Saturday, November 27, 2010

Still Snowing

Thanksgiving Day we did stay home and just vegged. Friday brought coffee at Tommy's twice and dinner out with friends. Today it is snowing again and suppose to do so for 2 days.
Not sure when Barbee and I will be able to just get out there and walk. I am such a whimp in this stuff.
Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Snow! Snow! Snow!

Well Sunday we went to church and then for a nice walk in the cold. After our walk we had Mochas at Tony's Sub Shoppe and sat outside because my friend's dog is not a service dog. Before we were through with our drinks, it started to snow. OK that was fine for a few minutes. We took my friend home and came home to the warm house. It snowed off and on that day and night.

Monday it snowed all day and then the temperatures really dipped. It stopped snowing Tuesday in the afternoon. The temps then dipped down below zero. Today has been COLD! The high was 15 but no more snow yet.

We will probably stay home tomorrow as the roads will be icy I suspect. It is not suppose to warm up until tomorrow afternoon - maybe in the high 20's.

The bad thing about getting home with a new dog in November is the ability to get out and work together and meld that team better. Maybe if the snow goes away - we can get out there more.

Barbee loves the snow for playing but is very distracted by it when working. Hopefully it won't last too much longer and we can work on becoming that fantastic team. Her work is pretty awesome but we need more times to practice. Anyone heading to Palm Springs soon who would like some company?

More to come.....

Saturday, November 20, 2010

This Week

Sunday was our graduation from GDD. It was quite emotional for me and I ended up balling like a baby. Barbee's raisers and sponsors were there during the brunch and the raisers stayed for graduation. One of the staff spoke about his experience going under blindfold for 7 days. There was a great PowerPoint presentation of all of the dogs who were graduating. The pictures were of the dogs as puppies, dogs in training, dogs meeting the new handler, and different events during the class. All the students received a copy of this presentation. Barbee was first to officially graduate of course.

After graduation we went back to Blaze's home with Donna and introduced the dogs in the front yard. Once we were in the house, I decided to let them all play for a bit under strict supervision. We left for the Ontario Airport the next morning at 4:30 a.m. What an insane time to do anything. Barbee and I did well on the trip home. Once we landed, we drove to Tommy's Dutch Lunch for lunch where folks could see Barbee.

Tuesday was our first day back to work. Barbee is a great dog for an office and folks were very impressed.In the afternoon we went for a walk with my friend Tina and her pet dog, Aspen. It was really nice to get out and stretch with a walk.

Barbee has a lot of initiative, loves to work, and loves to show me places we have been before.

I have been doing daily obedience with her which just keeps her focussed better. Today we went for our first walk by ourselves. We did fine but I am still having a bit of adjustment going on. She pulls harder and walks much faster than Blaze has done in years. It will take me a bit to get back in the swing of things.

Tomorrow we will be going to church and, weather permitting, we will walk afterward. We are suppose to have snow showers so might not get that walk in.

More to come.....

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Last Night on Campus

Tomorrow is graduation day. It is hard to believe that I have been here 2 weeks already and am getting ready to go home. We are all packed and eager to get home. Barbie and I will spend Sunday night at Blaze's house and fly out very early Monday morning.
Getting back to the events of this week - Tuesday morning we did what are called traffic checks. This is where an instructor intentionally tries to drive in your path from all kinds of angles like some motorists do in the real world. These checks are very controlled so no one gets injured. These exercises allow us to see how our dog react in such situations and shows us what we need to do when our dogs react. In the afternoon we went back to the mall for more escallator and crowd work.
Wednesday we went back downtown and worked on clearance work such as avoiding poles, dogs, pedestrians, etc. In the afternoon we were told what is in our going-home notebook and a bit about our dogs. Barbie is 22 inches tall at the shoulders and weighed 69 lbs when she came in to training. Her raisers live here in Palm Springs.
Thursday was our trip into LA. We drove to Pasadena and took the Gold Line into Union Station. At the station in Pasadena, we worked the platforms with our dogs. Man, they all wanted no part of the platform edge. They did everything they could to keep us away from them. We then road the train into LA and worked our way out of Union Station. We then walked on Alvera Street, had lunch at a Mexican Restaurant that has been in business for 80 years. We then walked more through big crowds of shoppers, merchandise, kids, etc. It was fascinating to see how the dogs worked this very congested area. We then went back to Union Station and caught the Gold Line back to Pasadena. The class took Bob, Emily, and Bill out to dinner in thanks for all of their hard work. Bob and Emily are trainers/instructors and Bill is cheif cook and bottle washer and does anything they ask him to do. What a fun group to work with.
In the process of this dinner, we had a night route with many distractions as it was Thursday Night Festival.
Friday morning brought another round of traffic checks with a hibred being used. Barbie and I did very well until the last crossing. She was excellent but I tripped over nothing and fell in the middle of the street. I think my shoe just caught up on the rough asphault. I picked myself up and finished the crossing before checking for damage. I scraped my hand, knee, and chin. Poor Barbie wasn't sure what to do especially sent it wasn't her fault.
We then had an introduction into canine first aid and CPR. The dogs received another massage from Tom. In the evening we had a potluck with wonderful food and many staff, their spouses, puppy raisers in attendance. Barbie's raisers, Lea and Patrick made a brief appearance as they had another commitment. Tom Davis and his wife Debbie, President of the the Board of GDD, also stopped in for a bit. They were puppy sitters for Barbie when Lea and Patrick had her. She sure was glad to see the 4 of them.
Today we went back down to the Depot and all got to work on items that we felt we wanted or needed to do. Barbie and I didn't walk a great distance but had lots of stuff to work through. Many places had a couple of choices for Barbie to decide which way to go. None of the ways were wrong but some of them made the dog work more than other ways. There were tons of people, dogs, poles, and any other kinds of obstacles to deal with including a very angry man who has Terets Syndrome. He was kind of scary.
In the afternoon we sort of rehearsed the graduation and viewed the PowerPoint that will be shown. Very cool presentation which shows each of our dogs from puppyhood to actual working with us during our training. Barbie is a ham according to her raisers.
Tomorrow will be a very busy day as we have a brunch with the raisers and sponsors at 11:00 and graduation is at 2:00. Donna, Blaze's raiser, will be here and then we will go to her house for the night and catch the flight at 6:20 a.m. We will be back in Walla Walla by Noon if all goes as planned.
One thing that I found very different from other schools I have attended is that we worked the dogs in harness to breakfast and lunch and heeled our dogs using our cames to dinner. Bob feels that we need to keep our cane skills up and the dogs need to be comfortable working around canes. I just thought I could put the darn thing away when I got here - not to happen.
More to come....

Monday, November 8, 2010

Monday's Happenings

This morning we worked in our first mall using elevators, escallators, and doing people and furniture clearances.
Some of us went downtown in Palm Springs again, worked a small route which involved using sairs, ramps, and working where we had not been before.  We then had lunch next door to the Guide Dog Depot.  Two of the class members went for a different workout and 3 of us did routes in PS.  Barbie and I went to a pet store boutique and fitted her for boots.  She is in between two sizes and needs to wear socks with her boots.  She is not only a plus-size Barbie, but now has several accessories like a fancy collar, socks, and boots.  What else might she need?
Tomorrow we are suppose to do the traffice checks in the morning and go back to the mall in the afternoon.  The LA & subway trip is now scheduled for Thursday.
The general manager at the mall today asked us to not use the escallators at the mall as they have one elevator and it didn't think it was safe for the dogs to ride the escallators.  There is always a risk when using an escallator but we need to know how to work them properly with our dogs so the team can be as safe as possible.  This guy wasn't liking what we had to say but that's just the way it needs to be.  Too many times an elevator is not convenient to locate or might even be out of order so we need to know the correct procedure for using an escallator.
When working downtown on the way to the pet store, A couple were walking towards us and they had a boxer and a pit bull.  As we approached the guy was telling the pit bull "No Treats."  Bob (the trainer) and I couldn't hardly believe we heard what we heard and questioned each other as to what the guy said.  We both agreed that he did say "No Treats."  Now we are sure if Treats was the pit bull's name or if he was telling his dog that he couldn't have any Barbie treats.  I wish we had stopped and asked the guy what his dog's name was - sure hope it was Treats.  <smile>  He said "No Treats" several times as we walked by and his dog was wagging his tail and looking at Barbie.
I think that Venus must be just a bit too close to the Earth today.  <smile>

More to come....

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Catching Up

Thursday we visited with the vet and she showed us how to exam our dogs, gave us a wealth of information, and answered many questions from all of us.
In the afternoon we went to the Palm Springs Airport and worked through security with the TSA personnel.  We learned and so did they.
Friday we were suppose to have a session of traffice checks which allows us to see how our dogs react to many different circumstances involing vehicles:  someone backing out of a driveway, someone driving right at you, someone turning in front or behind you, etc.  The driver (one of the trainers) was ill so we had to re-schedule the checks.  We worked downdown Palm Springs again and I did a lot of shopping at the GDD Guide Dog Depot.
In the afternoon we were shown how to give our dogs massages.  Boy were they relaxed when we finished.
In the evening we did a night route in downtown Palm Springs.  Lots of peoples, dogs, and distractions.  Fantastic working in this environment and seeing how our pooches handle everything.
Saturday morning we work on walking in an area with no sidewalks.  We then went to Petco where my little girl decided to be a real handful.  This was not good as I wasn't feeling well and became verry exhausted.
After lunch at the schook, putting a prong/pinch collar on Barbie, we went back to Redlands to work flat curbs and clearances.  Barbie did very well and only had to work a couple of small clearances.  We will work with the prong/pinch collar a few times until she gets the message that she needs to listen to me.  I suspect that she will not need this collar passed the end of training but if she does, please realize that it is for hers and my safety that she listens to what I tell her.
Today I went out to breakfast with a very good frined of mine who just happens to be the person that raised my second dog.  After lunch some friends of mine that live in Colville, WA, and snowbird in El Centro, CA, came up to visit.  it was great to see them and they were impressed with the Barbie Doll.

More to come....

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Catching You Up

Sunday I started coming down with a cold and still am not a happy camper.  It seems like everytime I go into class I get sick.

Monday we worked in Palm Springs.  First thing we focussed on was left turns.  That afternoon we worked doubles with another handler and guide still in downtown Palm Springs.

Tuesday we went back to Palm Springs and worked a fairly short route due to my cold.  This route had all kinds of obstacles - dogs, poles, people, different types of curbs.  In the afternoon we did an obstacle course on campus.

Today, Wednesday, we spent the day in Redlands and had workouts around Smiley Park.  It is so nice to get out there and work with a new dog.

I think tomorrow we will see the vet and then go work with TSA at the Palm Springs Airport.

More to come...