Thursday, April 15, 2010

Taking pictures of Don is hard... VERY hard

Last friday I went to the waterfront to get some pictures of Don with the Golden Gate in the background (for the GDB calendar submissions). The weather was perfect for photo-taking, the view was stunning, but... Don was not the most cooperative, to say the least ;) After I finally got him in the perfect position, he'd attempt to walk away- or refuse to look at the camera. My brother jumped up and down, my mom blew a whistle that I brought from home, but regardless, Don did NOT want to look at the camera. Now I laugh thinking about how funny we must've looked, jumping and yelling like crazy to get our dog's attention :)
Then, a man started walking his many dogs, which didn't help. Don was very distracted. I had him on his flat collar for picture taking, so it was hard to keep him from charging towards the dog. Thank God for gentle leaders!
As soon as I was about to take the picture, he'd try to run off. I even had to use the "come" command once- thank goodness he is so good at it.
To top things off, my camera fell on some rocks and scratched the screen pretty bad. sigh...
Anyways, I got a couple of photos that I liked. I spent all day trying to decide which photo to send in, and finally chose the second photo below, which I thought showed the most expression.

Turns out, I made the right choice. I was SO happy when I found out Don had been chosen for the month of December! I never thought I'd make it with 400 entries. GDB would like me to write a little something about Don- what makes him unique/special characteristics. Hmmm. I'll have to think about his one.
Don got a great report from the puppy sitters. He went to school again yesterday, and was really good. We've got a puppy meeting this Saturday at the skate park, so that'll be fun. Hopefully I'll get some more pictures.
If you haven't watched "Through a Dog's Eyes" on PBS, I highly recommend you do. It's a really heartwarming story about a service dog program and the special bond between the dogs and their partners. I watched it tonight and loved it!
Don wanted to show everyone his new jollyball, which he is happily destroying at the moment :)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Shopping With Silky

My mom and brother needed to run a few errands, so I decided to take Silky along. I figured the mall would be a good place for socializing and training. Silky did really well. I kept her on the flat collar the entire time because she wasn't pulling towards other people or distractions. She went for some things on the ground a couple times, but not much. I was amazed at how she completely ignored this dog we walked past, staying in the perfect heel position. We practiced some commands too, and when I asked her to DYB on the cement, she quickly complied. Good girl!

Resting in the car...

Hi, Silky. (A closeup of Silky's adorable black snout and nose)

Waiting to get in the elevator. She's a fearless dog- nothing has scared her, even this loud elevator.

Waiting patiently in Macy's.

Sigh. How long does it take for him to try clothes on?

Silky started to get tired. When I put some clothes down on the floor, she curled up and fell asleep :)

Then, we went to Kohl's and got some wrapping paper and looked around.

There are lots of interesting sights and sounds here, Silky!

Silky outside the mall. She did really well with all the people, sounds, and sights.

Closeup of her beautiful face.

After many hours of shopping, Silky is one TIRED dog. When we got back in the car, Silky curled up in a little ball and went to bed. We are swapping back today at GDB. I really hope the rain stops and it gets sunny, because we were planning on having Silky and Don play for a bit. The GDB dog runs can get pretty muddy.
It was so much fun getting to work with Silky. She is such a sweet dog- this morning she laid on my lap and chewed her bone for an hour. Can't wait to hear how Don did!

Silky for the Weekend

Guess who I've got for the weekend? Silky! She's adorable and SO sweet. She just LOVES people. You say her name, and she acts like it's the best thing ever, getting all wiggling then settling in my lap for a cuddle. She has really pretty light brown eyes and such a tiny face. Absolutely ADORABLE!!! She's only five months old, and she's really tiny compared to Don. Don is spending the weekend with Silky's raisers- we thought it was time for a puppy swap. Don was very excited, and I'm sure he's having a blast. He adores the puppy sitters!
We had a puppy meeting yesterday. I can't believe how big our club has gotten, we get new members and new pups every week. Maureen, a dog raised in our club, is in phase ten after only 2 months in formal training. Digby and Nerice are moving along and are in phase two. We talked about some common issues with the 11-16 month old dogs, and it was really helpful. We also discussed ways to make training more interesting for dogs who has mastered the basics (stays with hotdogs on the floor, teaching them the name of toys and to "go find" certain people.)
Due to the rain, Silky and I haven't done any interesting outings yet, but hopefully we will go shopping later today. We're mainly doing commands, walks around the neighborhood, practicing "come" (which she's really good at), and playing. I've never seen a dog so happy to play with her toys. I get such a kick out of watching her entertain herself. She has really enjoyed playing with Don's toys, especially his sterilized bones. She parades them around the house, then drops them and pounces on them. What a good girl!

Mmmmm. Nom, nom, nom. There's so many new toys to play with!

I will get you, sterilized bone!!! hahaha- There's no escaping now!

This morning, we went for a stroll around the neighborhood. She was perfect and so attentive. She kept looking back at me and making sure she was in the right place. We passed by a person, and she wasn't at all distracted. The best part? She didn't try to pick anything up- ever! And she's so young, too!

Time for some bone-chewing time after that exhausting walk!


She's a champ at relieving on command. She's so good- she whines if she needs to go potty, then goes as soon as I give her the command. She's been going on cement and dirt, and does great on both surfaces.
She does have her I-wanna-be-dominate moments, and can be vocal at times, but she is only 5 months old. I think she's going to make a really great dog and can't wait to see how she progresses.
More on Silky tomorrow- it's time to take her for an outing!

Ready, Silky?

(I just took her jacket out, and she came running)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

First Day of School

That's right, yesterday Don went to school for the very first time. He was a STAR and was so well behaved.
On Tuesday, I talked to my Spanish class and told them I would be bringing Don. Everyone was really looking forward to having a dog in the classroom, even my teacher. They were a bit disappointed to hear they couldn't pet him, but seemed to understand.
All morning long, I was SO excited. I got to school early to do an announcement over the loudspeaker. Kinda weird hearing my voice all over the school, but I think I got the message across that Don was a guide dog in training and not to pet, feed, or call out to him. My mom brought Don at lunch. I put on his GL, vest, and bait bag and we were off! There were only a couple minutes until the bell, so I walked him through the halls and outside a bit to get used to the atmosphere. A lot of kids were surprised to see a dog at school, and about 5 kids asked me if my dog was blind :) A couple people tried petting Don, but I had established pretty strict rules and once I reminded them, they stopped. All the students were really respectful of Don and his training. There are a lot of kids at my school who have GDB career changes and breeder dogs and are familiar with the organization. Plus, one of the teacher's husband is a Guide Dogs Mobility Instructor.
I got to class early and had Don "kennel" under the table. He watched people come into the classroom. Soon, Don fell asleep- and stayed that way for the rest of the class! Every now and then, he'd open his eyes and look around for a bit, then go back to sleeping. Everyone wondered how he could stay asleep in all the noise and commotion. About 15 minutes till the end of class, one of my classmates looked over at me, his eyes got really big, and he suddenly said, "THERE'S A DOG IN HERE!!!" Everyone started laughing.
After class, I had a WEB meeting (a program at our school where we help the incoming 6th graders). Don was great and got to meet a couple of my other teachers afterwards. My science teacher really liked Don and wants him to come to her class. Hurray!

All ready for school! Don sitting next to the front door, next to my backpack.
My brother had to get to a baseball game after school, so I didn't have time to take many pictures, but I got a few. Here is Don sitting by the lockers in the World Languages area of school.
Don with some classmates in the background.

"Hola, me llamo Don!"
Don is excited about learning a new language :)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Photos with Don

Happy Easter everyone. This morning, I had to wake up early to get ready for church. Don was not very happy about getting up either, and kept wanting to go back to sleep on his pillow. My church LOVES Don, and most people there have met him before. The ministers are both very glad to have Don there, and one of them even wants to do a sermon about Don, before he goes in for formal training, to bless him and the organization. Don was great at church, better than usual, and took his morning nap sprawled out on the floor. He wore a special Easter themed ribbon around his collar :) Then, we went home and I got a couple Easter pictures of Don and my family minutes before the downpour (that hasn't stopped since).

Don sitting next to my Easter basket this morning, after returning from church. You can sort of see the ribbon I wrapped around his collar.

A close up of Don's festive collar! If you click, it should enlarge. Does anyone know how to make pictures on blogger bigger? I have them on the 'large' setting, but it's not very big. Maybe I need to switch templates? Are there websites with other templates?

Don in his vest, outside on our lawn. I finally got him to look at the camera! Sometime this week, when the weather clears up, I'm going to take some pictures of Don for the GDB calendar in a more scenic setting (maybe Mt. Tam, the bay, or S.F.).

What would Easter be without some pictures of my bunny, Rosie? Here she is investigating my camera case. Its so hard taking photos of rabbits- they're way too fast.

We often make mazes for Rosie with books, containers, and various items around the house. Here she is jumping up on a plastic box and binders. I've just received a couple of blogging awards that I'm looking forward to writing about- I'll talk more about them sometime this week.


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Don's Going to School!!!!

... this Wednesday, and I can't wait! It was a long process, talking to the principal and such, but I think it's going to be well worth it. My mom brought Don into the school the other day when dropping off my lunch, and the principal happened to come out of his office and notice them. So, my mom and him decided to talk more about the details and I got to get out of class for a minute to join in their conversation. I think it was helpful for my principal to be able to see Don in person, and we also gave him some references from other schools that had puppy raising students who brought their dog with them. We then went over to my spanish teachers class, who is a big fan of dogs, and she loved the idea- she's even been to GDB graduations before. I'm going to start out slow, and take Don to just one class this week, on wednesday. We'll see how it goes from there! For now, I've got to finish writing a flyer about etiquette around a working guide dog in training and compose an announcement that'll go over the PA system. I'll be sure to write a first day of school post, hopefully with lots of pictures!
The other day Don had to go into GDB for a vet appointment. My mom's friend's husband is a dog trainer there, so we talked to him. I saw two dogs I've heard of before- Pilot and Tahoe. Don LOVES the GDB vet, and is always so excited to see him. Maybe because he knows he has cookies :)
I don't have many interesting pictures of Don, but here are some of him hanging out in my room before bedtime.

Don laying down next to my bed. He wasn't very happy about me taking pictures when he was so tired.

Resting his GIANT head on his GIANT paw.

"Leave me alone!". Don hiding his head under my mattress.

"harumph. I'm leaving!"

Happy Easter everyone!

~Lauren and Don