Saturday, December 11, 2010

Holiday Madness

This past month has been absolutely crazy!! There are three main factors driving the madness of this holiday season: my health, my church and my puppy raising club.

My health has continued to go downhill and I'm stuck at home these days not working and not going to school. I'm in a state of limbo while we get my records sent to new doctors and try to get all of the appointments set up. The pain that I experience on a daily basis is a struggle that does not subside very often and it, on top of everything else going on, creates an extra stress to deal with during the already busy season.

One of the only things that I am able to keep up with in my life is my church activities. I am very heavily involved in our music program and am officially in our adult choir, adult hand bell choir and a women's octet. I am also working about one day a week in our church daycare which keeps me from going completely insane sitting at my house. With all of the music that I am involved in Christmas is a very busy time. This weekend is our huge annual Christmas at the Cathedral concert. It is a very large, 2 hour production that we put on three times in the next two days. I have participated in this event every year since I was four years old and I can't imagine December without it! However, the rehearsals and warm-ups and concerts and post-concert parties take up a lot of time. On top of that, I have rehearsals for performances in upcoming Christmas services. All of the activity is awesome for Mark. This puppy, who I have had constant struggles with, is finally hitting his stride. I have been working very, very hard with him on his relieving and it seems (knock on wood) that he's finally in a good pattern where he is not having any accidents!!!! He's still a goofball but he is to a point where I am comfortable having out with me all day. This weekend will truly test him since we will be out all day today and tomorrow. Wish us luck!

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, another crazy part of this month has been the changes occurring in my puppy raising group. We are currently going through the process of a change in leadership. Instead of being the background co-leader, I am now a very active leader in our club. My former co-leader, who was the main leader and had most of the responsibility, is no longer involved in the Guide Dog club here and it's been crazy learning all of the extra stuff to be in the leadership position that I am now in. I have two wonderful ladies on board as co-leaders for the Boise area and having them makes all of this seem perfectly doable! While it is a task getting everything sorted out, we are all very excited to get the opportunity to have this level of involvement in such an awesome program.

Well, I have to be off so that I can start getting ready for the rest of the day. If anyone is in the Boise, Idaho area and is a music lover, try to make it to Christmas at the Cathedral. It really is my favorite musical event of the year. And you could watch Mark be a perfectly behaved boy as we go from group to group. Right Mark?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Emergency Vet Visit

When everyone is sitting around the table for the Thanksgiving feast, I have always felt a certain amount of gratuity for food and friends and family. However, to be quite honest, I don't think that I have every really sat down to embrace what it is to be thankful. I have grown up doing things for other people and I was raised to know the value of helping someone. Be it through church, Girl Scouts or Guide Dogs, I feel the spirit of giving surround me almost every day.

This Thanksgiving morning gave me something real to be grateful for.

While my mother was in the kitchen I had Mark and Barley on tie-downs on the couch. Mark started squirming and I was trying to calm him down. All of a sudden his leg got caught on the tie-down, he squirmed away, I heard a popping sound and then he started screaming. As fast as possible I got him off the tie-down and into my lap. For the next half an hour I continued testing his leg to see where it hurt, how sensitive it was and if he would put pressure on it at all.

Mark made a show of being absolutely pathetic and he had us convinced that he had dislocated something. After a phone call to my CFR, we were on our way to the Emergency Vet. Mark would whine and not put any pressure on his leg even when we weighed him before going into the exam room, but by the time the technician came in, he was fine.

That puppy was flopping around on the exam table and walking around the room as if nothing had happened at all.

The technician and my mom and I had a good laugh about their hospital being so good that all you had to do was come inside to be cured and she went to the front desk with our paperwork. As we were walking to the front desk, I couldn't believe that I would be the reason for a bill to be sent to Guide Dogs for absolutely nothing. As I approached the front desk, the lovely girl behind it handed my Vet Reimbursement form to me and wished me a happy Thanksgiving from the staff at WestVet.

In this society, it is a rare thing to walk out of a vet's office or doctor's office without having to pay a fee even if it turns out there was nothing wrong. I truly felt blessed this morning not only to have a healthy puppy, but to be surrounded by a community that cares so much warmed me more than any turkey dinner could.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Two for One

Well, Thanksgiving is only 14 hours away and I had an unexpected guest join me for the holiday! Due to some logistical issues in our club, Barley has come to stay with Mark and I until Monday. Having two GDB pups in the house at the same time is always an adventure. These boys are wanting to play every chance that they get. Especially around the holidays, it seems that we are short on puppysitters. Everyone is traveling or already has a dog in their house. It is difficult to have two dogs so close in age at the same time. Barley is eight months old and Mark is 6 months old. With both of them being at a point in life where they are testing boundaries, they have me on my toes trying to keep up.

A typical morning with two puppies goes like this: I take one puppy outside to relieve while the other stays in the crate. After relieving, I feed the first dog. While that pup is eating, the other dog gets to go outside. We come inside and the boys wiggle and play for a couple minutes and then dog number one goes on a tie-down. Then dog number two gets to eat. After the breakfast craze, both boys are on tie-downs. Right now, we are really having to focus on them being able to be in the same room together without wrestling constantly.

Another exciting development for Boise raisers is the new snow fall. Mark is very much enjoying his first snow and getting to be outside in the cold makes him extra frisky. In some ways, the extra frisky puppy is a lot of fun. Watching him zip back and forth through the backyard is one of my favorite things. However, trying to get him to relieve properly is a bit of a challenge. The snow and ice proves to be a distraction! I think that we're working through it nicely and, hopefully, by Christmas I won't have to stand outside spinning in circles in the 4 degree weather for ten minutes.

My grand parents are coming into town today to celebrate the holiday with us, so it will definitely be a full, busy house for Thanksgiving. Luckily, no matter how crazy life can get, I have so much to be thankful for.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Not-So-Baby Picture

I was looking at Mark last night and realizing that I had not taken nearly as many pictures of him as I have of other puppies. Feeling sad, I took this picture of him and it didn't help.

He's not a puppy anymore!!

What happened? I missed it somehow. Sitting here looking at the picture with my mom I said, "Check out how old he looks in this picture." To which my mother replied, "Yeah, like he's six months old or something." I guess that the Doodle is right on track for his growing, but it continues to throw me off.

I guess that I will have to be taking a lot more pictures of him so that we don't run into this problem again.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sick as a Dog

Poor little Mark is having some indigestion issues. Runny poo is the least fun part to deal with as a puppy raiser. Unfortunately, it seems like the one thing that I have to deal with every time I have a dog. Mark ended up having two accidents at Zamzow's (luckily out of jacket since it was a pet store) which were both so runny and soupy I could only feel bad for him. Luckily, I had Pepto Bismol!

Those little pink tablets have saved my puppies tummies more times than I can count. I love that easy fix but it doesn't make things too much easier on me. Usually Mark would be accompanying me to church this morning and I will most likely have to leave at him at home so that there is no chance of an accident in jacket. Poor little guy loves getting to go to church, but unless there's some solid stool this morning, that is not going to happen. :(

Those of you who read this and are not puppy raisers are probably not thrilled by reading about poop. As a coleader for our puppy raising club here, I have to be comfortable with the topic. Now something that used be uncomfortable for me is just something that I have to talk about and be aware of every day of my life.

You know you're a puppy raiser when.....

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Missing My Doodle

I know that GDB isn't the biggest fan of nick names in the puppy raising home, but I just can't help it. Yes, I always make sure that my puppy knows their real name and I use GDB's name whenever I'm in public or training. I just have always had my pet names for the puppies that I have raised.

Yamaha was Yammer-head (he had a huge, square head and since it wasn't hammer shaped, he couldn't be a shark). Baskin was Baby Baskin(he was the first 8 week old puppy that we had in the house and he never really grew up in our eyes). Donna was Little Miss (she was the first female that I had and she was so cute and petite and feminine). Chantilly was Tilly (it was just too easy to shorten). Gene was Gene-o (he had an underbite and scissorbite and we all thought that he should have been a character in the Godfather). Faulkner was The Nerd (he always wanted to do everything exactly right, he was a little OCD and I started calling Faulk-a-nerd which was just shortened). Jerry was my Jerr-Bear (he's the biggest cuddler on the face of the planet). And Mark is my Doodle Bug.

An explanation: I do not enjoy puppies having one syllable names. They are harder to learn and recognize. Whenever I wanted to get my puppy excited and be lovey-dovey with him, I would call him my Mark-a-Doo. That evolved into my Mark-a-Doodle. Which then became my Doodle Bug. Now I can him either Doodle Bug, Doo, Doodle or just Bug. This puppy has more nicknames than any other dog that has come through my house and I just love it!

The reason that I am missing my little guy is because, once again, it is puppy trade. I have an older dog who is having enough issues that it made me miss Mark a bunch. I'm going to be getting him back tomorrow night and I couldn't be more excited to have my puppy home again!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Doing My Research

I an effort to update some records on a couple of my puppies that I have raised, I discovered a surprising fact. I remember getting my first puppy in training for Guide Dogs, Yamaha, when he was about 10 months old. While digging through files, however, I found a monthly report form that I filled out for him when he was 8 months old!

This discovery makes a lot of sense now that I have studied it, but I guess that it is difficult to remember everything for five years. It turns out I got Yamaha when he was 7 months old. I started going to meetings and puppysitting right before I turned 16, so the time line is a lot easier for me to follow now. I guess that keeping a couple monthlies isn't always a bad thing to do!

The Worst Blogger Ever...For Real

Well, I've been away for a while so this is going to be a loooooong post. Last time that I checked in, I had a baby Jerry and a Faulkner that was graduating! Since then, stuff has happened. Let's start with Faulkner.

Faulkner graduated and is working with a wonderful lady named Karen Karsh. She is a singer/songwriter and she sang a song at the graduation that she dedicated to me. Even though it was my sixth graduation that I attended, it was the first time that I cried. The song that she sang for me is called "Wings to Fly" and is from her album After The Rain. The lyrics touched me so deeply that I feel I have to share them with you all:
You’ve given me wings, wings to fly
A song to sing
The way that you touch my life
It means everything
And with my wings spread wide
Now I know, I always know that I
I’ve always had wings, wings to fly
Before, before there was you in my life
I never realized, never knew before
All that I could do in my life
And I was lonely, so very lonely
I never knew which way to turn
Should I cross that bridge or let it burn?
Then you gave me wings to fly
The sweetest song, you gave it me to sing
The way that you touch my very soul
It means everything
And with my wings spread wide
Now I know that I, I’m gonna always have wings to fly
I look up and see
I see some rivers of golden sun
Somehow it makes me feel part of everything
Part of everyone
I never knew before
Life was such an open door
Just waiting for me, opportunity
Now you gotta look, now you gotta look, look at me soar
‘Cause you give me wings to fly
A song to sing
The way that you touch my very soul
It means everything
And with my wings spread wide
Now I know, now I know that I’m gonna always, always have wings
Always have wings to fly
Now, this lovely jazz piece could easily be about a person, but I like to think that it is about a dog. So many things about Karen are wonderful. The most wonderful of all, of course, is that she is positively in love with my Nerd. One of the really cool things that we found out was that Faulkner is Karen's sixth guide dog and he was sixth puppy to raise and sixth puppy to graduate. It just seems too perfect!! After working together for eight months now, their bond is strong and the lovely puppy that I raised is doing something amazing. Here are a couple of pictures from graduation:

When I went to Karen and Faulkner's graduation I brought my little Jerry along with me. He was between four and five months old when we took this trip and it was a lot of fun to have both my boys together. We took a couple of picture opportunities as well!

Ever since going to this graduation, I have loved getting to do some emailing with Karen and I even received some pictures of her working with the lovely Faulkner in his new Colorado home.

If you are at all interested in listening to some of Karen's music, please visit her website! I am a big fan of her jazz compositions and if you like jazz at all, her work is definitely worth a listen.

Now, a Jerry update. My little Jer-Bear is now a year old!! A very interesting story surrounds his raising, actually. We had a new raiser move to Boise from California. She was through the application process and ready for a puppy when her life circumstances changed a little and she ended up moving. Once here, we had to re-submit her paperwork and she finally had a puppy on the way. Unfortunately, when the puppy arrived he was very sick. Our raiser, Alina, and our club leader spent a lot of time at the Emergency Vet and the poor little dear almost didn't make it. Guide Dogs recalled the pup and had him scheduled for surgery. Luckily, he is doing very well and is a happy little Career Changed love! On the not so positive side, Alina didn't have a puppy. Since she works and is a full time student, Alina was counting on the summer hours to get her puppy ready for school. By the time all the drama was sorted out with her sick puppy, Alina had run out of summer to be with a brand new, 8-week-old. This is where I stepped in.

I love puppies. The brand new, puppy breath, pot-bellied, wobbly, sleepy puppies. I think that it is a mild form of addiction for me, actually. At the time Alina was struggling with not having a puppy, I was thinking that it would be fun for me to get a new baby. My school schedule was set up in a way that it would be really easy for me to be home often and it just seemed like fun. I decided that I would transfer the then 9-month-old Jerry to Alina. It seems to have worked out perfectly. Alina is very happy with Jerry. He is spectacular with her kitten and he gets to go to school and work with her all the time. To top it all off, Jerry and Alina share a birthday! I'm very happy with the arrangement and Jerry seems to be doing very well in his new home. I'm excited about the possibility of going to graduation with Alina as well. She's a lot of fun and I think that a trip to campus would be extra special with both of us there.

Since you were obviously gypped out of Jerry pictures, here are some to make up for it!!

The puppy that I got in return for transferring Jerry is another lovely black lab, male and his name is Mark. Mark has more personality than any other dog I have known. I don't know exactly where it all comes from, but it sure is fun. Mark is currently 5 1/2 months old. He is quite possibly the biggest sweetheart of a pup that I have ever encountered. All he wants to do is snuggle. Whenever he is cuddling, he turns into a fantastic rag doll. His coat is silky smooth and I can't get enough of running my hands over it. With his immense personality come a couple of training frustrations.

He seems to be too smart for his own good. For instance, we were working on his "Go to Bed" command. He loves getting to work with food so this was very exciting for him. He was doing pretty well for his second time really focusing on the command so I gave him a break at a high point. Later that day we came back to work it just a little more. When I asked him to "Go to Bed," Mark ran straight over and plopped down directly next to his bed. When I gave him the "Not quite, try again" look, he stared at me for a second and then very nonchalantly lifted his paw up to place it on the bed.

After that display of attitude I couldn't do anything but laugh at him. Needless to say, we abandoned that particular training session and went back to work the next day. He has "Go to Bed" down pretty well these days.

I am absolutely loving the chance to deal with Mark's quirks. He comes with a few issues but I am feeling very confident that they will resolve quickly.

I know that this is a longer blog post than anyone should have. Congrats and thank you to the people who have stuck around long enough to make it to the end!! Future posts will be much shorter as I have a schedule these days that permits me the time to post on a regular basis. Hopefully I will be able to have a daily post for a while!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Guess Where I'll Be On Saturday?

I'm going to Boring, Oregon!! Yeah, doesn't really sound that exciting. Unless you know that there's a Guide Dogs for the Blind campus in Boring, Oregon. That's right, Faulkner is graduating!!!!

I didn't want to post anything about it when I got my official letter on Friday because I wasn't sure if I was going to get to go or not. My CFR is coming to town for evaluations that day and I was very scared that I wasn't going to get to go, but Pat, the wonderful lady that she is, worked things out with me so that I could see my boy and his new partner! I really can't say how excited I am because Faulkner was so special to me.

Does anyone else have a dog graduating on Saturday? I know that Fullerton went back on the same truck that Faulkner did....

Monday, February 8, 2010

Updates, Updates all around

Well, I unfortunately do not have pictures to go with this post. :( My computer decided to die and I will be getting a new one this week which will get to have all of my files transfered onto it. Yay!

So, dogs:

Faulkner is in phase 10! He's been sitting there for a few weeks now, so we're crossing our fingers for a graduation date that we can easily make!

Jerry is fun. He's grown into himself by now and has started to show off his major attitude. I haven't had a "problem puppy" for a while, but I think that Jerry is going to give me a run for me money! He's not a bad dog by any stretch of the imaginiation, but he can be a handfull sometimes. He's too smart for his own good.

At only four months old, he's going to college with me just about every day. He LOVES it. Going to work is his absolute favorite thing on the planet and he sulks when I just leave the house for two minutes without him. His ears perk and his tail wags whenever I take out his jacket. It's so much fun to have a dog with that drive! The funny part about it is that at home he's usually just sleeping. Or trying to jump up on the furniture. We're working on a couple of not-so-desirable behaviors, but I'm convinced that once we have those beat, he'll be absolutely amazing.

His ridiculously huge ears make every person who looks at him smile. We've gotten to the point around my house that I tuck his ears up in his collar when he eats because if I don't he comes trotting up with slimey, gross food ears that he wants to rub all over me!

All in all, we're having a lot of fun with Jerry even though he can be a bit of a pill every once in a while! I'm hoping to have new pictures very soon!!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Faulkner Update

Oh yeah, I have a Faulkner update as well!

He's already in Phase 9!!!

I'm starting to look at graduation dates in hopes that we'll get to make another trip to Guide Dogs' campus soon.....


Hello everyone! The worst blogger on the face of the planet has decided to show herself again. But she has a new puppy now!

I have been crazy busy the past month and a half that Jerry has been around, but I'm SO happy to have him! He's been lovely so far and I can't wait to share the next year with him. I've already fallen head over heels in love with the boy.

I drove to Oregon campus (a 7 hour drive from here) to pick up Jerry (black lab male) and Ajax (yellow lab male) in mid November. Ajax went to another family in our club and little Jerry got to come home with me! While at Guide Dogs I met with our CFR to go over some leader requirements. I'm working on becoming an assistant leader for our club since I'm already in charge of monthlies and scheduling meetings. My leader is awesome and I have known her ever since I have been part of the club. It's great getting to work with her and be even more involved in our club.

After I got home with Jerry, we were here for a few weeks and then we headed to Missoula to spend Christmas with my mom's family. Everyone up there fell in love with Jerry and he was an awesome traveler on yet another 7 hour drive. While we were there, we got to visit a fire station to deliver food on Christmas Day to the firemen on duty. They got to love on him and I got some good pictures!

That's all I've got for now. I know that I could go on and on and on about how amazing this puppy is. He's smart and fun and I already trust him off leash in the house at 14 weeks. So, instead of prattling on, I'll just post pictures!