Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Puppy Class

Tonight was puppy class. We had a nice low key class where we watched a movie about how to properly use head collars. While the movie was really helpful, I was pretty bad and talked to the other raisers around me. Cringe. Sorry club! That said, I just love everyone in my club, and they are so much fun to talk to. Our group is amazing.

(Kyle is sitting calmly looking at the camera while we talked before the movie. I may be biased, but isn't he turning into a handsome dog?)

We had all nine dogs from our club plus one dog being puppy sat from another club all in one living room tonight. You would think 10 puppies and about 20 raisers in that environment would be mayhem, but it wasn't. All of the pups were incredibly well behaved and settled really well. It was actually pretty impressive.

(Lest you doubt where Kyle sat during the movie, he curled up on my lap. Even though he is getting huge, he still prefers my lap to anywhere else.)

After the movie, we headed outside to get a new club photo. Several of the puppies from the last group shot are in formal harness training, and we have two new additions to the club. With each new puppy truck, we have to retake the group photo.

(Here are all nine dogs in our club with their raisers. From left to right: Jacinda (FBL), Julimae (FYL), Kyle (MYL), Spike (MYL), Christina (FBL), Picassa (FYL), Keiko (MBL), Breeze (FYL), and Sugar (FGLD))

When I first decided to puppy raise again, my plan was to get a puppy off the June puppy truck so that it would be house broken before I had to go back to teaching in the fall. However, in April my club leader briefly mentioned an 18-week-old male yellow lab that needed to be transferred from a club in Colorado. Without a pause, I told her that I wanted him. A week later I found out that Kyle was mine.

While I wouldn't trade raising Kyle for anything, I do miss the fun of getting to play with a baby puppy. When Julimae and Keiko arrived last week, I couldn't help thinking that my baby puppy would have been on that truck. Things turned out perfectly for me and Kyle, but I did have to trade Kyle for a few minutes so that I could cuddle little Julimae. She is such a doll baby!

(Here's me holding little Julimae. She is tiny, adorable, and completely cuddle-able. During the movie, I also played with Keiko. He had the best puppy breath! Yes, I'm weird.)

After club meeting, Kyle headed off to a puppysitter's home until Monday. Saturday I have a cousin's wedding in the morning and tickets for a fireworks show in the evening. The wedding was doable with a puppy, but puppies in training cannot attend fireworks shows. Thus, I needed someone to watch Kyle Saturday.

(Kyle, Picassa, and Sugar in the hatchback of a car before Kyle headed off to the puppysitter's home.)

The puppysitter that is watching Kyle loves him. As we talked, she managed to convince me that Kyle needed to stay with her for five days instead of the one I intended. Honestly, I will miss him a ton, but I think he will have a blast with her. After all, Kyle is going to get to play with three other dogs and two kittens. Plus, he will get all kinds of new experiences like riding public transportation and working a night shift. Kyle's puppysitter promised pictures in exchange for his extended stay, so I will write about his adventures when I get him back.

(The last view of Kyle's cute face until Monday. He looks so happy with his goofy grin and his tongue hanging out.)

Have fun and be a good boy Kyle!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Too Long

Today I was talking on the phone to one of my good friends. In the middle of our conversation, I mentioned my guide dog.

After a brief pause, she asked, "So are you blind now?"

I think I need to be better about keeping in contact with this friend. What do you think?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Seven Things at Seven Months

Time is flying! In honor of Kyle being seven months old, here are seven wonderful things about him.
  1. Kyle hardly ever needs to wear his head collar anymore. On most outings, he behaves wonderfully with just his flat collar. I'm amazed how quickly he figured this out.
  2. Goodbye constant tie-downs! Kyle is now free in the house with just his longline almost all of the time. He even sleeps free in my room.
  3. At this time last month, Kyle still had digestive issues. Now he is medicine free, transitioned to a new dog food, and doing great!
  4. Kyle mastered the command "down." He doesn't always want to do this command, but he can do it perfectly if his mind is on it.
  5. Kyle must have gotten a break job when I wasn't paying attention. He used to sit stubbornly, or put on the breaks, when he didn't want to walk anymore or he didn't want to get in the car. Now he is always willing to walk as far as I ask and doesn't hesitate to jump in the car.
  6. I have one smart puppy on my hands. Most of the time his intelligence makes him easy to train. Sometimes he uses this trait to assess a situation and figure out how to be naughty. Even that makes me laugh though.
  7. The best part of Kyle's progress in the past month is his attachment to me. While he has always been cuddly, a month ago he still maintained some emotional distance from me. (He had just lost his first family after all.) I honestly feel like we are a bonded team now, and that makes a huge difference for both of us. 
I love my boy. Time is flying because we're having fun!
(Kyle got a seven month present today. Here he is with his new jollyball. )

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Evaluations at Cabela's

Last Thursday our club had evaluations with our CFR. Barb came in from Colorado to meet with the Utah puppy clubs. Since we needed a central location to meet, we gathered outside Cabela's.

The evaluations went well. Everyone had to share one thing their dog did well and one problem area. I snuck in two of Kyle's strengths...his new mastery of puppy pushups (consecutive sits and downs) and the fact that he no longer has to wear a head collar on all of our outings.

Kyle has the same issue as other pups in our class, so we spent a lot of time talking about dogs that voluntarily relieve on walks. I got a few great pointers. Kyle is still having accidents on neighborhood walks and hikes, but now I have an idea of a few things I can do work on the issue.

After the club meeting, Megan, Hannah, and I decided to walk our dogs through Cabela's. We figured there would be plenty of distractions for Picassa, Sugar, and Kyle. Of course, all three dogs ignored all the displays and worked through the store like pros. We have amazing dogs in our club!

(Picassa, Sugar, and Kyle siting in front of a display with a black bear looking over their shoulders. Picassa is the oldest, yet smallest, dog in the picture.)

I never get pictures with Kyle since the camera is always in my hand. Megan was kind enough to snap one of us together.

(Kyle and me in front of a mule deer display.)

After all the dead, stuffed animals, we decided to visit the live fish. I tried to show Kyle the fish, but he wasn't interested and watched the little kids in the room instead. If there is anything that distracts Kyle, it is children. He loves them!

(Kyle ignoring the fish display. The photo is dark, but if you look closely, you can see the fish.)

Next time we have a club meeting, we'll have two new puppies to play with. I'm excited!

Weekend with Sugar and Kassie

Almost a week and a half ago, Sugar and Kassie both visited Kyle and me. I finally found a few minutes to post pictures of our adventure.

I know that Kyle's first raisers had a pet dog. Since he has lived with me, Kyle hasn't had many opportunities to play with other dogs. Sugar is only two weeks older than Kyle, so she and Kyle made great playmates. However, when I first let Sugar and Kyle play together they were pretty rough on each other.

(Kyle is pouncing on Sugar while she bares her teeth at him. They both look pretty vicious.)

After a few corrections for overly rough play, I put them both in down stays with bones to entertain themselves. They did a great job with this one even though neither was on tie down.

(Sugar and Kyle are both in great down stays. Both happily chewed on their bones and ignored the other dog just three feet away.)

The next day my sister Kassie came into town for less than 24 hours. This was Kyle's first chance to meet one of his human aunts. He took to Kassie immediately. She sat on the floor and he pulled one of his typical maneuvers. He curled up in her lap and made her hold his bone while he chewed on it. Anyone who will let him do this is okay in Kyle's book.
(Kassie is sitting with Kyle in her lap while he gnaws away at the bone in her hand.)

My family is full of dog lovers. I have five younger sisters and three younger brothers so we make quite the clan. All six sisters are adults and four of us have homes of our own. That means that four of us have dogs. My brothers also have dog fun with dad's two pet dogs. Needless to say, Kyle was a happy addition to the whole mix.

Kassie wanted to bring Kyle a present when she met him. Boo, Kassie's black lab/chow mix, didn't like her nylabone, so she brought it for Kyle. He loved it and already has it pretty worn out. In return, Kyle and I sent a Kong wobbler back for Boo. She now eats a large portion of her meals in it. Yes, my family spoils our K9 members.
 (Kyle curled up against Kassie's leg chewing on his new Nylabone.)

During all the introductions, Sugar also got plenty of attention. With two humans, the dogs got plenty of love. Of course, they both liked to vie for the same human's attention at the same time.

 (Kyle on my lap with Sugar on the floor in front of us.)

Kassie is 5 1/2 years younger than me, so when I raised Turk she was too young to help much. When Becky and I co-raised Mesa, Kassie didn't help much either. Thus, with two dogs Kassie got a new adventure. We took both dogs to the bank and grocery store, so Kassie got to walk a guide puppy in public for the first time. She loved it! Kyle and Sugar made it easy since they are both so wonderfully behaved in public.

Later in the evening, Kassie and I headed to our favorite hangout spot...a local arcade. Since we weren't sure how the dogs would handle all the noises, strange lighting situations, and other odd goings on, we only took Kyle. He did so well, we really could have taken Sugar too. Kyle didn't even blink at all the fun. He simply curled up at the skee-ball, video games, and basketball hoops. The only event that caught his attention was the air hockey. Kyle put his front paws on the table, but I think that was basically because he wanted to see what was going on

(Kyle and I playing air hockey. I had to get a picture before correcting him and making him stay down. He was too cute!)

When we got home, we let Kyle and Sugar play in my spare room while Kassie and I visited. Sugar got tired and stretched out on Kyle's dog bed. After a while, Kyle noticed that there was enough space for him too, so he joined Sugar on his bed. I was impressed that they wanted to cuddle each other without play fighting.

(Kyle is on the bed while Sugar is half on/half off the bed. Sugar chose her position first.)

Early the next morning, we took Kassie to the airport, and I was left with two dogs and one human again. The day before, my club leader had Kyle, Sugar, and Mara. She walked the three of them for two miles. I'd never walked two dogs at once, but Kris inspired me. I figured that if she could walk three dogs for two miles, I could walk two dogs for three miles.

(Kyle and Sugar both walking on loose leash. Although they are almost the same age, this picture shows that Sugar is a lot bigger.)

My neighborhood is great because it is still zoned for livestock. On our walk, Sugar, Kyle, and I got to see horses, cows, and goats. Even though Kyle sees these animals all the time, Sugar actually did better around them. She didn't even blink at any of the animals, while Kyle backed away from the horses a bit.

(A beautiful white and brown paint horse with the mountains in the background. I love the scenery in our community!)

(Kyle and Sugar in perfect sits while watching the horses. Notice that Kyle is behind Sugar. He didn't want to get as close.)

Kyle and I loved puppysitting Sugar, and she is welcome back any time she wants to visit. Kassie already knows that she has an open invitation to visit whenever she wants. :)

On a final note, here are a couple adorable pictures of the two pups. Their personalities and looks couldn't be much more different, but they are both incredible dogs!

(This shot of Kyle looking at the camera shows off what my mom dubbed the "skid mark" on his lips.)

(Beautiful Sugar! As the only golden retriever in our club, she is adored by all. Since she is on breeder watch, maybe some of us will be lucky enough to raise a Sugar puppy someday.)

Sunday, June 20, 2010


I wonder if Kyle will think the same thing after tomorrow?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bathtime Antics

Today Kyle got his first bath since being transferred to me. After all, we have evaluations with our CFR tonight, so he needs to look spiffy.

While he didn't enjoy the bath, Kyle was great at standing still while I soaped him down. He even let me spike his hair. Unfortunately, I forgot to take the camera in the bathroom, so the spike pictures will have to wait for Kyle's next bath.

Kyle was hilarious after the bath. He ran back and forth between my bedroom and spare room. Afterward, rubbed against the carpet for several minutes. Even after I distracted him with dinner, Kyle returned to the spare room and continued trying to rub off any trace of water. Silly dog!

The following three videos are of Kyle running around and rubbing himself against the floor.

After all of his antics, Kyle decided to curl up in a sunny spot. That wasn't a bad idea since the sun will finish drying him.

(Kyle is curled up in the sunny spot on my spare room floor and looking at me will puppy dog eyes. I can almost hear him saying, "Aw mom, why did you have to go and bathe me?")

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Data Review Crunch Time

Next Wednesday I have a data review meeting for my thesis. The good news is that means I am only about two months off of finishing graduate school and having a lot more time for Kyle. The bad news is that means Kyle gets to be bored while I frantically type my thesis.

Last week my thesis chair told me I have to work on my thesis at least 12 hours a day without ever answering my cell phone. Then she added, you cannot do anything but work on your thesis and maybe walk your dog. Since she's not a dog person, that shows how much Kyle has won her over.

Daily walks aside (which three days a week we interpret as hikes), Kyle has spent a lot of time lounging around. One evening when he couldn't cuddle with me, he decided to cuddle my backpack.

(Kyle is curled in a ball and resting his left shoulder on my backpack.)

Later Kyle decided to lay in an extremely weird, and what appears highly uncomfortable, position on my backpack. You have to realize that bag is full of books and has hard water bottles in each side pocket. Odd puppy!

(Kyle is on his back with his front half on my backpack slanting downward. His legs are curled up so that he looks like roadkill. Sad.)

Since the backpack adventures, I've moved my work to my spare room/office, where I am much more productive than I am on the couch. This has caused Kyle to get creative again. My desk isn't that big, but he manages to curl up in the little space my feet and trashcan don't take up underneath. He is always happiest when he is touching me.

(Kyle is sleeping between my legs, which you cannot see, and a leg of my desk chair. His legs are extended to take up the last little bit of free space.)

Tonight it got to be way past bedtime, and I was still hours from submitting the draft I promised my chair before the morning. I finally took pity on Kyle and brought his bed alongside my desk. Of course, Kyle had to pick an odd way to sleep on it.

(Kyle is asleep on his back with his top half on the carpet and his bottom half on his dog bed. His legs are out to his sides. The left front leg was wrapped around my chair until I moved to take the picture. Even in his soundest sleep, Kyle likes to be near me if possible.)

My mom was on the phone to me when Kyle started barking in his sleep, so I put the phone up to him, and she got to hear it. He has the funniest little barks, whines, and groans when he dreams. Thankfully, they aren't very loud, and I'm a sound sleeper.

Yes, you did notice that I was breaking the no cell phone rule. That is because I have one of the best mom's ever. She stayed up until all hours editing chapter four of my thesis. When one of my professors told me her dad wouldn't even read the bound copy of her thesis, I had to brag that my mom reads and edits every word of my thesis. I sure am loved!

Back to Kyle... Lest you fear that he isn't getting socialized, we had a wonderfully fun puppy-filled weekend that is a large contributing factor to our crunch time now. That post will have to wait. In the mean time, I have to admit that Kyle has gotten three new toys lately to somehow makeup for asking him to entertain himself for hours every day. Isn't that a bad parenting technique...buying your kids toys instead of giving them attention? Does it count for dogs? I'm afraid so. Sigh!

(Kyle is happily chewing on his new XXL red Kong. He actually got this toy because he got his large red Kong stuck in his mouth, and it scared me. I was nice and resisted my temptation to find my camera and take a picture before I pulled it out. Now he only gets his large Kongs when I'm in the room.)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Becky's Wedding Festivities

This week Kyle and I got to attend all sorts of celebrations for one of my good friend's wedding. Becky and I were grad school classmates for two years and roommates for over half of that time. While we were roommates, Becky, Rachel, and I made Porter's Place our hangout. They are an old Western themed restaurant named after Orrin Porter Rockwell. They are known for church history named dishes and great virgin drinks. Any momentous occasion, be it good or bad, called for a trip to Porter's Place. For Becky's last girls' night out, we couldn't go anywhere but there.

(Becky, Me, Trisha, and Rachael slurping our virgin drinks at Porter's Place.)

Even though were were on a girls' night, one boy did get to come along. Kyle behaved like a perfect gentlemanly escort. Most of the time he slept under the table. Truth be told, Kyle is wonderfully behaved in restaurants and sees them as a great napping spot.

(Kyle lying on his side and sleeping under the table at Porter's Place.)

Before we moved on, Kyle had to sneak in a little time with the bride-to-be. The first time Becky and Kyle met, he decided she was alright, curled up in her lap, and went to sleep. They've been friends ever since.

(Becky kneeling down with Kyle next to her just before we left the restaurant.)

After the drinks, we headed to Rachael's parent's house so that we could have a large backyard to grill dinner and watch and outdoor movie. Instead of the movie, we ended up watching the dogs. Kyle rarely gets to play with other dogs or be off leash, so he had a blast. He and Jasmine, a seven-year-old Australian Shepard/Lab mix played for two and a half hours almost nonstop.We are definitely going to have to set up more play dates for these two.

(Jasmine nipping at Kyle's neck while he jumps in the air.)

Since Kyle and Jasmine wouldn't hold still together, I had to get one of Jasmine alone when she took a break to watch the young buck run laps.

(A pretty shot of Jasmine looking off in the distance.)

Rachael's parents have a trampoline sunk in the ground. At first Kyle didn't know what to make of the bouncy surface and avoided it.

(Jeremiah bouncing on the trampoline while Becky lies on it. Jasmine and Kyle are looking on.)

It didn't take long for him to decide he liked to bounce. Kyle spent a good amount of time jumping on and off with Becky and Jeremiah.

(Jeremiah is lying on the trampoline while Becky sits next to him. Kyle is jumping on the trampoline with his ears flying in the air.)

Wednesday was wedding event free, but we sure made up for it today. In our church, weddings are performed in temples. This is the only place I don't take Kyle because everything inside is pale colored or white. As a result, while I went to Becky and Jeremiah's sealing, Kyle got to go to our club leader's house and play with her two puppies, Sugar and Mara. Mara, her female black lab, is headed to Oregon tomorrow for harness training, so this was a great opportunity for Kyle to say goodbye. Good luck Mara!

With Kyle at the puppy sitter's, I had a stress free day. It was weird to have an empty left hand and not worry about what my dog was doing every second. I managed though, and had a blast with friends. Becky was a gorgeous bride, and Jeremiah looked stunning in his chocolate tux.

(The single girls and the bride had to pose for a picture. Me, Becky, Rachael, and Jenny right after Becky got married!)

When all the morning festivities were over and I'd taken a trip to campus to meet with my thesis chair, I headed to get Kyle. It warmed my heart to see how happily he wagged my tale when I walked in the front door. He had just eaten dinner and gotten back from a long walk. My brave club leader is amazing. She walked Kyle, Sugar, and Mara for two miles at the same time! I know Kyle had a great day.

In return for puppysitting Kyle, I agreed to take Sugar for a couple days while my leader drops off Mara and attends a family reunion. Sugar is a beautiful white golden retriever who is only two weeks older than Kyle. She is a sweetie through and through.

I thought Kyle would be excited to have a friend along for a few days, but I think he got jealous of sharing my attention after leaving him all day. When we took off, Kyle did something he has never done before. He curled in a tight ball with his back to me. Kyle wouldn't even look at me when I said his name and patted his head.

(Kyle curled in a ball on the front passenger floorboard looking away from me.)

Of course, while Kyle pouted, Sugar looked unfazed in the backseat. So far, she has proved to be a really easygoing girl.

(Sugar sitting in the backseat with her tongue licking her nose.)

Back to the wedding celebrations... I got home with the puppies, relieved both of them, kenneled Sugar, and raced out the door with Kyle. He shouldn't have pouted because I had already chosen him to attend the reception with me. Since Becky knows him, Kyle was the obvious choice for the outing.

Becky and Jeremiah have tons of nieces and nephews, so there were adorable children running everywhere at the reception. About halfway through the evening, one little five-year-old, Louisa, came and introduced her self and asked to pet Kyle. She was my shadow the remainder of the night.

(Louisa kneeling in the grass next to Kyle and petting him.)

Louisa was an incredibly intelligent little girl who wanted to know all about Kyle's training. I told here the commands he knows, and she had a blast telling Kyle sit and down. However, she was disappointed that he doesn't know shake or roll over. I explained that he is only half trained so far, and that we have to teach the most important commands first. Louise proceeded to explain that concept to all her cousins for the remainder the evening.

After several rounds of puppy push-ups (successive sits and downs), Louisa wanted to try something new. I taught her lets go and let her walk Kyle along the edge of the yard. Kyle did pretty well until he found the wood chips and tried to eat them. After that, we avoided that section of the yard.

(Louisa walking Kyle around the edge of the yard on a loose leash.)

After a while several cousins noticed that Louisa was having all the fun, and they wanted a turn with Kyle. At one point he had four or five kids trying to walk him at once. That didn't last long because it was too overwhelming for Kyle. As a result, all the kids ran away except Louisa. She stayed at Kyle's side until Becky and Jeremiah drove off. Once again she proved that kids and puppies belong together. I also think she is convinced to raise a puppy in ten years or so.

(Two flower girls walking Kyle into the tall grasses at the edge of the back yard.)

Becky and Jeremiah were pretty busy all night, but Kyle and I snagged a few minutes of their time. I'm so happy for the two of them. They make an incredible couple who had a beautiful wedding.

(Me giving Becky a hug while Jeremiah looks on. Kyle is sitting patiently in the foreground.)

Weeks like this one make you believe that happily ever after does exist!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Discovery Academy

Saturday our puppy club gave a presentation at Discovery Academy, a residential treatment school. In addition to our puppies, we had two career changed dogs, two puppies from other clubs, and one working guide at the presentation.

The presentation started with a sweet man sharing his story of how he became blind, how blindness affects his life, and the benefits of working with a guide dog. He brought goggles, blindfolds, and braille cards to make everything more interactive for the kids. My favorite part of the presentation is was when he took a short walk with Mariah, his guide, to demonstrate how they work as a team. Whenever people ask me how I can give my puppies up, I just want them to see a team working together. Their unity makes my loss completely worth it!

(Mariah is a 3 1/2 year old yellow lab. She and her partner are just starting their demonstration walk in this photo.)

During the presentation we spread all of the puppies among the teens who were watching. At times Kyle just relaxed, but he really enjoyed himself after on student decided to let Kyle climb into his lap. Kyle rarely turns down the opportunity to cuddle.

(Kyle is completely flopped over on his back with his tongue hanging out. The student who is holding him is scratching Kyle's belly. Spoiled dog!)

After the presentation, students grouped around the dogs. We explained training techniques to them. Kyle and I demonstrated how to play tug and how to do a food induced recall. The students then had fun doing these two things with him. For the most part Kyle was on his best behavior until the exact moment another raiser decided to snap a picture of us.

(Kyle jumping up and putting his front paws on me. We are making progress with this bad habit, but it isn't curbed yet.)

Kyle wasn't the only puppy getting tons of attention. Each dog was thoroughly loved on Saturday. For my sister, I have to highlight one puppy in particular. When Katherine, another raiser in my club, found out she was getting a female yellow lab with a B name, I hoped she would get a puppy named Becky. Becky is my sister who raised Mesa (and I was the co-raiser). Well, Katherine ended up with Breeze, but Breeze has a sister Becky who went to a nearby club. I got to meet Becky on Saturday. These pictures are for my guide dog raising sister who shares her name with an adorable puppy. :)

(Becky being loved on by five kids at once.)

(A closeup of Becky's face. I love that she always has such a goofy grin. This is a dog who knows how to enjoy life.)

After the meeting I had the chance to hang out and visit with people from my club while Kyle played with his friends. I love this puppy raising group!

(Kyle sitting next to Spike. Spike is a handsome red colored lab!)

(Kyle staring up at the camera with his tongue hanging out of his mouth. His head looks huge at this angle.)

(Finally, Kyle worn out at the end of the meeting. He is ready to call it a day.)