Sunday, October 27, 2013

Papparazzi: Who Knows What Makes a Star?

Jam and Dewey are two very different dogs.  Jam is fast, exuberant and filled with charism.  Dewey is slow, cautious and sweet. Jam is Dewey's uncle.  Very, very different boys. And yet, there is a strange attraction to labs.

Photo of Jam running with a frisbee.
 On Friday night after I got home from the Homecoming build, Fred and I took Jam and Dewey to the Smokehouse for dinner.  Turns out that the weekend before Halloween is the Halloween parade for kids and the place was packed! The street was jammed with kids in costume walking with their parents and lots of people waiting in line for a table outside at the Smokehouse.

So, we put our name on the list.  And we waited by the wrought iron fence watching the children walk up and down.  Fred had Dewey and I had Jam.

I once read a story about Marilyn Monroe that I think Susan Strasburg told.  She said that she was walking with Marilyn down the street in New York and no one was paying any attention to her.  Susan asked her about it. Marilyn said she wasn't making any effort to be seen.  Susan asked her what she meant.  Marilyn said, "Watch."

"It was like she turned a light bulb on inside her," Strasburg said. People stopped and stared and then they mobbed them and Susan and Marilyn had to take a cab to escape.

Jam with his light turned off
Jam is a little bit like Marilyn.  He has a little light that shines and on Friday night all the children were drawn to him.  

"Can I pet your dog?"


"Can I pet your dog?" Over and over again.  Several times Jam was completely encircled by princesses, hobos, pirates, batman, and fairies who just wanted to pet his handsomeness. Parents, too, were drawn to him.  While everyone ignored Dewey.

But if Friday night was not Dewey's night, Sunday morning was.  We were down in St. Pete having lunch and a 4th grader and her mom came up and asked, "Is that Dewey?"

"As a matter of fact, it is. How did you know." I asked.  Well, she recognized me, from school. Turns out she is a big Dewey fan and she really wanted to pet Dewey.  Jam, not so much.

Yea Dewey!  Dewey might not have this bright light like Jam, but he inspires love and devotion just as much as Jam does.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Dewey Skypes: Thank You Galloway School!!

On Friday, during my lunch hour, Dewey and I had an amazing experience.  We got to skype with 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders from the Galloway School in Atlanta. It was pretty awesome.

Actually, everyone was more interested in Dewey than in me, but that was ok. I didn't take it personally. My friend Amy, the lower division librarian at Galloway, who set it all up, was very clever and told the students that they were going to have a unit on Dewey. Boy were they surprised! 8-)

For three days they studied the Mclean Puppy blog and learned about guide dogs and what they do in different situations (or what not to do!).  Of course, they read supplemental material as well.  They learned all about Southeastern Guide Dogs program for raising puppies.  And then on fourth day, they skyped with me and Dewey!

I think the best question was what was Dewey going to be for Halloween?  I don't know!!  They are going to send me suggestions!  I can't wait. 8-)

Some of there other questions were:

  • What does Dewey eat?
  • Where does he sleep?
  • What is his day like?
  • What happened to Bingo?
  • How is Coach doing? (They were very concerned about Coach!)
All in all it was very fun.  Dewey was very tired because it was during his nap time and I had to keep waking him up and making him pose in front of the skype camera, but the kids seemed to love it.  

I wish I had some photos for you!  

We did get an amazing thank you present from the students at Galloway!!  A very generous donation to Dewey's walkathon fund for Southeastern.  We were so surprised and stunned!  Dewey says thank you, I say thank you and we both give a big Woof, Woof to Galloway School and the students there for having us talk about guide dogs!! 

If you would like to help Dewey reach his walkathon goal, please donate at I also have raffle tickets.  You will have to purchase those directly from me ($5 for one, or 5 for $20).

Friday, October 11, 2013

Dewey Takes Flight: Taking Your Guide Dog Puppy on an Airplane

Disclaimer: This blog is written purely for entertainment purposes. It may contain excerpted and abbreviated accounts of events and should not be construed as a reenactment of the actual event. Author is prone to exaggerate for comic effect.

Our last meeting was at the St. Pete Airport where Dewey was able to experience the wonders of travel, without the crowds (or expense!).  It was a major meeting with all for puppy groups from Pinellas County showing up.

Some of the raisers walking with their puppies down the hall of the airport.
We met at baggage claim and then we all proceeded to security where we lined up to be scanned.

Fred and Dewey wait patiently to go through the security scanner.
Dewey was paying very close attention to Fred, which was a good thing as going through security you need your dog to be focused on you and the commands you are going to be giving them.

Dewey is watching Fred intently.
Here is the process for taking a guide dog puppy through security.

  • Leave the collar, leash and coat on. 
  • Put your dog in a sit.

  • Tell your dog to stay.

  • Walk through the scanner yourself.  Your dog should remain on the other side in his stay.

  • Ask your dog to Come to you. 

  • Depending on whether they have a buckle collar or a martingale or training collar, they may need to be patted down.  Have them hold a Stand while the TSA agent does this.  Try to prevent any licking! 8-)

Most of our puppies, like Dewey's sister Bridget, made it through security just fine!!

A close-up of the lovely Marcie, a yellow lab.

Fred walking Dewey out to the Allegiant plane.

Melisa, Brian and Fred and their pups in front of the plane with the sun in the background.

Melisa, Brian, Fred, Blair and Julie and pups in front of the plane.

Blair walking Sheba up the planes ramp.
We also all got to board a plane and have the dogs sit in a plane and experience walking down the aisles.

We had the pups experience the loud baggage claim area.  Dewey did great!  He wasn't scared at all of the noise or the turning belts.

Dewey staring at the baggage claim belts.

Dewey sitting by the baggage claim belts
It was an amazing meeting.  Great exposures and wonderfully organized!!

Here is some other info for flying with your dog that we have gathered over five puppies:

 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  the appropriate person 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.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Dewey Speaks: I Attended an AC Conference!

Disclaimer: This blog is to be used as Entertainment Purposes ONLY. This is not a critique or evaluation of my training, my raisers or my pup sitters. With that said – I hope you enjoy. 
Thursday night my Auntie Mel came to my house and loaded me in her car. I was excited, as you may remember, last time we had some pretty fun adventures. My raisers kept talking about their trip to New York City, but I was more interested in seeing Ambassador Duke. He has fun toys. 
Friday morning, Auntie Mel worked from home. Early afternoon I was loading into the car again, only to find myself (and Auntie Mel, - duh – I can’t DRIVE) at a hotel in downtown St. Petersburg. The valet parking dude was all wound up tight, so I tried to tell him the DEWERS way of doing things “Relax Dude, everytings gonna be all-right”. I don’t think he understood Dog Talk. 
Dewey lying on the floor looking sleepy.
Into the lobby we go. There are pups in coat everywhere! WOOF. Let me just say there was this little golden retriever named ZIVA (like from the TV show NCIS) and boy… was she a hit. I must say I might have given her my number…. If I had a number. (Note to self: Get a number). One dog got so excited his tail knocked over the entire chess set that was on a table. It was NOT me. Really….. (I will NOT throw my buds under the table and mention them by name. That’s just dog code.) 
Auntie Mel then went to do a blind fold dog weight evaluation on three dogs the trainers had brought. On the way there, I saw my sister and my brother. How fun! Auntie Mel apparently did really well, as she won a prize. Who doesn’t love prizes? 
I finally overheard someone say we were at the AC conference, which was funny, cuz the room was really COLD. I am not sure if Auntie Mel does air conditioning work, or why all the dogs would be there. She doesn’t really tell me what we are doing or why. Why was she there anyways? But I am such a free spirit I didn’t really stress about it. My friend River and Andros sat near us. But I tried not to listen to what River said. Her ideas can be kinda crazy. The adults were doing a lot of laughing at this table. I later found out AC stands for Area Coordinator, not air conditioner. 
The AC vent (this time I mean air conditioner) and compressor for the conference room were next to our table. Turns out it must have had a leak of some sort, so randomly, it sounded like water was running. This made the raisers all do a double take and look under the table. I think the raisers thought one of us dogs were going busy (pee – in layman’s terms). I tried to not be offended. I would never do that inside!! 
Dewey asleep under the table.
Dinner was eaten by humans and pups. The event ended and we went to fetch our car. The same crabby man was not there, so that was good. 
I must have had a bad dream that night. Mel says I was sleeping peacefully and then all of a sudden I stood up straight in my kennel and just looked at her. I don’t remember what it was. And no, I didn’t write it down. I can’t hold a pencil. I was told to lay back down, so I did, and that was the end of that. Weird. 
Saturday we spent the day down at Southeastern Guide Dog campus. This is where I have heard my big brother Coach is. I didn’t get to see him, but I hear he is doing well. I will come here one day for my training. Maybe I can meet him. 
During the day we did obedience with Trainer Jen. She taught the raisers some “relaxation techniques” for their dogs. Seriously? I laughed. Did she not hear of me? I am Baby Dewey Dew Drop. I have no stress. Relaxation is my middle name. Auntie Mel and I ROCKED this drill. Sweet. A+ for us. WOOT. 
Mel sitting with Dewey in her lap.
Then we went inside and the raisers did something. I don’t remember what. I was napping. I remember getting a lot of treats from Blue’s mom. She was trying to tell Blue to be more like me. I don’t think he was ready for a nap. But I was, so I snoozed. 
Later Auntie Mel handed me off to some person I didn’t know so she could go do a Blind Fold Immersion. The trainers put a blind fold over her eyes and then she got to experience firsthand what the visually impaired students do when they come to the school. She had to find her dorm room, figure out which hallway she was in, navigate inside her room, go out of the building, find the porch, the outside area for dogs, and back in through another door. She did that first with the trainer and then the next time she had a guide dog to help her. WOW! That will be ME someday. How cool is my job gonna be? 
Trainer Jen trying to get Dewey to
load in to the crates in the van.
The day was jam packed with lectures, tours (new vet center ROCKS) and get this --- I got to load in the vans that the real guide dog trainees use. Ok, so the idea was not my favorite at first, but after you hear Trainer Jen’s squeaky puppy voice, you pretty much just do what she wants so she will stop (Sorry Jen – love ya). There might have been a treat involved. 
The conference ended, we returned home, I greeted Duke, ate dinner and crashed. As typical, Sunday is RELAX day at Auntie Mel’s. I was hoping that would be the case. I am Pooped. 
Monday off to the office….. more napping. Sweet. Life is good. 
PS. Love you mom and dad. Where is New York anyways? 

Friday, October 4, 2013

I Don't Have a Brain Tumor, but I'm Still an Idiot

Sometimes we do things that we shouldn't do: We procrastinate. We do other, more fun things.  We listen to the voice in our head that says, "Sure, that sounds like an excellent idea.  Why don't you do that!"

It usually isn't an excellent idea.  My mom tells this story about me, that when I was small, I shoved a whole almond up my nose and it got stuck.  

I think she said I was a toddler.  I'm pretty sure the story went something like, "You were in your high chair and then I turn around and you had shoved an almond," and this is where my Mom gets all loud and gesticulates, "AN ENTIRE ALMOND! ALL THE WAY UP YOUR LITTLE NOSE!"  

"I was so panicked.  I couldn't get it out of your nose.  It was really up there.  And there you were staring at me.  With an almond up your little nose." At this point, everyone in the room is usually staring at me, imagining me with the almond up my nose, my little nose.

"So I call the pediatrican, Dr.Crawford (I think) and I have to tell him everything!" I have to say, that Mom is getting a little accusatory at this point, even though more than 40 years have gone by. "Then I turn around and you are crying and the little almond is now hanging out of your nose on a tiny little thread of snot."

She smiles.  My snot is cute.  I've snotted the almond out of my little nose.  I'm so smart. Snot smart.

Why have I told you this story? Oh, right, because, sometimes, we just do things, and we think that this is an excellent idea.  And evidently, I have been having excellent ideas since I was a toddler.  

Dewey with Princess Leia ears.

My co-workers thought it was an excellent idea to make Dewey look like Princess Leia, since his ears were so long. I think it kind of worked.  He even has a sort of come hither look about him.

Dewey with bunny ears.

Recently, I lost my sense of smell.  Actually, it has gone away and has been missing for several months.  I only discovered it was gone when I took Dewey to school and Jan and Christina said that he smelled like pee.

"What!  He does not.  I can't smell anything." They stared at me.  Balefully.

"He smells like urine." They would not budge.

I went into my office and sprayed him with the French dog perfume that our French teacher had given me.  This seemed like an excellent idea.  

"Now he smells like urine and perfume." They said wrinkling their noses.  Great.  I eyed him.  He was happy. And smelly.  I knew how this had happened.  He was, at this time, small enough to walk under Jam and Jam had no qualms about continuing to pee while Dewey walked under him.  Wonderful.  A pee pee dog.

I walked him back into my office and took out the wet wipes. I wiped him down thoroughly. Then I got out the lavender oil.  I rubbed a little on him and sniffed.  Nothing. Sigh.  I brought him back in.

"MMMMMM.  He smells great." Big smiles.

Here I am kissing a non-stinky Dewey on the top of the head.

At this point, I knew I had better see a doctor about my nose, which was probably smarting from that almond damage from oh so many years ago. So I went to an ENT specialist, who just happened to be a Berkeley parent as well. He was very nice.  He didn't see any tumors, but wanted to do a CT scan to be sure because that was one of the reasons why you lose your sense of smell.

Now, hearing the words tumors, CT scan, and just to be sure, are not the most confidence building words I can ever imagine, so it was a pretty stressful time for me.  I couldn't smell, I thought I might have a brain tumor and I didn't really want to broadcast it to everyone.

During the wait to get the results, we went for a weekend up to New Orleans to celebrate my Dad's birthday.  I thought this was going to be great because New Orleans is a wonderful place, and my mom and dad are lots of fun.  Plus, this time my brother would be joining us.  So we would get to have a real family weekend.

We ate a lot of food, drank a lot of coffee with chicory, and shopped incessantly.  I would say it was a very good weekend.  Until Saturday evening, the night before our flight out Sunday morning.  That's when I had another excellent idea.

Our hotel, the Royal Sonesta, fronts Bourbon Street, which you may or may not know is quite noisy on a normal night.  Well, at 2:30 am on that particular night, it so happened that a band was playing, a cat fight broke out and someone was randomly screaming.  ALL AT ONCE. RIGHT UNDER OUR WINDOW.

I woke up.  It was 2:30 am.  I was thinking that I had to leave in the morning and I did NOT want to be up for the next 3 hours listening to this madness.  I tried the pillow over the head.  NO. Closing my eyes really tight didn't help either.


I would make ear plugs out of toilet paper! So, I got out of bed and went to the bathroom and made two ear plugs.  The first one went in my left ear, no problem.  The second one, went in and ....



Where did my ear plug go?  I stuck my finger in my ear.  There was no ear plug! I tried a little harder.  Ouch.

I sat on the bed.  Holy crap.  I've lost my ear plug. How am I going to explain that? Suddenly the noise outside doesn't seem so loud.  Is this going to show up on the CT Scan?  Am I going to have to explain, "Oh, I make my own ear plugs all the time and lose them.  That's probably why I have so many brain tumors: they are just lost ear plugs!"

Crap!  And the ENT is a Berkeley parent! Perfect. Now he'll know that I'm an idiot who makes her own ear plugs and shoves them in her ears like a two year old.  Wait.  I bet ENTs have a big list that they keep of stupid things people put in their ears and I bet HOMEMADE EARPLUGS don't even make the list!

OMG.  I have to get this out of my ear!

I tried to go back to sleep.  What was I going to do?

Finally, I had another excellent idea: toilet paper dissolves! I would take a shower and run water in my ear!

So that's what I did.  I got up in the morning and took a shower and ran water in my ear. Nothing.  Nothing happened.

So I waited for three weeks, until my doctor's appointment to get my ear taken care of.  It went something like this:

Nurse: So, you are here to see the results of your CT Scan?

Me: Yes.  And I think I might have something in my right ear.
(haha, yeah, right! I do have something! A homemade earplug!)

Nurse: Oh.  I'll let him know.

Me: (to myself) Great.  Now I don't have to explain anything! Woot!


Doctor: So, you think you have something in your ear?

Oh, crap.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Thank God for House Sitters

Dewey has been taken care of.  It's really not as ominous as it sounds.  See, when we go away, Dewey has to go to another puppy raiser, so that he can continue his education while we are away.  Jam and Willow, however, just need someone to love them.

Jam may need a bit more love than most.

Actually, Jam is nuts, but we love him.  We got him a prescription for doggie xanax to deal with his separation anxiety, but it hasn't seemed to touch him.  His little anxiety engine runs so fast that the xanax calming ions can't keep up and the last time we tried it, Jam was waiting for us at the window.  Panting and looking anxious.


So getting someone we trust to watch over our nutball is key and we have found the perfect person.  He's another puppy raiser and he'll be able to stay at the house and watch over both the dogs.

Of course, that leaves me with a bit of anxiety about the house.  (I'm thinking anxiety runs rampant in this house!) Is it clean enough? Do we have enough food? Are the instructions on how to use the three (count them, 3!!) remotes clear enough? Then I open the fridge door.

OMG.  I would never house sit for myself.  Look at my fridge.  It's horrible.  Who am I? Do I eat out of this fridge?

I shut the door.

I open it.  Gross.

Do I need to clean the fridge?  It was only two weeks ago that I went through every single condiment we had and threw out TONS of condiments (one was from (I swear I am telling the truth) 2009)! Who checks the dates on condiments?  They last forever! Like twinkies!  Condiments are just a conglomeration of chemicals and a red or yellow liquid. Right?

I open the fridge door.  I shut it.

I remember, years ago, we went to a friend of a friend's house and I opened her fridge to help put something away.  I felt so inadequate, standing there staring into the gleaming cleanness of her fridge.  It was so white and bright and clean.  I knew, instinctively, that my fridge was not like this fridge.  I knew that I was not like this person.  Everything matched.  It all lined up.  It was a little fridge heaven.  I think of that fridge now.  And that obviously sick, depraved mind that cleaned the fridge every day and kept it sparkling like the Holy Grail. ;-)

So, now, I have a toothpick and I am scraping in my fridge in the corners.

EVERYTHING HAS A LID! HOW CAN IT LEAK? Is Fred getting up at night and eating?  Is he having a party in the fridge?  Maybe Jam is.  Maybe Jam is learning to open the fridge and undoing the lids.  I wouldn't put it past him.  And Willow just watches.  She sits in the kitchen and watches him do it.

How do crumbs get in here?  I'm not actually eating or making the sandwich IN THE FRIDGE. Shouldn't the crumbs be ON THE COUNTER?

My fridge is sparkly clean now. You can come over and open it and see.  I mean, it isn't like that friend of a friend's fridge.  I'm not obsessive.  There might be a crumb.  Or two.  Crap.  I better go back and check on things.
Dewey and Jam on the porch.

And Jam, I'm watching you, buddy!