Saturday, February 26, 2011

An Award!

I love the blogging world! While raising Turk and Mesa, my connection to GDB was pretty much limited to my club. This time through the puppy raising journey, I've got a wonderful puppy club, but I've also met several service dog raisers and partners out in cyberspace.

Erin is raising Rob for Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind. I loved reading about Erin's last puppy, Pompei, and this first week with Rob has been just as much fun. They were sweet enough to nominated Kyle and I for our first blog award.

One of the rules of this award is to name seven things about ourselves. I just did a post listing 15 things about Kyle, but I'll try to come up with seven things about us together.
  1. When the weather is nice, Kyle and I love to go for walks that can last hours.
  2. Kyle gets me up and going in the morning. He's a morning dog, and I'm not a morning person, so he's good for me.
  3. Most of my friends weren't sure of taking a dog everywhere when I first started raising again. Now I get invitations for Kyle and I together. In fact, last week Kyle got an invitation to a basketball game. The only reason I went was to be his chauffeur.
  4. Kyle and I both love to be outside. Why be cooped up inside when the world outside is so beautiful?
  5. Kyle is great for my dating life. He's recently helped me get to know a few guys who are dog people, and he warded off one who hates dogs.
  6. Kyle and I both love cuddling, so we get along swell.
  7. We are both game for a road trip at the drop of a hat. We've traveled together more than I ever have with any dog in the past.
Because I love following blogs that detail various parts of the service dog journey, I'll list my nominations that way.
  • I love hearing about other puppy raisers and get many training ideas from them: Megan and Snickers.
  • I've learned there really isn't anything more exciting than getting your first service dog: Sirena.
  • The bond between dogs and their partners never ceases to amaze me: Becky and Cricket.
  • Even when dogs are career changed, they still make a difference in the world: Mimi and Cabana.
  • Finally, I just have to throw in a former puppy raiser turned pet spoiler: Becky, Blue, and Max.
As a teacher, I always hear that it takes a village to raise a child. The same is true of service dogs, and I love being part of the village.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Locked Down

Yesterday we had a lockdown drill at the high school where I teach. During a lockdown, an alarm which sounds like a European police siren goes off for several minutes straight. It's annoying to say the least.

I had my camera out when the alarm sounded, so I managed to catch Kyle's reaction to the unusual noise.

(Kyle looking at me with an unfazed face.)

Wasn't that a boring shot? Seriously, this pup will take anything in stride. Way to go Kyle!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

15 Things at 15 Months

Today Kyle's age ticker at the top of this blog changed to a milestone I've been dreading since the day Kyle arrived.

Kyle is 15-months-old. From here on out, Kyle is available for recall. Thankfully, there isn't a puppy truck coming to Utah anytime soon, and we haven't heard word on anyone who can fly Kyle to California or Oregon. Thus, it looks like my boy is staying with me for the time being. Woohoo!

Without further ado, here are 15 things that make Kyle a stellar GDB puppy-in-training.
  1. Kyle does the best puppy pushups ever.
  2. I've procrastinated teaching Kyle "stand." Last weekend I asked a puppy sitter to work on it. He picked up the command in a couple days. Thanks Jill!
  3. Our CFR once told us that one of the most important training opportunities is neighborhood walks because a lot of formal training takes place in neighborhoods. Kyle is superb on walks.
  4. Kyle loves his kibble. He will do just about anything to earn the right to eat his meals. Just don't ask him to do something that puts the food bowl out of his sight.
  5. Kyle is easy to puppy handle. As a young puppy, Kyle fought having me invade his personal space. Now he thinks nothing of my fingers in his ears or mouth.
  6. The energizer bunny never stops. Kyle can still go for hours on end with no sign of getting tired.
  7. That said, Kyle has learned to sleep through the work day instead of constantly soliciting attention from my students. Yea!
  8. For a long time Kyle was so excited over being petted that nobody could touch him in public. Now he sits still and almost looks bored when people greet him. Every now and then Kyle will still sneak in a kiss for good measure though.
  9. Kyle loves to be out and about and is always ready for an adventure. He's learned to run to the door and sit patiently whenever I pick up a leash.
  10. Wait. Kyle will "wait" to enter and exit the car, to eat, to leave his kennel, and to cross the street whenever I ask. I've never mentioned how much he rocks at this command, but it is an incredibly useful one that we use multiple times a day.
  11. After several months in a head collar, Kyle is again working on a flat collar in calm training situations. We both love the freedom.
  12. Kyle understands our routine and can anticipate what we are going to do each step of the day. At the same time, he is flexible about adapting to changes.
  13. Another raiser recently complemented Kyle's "do your business" command. Seriously, Kyle is the easiest dog to relieve, and he is completely trustworthy indoors. It's so nice not to worry about accidents.
  14. Kyle is a stinking handsome dog. While that isn't necessary for guide work, I figure it sure helps for publicity's sake.
  15. Kyle loves working. His work ethic never ceases to amaze me. Way to go Kyle!
Whether Kyle and I have a couple days or a couple months left together, I'm going to treasure every minute of it. I sure love my boy!

Record Breaking Destruction

Two weeks ago, I posted a picture of a sterilized bone Kyle had destroyed in a month and a half--his fastest time yet. The silly boy must have taken that as a challenge because last night he beat his record.

Kyle destroyed a sterilized bone in 13 days!

(Kyle looking at his slivered bone.)

Before I buy Kyle a sterilized bone, I inspect it for any sign of weakness. I also examine his bones frequently. He's just to destructive with them not to do so. I can attest that this bone was in perfect shape (minus one worn end) yesterday afternoon.

After puppy class, Kyle immediately ran to get his favorite toy. I was shocked when a few minutes later he proudly brought me the biggest piece of what remained of his bone. I didn't even know it was possible to break a sterilized bone lengthwise! Much to Kyle's dismay, I confiscated the piece he brought me and cleaned up the rest.

(A closeup of Kyle's bone broken into at least six pieces of varying sizes.)

Does anyone have a pup that can destroy bones this quickly? I think Turk and Mesa each had one sterilized bone to last the entire year of puppy raising. I am amazed by Kyle's jaw strength. Thank goodness the boy is socialized not to bite!

Since a sterilized bone is the only toy that entertains Kyle for any length of time, we need a replacement asap. After work we're off to PetSmart again. This time I think we'll pick up two bones and save ourselves a trip next week.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Introducing Kyle

Don't be confused by the sleepy puppy in this picture. Kyle is also the name of the blue bear.

(Kyle the puppy with Kyle the teddy bear.)

One of my students made this teddy bear for another student. When she presented it to him in class, she informed him that the bear's name is Kyle. Notice that Kyle Bear is wearing a vest with dog fabric. Now that is puppy love!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

New Favorite Toy

Goodbye sterilized bones--Kyle's got a new favorite toy.

(Kyle's carrying a vinegar bottle while looking down at another decimated sterilized bone.)

Kyle has beaten his all time record and destroyed his newest sterilized bone in a month and a half. Truth be told, I should have taken it away a couple of weeks ago making the destruction time one month flat.

In an attempt to entertain Kyle last night, I gave him a new toy...a vinegar bottle. GDB allows puppies to play with hard plastic bottles, but I don't drink gallons of ice tea or orange juice, and I rarely use up a bottle of laundry detergent. This vinegar bottle did the trick. Kyle happily played with it until it was smashed flat and nothing was left of the original form. I don't think Kyle's ever self entertained better.

So how long did said bottle last? Fifteen minutes. Sigh! Do any of my local friends have a bottle they could spare to make a cute puppy's day?

In the mean time, Kyle and I are headed to PetSmart after work to buy sterilized bone number 659,203.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Adventurous "Shortcut"

Saturday Kyle, three friends, and I went on the biggest adventure of Kyle's life so far. We decided to brave the winter weather and enjoy a hike.

 (The trailhead. Kyle is hiding behind my back. He was too interested in sniffing all the interesting smells.)

For this hike, I decided to walk Kyle on his flexi-leash. He needed exercise more than he needed to follow GDB protocol. I also figured this walking method would be better if we encountered ice.

(Taking can see that Kyle is happy to have freedom to walk in front of me.)

For the entirety of the trip, Kyle was uncooperative about pictures. There were too many fun things to do to focus on smiling on the count of three.

(Kyle closing his eyes for one of a million outakes.)

Here are the falls that were our original destination. Kyle and I hiked here two or three times a week last summer until I broke my foot. This is our first time to see them with ice and snow.

(Aren't these falls gorgeous?)

This is the point where the planned hike started going off course. We decided to hike "just a little farther."

(Katie, Jenny, Kyle and me at just past the top of the falls.)

Kyle loves the snow, but he's never had a snowball thrown at him. He would attack them and watch them crumble. He'd also jump when he got pelted with one. Poor was entertaining for the humans though.

(Kyle intently staring at the next snowball with which Andrew was going to pelt him.)

After we'd gone half an hour past the falls, Andrew got the brilliant idea to take a shortcut. Note: never trust unplanned "shortcuts." The goal was to go about 20 minutes over the ridge and head down a dry trail. Andrew forgot to mention that the trails we would be following were game trails covered in 2-3 feet of snow.

(Katie and I just before the true adventure began.)

From this point on, I was so busy trying to keep myself upright and on top of the snow that Andrew walked Kyle. It's a good thing that Kyle thinks Andrew is his is best friend. It must be a male bonding thing.

(Kyle and Andrew right before we covered a vast expanse of fresh, deep snow.)

Here's Katie showing off the depth of what we trekked through. At times the snow even came above human knees.

(Katie among some scrub oak.)

Here's the dogie perspective of the snow. Kyle was light enough to stay on top of the snow even when the humans were sinking and falling with every step. The times Kyle did fall through didn't amuse him. Kyle was an amazing trooper. On one super steep downhill that required sliding, and on one super steep uphill with snow taller than Kyle, he needed extra coaxing. The rest of the time, Kyle pranced along. His excessive running on the flexi-leash ceased, but he never gave up. This just proves Kyle's endless energy.

(Kyle standing in snow up to his chin.)

All in all, we ended up hiking for just over five hours. Four of those were on game trails or blazing our own paths. If Kyle doesn't make it as a guide dog, he proved that he can handle the outdoors enough to consider a career in search and rescue work.

 (Blazing a trail through scrub oak.)

Kyle passed out the moment we got in the car, and I indulged in a bubble bath after we got home, but every moment of the crazy, adventurous "shortcut" was worth it. Let's just not talk about today's sore muscles, okay?