Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Return of Captain Crazypants

Jam has been on an extended leave from school due to his limping.  He's been out over a week.  Wednesday was his first day back and you would have thought he was the wild dog of Borneo and had never seen a school before.

He didn't want to follow any commands.  He decided that he didn't want to lie down and be a good boy.  He wanted to play tug with the leash.  Captain Crazypants was back.  Time for obedience lessons.


But then I saw something that our AC shared with us on Facebook: Southeastern tweeted the following yesterday... thought it was important to pass it along.. DogGuideTrainer (AKA Trainer Karen) said... "Dog I'm working was a certified crazypants as a puppy. Now he is my best dog. He just needed job to focus on. Raisers-don't give up!"

And I thought about how Jam looked later that day:

Jam taking a nap in the workroom, a very sleepy puppy.
Not Captain Crazypants at all.  Rather more of a sweet baby boy. OK.  She's right.  Jam needed a job.  Right now his nuggets are sending him all kinds of orders and I needed to give him lots to do to override those crazy thoughts. It's all a question of desire, focus and system overload:
  1. Desire: what does a guide dog puppy want most?  To please us.  So give them something to do and then praise them.  A lot.  And then give them more to do.  Create the desire to work.
  2. Focus: if they have the desire to work, they will know to focus on you and your commands.  Be consistent and praise often.
  3. System overload: when in doubt, do puppy pushups (Thanks trainer Jen!)! I also recommend doing stairs again and again.  
It's only 1.5 months until Jam goes IFT and we still can only manage a 2 minute sit stay without falling into a narcoleptic sleep.  But we are trying.  

We have the desire and the focus.  We just try not to practice at nap time. After all, everyone deserves a good nap.  Sharpens the focus for later.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Taco Night

We took Stephanie and Coastie out for a belated birthday dinner last night.  It was Stephanie's birthday, Coastie still has quite a ways to go until his first birthday. 8-)

Stephanie and Coastie, a yellow lab, pose by the car.  Coastie is sitting by Stephanie's left side.
 We decided to go to our favorite Mexican food restaurant, who just happens to also LOVE our puppies in training: Casa Tina's in Dunedin.
Fred and Jam are waiting for Stephanie and Coastie to join them on the sidewalk.  Jam thinks that Coastie is a wee little thing.
 Fred and Jam have been coming to Casa Tina's for lunch about once a week for months.  So, most of the servers know him.

This photo shows Coastie at the bottom of the photo and Jam at the top lying down under the table. 
The only problem with Casa Tina's is that there isn't a good place for two dogs to lie down.  The quarters are a little tight.  So there was a little bit of the "Mom, he poked his nose over the line!" funny business.  But after awhile, they settled down.  However, Jam remained just a little antsy. A funny kind of antsy.

Jam and Fred walking down the sidewalk with Stephanie and Coastie following.
Sure enough, when we got close to the end of the block, Jam started to show a poo butt.  We yanked his coat off and let him twirl and poo.  Mind you, he had gone after his dinner, so this was a double poo night.  We continued to walk and about a block down, Jam did another twirl.  Off came the coat and he tripled poo'ed.

After Mexican food, even if you are only smelling it, it is advisable to take a good, long walk.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Adventures in Babysitting

 Last night we went to the wedding of the daughter of one of my first friends at school.  Eileen and Tom are the parents of Maggie and Eileen is the health teacher where I am the librarian.  Every year Eileen and I work on a research project with the freshmen class so we have become very good friends over the years.

Even though Jammy has become quite comfortable with the kitchen/crate substitute, given his separation anxiety issues, we wanted to make sure that he wasn’t left alone too long.  So we made some babysitting arrangements.  Christina, who is our collections development librarian at school, also serves as my back up Jam corraler with Jan, our library assistant.  I've trained the both of them in appropriate Southeastern puppy handling behavior so that if I need to leave Jam with them for a meeting he is appropriately taken care of by adults.  This baby sitting job would be an at-home, no-coat job.    

Christina lives right by where the wedding was taking place, so we could drop Jammy off and then pick him up on the way back.  It would work out perfectly!  Christina was free so we made the date and dropped him off.

Here Jam sits in the doorway in a rare moment of nonshadowing, looking off to the left into the foyer and the front door.

When we went back to pick him up, Christina said he was a little nervous about being left and did some heavy breathing for about an hour.  But after he realized the we weren't coming back, he decided to do what he normally does when he thinks he might be left again: he will shadow the person.

Here is a photo of Christina cooking.  You are looking down at her feet and Jam is lying in between her feet.
 So, Jam decided that Christina was his glue and he stuck to her.  He followed her from room to room, even the bathroom.  He watched her cook dinner.
 He watched as she ate dinner.
Jam under foot at the dinner table.
More Jammy between the feet.

Sometimes, he would change it up and be on the feet.

Or sometimes, it was beside the feet.
Finally, at some point during the night, he got relaxed enough that he wasn't compelled to shadow.  He could explore on his own.
Jammy, sitting in the living room.
He decided he would check out the side window and see what was out there.  After all, during his walk, he did smell that there was a crazy cat lady next door and it did smell like there were 100s of cats lurking about. 

Holy Crap!  Crazy cat eyes glowing in the dark at Jammy as he peers out the window!
Boy, did he score on the cat jackpot!  There was a crazy cat just outside on the sidewalk and it was crazy enough to sit there and torment Jammy.

Jammy staring at the cat who is just barely visible on the sidewalk in the upper left of the window.
 He sat, and he sat.
Jammy standing and staring out the window.
Then he stood and stared.  But at the point the cat had had enough and wandered off for more interesting things to do.  Poor Jammy was left to wait it out for us to come home.  He finally curled up and slept.

Eileen, the one with the umbrella, watching her daughter and husband walk down the aisle.

The wedding, by the way, was lovely.
Father and bride walking down the aisle.
The bride was stunning and the wedding was a lot of fun.  We didn't stay out too, too late.  But, I had to get a few dances in!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Another Limping Spell

By Fred
Jam is home with me again, having yet another spell of limping, this time on a back leg. This is the 3rd or 4th time he's had the problem. He's in no apparent pain. He doesn't mind if you touch the leg or give it a massage (in fact, he seems to like that very much). Dr. Woodman has checked him out, with x-rays and tests, and there's no sign of a problem other than a generic case of growing pains, and there's nothing to be done other than rest. He's on doggy pain killers while we wait this out.

Years ago Cheryl and I had a dog named Thud who suffered with hip dysplasia as a small puppy. My mother, who had grown up during the depression and had raised 4 boys after my father died, was surprised when we told her that we planned to have surgery on Thud. "You didn't operate on dogs in my day," she said. But then one day she was at our house when little Thud tried to jump up on the couch and he let out a cry that would break your heart. My mom was in tears and could not be consoled. When we explained that the surgery would make Thud's pain go away, she was suddenly very much in favor of the idea. (He lived a long pain-free life after the surgery.)

And though Jam does not cry out or appear to be in pain, we can tell that he doesn't feel quite right. Even Willow knows that something is wrong. She will go into another room and make a noise that sounds like "roooof", inviting him to come play, which is very much not like her. Who knows what she is thinking--maybe she wonders if he's mad at her?

In any case, we will be glad when crazy Jam is back. He brings more than his share of happiness into the house.
Willow and Jam, Best Friends

Monday, May 21, 2012

Eckerd Graduation

Amy's mom, Uncle, Aunt, my chair, Fred in the front row.  Her dad, grandma and granpa and brother in the next row.
Today, at 8 am to be exact, we were on the beach at Eckerd College watching our niece (well, she calls us Aunt and Uncle, so we are calling her our niece!) graduate from college!  It was awesome. Here is the whole gang.  Mom Barbara in the front row got up at 5:30 am to get us these front row seats.

Friday night we had a smashing meal at Bern's to celebrate the impending matriculation.  At dinner we learned that Amy had won the prestigious John H. Sykes Award.  Amy was given the award for her involvement at Eckerd College with Hillel and with the Holocaust Museum.  One of the reasons I've always been impressed with Amy is that she has shown a devotion to service since high school, when I first met her through her mom (a fellow librarian and dear friend).  At the time, she was Key Club president and had rewritten their website and organized an amazing fundraiser coordinating the activities of tons of kids all while being a very busy senior trying to get into college.

At Eckerd, she continued volunteering by joining the newly instituted Hillel Club her sophomore year.  From there she became director of communications, updating and maintaining their website, creating a fan page for them on Facebook and also a Twitter account.  She also sent out a weekly newsletter to all volunteers, students, parents and alums.  In her senior year, she was elected president and ran board meetings, club meetings, supervised club volunteers and coordinated the special and monthly events, such as monthly shabot dinners.  (Are you getting a sense of why she won the Sykes award? 8-) 

In addition,  in her senior year she also interned at the Holocaust Museum as a donor/fundraising intern, which involved searching for and updating their contact list, researching grant and funding opportunities,  organizing donor packets, and researching possible new donors.  All this while trying to finish her degree.  I must say, I was never that busy during college.  I worked a part-time job, but I know I wasn't that busy!

Looking at the back of a graduating puppy raiser and her Southeastern Guide Dog puppy, a black lab, as they process to their chair.
But even though she was always busy with activities, Amy always had time for us.  And that included our dogs too.  I remember bringing Bingo out to see her.  I won't go into detail, as many of you remember Bingo, but let's just say, it was memorable.  Amy and her brother Brian (and really, her dad as well) have always wanted a dog.  But the family has had too many activities or just worked too many hours to have a pet.  So when Amy selected Eckerd College, she was really excited because she was going to get two dogs by virtue of knowing me and Fred.  So Amy has watched Bingo, HRH Berkeley and now Jam grow from tiny puppies to gangly teens to adults.  And when she spent the night, it was always fun to watch her interact with the dogs.  

Amy had told us at dinner Friday that one of her classmates had a Southeastern Guide Dog puppy and that she watched him grow up every Tue/Thur in class.  She said the the puppy raiser, who also works at Southeastern, was definitely a good rule follower and that the puppy soon had all the rules down and knew that class time was nap time.

Amy, coming down the aisle towards her dad, she is smiling.
Amy appeared soon after the puppy raiser and I got this super blurry photo.  Sigh.  You can make out a big smile though.

Amy, smiling big!
We didn't bring Jam with us to the graduation because we wanted the morning to be about Amy.  We didn't want any distractions.  It was so wonderful to see someone we love walk across that stage and wave that diploma high in the air.

Jam and Willow were waiting comfortably for us in the kitchen when we returned.  They weren't aware that Amy had graduated.  They seemed well rested and relaxed. 

But I know, in my heart, they were barking for joy for her.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Safe Place

We have found a safe place for Jam to settle when we need him to be at home while we are out and about.  He will tolerate the crate, going it without any fuss, but he is not happy.  You can tell.  And we feel bad about leaving him.

Just by happenstance, though, we came upon the idea of babygating him into the kitchen with Willow.  What's not to like about that?  They have free reign of the kitchen, which is relatively large, and he has a buddy.

The first time we tried it for 30 minutes when we went grocery shopping.  Success!  No wild barking or panicky breathing when we returned.  There was the sneaking suspicion that perhaps one or both of them had searched the counters for something to eat, but nothing could be proven.

So we tried it again.  For a longer period of time.  Again, it was a success.  So on Friday, when we went to Bern's, we were pretty comfortable with leaving Jam in the kitchen.  We checked all the counters and left them both safe and happy.

Jam and Willow lying down in front of one of the kitchen babygates.
The good news.  He was so happy and relaxed that when we got home, he had actually fallen asleep!

Woot!  Sleepy Jam.  Separation anxiety, I am the boss of you!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Frog's World

By Fred

Yes, the water falls from the sky in big drops. It soaks through the patio stones. The bushes droop under its weight, and the frogs have a new-found confidence because a wet back yard is a frog's favorite world. It is not Jam's world.

Jam prefers to stay inside when it rains. He will reluctantly go out to sit on the porch, but he will not venture beyond on his own, not without a leash, and then with a leash he will only walk along sadly and sigh. He will not pee or poop, not in the backyard when it is raining.

Then at bedtime he is given one more chance. Cheryl and I take turns with an umbrella, giving him all the various encouragements, lies, threats, reassurances, feigned indifference, etc. that we can imagine, because we know that he really needs to go and that the next opportunity will be early the next morning, or rather when he wakes us in the middle of the night, or worse.

And then we remember that our front yard is in a completely different universe for Jam. In the front yard, which is just as rainy and wet, he has no problem at all. Jam is keen to walk along and sniff at every soaking thing, as long as it's not in the back yard.

At the garage door I hold his leash in one hand and the umbrella in the other, and he is thrilled with the idea of walking out into the pouring rain, walking down the sidewalk and into the black night. Within 30 seconds he pees and poops.

Surely we have done something wrong...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Sweet Little Bird

By Fred

When Jam is deep in thought, the top of his head gets wrinkled and looks like this:

Jam eyes a bird.
We had lunch today on Casa Tina's patio in Dunedin, and a little bird flew up into the rafters. Jam sat still as a stone, watching the bird as it rustled its wings and whistled, and his behavior caught the attention of everyone on the patio.

"Look, he's watching the bird," someone said. "What a sweet, good dog," said someone else. But I could just see the top of his head and the many folds of scalp, meaning that his ears working at full capacity, using his doggy radar to get an exact location for the bird. And under that fur his brain was planning the things he would do to that little bird if only he could catch it.

Today was probably his best day ever at lunch. He ignored food on the floor. He posed and smiled. He carefully navigated through the diners on the way out, never looking twice at anyone's plate. And I can't be sure what he would have done to the bird.

Good boy, Jam.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Saved by the Bounce

Today was a calm day for Jam.  He seemed to have less than the normal amount of testosterone racing through his system resulting in a calm and steady, dare I say it, guide dog like presence today.

Apart from the small incident of leash tug of war (I won by virtue of taking him upstairs and making him do obedience for 10 minutes, which the kids reading up there found incredibly amusing), he was very good on the leash except for one incident on the way back to the library.

As we were walking through the mall to the library, a freshman boy in front of us started to bounce his tennis ball as he was walking.



Bouncey, bounce. Bounce.

Jam stopped and seemed to quiver all over.  Every hair seemed to stand on end like he was electrified.  I wasn't quite sure what was going to happen next.  Would he explode?  Or would he leap at the ball?

So before anything bad could happen I called out, "Hey, could you stop bouncing the ball until he can't see  you?"

The boy turned and saw that Jam was very nearly ready to pop.

"Yes, ma'am," he said cheerfully and walked away clutching his tennis ball.

Jam watched him out of the corner of his eye until we were headed off in another direction.

"Good boy Jam.  What a good boy you are."  I patted his head marveling that all of his hair was now flat against his skin.  "What a good boy you are."

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Getting Ready for IFT: Sit-Stay and Down

Jam had his birthday a couple of weeks ago and his in for training (IFT) day we estimate is July 21st.  So, after I completed his CBARQ questionnaire, I went looking for the 12-month evaluation form for puppies.  But there wasn't one.  There was one for 14-month old puppies, so I looked at it.  

I noticed that there is a list of commands that all the puppies should know (and this list is up on our pantry).  However, on the 14-month eval, there are some details that the manual doesn't give you, such as time limits for a sit-stay and a down command (see below list). 

Jam, sitting down and looking up at the camera.
Commands Puppy Should Know:
  • Forward (got it covered)
  • Sit (working on his placement)
  • Sit-Stay (3 min. Hmmmm)
  • Down (5 min. Double HMMMMM)
  • Stand (knows it, but doesn't always do it)
  • Come (knows it, but we try only to do it with the leash on)
  • Heel (knows it, but since the new Blue Coat Journal came out, we will be revisiting this)
  • Switch (got it covered!)
Oh my.  A three-minute sit stay?  A five-minute down stay?  We hadn't really been timing them.  It was a good thing I had looked at the evaluation form because we now had our work cut out for us.  I decided we needed to do a baseline test to see what he could do. 

Let's see where we stood for the down command:

About a minute and a half in Jam gets bored and stretches, but doesn't break the down.

Jam finally rests about 3 minutes in.

The beeping of the camera disturbs him and he breaks the down at 3:21.  Over all, though a good down.

Now, for the sit-stay.
Jammy is in the sit position.

Jammy is getting sleepy about 45 seconds in and wants to lie down! No, Jammy!

Jammy is back in a sit, but still wants to lie down.

3:06 seconds.  We made it, but Jam tried to lie down three times.  I think that counts as breaking the sit-stay.  This sit-stay is going to be the hard one.  Jammy is a very lazy boy.
I think the sit-stay is going to be much harder than the down-stay.  Jam loves to lie down.  He isn't much for sitting.  Most of his sits merge into a down.  So, now we have a goal.  A 3-minute sit-stay.

We can practice this when he is in the library by my side at the table.  I'll start timing him.  We have two months. 

Not a problem.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Destroyer of Souls

You might wonder by the title of this post whether I am talking about Jam or myself.  Well, rest assured, the sweet little Jam boy is not the destroyer of souls.  No, that designation goes to me.  I alone carry the power to crush joy from the hearts of men, women and small, little blonde girls.

Take last night for instance...

Michele and I were planning on attending the regional finals game of the boys baseball team (we ended up losing 6-1, boo! but it wasn't a shut out!).  We decided to go to dinner together to Seasons 52 before the game started.  I've started the South Beach diet and I'm in that irritating two week beginner phase where you can't have anything that tastes good or has a starch or sugar calorie in it.  I might as well have tasty veggies if veggies are all I can have!  So Seasons 52 it is. 

It was a little bit tense as Jam had his dinner at 4 and still hadn't had a poo and Seasons 52 is a little posh.    I was pretty confident that he wouldn't hunch over in the restaurant as we gave him ample opportunity outside to go.

Inside the hostess said there was a regular customer who has a Southeastern puppy who was much smaller/younger than Jam and they loved the puppies there.  (Yea!) We've taken Jam there several times and they've always been super nice.  

Jam's new thing is to position himself at the very front of the booth so that he can watch the traffic back and forth.  Sort of a watchdog thing.  He's checking everyone out.  So, he was the one to first see the lady approach our table, but he didn't get up.  He did move his head, which alerted me that something was up and I turned to see her making her way gingerly towards us.

Now there are generally two sorts of people who approach you with intent:
  1. Zombie hands: These are the people who are not going to ask, they just have their hands and arms outstretched like lifeless zombies lurching towards you ready to grab your guide dog puppy in training and pat him no matter what the rules are.
  2. Blurters or Oversharers: They are the ones who are approaching you, but not sure, might turn away, don't want to bother you, but are so drawn to the puppy that they ultimately can't help themselves and finally, just come out and share with you things that may or may not relate to the puppy, but occured to them and they had to share it with you.
This nice lady was an oversharer.  She approached as if walking a tightrope with her hands held out for balance and said, "He's working isn't he?  I can't pet him."

Then she looked up at me.  She had been staring at Jam the whole walk over.  Jam was looking back at her calmly.  I smiled, kindly (I hoped), "No.  I'm so sorry, but when the coat is on he is on duty and can't be petted."

"I knew that." She stared at Jam.  Then began to share: "We have a yellow lab.  They are such wonderful dogs."

"Yes, they are.  They are the best dogs."  I think this puppy raiser gig is part counselor to the public sometimes.

She sighed.  "He's beautiful."

We all returned to dinner and about five minutes later, Michele said, "Uh, oh.  Husband approaching."

I turned to find myself staring at a cellphone with the photo of a yellow lab who looked remarkably like Jam sitting by the side of a pool. "Wow.  That dog does look like Jam." I said.  The man beamed at me.

"I know!"  Then, having shared his photo, he went back to his dinner.

Jam sitting on the seatwell of the golfcart with Michele in the driver's seat.
 When we got to school, we decided to take the golf cart to the baseball field.  Jam got to experience Michele's driving. It made him a little nervous, but he got over it and settled down.
 Once we got to the game I put his jacket back on as I didn't want people coming up and petting him all night.  That's when I had to destroy a soul or two.
 For Jam was the only dog at the game.  And he was mighty attractive.  And just like at the Tampa Prep baseball game we went to, there were lots of small children running around.  Only this time, their parents seemed to have run off and left them to fend for themselves.  So when a small, blonde 4-5 year old girl ran up out of the blue and patted Jam on the head both Jam and I were a little taken aback.  Where did this small child come from?  Who did she belong to?  Where were her parents?

I'm thinking: Can I give them the "Look at the coat" look and then I don't have to be the destroyer of souls or am I actually going to have to do it?  Will she come back?  Perhaps it was a one off.
Jam looking at the Bucs standing out on the pitcher's mound getting instructions.

But no.  Here she comes.  She rushes up and she's a zombie hand.  I take her hand and say in my nicest voice, "Sweetie, I'm so sorry, but did you know, that when this puppy is wearing his blue coat, no one can pet him?  He's working?"

And her adorable little face just falls into despair.  I am officially the worst person in the world.  She says nothing but turns and runs away and never comes back.

Is there a counselor out there for me? Destroyer of souls is a heavy burden to bear.

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Very Observant Puppy

Sometimes I forget that Jam is a lab.  That he has a history of hunting and chasing in his genes.  Some things will just come naturally to him.

So the other day when I was down in the lower division library in a meeting I was surprised to find Jam staring very intently at something.  But we couldn't figure out what it was. We followed his line of sight.

This year's theme for reading in lower division is Soar Into Reading and they have bird houses all over the library.  Bird houses with fake birds living in them.  Bird houses with fluffy fake birds all around them.  Most of the faux birds are very small, but there were these two owls...

Out of the entire library, Jam had found the two big owls and he stared at them.  He still followed commands and even went over to pose by them.  But he was aware of them and what they were.

I thought he showed enormous restraint.  Good boy, Jam.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Orchid Thief

By Fred
An ordinary life examined closely reveals itself to be exquisite and complicated and exceptional...
The Orchid Thief

Jam doesn't actually steal the orchids; he just knocks them over on his way from here to there. I noticed today, however, that he seemed more curious about them, and maybe just a little more gentle than in the past.

We've had the orchids on the porch for years, and we never really expected much from them, but this year they've bloomed all at once (all except two plants), mostly white blooms with splotches.

It has been difficult to teach Jam about the orchids. Fortunately, dogs don't require wordy explanations (and I really don't have any). They eventually just want to be good, if only for a while, like today.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Jam: Not Being Helpful

Some days there are themes.  Today's theme was Unhelpfulness. Really, Word dictionary? Unhelpfulness isn't a word and helpfulness is?  Yet there is an unhelpful.  You, Jam were unhelpful today.

Take for example, when I got up and left Jam sleeping.  Snoring actually, during the full study hall this morning.  Sure, I had hooked his leash to my chair instead of the table, but that was such a small mistake.   What harm could there be in that?  And after all, he had been so good in his stays.  Letting me go into the workroom and grab a bottle of water or pick up some paper.

I stepped over the sleeping guide dog puppy and walked into the library workroom to ask my question.  Unfortunately, that led to another question and then another.  


I ran out into the library to see the table next to mine, which had been filled with freshman boys all standing but one.  The one was laid out with his legs extended to my former chair where he was pressing down with all his leg strength. Jam was on a tie down to that chair and was at the end of it.

In front of Jam were two upper classmen (Alison and Caleb) who told me that Jam and the chair, which, by the 47th law of physics that states that things tied to you will follow if you are strong enough to drag them, had woken up and tried to find me.  Alison and Caleb it should be noted were surrounding Jam but more importantly they were not touching Jam BECAUSE HE HAD HIS COAT ON.

So, my unhelpful guide dog puppy in training had put in action several students who had followed all the rules and been supremely successful in stopping Jam and holding him steady where he was and not violating the sanctity of the coat. 8-)

I love my students.  They are so wonderful.  I quickly relieved the freshman boy as he seemed close to expiring.  Then Jam and I took a walk.

Later, Christina and I started a weeding project.  We were trying to determine whether we had 90 feet of shelving weeded or if we still needed more books to weed.  So we were measuring with ribbon.

Jam at my feet licking the ribbon.
As we were walking around the shelves measuring and letting the ribbon flutter behind us, Jam would wait for a big curl to fall and then he would go to sleep on it as if it were a treasure to be protected with his body.  Soon enough we would come to a screeching halt as his body weight would hold us in place.


Jam at my feet while Christina and I measure out the ribbon.

Sleepy, blurry, doe eyes looking up at us.  So if unhelpful isn't a word and if Jam wasn't particularly helpful, then what happened?

Wait a minute.  Wasn't there some old trope about letting sleeping dogs lie? But didn't I do that this morning? Maybe, for Jam, it's more about, sure, let the sleeping dogs lie, but make darn sure you are there when they wake up!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Puppies and Babies

By Fred

There may be a lack of consensus about which is cuter: a puppy or a baby. Parents with new-born children cannot be trusted to give an honest opinion--they suffer from a lack of sleep. On the other hand, a small puppy is more like to receive praise and attention from total strangers, and puppy-raisers believe every word.

Sometimes these opposing camps come together, and the cuteness quotient can reach a dangerous level. We saw such an encounter at the Symphony Under the Stars this weekend, when Stephanie's puppy, Coastie, met up with a baby challenger in the crowd. Which one is cuter? Here's a picture of the winner consoling the runner-up.

Of course, Jam used to be one of these very small and cute puppies--there was a time when we couldn't eat at restaurants because people would stop by to stare at him--but now he is often ignored by the general public, especially when babies and small puppies are present, and we worry about his self-esteem. Here he is, being consoled by Cheryl.

Earlier in the day, we had a good time and a good meal at a tail-gate party in the parking lot. Like always, these are some of the nicest people in the world.

Several of the guide dogs puppies were there, including Mars, a new chocolate lab being raised by John. I believe Mars is the most sincere looking creature I've ever seen.

Yes, puppies are cuter than babies.

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Model of Perfection

Jam was a different dog on Friday.  Of course we had our walk! And we had a more casual day as it was the Senior-kindergartner picnic and all school convo, which is always exciting.
Jam relaxing on the gym floor during the all school convo.
Jam was very well behaved during the convo.  Except for that one moment when he flipped over on his back and waved his legs in the air like a drunken octopus.  Oh, yeah, was that during the lower division choir's song?  Was that when the headmaster looked over in our general direction?  

I quickly captured what seemed to be Jam's 23 legs and shoved him under my legs and next to the bleachers where he stayed in a down position for the remainder of the convo.

Jam at a Bonefish Grill high top table.  He's underneath looking out at the public.
That evening we decided that we would go out for dinner to celebrate the weekend and we headed over to Bonefish Grill, which seems to be the only restaurant capable of making mussels.  We sat outside at a high top table, which would be a new experience for Jam.

At first he was a little fussy, but he is really great out at restaurants and he settled down quickly.  What should have been disturbing to an intact 12 month old puppy was the silly Pomeranian dog that another customer had brought to the restaurant and was feeding at her chair.  Yes, she was taking food off her plate and putting it on a smaller plate for her dog and feeding him right there in front of my dog.

Jams head is that the lower right of the photo.  There is a small Pomeranian at the top left of the photo.  There is also a lady sitting on a chair giving Jam the stink eye.  She owns the pom.  
Jam didn't care.  The more that lady gave Jam the stink eye, the more he turned his classic lab profile slightly to the left and did a Brad Pitt.  Meaning everyone who walked by immediately saw Jam and said, "OOOOOH how beautiful!" (He is quite striking.) And no one paid her little dog any attention.

That's it Jam.  When faced with evil, small dogs who are being fed from the table, take relief in the zen of your inner beauty.

How I love him, my buddha lab.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Lesson Learned

Thursday was one of those busy days.  A day you just can't predict.  You think you have it all prepared, but then it goes INSANE.  

Usually, Jammy and I walk into school, past the speeding students and their sometimes equally speed demon parents and I was thinking about the morning's schedule.  MUN (Model United Nations club) had a Frosty sale at lunch.  We had never attempted this before and it was uncharted territory.  I needed to leave right before lunch and go with one of the senior students to Wendy's to pick 200 frosties and then get them back on campus in time to sell before the kids got out for lunch at 12:30.  And I had a lunch meeting to review student library proctor candidates with my head and assistant head student library proctors at 12:35.

But first I had a ton of grading to do.  That meant sitting on the main floor of the library and grading the works cited as I also kept an eye on what was going on around me.  They call it multitasking. Librarians are whizzes at it.  Usually Jam and I have our morning walk at 10 when we go to convocation, but we didn't go to convocation on Thursday for some reason.  I don't know why.  Perhaps I got caught up in my grading.  For whatever reason, we had a pee break, went back to work and about the time I needed to fly out to the Wendy's, I left Jammy with Christina.

Jammy is sitting in front of Christina in the library workroom with his head tilted to the right.

 He wasn't quite sure what was going on, but he knew something was up.  I was a bit stressed about the whole deal.  Alex and I drove to Wendy's and when we got there, we found only one person working the cash register.  All I needed to do was go up and ask for Charlie, but since there were three people ahead of me in line, I could very well barge up and say, "I just need Charlie, now, get outta my way!" and have them get all up in my face about cutting in line and being there first.  Especially when I had a student with me.

So, I patiently stood in line.  Right.  I stood in line, but NOT patiently.  I was toe tapping and looking around and trying to figure out which person back there was Charlie, because the minute I identified him, I was going to laser beam him over to me.  Seriously, what was he thinking putting only one person on the counter at lunchtime?

And then the VERY WORST THING HAPPENS: coupon lady appears.  I was next in line.  I was so close.  There was this blonde in front of me and she had just started to order when her friend comes out of the bathroom and steps up next to her.  (Oh yes, she did, and her purse was big and filled with coupons.) The blonde turns to her friend and says, "What do you want?"

Well, I wanted to poke her friend's eyes out.  But that was before her friend pulled out the ginormous wad of coupons. The old lady behind the register, who you know is on her third day at Wendy's, lets out a little moan.  "I don't know how to do coupons!"

"Oh. My. Freaking. God." But I say this inside my head where a little mini me is screaming and pulling out big tufts of hair.  "I just need to talk to Charlie!  I don't even need any food!!!!  Where the hell is Charlie?!!!"

So, three-day-old cashier says, "Charlie, I need some help!  I don't know how to do coupons."  And this tall man comes over and I try to laser beam him with my eyes, but it doesn't work.  The coupon lady has him in her talons.  She is throwing all this coupons on the counter and talking in coupon gibberish.  It's like Klingon for Trekkies only you get food as a reward.

Sure enough, Charlie starts punching buttons and things beep and three-day-old cashier watches with her big eyes as it goes in one ear and out the other.  Charlie looks up and I laser beam him again.

"Hi, I'm from Berkeley.  I have the 200 frosties."

"Oh yeah. They are out back.  Have you paid yet?"  I look at coupon lady.  She looks back at me and offers me a coupon.  "No thank you. No, I haven't yet."

"Well, let's do that and get you out back to get your frosties."

So we pay and go out back and he has 7 boxes of frosties to go in my Honda fit.  Mind you, we brought 3 coolers to put the frosties in, because we were told to bring coolers.  But the Honda Fit will fit a full size llama in it, I kid you not!

Photo of a Honda fit with a llama in the back seat.  The head is poked out the window.
And you didn't believe me.  I think sometimes, dear reader, you think I drift into hyperbole!

Anyway, back to the story, we here we have three coolers and 7 boxes of frosties and the frosties are melting and they are all very precariously placed in the boxes, not tightly placed or snugly placed, but loosely placed with room to move and dance around.  And did I mention that the tops are pretty open?  So they can slosh out if they feel like it?  Yea.  Great.

I'm really relaxed about this whole thing.  Oh, and Alex.  He's about 6'5".  No worries.  We'll make it.  You know how I drive right?  I can handle this.  I can drive really slow and take turns in a calm manner.

Quit laughing.

We make it to the school.  We sell the frosties.  I make my meeting.  We select SLPs.  The upshot is that Jammy is without a walk for a long time.  I am bushed and completely stressed and drained.  So when I take him back, I just go into my office with him.  I go into my office, because there is a speaker in the library who is currently speaking to 65 fifth graders on how her family emigrated from Cuba to America, which is a serious subject.

I sit in my chair and I lean over to Jam and I reach down and start to remove his coat.  This signals to Jam that play time as started.  And since he has been cooped up ALL DAY in the office, why should he spend one minute more in MY OFFICE?  So, he takes off. And because he is a big boy and doesn't run off, I didn't have him on a tie down.



Do you know about the puppy crazies?  Labs are particularly infected with them.  They will kick up their heels and then it's like their back legs spin in circles they move so fast.  Jam was GONE.  He was naked and gone.  I leaped up and was out in the library and every high schooler was staring out towards where the speaker was because of course, that's where Jam went.

He ran right to the back of the library.  Past all the high school kids and the tables, past the books.  Into the second study area and there was the big open space with 65 fifth graders.  Here was the big open space for Jam to do some wheelies.

And so he did.

Several of them.  To the delight of every one of the 65 fifth graders who had turned around to watch him pop a wheelie.

By this time, I had made it back to where he was and he saw me.  Jam blew past me to the left and went through the Spanish teacher's legs (his wife, a professor at USF was our speaker).  Jam danced around the tables and weaved in and out of the chairs as students and library personnel tried to reach out and grab him.  All us not saying a word, in deference to the speaker, who was still speaking.

It all came to an end for Jammy when he got close to Clay, a junior, who knows all of Jam's tricks.  Clay reached out and grabbed him and caught him.

There was a huge sigh of relief.

And a lesson learned.  No matter what.  Never skip the morning walk!!!