Mar 21, 2011

Happy Birthday Joey

I have to apologize for the lack of new posts recently.  Things are definitely happening in Joey’s life right now, but not too much at a time that was worth writing about, I guess.  We celebrated Joey’s first birthday a couple weeks ago, which should have been a big enough event to write about.  But, I just wasn’t able to get into a creative mindset to post something about it.  It really wasn’t a big deal, Joey wasn’t constantly bugging us for days, reminding us his birthday was coming.  I guess that is just our sons that do that.  But, I just realized that very few one-year-olds understand when their birthday is.  They are just happy to get some cake.   We were going to have Joey’s party after dinner.  Cindy wanted me to get him a party hat for the occasion.  I went down to the grocery store on the corner, but they didn’t have any hats in the party aisle.  They used to have a party store in this plaza, but I had never been in it and never really understood the need for a store that just sold cheap costumes, balloons, and birthday candles.  Wow, I bet they used to have party hats when they were open!  I knew better than to come home without a hat, so I headed for a bigger grocery store further down the street.  Again, no hats in the party section.  Oh, I didn’t mention that I left Joey at home while I was trying to find his hat.  It was supposed to be a surprise party.  After two unsuccessful stops, I knew I had to grit my teeth and go to the dreaded Wal-Mart Supercenter.  They have everything there.  I was surprised to find only three different hats there.  Now I had to make a decision.  Do I get the red Hot Wheels hat, the blue Superman hat, or the yellow Spongebob Squarepants hat?  I decided that the yellow hat would look the best on a black dog in the pictures we would be taking, so I grabbed a package of them (Of course I have to get 8 hats, not just one) and headed for the checkout.  This is the worst part of shopping at Wal-Mart Supercenter.  I wonder why they go through the expense of installing 57 checkouts when they only hire enough people to run 3 of them.  Why do they have a person at the door just to say hello to you when you come in?  That same person can say hello when while running a checkout station, can’t he? 
Anyway, I finally got home with the hats.  We had dinner, then started Joey’s party.  We didn’t make him a special doggy cake, but did get him some ice cream.  This was very special ice cream we never heard about until we became puppy raisers.  This was Frosty Paws doggie ice cream.  We even stuck a candle in it so we could sing happy birthday properly.  Putting the Spongebob Squarepants hat on him wasn’t nearly the ordeal I expected it to be.  I think he was too focused on that ice cream in his bowl to worry about a stupid hat on his head.  After singing, our sons blew out the candle and removed it so the dog could enjoy his treat. 

                                                    Joey also got a new Kong toy.

This last Saturday our puppy raiser group was at the Fun Fest at Sun City Center.  For those of you not from west central Florida, Sun City Center is a very nice, large retirement community.  Our group sold strawberry shortcake in the food booth area, and had another tent set up for all the pups on the other side of the fest.  One of the SEGD trainers was there with us and led a couple obedience sessions.  Several interested people stood around watching and asking questions.  I, not Joey, was the one that got distracted when answering questions and almost missed our turn at walking in front of the other dogs. 
 Our area coordinator brought a couple harnesses since we now suddenly have 7 pups that are a year old and ready to start getting familiar with them.  Joey sniffed it a little bit when I held it in front of him, then calmly allowed me to slip it on him.  I buckled it on and let him get used to it.  He never paid any attention to it.  I took him for a little walk around the fest .  As puppy raisers, we do NOT hold the handle of the harness when our pup wears it, we still walk him with the leash.  Joey wore that harness proudly, just like when he is in his coat.  Puppy raisers will agree that their pups act differently when they are in coat, more mature, more professional.  Somebody remarked to me that Joey looked like he was born for that harness.  Uh, yea, he was!  A couple people in the group took some pictures of him for me. 

 After wearing the harness for a while, I took it off to make it more comfortable for Joey to lay down back in the tent area.  Don’t want to overdo it the first time.  Joey seemed to stay in that mindset though.  The other pups were playing with each other and fighting over the toys, while Joey just laid there and watched them.  It hasn’t been that long since Joey was the most doggie-distracted of the bunch.
The newest pup in our group, the one we sponsored and named in memory of our former AC, Dave Kelly, was there and expecting a special visitor.  Kathy, Dave’s widow, came to meet the puppy for the first time.  It was a very special meeting as you may expect. 

I promised to put a link to Dave’s new blog and here it is.

Hey Wheat Thins!  If you guys start following blogs as well as Twitter, we could use some cheese and crackers at one of our group meetings.

Mar 6, 2011

2011 Walkathon

We went to the Southeast Guide Dog Walkathon yesterday. 

This was our first one so we didn’t know what to expect.  We were surprised at the huge number of people and dogs that were there.  Of course there were lots of puppies in training, but there were also lots of working guide dogs, therapy dogs, and SEGD breeder dogs.  Then there were the dogs that are not part of the SEGD program.  Every kind of dog from chihuahuas to great danes were there.  We hoped to find Joeys parents and littermates so we could get some family pictures, but there were so many people and dogs there that it would be like finding------well, you get the idea.  We know Joey’s father is a golden retriever named Norm, and we checked every golden we saw there.  No Norm.  Joey’s mother, Janie, is a black lab.  Good luck finding her in this crowd where 75 % were black labs.  We did ask everyone that had a “Breeder” coat on their dog, but couldn’t find Janie.  OK, how about the littermates?  Joey has three brothers;  one black and two yellow.  We knew the black one, Kenny, would not be there.  One of the yellow ones is named Albert and is in another group near us.  I found one of the raisers in that group and found out that Albert was not at the walkathon.  The other yellow pup is still unknown to us.  I checked out every large yellow dog that looked like it might be a goldadore pup, but couldn’t find him. 
Oh, this is supposed to be Just About Joey, isn’t it?   OK, Joey must have thought he was at Doggie Disney!  He is so distracted by other dogs and here he was in the middle of hundreds!  He is getting better all the time at controlling himself around them, so he wasn’t too hard to correct when he got distracted. 
We were just starting our third lap around the park when the boys started whining about how tired they were.  Instead if listening to them complain for the rest of the day, we decided to go sit in the shade and watch the people and dogs walk past us.  Almost right away, I saw somebody I had been wanting to meet.  Joey’s sponsors also sponsored another dog they named Elvis.    I had been wanting to get pictures of the two dogs together. 

I recognized his raiser from pictures on their group’s website. When I was introducing myself, a lady walking with him introduced herself to me.  She was the raiser of HRH (Her Royal Highness) Berkeley, a sister of Elvis.  Please check out her blog if you haven’t done so yet.  So, we were in the presence of royalty.  Between the King, and Her Royal Highness, Joey needed to act respectable.  To him, acting respectable is not sniffing their butts. 

   After a few pictures, the royal siblings continued their walk and I took Joey back over to the main tent to check out more possible family members.  My family went to ride the little train that was running around there.  I still didn’t find Joey’s family, but staff members of SEGD recognized him from his days at the school during his puppy camp, and stopped to say hello.  Lots of people were surprised that Joey was still a puppy in training.  At his size, they all thought he was older and must have been career changed or something.  We were taking to the handler of “The Don”, one of the largest dogs to graduate from the school in recent history.  Standing side by side, Joey actually appeared to be just a little taller, but is definitely outweighed by the Don by about 25 lbs.  The Don is NOT overweight, just very well filled out.  Picture Arnold Schwarzenegger  at 6” 2”, standing next to a normal tall man who was just an inch or two taller.  Arnold would still be considered the larger person.  And so it is with the Don. 
When my family was done riding the train, they started looking for me.  I, along with 90% of the people there, was wearing a white Walkathon t-shirt. 

My son remarked to my wife, “OK, white t-shirt and a black dog, this shouldn’t be too hard”. 
In other news, our group’s new puppy goes home with his new raisers tomorrow.  They, along with all of us, are very excited about “Dave”.   There will be a new blog out there very soon about him.  Those of you that followed “Ellie’s Everyday Adventures” will soon see a new post there that will direct you to the new blog.  I will be sure to post a link to it as well.