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!