Thursday, October 4, 2012


Normally Puppy Raisers bring their pups back to Southeastern Guide Dogs for the big IFT day.  Considering we live so far and flights are not so cheap right now, we said good bye to Sweet Beacon and our Area Coordinator drove Beacon (along with another dog from our Nashville group - and 3 Atlanta dogs) back to start his advanced training.

We brought a picnic lunch to the park near our meeting place.  Of course, we had to take more pictures!

and par for the course, they only became more silly over time...

One last busy before we headed to the drop off...

Travel supplies, check

Some running around time...

Farewell hugs....

and last minute 'be a good boy' instructions

and Beacon was on his way.   I tell the kids, 'We may WANT Beacon, but someone NEEDS Beacon.  Even knowing Beacon is on his way to providing someone what we take for granted, we still went through at least a box of tissues each.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Last night with Sweet Beacon

Well here it is - our last night with Sweet Beacon.  We tried to keep our routines as normal as possible except for the crazy photo shoot in my messy bedroom.

Sometimes Beacon did not cooperate as well as we would have liked - I think he knew this was his last night with us.  He is a very smart and sensitive boy.  May have had something to do with the number of people shedding tears.  In some pictures Beacon was just too silly....

In others, it was the human being too silly...

Sometimes all of us were having a tough time posing....

Others were hard to pick a favorite...

But above all, we know by Beacons wink we will all be ok!

Last day at work

Today was Beacons last day to go to work with Scotty before the big IFT day.  Many co-workers came to say good-bye to Sweet Beacon.  On the ride there, Beacon seemed to sense this was the last time.

Beacon 'down' on the front floorboard.  He is
resting his head on the seat (which we tried
not to allow him to do except for this day)
Beacon in the lunch room in a 'down' looking
off to the right.
A picture of Beacon at Scottys desk, Beacon is
almost in a 'down under' but is looking up at
the camera with a big smile. 

Beacon is half way under the desk, still smiling.

Beacon on the ride home.  He is resting his
head on the gear shift.  It was a tough day
at the office saying good bye to his friends!

Saturday, September 22, 2012


Beacon loves music!  Well he has to being raised in our family.  Here Beacon attended the CIMC band competition.  It was crowded, loud, long and Beacon was a trooper throughout the entire day!

Beacon sitting in the stands, looking at the camera.  Of course,
he is wearing a big smile!

Beacon watching the bands on the field perform.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

September Sponsor Letter

Hi Sue!

I wish I had some more pictures to share with you this month but many of our recent visits have either been impossible to handle Beacon and photograph at the same time or due to privacy issues we could not photograph.
We went to a boys prison (privacy issues), a medical step down unit (I was a little nervous about leaving Beacon bedside while I photographed), a nursing home (I was too interested in listening to stories that I forgot to snap a single picture!) and several school visits (again, privacy issues).

We celebrated Beacons first birthday with some special doggie ice cream for Beacon (see Beacon 1 and Beacon 2).  We found out about doggie ice cream just in time for our first pup, Honey, to celebrate with so, of course, Beacon had to have some puppy ice cream too!  To say he enjoyed it would be a major understatement! 

One of the school visits Beacon went to this month made the front page of the local county newspaper (see Beacon_paper).  I just received a copy yesterday and plan on placing one in the mail for you.  Would you please give me an address to mail a copy?
On that school visit Beacon and I were invited to a kindergarten class that was learning about the sense of sight.  I talked with the students about how dogs can help people who have low or no vision.  Beacon, being the great dog that he is, stayed in a perfect down for the entire presentation.  Then, Beacon and I showed the class how special Beacon is and how well he listens to commands that 'regular' dogs do not know.  Beacon was a big hit and the perfect dog!  After the question and answer time, and those kindergarteners had a million questions, I took off Beacons jacket and let him have fun interacting with the kids.  Should he not make it as a guide, Beacon certainly has the ability to be a BARC (Be A Reader to Canines) dog!

Sadly, our time with Beacon is ending.  Our Area Coordinator will bring Beacon and another Nashville in for training pup, George, back to campus on October 5th.  Unfortunately, that also means that we will not be able to bring Beacon to your offices as we wanted.  I am disappointed but glad Beacon will have a travel buddy with him when he heads to campus.

I will send some additional photos before Beacon leaves us and hopefully some pictures as he arrives on campus for your next meeting.

He is still the sweetest, laid back pup around!  We are going to miss Sweet Beacon terribly!

Have a great few weeks!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

August Sponsor Letter

August 21, 2011

Beacon is doing very well!  So well, in fact, that he is the star puppy in our group.  Even with all the other pups in training romping around at our meetings, Beacon will sit and stay.  He does want to get up and be part of the mischief, but he has mastered listening to our command to stay no matter what may be going on around him!  He has also mastered the art of holding more than one toy in his mouth at a time... (see picture #1) and posing for early morning pictures (see picture #2)

Beacon continues to do well with his training with few exceptions.  He does not like to go up open stairs... (see picture #3) but we are continually working with him to overcome this. Last month was also puppy camp for Beacon.  He went to live with another raiser family for 5 days (see picture # 4).  The family loved sweet Beacon immediately and were very impressed with how well Beacon followed commands and, after a little exploring around their home, settled right in.  This was a great time for Beacon (not so much for us though - we all missed him terribly!) as he learned to live in a house with another dog and follow commands given by others.  Beacon went to the vet (ear infection) and while he did not gain much weight, he grew taller.  Of course, he was the vets best behaved client and, as the vet commented, 'as handsome as ever!'

What summer would be complete without a trip to the farm?  Beacon loves the farm - lots of wide open spaces to run and play, other dogs to play with, a lot of new farm animals to meet!  Beacon especially enjoyed hanging out in the shade provided by the bean canopy (see pictures 5 & 6).  During this trip Beacon discovered that melon straight from the field is a wonderful and delicious treat.  Each time we called him away from the melon patch, he would look at us, while squinting, almost as if he was thinking 'awww shucks, why are you forcing me from this field... this is too good to leave....'

Our Area Coordinator told us that Beacon may be called back to Southeastern Guide Dogs to being formal harness training on October 13th.  It is still tentative but we need to start preparing ourselves that our time with Beacon may end sooner than we expected. Sometimes I feel he is ready to head back - knowing his commands, walking so beautifully without pulling and wanting to work - but at other times, I am not so certain.  I know the trainers understand the pups are still not fully mature when they head back in for training and are very generous with allowing them extra time to adjust to the new environment and learn new handlers but October seems like it is just around the corner.  

How far are you from the Southeastern Guide Dogs campus?  I will keep you posted about Beacons in for training date and, as time gets closer, see if we can come up with a plan to have you all meet before sweet Beacon heads back to the Southeastern campus. 

I hope you had a great summer!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Beacon eats a cantaloupe

Beacon visited the farm this weekend.  He was very busy checking out the mules, donkeys and horses.  He particularly liked exploring the garden.

He played hide and seek in the pole beans...

ran in the squash fields...

played with Lad and Charlie...

sniffed the tomatoes, okra and watermelons...

and after running around for a while found the shade of the pole beans was a nice place to rest.

The Beacon discovered the wonderful taste of farm fresh produce when moments after this picture was taken, Beacon ate almost an entire cantaloupe.

The farm sure does tucker this little guy out!

Friday, June 15, 2012

The dreaded stairs

Beacon has become much more willing to take stairs with one exception - the dreaded work stairs.  For some reason Beacon does not like climbing open staircases.  Beacon does love going to work with Scotty.  In order to get into the office Beacon must climb the open stairs.  It was with much dread Scotty took Beacon out of the car and thought about the 20 minute process to get Beacon to climb 5 or 6 stairs.  Guess what?  Beacon surprised us all and took the steps on the first try.  Not one to let a teachable moment pass, Scotty encouraged Beacon to go up and down the stairs several more times, each time praising Beacon for the wonderful job!

It was a moment of puppy raiser pride!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

May Sponsor Letter

May 15, 2012

Good morning Sue!

This month has been a great month of growth for Beacon.  He appears to have overcome his fear of stairs (YAY!) and is maturing rapidly.  With the 2 oldest dogs in the group in for training last month, Beacon is now the oldest dog in our Nashville group - beating out George by 4 days!  

We tried to switch Beacons food to Southeastern Guide Dogs newest recommended food and poor sweet Beacon was not well for 2 weeks, therefore we do not have much to report.  Beacon did come with us to the pet store to pick up his new food and was curious about the caged bunny and birds.

Beacon hung out at home for much of the month, doing what my kids do when sick, watching tv.  His favorite show?  Too Cute on Animal Planet. 

Beacon was not too sick to pose for pictures though!

He is such a handsome dog!

And just because he was not heading out with us as much as he is use to, that did not mean training stopped.  He practiced avoidance and 'leave it' by maintaining a 'down stay' while a bug was crawling around him.  He did very well not to break his stay and try to eat the bug.  Actually he did much better than I did with a bug in the house!

Our first puppy training meeting of the month was with a trainer from Southeastern, Jenn Gerity.  She worked with our group teaching us the new way to perform the 'heel' command.  Beacon was a star pupil.  Unfortunately the meeting was held in the evening and there are not many good shots of the puppies.  I have one picture taken right before the meeting began but it was taken from my phone, and I am not sure if you will be able to see it or not. 

We have expressed some concern with Beacon and his 'shark' teeth.  He has several baby teeth that have not fallen out yet and his adult teeth are already in.  Jen checked Beacons mouth, saw the double teeth and said they will need to be removed.  The concern is that the baby teeth can break in the mouth and cause an abscess and the overcrowding can make it difficult to keep his teeth clean.  Beacon loves to have his teeth brushed - or more accurately, loves the taste of puppy toothpaste - so the brushing is never an issue.  We are waiting for confirmation from Southeastern on when to have the procedure done.   

Speaking of tooth removal, Beacon went to the oral surgeon when Jenny had her wisdom teeth pulled - and he waited patiently for Jenny to emerge.  As if he knew something was wrong, he did not try to jump or 'kiss' Jenny when she was done.  He just sat at her side, licking her hand.  Have I mentioned he is the sweetest puppy??

Sadly, Beacon stood/sat through a military funeral procession.  A former student at my sons high school was killed in Afghanistan.  I think the entire community came out with flags to support this heros family.  We lined up on the road near the high school with flags and waited for the funeral procession.   I am not sure if you can see Beacon in the third picture, but if you look closely you can make out his blue coat on the grass about half way down the line of flags.  Again, he is such a sweet and sensitive pup, that he sat very patiently (almost reverently) and waited... a long time.  First came the police, with lights and sirens to clear the street traffic, then the Victory Riders and the Patriot Guard Riders (motorcycle groups that support military funerals and keep protesters like the folks from Westboro Baptist church away), followed by the official police escort.  The procession stretched for miles.  Beacon was such a good boy that he was rewarded with his first puppy ice cream treat.  

Our next puppy raiser meeting was held in a women's correctional facility and cameras were not allowed.  

Now that Beacon is back on his regular food, he is back to being his old goofy self again.  We do have some concerns that Beacon may be too sweet to make it as a guide, but having read your last email regarding yet another one of your pups making it to guide, we continue training Beacon with the expectation he will continue your successful guide dog streak.  Whatever career Beacon chooses, he will certainly enrich the life of his future partner as he has enriched our lives!

I hope all is well with you and your members.  Hopefully we will have some more photos for next month!
Take care!