Friday, April 29, 2011

Happy Birthday to My Royal Baby!

Today is Her Royal Highness's (HRH's) birthday! She is all of one year old today. She escaped out of the red tent seclusion in SEGD and traveled over the pond to see her relatives William and Kate, who had picked her birthday as their auspicious wedding date!, married. You won't see her on the TV of course. She is doing a perfect down-under under the Queen's chair and keeping very quiet.

She will be back at home on Monday. Long live the Queen and HRH! And congratulations William and Kate.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

HRH Berkeley and The Red Tent

You may have noticed that we are a little light on news. I was away at a conference and Her Royal Highness (HRH) Berkeley has been away at SEGD in The Red Tent, a literary reference where back in biblical times all menstruating women got a holiday during their period and went off to get massages and eat treats in a red tent. Readers understand the reference. Most other people look at me blankly. Like the sophomore boys in the mezzanine on Friday...

"Where is Berkeley?" One boy who is also on the baseball team asked me. His four other friends looked at me inquiringly.

"Oh, she is at Southeastern Guide Dogs in the Red Tent." I winked. He screwed up his face and said, "Wuh?" A couple of the other boys had a glimmering of what was coming and I saw one boy even put out a hand as if to ward off what I was going to say next.

"She got her period."

He cringed. It was like I had thrown roaches on him. "Oh man! Gross!"

"I tried to hit you with a euphemism, dude. She won't be back until May 2nd." I kept walking and smiled all the way down the stairs. Boys! So easy to gross out.

Now there may be some of you who are like Fred and me who haven't ever had a female dog who was going to go into heat. We had no idea what to expect. We had heard that there were signs:

  1. Swelling of the general area

  2. Discharge/bleeding

  3. Being the hottest dog on the block (attracting a lot of interest!)

Having no idea what swelling meant (how much swelling was swelling? When was it completely swollen? Did just the one little area get swollen or the whole bootie?), we had a couple of false alarms which resulted in my doing twice weekly bootie checks. Fred refused to have anything to do with HRH and her bootie. I think he might have actually run out of the room at one point. Or walked very quickly, while humming and ignoring me.

So on the day before my conference, that Monday morning, I did a quick bootie check and OMG! Swelling. I mean, SWELLING. In fact, when she walked away from Fred, he asked, "Is there something wrong with her?"

We are talking swelling akin to a baboon's butt. So, all of you newbies out there with a female dog who have never experienced a dog going into heat, when they say swelling, they mean, the entire area puffs out like a muffin top.

It looked super uncomfortable. All that day, she looked at me with crinkly eyes like she was having cramps and needed a Midol and a hot water bottle. She just wanted to snuggle. She didn't feel well. Poor little princess with the big bootie.

So when I got her home, I said, "We better try on the diaper, because I think her period is immanent." Fred didn't believe me, but he thought filming me doing that would be entertaining and informative. Here is the video.

After we took the diaper off, we discovered that she had gone into heat. Fred took her to SEGD the next day. I left for my conference. Then when I got back we had a big kitchen fire, so things been exciting. I should be able to post more now. HRH will be back on the 2nd. We had Bob for two days last week and we will have Elvis for several days next week.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Princess Takes a Holiday

By Fred
Wouldn't you know that Cheryl would leave town for a conference this week, leaving me to handle the princess and her first menstrual event, not to mention the discussion required here.

I learned about this the night before Cheryl left. When I asked how she knew that Berkeley was about to go into heat, she laughed and told me that Berkeley's va-jay-jay was all swollen up. Obviously it wouldn't do for me to ever say a word like that. I've learned over time, however, not to be surprised by anything that pops out of Cheryl's mouth, even made-up words like va-jay-jay. Who knows where she picks this up.

Then we saw some spotting on the doggy diapers that Cheryl tried on her. Cheryl has a funny video of this (the trying on, not the spotting). It's SEGD policy for females to stay at the facility during this period, about 21 days, and I was not reluctant to take her early the next morning, right after dropping off Cheryl at the airport.

A picture of Berkeley in the car just before we went into the puppy kennel at SEGD. She is squinting and looks a little sad.Berkeley has been such a sweetheart for the past few days, occasionally looking at us with a squint like she did not feel well, as in this photo of her just outside the puppy kennel at SEGD, where I reflexively told her that she was a very pretty and good girl and that things would all be better very soon.

She perked up quite a bit when we went inside and learned that she would be sharing a kennel with another female in the very same condition, so I can't imagine that she will be disappointed with the loss of my company.

The house is pretty quiet now. I'll miss Berkeley and Cheryl this week, but Willow and I will have fun, just like the old days, before puppies ruled. Then possibly we'll dog sit for a while, so Cheryl will have a dog at school. Then the princess returns, all grown up.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Learning How to Use the Playground

On Friday, Christina and I were looking at the list of exposures that Her Royal Highness (HRH) Berkeley had yet to expose herself to (so to speak) and there on the list was playground. Of course, we have a nice little playground in our lower division and it was the afternoon, so we decided to take a little break and wander over to see if there was anyone about in the playground area.

At first, I was thinking it would be better if the playground was empty. Then I could show her everything and have no running, screaming kids around. But it turned out that the PreK kids were out in the playground and they were plenty excited to see HRH.

One little boy ran straight up with his arm extended, "Can I pet Berkeley?" he cried as he came in closer. At the same time the PreK assistant was shouting, "Jeffrey, you can't pet Berkeley! She's invisible! Don't look at her!" Jeffrey was confused by this as, clearly, HRH was right in front of him and he gave me a strange look. His hand was two inches from her coat.

"You can't pet her, sweetie. She's working. Remember the rules?" He kind of squinted up his eyes at me like I had popped a dream in his face. He frowned. His hand fell. "We came to find out how the playground works," I told him. He looked at me again. Perhaps there was a way he could be of use. I could see the wheels turning in his head.

I turned and started to walk towards the slides and stairs and poles. At that moment, it was like I was in the middle of a vast river. Like I was a salmon swimming upstream. There were all sorts of little bodies colliding not so innocently with me and with HRH, arms brushing up against her, sighs, oohs and aaahs, coming from the children as the two PreK assistants tried in vain to keep our way clear:

"Don't look at Berkeley! She's invisible! Don't touch her!"

Finally, I hit upon the idea of having the kids use the equipment for HRH to watch. "Would someone like to show Berkeley how to use the slide? She's never seen a slide before."

Ten small bodies hurled themselves towards the double slide and then in a very quiet and orderly fashion slid down. Everyone of them, upon hitting the dirt looked, not at me, but to HRH for approval on their slide down. I'm assuming she gave it, for they seemed satisfied and continued to slide away.

I moved us over to the curly fireman's pole. The sliders moved over. Next came the steps and the curvy slide.

Then it was time for photos and the coat to come off. After HRH stood calmly and let them swarm her for some loving, I said I needed to put her coat back on. I was attaching the velcro when one little girl knelt down and grabbed her strap and then with careful attention to detail got the two ends to meet and hooked the strap end together.

"Thank you!" I told her. She smiled up at me. It was a nice way to end the visit.

Jan Connors took all the photos and the videos and did a darn fine job of it!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

New Coat Arrives!

On Tuesday Her Royal Highness's (HRH's) new coat arrived in the mail! Here she is posing with her new coat on. You can see NO BOOTIE! On Wednesday when we went to school, HRH was very interested in making sure that the Dean saw her in her new bootie covering coat. Here she is with the Dean. Notice the thumbs up sign! The new coat says Guide Dog in Training instead of Puppy in Training. That's a nice change.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Usually, Her Royal Highness (HRH) Berkeley has the royal heinie covered with the big girl SEGD coat. See photo below with full bootie coverage. However, over Christmas break, HRH got a little bored during a breakfast meeting with a friend and she proceeded to EAT HER COAT! This is not a new thing for her family as her brother Elvis has eaten two coats. However, we barely managed to get out of the restaurant with the coat on her as she had chewed almost completely through the strap and the edging. Off to Joanns and the miracle of iron-on patches. Embarrassed as we were, we didn't mention anything about this thinking we would be able to keep a lid on it. Little did I know that my patch job, while permitting us to use the coat, was done in such a way as to prevent us from ever adjusting the strap in the future. But our delicate flower would never grow. Would she? UH OH. This weekend we couldn't strap her in. All we had was the baby coat. Above is a photo of HRH in the baby coat at school today. With a full MOON. At convocation, the Dean gave HRH a warning. If she continued to wear her skirt above her knees and out of dress code, she was going to get a detention. (She's giving me the stink eye. It's all my fault!) She tried to argue it at first. But in the end, she knew she was out of dress code. Melinda says a new coat is in the mail!

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Queen Has a Problem

First, she started disappearing. It was a minute or two. Then she would be back as if nothing was amiss. But it wouldn't last. She needed more. A minute wasn't enough time. She took a few minutes. Then a few more. Her ecstasy knew no bounds and she started to make little frenzied yips of happiness. It's what gave her away. I went to look for her. This is what I found: The Junkie Queen and her paper drug.

They say that drugs will bring you down. She had started innocuously enough with napkins. Small nips and bites. Gentle tugs until when you went to use your napkin wasn't there. It was being torn to bits and ingested by the Junkie Queen.

She had had the whole roll and time to take bites and licks off of it. Would she ever be satisfied going cold turkey? It was going to be hard. On us, on HRH. All bathroom doors, barred to the Queen. TP on restricted access. HRH on lockdown. Hard times at McLean House.

Gone were the days when random rolls of TP could be found in baskets upon the floor. HRH would have to dream about the baskets of TP sort of like hobos dream of Rock Candy Mountain. And if you don't know about Rock Candy Mountain...