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.