Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Classroom Christmas

Christmas in my classroom started a couple weeks ago when I took a trip to Texas, and Kyle visited a puppy sitter. When I picked Kyle up, the puppy sitter gave us the coolest snowflake ever. She mentioned that it was to hang in my classroom, so that is exactly what I did after I laminated it.

(This is an amazing snowflake with The Grinch, Max, and Kyle worked in to it.)

My students all loved the snowflake and decided to decorate my classroom. Pretty soon there was a blizard in the classroom.

(Snowflakes hanging from the classroom ceiling.)

The next week I bought Kyle two new dog beds as early Christmas presents...one for our living room and one for the classroom. From the first day Kyle had a bed at school, his behavior changed dramatically. Instead of barking for attention, Kyle loves to lay on his bed all day. Unless we are doing something especially rowdy, Kyle doesn't even need a tie down. This has been great practice for his "go to bed" command. I should have gotten Kyle a school bed months ago!

(Kyle enjoying his school bed and favorite bone.)

The same student who has drawn previous pictures of Kyle on the white board captured Kyle in one of his favorite poses on his bed.

(A green line sketch of Kyle laying sprawled across his bed.)

On the last day before Christmas break, I allowed my honors students time to do homework or play educational games. One of my class periods is particularly enamored with Kyle, so a few students came and asked if they could play with Kyle instead.

If you've ever wondered what students think of having a puppy in English class, this picture should answer that.

(A student with a huge grin while she plays tug with Kyle.)

My classroom is a terrific place for tug. Check out the video below to see how fun tug can be with a rolly chair and a slick floor.

(Kyle pulls a student on a rolly chair around the classroom while playing tug.)

Before students had to tell Kyle goodbye for two weeks, they made sure to tell him Merry Christmas in language he understands. He loved every minute of love they gave him.

(Life is hard when you are the teacher's pet. Kyle gets belly scratches from two students at once.)

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Here's one of my favorite puppy raising memories for you. Turk graduated as a guide in September 1998. The Christmas after he graduated, Janet sent me a picture of Turk sitting with Santa. Her thoughtfulness in sending that picture made my holidays. I lost contact with Janet, something that is primarily my fault and a big regret, but I will never forget her Christmas gift.

Tonight seven of the puppies from our club visited Santa at the local mall. I debated whether or not to pay for a picture of Kyle with him, but after I thought of Turk's picture, I caved. The happy memories drew me. I look forward to reversing the the gift from Janet when I give Kyle's picture with Santa to his partner.

(Kyle sitting next to a grumpy looking Santa. I'm impressed that someone got Kyle to look at the camera on the first shot.)

(Seven of our crew. I love Julimae's head tilt and Snicker's kiss for Lacole. Back row: Kyle, Sugar, Clyde, Julimae, Snickers, and Lacole. Front row: Keiko.)

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

12 Things at 12 Months

The day before Thanksgiving, Kyle turned one. Due to the business of the holiday, I am just now getting around to writing a post to celebrate my boy. In honor of the holiday and Kyle's birthday, here are 12 reasons I am thankful for Kyle.
  1. I am thankful for Kyle's cuddles. Just the other night I sat on the floor to work so that Kyle could lay on my lap and doze. He's too big to really make a ball in my lap anymore, but he still loves to sleep while touching me.
  2. I am thankful for how easy Kyle is to take in public. He is ace! This dog was born for guide work--and not just because he was born in the GDB kennels. I've had friends ask me how I trained him to do so well. The truth is that I didn't do anything. Kyle just how to behave immediately. His partner will love taking him out and about.
  3. I am thankful for my new alarm clock. Kyle is a morning dog, and I am not a morning person. He used to let me sleep in, but now he wakes me up if I try to sleep in. That would probably annoy most people, but I appreciate having motivation to get up.
  4. I am thankful for Kyle's playfulness. He reminds me to lighten up and enjoy life.
  5. I am thankful for the laughs Kyle provides. Just yesterday I giggled like a child, hiding in my closet while playing hide-and-go-seek with Kyle.
  6. I am thankful for Kyle's eyebrows. They make his face incredibly expressive.
  7. I am thankful for the new people Kyle helps me meet. It's impossible to live in a bubble when you have a stellar dog at your side. I've met more people from my community in my seven months with Kyle than in the previous four years.
  8. I am thankful for my puppy club. Because of Kyle, I get to associate with an incredible group of friends. They alone are reason enough to keep raising.
  9. I am thankful for exercise. After unsuccessful gym memberships and failed pedometer challenges, Kyle gets me up and moving. He loves our walks so much that it is hard to deny him.
  10. I am thankful for Kyle's company. I really enjoy having him at my constant side. Even tasks I hate, like shopping, are enjoyable when he is trotting next to me.
  11. I am thankful for Kyle's maturity. Just when I couldn't stand anymore teenage hormones, Kyle has grown up over night. There's not much of a puppy in the dog at my side now. Kyle is going to be an incredible dog.
  12. I am thankful for Kyle's love. Dog's really are a man's best friend. Someday he will be an amazing partner because I know what a great puppy-in-training and friend he is for me.
This post is going to be picture-less because I need to get it up before another week passes. I'll post pictures of Kyle soon. For now, just know that I am thankful to be raising an incredible, one-year-old, dog.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Autumn Training Walk

Kyle loves to go on walks. During the week we only go on short jaunts, but Saturdays and Sundays Kyle and I try to get out for a several mile long walk.

A couple months ago, my CFR recommended working on neighborhood walks because that is where most of guide dogs' formal training takes place. Since Kyle has mastered loose leash walking and is rarely distracted, I've started throwing in obedience exercises on our walks. Last Saturday my friend accompanied us, so Kyle and I actually got a few pictures of our work together. I'm so proud of the progress my boy is making.

One of our favorite destinations is a fully fenced, huge field behind a local church. In the past, Kyle has refused to play without a K9 friend and sat at my feet. Thus, I've taken Sugar there to play with Kyle several times. However, this weekend Kyle ran and played by himself for the first time. Progress!

(Kyle and I walking across the field. You can only see part of it in the picture.)

Since we don't have a fenced yard, Kyle and I don't have many opportunities to practice off leash recalls. This field is the perfect place to do just that.

(Kyle about to get a kibble for his perfect come.)

After a bit, I just let Kyle explore the field. He loved greeting all of the dogs that lived in yards on the other side of the fence.

 (Kyle sniffing the fence of a yard with a beautiful black lab in it.)

The field has a sand volleyball pit where three children were building a sand castle. I worried that Kyle would plow into them and their project. He impressed me by dancing around them to say hello but not getting too friendly.

 (Kyle sitting on the edge of the volleyball pit. I love this picture of Kyle's face.)

This isn't the best shot of us, but at least I got an updated picture with my boy as we were leaving the field.

 (Kyle and me sitting in a bunch of autumn leaves.)

On the way home we snapped one final picture to show Kyle's great loose leash walking. We enjoy our excursions together! Someday I'll get someone to take pictures of all of our other training spots.

(Kyle happily trotting alongside me through a neighborhood.)

Mostly Wordless Wednesday

(Kyle got tired of our photo shoot and hid his head in a pile of leaves.)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Give a Dog a Bone

Over the past few days, I've noticed the pathetic state of Kyle's bones. Thus, we headed to Kyle's favorite pet store so that he could pick out new toys.

The first order of business was weighing Kyle. He's now 56.3 pounds!

I'd intended to get Kyle two new bones, but after seeing the selection, I caved and bought him three. I'm a softie and a sucker!
 
(Here's a comparison between the old and new bones. The old bones are half the size of the new ones. Yikes!)

(Kyle eagerly anticipated an okay from me so that he could play with his new toys.)

 (Kyle's first grab was a chicken flavored Nylabone just like the one he has in my classroom.)

(Next up was the sterilized bone. These are hands down Kyle's favorite. I've already replaced his sterilized bone multiple times. It's too bad that they are the only messy GDB allowed bone.)

(The new bone was so tasty that Kyle had to lick his lips.)

(Finally Kyle gave the chicken flavored Nylaring a try. This is the first one he's had, and he's still warming up to the shape.)

(When all was said and done, the sterilized bone won out. Kyle's been chewing on it all afternoon.)


(Kyle came off the puppy truck with this bone from his first raisers' home. Before I put it away until I have a baby puppy that can safely play with it, Kyle gave his favorite toy a fond goodbye chew. Notice that the replacement bone is grasped in his other paw. Growing up isn't all bad.)

I always roll my eyes at people who spoil their pets. Now I'm just as bad. Kyle's sure worth it though.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Good Luck Picassa

Three weeks ago Picassa and Kyle traded places for a few days. I got the privilege of hosting Picassa for her last puppy trade. Let me tell you, I already liked the girl, but Picassa completely won my heart that week. Picassa also managed to charm my neighbors and convince my coworker to beg to keep her as a pet.

(Picassa posing with my neighbor. The two played wonderfully together.)

Picassa was a pro on all our outings. I cannot remember having to give her a single correction. After a couple days with Picassa, the girl managed to teach me a few things I can do better in training Kyle. She is ready for formal training!

(Picassa under the table at my favorite sushi restaurant.)
Six months ago, Picassa and Kyle arrived on the same puppy truck as transfer pups from Colorado. Today Picassa got back on that truck and headed to California to begin her formal training. I cannot believe how time has flown. Picassa is being evaluated for breeding, and I think she would make a sweet mama dog. If not, I have a mental image of just the person she could be partnered with as a guide. Everything's up to Picassa though, and if service work isn't her thing, she'll be the best pet anyone can ask for.

Picassa isn't traveling alone. Christina, a black lab from our club, is also returning to campus for breeder evaluations and training. I don't know Christina as well Picassa, but I'm cheering for her too!

Today I had a hard realization. Now that Picassa and Christina are recalled, the next dogs in our club to leave will be Sugar and Kyle. Noooooooooo! That is still four months away, but I don't like the idea that my boy is the next to head to campus. I'll just repress that thought and live in denial for the time being.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Eleven Things at Eleven Months

This post is a few days late because Kyle actually spent his 11 month day playing with Breeze and her family. I took a weekend road trip to my sister's house in Idaho, and I decided that Kyle would have more fun at a puppy sitter's house than sitting in my car for the second weekend in a row. From what Breeze's family said, that was the case. He got a glowing report and made me proud! Way to go Kyle!

Without further rambling on my part, here are eleven things about Kyle.
  1. I swear that Kyle thinks he's a human. Kyle has started using his front paws as hands. He'll reach out and pull things towards himself or put his paw up to my hand to get me to play. His mannerisms in the process really look like that of a human.
  2. Kyle has had many adventures this month. He's been puppysat or traded into four homes in October. Friday he's spending the day with Clyde, and Saturday Paris is coming to visit for a few days. For a dog who usually only has me for company, Kyle's sure had a social month.
  3. Kyle no longer jumps on people! Now he can occasionally get petted in public again.
  4. When I want a belly laugh, I start Kyle's puppy pushups down the hall from the kitchen at dinnertime. With each sit and down, Kyle inches closer to his food until he is proudly sitting in front of his bowl. If I can ever keep myself from laughing until my gut hurts, I'll try to catch the process on video.
  5. Kyle is finally grasping the concept that barking is not socially acceptable. While he still barks occasionally, he's invented a new sound of his own. It is a weird cross between a puppy cry and a bark. People have described it as a whale or wookiee sound. I should correct Kyle for the sound, but I'm usually too busy laughing at it. Seriously, it's that amusing.
  6. Kyle finally learned to self entertain. So long as I am near him, Kyle will hold his own bone and chew it. For anyone with a puppy that naturally developed this skill, it might not seem like a big deal. However, it is for Kyle. He has been stubbornly dependent on a human interacting at all times until recently.
  7. Kyle has an impeccable memory. He'll stash toys in random places, but he always seems to know right where to grab what he wants.
  8. Kyle still wears a drag line in the house most of the time. If he wants to escape my reach, he'll pick up his leash and run away. When he wanted to go to the bathroom one night, he picked up his leash and set it on my leg. Have I mentioned how smart Kyle is?
  9. Kyle went through a stage where he didn't like belly rubs which made me sad. Now, Kyle lets me scratch his belly!
  10. My cuddle bug loves to lay on me, but he wouldn't reciprocate the favor. After months of working on it, Kyle will let me use him for a pillow. This may not be a necessary guide work skill, but it sure makes me happy.
  11. Kyle continues to charm everyone he meets. His practically impeccable behavior in public continues to win him praises wherever he goes. We're still looking for something that will phase him, but we haven't found it yet.
This month the adult dog Kyle is going to be has started peeking through his adolescent antics. I love who Kyle is, and I am excited about who he is becoming.

Mostly Wordless Wednesday

This morning Kyle and I woke up to an unexpected surprise.

(Kyle pranced in a couple inches of snow.)

(Kyle's nose was covered in snow from sniffing the new ground covering.)

Kyle was transferred to me last May, so I've never seen him in a big snowfall before. I don't typically like the cold, white stuff, but Kyle's playful attitude toward this morning's snow might just change my opinion.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Random Moments

Here are a some random moments from the past few days that might bring a smile to your face.
  1. Kyle has an obsession with flies. If one is in the house, he goes crazy trying to catch it. Kyle finally caught one. The silly boy dropped the injured insect on the kitchen floor and looked at it with a puzzled expression. I swear he was thinking, "What happened? Get up. I want to play some more!"
  2. One night as I was heading to bed I noticed Kyle left one of his Kongs on the top stair. Instead of grabbing it, I left it for him to find in the morning. Morning came, and I found it first with my foot as I slid halfway down the stairs. It was like a movie scene. Kyle was sweet and came running to make sure I was okay. Thankfully, I was.
  3. Yesterday I decided to take Kyle for a quick walk before a rain storm hit. Within ten minutes, it started to hail. Yikes! I didn't expect that. Kyle had a great time jogging home, but I realized that I am horrible out of shape. Too bad that we aren't allowed to jog with puppies in training on a regular basis.
Between puppy trades and rainy days, Kyle and I haven't had too many adventures to share. He's off again tomorrow for at least five more days, but I wanted to share a few of our recent laughs.

Azúcar

Last week Kyle and Sugar traded places for a few days. Kyle spent a few days with my club leader and her daughter while Sugar got to attend school with me.

It took all of .2 seconds for my students to fall in love with Sugar. My favorite reaction from students came from my ESL class. Without hesitation, they decided to call her Azúcar...her name in Spanish. That class only has eight students, so I let Azúcar wander free for the first few minutes getting to know the students. They decided that Azúcar needed to study alongside them, so they eagerly set her up with the necessary supplies.

(Sugar sitting next to one of her new amigos in ESL class.)

While Sugar was busy learning how to interact appropriately, my students were displaying strong signs of dog distraction, so Sugar ended up back on tie-down at the front of the class. That way she could still watch everything that was going on.

(Sugar sitting near a book case in the front of the room. She is displaying one of the best doggy smiles I have ever seen.)

One night Sugar, a friend, and I headed to the mall and out to dinner. That's when I decided Sugar is a girl after my own heart. Neither of us took much interest in most stores, but we both had a blast in the game store. Sugar probably would have been content to sit and watch the roller coaster in that store all night if I let her.

(Sugar intently watching the roller coaster.)

I love working with Sugar. Whether she is over for a play date with Kyle, for puppysitting, or for a puppy trade, we always have a good time. Hopefully we'll have more adventures together in the months to come.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

(Kyle sitting in a student desk in my classroom.)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Minty Fresh Breath? Gross!

During my preparation hour I sometimes shut my classroom door and let Kyle roam free. Since there are inevitable pencils, candy wrappers, and scraps of paper left on the floor, this is a great time for Kyle to practice ignoring tempting goodies.

Just a few minutes ago, Kyle found a new source of snacks.

(The undersides of my student desks are loaded with gum. Yuck!)

It took me a minute to figure out what Kyle was doing when his face looked like this.

(Kyle with his nose sniffing the underside of a desk.)

However, after Kyle visited a couple more desks, I figured out what he was doing. While I appreciated his help in cleaning my desks, I'd rather Kyle have dog breath than recycled minty fresh breath.

(Kyle about to give into the temptation of another mid-morning treat.)

Now that I had to fish out already-chewed gum from Kyle's mouth, I need to find a student who would rather serve detention in my room after school instead of at the usual 6:15 am session. Someone needs to clean up the desks, and Kyle isn't going to be the one to do it. Gross!

Update on October 6, 2010:
Seven students just left my class after 45 minutes of cleaning desks. I set Kyle free, and he immediately started sniffing the underside of every desk. The silly boy looks pretty confused as to why all his after school snacks disappeared.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Which Puppy is Kyle?

After a post dedicated to all of Kyle's physical features, I decided to go back over the pictures of Kyle's litter that I stole from GDB's flicker page. It didn't take long to pick out my boy.

When the litter was only a couple weeks old, I couldn't identify Kyle because none of the pictures featured the pup's faces so that I could find his markings. I also couldn't see any underbellies to look for Kyle's mottling.

However, I can tell you which puppy in this picture is not Kyle. My little cuddle bug would never dream of sleeping away from the rest of the litter. Thus, the pup at the top cannot be Kyle.

(In this picture of the Dutch and Gracie litter, six puppies are sleeping together and one lone pup is hanging out on his own.)

I'm almost certain I was able to pick Kyle out of all the Christmas day pictures of this litter. This little guy has a distinct center line down his face and a skid mark on his lips. It must be Kyle!

(A cute puppy yawning at the camera. At this point Kyle was a month and a day old.)

If this isn't Kyle, then some of his littermates have markings that I haven't noticed in the pictures I've collected of them. Wasn't Kyle an adorable baby?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Ten Things at Ten Months

I cannot believe that my little guy is ten-months-old. Our time together is flying. In honor of Kyle being ten months old, I decided to post images of ten things that make Kyle who he is physically.

1. One of the first things I noticed about Kyle was the "skid mark" on his lips. I've never met another dog missing pigment here.
 
2. Speaking of pigment, Kyle's nose, and recently his black eyeliner, cannot decide what color they want to be. They rotate between all different shades from pink to black.
  
3. Kyle has a distinct center line. His nose and entire underside have an unmistakable division. Looking at Dutch's puppy pictures, I can tell that Kyle inherited this trait from his dad.
 

4. The first time I took Kyle to the vet, the vet predicted that Kyle would be long and lanky. The prediction is proving accurate.

5. The tip of Kyle's tail is a cute curly-Q. When Kyle was younger, he loved to chew on his little curl. I still like playing with it.

6. I love soft puppy ears, and ears don't come much softer than Kyle's. He gets complements on them all the time. I also love Kyle's ears because they are so red. A secret part of me hopes to raise a red lab someday. In the mean time, I love Kyle's red undertones.
 

7. In the past couple months, Kyle has grown a lot of loose skin on his neck. I keep waiting for his body to grow into it, but I've about decided that he is just going to remain wobbly necked.

8. Most labs I know have a solid colored underbelly. Not Kyle. He has a mottled mix of pink and white splotches.

9. Kyle has cowlicks that run across his chest and front legs. Gracie and several of Kyle's brothers do as well. It must be a family trait.

10. If eyes are the window to a soul, I can peer right into Kyle's soul. He has wonderfully expressive eyes and great eyebrows to accentuate them.
    I could point out a lot more of Kyle's physical attributes, but these are some of his most distinct features. After spending almost 24/7 with my boy, I've got every little bit of his 50 lbs memorized. I might be a little bit biased, but Kyle is turning out to be quite the handsome dog.

    Wednesday, September 22, 2010

    Why I Blog

    I looked through my sparsely kept high school journal for entries about Turk and Mesa. Here is the sum total of my recorded puppy raising adventures from back then.

    8-2-98
    Turk passed his final obedience test and will probably be put in class soon. He will graduate August 15 or September 12. I miss him but hope he will be a successful guide.

    4-28-99
    Turk graduated September 12th and now works with a woman named Janet ... in Ohio. Becky and I are now raising Mesa, a dog who is nothing like Turk.

    Yikes! That’s pathetic. I’ve found a few high school papers where I discussed puppy raising in more general terms, and I might post those later. However, I regret not having written more memories with my first boys.

    This blog is a place to do better this time around by recording adventures for me and Kyle’s future partner. With that said, why do you blog?

    Sunday, September 19, 2010

    Family Photos

    For the past few months, I've been collecting pictures of Kyle's parents and littermates. I love seeing pictures of Kyle's family and hearing stories about them. It sounds like Dutch and Gracie produced a wonderful litter of pups.

    Dutch
    Dutch was born on September 21, 2007. He was raised in the PUPS2C4U club in Washington. As far as I can tell, Kyle comes from Dutch's fifth litter. If you look closely at the picture of Dutch, you can see that Kyle inherited the distinct center line on his nose that comes to a point in the middle from his dad.

    Gracie
    Gracie was born on the same exact day as Dutch. It's fun to think that they were in the guide dog kennels together. Gracie was raised in the Future Vision club in Washington. The K-litter was Gracie's first litter. I think Kyle's coloring looks a lot like his mama's coloring. Kyle's also developing the muscular lines Gracie has on her chest.

    Kaya
    Kaya is the lone sister of the litter. She is being raised in Washington in the Future Vision club. Her raisers are the same family that raised Gracie.

    Kearney
    Kearney and Kyle were reunited at the California fun day. Apparently Kearney is crazier than Kyle. Kearney and Kyle have similar coloring and the same super lean build.

    Keegan
    I don't know much about Keegan, but at least I've found a picture of him.

    Keifer
    Keifer was being raised in California in the Mt. Tam Puppy Club. Apparently he was career changed this summer for epilepsy. Poor boy! I hope he is enjoying his life as a pet now.

    Kendrick
    Kendrick is being raised in the Paws with a Plan club in California. A raiser in his group described him as a good boy. When Kyle was still in a medium jacket, Kendrick was in an extra large. This boy is huge! His size actually reminds me of my first puppy, Turk. Both Kendrick and Turk both have a gentle giant look to them. However, I cannot see any family resemblance between Kyle and Kendrick.

    Kermit
    Last but not least is Kyle's brother Kermit. When they were babies, Kyle and Kermit traveled to Colorado to be raised in the TLC Club of Larimer County. Kermit is still in that club. Between blog entries about Kermit and talking to a raiser from my club who puppy sat Kermit this summer, I know quite a bit about him. Basically, he and Kyle have a lot in common. Both started life with digestive issues, although Kyle's cleared up faster. They are both really cuddly puppies. Kermit focuses better in a head collar, and Kyle recently returned to using his. To top everything else off, I think Kermit is the brother that looks the most like Kyle. In the picture of Kermit, he is even sitting with one paw tucked under the way Kyle likes to sit.

    Isn't this a good looking family? If anyone in blogland knows Dutch, Gracie, and their K-litter, please leave a comment about them. I'd love to know even more about this family of pups.