Friday, November 28, 2014

Secret Jam Cam

By Fred
On Wednesday we installed some surveillance cameras so that we can watch the dogs while we are out. Specifically, we hoped this would give us a chance to have a normal and relaxed Thanksgiving dinner at our friends house while Jam was home alone. Here's what happened.

2:15pm
The dogs have been walked and pooped and fed early. The house has been picked up so that Jam doesn't have any obvious temptations. I walk Cheryl to the car but then come back inside so that Jam might think it's a normal work day. Cheryl pulls out of the driveway. I watch TV for a second, then I go out the back door to trick Jam into thinking that I'm just doing some yard work and will be back soon. I walk around the house and then get into the car with Cheryl.

2:20pm
We turn on the iPhone app that controls the cameras in the house. I expect to see Jam at or near the back door, waiting for me to come back. But there's no Jam. I switch to the living room camera. We can take pictures of the video feed, so I got this one of him on the couch looking out the window to the driveway. I love this.
He knew I was lying about working in the back yard, but he's not sure where I am. We drive away.

2:25pm
I switch to the kitchen cam, and there is Jam snooping around, checking out the counter tops. Bad boy. But there is nothing frantic about him--he's calmly walking around.

2:26pm
Then seconds later we can see that he's opened a cabinet door (despite the baby locks) and he's taken out one piece of Tupperware (see the arrow) and put it on the floor.

No big deal, but we circle back to the house. Cheryl parks on the street and watches Jam on video while I run around to the back door and come inside, as though I had been working in the yard the whole time. I put the Tupperware away and give him a mild scolding. Jam is truly surprised to see me.

2:30pm
We're back on the road. We can see Jam at the backdoor. Then minutes later he is taking a nap. We are relieved to see this.

2:30 - 6:00pm
We continue to check throughout the afternoon, and Jam slept the whole day. What a relief to see that he is not stressed out. We had a very pleasant day as a result.

6:00pm
It's dark outside so the cameras have gone into nighttime mode. Here are Willow and Jam, sleeping on the couch in the living room.
We had a very nice Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving with a Happy Video from Corky

Today as we eat and eat and eat, there will be our four legged friends around us who may want a treat or two.  We should refrain from giving them turkey, as it isn't good for them, but a little pumpkin or peanut butter as gift for their many small kindnesses they do for us every day might be in order.



If they don't wag, they still like it.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Dewey Report Card


Good News on Dewey!

Dewey in the gym at school.
He is in Phase 3: Blindfold Walks. Woot!

We are so proud of Dewey.  He is a calm and very sweet boy and we are so proud of him.  Here are the comments from the trainer:

COMMENTS: Dewey continues to do well in training! We are going to lots of different venues and he is generally a very mature and well behaved gentleman. He still needs some additional support from his handler, especially in more challenging work environments. He has a great settle and it's clear that you put a lot of time and love into teaching him to be such a nice boy. 

Now, you might wonder what a nice settle is.  We are pretty sure that is Dewey being lazy and plopping into a down stay after about 30 seconds of standing up.  So, yes, we will take credit for that.  Dewey was a lot like Bob, another puppy we puppy sat years ago.  When I tried to introduce Bob to people, if I talked for more than 15 seconds, Bob would fall into a deep trance and lay on the floor.  We called Bob: surfer dude.  Nothing bothered him.  

Now, Dewey is super chill as well.  He also likes to lay down and nap.  We always said he is the perfect dog for someone with an office job because all he wants to do is lay under the desk and sleep.  In meetings he just curls up by your feet and sleeps.   

We love you Dewey.  Stay strong.  Work on those challenging work environments.  You can do it.  You were a champ at school.  You've got this!  Go Dewey!

Dewey by the French doors.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A 4-Woof Treat

By Fred
When Corky is at home with me the dogs can only get approved treats like little stinky salmon pellets, but today anything goes because Corky is at school with Cheryl, a fact that is not lost on Willow, who is especially happy when it's time for my first coffee break.

After about 13 years of coffee breaks, Willow has developed a way to reward me for picking out good treats. I should note that Jam trusts her judgment completely and defers to her in every way.

Yes, 13 years, at an average of two coffee break per day, three days a week (though we only started raising guide dog puppies six years ago, so I could adjust that number, but even so...), I've had about 4,000 unrestricted coffee breaks with Willow. Her level of approval is marked with woofs, and this morning I received a rare 4-woof rating.

Of course, the woofs come before she has actually tasted the treat (just before we head upstairs), so it is solely based on smell and presentation. Okra, I found out years ago, does not interest Willow to any degree. Nor do Brussels sprouts. Little bits of chicken might get me a single woof, but I might as well get no woofs as only one.

No, in order to get above one woof, there has to be some bread involved, and I've learned that it has to be toasted so that the nutty smell can capture her imagination while I make coffee. Plain toast is almost always a two-woof treat, unless I get to be predictable about it, then only one. I really have to be inventive to get beyond two woofs.
Willow and Jam, waiting for the treat

So this morning I took some whole grain bread with pumpkin seeds on the crust, toasted it to almost burnt, then covered it with a layer of mascarpone cheese, so that the cheese melted quickly and the knife made a nice crunchy sound.

And like usual I ate most of it.
Willow bows her head when she sees that I'm eating the toast

That's right: woof, woof, woof... woof

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Play, Nap and Repeat

By Fred
Corky and Jam napped together and got into such a complicated pile that, because of my inadequate photography skills and Corky's dark coat, I needed to caption. I'm sure this couldn't have been comfortable for either of them, but they continued to nap this way for quite a while.
A picture of Jam sleeping, using Corky's
head as a pillow.

Last night Corky had a fun puppy kindergarten class at Cathy Saunders' place and with our friend John Bauer running the class and doing an excellent job. At the end we gathered all the puppies together on a screened porch and let them loose to play with each other.

I had been feeling pitiful all day, suffering with allergies and the general insult of old age, and for a few seconds there, with the puppies running and playing, I was back in grade school, running on the playground and having real fun. Wish that feeling would last a little longer...

Sunday, October 19, 2014

First Week of School

Corky, our Southeastern guide dog puppy in training, had a slow first week of school.  He will be five months old this Monday, but even so, we wanted to take it slow with him at school and not rush things.  He is a sensitive soul.

On the way into work we pass by a fountain.  As we got near, the splashing of the fountain got louder and louder.  Corky stopped. He looked around.

"It's ok." I said and tried a "Let's go." But Corky was still analyzing the situation.  I waited with him. Finally he looked up at me.  "Ok?"

"Let's go." We started off towards the library.

Corky meets Head Student Library Proctor Gabby, who shows him his big bone toy.
I decided that the first couple of weeks Corky would spend in the library only, getting used to the office, the library and students in general.  Then we would slowly work up to some open halls, a classroom and after than maybe some crowded halls and a convocation.  

He's a real friendly fellow. Greetings aren't a problem for him.  But sounds are distracting, so I want him to be comfortable in his new environment before moving to the next level of sound.  The library is very quiet, but certain hallways can be noisy.  And certain times of day are noisier than others.  

Assistant Head Layla tried to take the bone away from him.
Needless to say, he won't be venturing into the cafeteria any time soon for lunch!

He got very good at sleeping under my desk.  Excellent work Corky!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Corky's First Bath

There are some big events in a boy's life.  Events when you just need to man up and get clean. One of those events is going to school.  Corky will be going to school tomorrow and he needs to be smelling nice for the ladies.  That means, he needs a bath.

Fred takes Corky outside and starts lathering him up.
Corky was a real trooper.  
Fred is running the hose down Corky's back.  Corky's head hangs down.
He got a bath like a real outdoorsman.  
Corky looks in despair for some help, but doesn't see any.
No yelling or screaming or whining.  Just standing firm and getting wet.  Good boy.

After the bath, the toweling process begins.
Then the toweling.  Oddly, there were no puppy crazies here either.
Corky is toweled vigorously with a brightly colored towel and he looks off to the side for help.
He was very calm and cool.  
Close-up of a smushed face Corky wrapped in a brightly colored towel.
A little tired and subdued perhaps, but calm.

Tired of the toweling, Corky just closes his eyes.
All in all, a good bath time was had.  And a clean smelling Corky is now in the house!