Friday, June 29, 2012

Handsome Docile Lad

Yesterday I met a friend out for lunch for her birthday at Red Mesa Cantina.  Jam was a pretty good boy at lunch, although we were in a fairly dangerous lunch spot: our booth was on the high spot of the garden outside overlooking the fountain area, so that the tables below us were at about shoulder height for Jam.  Or rather butt height for him if he turned his "most appealing side" around.  

Not that he ever gets up and changes position under a table. (Twice.) Sigh.

However, we were blessed that the table below us was filled with dog lovers as it was a mom and her son and a girlfriend out to lunch.  The friend was on the Jam side and the son was very interested in Jam.  The mom immediately explained that he was working and he couldn't be touched as I quickly tried to down Jam out of sight.  The boy was good, and kept an eagle out for Jam appearances and didn't seem disappointed by any full moons.

After lunch we went by the Dali museum gift shop for Theresa to pick up a present for a friend.  Jam had never been, so this would be a new experience for him.  As soon as we got out of the car, he started picking up his paws really fast indicating hot pavement, so we ran over to some grass.  I took off his coat so that he could busy before we entered.  

As previously mentioned in our puppy sitting post, Jam had disappointed us by marking once in Brian and Susan's house.  It was a community pillow that all of their dogs slept on, one of them being the male dog, but still, up until that point, I could claim that Jam hadn't ever marked in the house.  Now, all bets were off and I wasn't feeling so confident.

"Busy busy." I said as we stepped onto an expanse of green grass.  Jam wandered around and eyed me. He tried to sidle up to the eletrical box that was nearby, but that seemed like a dangerous combination, so moved him to more grassy expanses.  No deal.  There was going to be no peeing.  We walked some more.  The museum was getting closer.  He did finally pee and I did say busy busy before he did it, but I'm not sure if it counts as marking or not.

We went into the museum.  But I had the sense that Jam was a bit on edge.  Because we had been on vacation and Debbie had visited us with her rain, we hadn't had the time to take Jam on many outings and this was really his first big errand day.  

I wanted to get a photo of him in a down stay in the aisle. 

Jam, clearly not in a down stay. He's up and moving and actually going for his diaper bag.
 As soon as I got him in the down stay, my diaper bag swung down and Jam went for it and started biting it.  Then he got frisky.  IN THE MIDDLE OF THE GIFT AISLE. So, I have to detach the diaper bag from his mouth with a firm NO. And praise.  And then put him back in a down stay, with praise. And then try the photo again.

Jam in a down stay in the aisle.
 Success.  The car started thundering and then raining.  Well, it is the freaking, Dali museum, what do you expect?  That is why Jam's expression is so curious.  He's wondering

  1. Why is a car in the middle of the gift shop?
  2. Why is it raining in the car?
  3. Why is thunder coming from the car?

 We just left that aisle and went to stand by the weird giraffe. On our way there, the elevator security man says into his walkie talkie, "There is a service dog on the premises.  A Southeastern guide dog."  I always love it when they announce him.  

Of course, Jam is getting lots of smiles directed at him.  98% percent of the people smile at me or at him and don't meet his eye so that they don't rile him up.  But as we get to the door, there is this one lady who just has to meet his eye and say how handsome he is.  Honestly.  But Jam remains in his down stay and only wags his tail.  Good boy.  

As Theresa goes to pay for her purchases, I follow with Jam and down stay him.  Then the cashier delivers this line, "He looks like the most docile dog.  I just want to come over and hug his face. He's so handsome."

I barked out a laugh.  "Oh, he's on a knife's edge and it's not docility. But thank you! He is a breeder candidate and is unusually good looking." Jam just watched the people coming in and out.  

On the way out, we ran for the big expanse of grass and since it was a large expanse of grass, I didn't take off Jam's coat.  As we were walking over the grass to the car, Jam starts peeing.  No lifting of the leg, no indication that there is going to be some urination. No nothing.  Just a walking pee.

"NO! Honestly!" I look down at Jam.  In coat.  On the grass. You were walking dude.  I don't know what to do about the pee situation.  I have three weeks to consult with my AC on ways to deal with his peculiarity. I am flummoxed.

We went on to Dillards at International Mall where when we entered we were met by one of the happiest clerks ever.  I think it absolutely filled him with joy to see Jam.  As we walked in, this man was working the jewelry counter and he looked up and was overcome with a huge grin.  I needed to know where the elevators were and thought why not ask the happy, grinning person?

"What a handsome, young dog you have there!" He said.

"Yes, he is. Thank you. Can you point me to the elevators?"

"Oh yes!" And he proceeds to give me very detailed instructions, all the while watching Jam.  Then he says, "What is this handsome boy's name?"


"Oh! That is delightful!"  It was like talking to an elf.  So fun. We made it to the elevators were we waited and evidently so surprised the people getting off that they forgot they were getting off.  They just welcomed us on the elevators and said they were continuing to go down.  I said that I was going up and would wait until they came back up.  Then they realized they had to get off.

Jam outside the elevator
I attempted another photo of Jam in the aisle of Dillards by the bedding.  It would have been cute.  But again that darn diaper bag slid down and Jam was off to the races!  Tug of war with the bag and it was just before he was going to do the puppy crazy spin run that I was able to get him to sit and down.  Fortunately, Dillards has large aisles and we were in bedding.  Fortunately, he is older and more manageable.  Fortunately, he knows his commands and will do them.

Sometimes, he just choose to do them on a bit of a delay.  

So we double timed it out of there.  Not quite a run, not quite a walk.  And when we hit the parking lot and were on our way to the car, I saw a man staring at me.  Then I noticed his huge grin.  He was staring at Jam and Jam had just made his day. 

I wonder if he too thought Jam was a handsome, docile lad.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Puppy Sitting Jam

We just got back from vacation and while we were gone, Jam stayed with two very kind puppy sitters.  The first was a family with three children who had a former breeder named Stuart.  I had prepared a letter with descriptions of all of Jam's quirks and suggestions for how to settle him into their house.  

I'm coming to realize that perhaps I am not the most calm person, but I am trying to be a calm person. So, when I got a call as I was on my way to the house saying that there were painters outside and that the meet and greet with Stuart would have to take place inside, rather than outside as we had planned, no problem.  I was calm.  

I got to Dana's house and car outed Jam.  We walked up to the door and immediately the deep barks of Stuart greeted us.  A little flutter started near the region of my heart.  "Shhhhhh.  Calm yourself. He will be fine."

Dana opened the door and beckoned us in.  Stuart waited and Jam was eager to get to KNOW him, if you get my drift.  (Jam hasn't been fixed, Stuart is a former breeder, this situation is fraught with anthropomorphic emotional problems!) We started each dog on a loose leash on the meet and greet.  Jam and Stuart started to circle and sniff, there was some jumping, no hackles, but when Jam decided hump, Stuart decided No was NO.  But, there was still tail wagging.  

Inside my head, I thought, "This is not working.  I need a new pet sitter.  We leave tomorrow.  Holy Crap."  Outside my head I was silent and watching because Dana, the mother of three, was calmly telling her children to let the dogs get to know each other and not bother them.  She was calmly telling me that Jam was lovely and everything would be great and asking me questions about feeding.

Jam was super interested in humping Stuart, getting tossed off and barked at in no uncertain terms, dancing away and, I swear to God, laughing, before coming back to try for another hump.  Stuart, for his part, as a former breeder, was not interested in being humped and was quite emphatic in his barked NO.

Stuart, a bit of a pudgy yellow lab is lying down on the left with Jam lying down on the right.  Both are looking up at the camera.
Dana ended up sending Stuart out for a walk so that Jam could get to know the house and the two remaining kids.  I was looking at her and thinking inside my head, "I don't think Stuart is ever going to like Jam." But Dana, the zen master, walked me to the door and assured me that Jam and Stuart would become fast friends.  As you can see from the photo above, the next day, they had reached detente and Jam had realized that he did not have a humping partner.

A couple of days later, I got this photo of them holding paws while napping.

Jammy taking a nap on the floor with his legs stretched out and touching his front paws with Stuart's back paws while Stuart is napping.
Take it from the calm mother of three, a little bluster soon goes away.  I had also told her about Jam's quality of hard bonding.  He picks one person and that is his person to follow, shadow and look for at all times.  He picked the zen master, Dana.

Jam lying on the kitchen floor with his head between Dana's feet.
Another good thing about Dana's house was that it also had a cat: Hoot.  Jam had visited cats, but had never lived with a cat.  For about a week, he learned that "leave it" meant leave the cat alone and he obeyed that without fail.  Dana said he was the best puppy they have had in regards to dealing with Hoot.
Hoot the cat is at far left on the table top.  Jam is at far right turning to look at the camera.
Jam also spent time at black lab puppy Liz's house with puppy raiser's Susan and Brian in our North Group.  the pass off happened on Wed. and here is a hot of Jam's bootie under the table at The Thirsty Marlin.

Susan and Brian's house presented a challenge of a different sort.  Instead of children, they have smaller dogs (two, a male and female) and another Southeastern Guide Dog puppy named Liz (about five months old and a female black lab).  Jam needed to control himself and he was only moderately successful at this.  Perhaps having the larger and more commanding Stuart at the last house and now having the smaller and much less commanding male toy dog at Liz's house put Jam in the frame of mind that somehow he was the king of this house.  When he arrived, he walked around, found a community dog pillow and decided that as an intact male he needed to state his authority. He marked it.  Elapsed time from door to pillow: 3 minutes.

Fortunately, the pillow was washable.  Now, marking was one of things that I had highlighted as something we were working on with Jam and they would need to watch out for.  However, Jam had, until this moment, never marked in the house.  But this is one of those moments when you are listening to the story and as she gets to the part where Jam walks up to the pillow, in your head you go, "oh no, oh no, don't do it, don't do it." We are so sorry, Susan!

He didn't mark again, thank goodness.

Jam relaxing on Susan's lovely wood floor, which he then scratched up in his eagerness to greet me.
But he left his mark in other ways, ways like nail marks on the floor and poor Liz having to be on tie down more than usual because she and Jam were CAPTAIN CRAZYPANTS times two.  Liz would egg him on and I think having established himself as the king, it was a status he needed to uphold.


Susan and Brian were lovely though and said none of this. These descriptions are just me reading between the lines.

I remember a time when Fred and I were waiting for our first puppy and we puppysat for Tim or as we called him, Tim the Destroyer (name has been changed to protect the innocent!). Tim was a lovely black lab and was about two months from going back in for training.  At the time, we were new and we really didn't get any instructions about Tim other then feeding and general info.  Nothing special to watch for, nothing to work on.  So, we were a little unprepared for the insane puppy that appeared.

Ah Tim.  I still remember that you would NOT stay out of my yarn room.  It was like doggie crack, calling your name.  "Tim, come and eat me! Unroll me! Take me out of the bins and toss me around!"  Tim could never be let off leash or off tie down.  He would run immediately to the yarn room and wreak havoc. I still get a little shaky over the memories.

But Tim was sweet.  He had a squishy, soft  muzzle. He loved to cuddle.  He walked well and he was a good eater with Willow and treated her well too.  So, we were not scared away from puppy raising.  Rather we learned that puppies, like children may not behave well when not around their parents.  And try as we might to give a long list of instructions to warn of every possible scenario, we might miss one or two.  What may save us though is our puppy's innate cuteness and sweet nature.

And the kind, forgiving nature of puppy raisers.  For that we are ever grateful! Thank you to Dana's family and to Susan and Brian for taking such good care of our rowdy little Jam.  It was comforting to know he was safe and well cared for.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Secret Photos

My Dad likes to send me random photos of things that he likes: pretty flowers, javelinas that are in walking by his office window, new haircuts my mom gets and any service dog that he sees when he is out and about.   I love getting these photos as they are usually accompanied by some funny remark.

The service dog photos are a little different though.  Those I think he takes on the sly without letting the dog's owner know that he is capturing their puppy for posterity. I never thought about it until yesterday when I was stopped at Nature's Food Patch, our neighborhood grocery store and go to dinner spot for a quick salad.  I had put Jam into a down stay by the cold drinks and was taking a photo while I waited for Fred to get his salad from the amazing salad bar.  I was approached by one of the store managers.

Guide dog puppy in training Jam lying down.
Guide dog puppy in training Jam lying down.

"Hi!" He said as he strode up to me.  He was a little out of breath as if he thought he might have missed us and hurried out from behind a counter to talk to us. "You know I have a photo of him on my phone."

I looked at him.  "You do?" I smiled.  We go to Nature's Food Patch a lot. We like salads and even more, not cooking during the week. 

Encouraged, he continued, "Yes.  He or she?"


"He has a bag of treats in his mouth and is sitting." He smiled at me.  "He's so beautiful."

Now at this point, I could quiz him on the bag of treats he says are in Jam's mouth (Seriously! What?!! Fred says it never happened.), but I decide that quizzing this clearly besotted man is not the right thing to do, so instead I start talking about Jam's impending IFT date and how smart he is.  Jam is calmly lying down and being good and not lunging for crumbs under the drink holder. (Thank you!) 

Fred comes over to take Jam and the manager walks away with his secret photo of Jam.  

At school, during one of the all school convos, I happened to sit next to one of the girls who was taking photos of Jam with her phone.  She showed the photo to her friend.  I caught just a glimpse of it.  

"Oh, can I see?" I asked.

"Sure." She showed me.  It was a great shot of Jam.  I told her so.  She said she had a photo of Jam as her phone background.  I asked her to send me the shots she took of Jam.

It made me think of all the people who take secret photos of our puppies and think happy thoughts of them or dream big dreams for them.  They are so excited to get to know one of our puppies.  I know my student was thinking Jam would make it.  And the store manager will always ask about Jam.

Guide dog puppy in training Jam at the checkout counter.
Guide dog puppy in training Jam at the check out counter.

At the checkout line Jam was ogled by three checkout girls.  They commented on how pretty he was, how good he was and how calm he was.  We gave them our hopes for his bright future as a guide dog once he goes in for training and they nodded and looked down on him with optimistic gazes.  Yes, they believe in Jam.

We believe in Jam.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Jam Will Never Poo Again!

Today we had our meeting at Countryside Mall.  So, since Jam was still feeling a little snakey about the backyard, I took him for a walk before the meeting.  We went around the block.  Wouldn't you know it, as soon as it looked like he had picked out a spot and was about to do something, the people who owned the house came out the front door (grandma and grandchild).  The little girl wanted to pet Jam.

All thoughts of poo immediately retreated, so to speak.  Jam was now more interested in the approaching people and I felt a vague need to take my plastic bag out of my pocket and wave it like a white flag as if to say, "See, if he had poo'ed in your yard, I would have picked it up.  I am a good neighbor."  Instead, I stood there awkwardly and looked a bit shifty eyed.

I moved Jam out to the sidewalk and said in a rather loud voice, "OK, Jam you need to sit." And then I made Jam sit and go down.  Jam is much more controlled in a down stay than in a sit.  When they got closer I explained about Jam's situation and that Jam needed to be calm in order to be petted.

Our new neighbor was AWESOME!  Everytime she approached, Jam would pop up and she would step back.  I would make him sit and down and then she would try again.  Until finally, he was calm.  By then her granddaughter had decided that Captain Crazypants was to crazy to pet and she didn't want to pet him.  But Annette did and Jam was very good.

I was so happy to meet such a nice neighbor.  And Jam was really tired out.  We were able to walk on two or three houses down before he had to poo.  Those neighbors stayed inside, thankfully.  

Guide dog puppy in training Jam sitting at food court table.
Guide dog puppy in training Jam sitting at food court table.

When we got to the meeting, Jam was anxious to meet everyone.  Fred thinks that if Jam is able to at least sniff all the dogs he is much better able to stay in the circle of acceptance than outside.  I don't know.  I just know that Jam had a good poo and was in the circle of acceptance and life was good.  I was even feeling very good about myself because just that morning I had cleaned the dogs' ears and part of the obedience was doing some of the tests from the AKC Canine Good Citizen Test, which includes having someone massage the ears and paws.  Little did I know another paw massage was coming up later (dum dum dum! foreshadowing!!).

Soon enough, AC Carolyn had sent us on our way and we were off to see what we could find on her list.  We did have one marking problem.  GRRR.  We have been avoiding all upright and vertical surfaces and keeping an eagle eye out for any slight veering to the left, but Jam got a quick one off on a planter.  I was able to clean it up quickly.  ShamWows are very good at cleaning up pee-sasters. Even small ones.  He never marks inside, but Malls are tricky and dogs can feel like they are outside.

Guide dog puppy in training Jam sitting in front of noisy arcade games.
Guide dog puppy in training Jam sitting in front of noisy arcade games.

We were still making our way around the mall with our older dog group when I happened to notice Jam's butt.  Frankly, I look at his butt a lot just to make sure he isn't holding anything back.  And sure enough, he had the gopher butt.

"Fred! He has to poo!"  Fred started to speed walk towards Sears with Jam.  Sylvia followed with Denny.  Fred and Jam were really going and made it to the doors without any problems.  They made it outside and Jam took the opportunity to water some more plants.  I pointed out a spot that was wider than the small median where they currently were and it was mostly mulch and a couple of flowers, so this would be a different type of ground on which to relieve himself.

Jam and Fred and I walked over to it and Jam hopped up the curve and started to twirl.  It seemed a bit odd to me, that a dog who is normally really concerned about things "being right snakey" would just hop up on some strange median without even looking at it.  But he did.  He didn't look or smell or even take into consideration that there might be little flowers that he was crushing (he wasn't).

He poo'ed and then he did a crazy thing.  He did a little leap, a leap high into the air and landed by Fred. Then he stuck out his back leg, which was now the color of night and started to shake it violently.  You see, Jam had twirled and stopped to poo on top of an anthill and those ants were extremely opposed to being covered in excrement.  Or having their house stopped up with big logs of well, you get my point. So to express their displeasure they had run screaming out of their hill and raced up his paw.

"Oh my God!" This is me, not taking any photos of his paw and swiping off ants. I can't understand those photojournalists who are the only ones on the scene when someone is going to set themselves on fire and they just stand there and shoot film.  Really?  Get a blanket and stop, drop and roll that crazy nutjob!

"Do you see his leg?" This is Fred, equally discomposed and frantic knocking ants off his paw as Jam is trying to bite the little bastards as they are trying to bite him.

I went in between his toes and looked for every little ant I could find and we got them all.

Now Jam will never poo again!

Update:  Jam has pooped.  I'm so relieved.  It seems our backyard is safe now and he is perfectly willing to walk around all parts of it once again.  He is also willing to relieve himself on any and all spots in the yard.  I'm glad I am not a mind reader.  I would think a mind reader would get trapped in the tangled mess that is Jam's brain.

Friday, June 8, 2012

It's Right Snakey Out There

Fred's mother, when looking into dark, mysterious undergrowth, would say, "Looks right snakey in there."  Meaning in essence, she wasn't setting foot in that space as it was a possible snake pit.

Lately, we have begun to suspect that Jam has actually seen a snake. Or seen something that looked "right snakey" and doesn't want to step foot out in the side yard again.

At first he wouldn't step off the porch.  He would go to the edge, peer out into the distance and you could hear him say it.

"No Ma'am.  I will not step off this porch!  It is right snakey out there!"  

But gradually, after a bit, he would step off the porch and down to the side of the yard.

"No! I will not step off the stones! It looks right snakey out there!"

This attitude of course will not stand.  He must be able to walk around and go whenever and wherever we need him to go.  Wet or dry, he needs to do his business.

This morning, Fred and Jam had a small battle of wills.  Jam had determined that the edge of the deck was as far as he would go and he was unwilling to do his business at all.  This was after a full evening's sleep and breakfast, Jam was chock full of "business" so to speak.

Fred brought him inside.  After about half an hour, Fred tried again, only this time, he got the leash and tried to take him through the gate and into the front yard for some busy work.

Nothing doing.  Those orifices were closed for business.  Fred waited an hour and they went out again.


"It's snakey out there."  Jam hopped back onto the deck and looked longingly at the door inside.

A little later, I decided to try and walk him around the block.  We went out the gate and through the yard and over to the neighbor's yard.  It was now about 9:30 am.  Jam was bursting at the seams with poo.

We got to the tall, wet grass and Jam stepped out onto it delicately.  He stopped and stared off intently.  

"It's right snakey out there! No grass for me!" and he hopped onto the sidewalk.  Seriously?  There was no snake.  None.  Just wet grass.  I, however, had an evil plan.  On the other side of the sidewalk is more grass.  It was the neighbor's actual green, green lawn.  And there was a green lawn space between two oak trees that are bordered with oyster plants.  Jam immediately tried to jump into the oyster plants.  

I positioned myself firmly in the center of the lawn.  Equidistant from each bed.  The leash just reached the beginning of each bed, but it wouldn't allow Jam poo access to the planting beds.

Jam ran from side to side trying to contain his poo, all the while trying to figure out a way to poo on the oyster plants and not on the snakey grass.  Finally, it was too much.  The poo would not be contained and he had to let it out.  He did 5, count them 5, twirls and then a big poo.

I think I heard a sigh.

But later, when we got back out on the porch, it still seemed a bit snakey to him.

So, we will continue this desensitization plan until he is completely over this strange sensitivity to wet grass.

Or snakes.

It just might be right snakey out there. ;-)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Good Bye Photo

Tuesday was our last official day in the library, so we took our annual last photo with our guide dog puppy.  We thought it would be a breeze as HRH and Bingo hadn't put up much of a fuss.

Jan, Christina and I are posing facing the camera as Jam has turned his back to look at Jan.
Jam, however, proved obstreperous.

Jam is still looking at Jan and now Jan is talking with Jam and not posing for the camera.

Every time we tried to take a photo with the timer, he would wait and watch Jan instead of looking at the camera.
Jam is bored and licking himself, I'm trying to stop this activity and Jan and Christina are posing.
 Then he got bored and started looking for other things to do, like lick himself, which always makes for a great photo.

Jam has a cute thoughtful expression on his face and I am thinking and looking off to the side.

Jan snapped a shot of me thinking about what we should do, but I was at a loss.

Everyone is smiling, looking at the camera and Jam is front and center looking handsome.
Finally, we gave up.  It just wasn't going to work.  Then Christina remembered that Jyl in the Business Office is a photographer and actually knows what she is doing.  So here we are on the final day of the 2011-2012 school year with our handsome boy Jam!

Thank Jyl!  We couldn't have done it without you.

Joseph A. Merluzzi (JAM) has left the building.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Jam Meets Darth Vader

On Saturday Fred was sanding upstairs (which is why Jam and Willow and I were downstairs!).  Fred had bought a super duper mask because he was getting all the paint off of our doors and these doors are from 1923 and you just don't know what kind of paint they used.  Better safe than sorry.

Hence, the Darth Vader look.

Fred with his respirator on looking like Darth Vader.
But it did give us a good exposure for Jam.  We decided that while the babygate was up blocking the upstairs, that we would have Fred come down and surprise Jam with his mask.  Kind of like they do for the canine good companion test.

One portion of the canine good companion test is to have the puppy in a room and have a person walk in dressed normally.  Then that person walks out and walks back in with sunglasses or a hat on.  (This test is the one that HRH Berkeley failed.) Now, I have been working with Jam on not being scared of hats, sunglasses, earphones, costumes, etc.  This respirator test would be a really good measure to see how well we have been doing.

So, we filmed it.  I won't tell you how he did.  After all, how well did Luke Skywalker react?  

"Jam, I am your father!"

Yeah, Jam kicked Luke's pansy butt! 8-)

Jam goes in for training on July 21st. Six more weeks.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Baker's Secret

Jam was only a little bit bad.  It was only one little paw on the seat.  What did one paw mean in the grand 

Jam in the front seat with one paw on the seat.
scheme of things? Really? OK.  One paw is the start of a long slide into juvenile delinquency.  I know, I know.  It must be stopped.

So, Jam was not allowed to leave that little paw up on the seat.

It's all about consistency and as you may remember, Jam is nothing if not stubborn.  The paw and front seat fight is a silent battle we have been fighting for months.  He will get in and turn around and then right as I am about to sit down, sneak a paw up on the chair.

There!  One paw.  One small paw.  It's not even comfortable.  But he's touching it.  Look, he's touching it.

He's just waiting for me to cave and say, "Fine, leave your paw up there.  Just sit up there, I don't care. Whatever."  But I never do."  Poor Jam.  I'm just as stubborn.

On Sunday, after I got back from graduation, Fred asked me if I would do him a favor.  I was reading, so this favor asking was a bit of an annoyance, but I knew that Fred was working upstairs on the door to the bathroom and that I was basically sitting on my butt doing nothing and saying no was not very nice.  I said I would help.

Fred was baking bread and he is REALLY into baking bread.  He started to tell me about to what temperature the oven needed to be preheated and that he had the timer started and that it needed to go to 450 degrees and then I needed to remove the wax paper (the dough was rising) and put it in the oven.

I waited and the timer went off.  340 degrees.  Poo.  I set the timer again.

Ding.  370 degrees.  Double poo.  This new oven is a sloth.  It takes forever to heat up.  I checked the loaf of bread.  It was rising.  I put the wax paper back down.  I considered just putting it in the oven.  But NO, that would be wrong.  So, I set the timer again, and I ran upstairs to change into shorts and a t-shirt. Now, usually when I run upstairs for anything, I have a shadow.  But this time, I ran and I didn't have a shadow.  But I also had 2 and a half minutes to change and get back downstairs.  What could possibly go wrong?

I came back down and the oven was at 450 degrees.  Hooray!  Finally.  I could put the rotten loaf in the oven.  Then I noticed the wax paper.  It was twisted off the loaf.  That's odd.

Then I looked at the loaf.

Horrors!  Someone had shoved their big fat nose right into the loaf!

The loaf with a big fat caved in spot on the right hand side where someone's nose was shoved in.

Who would do such a heinous thing?

Close up of Jam and his big nose.

Well, who has the biggest nose?  Jam. That's a Jam-sized nose print.

The nose bread in the oven baking.

 "Uh.  Fred!"


"Jam stuck his nose in the bread!"


"Jam stuck his nose in the bread!"

"How did that happen?"

"Uh. I went to get some shorts and a t-shirt and he just shoved his nose in the bread?"

Silence.  It was kind of a mad silence.

Close up of Jam and his big nose.

I decided that I should put the bread in the oven anyway. The other half was fine.  It didn't have a nose print in it at all!

Nose bread baked!

Fred ate some of the bread and he liked it.  He doesn't stay irritated very long.  After all, how many people have a Labrador for a baker's assistant?

Close up of Jam and his big nose.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Quick Mark

By Fred
The frogs are out again, squawking and splashing in the fish ponds. I like to watch them when they get still and serious about catching some innocent flying creature that gets too close, like one of the small dragonflies that are on constant patrol. A frog's tongue darts out and back quickly and with precision while the rest of him is perfectly still, a skill that might be compared to that of a major league baseball player hitting a fast ball, except that all frogs can do it.

Jam, looking for a tree
Recently Jam has developed a desire to mark his territory. Male dogs, in particular, are naturally driven to make themselves known to other dogs, to pee up high so that the scent can travel. Of course, this is not desirable behavior for guide dogs, stopping every few feet to mark a tree, so we try to stop Jam whenever his biological imperative tempts him to raise his leg.

But knowing this, Jam has become proficient at the quick mark, which is not unlike a frog's tongue darting out for a dragonfly. Fast.

The only solution for this, as far as I can see, is to avoid lamp posts, fire hydrants and other vertical temptations altogether. So now all he sees are wide open spaces and clear sidewalks. He is adjusting...