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.

    Friday, September 17, 2010

    Conquering a Fear

    Kyle and I just returned from conquering one of my biggest fears. I'd like to report that Kyle was great emotional support, but the truth is that he ditched me for a librarian.

    (Kyle sitting under a librarian's desk while she looks up book prices. I cannot wait to see what books they decided to buy. Hopefully Kyle is developing a great taste in literature and gave some good suggestions.)

    While Kyle hung out with a friend, I volunteered to be poked. Several times a year our school library turns into a blood donation center, and I decided it was about time for me to overcome my fears and donate.

    While Kyle hung out with one librarian, the other was my moral support. She did a great job of cheering me, and a few students, on. When my ears started ringing, she even jumped up and grabbed an apple juice for me. I love my coworkers!

    (Here I am in the donation chair. Aside from my ringing ears, donating really wasn't too bad.)

    Kyle was a good boy for the librarian while I donated! He even behaved afterward when I held him with one hand and snacked with the other. I figured the calories were guilt free, so I enjoyed a few.

    Back in my classroom a student snapped pictures of Kyle and me so that I could show off my pink smiley face bandage. Kyle thought it was great fun to have me down at his level during the school day and decided we needed to play instead. Thus, we have a goofy picture to document my bravery.

    (Kyle is trying to lick my face while I smile down at him. I love the arm bandage!)

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    Back to School Blues

    Kyle and I are alive. We've been absent from the blog sphere, but busy as can be in real life. It's pointless to play catch up on everything we've been doing, but I have to include a back to school post.

    All summer I fretted about how Kyle would do at work this year. Last year he was fine, but Kyle is a lot more energetic and vocal now. I wasted a lot of my energy worrying for nothing because Kyle has been great! He spends most of his time at school tied down to my desk quietly sleeping.

    (Kyle uses my backpack for a pillow whenever he gets the chance. Some things never change.)

    Every now and then Kyle gives up on the idea of sleeping and decides to watch the class instead. This always brings a smile to my face and the face of any student who notices him.

    (Kyle stretched under my desk so that he can see the classroom of students. I guess he enjoys people watching.)

    Although Kyle is normally great at school, sometimes his patience wears thin. On the Friday of the first full week of school Kyle decided he had enough. During the last class of the day, he pulled my desk with him as he tried to escape. It's a heavy desk, so he is one strong dog!

    (Kyle pulled the corner of the desk about two feet in an attempt to get free. I laughed, pushed the desk back, and he's been fine ever since.)

    Being back at school has provided Kyle with all types of training challenges. The halls are so crowded and littered with food that the poor boy is back in a head collar for a bit. (Teach me to brag.) He is improving by leaps and bounds at walking through huge crowds. I have a habit of pushing through groups of kids so that I can get where I am headed, and Kyle likes to help me part the red sea. It helps that Kyle is on a no petting rule until October 1 so that he could get used to focusing on me in the chaos. My students are counting down the days until then.

    After Kyle escaped from me while I was talking to a librarian after school one day, I've decided to put more practice into an off-leash down. You have to know, the escape was my fault. See, I was stepping on Kyle's leash and using my hands to talk, and I didn't pay attention and must have moved my foot. Kyle took that opportunity to go make friends with students in the hall outside the library. Now, I've been practicing for a few seconds at a time in my classroom to try and avoid that mishap again. Thus far Kyle is doing wonderfully.

    (Kyle is in a down stay in my classroom after school. Note the open classroom door. On a side note, I love my wall of books in the back corner. One student told me my classroom looks like a library. I can't think of a better complement.)

    The most important thing about the school year is that the Kyle fan club is alive and strong. Even with the no petting rule, students have fallen in love with Kyle. Rarely a day goes by when I don't meet new students just because of my awesome puppy.

    In his first paper of the year, one student wrote, "A good example of perseverance is (insert my name here) who chooses to train the dogs for the blind. I am sure that she gets mad and that she has times when she wants to give the dog to someone else to train but she perseveres." I love it. Thankfully the "mad" moments with Kyle are nothing compared to the happy moments.

    Finally, cartoon Kyle is still making appearances on my white board. This drawing perfectly captures Kyle's pathetic after school face. He knows when it is time to go home.

    (A green puppy drawing. I love the head between the paws and the sad eyes. Next to the drawing, Kyle is thinking, "I go home now? Pwease?")

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010

    One of My Other Passions: OSSO

    I love maintaining this blog. It is a wonderful opportunity save memories of Kyle for both me and Kyle's future partner. It also helps me connect to other puppy raisers throughout the country. However, one shortcoming of a blog focused on Kyle is that I only record parts of my life. I am passionate about helping others through service dogs, but there are other things activities that also pull at my heart strings.

    When I was two-years-old, my parents adopted my sister Nicki, who was also two-years-old, from the Philippines. The experience of growing up in a family comprised of biological and adopted children gave me the desire to work in orphanages as an adult. In 2002, I made that dream a reality.

    I spent the months of May-August of 2002 volunteering in orphanages in Quito, Ecuador. In Ecuador I learned to give everything I have to love someone fully. Rarely a day goes by when I do not think about my babies. Half of my heart still resides in Ecuador.

    Truth be told, if we had orphanages in the United States, I'd work there instead of being a school teacher. I loved my time in the orphanages that much! If I get my way, I will do more orphanage volunteer trips in my life, preferably sooner rather than later.

    The program that allowed me to fulfill my lifelong dream of serving in an orphanage is called OSSO, which is short for Orphanage Support Services Organization. They are an incredible non-profit organization that supplies volunteers for several orphanages and runs one orphanage of their own.

    Right now OSSO is short on volunteers. Do you know anyone who would love to spend a few months in Ecuador working with amazing children? The country is beautiful and the children are even more beautiful. OSSO helps change the lives of orphans, but it changes the lives of the volunteers just as much.

    If you have any questions about OSSO, you can visit their website or leave me a comment.

     (These are a few of the kids OSSO works with. I love that the little boy in the back row accidentally has his flag upside down. )