Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Big Boy Collar

This weekend Kyle is attending Fun Day at Guide Dog's California campus with Megan. I couldn't send him off to campus still looking like a baby puppy.

I've drug my feet for over a month about switching Kyle's collar because I didn't want to admit that he has gotten so big. However, yesterday I finally bit the bullet and made the switch.

(This is the last shot of Kyle in his little puppy collar. The collar is adjusted to the absolute biggest setting.)

I didn't realize exactly how small Kyle's collar was until I took it off of him and placed it next to his new adult collar.

(These are the two collars. The gold plaque on the bigger collar has Guide Dog's contact information and Kyle's ID number--45X7.)

I don't think anyone besides a puppy raiser would notice the difference in the two collars, but Kyle sure does look grown up in his big boy collar.

 (Kyle modeled his new collar outside. He wouldn't look at the camera, but that made it all the better to get a picture of the collar.)

With his new getup, Kyle was ready to head west and do the Boot Scootin' Bow Wow with Megan. In the mean time, I'm staying behind to play with Paris and Julimae.

New Best Friend

This past weekend Kyle and I decided to take an impromptu road trip to visit my mom and Aunt Judy. Within an hour of deciding to travel, we had the car loaded and were on our way. Once again, Kyle was a good sport about the travel time. However, the friend waiting on the other side of the drive made Kyle's weekend.

Judy's family has a six-year-old black lab named Lucky. Kyle and Lucky were instant best friends. I brought Kyle's tug toys, and they had a blast playing with them.

(Lucky and Kyle are running alongside each other. They are holding opposite ends of the Jollyball rope.)

Lucky is a lot stronger than Kyle. Thus, whenever they played tug, all Lucky had to do was stand his ground. Kyle pulled and pulled, but Lucky won most games of tug without exerting much effort. The boys were so fun together that we literally sat around and watched them for entertainment a couple times a day.

(Kyle and Lucky playing tug with the Jollyball. I love that Kyle's ears are flying because he had to exert so much effort to try and pull against Lucky.)

Lucky had never played with all of the GDB approved toys. Kyle gave Lucky one of his sterilized  bones. Before the week is over, Lucky will have a goughnut and a nylabone. Lucky also has a Furminator ordered from ebay. Lucky might not be a guide dog, but GDB has the best things for labs figured out.

(My mom held a sterilized bone for both dogs while they gnawed away at them. Spoiled boys!)

These dogs bonded quickly. If Kyle was on tiedown, Lucky stayed near him. Lucky always sleeps near Judy, but this weekend Lucky was a traitor and slept in the family room with Kyle and me. I took Kyle to church Sunday. When we got home Lucky started whining at my door of the van because I wasn't letting Kyle out quickly enough. Monday when I put Kyle in my car to head home, Lucky tried to jump in.

I wasn't the only person who decided to run away. After a weekend of fun, Judy headed to my home yesterday, but she left Lucky at home. Poor boys! We're just going to head south again sometime soon so that Kyle can play with his new best friend.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Playing with Picassa

Last week Kyle enjoyed a play date with Picassa and Sugar. Tuesday Picassa came over to play with Kyle. Kyle loved the interaction with other dogs on both occasions.

Kyle and Picassa spent a lot of time tumbling all over each other. While they played, I worked on my thesis, which means I was silly and didn't get any pictures of the fun they had together.

One thing that both dogs enjoyed was dinner time. Kyle gets slightly possessive of his food when other dogs are around, so this was a great training opportunity for him. He did a great job of waiting to eat even though another puppy was in the room. Of course, when Kyle finished first, I had to distract him so that Picassa could finish eating in peace.

(Kyle and Picassa intently stared at me while I prepared their meals. Picassa was so hungry, she even licked her lips.)

(Kyle did his nightly stare down of his food dish.)

(Picassa was also intently focused on her meal, but she was willing to look at the camera for a picture.)

Picassa has such a happy personality. Her tail is constantly wagging, and she seems really eager to please. I wanted the chance to play with her more, so I convinced Megan to trade puppies just for the night so that I could interact with her a little more.

My plans for Wednesday were mostly centered around working on my thesis. Picassa and I spent a lot of time in my thesis chair's office working on an important draft. We made the deadline, but Picassa spent a lot of time sleeping under my thesis chair's table.

(Picassa slept curled up like a little puppy under the table.)

Neither Picassa nor I could spend all day sitting and working, so we did fit in a few walks around the interior and exterior of the building to stretch our legs. We even stepped into a class for a couple minutes. Picassa handled the new environment wonderfully.

Picassa ended up being great moral support. When I was dragging and didn't want to type another word, she would pop up and put her head on my leg. Picassa didn't expect to be petted or try to get attention in any way, but she was just checking in. Honestly, if this girl doesn't make it as a guide, she displayed perfect therapy dog behavior. She would be great in that career!

(Picassa resting her head on my leg. She has sweet eyes in this picture.)

My thesis chair is not a dog fan. (I appreciate her because she is so supportive of my work with Kyle even though she doesn't like dogs.) It's taken time, but Kyle learned to ignore my chair because she ignores him. Picassa hasn't learned that lesson though. Every time my chair came near, Picassa touched her cold, wet nose to my chair's toes. I corrected Picassa, but inwardly I laughed at my chair's reaction. Thank you Picassa for entertaining me when I would have been bored otherwise!

After I finished my thesis draft, Picassa and I ran errands. She did a great job! Every little kid, and some adults, wanted to pet her. She received several complements for being a cute dog and being well behaved.

(Picassa loved running errands. She smiled up at me when I wanted to take her picture.)

At puppy club Megan and I traded back puppies although other raisers actually worked with Kyle for the duration of the meeting. Our meeting's theme was actually a surprise birthday party for Megan and Picassa. Their birthdays are only one day apart. Happy birthday to Megan today and Picassa tomorrow!

(Megan and Picassa posed with the sheet of brownies. The top is decorated with a paw print and the words "Happy Birthday Megan and Picassa!")

Picassa, you are an incredibly happy girl! You are welcome to play with Kyle and me whenever you want to do so.

Eight Things at Eight Months

Today Kyle is eight-months-old. In honor of this milestone, here are eight new things he got to do this month.
  1. Kyle has logged hundreds of miles on road trips. Included in those travels was his first trip to Idaho.
  2. While in Idaho, Kyle got to play with my nephew in sand and a shallow lake. Kyle loved getting wet and dirty.
  3. He road public transportation for the first time with a puppy sitter from our club. She said that he was a pro.
  4. While with the same puppy sitter, Kyle worked an overnight shift and still had tons of energy the next day. He is an Energizer bunny.
  5. Kyle got to attend a small town parade. It lasted all of fifteen minutes but provided distractions in the form of other dogs, horses, fire engines, semi trailers, and people throwing candy. In truth, none of those things distracted him, but Kyle did enjoy the melting popsicle a little girl tried to share with him. He was disappointed when I stopped her.
  6. In all of our travels, Kyle has met several K9 friends and learned to play nice with other dogs (and share his toys). He decided he likes "sleep overs" with his dog friends.
  7. Kyle got to go to the movie theater and a play with me. He liked to pop up at all of the loud scene changes, but was really well behaved besides that.
  8. Finally, Kyle got his first taste of people food. I was asleep when my cousin came in late one night. He fed Kyle a chip before my aunt could tell him that people food is a no-no. Oops! Kyle liked the experience, but that is the one thing from this list he isn't going to repeat any time soon.
Happy eight months Kyle! You are growing into a wonderful service dog!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Kyle's Genealogy

I decided to trace Kyle's genealogy back five generations this morning. Call me a nerd, but it sounded like fun.

I actually decided to trace it because we have four Kentucky (a prominent sire) puppies in our club right now. All four have different mothers. I wanted to see if Kyle actually had any connection to all of them. He doesn't, but that's okay. I like Kyle's genealogy better.

Mesa is Kyle's great uncle! Man, that still makes me smile. In case that means nothing to you, Mesa is the second dog I co-raised with my sister Becky.

Mesa was career changed and lived as our family pet for several years. However, Mesa's sister Maddie was pulled as a breeder for guide dogs. Maddie's daughter is Vail. Vail's daughter is Stella. Stella's son is Dutch. Dutch is Kyle's dad. (That sounds like one of the long so-and-so begat so-and-so chapters in the Old Testament.) All that is important is that is that Mesa is Kyle's great-great-great uncle. How cool is that?

This recent discovery makes me all the happier that I am raising Kyle. It was meant to be!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Random Vacation Memories

I promise that this will be the last post about the road trip to Idaho. These pictures include a hodgepodge of memories that are just too good not to include.

Papa loves dogs, so he had a blast playing with Kyle and Boo. After playing tug with Kyle for quite a while, he still didn't want to stop. In fact, the last thing they did before we left was play tug together.

(Kyle and Papa playing tug together.)

Kyle spent a good portion of Saturday running around outside with Boo and another neighbor dog. While Kyle enjoyed the rare freedom, he did check back with us frequently by peering in the window. Every time he stared at us, it made everyone laugh.

(Kyle intently looking at everyone through the window.)

On Sunday everyone decided to head to the river walk again. By then my foot was out of commission, so Kyle and I enjoyed reading in the grass while we waited for our family to return.

(Kyle looking regal as he lies in the grass.)

Monday night we finally took Kyle on an outing where only guide dogs would be allowed. Ricky and Papa had never been in public with one of my pups before, so this was a new experience for them. We celebrated Nicki's birthday at a yummy Mexican restaurant. Kyle stayed calmly under the table for the entire meal. That even included the wait staff singing to Nicki, much to her chagrin.

(Here's everyone I spent the wonderful weekend with: Papa, Nicki, Ricky, Me, and Kassie.)

After dinner we headed to the store to get ingredients for dessert and a few other odds and ends. Papa asked to walk Kyle. Since Kyle was in a head collar that night, I let him. They made an adorable team. Papa is fascinated with Kyle's career as a "blind dog" and repeatedly told me that he was going to be the best "blind dog" ever. I sure hope so.

(Kyle walked on a loose leash for Papa the whole time Papa had him.)

Papa was so good with Kyle that I hope he gets the chance to puppy raise in five or ten years. I've already planted the idea in his head.

Check out the video to see how well they walked together. At one point Papa took a wrong turn, but he even figured out how to redirect Kyle towards our group without pulling on the leash. Way to go Papa and Kyle!

I love my family! Kyle and I both had a blast spending a wonderful weekend with them. Hopefully it won't be too long until we're together again.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Day at the Sand Dunes

My sister Nicki and her family originally decided to visit Kassie so that they could go four wheeling at nearby sand dunes. I ended up as part of the plan because I invited myself along. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see my "almost twin" sister (we're the same age part of the year) and my adorable nephew. My brother-in-law is great, too!

Monday morning we headed to the dunes. We had two four wheelers, but one of them decided not to work. Thus, we had to find another way to entertain ourselves while we took turns riding. After a brief walk around the parking area, we found a shallow lake where Papa and Kyle could get wet while Nicki and I visited and watched.

When I first had Kyle, he didn't want to walk through puddles. Thus, I was amazed at how quickly he voluntarily ran into the water. He'd run a large circle around me through the water and across the beach.
 There is no doubt that Kyle is a water-loving dog.

(Kyle standing in the water. At the lake's deepest point, it was probably 1.5 feet deep.)

Of course, getting wet didn't make enough of a mess. Kyle decided that he wanted to roll in the sand after a few runs through the lake. That effectively changed him to a gray lab.

(This is a shot of Kyle's underside completely coated in sand.)

Kyle never completely wore himself out, but he did spend some downtime soaking up the sun rays.

(Kyle lying in the sand. I love that his nose is completely covered. I'd brush the sand off, but it never lasted.)

Eventually Kyle got tired of the hot sun and decided to make a cooler spot for himself. Sometimes animals' natural instincts amaze me. Kyle has never dug in the past, but he taught himself how and burrowed down until he got to the cooler wet sand below the ground's surface.

(This is a great video of Kyle flinging sand everywhere as he dug himself a cool resting spot.)

Kyle never got to rest in his holes for very long because Papa always filled them in for him. I counted at least three seperate holes that Kyle created for himself though.

Papa loved having a K9 friend to play with in the sand. Kyle got too rowdy at one point and jumped on Papa. Other than that, they made great playmates. Kyle even sat patiently while Papa tried to bury him.

(Papa has a huge grin and Kyle has a grimace as Papa poured sand on Kyle's back. The sand was too dry to actually bury the patient pup.)

Perhaps Kyle's favorite part of the trip was the last few minutes. I walked Kyle through a spot that had a few burrs, so I let him sit on my lap long enough to check the pads of his feet. He didn't want to get up afterward. He still thinks he is a lap dog.

(Gigantic Kyle overwhelmed my lap as he rested on it, but he enjoyed the treat nonetheless.)

Of course, after a messy day at the beach, only one option remained for Kyle. He had to get wet again as he took a bath. He survived though, and is now squeaky clean.

(Kyle gets to sport a mohawk whenever I bathe him. He is less than impressed.)

After Kyle's fun at the beach, I want to go to a deeper lake where I can take him swimming. That would be fun!

Playing at the Park

Idaho falls has one of the biggest parks I have ever seen. It was spread over several acres and housed several different sets of play equipment. We headed to the park so that Papa could play, but the adults in our group ended up having just as much fun.

This outing was after my foot disaster, so Kyle and I started out taking it easy.

(Kyle and I sat at the picnic tables and watched the water bottles.)

(Kyle hanging out on the squishy rubber mat under all of the play equipment. He didn't mind the new surface at all.)

Does anyone know if there is a puppy raising club in Idaho Falls? We had several families approach us with interest in Guide Dogs. Kyle and I especially had fun telling all of the cute kids about his training and future career.

(A curly-haired little two-year-old was fascinated with Kyle. She smiled from ear to ear when she saw him.)

(Kyle and I teaching three young children about how to interact with a service dog. They were full of great questions.)

My favorite find at the park was a giant braille alphabet. I thought the sign was a great tactile activity for little kids. Plus, it was the perfect spot to get a picture of a future guide dog.

(Kyle in a handsome sit in front of the braille alphabet. The sign is twice as tall as Kyle.)

(Kyle and I sitting to the side of the alphabet.)

Idaho Falls Riverwalk

While Kyle and I had a great time at my friend's farm, we were excited to see my sisters and headed to Idaho Falls for the second half of our trip.

When Kyle and I pulled into Kassie's house, the first thing Kassie and I did was let Kyle and Boo meet. Boo is Kassie's almost six-year-old black lab/chow mix. It took about a minute for Boo to establish her dominance over Kyle, and then they were great friends the rest of our stay.

Since Kyle had just sat through another long car ride and Boo was stuck home while Kassie worked all day, we decided to lod up the dogs and head to the riverwalk downtown.

(Boo and Kyle sitting on the back seat with smiles on their faces and their tongues hanging out of their mouths.)

Kyle and I loved the riverwalk, and Kassie was willing to act as our photographer so we actually got quite a few pictures together.

(Kyle and I sitting in front of a spillway on the river.)

(Kyle and I sitting in front of the river.)

It sure felt good to stretch our legs after half a day in the car. Because Boo isn't a service dog, she got to run around on the trail sniffing everything and chasing geese. I was so proud of Kyle. He didn't let working alongside Boo distract him in the slightest and walked on a nice loose leash with his head held high the entire time.

(At one point we got another family to take a picture of Kassie, Boo, Kyle and me in front of one of the spillways.)

The riverwalk was a perfect evening outing. Next time we visit Kassie, we'll have to make a return trip to the river.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Farm Living is the Life for Me

The first stop on my road trip with Kyle was to my friend's farm. She, her husband, and their three little girls live in the middle of their working farm. Honestly, their back yard is barley fields. I love the peacefulness of visiting their home!

Kyle's favorite thing about my visits with this friend is her three adorable daughters. They've met on multiple occasions, and the girls love to play with Kyle. He got all kinds of attention from them on the trip. They played with him during the day, and every night before bed, the girls gave him kisses and hugs.

(The three cute girls are pulling on the rope of Kyle's jollyball while he pulls on the opposite end. The ball in the middle made this a safe game of tug for little hands.)

During the trip, my friend, the girls, and I picked and canned 40 pounds of pie cherries. I got to bring home seven of them for my food storage. While this blog is about my puppy raising adventures, gardening and canning are two of my other favorite hobbies.

 (These five buckets of cherries turned into 14 canned quarts, 4 frozen quarts, and one wonderful cherry crisp.)

Unfortunately for Kyle, dealing with cherry pits and sticky syrup meant that he had to stay on tie down by the piano for the good part of an afternoon. This was not his favorite activity.

(Kyle is tied to the piano and ignoring two bones at his side. His droopy eyes tell the story of his boredom.)

Thankfully, Kyle never stayed bored for too long. The girls left their other play activities to make frequent visits to Kyle.
(E, 4-years-old, took this picture of H, 6-years-old, playing with Kyle. H patiently held Kyle's bones while he chewed them on multiple occasions.)

While we primarily stayed around the house, Kyle did get to go on a walk to see some nearby cows and horses. He also helped me babysit the girls at the park while my friend went to a doctor's appointment.

(I love this shot of Kyle lying in the grass at the park and looking straight up at the camera. He is turning into such a handsome dog!)

After three days at my friend's farm, the verdict is that I could live on a farm forever. I tend to be a natural homebody, so my friend's lifestyle suits me. However, I think Kyle would turn down the chance to move to a farm. Without permission to kill gophers and run free like the farm dog, Kyle would get bored. He loves to be out and about too much. Thus, we'll stick to living in our wonderful community that feels like a small town for my sake but has plenty of places for Kyle to visit.

Lucky Break

I'd rather start with the high points of the road trip Kyle and I just finished, but after today, it only makes sense to start elsewhere.

Kyle and I traveled two different places in Idaho. The first was to a friend's home for a few days. The second destination was to my sister Kassie's house. We got there Friday evening, and at 1:30 am on Saturday, my sister Nicki and her family joined us.

As I helped unload my adorable 5-year-old nephew Papa (otherwise known as Ricky, Jr.) from their pickup, I stepped off a curb and landed with the full weight of Papa on that leg. In an unbecoming manner, I hollered for Kassie to take him and hobbled into the house. Almost immediately my foot swelled. However, I was stubborn and determined to sleep off the ordeal.

The next morning the swelling increased and my food started turning fun colors. I didn't let that stop me though. Kyle and I still joined in on almost every family activity. The only difference it made for Kyle was a return it his head collar. With my limping gait, I decided that I needed to be able to easily control him. (I've since taken it back off. He has adjusted to my new, weird pace just fine.)

Since my foot wasn't healing, I finally gave in to my family and friends' insistence that I have it checked out. Thus, Kyle got to accompany me to my first doctor trip in almost seven years. Yep, you read that right. I am so stubborn about getting better on my own, that I refuse to see a doctor unless people really get on my case.

(Kyle sitting patiently in the exam room. I used him for a foot rest.)

It didn't take long for the doctor to determine that I needed x-rays. Kyle accompanied me to the x-ray room and stayed in a perfect down behind the table (where he wouldn't have to wear a shield) while they took images. I was so proud of him. Last week we went to the optometrist (a doctor I cannot avoid), and he didn't grasp the concept of staying out of the way. Thus, he got lots of praises from me and the technician.

The doctor came back with a diagnosis that I didn't like. My foot is broken. As far as broken bones go, this is a lucky one. I got away with wearing an ace bandage and a funny shoe for the next 4-6 weeks.

(My styling new footwear. I feel like a grandma wearing my navy blue, velcro shoe. Kyle doesn't care though, so why should I?)

I feel really lucky with this break because I didn't end up on crutches. This could have been a lot worse. Before the doctor told me the treatment, I started getting scared that I wouldn't be able to take care of Kyle and would have to send him to a puppy sitter. Since I can walk, I get to keep my puppy with me. Thus, I had a lucky break!

Now here's the golden question: Is there anyone in my area who wants to help a cute puppy get some exercise for the next couple weeks? Kyle would love to accompany some of my friends on their walks and hikes until I can pick up the pace and travel farther.

Despicable Me

Kyle got to attend his first movie tonight. Aside from caving into the temptation to eat a few kernels of popcorn, he did great.

Despicable Me was a fun film, and my favorite part was something most people probably don't notice. The odd dog-like pet at Gru's house is named Kyle. The name is only mentioned once in passing, but it was enough to make me smile. The writers of this film know how to name a dog!

Though they have the same name, my Kyle sure is a lot cuter than Gru's Kyle.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Road Tripping with Kyle

Last Wednesday Kyle and I set out on a road trip that was supposed to cover 1034.42 miles in 15 hours and 20 minutes of drive time over a six day period. That estimate didn't even include drive times while we were at our destinations. Now that we are home, I can say that we covered that much distance, but thanks to road construction, we logged more time than that in the car.

It was with a bit of trepidation that I took Kyle with me on this trip. How well behaved can a puppy be in a car for hours on end? Let's just say that Kyle was a pro. Honestly, I have never met a dog that traveled as well as he did. I hope Kyle gets paired with a partner that loves to travel because he is the dog for the job!

When I first got Kyle, we had a contest of wills over where he would sit in the car. I am insistent that my puppies belong on the floor. He has learned his lesson, and sits on my passenger floorboard now. Thus, that is where Kyle started this trip.

(Kyle is smashed in a tiny ball on my floorboard.)

Eventually, I started to feel bad for his cramped position, so I invited Kyle onto the front seat. He sat well mannered and enjoyed looking out the windows.

(Kyle in a perfect sit on the front seat while he looks out the windshield.)

You never know what interesting things you will see on a road trip.

(A foot and leg are hanging out of the trunk of a car. I'm pretty sure they are fake because my family used to have one to use for Halloween and April Fool's Day.)

While I had good intentions of giving Kyle more space by allowing him on the front seat, he wanted to sleep more. Thus, he curled in a ball on the seat which offered less space than the floorboard. At one point I looked over at him and he had half fallen off the seat and was still dead asleep.

(Kyle is sound asleep with his front half on the seat and his rear end on the floorboard. His body is bent awkwardly.)

The towel on the front seat gives away the fact that I planned from the outset of the trip to let Kyle on the front seat eventually. However, I realized that he really needed even more space. Kyle never complained one bit, but I felt bad for him. About four hours into day one of our trip, I pulled over, got my emergency blanket out of the trunk, and covered the backseat so that Kyle could have more space. He loved that!

(Kyle sitting on the backseat with a lopsided grin and his tongue hanging out of his mouth.)

Truth be told, although I have cute pictures of Kyle when he was awake in the car, he spent almost all the car time on our trip asleep. That is what made him such an easy travel companion.

(Kyle is lying on the backseat half asleep.)

My favorite moments with Kyle in the car were when he wanted to keep enjoying the luxury or the back seat while being by me. On multiple occasions, he stretched so that his rear end was on the back seat, his front end was on my arm rest, and his stomach was suspended in the air. Talk about a good ab workout.
(Kyle has his head and both paws wedged on my armrest and his hind quarters on the back seat.)

(Kyle is tipped sideways on my armrest and falling asleep. This time he had fallen off the seat, so he was sitting on the floor.)

I'm amazed at how well Kyle did. Today as I traveled home, I actually talked to another raiser in my club who wants to take Kyle to the California Fun Day at the end of the month. I was happy to tell her that he is the perfect dog for that road trip. Between that trip and one we have planned to Colorado next month, Kyle is going to be a seasoned traveler before long.

The real question is how long it will take me to retrain Kyle to only sit on the front floorboard now that he has experienced the luxury of a back seat.