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.
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.