Sunday, September 30, 2012

Coach Won't Get Out of the Car

I guess I blame myself. I was trying to figure out a way to make Coach, our Southeastern guide dog puppy, love the car.  Ellen, another puppy raiser, gave me some ideas for making Coach love the car and I decided to try it with his favorite toy and his favorite treat because we can't feed him a meal every time we go out in the car!

So, I started loading up a kong with peanut butter.  But I didn't fill it with peanut butter.  I just smeared it around the inside so there was a really good 5 minutes a fun in the kong.  Unfortunately, on Friday, I had outsneakied myself because on Friday I needed to drive to the fieldhouse, then drive to Academy of the Holy Names, then drive back to Berkeley, then drive home, then drive back to Berkeley for tailgate then drive home.

Getting Coach in the car was no problem.  He ran into the car.  Getting Coach into the car at Berkeley for the Academy was no problem, as the kong still had major peanut butter smells.  Coming back was the problem.

We walked up to the car and Coach eyed the car warily.  I opened the door and pulled out the twice used kong and held it out to Coach.  "Car in!" I said cheerfully.

Coach sniffed the kong and then gave me a baleful look.  It was clear the jig was up.  He knew there was no peanut butter in the kong.  I pulled the kong back and looked inside.  Crap!  Why did I do that? I just confirmed it!

He was still staring at me.  I stuck a finger in the kong and way down at the end was some hardened peanut butter.  I scraped a nail against it and came up with a smear of peanut butter.

"See, it has peanut butter!" I held out my hand and the kong but Coach was holding out for fresh peanut butter.  I squashed the old peanut butter against the ouside of the kong and held it under his nose.  The tip of his tongue started to come out.

"Aha! You do want it!"  I had him now.  I moved back and tossed the kong into the car.  I stood and in my commanding voice said, "Car in."

Coach looked at me and at the kong.  Then he started forward and hopped in.

Later, at school, I had to go to the library's workroom where we kept a jar of peanut butter and refill the kong with fresh.  Who knew Coach was such a demanding fellow?

But the real kicker came on Saturday when I started carrying two kongs smeared with fresh peanut butter.  I had learned my lesson and wasn't going to get caught out with old, dried up peanut butter on a kong again.  I had one kong for the trip out and one for the trip back.  I might even start carrying emergency peanut butter in my bag.  Like emergency wipes.  (Do they have tiny jars?  I have to look into that!)

I think he is so happy with this new routine that he's decided that he doesn't want to leave the car.  What do you think? Mind you this is after Fred has asked him to leave the car and I have started to ask him to leave.  Remember, this is a dog who couldn't wait to jump out of the car as soon as possible!


Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Nearly Expensive Poop Bag

By Fred
We were already soaked at the kickoff of our regular Friday night football game last night. See the video below. Notice how Coach is tucked on away on the bleachers (smart). Berkeley scored a touchdown just a few minutes after the kickoff, and we left a few seconds after that. We are lightweights.

Our washing machine has been acting up, and we had already resolved to buy a new one. This morning, though, I did a web search and discovered that the machine's drain filter might be clogged. To get to the drain, I was convinced that we needed to take the dryer out of the way, which means that I would need to ask Cheryl for some help. And so we struggled with it, in a very tight space, until the dryer was on the floor in front of the washer.

But then another web search told me that the washer's filter was actually in front of the washer (not in back), so we had to wrestle the dryer back on top of the washer. Fun.

I took off the front cover, removed the filter and saw this mass of black shiny stuff--no wonder the water wouldn't drain. Lesson learned: take the poop bags out of your pocket before washing clothes.
Poop bag after its extrication

Thursday, September 27, 2012

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

We had just gotten to the point where we thought treats weren't necessary any more.  He was walking, albeit slowly and with deliberation, up to the car door entrance and then slowly putting one leg in and then they other before cautiously lifting his body into the car and turning to give us a look of utter sadness.

"Oh why.  Why do we have to ride in these obnoxious conveyances? They are so abysmally depressing and just add to my general feeling of despair."

Coach, turning his head toward me with a look of utter sadness.
Coach, turning his head toward me with a look of utter sadness.

However, since he was getting into the car in one smooth, but slow journey, we were happy. 

Until yesterday afternoon that is.  Yesterday afternoon for some reason Coach decided that smooth and slow progress was not going to be achieved.  In fact a full on work stoppage was in order.  He put on the brakes about 5 feet out.  I managed to open the doors and get my bags in the car.  Then the cheerleading began.

The cheers fell on deaf ears.  As they said about Casey at the Bat, "There was no joy in Mudville." And  Coach was definitely from Mudville last night.  His feet were planted firmly and with a wide stance.  He had a bit of a mulish look.

I did get him to come forward after a few minutes, but we reached a standstill again.  I was running on empty.  My enthusiasm for cheering was waning and I think Coach could tell I didn't really mean it.  I looked at the bottom of the car floor and there were several large dog cookie crumbs.  Coach had moved up a couple of steps.

I took up the slack in the leash and held the crumb out to him.

"Cookie?" Is this really a cookie if it is a crumb? He looked at me.  I think he knew I was on shaky ground.  He looked again at the cookie crumb.  He didn't care.  It was the principle of the thing.  He had a point to make.

"Oh Coach."  I patted his head.  "Come on, good boy."  I put the crumb on the door jamb and waited.

Coach waited and then, slowly, like a large black snail, he moved forward ponderously.  As if all his bones were encased in cement.  He ignored the crumb and got in the car.

Well, really, who wants a crumb anyway?  I am just happy we reached an accord.  Friday, we will see where we stand once more.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Walking Around Naked

Today, I made a major mistake.  I had Coach with me in the office and I needed to run over to another colleague's office and give her some paperwork.  I grabbed the folder and picked up Coach's leash.  

"Come on.  Let's go." Coach hopped up happily enough and trotted along beside me.  We walked through the library and up the hallway.  I stepped out of the library and started to walk through the Aye Arboretum.  Across the mound, I could see a couple of faculty members do a double take at me.  I was wearing a new outfit, but it wasn't THAT unusual.  Well, they were palazzo pants, but I thought they were rather stylish, and I got them on sale for $6! (I know! Seriously! Stein Mart rocks the sales, but I digress.) Then I noticed that one of the teachers was really giving me quite a look.

I mean, a real look.  Like a "what are you doing?" look. So I looked down.  

I had a naked dog.

OMG!  A naked dog.  A visible naked dog!!  Right there in the middle of everything! Holy naked puppy Batman!

I hot footed it over to the office and dropped off the paperwork.  What had I been thinking?  Walking out of the library without his coat on?  I don't know.  It was just one of those days, I guess.  Fortunately, I was not attacked by ravening hordes of students wanting to pet Coach.  Usually, the ravening hordes come out at lunchtime and we were having wings today.

However, later in the day, I did take off his coat for some specific groups to love on him.

Two girls from Coach Daly's advisory are petting Coach.
Two girls from Coach Daly's advisory are petting Coach.

Coach Daly's advisory got to have some personal time with Coach.

Maddie gives Coach a big fake kiss.
At the Homecoming meeting one of the girls gives Coach a big fake kiss.

At the Homecoming meeting, I took off his coat upon request so the girls could love him up.  He is the most amazingly calm dog at being loved by oodles of sweet girls.  Jam would have been dancing on the ceiling.

Coach rolling around with his coat off.  Coat = Serious!
Coach rolling around with his coat off.  Coat = Serious!

But after lunch, he was feeling frisky, so I let him roll around upstairs while we weeded books and waited for a freshman class to come and pick out reading material.  Yes, they still assign fun reading and aren't I the happy librarian who works at school where teachers love reading and want their students to love it as well.  I was in heaven suggesting books to kids. HEAVEN!!!

Bored Coach lying on the carpet sleeping.
Bored Coach lying on the carpet sleeping.

Coach was mostly bored.  I ran around finding books.  He was in a sit stay or down stay.  However, at the end of the day, we took off his coat and he proceeded to be loved by very happy students.

A circle of students all petting Coach who is lying on his back.
A circle of students all petting Coach who is lying on his back.
Lesson learned: check your guide dog puppy for nakedness before leaving the office!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Off the Wall Comments

Bathroom Habits

So, during AP US History, one of the junior boys raises his hand and asks, not for help finding a monograph or in determining whether a website is credible, but asks me: "I know this is off topic, but where does Coach go to the bathroom?"


Well, I paused for a moment.  Then I pointed to the grass outside at the south of the library and the grass  to the north.  "He goes out there and there. And he also goes over in the pine straw by the Dimmitt Gym."

"OK."  He nodded and went back to work.

Change of Color

Earlier in the week I had a freshman class that was called for lightening, meaning that only three students showed up because the rest were being held on the other side of campus.  The four of us were having a great time talking about books and Coach.  Then Rachel, out of the blue said, "I love Coach best of all.  Sometimes I want him to have a pink coat so that only I can pet him."

Pink and black.  It is very fashionable.

Giant Balls in the Hallway

On another day when I arrived for class I happened to see giant balls in the hallway.  Now, it isn't every day that Coach gets an opportunity to interact with giant balls.  So, of course we had to run down and see what his reaction would be.

Coach went up and sniffed them.  Then he poked one a bit with his nose and it moved, but it didn't startle him.  He glanced up at me as if to say, "Yeah, it's a giant ball.  So what?"

Some days you just don't know what school will throw at you!  

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Coach and the Car: Not Braking, but Not Speeding Either

Last Friday Coach and I were walking out to the car and we happened to meet Sara, Paula and Jyl in the parking lot.  As we all were talking and walking to our cars, Coach had gotten sight of his car and had begun the process of letting me know that he was not happy about getting in the car.

Step 1. Let Your Puppy Raiser Know You Don't Like What Is Coming Up.

At the back of the car, usually about the back wheels, Coach will put on the brakes.

Usually, this is accompanied with his pig look, as in "I am not  budging from this spot!"  Of course, when he did this, the ladies all said "Oh what is this?" and I had to explain that he didn't like cars and we were working on his overcoming his car aversion.  

Step 2. Start Walking as Slowly as Possible

They all nodded and stayed where they were, staring at the stubborn Coach. Oh.  We were going to have an audience. This would be embarrassing. The next stage of the process consists of me being a cheerleader and getting Coach as close as possible to the car and not letting him back up.  Always moving forward is the thought.

So I start by opening the passenger side door as wide as possible, so he can see his toy and that there will be a treat there soon.

Coach takes a step forward. "Yay!  Good boy!" I reel in the leash.  

Coach gives me the pig eye.  He walks another step closer to the car, "What a good boy! Yea Coach!" If only I had some pom poms.  Perhaps that would make him jump in faster. Sara, Paula and Jyl start to join in, "Go Coach! Good boy!"  

Coach is gaining some momentum.  Three steps.  More cheering. I tap the floorboard.  "Car in. Coach.  Car in."  

Step 3. Make Your Puppy Raiser Really Work For It

He's at the door peering in as if the floor is covered with snakes and I am asking him to leap in and make nice with the reptiles.  The girls are still cheering faintly for Coach.  I'm repeating "car in" and patting the floor board.  Coach gives a small sigh and lifts his front leg.  He turns to look at the ladies saying his name and puts his other front let in the car.  With a small jump, he is in.   

There is massive applause.  Cheering by all for Coach.

Just like McKayla Maroney and her tumblr, Coach is not impressed.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Jam's Report Card

Here is Jam's report card.  I think it is a pretty good report card.  Here is the meat of the report:

"Oh Jam.  There is never a dull moment with this happy and silly boy. 8-) He has adjusted to the kennel and always looks like he has something he wants to smile or say something.  He is still very immature and young but is a smart boy.  I am really looking forward to working with him more and seeing his full potential."

Woot! Smart.  Potential.

We'll take that.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Great Dane

By Fred
Human friends and dog friends at a
restaurant before the dog party.
Yesterday our friends invited us to a dog party in St. Pete. And because they were taking their dog, Jackson, a big and wonderful yellow lab, we decided to take Coach and Willow. Of course, Willow, our 11-year-old chocolate lab, rarely gets to go anywhere in the car, much less to a formal dog party downtown, so she was very exited.

After a meal, we walked over to the enclosed square for the dog party. Just like at most human parties, this dog party had a character who was soaking up more than his share of attention--in this case, a giant Harlequin Great Dane. Otherwise, it was a pretty normal collection of breeds and owners, all there to raise money for some good cause, I'm sure.

The Harlequin Great Dane
For Willow, this was sensory overload. So many people and dogs, all acting very poshly, with a minimum of barking and butt-sniffing and leash-tugging. The high point of Willow's evening came when the Great Dane (the prince) wandered over to give her forehead a sniff. I've never seen such a look on her face: such a mixture of heart-struck love and terror. She literally trembled as she dared to look up into his dark eyes.

A very fussy photo of Willow
as the Great Dane reaches down to kiss her
For Coach, this was something new. He was out of uniform, a civilian. And while he already has more social skills than most of those other dogs, he was accompanied by a very protective mom (Cheryl) who kept him on the fringes.

We always are careful when it comes to our guide dog puppies and dog socialization, whether on the sidewalk or at PetSmart or at a big dog party downtown. We want Coach to be accustomed to being around other dogs, but we also need to be protective of him. After all, he is a special dog (if not a prince). So Cheryl watched over him like a nun escorting a young girl down a dark alleyway. Needless to say, Coach didn't get to meet the Great Dane.

And Willow. From now on whenever we leave the house with Coach and she has to stay home alone, she will think about the party she is missing and the Great Dane who is waiting for her there.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Lions, Freshmen and Break Sales

Friday was a super busy day for Coach and me.  I taught 5 classes and we had a student library proctor (SLPs) break sale.  The SLPs are hoping to raise enough money to name a puppy next year!  We made almost $200 dollars with this break sale. Woot! Coach's walkathon page will be going up very soon and all proceeds to it will be added to the SLPs naming effort.  Stay tuned for the link. 8-)

We had a huge amount of donuts and some bagels for the break sale. Raichell and  Carly helped set up.
We had a huge amount of donuts and some bagels for the break sale. Raichell and  Carly helped set up. 
 Coach and I couldn't stay for much of the sale as I needed to get the Straz classroom set up for my freshman seminar class and it is quite a hike over to it!

Coach gets some head pats by Kimberly after class.
Coach gets some head pats by Kimberly after class.

Those classes went really well.  We talked about how to be better Google searchers and also about the dangers of emotional posts on twitter (or facebook for that matter). Think before you post. Here is one of my advisees with Coach after class.

I had also signed up to go to the Palm Harbor Lion's White Cane fundraiser at Publix on Saturday at Alderman and 19.  Originally I was supposed to go at 10.  Gail, a yellow goldadore was going at 9 and Ava a cute 8 week old black lab was coming at 11.  I can be shy and reticent at things like this and I really prefer to go to them knowing that people I know are going to be there, hence my sneaky plan to be there at 10 in between Ava and Gail.  Well, yesterday, Gail had surgery to remove a cyst (all is well, but she is in the cone of shame and can't go out in public).  So, Gail couldn't make her 9 curtain call.  Time for Coach to step up.

Crickets chirping on the email line.

I reread the email.  Poo.  I typed in my response: "Coach and I will go at 9."  EEEK.  Go to an event, where I know no one and spend two hours not only talking to them, but asking people for money.  Could I possibly do anything I like worse?  Maybe I would have a cold on Saturday.

No such luck.  I woke feeling great.  Coach was feeling great and despite my heavy heart, we got in the car and we drove to the publix.  When I stepped out of the car, I thought, "Put your big girl panties on and suck it up."

Coach with two of the Palm Harbor Lion's Club members.
Coach with two of the Palm Harbor Lion's Club members.

It is amazing what having a cute dog with you can do.  I do believe the Lion's would have been kind and nice to anyone, but they were SO excited that one of the guide dogs in training had been able to make it out to their event that I felt like a million bucks.  And then when we got set up, I could see the difference having Coach there meant to their event.  

People who would have just walked by stopped and asked about Coach, then gave money.  People who might not have given money smiled at the dog and then thought about it while grocery shopping and came out and asked to pet him and donated.  We had kids coming up and putting money in the basket.  And through it all Coach played like a champion.  He was calm and sweet and EVERYONE was amazed at his sweet temperament.  And the Lion's that I worked with were delightful.  I had such a wonderful morning.  What I thought was going to be a chore, turned into something very fun.

Although, I did have a little bet going with the Lion's club president.  I wanted him to count the money that Coach brought in and then count the money that Ava (the 8 week old puppy) brought in.  I'm betting Ava brought in more money. I love my Coach, but a younger, good looking girl will bring in the bucks every time!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Coach in the Classroom

This week marks the start of super busy classes in the upper division.  I start teaching freshman and my one unit challenge starts as well.

Coach lying down and looking up at the camera.  A desk with two freshman is in the background.
Coach lying down and looking up at the camera.  A desk with two freshman is in the background.

On Monday, Coach went with me to the Freshman Seminar classes where I taught them techniques to searching Google.

A photo of a chewed on notecard. The corner is missing.
A photo of a chewed on notecard. The corner is missing.

I also bored him and he started to eat my notecards.  Bad Coach.

Coach is lying beside Michele waiting for class to begin.
Coach is lying beside Michele waiting for class to begin.

Then it was off to one unit challenge classes where we were talking about social media and the 24 hour news cycle.

Coach in full sleep mode.
Coach in full sleep mode.

Needless to say, that bored him as well.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Flying, Bathrooms and Service Dogs

We have had several experiences flying with our Southeastern Guide Dog puppies

and even thought the airline was the same, it really all came down to the personnel.  We always used US Airways and for the most part, they were great.  It was the return flight that was generally the problem (they weren't used to service dogs like Tampa people were).  However, we just recently had a raiser in South Pinellas group who had an incredibly bad experience with Southwest Airlines, that I just have to share: No Fly Zone!  

The TSA also has a general list of rights and guidelines of what their handlers can and will do when you and your service dog are going through the line.  It would be a good idea to make a copy of this webpage and have it in your purse/backpack if it seems the TSA agent is unsure how to pat down you or your dog.  It never hurts to be prepared.

I always have copies of shots and a note from the vet stating that the dog is good to travel.  This info is not required, but is nice to have on hand just in case. In addition, you can request an airline access letter from Southeastern (ask Katie Young) and that will detail you and your dog's credentials.  This letter must be requested at least 2-3 weeks in advance of your travel date in order to give them time to prepare and send it to you on letterhead.

Another thing I have found to be very helpful is knowing where the relief stations are.  It used to be that you could ask for a supervisor to escort you and your pup out onto the tarmac just before the fight and they would take you (they did this with Bingo, but not with Berkeley because of the Xmas underwear bomber.  They won't do that anymore in most cases.)  It was nice, because a lot of relief stations are back behind security!!  Now someone has come out with an app for finding those relief stations!  The app is called Where to Go.  It was created by Working Like Dogs and there is an app for the iphone and the android.

So, if you are making reservations and you are taking your pup, be sure to do the following:

  1. Send in a request for an airline access letter to Katie Young at Southeastern Guide Dogs at least two to three weeks BEFORE you plan on traveling.  She will be able to get you a letter on official letterhead attesting to your status with Southeastern, your dogs credentials, etc.
  2. Don't choose Southwest. 
  3. Do choose United/Continental who officially supports Southeastern Guide dogs in training or US Airways (I've had good luck with them).
  4. When making your reservations, tell them that you are bringing a service dog so that they can indicate that on your reservation from the very beginning.
  5. Download the Where To Go app
  6. Make sure you have all your documentation and also have duplicates in some other location as well.
  7. Have a back up plan in case something doesn't go right at the airport.
  8. Relax and enjoy your vacation.
Willow and Coach taking it easy on the back porch.
Willow and Coach taking it easy on the back porch.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Blue Coat Trumps All

Yesterday I was having lunch with some of the faculty and the communications director started to tell me a story about his son, who is in kindergarten at Berkeley.  He said, "My son loves Coach.  It's created a bit of a problem at home.  He tells me, Dad, I just want to touch him so much!"

Jeremy continued, "But he knows he can't because of the coat.  Every time he sees him, he says all he wants to do is touch Coach.  In fact, now he says, that if he can't touch Coach, I have to get the family a black lab."

Jeremy is kind of a serious guy.  He had a bit of a perplexed look on his face.  "You know, I'm looking around the house and we have a perfectly good dog at home he can touch."  He shook his head. 

The people at the table started to laugh.  He smiled but still seemed confused by Coach's appeal.  He mentioned again how Murphy, their spaniel, was a great dog, but his son just wasn't interested.

I said, "Bring your son by my office after school on Monday, Wednesday or Friday when I have Coach and I promise to take off the coat and let him touch him."  

Jeremy nodded, but I don't think he heard me.  I think he was still pondering Murphy and his son and why Coach and his blue coat were so appealing and if in the end he would be forced to get a black lab.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Man Cave

Sometimes, Coach doesn't want to be bothered.  He has had enough.  He is over it.  He needs some shut eye.  That's when he retreats to the man cave.  Yes, I have a man cave in my office.  It's actually the small dark space under my desk, but Coach really likes it down there.

Coach lying down in the man cave.
Coach lying down in the man cave.

One of his favorite things to do is have someone love on him and then all of a sudden he will leap up and walk away.  "I'm done now." 

He usually walks to the man cave and disappears.  He can be coaxed out of the man cave to see someone.  But on occasion, he does get a little grumpy.

Coach is sitting up in the man cave and is sticking his tongue out.
Coach is sitting up in the man cave and is sticking his tongue out.

I think he was sticking his tongue out at me.  Seriously, little dude?

"Stay out of the man cave!"

Little buddy, the man cave is under my control.  It is all under my control.  At least, that is my story and I'm sticking with it!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Toddler Time

One of the exposures that Southeastern Guide Dog puppies in training are supposed to have is time spent with toddlers and babies.  So it was with great pleasure that we went to have lunch with our friends Christy and Eliot, because not only would we be able to see their new baby (Fred was now over his flu-like cold), but we could bring Coach and let Lydia meet him.  Lydia had met Jam before, but he was a little bit too rambunctious for her tastes and she spent most of the time in her mom's arms looking down at Jam.

Coach would be a whole different ballgame, so to speak, for her.

Lydia is lying on the rub a few feet away from Coach but looking at him as he lies between Fred's feet.
Lydia is lying on the rub a few feet away from Coach but looking at him as he lies between Fred's feet.
 Lydia is a very self confident, almost 2 year old, little girl and her new sister Vivian seems to be a quiet sleeper (albeit a beautiful sleeper!).

Near the end of the visit Vivian opened her eyes for us!
Near the end of the visit Vivian opened her eyes for us!
We all went out for a lovely lunch at the neighborhood Greek restaurant and Coach and children all did very well.

Coach is lying next to me and Lydia is petting his body.
Coach is lying next to me and Lydia is petting his body.

When we came back for coffee, Lydia decided she could chance a pet or two with Coach. One of the things that Coach does like to do is lick you, so if Lydia managed to get her face close to his, he would give her a big lick on the face which made her jump back.  I would immediately tell Coach in a stern voice, "No kisses."  Lydia would also look at Coach and as she got near him she would say, "No kisses!"

Lydia is petting Coach on the paw.
Lydia is petting Coach on the paw.

He got lots of praise because he was calm and just let her pet him.  She was able to pet him on his paw and on his body.  And he even got a pat on the head.  She still made sure she told him no kisses though.  Just in case.   I really am amazed at his calm demeanor.  He was still and calm and waited for her to come to him.  There was no lunging or jumping.

Coach and Lydia are looking at the camera.
Coach and Lydia are looking at the camera.  
 I think Coach may be a ladies man!

Saturday, September 1, 2012


By Fred
We knew it was a long-shot, but still it was disappointing to hear last night that Jam, our former Southeastern Guide dog puppy, will not be a breeder.

Photo of Jam smiling and looking up at the camera!
Photo of Jam smiling and looking up at the camera!

Yes, we were sad because you will never find a dog or a creature of any description, of any size or temperament, whether on land or in the sea, more suited for a career as a procreator. Jam is graceful in all his movements. He runs like an Olympic gymnast. He walks like a ballet dancer. And he humps--well, he is an artist at humping, nothing like your typical frantic yapping lap dog.

But style alone is not enough; a breeder must also have the right combination of genes and the right physical makeup. Maybe his history of joint pains knocked him out of the program.

Anyway, what a shame. As Cheryl put it, "all that humping for naught."