center and have to wake him from his beauty sleep.  He is a lot more anxious to get of the car than get in.  I try to get him to “busy” before going in, but there have been dozens of dogs here every week and their smells are just too heavenly for Barkley to think about relieving.  I give up trying and take him inside.  There just happened to be a couple other dogs from our raiser group inside, so they had a nice little reunion.   Barkley has doggie distraction issues, not as strong as Joey’s, but they are something to work on.  He did get to play with the other pups, but also had to spend some time sitting by me and not playing with them.  The place started to fill up with non-SEGD dogs coming in for an obedience class, so we decided it was time to go.  Soon, we were looking for our lunch spot, a little place we saw on the Food Network show, Man Vs Food.  We followed my GPS and couldn’t find it.  We did find an empty building.  We got out the smartphone to look up online where they may have moved to.  We finally found it and we had been in the wrong place to begin with.  The place is called Munchies 420 Café.  Guess what the 420 stands for.  The place doesn’t open till .  Barkley doesn’t care, he is still sleeping.  There is a shopping center nearby where we can kill the last hour before we can eat.  Barkley was a perfect angel while shopping.  Lots of kids were telling their parents that they can’t touch the working dog.  Anyway, we get back to the café for opening time.  I thought this place would be a lot bigger than it is.  Only four tables in the place.  The food is great as long as you aren’t a cardiologist.  One of the popular items on the menu is a sandwich they call the Fat Sandy.  This is two cheeseburger patties, chicken fingers, onion rings, mozzarella stix, and macaroni and cheese, all in a sandwich.  Yea, heart attack just waiting to happen.  But, boy is it good!  Barkley was perfect under the table.  We never did make it to St. Armand’s Circle, and never made it to Yoder’s Amish Restaurant for the pie we were looking forward to.  But Barkley got to see some friends, go shopping, and sleep under a table and in the car.  Life is good. 

Feb 4, 2011

Puppy Camp

Yes, puppy camp started today for Joey and his friend, Barkley.  Joey and I drove down to the SEGD campus, where Barkley’s raiser works part time.  We traded dogs and beds, exchanged info about medications, and I headed home with my little camper.  In the car, I was surprised at how much Barkley looked like Joey when looking straight into his face.  Joey is a goldadore and Barkley is a full lab.  Barkley’s profile shows the classic squared muzzle, while Joey’s is more pointed.  But looking straight into their faces, they look very alike, at least to me.   I will have to see if Barkley’s raiser, Leslie, notices the same thing. 
After getting home, Barkley checked out the house and yard, then starting acting exactly like Joey, staying right at my feet.  The kids came home from school and played with him a little bit, happily surprised that he is so much calmer than Joey.  When they went into their rooms to do homework and play on the computer, Joey, I mean Barkley, laid in the hallway, exactly where he, I mean Joey, always does. 
I hadn’t told the wife yet that we started puppy camp.  She came home this evening after a very long 13 hour day.  The kids were biting their tongues, just waiting to see when she would notice it was a different dog.  I, of course, knew she was barely keeping her eyes open as she ate dinner.  She wouldn’t notice anything until she sat down in the living room.  That’s when Joey would normally be right in front of her with a toy, moving back and forth, and whining for her to play with him.  To my surprise, Barkley came over to her with a toy in his mouth, wagging back and forth exactly like Joey, but not whining.  Cindy was too tired to notice the difference.  I could tell that the boys were busting at the seams, trying not to give it away, but dying to say something.  Before going to bed, Colby, our youngest, just had to tell her that it was Barkley, not Joey.  She was very surprised, and embarrassed that she hadn’t noticed.  She got down on the floor to play with him and found a big difference in the dogs immediately.  Joey loves to have his ears rubbed and Barkley definitely does not.   I hope Leslie reads this or Joey may have a difficult time, going at least two weeks without his ear rubs. 

Feb 2, 2011

Trainer's Workshop

Today I took Joey down to the SEGD Discovery Center in Sarasota for a “Trainer’s Workshop”.  This is a time when the general public (and puppy raisers of course) can talk to the guide dog trainers about dog training.   When we got to the center, we were greeted at the door by one of Joey’s old friends from our puppy raiser group, Jeannie.  I first met Jeannie last April when I attended my first raiser meeting.  She was a normal energetic puppy of about 10 months, one of the oldest in our group at the time.  I was surprised at almost every group meeting after that first one, by how mellow Jeannie was becoming (without pharmaceuticals).  She was very nicely maturing into the guide dog I am sure she will become.  Anyway, Jeannie was just laying on the floor at the center when we walked in.  Joey of course was dying to go play with the dogs, but he was in coat and I had to keep an air of professionalism around him.  I kept a very close eye on him as he strained to get closer to them.  Jeannie calmly got up and walked over to meet Joey, only to be stopped by the volunteer that was handling her.  I took Joey around the corner into the puppy hugging area with a three foot high wall so he couldn’t see Jeannie and the other dogs that were behaving very nicely.  I was hoping Joey would calm down enough that I could go out and join some of the other people in there.  Every once in a while, Jeannie would get up and just mosey on over to where I was keeping Joey in a down, stay.  She remembered her friend from the meetings and just wanted to come over and see what he had been up to the last few months since she went IFT. 
Anyway, I was the only person who was there for the workshop, so it was some real nice one-on-one time.  I was able to discuss with the trainer, Lynn, my concerns about Joey’s doggie distraction issues.  While we were talking, she was observing how Joey was reacting to the other dogs in there and probably even more important, how I reacted to the  situation.  I was pretty good on how I applied timely and consistent corrections, but Lynn wanted me to stop petting and soothing Joey as much as I was.  Apply correction, get Joey to sit or down, stay, praise him for that, then leave him alone.  This was hard for me.  At that first raiser meeting last April, they were discussing puppy stress.  It doesn’t just come from fear, any excitement can be stressful to the puppies.  Reaching down and stroking your puppy, letting him know you are there, can be very calming.  I do it without thinking.  Lynn let me know that he is not the little baby puppy he used to be, he doesn’t need that much comforting anymore.  And in those few moments of me not constantly comforting him, he seemed to be able to tolerate being close to those other dogs a little better.  Lynn did take his leash for a little bit when he did act up, applied correction and had him sit or down, and stay.  She observed how Joey tried to get to me.  She recommended that we set up a puppy camp to help break the bond between Joey and I.  Now, at our last group meeting just last weekend, we were taking about camping and were going to get something started, so that was already in the works.  As we were driving home from the center, I got a call from our area coordinator, about Joey starting his camp.  I just need to contact the person he will be going to and arrange a time for us to swap our puppies.  She will be getting Joey, and I will take her dog, Barkley.  They are the two largest dogs in our group.  Barkley is four days younger, and about 5 pounds lighter, so there is very little difference between them. 
So, Joey.  You are going to live with somebody else for a couple weeks.  Better be good.