Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Queen for One Last Day

We do have our own dog. Her name is Willow. She is a chocolate lab.

She is very lovely with a calm demeanor that took her 8 years to acquire. She is now 10 years old. She plays frisbee and in general is a happy dog. When HRH Berkeley went IFT though, I think that might have been the happiest day of Willow's life.

She and HRH weren't BFFs and Willow tended to let HRH be the leader of the pack, which was what HRH wanted. We decided that we needed to have boys only from now on. Hence, Joseph A. Merluzzi (JAM).

I think that Willow will be a little sad that she is not the only dog in the house. She has had a month of being queen of the realm. But she will be the only female dog in the house and she will be the oldest. She and Bingo got along great. I'm hoping JAM is a mellow fellow and she likes him.

Here's to Willow! Queen of our hearts.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Puppy Pick up Day

We are getting ready for our third baby: Jam. He will be coming home on Thursday. We will be taking some student forum students and the school sponsor to SEGD to pick him up and there may be a friend or two who also drop by for a photo opportunity and a pat!

The kids are very excited about it. We'll be bringing video cameras so we can record the event for the blog and for our presentation to all three divisions at the start of school. I think there will also be some fun surprises for them when they arrive.

Two more days!

Friday, June 24, 2011

After She Walks Away

It used to be that In For Training meant drop your puppy off, cry, and go home. But no more. SEGD has taken great pains to make this day into something more. Something much more special. A celebration of the year we've worked and a celebration of the puppy and the mission of the school. They really don't want it to be a sad event.

So, as soon as there was a group of us who had done the leash exchange, there was a happy volunteer to escort us over to the puppy kennel where they were going to bring out the puppies for us to hug.

They brought Mom out one of the donated yellow lab puppies. He was ginormous!

Fred was a puppy magnet as well.

Even I got to hug some puppies! It was surprisingly helpful in making the tears go away. It's hard to be sad and cry when you are petting a puppy.

And even better, we got to see our next puppy! Joseph A. Merluzzi, to be known as JAM! Here is asleep. He's the big fat yellow one in the center.

Isn't he cute!

After the puppy hugging, we heard from guide dog users about how their guide dogs had changed their lives. We also received something from Titus (which I won't tell, so it won't spoil the surprise for the other raisers). Then we did a blind walk with some of the dogs in training which was super cool! I'll have a video of that for you in the next post I hope!

We pick up JAM on July 1, 2011. He's sure to be a pistol. Keep posted for all the news!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

HRH Goes In For Training

Sorry all you blog readers out there! We had to take Berkeley IFT on June 4th, leave for a cruise on June 6th and we didn't get back until a couple of days ago! So I am just now getting around to telling all about the sad, but exciting event of Berkeley's IFT ceremony.

SEGD has changed the day from a plain old drop off, to a whole morning program. It is really wonderful. Here you can see the big welcome signs welcoming you to freshman orientation.

There were signs for every puppy going in for training that morning and each sign had their 6 week old photo on it, which we got to keep at the end of the day. They lined both sides of the road. It was really nice.

At the big gazebo, everyone was gathered. They were playing music, there was coffee, juice and muffins. You could sit and talk with people, but most people sat with their puppies waiting for their names to be called. Every few minutes a name would be called and a trainer would come and there would be the leash exchange. Then the freshman pup would walk off to his or her dorm without a look back and with a happy tail wagging.

Here is Berkeley as she is waiting for her name to be called. I think we missed her name being called as we were about 10 minutes late, so she was the last dog called! We watched all the other dogs go. Even the family of five, who were heart broken and made us all cry (even some of the SEGD staff 8-) as they gave up their pup willingly, but sadly to go on to their higher purpose. But that was what was so good about the day. You didn't just leave then, when you were in tears. Because believe you me, when they called out, "Berkeley!"

I stood up and walked away. Because I was going to be just like that little boy who was sobbing so hard he couldn't look and had to turn away or his sisters who just cried and cried but let their puppy go or their father, who never took off his sunglasses, but every now and then would stick his finger under the lenses to wipe away a tear.

She didn't look back and we know that means she went forward as a happy, confident young freshman ready to take on this new challenge. We will miss her.

(Note: The day continued with puppy hugging and wonderful presentations by guide dog users that helped us all focus back on what our goal was: creating a happy guide dog. It ended up being a very good day.)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Favorite Spot

By Fred
Just 2 more days and our little wiggler will be in for training. We'll miss her wiggly tail and sweet disposItion. She likes to curl up at my feet in the office, and she has a particular place in mind, a particular spot on the floor. No other spot will do. If I adjust her position, she quickly wiggles her way back into place, intent with the same stubborn determination she pursues in all things, a trait that's hopefully to her credit when her serious training begins.

A picture of Berkeley sitting at my feet under the desk.  She has a very cute face.Lately I've had some pain behind my right knee and tingling in some toes. This week I asked the doctor about it, imagining all sorts of silly things that might be wrong with me. "How are you sitting?" he asked me. "Because you shouldn't sit with your legs pushed back. I think you are pinching some nerves." He laughed when I told him my theory of why I've been sitting this way.

So today I took a photo of little Berkeley in her favorite spot. That's my right foot and my numb toes. Oh well, today's our last day in the office together. Tomorrow she goes to school, then training on Saturday. I will miss her.