Sunday, January 17, 2016

Our Seventh Puppy: Bassett!

Once More, Into the Breach!

On Jan. 5th, Fred and I went to pick up baby Bassett.  Bassett is our 7th Southeastern Guide Dog puppy to raise.  
Fred and I and Bassett at the Freedom Walk. Photo by Christy Clark.

Bassett is the last name to the beautiful girl he is named after: Christie Bassett (in fact, you can also join our facebook page at The Adventures of Christie and Bassett). Christie is pictured below.

FirstThe first week was just a blur as we were getting back from the holidays and getting the puppy and starting back at school was quite a one-two punch!  Fortunately, Bassett is super good.  He is calm and confident and mostly sleeps through the night.  

First Puppy Meeting

He went to his first meeting that Saturday.  I was very impressed with his behavior.  He is an older puppy.  We had been hoping to get a very young puppy to experience the whole puppy experience again and had asked for a baby baby.  But Bassett was born on 9/29/15 and was about 15 weeks old when we picked him up.

Close-up of Bassett at the puppy meeting looking up at me for direction.  Photo by Paul Carroll.
But it's one of those crazy things, you love every puppy, no matter what.  At least we do.  They are all amazing.  And Bassett is no different.  He is unlike all of our other puppies.  He is calm, but very independent.  One of the puppies who is about two weeks older arrived and started to bark excitedly and pull to come see Bassett.  Bassett was sitting by me and he looked over at the puppy and then looked up at me.  I could see the wheels turning and then he got up and walked away from the puppy and sat down on the other side of me. Not hiding, but clearly not interested in playing with someone so rambunctious.  He's very precise.  Very curious and observant.  Rather like Sherlock.

First Week of School

His first week of school was a big success.  He is spending the first month only in the library.  I walk the back way in, out of direct traffic and encounter few students, so it is very calm.  The library itself is quiet and calm most of the day as well.  

We have a firm petting exposure rule: one person only and no more than two people per hour ( one per half hour).  It's been interesting telling students that "I've just put the baby down to sleep, so you can't pet him now."  They have been quite ok with just looking at him.

Bassett with one of our Student Library Proctors.

In fact, they are all so well trained that no one tries to reach out a hand as we go by on our way out to the restroom.  Although I do hear the faint cries of, "Awwwww!" as we pass.

Bassett, with his head tilted.
And really, who wouldn't say, Awww, to that face?

Friday, November 20, 2015

I Am Thankful

Post Puppy Depression

For six years, I have driven to school with a puppy curled in the wheel well of my passenger side of the car every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

For just about every day, I have had a puppy there and on the way to work I glance down and there is my companion and I have my conversation and we talk about the day and what we are going to do.  Sometimes I tell him what we aren't going to do. 8-)

Sometimes, I tell him to stop trying to drink my coffee.

That happened a lot.

With Corky.

I digress.

Now, out of the corner of my eye I think I see something and I quickly look.

But there is no puppy. I'm alone.

Sometimes, when NPR is especially interesting I'll comment, but none quirks their head.

I sigh.

And my office is replete with puppy paraphernalia and I sit alone with the puppy toys.  Periodically, I use my toe to move a  nylabone out of the way of my rolling chair, but there is no puppy to gnaw on the bone. 

Visitors at the Door

Yesterday, as I was feeling particularly down, I heard a commotion at my office door.  I looked up and there stood Mrs. Hillmer, the lower division art teacher, with two lower division boys.  She motioned to one small, blonde boy to walk over to me.

"Hi," I said and smiled at everyone. The boy held out a card to me. I looked up at Mrs. Hillmer.  She just smiled back at me.  I took the card.  I read it.  I started to tear up.  

There's a reason I am thankful for working where I do.  Situations like this happen all the time and your empty bucket gets filled up by children who never know you needed it.  Matthew made the next few weeks bearable. I'm thankful for Matthew and Mrs. Hillmer and all the people I work with who continually fill up my bucket and never even know they are doing it.

And in January, I will have a little puppy in the house. And all will be right with the world.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Burger 21: Friendly to Service Dogs

On Monday I met a friend in the Burger 21 on Linebaugh to discuss a class we would both be teaching.  I was a bit nervous about it.  

I have brought dogs before to Burger 21 and not had a problem, but this time they were really exceptionally pleasant.  We sat in the corner at the back away from everyone.  Eventually, the place filled up and people sat next to us (a mom and her two daughters), but at the beginning, we had the place mostly to ourselves.

The one guy at the counter brought over a bowl of ice water for Corky and I didn't have the heart to tell him that he can't drink in coat.  We just moved it out of the way.  Corky tried to tip it over almost immediately.  

Which led to us using tons of napkins to sop up the water on the floor.  Which Corky then tried to eat.  

All of the wait staff who helped us were friendly and helpful and very cognizant and sweet to Corky.  Even the customers were amazing.  I have never been to a restaurant where all of the moms knew to ask if Corky could be petted first.  

I was at the counter with Corky waiting with one mom who said, "I can't believe my daughter hasn't run over here yet.  She loves dogs." She glanced at their booth and sure enough a small little girl was sliding down and running toward us.  The mom almost yelled at her as she came up to Corky,
"Honey, you have to ask if you can pet him!"

She looked at me.

I shook my head.  "I'm sorry.  He's working.  He can't be petted right now."  

The mom took her daughter's hand.  "See honey, he's working.  He's doing a job."

Dang, these Burger 21 people were on it!

I got back to the booth and my friend and I worked some more.  Then the small family of three moved into the booth next to us.  The two girls sat along the wall and the mom was in the far chair. They made sure to slide in from the far side so as not to bother Corky.

Corky, lying against the booth, is in good position to whack his tail
against the small girl's feet as she is sitting in the booth next to us.

Corky looked up and saw the girls.  He wagged his tail.  It thumped against the older girls feet and ankles.  She smiled and bit into her hamburger.  She knew a good thing when she had it hitting her in the shin.

When we had finished lunch, I thanked the girls next to us for being so nice and letting Corky smack them with his tail.  I told them that he really needed to get his wagger under control.

I highly recommend a stop in Burger 21. Not only for the food, but for the service and the people.  They are uniformly nice and pleasant.  It was a great lunch.

Friday, April 10, 2015

I Want to Be Corky's Favorite

Today was a busy day for us in the library.  We had so much to do getting ready for the librarians conference for next week.  Even so, life at school went on as usual and some of the 8th graders brought some rising 6th graders by the library for a tour today.

Two of them brought a group of ten by my office and asked if Corky was in. I said he was and they asked if the 5th graders could see him. Corky happened to have his coat off, so when I took him out of my office and into the main library there was a general sucking in of breaths and a breathing out of "He doesn't have his coat on!!"

"Can we pet him?"

"Yes, you may, but give him some room."

They spread out into a semi-circle and started to pet Corky, who stood calmly wagging his tail. One of the girls dropped down to the ground and Corky, sensing a licking opportunity, turned her way and started to lick her face.

"Ah, I see you are Corky's favorite," I said without actually taking in the meaning of my words.  Immediately, all the 5th graders fell to ground as if they had dropsy.  The boy to my right said in a loud voice, "I want to be Corky's favorite!"

"Oh, my."  I thought.  "I hope this turns out ok."

Corky happily obliged, going down the line and licking everyone in the face.  They all laughed.  I told them all that Corky loved them best. 

Corky, doing what he does best, giving a kiss to someone, in this case, our librarian Christina.

Corky was the big winner.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Advisory Chooses Southeastern Guide Dogs

I do have the best advisory there is.  I always do.  And for the past three years, I have had a wonderful group of very talented and funny girls and boys.  They are all juniors now and will be heading into their senior year next year, which makes me a little sad.

We had a spirit day today and all the advisories were supposed to pick a theme and dress up in costume.  Our kids decided to dress like Southeastern Guide Dogs.  Julia told them all "to wear black pants so they would look like Corky."

The Southeastern Guide Dogs (Girls only) with Corky and two Puppy Raisers (Me and Mrs. Fletcher).
Now you might notice in the photo above that there are just girls.  The girls got to wear the glitter letters and Caroline made headbands with felt dog ears on them for them, assuming the the boys wouldn't wear them.  This was confirmed this morning when Wade said, "Yeah, I'm not wearing that" and it was echoed by three other of the boys.

Good call Caroline! Julia brought nose paint, but not everyone was into that.
Just the girls who did nose paint, Caroline, Julia and Kimberly.  They rock!
Caroline made the ears and Julia made the shirts. Kimberly got it all to school on time.
 So, we took a photo of just the three who went whole dog, so to speak! 8-)

The whole advisory group. Everyone participated!  Such a nice group.
Here's the whole group.  I think they all rock.  They all participated and were great.  They are a very sweet group and Mrs. Fletcher and I have a lot of fun with them.

Monday, March 9, 2015

A Bag of Poo and a Bad Decision

A Time to Poo

I had to get some dinner.  My idea was to go to Whole Foods and pick up something from the buffet.  My only hesitation was Corky.

Corky is relaxing in the wheelwell on the drive home.
Corky generally doesn't poo at school.  He saves it for 5 pm at home.  It was nearing 5 pm and we were not at home.  We were pulling up to Whole Foods.

It was the Pooing Hour.

Corky and I got out of the car and I walked him over to a grassy median where I tried to get him to busy.  He wandered around sniffing.  He finally peed halfheartedly and sniffed a bit more.  I knew there was more in there. I stood my ground.

Corky turned in a half circle and then back again.  Aha! Got him. He did a half squat and then shift and started to poo.  Success! I was so stoked.  I got out my poo bags. They were electric yellow and could be seen from the moon.

"Good boy, Corky!" Corky wagged his tail.  He looked at the yellow bag and looked away.  It may have hurt his eyes.  They were bright.  I tied the bag into a knot to prevent any stink from escaping and began to walk toward Whole Foods to throw it away in one of their trash cans.

Now, here is where it gets a bit tricky.  As you approach Whole Foods, there is an eating area off to the right.  I certainly didn't want to walk up to that area and wave my big bag of poo around with diners: "Hey! Got some poo here! Look!  Does this make you want to eat your food?!"

Fortunately, I had parked to the left and my approach was away from the diners.  I was hiding the bright yellow bag (haha, as if you could hide that bag) by my side.  I started to look for trash cans.

Nothing. Not one trash can.

Really, Whole Foods? No trash cans?
A shot of a Whole Foods shopping bag.

I'm standing by a planter with a big bright yellow bag of poo.  What now?  Take it into the store? Certainly not! I can't even take it close to the door.  IT'S POO! LOTS OF POO.

What store doesn't have trash cans?

OK.  I set my bag of dog poo down on the ground and say to anyone listening, "I will be back for this bag of poo," and I walk away.

I leave the yellow bag of poo and Corky and I walk into the store.  I did turn to look and it glowed back at me accusingly. POO, POO.

There was nothing to be done.

A Bad Decision

And that wasn't my bad decision.  My bad decision was settling for a basket and not a cart.  I thought the basket would be easier to maneuver.

I walked Corky into the buffet area and got a wet wipe out of his coat and wiped my hands off. I didn't want to touch anything without cleaning my hands.  That done, I went over to the plates.

I grabbed two plates and pulled them apart.  I dropped them into the basket.  I didn't notice that the plates didn't sit flat.  I grabbed two tops and spent three minutes trying to get them apart while Corky tried to sniff at them and at the basket.

Then we walked over to the buffet area.  Corky was very good.  He didn't lunge or jerk around.  He was very calm and sweet.  I quickly realized that when I filled a plate that it wouldn't sit flat in the basket.

Really, Whole Foods? What good are your baskets?

So now I am staring at Corky, my useless basket, my filled plate and my unfilled plate.  How will I fill the unfilled plate and how will I get both plates to the checkout counter?

Close-up of Corky looking sweet.
Finally, I got Corky to stay and put the basket in an out of the way spot and put the filled plate in an out of the way spot and filled up my second plate.  Then I stacked the two plates on top of each other and Corky and I ran very fast to the checkout area.

Not an elegant solution, but it worked.

Everything was put in a paper bag and now I had a handle.  I left and picked up my yellow bag of poo  (which was still there!!) on the way out, which I carried home to throw away in my trash can.  

Corky 1
Poo 1
Cheryl 1
Whole Foods -3

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Bathrooms and Waitresses

Cheesecake Factory

Some days are just good days.  You have a lunch date with a friend you haven't seen in a long time, at a restaurant you really like.

Cheesecake Factory usually puts us in a booth when I bring a service dog, but this time they put us at a four-top table in the center.  They explained that they didn't want us at a two top because there wouldn't be enough room for the dog.  I thought that was nice.  When we got to the table, our hostess offered to take a chair away, but I told her we were fine.  

Corky doesn't have the best settle, but he does ok.  True to form, he stood like a horse in a stall under the table. Sigh.  He's also not a puppy that takes kindly to you pressuring him to sit down.  He's either going to do it in his own time, or not.  There's just no way around it.  

He decided Michele's feet looked comfy and sat on them.

Our adorable waitress came up and nearly stepped on Corky and then nearly fell all over herself apologizing.  Turns our she has a golden and is a huge dog lover.  She was delightful.  She showed us photos of her puppy.  Very sweet.

Corky was very good under the table.  There were a few moments when he got up and wanted to stand and test out the standing, but he finally settled and fell asleep.


After our nice lunch, we stopped by the bathrooms, which were all full.  The  first one to open was a regular stall, so Corky and I made our way in.  The stall was stall number one against the wall, so we only had one neighbor on our right side.

I had to scrunch us in and then turn Corky around so that he was facing the right hand side and I could close the stall door.  I hooked his leash up on the door with my purse.  

Corky poked a nose under the stall to the right.

"Oh!" Came the response from the woman in the stall to the right.  I could see her lovely shoes.


I see a nicely manicured hand scratch Corky's chin. 

Corky sticks his whole head under the stall.

"No peeking! No Peeking!" The lady said in a laughing voice.  I pulled Corky back.  Thankfully, we were ready to go. 

If I timed it right, I could wash my hands and be out of there without meeting the person my guide dog puppy had seen in a delicate position!

I timed it right.  Thank God for automatic faucets!