Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bad Boy; No, Bad Puppy Raiser

Today, Coach did a bad thing.  He actually chewed through his leash.  I just happen to have another leash at school, so it isn't a disaster in terms of being able to walk him around.

Coach looking askance at the chewed through leash to his right which I am holding, one part in each hand.
Coach looking askance at the chewed through leash to his right which I am holding, one part in each hand.

But chewing through a leash is a bad thing and well, frankly my friends, it is my fault.  Obviously, my mind was engaged elsewhere.  It happened during advisory.  We were playing Quelf and it was quite loud and Coach was visiting my advisory kids.  He was next to me, but I thought he was being petted by the kids.  Seems he had finished being petted and had decided he was bored and commenced chewing.

Next thing I hear is Emily and Kimberly saying, "Mrs. McLean! Coach chewed through his leash!"


"Coach chewed through his leash!" Coach had very quietly gone from sitting next to me and Kimberly, where she was petting his head, to walking past her with his half a leash.  Emily picked up the other half a leash and showed it to me.

"Coach."  I called him back and tied what was left of the leash onto his collar.  This was my fault.  All the kids were looking at me.  "I have another leash."  They nodded and since it was almost time for class, we broke up.  I walked with Coach to the workroom.  Sigh.  He should be over leash chewing.  Obviously, it was something that we needed to work on and work on quite a bit.   

Puppy raising is a 24 hour a day job, 7 days a week.  Coach caught me napping.  Now I have to shop for a new leash.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Making the World Safe Through Chemistry

Last week, Coach and I had some Honors Chemistry classes with Ms. Schneider and Ms. Kelly.  The kids were researching for their podcast on topics such as botox, tanning beds, and the dangers of bath salts (the drug).

Ms. Kelly finally gets to hug Caoch after having him in class and in coat for several classes.
Ms. Kelly finally gets to hug Caoch after having him in class and in coat for several classes.
We had quite a busy day: five classes.  But I think everyone was very productive.  Below is a short video of some fun with singing tubes that the kids were having before we started class.  Coach wasn't sure what to make of the noises, but he wasn't afraid of it either.

Overall, Coach did really well, staying under the desk, being very quiet.  He was a very good boy.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

WE DID IT!!!!!

After many months, after a dozen break sales, after early mornings of the Cafe Cone Leche, after working the Straz Family Fieldhouse snack bar, after peddling totebags and raffle tickets and generally being a pest to one all, we can now officially say:

We Did It!

Thank you to everyone who worked, baked, donated, prayed, wished us well, smiled or will be walking with us at the walkathon on March 9th.  

For more info go to Coach's walkathon page!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Street Fair Exposure

Saturday we went to downtown Dunedin for lunch and then the plan was to go over to the concert in the park and see if we could find Coastie.  But we got distracted by the street fair that was going on in Dunedin and ended up spending our afternoon in Dunedin.

Coach and Fred getting reading to start walking down the Pinellas Trail to Dunedin.

The nice thing about Dunedin is that it is so dog friendly.  The bad thing about Dunedin is that it is so dog friendly.  This visit was going to be an exposure heavily laden with dog distractions.  However, since we were on the trail, our first distraction proved to be bicycles:

You can see two cyclists off in the distance on the the trail.
As we were standing there putting on Coach's coat, the cyclists came up from behind, called out that they were coming up from behind and on the left and then passed us.  Coach calmly looked around at them.  No problem.

A lady in a wheelchair is being wheeled down the cobblestone walk.
Not only were there bikes, but there were canes, walkers and wheelchairs, too.  Coach was indifferent to them all.

Photo of a chocolate standard poodle walking toward us.  The poodle is being held closely to the owner.

He was moderately indifferent to all the dogs.  What has happened with other puppies (Bingo and Jam) is that we would get lunging and jumping.  We got none of that with Coach.

Here is a chocolate lab being held closely to the owner and walking toward us.  
 Coach doesn't lunge or jump.  He does a mean stare though.

Coach staring at a small Westie.  Fred has him on a high collar. 
Unfortunately, at street fairs, it isn't just Coach's behavior that you have to be aware of.  You also have to be aware of all the dogs around you.  Not only in front of you, but coming up behind you.

A backend view of the doberman who sniffed Coach's butt.

The owner of the doberman in the photo above was not paying attention to him and just let him wander all over the place. Of course this big, scary dog was going up to every dog he could and sniffing them.  He managed to get up to Coach's butt and goose him.  I had been watching out in front, but moved over to the other side of Fred to be on Coach's left and keep the doberman away after the initial goose.

Honestly.  If people would just pay attention to what they are doing!!

Coach walking in a nice loose leash on the cobblestones.

There is a yellow dog project (see the photo of their poster above for more details) that seeks to highlight dogs who really do need more space by placing a yellow ribbon on their leash.  If you see that ribbon, you should give them space, NO MATTER WHAT.  In our case, our dogs are working.  They shouldn't be distracted by your dogs sniffing them or wanting to introduce themselves or by saying hello.  They have a job to do and learning to ignore you and other dogs is part of it.  

Coach did really well.  I am also going to be on the lookout for a yellow ribbon too.  It looks so pretty with blue!

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Blustery Day: Or How Zumba Turned into a Leaf Distraction Walk

On Saturday, Zoe and I decided that we needed to get back to exercising and that we were going to Zumba.  And I thought, now, why wouldn't Coach want to join us on this brand new experience?

Zoe and Coach outside the YMCA before Zumba class.  They both look happy and ready.
It was about 2/3's full when we arrived and we went all the way to the back so we would be as far from the speakers as possible.  This isn't my first Zumba experience with a guide dog (HRH Berkeley and I did Zumba together, once), after all.  So, it was interesting to have a lady come up to me and say,

"You really shouldn't have him here.  It gets very loud." She was looking pointedly at Coach and seemed a bit vexed with me.

I gave her a smile and said, "Oh, I've been to Zumba before." But before I could continue, she jumped in, "Have you? It's very loud."

"Yes. I know.  The visually impaired go to exercise classes as well as we do.  I have brought a guide dog puppy to Zumba and there used to be a guide dog in training who came to one of these classes a couple of years ago regularly."

She looked at me and I could tell I hadn't reached her.  She looked at Coach, who wagged his tail politely. Then she walked up to the front to talk to the instructor. I'm not sure what she said, but I think that the volume of Zumba was a level or so lower for Coach's sake.  Coach was fine.

Well, he was fine and then he wasn't.  He was actually confused.  Here he is in his down-stay.

Coach in a down-stay in front of the step aerobic steps.

When the music started, soft or not, Coach sat up at attention, then he went into a down.  Then when we began to move, he got up to move with us.  So, I put him in a down stay.  He was fine as long as the dance steps didn't change.  But as soon as we were off into a tango, he was off to see what we were doing now.  Dance to the left, ok.  Dance to the right, he got up.  But he always went right back into a down-stay.

Here is a little video of him watching us.

After about 20 minutes of this up and down, I decided that it was much better to leave on a positive note and since he was happy and behaving, that we would leave Zoe to Zumba and go out on the track and walk.

It turned out to be a blustery, Winnie the Pooh day and the leaves were flying everywhere.

Coach is looking up at me as if to ask for permission to chase a leaf.
Coach had developed a sudden desire to chase leaves.  Now, we had something to work with!  Leaf distractions.  There were literally thousands of oak leaves on the ground and it was windy.  We walked and walked around the track.  We did right abouts.  We stopped in front of piles of leaves and sat and waited for wind.  Yes, we waited.

Coach, sitting by a pile of leaves waiting for the wind.
He got to be good at ignoring the wind and leaves.  I could still see the desire in his eyes, but it was dampened.  Slightly, dampened.

That's right, good boy!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

I Luvs You

My Valentine's Day was lovely.  I got a great pre-look at my wonderful card, from my great husband.

Close-up of my handsome husband in a coffee shop in Puerto Rico.
 His gift was a stone elephant aroma therapy oil warmer with some Tasmanian Lavender oil so I wouldn't be so stressed.  Isn't that sweet?

Here's a photo of Coach standing next to Fred's piano with his curly tail showing.  He and Jam have the same dad.
Coach got me a special present too.  He was a little love bug on Wed. Here he is chewing his bone while having to touch my feet.

Coach lying on the ground with his bone between his front paws.  His paws are also resting on top of my shoe.
My friends Christina and Jan in the library, who watch Coach for me if I need to leave him for a meeting, said that they have noticed that his tail stops wagging when I leave the office.  It starts wagging again when he hears my footsteps.

I am loved by two very special guys. How could I have had a better Valentine's Day?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Virtual Valentine

By Fred
It seems like forever since Coach and I were out for lunch. Vacations, puppy camp, etc., it's a busy life, but I miss my outings with the little guy.

Today we had a mission, a simple mission, to visit several of the Dunedin gift shops and practice our Down/Stay. But first, a nice long walk, just to get our puppy craziness in check.

Usually at this time of the year I succumb to market and peer pressure and I have some flowers delivered to Cheryl at school. But lately the flowers have not been very nice. How hard is it to deliver some nice flowers? This year I was resolved to find something new.

As usual I discuss all of this with Coach...

Coach and I walked into several of the stores and he, tired out from the walk, was just perfect. Sit, down and stay, and just inches from all sorts of temptations. Very good dog.

Coach, is it too old-fashioned to get her a card? Virtual cards don't seem quite right. A hand-made card would be nice (and not at all predictable, coming from me).

But what about the missing flowers this year--do they need to be replaced with some other public display of affection?

Just in case...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Shots in the Head

 Today I went in to see the migraine doctor.  And I took Coach in with me.  Normally, this might give me a fair amount of stress (bringing Jam did), but Coach is really laid back and he actually was very good in the waiting room.

Coach staring out from under the chair into the waiting room.

 There's kind of a funny phenomenom when you are out with a guide dog in training: people usually smile at you, strangers will strike up conversations, and many will talk to you about their dogs.  Today I learned about keeshonds.  The lady a few chairs down had a keeshond puppy that she wanted to show me (Kaia was her puppy's name) and that puppy was amazingly gorgeous.  I don't think I have ever seen a keeshond.  So, I got to learn all about one as I waited for my name to be called.

Coach sat peacefully under the chair.  Fairly soon, my name was called and I went back with Coach.

He went under the chair quietly and soon fell asleep.

Coach, asleep under the chair I am sitting on.
The nurse taking my blood pressure commented on how good he was and how it must be having a great effect on my blood pressure.  (Well, that's awesome.  Yea Coach!)  She said Dr. Vollbracht would be in to see me in a few minutes.

Coach woke up.

Coach looking at the camera.
I thought that it wouldn't be a good thing for Coach to act up in front of Dr. Vollbracht.  He is a very nice doctor, but he is rather no nonsense and I didn't think he would be very happy.  I took a deep breath.  Coach laid back down and went to sleep. I let my breath out.

Dr. Vollbracht and his nurse Darlene came in.  We chatted about migraines and stress and decided that I needed some shots in the back of my head.  This procedure would involve me putting my head on the seat of the chair, essentially flipping all my hair over and being in an "L".  Dr. Vollbracht, who was very impressed with Coach said that he would just step over Coach and give me the shots.

Hmmm. OK.

I flipped my hair.  I bent into an "L".  I got two shots into the back of my head.  

Coach never moved.  Darlene and Dr. Vollbracht were in love.

Coach and Darlene.

Now if I could just do something about all the stress.

I know!  More Coach.  More Coach.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Wrestling and Whistles and OMG I Met Someone I Had to Just Walk Away From

On Friday I went to see some of the wrestling tournament that was held in the Straz Family Field House on Campus.  Unfortunately, I didn't have a program and it was a bit confusing, so I didn't know when our boys were going to wrestle.  Evidently there were over 300 wrestlers at the tournament, so it was a really big deal.

It was also a great puppy exposure.  Wrestling involves lots of whistles.  And flailing around.  I guess if you are a wrestler you would argue with me on the flailing part...perhaps I should say a lot of hand holds and Greco-Roman things going on. Add in some grunts and hollers and coaches and fans shouting and clapping and you have yourself a fine exposure for a puppy.

Oh, and there was this, oh how shall I put this?  Idiot seems to harsh a word.  Willfully disobedient might be a better way to put it.  I needed him to be wearing a training collar so I could have given him a good correction!

Anyway, Coach and I had just walked into the wrestling area and were standing there taking it all in.  It is rather like a two-ringed circus.  There are at least two circles of wrestling going on and there are tons of schools who have decamped to different areas of the bleachers.  I don't see our wrestlers anywhere and only see Berkeley shirts on the officials at the table and I don't want to bother them.  We have made a bit of a spectacle of ourselves just be walking in.  A lot of eyes are upon us.  To my right is a group from a school that will remain nameless and on the bottom row of the bleachers is a family who has come to watch their son or daughter (yes, there were girls who were wrestling!) wrestle.  They started to talk about Coach.

"Look at that gorgeous dog!"

"Would ya look at the head on him.  He's huge." Then, it began.  The moment when I needed every bit of my smiling and my public relations training to come out. "Hey, what's he being trained for?"

I turned and looked at the group.  There looked to be a grandparent set and a mom and dad perhaps with an older sister.  The grandpa was asking me the question. "He's a guide dog in training.  We are hoping he will be a guide dog for the blind one day."

"What's his name?"

I hesitated.  Why did I hesitate? A couple of years ago, I read the blog of a visually impaired person who said she never gave out the true name of her guide dog because inevitably, the people who had asked for it would then start calling her dog and distracting him.  So, she lied.  "My dog was named Tim and I would say his name is Delany.  They would say "Here Delaney" over and over and then be so amazed by his lack of interest."

Suddenly, it all made sense.  Why give out his name?  Why do it? But I had hesitated long enough and I wasn't good at lying.  I'm the worst liar ever.  "Coach.  His name is Coach Dominick Ciao after our football coach."  I smiled.

Then I looked away willing nothing to happen.  

"Hey Coach!" Grandpa called.  I turned and looked at grandpa.  

"He's supposed to ignore you."  That was my super nice way of saying, You are a butthead, quit calling my guide dog by his name!!!

"He's doing a great job!" He laughed.  He called out again:  "Hey Coach!"

I could take Coach's collar and put it on grandpa and give him a correction or I could walk away.

A photo of the back of Coach's head looking at the wrestlers in the wrestling ring.

I walked away.  

Grandpa lived to see another wrestling match.  Coach got to experience the whistles.  It was all good.  Now I need to think up a fake name that someone won't want to shout out over the stadium.

What about Booger?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

At the Car Wash!!

While Coach was away at puppy camp, he got to go on a very new exposure: a car wash.  Let's just say, I live with the dirt on my car.  So, he's never experienced a car wash before and you can tell from the photos that at first, it was a little disconcerting.

Coach sitting in the wheel well of the car and looking a bit nervously at the water on the window.

However, he is a very good boy and gets accustomed to things quite easily.  So he by the end he was looking around curiously.

Now, he isn't hunched down, but is sitting normally and looking out.

He has turned and is looking out the window.

Great exposure and one that we WILL try again.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Honeymoon Is Over!

The reason you do a puppy camp for two weeks instead of one is because for the first week the puppy is on his best behavior.  Why, well, new house, new people.  The puppy is getting a feel for what the rules are, what he can do and can't do.

The second week, the puppy sort of unbuttons his pants and as Fred's mom used to say, "Gets loose."
Coach, almost an exact week to the day, unbuttoned his figurative pants and got loose in the bathroom of the Kriseman's house on Saturday.  Kerry sent me the photo below with the caption, "The one week honeymoon has passed." 

Shot of a bathroom with lots of toilet paper pieces strewn about the floor.

Coach loves his paper.  He also loves going in the trash and getting paper out of the trash: used kleenix, receipts, anything.  He steals napkins off laps. Fortunately, now that they see the behavior, the Kriseman's can try to work on correcting it.  We have been working on it, but puppy camp is all about having a different approach from a different family.  It may be that their approach is more effective and they can pass those techniques on to us to incorporate into our raising.

Coach is sitting on beige carpet with a very big wet spot beside him.  What is the wet spot?  Read on....
The other thing that Coach does when finished with dinner, is that he will pick up his dinner bowl and bring it to you.  I'm not sure if this means "I want some more" or "This is empty: Fill it back up!" or "Put this away now."  Since we have a HUGE water bowl that is big enough for 40 dogs, there is no way that he can do this with the water dish.....unless the water dish is small.  Do you see where I am going with this?

So, at work, where I have a small water dish, when he is done with the water dish, he will pick it up and dump it.  And if there is water in it, it goes everywhere!  Fortunately, in the photo above, that is not an "accident", but rather a water dish spill. Now when I am at work, I usually give him water and watch him drink and then pull up the water dish when I see him stop, but I forgot to mention that to Kerry.  He's done this behavior from day one and we haven't figured out how to get him to stop.  So any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.  This behavior would not be acceptable to have with a visually impaired person and it is something that we need focus on.

All in all, we are very grateful to our puppy campers!  They are working on issues and giving Coach exposures he hasn't had before.

Tomorrow: All about a new exposure for Coach!!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Coach Is at Puppy Camp!

 Coach is puppy camping it at the Kriseman's house.  They have two very active kids and one dog, a female black lab named Peppermint.  So, Coach has a household that is different, yet with some of the same elements (Willow, being an older lab mentor 8-).

Coach's good night photo to us! He's sitting and looking up at the camera.  He doesn't look tired at all. He's tongue is hanging out.  I think he has been playing hard with Peppermint.
 From all accounts, he was a good boy that first night.  He played all night long stopping only to take a 10 minute break.  Poor Peppermint!!

This photo shows Peppermint sleeping by Coach's huge food bin.  She is guarding it.
Peppermint may have loved Coach more for the food he brought than the energy he showed as the photo above indicates. 

Hound Down!  Coach finally crashes and falls asleep.
Coach then had some busy days with Kerry and Rick at work.  

Coach in Kerry's car.  He is sitting looking at the camera.
I had mentioned to Kerry that Coach might have some hesitation with getting into the car, but she said he was great and had no problems with the car.

Coach is smiling and looking out the window.
It certainly does seem like he is enjoying the car ride!

Coach sleeping with his head under Kerry's chair.

At work he liked to keep a close watch on Kerry and Rick.  He would put his head under Kerry's chair and put his head on Rick's foot and go to sleep.  Rick calls him the Velcro Dog.

Coach sleeping with his head on Rick's foot.

Coach also got to visit clients (where he was very good and interacted appropriately with small children) and he met Senator Bill Nelson! Unfortunately, we don't have a photo of that meeting.

Hound Down at work!  Coach sleeping against the wall.

Overall, though, I think he mostly slept at work.

Another good night photo, notice the tail is wagging so fast it is a blur!
Another successful couple of days at puppy camp!!
Photo of Coach looking at the camera with a football game in the background.
On the weekend, Samuel had a flag football game that Coach got to attend.  He tried to eat a lot of grass (bad Coach!), but otherwise was pretty well behaved. 

Coach getting a hug from one of the other dads.
There was a fundraiser for Southeastern Guide Dogs at the Quaker Steak and Lube that Coach attended.

Rick and Coach are eating lunch.  Well, Rick is at the table and Coach is under it.
Coach met some other puppies.  Here he is meeting Maggie.  

Coach and Maggie having a very calm meet and greet.
More adventures to come!!