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.