Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Corky Helps a Friend

A friend of mine at school will be going to meet a career changed Southeastern guide dog on Thursday afternoon.  They have been waiting a long time to get their forever dog and are extremely excited about it. (All the photos here were taken by Christina Arcuri, many, many thanks!)

Everyone arrives to greet Corky

Since their last dog was a Jack Russell, I offered to have their boys come over and meet Corky so that they could really get to know a big lab before meeting their dog on Thursday.  That way, they could practice petting a big dog, how to interact in a calm way, and ask questions.

The two boys are a bit tentative about petting Corky.

Corky is a really good test big dog because he is so friendly and has such a waggy tail.  Everyone likes him right away and he likes everyone back.

Mom watches as I talk about Corky and how old he is.

I had Corky do a down stay because he is a big lab (74 pounds, their dog they will meet tomorrow is only 55 pounds) and they are still pretty small.

The boys are sitting by Corky and asking questions. Corky is lying down.

I also had them pet Corky on the body.  I had told their mom to try and avoid having them pet their dog on the head as that can lead to jumping and mouthing.  

The boys are both petting Corky.

We also talked about having very calm voices and moving slowly, not running around and getting the puppy excited. I loved their questions.  The first one was about stuffed animals.  Was she going to like stuffed animals.  "Yes, she was," I said.  "So it is important that you keep your toys in a safe place out of her way. If she does get one of your stuffed animals, just go and get one of her toys and trade her so that she knows which toy is her toy."  

I told him it was probably going to be a good idea to keep his socks off the floor and his bedroom door shut too!

Mom and son are listening as I explain about stuffed animals.

We decided his younger brother had the stinkiest socks and had the most to worry about.

Mission accomplished: a happy boy with Corky.

Mission accomplished: Another comfortable boy with a big dog.

All in all, I think they ended up being very comfortable with Corky and will have a very successful visit with their (hopefully!!) new forever dog tomorrow!!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Dewey News! Cautiously Optimistic

Dewey Gets Matched

We got the call last week.  Dewey had been matched with someone in this month's class of graduates currently down at Southeastern Guide Dogs.  We knew it was a possibility, but we thought it was another class or two away.

He had been chosen to do blind fold walks at the last open house. He had also been chosen to do the AC conference and lead one of the ACs around for her blindfold morning.  So. we knew he was getting close.

But we were really surprised to hear that he had actually been matched.  I think after having Coach be matched and then unmatched we are cautiously optimistic.  Every dog is different.  

Dewey is very calm.  He has a nice settle.  And as indicated by this photo from Friday, he can sleep through a noisy food court with no problem. He was the ultimate napper.

Dewey napping in a food court while out during class.

We will be attending Puppy Raiser Day on March 7th.  We are excited, but trying to be calm.  Like Dewey.  Hopefully, we will have some fun photos to show you all.

Keep your fingers crossed.

And perhaps your toes too.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Bring to Me Your Sorrows

Today was a revelatory day.

It started very ordinary.  I brought in a peanut butter pie for a co-worker. I talked with students and worked on administrivia.  When all at once I thought that Corky and I should go for a walk about.  

I loaded up with treats, because my boy doesn't work if there isn't a treat involved.  We started out with some stair work and went up two flights and down some hallways.  He was very good.  When the treats are around, there is no one better.

We started down the stairs and out into the open air.  Corky was ignoring the acorns and focusing on me.  He was so awesome.  We were headed  towards the vending the machines and I saw there were some middle division girls there getting some food.  One girl in particular had spotted us and her whole expression brightened and she began to step toward us.

But then, she realized that Corky had his coat on and she dropped her head and turned back to the vending machines.

I started to walk on by.

But there was something that made me stop. 

I looked at her.  I crooked my finger.  She ran over to me.

"I was wondering if you could help me with something," I asked. 

She was looking at Corky. I continued, "Corky is having a problem jumping up, so I was wondering if I get him to lay down, if you would pet him for me.  Can you do that?"

She nearly jumped straight up. "Oh, Yes!"

"Great!" I unhooked Corky's coat and with the treat I got him to down.  Then she begin to gently pet his neck and head.  Corky was in heaven.  

"I miss my dog," she said.

"Where is your dog?" She didn't answer.  She continued to pet Corky and her eyes filled with tears.

"Oh. Did he pass away?" She nodded.  "I'm so sorry." 

She continued to pet Corky and I gave her a treat to give him. 

"Corky is a really sweet boy, isn't he?" She nodded.

Close-up of Corky's sweet face.
We left soon after, but I think we took a bit of her sorrow with us and left a bit of Corky's sweetness in its place.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Corky at School: Library Duties and All School Convos

Library Dog

Corky has been having a great time at Berkeley.  He is learning all about the library and what he needs to do to be a good library dog.  We recently had a big promotion for Valentine's day called Blind Date with a Book where all of our outstanding books were covered in paper and you had to check them out without knowing what book you were getting.  It only indicated the genre (it was wildly successful!).  Corky was very instrumental in this promotion by not eating the paper hearts off the circulation counter and not knocking the books off the display counter.

Mrs. Fletcher, Mrs. McLean and Corky standing in front of the very colorful Blind Date with a Book display area in the Jean Ann Cone Library at Berkeley.

All School Convo Dog

We also had an all school convo to welcome us back to school in January.  Corky attended and did very well.  We tried a seat near the top so the sound wouldn't be too loud for him.

Mrs. McLean and Corky sitting in the stands near the top of the bleachers.
The all school convo is a bit of an extravaganza.  And we are all crammed in together in the bleachers.  My thought was, sit up high so that the noise wouldn't be so loud.

Good idea, right?


Corky doesn't have a good settle.  He likes to wander and walk and ponder the world.  He is a curious dog and where Dewey would be bored in 30 seconds and fall asleep, Corky is fascinated by life.

"What was that sound? Did someone move their arm? Is that a bagpipe I hear?"

So there was no settling for Corky.  There was lots of moving back and forth.  There was periodic settling and some poking of Dr. Leonardo in the back, which he kindly said wasn't a problem.  (Thankfully, Corky also gave him lots of loving.  So, I suppose that made up for it.  Corky really seems to love Dr. Leonardo.)

In the end, he did finally finally settle down.  

Close up of Corky's face.

But seconds after he did, we were dismissed.  Sigh.  Isn't that the way it goes?  A small victory is still a victory.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Southeastern's Open House and How Corky Schmoozes

For our meeting this month we went to the open house for Southeastern Guide Dogs and talked with visitors to let them know more about the puppy raiser program.  

Two of Southeastern's employees at the welcome area.
The open house is always a fun event to go to because all of the areas are open to see: the kennels, the dorms, the vet center.  So the places that are really interesting and usually off limits are open to the public for tours and an explanation.

A cheerful young lady mans the volunteer opportunities table.
 Nancy with her yellow goldadore Cloe and Fred and I with Corky set up shop near where some of the visitors were and we managed to have several really nice conversations.

Fred talking with this really nice couple.  The man and woman had two dogs and lots of
experience with labs. They really liked Corky.
 Funny thing about these types of gatherings.  You wouldn't think that talking would tire you out, but it can be very demanding.

Puppy raiser Woody with his black lab sitting on a bench taking a break from the schmoozing.
 It is a challenge to be up and informative and cheerful all at the same time. But it's an important cause and the dogs do incredible work.

The boy's grandma wanted his photo with Corky and Cleo.  I also took some shots.  Here he is with Corky.
 While we were walking around we were asked to be in photos.  Well, not really.  Corky and Cleo were asked to be in photos.  No one really cared about us.  Corky did really well with his meet and greet.

Here he is with Corky on the right and Cleo on the left.  
 The dogs were a big hit with volunteers working the open house as well.

Cleo is giving a kiss to the ladies working the crosswalk.
Southeastern has been growing and has some new buildings and gardens.  It is an amazing place.  To our surprise there was someone there we didn't know was going to be there: Dewey!  Our friend Katie took a blindfold walk with him and sent us this photo! Go Dewey!!!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

What It Means to Sponsor a Puppy

Southeastern Guide Dogs' primary mission is to provide dog who blaze a trail of freedom for their visually impaired partners. A secondary and lesser know mission is the one the dogs have embedded in their brains: their name. For each dog is named for someone special and he or she carries the hopes and dreams of that person's legacy with them. 


The naming process is a very special process.  A person or a family or group will come together and make a decision to honor someone.  At Berkeley, we decided to honor our retiring headmaster, Joseph A. Merluzzi: JAM.

Joseph A. Merluzzi holding puppy Jam upside down in his arms.

One year, we had one particular student, Austin Iglehart, who raised all the money himself and wanted to recognize and honor his football coach for being such a role model and mentor.  That was Coach. Our sponsor was shy.

Austin Iglehart with Coach on the football field.

And sometimes the honoree touches everyone's heart.  

Christie Bassett

This January, 16 year old Christie Bassett lost her life in a  tragic automobile accident.  In addition to being a competitive swimmer, she was a vivacious young lady with a zest for life and a love for dogs.

Christie with her Uncle Chris's career changed guide dog Johnny.
Christie is a little girl in this photo.
And I know that while you all may be thinking that this is very sad, but I don't know why this matters to the McLeans and why it should matter you.

Christie with Wally, Chip and Chris's current guide dog in training.
Wally is asleep on her lap. Christie is smiling.
When Jam went in for training, he had a problem: he had bad separation anxiety.  Perhaps you have seen the Jam Cam or remember the posts about all the problems we have been working with him on about separation anxiety.  Well, at some point, Southeastern felt that for Jam's mental health that he needed a break and he needed to go to someone who would help him not only with his anxiety but would help him complete his training and allow him to come back, eventually.

They sent him to Chip and Chris.

Chris with Jam.
Chip and Chris got him through.  Chris is Christie's Uncle.  Chris has also been volunteering with Southeastern since 1997. Both he and Chip have been our friends since we got Jam back.  

Sponsorships are a way to let that loved one live on in memory.  We were thrilled that we had an opportunity to be a part of helping to name a puppy after such a sweet girl. Our hope is that you feel that same way.  Will you be a part of helping her name to live on in the spirit of a lab, golden or goldadore puppy?  Just click on Walkathon and go to our walkathon page to make a donation.

Any donation is acceptable!  However, if your donation is $50 or over, I will personally handknit you a scarf like the one Jam is wearing.  Just tell me your favorite color.

Here's a video of Christie.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

All Dogs Are Black at Night

Last night was a late night for me.  Fred had worked out in the yard and was very tired.  He went up to bed early.  So, left to my own devices, I meandered along on the internet and became trapped in that sinkhole of time known to many as Pinterest.

I took a detour into the cul de sac of doom: Etsy.  When, with bleary eyes, I looked up, it was midnight and Fred had thoughtfully left me with all the dogs.

We trudged with heavy feet up the stairs.  There was one light on in the bathroom.  The dogs fled into the darkness of the bedroom.  I began to put on my pyjamas, brush my teeth, take my pills.

Turn out the lights.  Sweet darkness.  One more holiday day and then work beckons.

I round the corner to my side of the bed and my feet make contact with a dog.  A soft fluffy one.

"Ah, Corky.  You are so sweet for waiting outside your kennel." I said to him.  I patted his head and did a small tug on his collar.  He walked right into the crate.  I pulled it down behind him.

I got into bed.  Closed my eyes.

Snoring.  Such snoring.  Fred was sawing away!  And then, just underneath the snoring, I heard a little peep.

Wheep, wheep.

SNORE. SNORE. wheep.

What was that whistling?  I elbowed Fred, but he didn't move.


It got a little louder.


Was it Corky?  Did he need to go out?  Fred rolled over and the snoring stopped.


It WAS Corky.  I turned on my light.

Jam stared back at me.  Jam was in Corky's crate. In the darkness, all dogs are black and I had grabbed Jam and pushed him into Corky's crate and shut it behind him.  He was staring out at me. 

"Why? Why?" His expression asked.

I jumped up and let him out.  Corky came out from around the corner. He was so happy to be free.  I grabbed him and put him in the crate.

Order was restored.
Close up photo of Jam, our yellow lab, looking handsome.