Monday, December 6, 2010

Sinclair goes home for Christmas

Word is that little Sinclair left San Rafael this afternoon with his new family. Best wishes to all for a successful transition and long life together.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Someone's been sleeping in my bed!

Silky came home today after a hiatus of nearly 4 weeks. She left home on Nov. 8 in a puppy swap with Stefano. She came into season on her swap-back day, so she went directly to the GDB campus instead of coming home.

While she was out, a lot of visitors came through "her" house -- some with two legs (Jeff, Leslie, Cyndi, Kitt, and 5-year-old Charles); some with four legs (Stefano, Griffen and Sinclair). The four-legged guys walked on Silky's floor, laid down on her carpet, hung out in her crate, chewed on her toys and one of them even slept on her bed. And I didn't even have to explain all this to Silky -- she figured it out all by herself. Sniff, sniff, sniff.

Hmmm. Charles? Yep. (sniff sniff) 
Griffen? Yep. (sniff sniff)
Stefano? Yep. (sniff sniff sniff - Hi, brother.)
And . . . (sniff sniff . . . sniff sniff . . . sniff . . . .) who else? A strange puppy? (sniff sniff sniff) SINCLAIR!

Yummmmm -- my old watering hole.

Back in my own bed, boss of my own toys.
All except the kong that escaped over the edge of the deck, into the bushes below.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Silky's coming home !!!!

I just heard -- Silky's first season has come to an end. Finally!
I'll pick her up tomorrow just after lunch. YAY!!

Welcome home, Silky. We're awfully excited you're coming home.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mr. Sinclair and our puppy club

Sinclair is a 5 month old puppy, career-changed for medical reasons. He had 3 operations very early in his life and has grown up living on the Guide Dog campus. Since he needs experiences living with people in their homes and since we're puppy-less until Silky comes home, we fostered Sinclair for 4 days. He's a smart, engaged puppy and learned things very quickly.
And, as you can see, he's very handsome. We're hoping he gets adopted soon.

It turns out that Sinclair is Snickers's brother. Snickers is one of the chocolate puppies from the Forte/Arizona litter born on 6/08/10. You can see Snickers on Megan's blog:

Sinclair went with us to our puppy club meeting last Saturday and was able to accompany all the puppies to a retirement home. The puppies were a hit. Sinclair was quite a gentleman and licked people's hands very gently.

Nougat gets a double belly rub.
Quebec is on the left and Ava is in the middle of the photo.

Quebec sitting nicely while Carol talks with a resident.

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Stefano's visit

We had a great time puppy sitting Stefano. It was surprising to discover how similar he and Silky are --both in personality and appearance. He's more grounded and less aloof than Silky, which we enjoyed for a change. When I took him back to his house, he and Silky played beautifully in the yard for awhile. 
Stefano's a beautiful boy. His expression here could almost be Silky's -- except he's a yellow lab and a boy.

Stefano was a hit at the local quilting guild's workshop. He has the same way of looking directly into your eyes that Silky has but was able to restrain himself from trying to jump up.

When Silky and I were driving home, she became very agitated in the car - highly unusual behavior for her - and I pulled off the road. She tried to relieve several times, each time just squeezing out little drops. On closer inspection, I discovered she had come into season so we drove to the Guide Dogs campus instead of coming home. She'll be there until the first of December.
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Monday, November 8, 2010

Silky/Stefano swap

Silky was a bit "reluctant" to have our CFR play and handle her during her evaluation. It made me realize it would be good for Silky to participate in more frequent puppy swaps and puppy sitting adventures. That way, she could become accustomed to being handled by a variety of people and would be less likely to become stressed when our CFR takes her reins in her next eval. . . . or so the theory goes . . .

So I sent an email to Silky's brother's family and asked if they would like to swap puppies for a few days. They said yes, we worked out all the details, and voila! Stefano came to stay.

What a guy! He's Silky's brother. Their litter had 5 yellow labs and 3 black labs. One of their littermates, Spencer, was donated to the Samsung Guide Dog School in Korea. Stefano settled right in and made himself at home on the tie-down next to our kitchen. We went out for a relieve and walk -- he was totally distracted by a small dog (just like Silky would've been) and walked right next to me once we were away from the small dog's influence. Back at home, he crashed.

Stefano is quite a bit larger than Silky is -- he weighs 70+ pounds and she's about 55 these days.The most surprising thing for me was to see they have identical expressions. Silky has a way of looking right into our eyes and Stefano does the same. And his face looks just like Silky's -- only larger and blonde.

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Friday, October 29, 2010

Getting ready for Silky's next evaluation

It's time for Silky's next evaluation. Our CFR will be in town next week and Silky will see him Tuesday afternoon in downtown San Rafael. She was about 6 months old at her last eval and never really settled down. Our CFR had to talk about her "potential". Oooo boy. 
 Now that she's a year old, she has her obedience commands down cold and will do them around different types of distractions (except other dogs and people).  So, to help make sure she can show off all that "potential", we spent some time in downtown San Rafael this morning to "study up" for the eval.

Silky does not like to get her feet wet. It's been raining lately and our drive is wet. She wants to sniff the puddles and steps around them. What about those webbed toes, little labbie? Aren't you a water dog?
The trees in San Rafael were beautiful. It was drizzling there and the sidewalks were wet. Sounds from the traffic on the wet pavement didn't phase Silky, though.

She looks lovely dressed up in her Puppy-in-Training gear.
Hallowe'en is this weekend and Silky was totally disinterested in the store displays. Good girl!

Silky did very well as we worked our way through all her drills - both with the Gentle Leader and with just the flat collar.
 No problem with the scary stairs . . . .
 Or the "public restroom" for civilian dogs . . . .
 Or the loud trucks and heavy traffic.
There were two exceptions to all the good work. The first was another dog. And not just another dog. It was a guide from Guide Dogs in formal training being taken through his paces. Silky was distracted by him; and he was distracted by her. I got to watch the trainer work him through his distraction and I had Silky "sit" while we watched. Then the trainer asked if she could bring the dog by again (Stanford) and they passed us without so much as a whiff from Stanford. Silky, of course, was wriggling and squirming and dying to go after them. We have a lot more work to do on her dog distractions.

The second blip happened on one of the downtown corners. I said "Silky, sit" and she didn't move. Wow -- that's just not like her. I tried to place her in a sit and she absolutely would not sit. The sidewalk was wet, but we had already done several "sits" in different places around downtown. Silky's ears were back a little and her tail was down. She seemed to be afraid of something. I couldn't see what it might be, and gave her the "let's go" command and we moved away from that corner. When we were down the street a ways, I gave her another "sit" command and she sat. Reluctantly, but she sat. 

Final stop -- Starbucks for a little relaxation.
 Silky crashed when we got home and slept for almost 2 hours. I think we'll go back for another practice session over the weekend.
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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Don's Going Away Party with Silky

 Silky and Don got together for a little good-bye romp in the GDB play yard a few days before he went in for formal training. Silky had it all planned . . .
 You chase me first, Don, then I'll chase you.

 Don, ever ready to oblige, chased Silky then took his turn in the lead as the puppies took to the air.

 So, Don, you're really going to do this, eh? Go off to school, join a team and become the leader you were born to be? Don't forget to tweet me!

  We'll all miss you, Don. You're a great dog and you're going to be a great guide!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Indy - Bookstore dog of Stockholm

Jim and I spent a day in the oldest section of Stockholm: Gamla Stan. Gamla Stan is a medieval city; once walled. At one time, all the people living there were required to live within the city walls. Then came the plague and wiped out more than half the population. And after other diseases spread through the city, the restriction on living outside the walls was rescinded. People moved outside the city walls, the population density decreased, and diseases stopped spreading so quickly. It was a great solution. It also created Stockholm.

We took the T-bana from Fridumsplan (where our hostel was) to Gamla Stan. It was fun to hear all the stops announced correctly by the subway train driver. When we came up from underground, we found this bookstore: The English Book Store. It's a lovely bookstore and I found Steig Larrson's 3rd book there.

The young woman who helped us, Tiffany, went to school at Virginia Tech and has lived in Stockholm for 2 years. We got to talking and I said we'd lived in Puerto Rico. She said, "My dog is from Puerto Rico!" And we met her dog -- Indy. Here's Indy.

Indy is a sata (Puerto Rico street dog) just like our lovely Sally was. When Jim and I moved to California, we brought Sally and two cats (Sugar Ray and Leonard) from Puerto Rico. The street dogs there are lovely, sweet, kind and grateful. 

Tiffany's sister does research on Monkey Island in PR, and sent Indy to her before Tiffany moved to Sweden. 

One more thing, Tiffany's Indy is just like Justin and Crista's Indy -- sweet, lovable dogs. It was more than fun to run into another Indy so far from home.

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Silky at the puppy sitter's

Silky's spending three weeks with puppy sitters - thanks, guys - while we're out. I love this part of the GDB program. Not only can we travel without worrying about her care, Silky continues to receive training and puppy handling the GD way. She learns about different families and has lots of new experiences.

Cooper "painted" a picture. I love the way Silky uses her paw to hold the toy upright. (chomp chomp yum yum)

Sitting pretty while out to dinner in Petaluma. Good girl, Silky.
Since she didn't see fit to go into season while we were gone, it's likely she'll be away from home for another 3 weeks not long after we get back to California. Not to worry, though. We won't be dogless. We'll have OPP (other people's puppies) as we get the chance to puppy sit in our house!

Missing our pup but oh look at this

We are on vacation in Scandanavia for three weeks. It's been hard to be away from Silky for so long, but her puppy sitters are taking great care of her and have sent us some emails. And for a bonus, they've sent us a couple of pictures. Speaking of pictures, here are a few from our trip on the Naeroyfjord in Norway. The boat traveled round-trip from Flaam to Gunvagen and back. It took about 4 hours, rained for most of the trip and was over before we knew it.

The fjords are salt water. They are actually inlets from the sea. The difference between high and low tides is about 1.2 meters.

Not much of a wind blows inside the fjords so the water is calm and mirror-like.

These little towns are accessible only by boat. They are part fishing village and part agricultural village. They raise mostly goats and sheep and make great cheese.

The water rushing down the mountainsides is glacier-melt. There is so much runoff that the water in the fjord is mostly opaque near it's closed end, becoming more clear closer to the ocean.
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Friday, September 10, 2010

Puppies meet horses; horses meet puppies

One family in our puppy club invited us to a horse farm. Their daughters were competing that day and all our GD puppies and raisers were treated like VIPs. There were lots of horses, lots of people, lots of interesting sounds and smells for the GD puppies to encounter.

Nougat gets a good look at a horse walking by. There's a water truck in the background that drove around the track spraying water to keep the dust down. Some of the puppies were more interested in that truck than in the horses!

Guide Dog puppies in the VIP tent. Where else? I'm not sure who the BL is on the left, but the YL in the center is Don.

Great picture, Don. What are you looking at so intently? Could it be Silky?

Primrose takes everything in stride. She was recalled not long after this outing.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Road trip down the coast

We took a long weekend to go to LA and visit family. Silky went with us -- her second road trip. Our first trip was to Mendocino last March. If I can find pictures, I'll post them.

Silky resting up before the long road trip.

DYB, Silky. It may smell like Monterey, but it's just dirt. Really.

Silky likes to look out of the car window until we get on the freeway. Here she is taking in the sights of San Luis Obispo after we left the farmer's market.

Goughnuts in the hotel? What a great place this is! We stayed in Pismo Beach and Silky joined us for the breakfast buffet in the morning.

Silky hanging out with Jim while we wait for our car. A warning light flashed periodically but the diagnostic tests came back negative. Later, just before we got to the 405 in LA, we discovered it was low on oil. Poor Prius. Who'da thought they actually use oil?

LA - Finally! Dylan Bob, this is Silky. Silky . . . Dylan. . . er . . . OK . . . . chew on each other. And they did. They chewed and ran and played and finally learned to settle down in each other's presence. What a great puppy weekend! Let's hope Dylan doesn't get the warts.
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