Saturday, January 21, 2012

Meeting the New Pups

Today, we welcomed 3 new raisers and their pups to the Nashville Puppy Raiser group, bringing us up to 7 Southeastern Guide Dogs puppies in training.  

Siblings, Clifford (being raised by AC Becky) and Frenchie (being raised by Tina) are the  oldest pups at 11 months.  Both are black goldadors from the famous Miss Faye litter. (For some reason Clifford was a little camera shy.)
Frenchie in the background, paying no mind
to 10 week old, Gerry in the foreground.
Gerry is looking up at Frenchie.

Siblings Gerry (being raised by Jonathan), Gary (being raised by Kim) and Birdie (being raised by Frances) are 10 week old donated yellow lab puppies.  Gerry is lighter in color (and larger) than his siblings. Gary is little darker in the face than Gerry, and, little Birdie is almost a fox red color and is the smallest of the group.

Gerry, left, being introduced to Beacon, right.
Both dogs are nose to nose.
Gerry has his paw on Beacons face.
Gary standing in jacket.
Birdie peering our from
behind her raisers leg.
After raising 5 black puppies, Pat Freise is thrilled to be raising George, a 'yellow' goldador. George is 4 months old, and although officially a yellow puppy, he is almost pure white. 
Pat standing with George
 in a sit to her left.
George is very light colored.

And, of course, there is our beautiful Beacon...
Beacon, in jacket, in a down.

It is hard to believe Beacon was ever as small as the new puppies.  Since Gerry, Gary and Birdie do not have their shots yet, we met in a conference room in Nashville.  In order to access the conference room, the puppies had to walk through a laboratory full of really expensive equipment which, thankfully, the puppies did without incident.  The meeting started with introductions and Tina leading us in basic obedience... 

Tina, with Beacon on her left,
discussed proper collar
 correction techniques
for the older pups.

Becky then instructed us on some Southeastern Guide Dogs guidelines and procedures...

Becky, with Beacon in a down,
discussed public petting and
emergency procedures.

We practiced sit, down and stay.  After working with our own dogs for a short while, it was time to mix it up and switch dogs.  This is done to help the dogs learn to work with other handlers.  It was easy to tell Beacon and George apart due to coloring, and Frenchie was in harness while Clifford was in jacket, but the little pups... I could only tell them apart by their leash colors.  

Pat working with Birdie.

Although there were 7 puppies in the conference room, the only noise heard was that of talking, instruction and dog tags jingling.  All of the puppies were so well behaved (no 'busy' accidents in the building!) and worked individually, and together, very well. 

Gerry, in jacket, sleeping through
the end of the meeting.
Gary, in jacket, in a sit, looking
a little pooped out.
Even George, plopped down
for a little nap.

Before we ended the meeting, we tried to get a group shot but we kind of look like we are being photographed in a group police line up.  

From Left, Kim holding Gary
Jonathan holding Gerry
Scotty with Clifford
AC Becky Dan
Frances holding Birdie
Me with Beacon
Tina with Frenchie
Pat with George in a sideways sit.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

January Sponsor Letter

I just wanted to give you a quick update on Beacon.  I am going to break this into several e-mails so the pictures and details will stay together.

In early December, Beacon attended his scheduled puppy meeting. We met at an outdoor mall where Beacon was exposed to:

Doggie Distractions (Photo_1) - During this exercise Beacon was required to walk figure 8's around the other dogs in training to see how he handles doggie distraction.  The purpose of the exercise is to make certain Beacon is comfortable around other dogs and does not become distracted with play time when he is in jacket.  Because Beacon is so young we did not expect this part of training to go as well as it did.  Beacon was distracted several times but was able to regain focus and continue.

Statues - Some dogs have fears of statues (who knew?) so at this meeting we also introduced Beacon to a statue of children playing and flying kites.  He had no reaction, which is great for such a young puppy!

Sit, Stay, Come (Photo_2) - Beacon again, worked like a much older puppy.  He did not allow the busy outdoor location to distract him from following his basic commands (sit, stay, come).

Crosswalks (Photo_3) - We practiced the 'straight' command as we worked the crosswalks.  This was particularly difficult since there was a dog in front of Beacon and a dog behind.  He did very well and 'pranced' along the straight path.  He was not fearful of the cars passing. 

Scents - Beacon was exposed to leather in the shoe store (the scent of leather is frequently mistaken for rawhide to dogs), Bath and Body works for scent (overload!) exposures and the food court.  He worked very hard and did very well. 

Beacon continues to be a very easy to teach dog and is surpassing our expectations!

Beacon prepared for Christmas (Photo_4)

Celebrated Christmas (Photo_5) - Beacon is such a great pup but, again, since he is still young we still have to be aware of potential dangers (i.e. 6 kids opening presents, the noise, the wrapping paper, the ribbons, the small parts of toys, etc).  He did try to eat wrapping paper once but was redirected to his new toy.  He happily chewed away while we opened presents.

On a side note - Beacon snored through Christmas services... and I mean really snored...LOUDLY.

Beacon had a photo shoot (Photo_ 6, Photo_7, Photo_8)  Our oldest daughter has a great ability to take the pictures I want to take.  We were blessed that she was home for Christmas and was able to take some great pictures of Beacon.

Beacon update continued...early January

Now that Beacon received all his inoculations, it was time to visit the farm (Scotty's parents live on a farm about 2 hours from our home). 

He was exposed to other dogs (Photo_9 and Photo_10), donkeys, horses, mules, cows and other various farm animals.  There was a little bit of snow on the ground, but that did not provide Beacon with an excuse to have a snow day.  We still practiced obedience (Photo_11) and Beacon did not mind one bit sitting in the snow.  Visiting the farm also provides Beacon a chance to run free in the fields, something he does not have the opportunity to do when at home.  He is almost smiling in Photo_12!

The snow melted and it was time to return home - but not before one last run in the fields (Photo_13).

Beacon appears to be well trained when strangers approach as he  automatically sits but that is not the case.  He is a little timid, especially around men.  To overcome this, Scotty has been taking Beacon to work with him one day a week and I have been trying to visit more 'manly' locations with Beacon.  So instead of picking up light  bulbs at Walmart or Target, Beacon and I head to Home Depot or Lowes (maybe that sounds a little sexist but there appears to be more male workers at Home Depot and Lowes!).

Some of the needle sharp baby teeth are being lost (and found) now.  Beacon is now 42 pounds and still growing quickly.  He is still very laid back and easily trained.  He is all done with his puppy shots and travels with us all the time!  He attends weekly church, youth group, Mock Trial meetings, monthly Brick Builders meetings and, starting tomorrow, Beacon will be attending play practice twice a week!  He is so well loved by the 5th grade class that he was awarded a 'non-speaking' part in the play!  Beacon has been named the official mascot of the Running club (which will resume at the end of this month).  Beacon has also done a presentation to a Kindergarten class about service dogs, visited a nursing home, a senior center and is known by name at our local Publix.

Again, there are many more stories and pictures on Beacons blog.

We have high hopes for Beacon and are happy to be able to provide you, his most gracious sponsors, updates on his progress towards becoming a Guide Dog.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Beacon at the farm

Now that Beacon has received all his inoculations, he is free to travel with us.  And that means being able to visit Scotty's parents farm complete with exposures to other dogs...
Beacon Sandwich
Beacon in the center being checked
out by Harley (left) and Lad (right)
Beacon nose to nose with Harley.
Harley is a lab/mix. 
Beacon nose to nose with Lad.
Lad is an older Collie.
Having been 'approved' for playing, the three dogs start playtime...
Beacon, Lad and Harley in a circle.
Until Lad pooped out...
Lad became bored with Beacon's puppy antics.
Beacon in background standing
 and ready to play.
Lad resting in the foreground. 
Luckily, Harley still wanted to play...
Beacon and Harley playing.
Both dogs are jumping in the air.
Beacon was somewhat confused by 'doggie play' so he decided to run in circles around the other playing dogs... 
Beacon is running around Lad and Harley.
Beacon's ears are up above his head.
Harley and Lad are playing. 
 Beacon taking in 'doggie play'...
Beacon watching Harley and Lad
rough house play.
As the sun rose higher, the snow melted and the donkeys decided to come out...
Beacon at the fence meeting a donkey.
Beacon deciding to get a closer look
at the donkeys.  Beacon is walking
under the gate to the barn lot.
Beacon causing us a heart attack
as he slips under the gate into
the barn lot with the donkeys.
Donkeys can kill a puppy with
one swift kick!
Beacon in a 'down' outside the barn lot.
Through the fence, a curious donkey is
watching Beacon.
Beacon appears to be grinning as
he eats his treat. 
Beacon's time on the farm had come to an end... until next time!
Beacon, looking at the camera,
 as he comes in from the fields.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Beacon the Snow Dog

No school today due to snow which for Beacon translated into 'snow exposure day' .  
Snow like this I could understand closing school... 
Labrador dog in snowfall up to the top of his legs
But this (personal rant - come on Tennesseans- this is not snow!)
Beacon in a 'down' in the snow.
  The grass is still visible.
Nevertheless, since school was cancelled, it became a great day to let Beacon experience snow.  Beacon sat in snow...
Beacon sitting in the snow
Stood in snow...
Beacon doing a 'stand' in the snow
 Played in the snow...
Beacon looking quite possessed
 as he hunkers down in the snow
Ran in the snow...
Beacon running in the snow.
 His hind legs are off the ground.
 Beacon smiled in the snow...
Beacon running in the snow with
 his mouth open.
 He looks like he is smiling.
Ran around some more...
Beacon running so quickly in the snow
that his ears are standing straight
 up off the top of his head.
 Got his nose covered in snow...
Beacon standing in the snow
with his nose covered in snow
Tasted the snow...
Beacon licking snow off his nose.
  And, yes, he posed for pictures in the snow...
Beacon sitting in the snow,
looking at the camera.
 He still has a little snow on his nose.
Beacon had a busy, fun-filled snow day!