Monday, March 28, 2011


The other night we had our friends Larry and Gabrielle over for dinner and they brought their career changed puppy Trapper (aka Trappergator) with them. We were looking forward to talking with our friends, but Her Royal Highness (HRH) Berkeley had a special sort of giddiness one could only associate with lunacy (royalty), nervousness, or too much sugar.

Since we don't feed her sugar, I'm going with part lunacy and nervousness. Once the big blond behemoth hit the wooden floors, HRH was smitten.

Willow couldn't have cared less. He was more of a bumbler to her. Fast moving dogs were a hazard to be avoided and she was by now good at avoiding them. She moved quickly to the couch.

HRH was a bit paralyzed with the love bug. She had seen him that afternoon at the Paws for Patriots event, but with all her adoring fans, hadn't noticed his hunkiness. Now, Ooh-la-la.

They proceeded to chase each other around the house and up and down the stairs. We pushed them to the backyard. Trapper was always in the lead, oddly enough. HRH had lost command. Once they got to the back yard, she proceeded to show him the koi pond. They circled the pond. Trapper saw the koi, he started to paw at the water, to get their attention. They circled the pond with Trapper pawing at it and HRH staring at him in adoration. Then Trapper made the brilliant decision that pawing just wasn't working. The fish were IN the pond and that's where HE needed to be. Fortunately, HRH didn't agree with him.

Notice, even after he jumped in she will still follow him anywhere. Anywhere, but in a fish pond. Silly commoner.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Exposing Yourself (to Criticism)

Home Depot. Your first thought might be super place for guide dog puppies in training. There are plenty of loud noises and strange sounds coming from every aisle, so it makes for a grand experience. Plus the floor is concrete, so if there are any accidents, no worries. Clean up is a breeze! You would be correct, but your puppy may have another reason for loving Home Depot. At least mine does. Her Royal Highness (HRH) Berkeley sees Home Depot as one of the places where she can caution the underdressed and fashion misfits on their poor choices. People dress mighty casually when they go to Home Depot and there is a lot of exposed flesh, something that does not sit well with HRH.

As you can see from this photo HRH is looking through the lumber cart down the aisle for scantily clad Home Depot shoppers. She likes to scope out the scene and then pounce on them when they are least expecting it. And when the person on the other end of her leash is least expecting it. Take this lady for instance, notice how the back of her knees are right out there in public AND they are at just the right height for a cold nose to be pressed up against them. HRH can walk right by them and then, with a quick head turn, nab her knee before I realize what is going on. Usually the squacking is not long lived. Here's a two for one deal! A quick swipe of the nose on the calf of the Mister and then a cold nose to the back of the knee on the Missus. She loves that. It makes her especially happy to goose the young ones. Sometimes she even goes low for an ankle. Just for variety. Or if the shorts are very wide, like these, she might stick her nose up them as if to say, "Girly man shorts!" That's when it becomes embarrassing.

"Oh, sorry! My dog just stuck her nose up your skirt. Ooops!" At school when she does this, and I correct her everyone just says, "Oh, Berkeley." In the real world, it's a bit of a problem. I even had one student just walk by us 6 or 7 times so I could correct HRH and keep her from nosing up the girl's skirt. Was her skirt a bit above the knee? I won't tell!

HRH and Home Depot. If you see her coming, don't turn your back on her.

Friday, March 25, 2011

She's No Slacker

Photo of Queen Elizabeth II in a yellow suit with a lovely hat with flowers surrounding it. Like her namesake, Her Royal Highness (HRH) Berkeley, (HRH Queen Elizabeth II is shown above in one of her smashing tea party outfits (delightful yellow suit with matching yellow sun hat rimmed with several large pink flowers)) is no slouch in the fulfilling her royal duties department. Jingle the leash and proffer the coat and HRH is up and ready to lead whomever into society. Secretly, I think she wants a little hat with flowers, if only to munch on occasionally. So it was with great spirit that that she greeted Thursday, a day filled with errands and rushing about. Not quite what QEII has to endure, but none the less is a full day for a guide dog in training. Our first stop was at Clearwater Cruises. Jennifer and Laurie have been amazing at helping us prepare for our 20th wedding anniversary (and mom and dad's 55th wedding anniversary!) Mediterranean Cruise!! I had to stop in and get some in person help and I brought HRH along with me. She was so well behaved that I let her go out of coat so Laurie and Jennifer could give her some loving. As opposed to QEII, who was caught sleeping in Germany in 2004 at an official engagement, sleeping during an errand is encouraged for our monarch. I highly recommend Laurie and Jennifer at Clearwater Cruises if you need to book a cruise. They have been wonderful. Our next stop you might think was the St. Pete Museum of Fine Art. Unfortunately, we only had time to explore the grounds outside the museum as we had a tight schedule to meet and were expected for lunch in 30 minutes at Red Mesa Cantina. It was a lovely day and I couldn't resist capturing her lovely visage against the backdrop of the huge cotton silk tree with its gorgeous red blooms. But as I was trying to set up the shot something fell on my head. I clapped my hand to my head. "Holy crap! A bird pooped on me." I am speaking to HRH of course. Out loud. In the middle of the day while there are other people walking up to the tree to take a photo. My fingers start to slide around and I'm trying to find out if it is bird poop or not. I'm also trying to get closer to HRH who is looking longingly at the little boy who is now climbing the tree. "Not your boy, my dear." I try to shove my iPhone into my pocket, look at my fingers for poop, glance at the sky for marauding, pooping birds and also lean down to pick up her leash. I teeter a little. HRH shoots me a glance. All around me I hear pops and bombs and splatters. I realize that this tree is just one giant oozing tree of nastiness. It's red flowers only a decoy to get you under its canopy so it can release its spit upon you. I don't have bird poop on me, I have tree spit on me. Better, but stickier. We. Are. Out. Of. Here. I grab her leash and march off just as a nice lady is walking up and about to offer to take a photo of the two of us under the spitting tree of red devil flowers. I smile and stalk away. Beware, my smile says, beware. The real purpose of stopping off at the museum grounds was so that HRH would have a grassy spot on which to relieve herself. She did not. She was much too concerned with the way things smelled, or the red flowers, or the way the sun sparkled on the water. I find that if the setting is not perfect, there will be no peeing. Finally, we met Theresa at Red Mesa Cantina and got a nice booth where we were able to chat and relax. HRH was able to indulge in her napkin fetish, as you can see below in the perfectly placed bite marks in my paper napkin. I hear Elvis does the same thing, only Elvis is a napkin grabber. And then we went home. Royal duties over for the day.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Yes, HRH Is an Apple Genius

You wouldn't think it to look at her, but Her Royal Highness (HRH) Berkeley favors Apple and Apple products. Here she is at the local Apple store watching as Kelland plays with some games.

We walked around the store for a bit and were treated very well. It was super crowded and kind of crazy, so ultimately, we didn't stay long. Just long enough for a photo.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

HRH Berkeley and the Leaf Blower

Her Royal Highness (HRH) Berkeley found out about leaf blowers this weekend. At first she was a bit hesitant about them, running from them, but in true stiff upper lip fashion, she pulled herself together and went back out and investigated it some more.

Eventually, she even runs after it. That's my spunky girl!

Monday, March 21, 2011

She Can't Be My Dog!

I was shocked, I tell you, shocked, the other day at TJ Maxx. There we were in the shoe aisle. I had Her Royal Highness (HRH) Berkeley in a down stay for her own safety as there were some pretty high heels around and I didn't want her wandering around and catching a stilleto on the head and poking her eye out. That would not be good! So, down she went as I careened around the aisle grabbing shoes and trying them on, and on, and on.

I did hear some soft doggy sighs, but thought nothing of it. I glanced back and she was still motionless. Still in her down stay. Good girl. She certainly wasn't enthralled by the TJ Maxx bargains like I was.

Oooh! Look at that Born sandal! What a price. 8-)

Just then, a lady looked in our aisle and said, "Oh, mommy, take this baby home! She is tired, tired, tired!"

Seriously?!! A woman(!) just told me to stop SHOE SHOPPING!? And told me my dog was bored? Honestly. What the world is coming to. Some people are so rude.

Then I looked at HRH. Perhaps if we had been at Nordstrom's she wouldn't have been bored.

Sorry, baby, mommy likes her bargains. Guess we'll go on home! No shoes for you today.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

At Firehouse Subs

A picture of the logo for Firehouse SubsBy Fred
Berkeley and I went to the bank and then to have lunch Thursday even though I had a meeting scheduled for 1 pm and wasn't prepared. Traffic piled up for no reason at all after we left the bank, giving me a chance to instruct Berkeley in the art of traffic talking, which supposes that I can make other cars go faster by using mind control and harsh language. Only the traffic did not obey, so I pulled into a fast-food place that happened to be nearby.

The place was very busy, and with a full staff of sandwich-maker employees, at least of 8 of them, young and fresh out of grad school, and several of them looked at Berkeley and me in a panic--that look you get from employees who have never seen a service animal before and are wondering what sort of weirdo dresses his dog in a blue coat and takes her to a restaurant.

I ordered a sandwich to go, gave them my name, sat down, and watched. One of the workers would yell out a name, and a customer would walk to the counter and get the order. One after another. Then I noticed the employees all got into a huddle. I was pretty sure it was my turn. What could they be doing, I wondered.

Finally, one the girls walked all the way around the counter, slowly approached me, and gently placed the bag into my hands.

The sandwich was just OK, but I definitely recommend the restaurant. (Cheryl wanted me to add the Berkeley kids would have at least recognized HRH.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dr. Stine

Berkeley with Dr. Stine after Berkeley kissed him.By Fred
It's important to have a good family doctor, and we've had one for several years now. He never seems impatient or cranky or distant or any of those unfortunate qualities you find with some doctors. He always has a smile and a laugh, which is why I was sure he wouldn't mind taking some pictures with Berkeley.

Normally I would have taken off her coat first, but he didn't take his off so I guess it all balanced out.

The pictures are pretty bad (no flash on my iPhone), but you get the idea. And yes, he washed his hands thoroughly afterwards.
Not a good picture.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Taking It Easy

Her Royal Highness is taking it easy this Monday morning. I think the spring forward for daylight savings has her a little groggy.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What's in Your Diaper Bag?

All puppy raisers live in fear of having a pee-saster or poop-cident in a public place. We generally have different ways of dealing with this, mine is usually with an elevated heart rate and a fervant prayer for tile or formica flooring! We have had one puppy raiser go the unusual route of catching the poo in her hands before it hit the floor of a Bealls Department store, but most of us aren't that quick.

I, myself, have picked up a humping, about to poo, 50-pound puppy and run with him through a mall to the outside where he did then poo. No actually poo in the mall. Score one for puppy raiser! However, I was caught unaware as HRH (Her Royal Highness) Berkeley had a pee-saster in the library workroom in front of me, but like that other intrepid poo-catching puppy raiser, I reacted without thinking. If you are wondering how do you stop a peeing puppy? I'll let you in on a secret: You pick your puppy up by the booty.

So, HRH is in the middle of peeing and I leaned down and grabbed her back legs and hiked them into the air. It would be fair to say that without anthropomorphising her at all, that shock and astonishment were her most apparent facial expressions. She looked back at me and at her now airborn booty and then back at me quizzically. But, magically, she had stopped peeing (and let me tell you, this girl can PEE!). I was able to hustle her outside, let her finish peeing and then start the cleanup inside.

It has been my only inside pee-saster at school in two years. Pretty good overall. That being said, I obsessively carry a complete doggy diaper bag that should be able to deal with any emergency that presents itself. So, here's what I carry in my diaper bag. If you carry something different, please comment!

I have two diaper bags: a small one for just my purse.

This is a small bag that will fit in most purses and doesn't scream POO BAGS! It does, however, contain inside of it, as the next photo shows, poo bags, hand sanitizers, and two small shamwows and some ziploc bags.

Now, you may be asking, "Why a shamwow?" Have you seen HRH pee? Well, she did have a pee-saster in the mall during Christmas and thankfully the mall is patrolled endlessly by mall security looking for things to cleanup. As soon as a drop of her pee hit the marble floors, a small alarm went out and two janitors were dispatched to our location. Seriously! In 30 seconds of her peeing, we had a manager and janitors waiting to clean it up. I, of course, had already whipped out my purse diaper bag, which at the time was only equiped with paper towels. Four paper towels in a lake of pee were a sodden, nasty mess and I had just looked up with frantic eyes to Fred to get him to go get more paper towels when the manager said, "We've got this."

Ah, Christmas at the mall. There are some advantages. That got me thinking that paper towels suck when it comes to soaking up a pee-saster. You need something that really can soak up like 5X its weight in liquid: SHAMWOW!

I went straight to CVS. I bought the whole package, big and small. The big one is in my big diaper bag and the two smalls are in the small diaper bag. I also keep ziploc bags to put the sodden shamwows into because you can wash them and use them again.

My big bag is the blue SEGD bag and I have it filled with poo bags, a collapsible water dish, ziploc bags, the big shamwow and hand sanitizer in wipes and in a bottle. I have since been told of a puppy raiser who had a poop-cident involving runny poo on carpet (eep!), and Diane carries with her a spray bottle of stain and odor remover in her diaper bag. So I will be adding that to my diaper bag as well! (OCD I tell you!). Thank you Diane!

I like the wet ones for cleaning up after a pickup, but the bottle is nice to have if you are eating out and need to clean your hands or share with people at the table. I also learned at the walkathon that the Gulpy Pet Water Dispenser is considered to be one of the best and probably should replace my collapsible bowl. Tracey recommended the Gulpy. I'll be going out and finding one of these as well. They are nice because they won't release water until you squeeze them. No leaking!

I also carry a little first aid kit in the car at all times, just in case, but I don't keep it with the diaper bag. If you have any ideas for what to carry in the diaper bag or carry something that you find extremely useful, please comment!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

More Walkathon: Video Retrospective

The Walkathon was a great day. A long day, but a really nice day. Most of all, it was a successful day for SEGD. To the tune of almost $375,000 (that's where they estimate the final results of the walkathon's donations to end up!)!

Once again, Fred, HRH and I would like to personally thank our donors:

Mom and Dad
Theresa and Patrick Burress
Melinda Holmes
Karen Gray
Michele Timothy
Jan Connors
Kem Doby
Andre Partykevich
Milly Rawlings
Christy and Eliot Gaurkee

Thank you for helping us help SEGD!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lunch with Jason

By Fred
The SEGD walk-a-thon on Saturday was my kind of event. No rules, no real start or end. No winners or losers. John Bauer has an excellent post about the event here, so I won't go into detail.

A picture of Cheryl looking cute with BerkeleyWe planned to meet with John's friend Jason for lunch, and Jason wasn't available until noon, so we were on a deliberation mission to goof off. Even so, we only managed to walk the loop twice, stopping every 10 or 15 or so feet along the way to talk, just like at a family reunion, except this was a family reunion for dogs instead of people, along with the same discussions about lineage (like now, whose nephew are you?). The family tree for SEGD puppies is enormous and complex and yet another one of those things that will always be too big for my brain to absorb.

A picture of John and his extended dog familyAnd even then, with all of our dawdling, it was almost 1 pm before we picked up Jason, who currently is in the program at SEGD and will be taking home a new dog (his second dog) soon. Bagheera, his first dog, developed a medical problem and couldn't continue working.

Cheryl suggested that we drive to Mississippi (or somewhere in Texas) for lunch, so off we went... After about an hour we finally got there and got settled (4 people and 3 dogs, including Bagheera) at a small table.

Jason was interested to learn more about puppy raisers, and he talked about his own experience with Bagheera--about the difficult adjustment during those first few days at home and about the sad decision to give up Bagheera, who is back living with John. Of course, Cheryl and I felt sad when Bingo went in for training, and parting with the princess will also be hard, but I can't imagine how Jason must have felt to lose his first dog so soon.

Jason told us about some of the problems he faces, like the time he and Bagheera were crossing a busy street and some kids yelled and whistled and caused Bagheera to become startled, leaving them both stranded as the traffic moved around them. He told us about the problem people he encounters in restaurants and other places. It's a wonder how some people can be so immature and stupid, a condition that seems to be an incurable disease in many human beings.

Anyway, it was a great pleasure have lunch with Jason, a nice guy who seems optimistic about the future, eager to learn about Information Technology at college, and ready to start a career. Good luck to him and his new dog.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Queen Has Spoken

We have two dogs. Here they are together.

Willow is our 10 year old chocolate lab. She's a very submissive, sweet old girl. You all know by now that Her Royal Highness (HRH) Berkeley is NOT a submissive girl.

This weekend was the 25th Annual Walkathon and it was held in Bradenton. At the dinner, Bobby and Merideth and their dog Jeannie gave HRH a gift of this amazing toy that Jeannie had been playing with when she was at Berkeley. It's called the The Everlasting Treat Ball.

It's a bit like getting one of the Willy Wonka golden tickets: it's a toy of magical qualities.

Sure enough, when we opened it that evening HRH took immediate possession and was over the moon with joy at the scent and the amazing everlasting quality of its fabulousness. She set about licking it down and would not let Willow get near it.

Soon though, it was time for bed. Time for the Queen to go in her crate. That meant giving up her everlasting treat ball.

She went in grudgingly and eyed the treat ball and me with a cold, fish eye. Then she turned about and lay down. A sigh escaped her.

"Willow. Here." I walked over to Willow who was on the other side of bed and set the treat ball on the floor. Willow looked up at me in apparent shock. She looked at the treat ball and back at me. I nodded. She licked it. Then she really started to go to town. I walked back to my side, by HRH and got into bed.

Willow continued to lick happily at the treat ball. Several minutes went by.

Then, a high pitched, ear-splitting bark pierced the bedroom. Just one. But one was enough. Willow dropped the everlasting treat ball and moved away from it.

There was complete silence.

HRH went to sleep.

The Queen had spoken.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Walkathon Tomorrow and HRH Has Fans!

Yesterday, I went to SEGD to attend a little half day conference and I took Her Royal Highness (HRH) Berkeley with me. We arrived about an hour and a half early (I had failed to look at the email again and therefore didn't notice the time change to 1 pm. So I was thinking I needed to be there at noon.) So I was at loose ends. I decided to walk on over to the training kennels and was walking out the administration door when a man coming in the door said, "Is that Berkeley?"

"Yes." I looked at him and didn't recognize him.

"Do you write the blog?"


"I read the blog all the time!"

"Hi! Nice to meet you." Oh man, this was surreal. HRH had fans! Fans who recognized her.

Turns out that Michael and his wife Meredith are first time puppy raisers from Houston, Texas and are super nice (see below, HRH had to have them pose with her, they are after all HER fans).

Michael said that he had read about HRH and even about Bingo and that it had helped them with Sunshine, their 6 month old yellow lab, seen below with HRH. I was thinking it probably helped them more with what not to do, than anything else, but we got to talking about being a first time raiser and the fear that you have that what you are doing is going to permanently damage your puppy.

I remember that fear (it never really goes away (or maybe that is just my craziness)), constantly thinking that I was doing something wrong that would scar Bingo in some way or that I hadn't started him on the right command at the right time. It wasn't until our obedience classes with Jennifer when she told us, if you follow the program and do your best, we will be able to work with what your dog knows. Ultimately it is up to the dog to decide if he wants to be a guide dog or not.

That being said, it is important not to let the dog develop bad habits such as jumping on furniture, eating people food or begging, jumping up, etc. But if you follow the manual with good intentions, it will all work out.

And if the manual doesn't cover what to do when your dog barks during the middle of the first movement of the symphony, that's why we're here! In fact, we specialize in that.

HRH and Sunshine. Notice that Sunshine is already much larger than our delicate flower. Sigh. She's a pygmy lab.


What is it? A hedgehog. And the most awesome stuffed toy EVER! It was the first toy gift we ever received from the Headmaster's wife and HRH adored it. Since then, HRH has had a hedgehog benefactor: Wren. Wren comes to visit on Fridays and spends the time between 7:30 am and 7:50 am with HRH before school starts. Sometimes she comes alone, sometimes with a friend. But she always knows what HRH likes. For Christmas she planned to get her a new hedgehog but they were out. So she ordered one.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Finally, it came in! She had given a hedgehog to HRH before, but it was the tiny hedgehog. This was BIG hedgehog. What would she do?

One thing she wouldn't do is stop wagging her tail. That's a happy dog.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!