Thursday, December 31, 2009

Deadly Pinecones

Along the righthand side of the blog you will see a list of some of the things that Bingo is supposed to be exposed to. We have added a few items (like bagpipes and golfcarts, because those happened to occur naturally at my school), but there are a few items that were on the list that to my way of thinking seem, well, bizarre ;-), and one of them is the pinecone (as decoration). I'm not sure why the pinecone (as decoration) is much more deadly or frightening or scare inducing than the pinecone (in nature), but it must be; otherwise it wouldn't be on the list. Therefore when we got to my mom's house for the holidays in Arizona and saw her Christmas decorations, we were astounded! She had not one, but two humongous trees made entirely of pinecones painted gold and dusted with glitter so that they sparkled with an evil, glinting light. They stood about as high as a troll, a demented troll (keeping with the evil theme). They were a little scary, I admit.

Above is a photo of the Strangely Glowing Golden Pinecone Christmas Tree. Very Queer.

Once we saw them we knew that we had to expose Bingo to their twisted pinecone (as decoration) ways. No longer a single unit, these pinecones had banded together and created a mockery of the tree they came from. Perhaps their evil, scare inducing power came from the heavy hand of sarcasm they used.

Above is a photo of Bingo slinking away from their waves of sarcasm. He just couldn't take it.

However, Bingo is a tough little puppy. So, he brought back the big guns to face down the mocking golden pinecones (as decoration): Grandpa.

Above is a photo of Bingo with Grandpa sitting between the golden pinecone (as decoration) trees proudly. And to show that he had mastered his fear of pinecones (as decoration) he then proceded to give them a tough disdainful sniffing and then a snubbing. Take that pinecones (as decoration)!

The Return Flight

[ a photo of Bingo admiring Cheryl,
with his head on her knee ]
By Fred
Our return flight with Bingo went pretty well. This time I went through security with him. I removed his training collar first, holding him by his regular collar as we walked through the machine together, which set off the beep, beep, beep. So we both went back to try again, and this time the agent suggested that Bingo should go through by himself and without his regular collar, giving the agent an excuse to catch Bingo on the other side and pet him (which is, of course, what everyone wants to do). Bingo went through and then I went through, stupidly holding the collar in my hand as if a dog were still attached to it, but no alarms this time, and everyone seemed satisfied except the security supervisor (clearly jealous that the first agent got to pet Bingo and she did not) who rushed over and suggested that Bingo should be searched and that she should do it and who took the opportunity to rub him all over and then whisper to me he's a real knockout, isn't he.

But the Phoenix airport, unlike the Tampa airport, would not let Bingo out to the secure area before the flight. Instead, they have a dog park that is on the other side of security and still a long walk from there, with long lines of holiday travelers, so he did not get a bathroom break before the flight--and, luckily, he did fine.

We sat in the bulkhead this time and across the aisle was another service dog, a very well-behaved golden retriever who curled up in a tight ball for the trip. We see now why SEGD recommends using a regular seat for training--the puppy needs to learn to fit into a single space, just as they fit into the small floorboard off a car's passenger seat, something that Bingo does very well. But, as usual, given an inch, Bingo sees a mile, and we allowed him to stretch out a bit. Oh, well, sometimes you need a little vacation.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

When Dogs Fly, Part 2

By Fred
It was a long flight for Bingo--over 4 hours, so we are especially grateful to a U.S. Airways manager, Erik Olund, who was kind enough to escort us downstairs and allow Bingo to relieve himself in a restricted area outside the building just before we boarded the flight. (Our only other choice would have been to go all the way out and return through security again, which was not an appealing option. See photo below.) On the way out Erik told me that U.S. Air has a special program for employees to learn how to escort service animals around the world. Pretty cool.

Once on the plane, we found the flight attendants to be very friendly and considerate even when Bingo stuck his feet out into the aisle (more than once)--he had quite a time getting settled at first. We finally got him in a comfortable spot and he napped through most of the flight.

I'm sure the airlines are struggling, with layoffs and financial troubles, and at this busy time of year you might expect the employees to be stressed out, but we were very happy to find everyone helpful and considerate.

[A picture of Cheryl and Bingo waiting for the elevator at the airport. We weren't sure what to expect.]

[A picture of Cheryl and Bingo being frisked by security. Cheryl even had to remove his coat. I laughed so hard I almost dropped the camera.]

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

When Dogs Fly

We took Bingo for his flight last Saturday. We used US Airways as our carrier. I was plenty nervous, but Donna had given us very detailed instructions on what to expect and what to do for different situations (she is fabulous!), so I had a pretty good idea on what was going to happen. I highly recommend US Airways for anyone traveling with a service dog! They were very, very friendly and accomodating.

At check-in, we were not charged a baggage fee for his kennel because the agent told us that the kennel is considered an assistive device, which I didn't know. That was a $35.00 savings and something that everyone traveling with a service dog should know. Perhaps it isn't the policy on all airlines, but it is US Airways policy and it is mighty nice of them! Check-in was a breeze. There was no documentation requested, however, I did have the following just in case I was asked: health certificate from the vet (something extra that is not covered by SEGD and which you as the puppy raiser will need to pay for), copies of his shots (just in case, I brought two copies in case they wanted to keep them for some reason, paranoid, that's me!), brochures about SEGD for people in case they are curious and a calendar for nice bribes in case you need them! 8-)

This photo shows Fred and Bingo facing the camera in front of a railing in the airport near security.

After checking in, we got on the monorail (Bingo had not one bit of trouble with it) and hit security where we were waived over to the employee gate. That was kind of cool. Then we had a bit of a hiccup because Bingo and I went through the Xray together and his training collar (metal) set off the alarm. So, we both had to be patted down. The female security guard was afraid of dogs and didn't want to pat him down, so another guard had to pat down Bingo and she patted down me. Of course, I am trying to be helpful and get him to sit, while she is trying to pat me down and the other guard is trying to pat Bingo down. Bingo is sensing that the coat is coming off and play time is starting, so inside the glass security box where all should be calm seriousness, it's a bit of Laurel and Hardy slapstick silliness. She won't get near Bingo; Bingo is leaping around without his coat; I'm not supposed to move, but am trying to get him to sit and put the coat back on; the other guard is telling him to sit and Bingo is ignoring all of us.

We did eventually make it through and find our gate. Fred will continue the saga.

Here's a photo of Bingo curled up between the seats on the plane, so you know we did make it onto the plane!

Friday, December 18, 2009

I Like Big Beds and I Cannot Lie

Well, evidently, Orvis can! We ordered beds for Bingo and Willow for their Santa gifts. Orvis has the best beds and we just happened to have the special Dog issue of the Orvis catalog left on my desk a month or so ago (Thanks Lorraine!). There are two types of dog sleepers: curlers and stretchers. Bingo and Willow are both curlers, so I got them both beds with a bolster on the back to curl up against. The photo above shows Bingo lying in his red bed with sheepskin center. He is looking off to the right.

As I mentioned I ordered a bed for each dog, with their name monogrammed on them. I got the size that Orvis said was appropriate for their breed and weight (lab, 65-85 pounds). Willow is 88 pounds and Bingo is just now 60.2 pounds and 6 months old. I thought that perhaps I should get a size up, but I stuck with the large size they recommended. As you can see from the above photo, Willow and Bingo are both sleeping on the one bed and they have plenty of room between them.

In this photo Willow, our chocolate lab, is staring at the camera with a smile while relaxing on her bed. Her bed is quite large.
I think that if you have a lab, you could go with the medium size and still have room for them to stretch out. But this way we have a bed for both of them to sleep on in the TV room and in the bedroom. So, I guess it works. Santa is such a smartie!

Monday, December 14, 2009


Yes, it's that time of year. Bingo has been transformed from Labrador dog of the frozen North, to Reindog of the frozen North. Nevermind that we live in the tropical South and that Florida is never frozen, unless you happen to be in my library in the morning when the fans are going, then you had better have remembered to have worn your sweater, but I digress. Bingo received a gift of Reindeer antlers today. So, of course, we had to put them on him! As you can imagine, he was not very enamored of the idea.

First we had to explain the idea to him. The photo above shows Bingo with his back to the camera watching as Jan demonstrates how to put on the Reindeer antlers. Bingo is wearing his holiday necklace of snowmen.

In this next photo Jan is holding Bingo's snout down while he looks up in dismay at the Reindeer antlers being held up over his head. Bingo is getting the idea that Reindeer antlers need to be worn actually on the head, preferably, his, and that must involve getting the elastic band around neck, hence, the dismay.

Our first attempt at a quick shove and hope for the best results in a mangled Bingo with the band NOT going around his head, but instead going ON TOP of his head where it isn't supposed to go. Bingo looks slightly crazed. We're chalking that up to the elastic band and not to us making him wear the Reindeer antlers.

Success! Frozen North, tundra, REINDOG. Can you see his shifty little eyes looking for help? He's peering over to the comfy chairs wondering if his favorite sophomore girls will save him from this embarrassment. But NO! Seconds later, Reindog escaped from our grasp like the wily young savage he is and bounded off into the wilderness, never to be seen again by human eyes.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Holiday Dog

When Bingo ordered all of his thank you presents for the people who donated to his Sit Stay Give Campaign, he also got a "FREE" holiday necklace. He's wearing it in this photo. It has little snowmen on it. I'm beginning it wonder if maybe Bingo doesn't have a shopping problem.

Perhaps he spends too much time watching me....As a matter of fact, where are my credit cards and is that the home shopping network I'm hearing!

Dog in the Air

Bingo will be getting his first airline flight experience soon. He goes in on Monday to get a health certificate from the Vet and I will find out what to do in order to get him on the plane and through the four-hour nonstop flight from Tampa to Phoenix. We have detailed instructions from Donna, which I will post tomorrow with the Vet's details so others will have a better idea of what to do when taking a service dog on the plane.

I'm sure it will be an interesting experience. We'll have the Flip video and if we don't make the news, we'll at least make Utube. 8-)

If you haven't donated to Bingo's Sit Stay Give Campaign, I will tell you that Bingo is a pretty generous little puppy. He is personally giving out thank you presents for every donation that is $50 or more and the presents are from Southeastern Guide Dogs. They are pretty nifty. So, think about donating. We are currently at $300 of our $1500 goal.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Watching Some Golfers

By Fred
Bingo and I went for a long walk yesterday, down to the park near our house. He's doing much better now off the sidewalk, though he still gets distracted by the occasional stick, acorn, clump of Spanish moss, weed, ant, leaf, or one of the countless invisible scents along the way. But sometimes, not very often, he becomes entranced with something in the distance, and he stares with an odd intensity. I first noticed this on the day we brought him home (see the puppy picture at the top of this blog). Something on TV had caught his attention, and he just seemed so unusually interested.

Yesterday he became fascinated with a golf cart and two golfers, probably about 100 ft away. Their voices barely carried to us, and the cart moved along silently and slowly. Something new to consider, and we both watched them for a minute or two.

I'm sure I am experiencing what a parent often feels--that their kid is the smartest kid in the world, ever. I'm almost expecting Bingo to turn to me and ask 'What is that?' as if he actually is smarter than any dog that has ever lived.

And then, for the 1,000th time, he tries to eat an acorn on the way home.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Chili Peppers, Cows and Christmas Trees

[Photo of Bingo (black lab) sitting facing the camera in front of a lighted Christmas tree. The Christmas tree is decorated with chili pepper lights and chili and cow ornaments. ONLY chili and cow ornaments.]

In the previous post I mentioned some insanity, well, it all comes out now. There was a time in my life when I collected cows. It got a bit out of hand and the house got a bit kitschy. So I relegated the cows to the Christmas tree and for the last 18 years I have been collecting cow and chili pepper ornaments to decorate my tree. Only cow and chili pepper ornaments. You would be surprised at how many you can find. Some years there are tons; others, maybe one.

We started out with a tiny tree, but over the years we were able to get a normal size tree. Now we have an 8.5 foot Frasier Fir tree. It is lovely. I love Christmas. Every year I pull out my ornaments and I remember just where I bought each one. Fred's favorite came from the Phoenix Museum of Art. It's a cool glass chili.

As you can imagine, a Christmas tree could be quite the curiosity cabinet for a puppy. Bingo did a fair amount of sniffing around. He did knock off an ornament with his tail (we have a 2" tail wag zone at the bottom of the tree). Overall, though, he walks by with nary a glance.

[Closeup of Bingo sitting in front of Christmas tree with head cocked to the right looking right.]

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Evil Wing-Loving Backyard Neighbors

I will confess right now to a bit of insanity right up front, so all of you readers who aren't close friends and family might be surprised. But perhaps a bit of my craziness has come through in my blog posts, so this story won't be a surprise. Needless to say, my husband just shook his head and my friends Christy and Michele roared with laughter at me.

Last week I let the dogs out into the backyard to busy busy for the last time of the evening. Bingo took a little jaunt out into the bushes and when he came back it was clear there was something in his mouth.

"Drop it." He did. He's very good at dropping it and out plops this chicken wing. Not a hot wing with meat still on it, but a chicken wing bone, no meat on it all. "Good boy!" I pick up the nasty chicken bone and look into the dark of the back yard and think to myself, "What in the great good night is a chicken wing doing in my back yard?"

The next night, I let the dogs out to do their busy, busy and what do you know? Bingo brings back ANOTHER chicken wing! OMG! Now, I'm incensed. I look into the dark of the backyard and I see the porchlight of our backyard neighbors and it hits me. Our neighbors are eating chicken wings and throwing them over the fence. I narrow my eyes and glare at their porch light. Don't they know what chicken bones can do to dog? How many wings are in my back yard? I'm going to have to do a wing search and ferret out all the chicken bones those cretins have tossed over their shoulder without a care in the world. I can picture it now. Sitting by their pool, big bowl of wings, lawn chairs backing up to the fence, wing goes in their gaping maw of a mouth, then flip, over the fence where my unsuspecting puppy snarfs it up only to be told to Drop It.

I should eat a big bowl of wings and start flipping them into their pool and see how they like those bones! But that seems kind of gross and unhygenic and I think they have children and what if that creates some weird sort of bacteria in the pool? That might result in a House episode that ends up sending me to prison for making children ill with a potentially life threatening bacteria all because my neighbors didn't want to get a trashcan for their wings. Sounds a bit silly. I'll have to think out this revenge thing a bit more.

So I pondered. And pondered.

This morning Fred brought in another bone Bingo had found. Fred said it was clearly the leg of a wild bird that had died. Fred thinks that a wild bird died in our yard, decomposed naturally and Bingo found the bones and was bringing them in to us, one at a time, leaving the neighbors blameless.

I guess I should forgive our neighbors. They might even be vegetarians for all I know. Turns out Mother Nature is to blame. I don't think I can get revenge on her.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Holiday Happenings at School

Today we had a couple of holiday things that were planned. First off we had what was called a wrap-in. That is where all three divisions come together in small groups and bring gifts for different charities and we all decorate gift bags for them. Our upper division advisory group was paired with a pre-k class, which turned out to be a Godsend because they were soooooo cute. They just oozed the holiday spirit!

So we showed up with donut holes, OJ, presents, gift bags, upper division students and Bingo. They had all the decorating supplies and oodles of enthusiasm. And very small chairs to sit in. Here he is with his biggest teacher fan (although the World Languages Department would have a fit and contest that statement, wouldn't you ladies?! 8-) as we are trying to get him to sit still for a photo. I took Bingo's coat off for him to visit with every table, but since he is a moose, he kind of intimidated some of the kids even though he was pretty good and sat to be petted and wasn't too mouthy (he's a licker, but even that can be intimidating to a small child). He did have some fans. A couple of the boys had some dogs and were comfortable around big dogs his size (he's 58.3 pounds now!). One boy was very excited to get to pet him and later said that Bingo was his friend.

Bingo seems to have gotten the concept of coat and no coat, even though we were told they don't understand that until 6 months. he may not fully understand it (I'm hedging my bet here!) but he does seem to be cognizant that while in coat, he won't be petted and while out of coat, he will get attention. It makes a difference in his demeanor.

Although, in the next photo, he was still a bad boy and was going for the tissue paper (he LOVES to tear apart paper!), but I stopped him before he got a mouthful. There was one funny incident that happened when we were walking the little kids to drop off the gifts. One of my advisees asked the little boy she was with to hold her hand and he said no. She asked him why and he said, "I haven't washed my hands and your supposed to wash your hands after you pick your nose."

After the wrap-in we went to classes and ended the day with the holiday convo. It's a fun convo, with lots of singing and load music and general revelry. A good exposure opportunity for Bingo. We got there a bit late and had to force our way through a crowd of juniors. Fortunately, they will do anything for Bingo. I just look helpless and point at him and say, "I need to get over there" and then I push him in that direction. They part like the Red Sea. It's so nice.

I sat on the first bleacher and Bingo was on the floor. We had several lovely, long haired girls in front of us (this will be important later). It was pretty clear from the start that of all the all school convos, this one was going to be Bingo's most challenging. The girls were very sweet because Bingo would lie down and stick his nose in between them as you can see from the photo at right.

The girl on the right has her hair in a bun. Unfortunately, there was some singing and clapping, which made Bingo sit up, and her bun was at eye level and she turned her head quickly. She has lots of really pretty hair and it makes a lovely bun that is slightly kong shaped, if you get my meaning, maybe on a DNA level, a little bit reminscent of wild things, because it is more of a freeform bun, loose and a bit low. Yes, Bingo hit that bun like a greyhound wants to hit the rabbit at the racetrack, only more gently. Slightly. Fortunately, I'm on very good terms with her and she likes Bingo quite a bit. It was a quick bite and release. A loud NO! The two other girls quickly pulled their long hair in front so that Bingo couldn't get to it. 8-)

The video below was taken by my friend the religion teacher who doesn't realize you can't put video in that direction. But I'm still putting it up because you can see how Bingo is still a bit interested in her bun, but mainly for his complete disinterest in the pipe and drum corps and the fact that he ends up sleeping through it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Oh, Christmas Tree, Oh, Christmas Tree!

Today after school we went to a friend's tree lot and picked out our tree. The lot is on the corner of Dale Mabry and Bay to Bay and they have fresh Frasier firs from North Carolina and the growers are on the premises, which is pretty cool. The smell was pretty overwhelming. Bingo was quite interested in the trees and what was going on in the process of looking at them and deciding on one. Here we are by the one we decided upon.

Of course, trees can capture a young pups attention for only so long. He was much more interested in snuffling in the needles and biting sticks, which isn't allowed in coat. I had my hands full. Still, he was pretty well behaved. We also went for dinner out at Pane Rustica afterwards and he was very good.

And if you need a tree, go to Tom Daly's tree lot behind the church on Dale Mabry and Bay to Bay. They are beautiful fresh Frasier fir trees! And tell him Bingo sent you!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Taking it Easy

By Fred
It's 6:00 am, still dark, and the dogs and I have already had breakfast and coffee. Bingo is sleeping on the floor next to me in the office--unlike most of the dogs I've had, he likes to sleep on the bare floor instead of a rug. If winter ever gets here, we'll see if he changes his mind. All things, like cold weather, are new for a puppy. It's a wonder they are so smart.

Like me, Bingo is recovering from surgery, though he is much less likely to talk about it or show off his scar. He was successfully neutered, or fixed (both terms seem unfortunate), a few days ago, and we're supposed to keep him quiet for the next week. You can't tell it from this picture, but it's not always easy to keep him quiet.

Probably my favorite dog of all time was Matt, a German Shepherd/Lab mix who lived about 15 years and was never neutered. I lived in rural Arkansas much of this time (back before I met Cheryl) and Matt could run free night and day. He had a long-term girlfriend--a wild dog (literally wild, she lived in the woods and hunted for food). She had Matt had a tempestuous relationship, as you might expect, on-again off-again, and sometimes Matt would disappear for days, only to return tired and hungry, then go off again. But then we moved to Arizona and settled down. I got married, but poor Matt never found his soul mate.

Until I became involved with the guide dog program, I always felt a little sorry for city dogs, that they lived the proverbial dog's life. But now I realize that the guide dogs have a very interesting and purposeful life, doing things that my dog Matt could never have done. Bingo will never run wild through the woods with a pretty girl, but he will have the best life a dog ever had.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Home from Surgery

Bingo is home from surgery and is recovering just fine. Evidently the surgery went well and he will be right as rain. He is supposed to take it easy with no rough housing for 10 days. That will be a bit hard to manage, but we'll give it a shot. Today he mostly slept and hasn't seemed to worry about his dissolvable stitches at all.

It was really strange not to have him in the house. I'm glad he's back home.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bingo and the Great Glass Elevator

Recently we were at International Mall and Bingo got to experience the glass elevator. True to form, he ran over to the glass to look out. He's a fearless little guy. He goes in for surgery on Friday. Already, he is much calmer. Doreen took him today to the Great American Teach Inn, but Fred said he was a very bad boy, pulling, not sitting and generally being a butthead. Doreen said that the surgery on Friday would take care of most of those problems. Still, I like the little guy even when he is a butthead. I just figure it is mostly my fault he doesn't do things correctly.

I hope his personality doesn't change too much. He is a sweet boy and a fearless one. That should remain regardless of whether you have a complete package. 8-) The stubborness, now that I could do without.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bingo Makes the St. Pete Times!

We did make the papers. Bingo looks very cute.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Face full of Paint

Today we went down to Corey Ave. for the Tail Painting Benefit. Bingo was in high demand and was described by one little girl as "the cutest dog ever." Of course all the puppies are cute, but I hold a particular fondness for my little boy, so hearing that made me really want Bingo to do a wonderful job for her, which may be why my voice sounds like I have been sucking helium out of balloons (it is uncomfortably close in range to Minnie Mouse's voice!). 8-) So when you play the video below, you were warned.

I'm not sure if you can see it in this photo, but I am covered in paint. Bingo has paint all over him as well.

Tail painting was surprisingly taxing on the dogs. Bingo did four paintings in a row and by the fourth one, his tail was starting to droop. It's a bit sad when the volunteer has to move the dog's tail. I just didn't think that was right. So I was trying to do all I could to jack Bingo up into a full out exuberant mood so that he would be really into tail swinging happiness.

Bingo is a bit of a klutz, though. The hazards of tail painting are clear. Just watch this video. 8-)

Here you see what my effort at exhorting Bingo into full fledged exuberance has gotten me: a smack in the face with a tail laden with paint! Oh, did I mention that the St. Pete Times photographer was sitting just opposite me and was snapping photos? Yes, yes, he was. Sigh. At least it will be a colorful photograph if they print it and the paint was washable. But it was for a good cause and if the shot makes for a great photo for him and a more prominent photo because of the tail smack, then I say, OK. I say this because I haven't seen the shot of me with a face full of paint. I hope it's cute. I hope it's mostly of Bingo. He's really cute.

The nice thing about this meeting was that unlike the other meetings there was time to talk with the other puppy raisers. Usually we are so concerned with keeping Bingo under control we just go to the meeting and then head straight home. It was really nice to get to talk. Below Bingo gets to have some quality time with his brother Jim. That's Bingo telling Jim how he's going to take over the world.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Wag a Tail Painting

Join us on Sunday at Corey Ave. at the Sunday Morning Market in St. Pete Beach from 9 am to 2 pm. The benefit is called Wag a Tail Art. Essentially, they are going to load up Bingo's rear end with paint and then smoosh him against paper and say nice things to him to get him to wag his tail. Then, for $5 you can buy his masterpiece.

The Phoenix Zoo used to have an elephant that could paint or rather, could hold a paint brush and push paint around. People went nuts for her paintings. They went for $100s of dollars. Bingo is as talented as an elephant. Granted his tail isn't prehensile, but still!

If nothing else, the Frogpond restaurant is at Corey Ave. You can go have breakfast there. And if you get a table on the far North wall near the window, don't look too closely at the baseboards.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Veteran's Day

On Wed., we had an amazing speaker come in to speak with all three divisions: Michael Jernigan. Michael is a United States Marine Corporal who was injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq resulting in his losing his eyesight. Corporal Jernigan was accompanied by his wife and son and by Bobby and Meredith Newman. He also came with his dog Brittany, a yellow lab. The Newmans always bring their lab Milly with them.

Mr. Newman had asked that Bingo and I stop by to meet Corporal Jernigan and his family, mostly so they could meet Bingo. Bingo, however, was only interested in the ladies. Mrs. Newman correctly pointed out that Bingo has a thing for blondes (Milly and Brittany both being yellow labs). Bingo has one more week of being an unneutered male, so I guess this was his last lustful chance so to speak, and he has a thing for Milly.

At the middle division presentation Corporal Jernigan was answering some great questions from the kids, the blondes were on stage and Bingo was in the front row, eyes trained on Brittany and Milly. There came a natural silence between questions and answers and into the silence Bingo let all of his pent up puppy lustfulness out.


I leaned over Bingo (half in order to correct him, half in order to hide from the eyes of 400 people looking at the front row) NO! loud whisper and grabbing his muzzle for correction. Meredith started to laugh. Michele started to laugh. Corporal Jernigan thought it was amusing. Thank the stars that he has such a big heart.

We have had many speakers over the years on Veteran's Day. Corporal Jernigan was one of the first though that really touched our students, I think. He was able to speak to each division in a way that was appropriate for them. When the upper division convocation came, our students asked such amazing questions. I think he was surprised. It was one of those rare speaking events where both sides come out of it having enjoyed the experience. Or at least that was my experience and impression.

I'm happy to say that I did at the very end make my way through the crowds and manage to get introduced and shake his hand. Bingo did not act any better. He was a pill the whole time. Corporal Jernigan still found him amusing. I recommend that you read his postings to the New York Times. They are wonderful!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Sad Sit Down

Bingo is spending another quiet day with me. No classrooms, no kids, no teachers. Just me and my computer. We spent the lunch period outside, working on a few commands but mostly just sniffing around and having fun, at least at first. I had some sad news for Bingo, and I wanted him to be in the best possible mood before I talked with him.

We got the letter several days ago. Cheryl didn't have the heart to tell him, so it was up to me (as usual). And I'd been rehearsing all morning, but I just couldn't think of a good way to sugarcoat it. "Sorry, buddy," I blurted out to him as we walked back into the house, "it's time for you to get fixed."

He seemed to take it pretty well at first. After all, only a few dogs get into the breeder program. But now he won't even look me in the face. Here he is, poor guy, doing a Sit - Down like he just lost his best friend.

Update: We had dog treats at 1:30 and he licked my face. Things are looking up.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Starter Guns and Runners, Oh My!

See the boys in the light blue shorts? Those are our boys! They came in first and second in the district race for cross country. All the boys in varsity will be going to regionals, our best varsity girl came in second and we made a great showing in the girls varsity race. All in all the kids did a great job and Bingo had a great experience.

He was able to experience a huge cross country meet with lots of runners. He also got to experience the shooting of a starter's pistol. He cocked his ears, but didn't flinch or run away. he seemed to have a very good time at the meet. If anything, I had more trouble keeping him calm because he was so excited about it. He really sensed the nervousness of the runners and the excitement of the crowd.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Biscuits in my Pocket

--By Fred
I'm still recovering from surgery, careful not to get into a situation where I have Bingo on a leash and he pulls one way and I, to my peril, pull the other. So instead of our regular walks in the neighborhood and our visits to the grocery store and Home Depot, we are spending time in the back yard and working on some basics: Sit, Stay and Come.

We have a big back yard with lots of distractions, lots of plants, lots of space for the dogs to run and do fun things--much more fun than working with me on commands. I'm careful not to show my hand, that I'm an overly serious and slow human being with no leash and nothing to offer except for my magnetic personality and the dog biscuits in my pocket.

It strikes me that middle-aged men often come to this realization. After they get old and fat and lose their hair, they compensate with a new sports car and a fat wallet, maybe even some dog biscuits, anything to attract some attention.

The biscuits works today. We had a good session, and he seemed to really enjoy working with me. At least he seemed to enjoy it.

Two Worlds Collide

On Wednesday, the sophomores took a fieldtrip to the Hindu Temple. I volunteered to be one of the chaperones. Since it was a Wed., I had Bingo with me so he got to expand his world view. Here we are at the start of the morning waiting for the students to arrive. Christy, one of the religion teachers, was one of the leaders of the fieldtrip and we were on her bus. She's looking over her list of students. Bingo supervised the loading of the bus.

It only took about 20 minutes to get to the temple, which took 10 years to build. They brought over craftsmen from India to handcarve the cement. When we got there, our hosts said that Bingo wasn't allowed to go into the temple proper but could go into the meeting are where the yoga, math and dancing demonstrations were being held. I was a bit disappointed as dogs play a role in Hinduism: mainly one of messenger, not an unlikely role when you think about it, for Yama. However, I thought that putting up a fight would not be the best move and pulling out the statute would only antagonize the family who was kindly showing the temple to our entire sophomore class for the second year in a row, so I refrained from fussing. It was a good thing I did too!

Here you see Bingo calm, cool and collected. But let me tell you, only moments earlier, I had a twisting, barking demon dog on my hands. Seems that Bingo can't STAND incense. At least that is what I finally deduced. When we first walked into the meeting space, all was fine. We sat and the yoga demonstration started. I got Bingo to lie down and then the problems started. As soon as he was near the carpet, he popped up. I would get him down again, up he popped: down, up, down up. I thought, "Hmmm. Perhaps he needs to poo." So went on a poo walk." Came back and it started all over again. Then HE BARKED. TWICE. He's never barked. EVER. Even Tim was startled. This was a serious personality disorder. Something was off. I had tried walking, I had tried to get him to busy, but nothing was working. So we left and I sat on some stairs. Bingo laid down and fell asleep, grateful that there was only the concrete smell in his nose.

So we stayed outside the rest of the fieldtrip and waited for the kids. I guess the Gods were watching out for us when they prevented Bingo from going in the temple. With all the incense there he would have had a serious fit. It's nice to know Yama was watching for him and had his back.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Why won't you give me a biscuit?

Are you wondering why Bingo has that quizzical look on his face? He's wondering why you haven't added to his biscuit meter. See, Southeastern Guide Dogs has one big fundraiser every year: their Feb. Walkathon, held this year on Feb. 27, 2010. Fred and I have pledged to raise $1500 for the walkathon and we are hoping that all of our blog readers, twitter friends, facebook friends, friend friends, coworkers and relatives will help us reach that goal.

We have a personalized biscuit meter that tracks our fundraising, which is kind of cool to watch fill up. If you want more info on the walkathon, you can click the link above. If you want to donate, you can click on our biscuit meter or this link: $1000 covers the medical care of a litter of puppies like Bingo. We figured medical care and a little for toys and leashes and harnesses.

Please help us reach our goal. We'll have the link on the right hand side of the blog. Your donations are tax deductible and ANY amount is a wonderful gift.

Bingo will thank you. Actually, he would just lick you and wag his tail vigorously, but that's quite something, don't you think?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Parade Bingo

Our school mascot is the Buccaneer, so I had to buy the pirate hat for the halloween parade on Wednesday. Of course he didn't want to wear it. The photo above is a special pet setting that is super quick so that when the hat actually settles on his head for that one microsecond before he whips his head in a manic shake to bite the offensive hat off, the shutter clicks off and you get a chillingly accurate portrait of puppy disgust. Before I discovered this setting, the closest we could get the hat to his head is in the photo below:

On another note, I witnessed something very cute the other day. I stepped out of my office to speak with my library assistant and left Bingo alone in coat. A student came in for an appointment with me. When I returned I found them both sitting on the floor staring at each other. They were about a foot apart. Olivia turned to me and said, "It's so cool. It's like he knows he can't touch me because he has his coat on."

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Off the Leash

By Fred
Bingo is getting to be a big dog in many ways. His body, for sure, is growing like a weed, but he also is developing a calmer, more mature temperament, and this is a very good thing.

He went to school with Cheryl every day last week and then to a school event over the weekend. So yesterday was his first day home (to mostly relax) in a while. In the meantime I am recovering from hernia surgery--no big deal, but I'm restricted from doing any heavy lifting for several weeks. Yesterday I told my surgeon about Bingo and he just laughed. "Well," he said, "if he is anything at all like my puppy, you will certainly not be able to walk him for a while." I had to admit that Bingo was not a perfect puppy.

I was depressed at first because I won't be able to take him out to the store, etc., for 3 weeks or so, but then I thought that this might be an opportunity in disguise. There are several things we can work on around the house without a leash--so I'm working on a plan for tomorrow. Mater artium necessitas, right? (I don't know Latin--I just like to pretend.)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bingo’s MUN Tournament

It Begins

The day started off early: 4:30 am. It was supposed to start off at 4:30, bu the the alarm didn’t go off and I woke up at 4:41 and bounced out of bed panicked. I got the dogs downstairs in a flash, fed and watered and then Bingo and I raced to school.

Here we all are waiting for the bus driver to arrive.


Bingo got to experience breakfast at Panera with the kids. Panera was overwhelmed with 29 kids and three adults and a bus driver AND a dog descending upon them for breakfast. But they handled it well. After Panera, we dropped the kids off and headed to B&N to chill until lunch. Here we are chilling.


Bingo got to have lunch with the Ellen, a former student and her service dog (a hearing dog). That was an experience. Bingo was not inclined to be calm about Ellen’s dog. He wanted to be excited and play and jump. When we went into the Thai restaurant, I let Tim, Ellen and Michele go first and I took Bingo in last to keep him under control. Tim walked up to the counter where the hostess told him that they didn’t allow dogs in the restaurant. Tim said, “They’re service dogs. It’s the law.” And then asked if we could sit in the other room. It was great. They were fine and took us to the next room where they had a bit more space. I was still feeling a bit uneasy about having the two dogs next to each other all through lunch, but Ellen sat at one side of the table and I sat on the other with Bingo on the outside. I told him to lie down and he did. That was that. No problem. Here we all are, one big happy group.

The Hotel

We stayed at the Radisson, which I have to say, has gone done a bit since last year when we were here (especially the vacuuming, I kept having to take things out of Bingo's mouth. They really need to vacuum the floors of the rooms!). I checked us into the hotel and didn't have an ounce of trouble with the front desk person. Bingo dealt with the marble lobby floors and the elevators just fine. He did great in the huge ladies room with the super noisy toilet.

When the days events were over and we went back to the hotel for the evening Bingo explored the room thoroughly as you can see from the photos. We had some of the boys help us get his crate up to the room and in the morning they helped us get it back down to the bus.
Second Day

At our local area meeting, I was chastized a little bit by Don for doing a weak scold on Bingo when he peed in coat. I was very nervous in front of everyone and my scold voice was very wimpy. So this morning when we were walking the kids to their meeting and Bingo was in coat and he started to hump to poo (his second for the day) I pulled out the super loud SCOLD voice, NO! and grabbed him! then I took the coat off to let him poo. It was 3 hours before he pooed. This must be the only time in history someone has scared the crap back into someone! That's a good thing, right?

Here's a shot of Tim and Bingo relaxing before Bingo got the crap scared into him.

Friday, October 23, 2009

40 Hour Work Week and Halloween Meeting

Bingo went to school EVERYDAY this week because my husband had hernia surgery and wasn't able to pick up anything or walk the dog. Fortunately, my headmaster allowed Bingo to come a couple of extra days (he usually comes on M-W-F) so that Fred could recover at home. That meant that I was in charge of it all. I'm not sure how single parents do it.

It was a tough week and it isn't over yet. This weekend Bingo and I are going to the MUN (that's Model United Nations tournament, for all of you who aren't in the know) tournament at the University of Central Florida tomorrow morning. We leave at 5 am. We will get to experience a HOTEL. OOOOOH. And a university. The kids are really excited about having Bingo on the trip.
In addition to Bingo working a 40 hour work week, he also got up early with me on Tue/Thur and went on a 40 minute walk in the morning with another teacher, Maty, our French teacher who LOVES Bingo. He did great! He walked right by our side. The second walk Bonnie joined us and brought her dog. Bingo was a bit distracted and took a while to calm down. But he finally did. I tell you, getting him to walk in the morning is quite a cure for the morning madness. He was pooped out and very calm all day. 8-)
I lost my camera, with my cool photo of Bingo and Maty on it. I'm very sad about losing the photo. Things you can replace, but the photo, that can't be replaced.

Thursday we had our local area meeting and it was the best one we have had. The obedience part was very good. I learned quite a lot. For one thing, I haven't been changing Bingo over to the other side when we approach a door that opens on his side. No wonder he doesn't want to go through it. So I tried the new way today and he was much happier. Amazing! 8-) Don also pointed out some tips on the right about, the turns and the difference between praise voice, command voice and scold voice. I still need work on scold voice being more forceful. Bingo, was much better at this meeting than he has been at other meetings. He actually paid attention for minutes at a time.

Of course, he still showed his butt, but I'm sure I was the cause of that! 8-) I was really proud of him sitting and paying attention for most of it. Honestly, he is doing much better, but we have a long way to go. After Don's great obedience session, we went into the halloween shop and walked around. I have to say that Bingo isn't afraid of anything. Here is a photo of a witch popping up out of caldron that had some of the dog a bit skittish, but Bingo was fascinated as you can see. Of course, Fred's response was "That's my boy." Men.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Crazy School Day

We started the day out at 5 am. We met at Maty's house and took a 40 minute walk before school started. This was Bingo's first experience with a long walk like this and he did GREAT! I have a photo, but I can't find my camera. I hope I didn't lose it when I dropped my purse after school. (It has been an awful day today!)

He was much more mellow in the morning at school. His new thing to do is to just stop. We'll be walking and he'll just stop walking. We'll get to some stairs and he refuses to go up or down. We'll be in a parking lot and he'll refuse to go near the car. I don't know what the proper response is and I'm not sure if it is a dominance thing that he is doing. My first thought was he was fearful of something. But I don't think that is the case. Cajoling him doesn't seem to work. I'm going to give redirecting him a try. My area meeting is on Thursday, so I will be talking with Donna about it.

The big excitement was the fire drill. We had one this afternoon. He was completely unconcerned. It didn't faze him a bit.

I'm going to start having him wait at the circ desk for kids to pass by so that we can practice sitting and being unconcerned. He occasionally will lunge out at a student passing by and that isn't acceptable. So we need to work on that. I want to desensitize him by having all the kids pass him every period in the library and having him sit and be unconcerned. I think this will work. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Grocery Store Zen

Friday was a long day. Wish I could say Bingo was a good boy, but he was too much of a pill most of the day to qualify for that status. He was testing me all day long. Fred had hernia surgery on Thursday, so Bingo didn't get much exercise Thursday. So on Friday, he was raring to go.

We go to convo late because I had to do so many turnarounds and go the other ways. Then we had to leave convo early because he was doing the biting thing and I couldn't do a loud NO correction. When I took him over to busy, he went puppy crazy on the leash. So I thought a bit of tough love walking would do him good. We are in the process of building a new quad and there is this section of sidewalks that intersect at all different angles, perfect for puppies who are recalcitrant. So I marched his little uncooperative butt over there and we started to walk.

Forward. Sit. Down. Forward. Right about. Right right. Forward. Left left. Right about. Forward. Right right. Forward. Left left. Right about. Sit. Down. Stay. Forward.

Did I mention it was raining on Friday? Did I mention that I chose to wear a long skirt that brushed the ground (Friday is uniform day, AKA dress really nicely) and heels? So I am doing all this and the bottom 3-4 inches of my skirt is sopping wet, not to mention the nice heels that are flapping loosely off my feet. But I persisted. Because at the end of it, Bingo was tired and finally walking right beside me. This lasted until lunch.

After school I took the little demon to the grocery store for more practice. I grabbed a basket and we blew in like we owned the place. I love Publix because they never hassle you. They are very friendly and understanding. At least the ones we have been in are. Anyway, we went up and down the aisles practicing our turns. I made him sit before things I was considering buying. When he started to sniff at bread I would tell him NO and then I would stop and make him sit by the bread. He did and he sat there without sniffing it. He was so good. We went by the seafood counter and he went to sniff it. So I stopped and made him sit. he stopped sniffing and just sat and looked at me. I waited a good minute, then we walked on. All the time, people were passing and smiling. Moms were pointing and telling kids that the puppy was learning how to be good. I was in the zone and Bingo was being a good boy.

Bingo is at a teenager stage where he is testing limits and doing crazy things. With Fred not able to walk a dog for several weeks, it is all on me to keep him in line. It's quite a lot of pressure, but I know that we can do it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Pack Leader

Well, I've begun using my new found pack leader skills (essentially a loud NO and a firm whatever the correction is) and it seems to be working. Last night Bingo started in with some biting and I tried out the loud NO and the biting correction Chuck told me to use, which startled the snot out of Bingo. He sat real close to me the rest of the night and never made a move to bite again. This morning he tried a tentative bite and I did the correction again. I'm hoping by the time we get back to school on Wed. that the biting phase will have been dealt with. If not, I have some students who will gladly work with me on testing Bingo to get over this little phase. We'll have him bite free by the end of the week.
Next, I am going to work on stairs. Debbie and Chuck explained in more detail about why the puppy raisers are supposed to make the dogs sit before and after they go through them and at the top/bottom of stairs. I had thought it was because the blind person needed to find the threshold of doorways for themselves. The stairway sitting seemed obvious. They explained it was a control issue. They don't want the dog speeding through the door or leaping down the stairs. They also said it was important for it not to become an automatic thing. If I ever arrive at a door and Bingo sits without my telling him to sit then I should turn around and go someplace else and come back. The dog doesn't make the decisions. The handler does.
Monday is our 18th wedding anniversary. So we went today to the Vinoy in St. Pete for brunch to celebrate with a friend and we took Bingo and I tried out my new tools for being in charge.

Brunch was very tasty and pretty stress free. At first, Bingo seemed to want to start on a gum exploration of the underside of the table, but a firm NO put him off that idea. We settle him down and it only took a few more firm downs to get him to stay there.
Of course we could do nothing about the crazy family at the table near us who let their baby crawl LOOSE ON THE FLOOR without ANY SUPERVISION and the baby made it all the way to our table. Bingo was wagging his tail and would have gotten up, but I had a hand on his back pressing him down. Seriously. Are people insane? What sort of parent lets their baby crawl around loose on the carpet of a public restaurant 15-20 feet away from them and toward a strange dog? A dog that is on eye level? That's a parent who deserves to have their child taken by child protective services for child endangerment. Not because the dog is a danger, but because their parents are so stupid. They never got up to get the child. Eventually, the child crawled back to them, on its own. They never moved from their seats or their plates of food. Greedy, stupid people.

We worked on stairs and Bingo did very well. We also worked on the stand command in the public restroom. He was very good. He was tired and happy to go home at the end of the brunch.