Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Josie and Persia have a sleepover!

One of our raiser's unexpectedly needed to leave the country to care for her sick mother-in-law in Hong Kong and as a result, the pup she is raising, Persia, has been getting shuttled around to various raisers and sitters. For a brief four day period, Persia came to stay with me. Now, I thought how hard could one more dog be, but to be honest, I think this experience has taught me that three dogs is enough! :)

Persia is a perfectly lovely dog who goes in for training in January. Josie and Persia got along great, although initially they seemed to think that Persia's crate was the best location in which to play.

Occasionally Dexter even joined in to play with the two labs.

A little posing...

Even though four dogs is a lot, I invited Julia, who is sitting for GEB pup China over Thanksgiving, over for a play session with the dogs. It was not as crazy as I had predicted and we even got all the labs for sit nice for a photo.

On Persia's last night with me, I decided to play around with some Christmas hats I had purchased (which will hopefully be used for my Christmas card pictures this year!). The dogs were not amused but I was so it was all worth it!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Visit with Aunt Michelle & Dina

One of our NYC pups, Freida, needed to get her 12-week vaccines so Julia and I volunteered to drive up to Yorktown Heights in order for Freida to get her vaccines from the Guiding Eyes vets. While we were there, we stopped in to say hello to Michelle, who is raising the most beautiful German Shepherd ever - Dina. Since Michelle was Frito's "aunt," she has also automatically become Josie's "aunt." Dina does really well with puppies so Josie and Dina hit it off right away. Of course we made them pose a bit. :)

I also spotted a harness hanging on the back of Michelle's door and could not resist putting it on Josie for some cute photos. She has a lot of growing and learning to do before she fits into that harness!

In other news, Dina will be headed in for training in January. I will certainly miss her! I am half-hoping they decide to make Dina a brood so 1) she could stay living with Michelle and I could see her regularly, and 2) so I could raise a Dina puppy for my third dog. :) We shall see!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Freida comes for a visit

Josie got some much needed playtime with fellow NYC pup, Freida, who is being raised by a girl named Elizabeth (a first time raiser). When Freida was chosen for our region by our region manager, Rachel, I scolded her for choosing a puppy whose name was so close to Frito's. And sure enough, while I had Freida at my house for a few hours, a few Frito's slipped out, but I do not think Freida minded!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

In what is quickly becoming a Halloween tradition, I headed to Silva and Felipe's apartment for some pumpkin carving. I do not actually carve a pumpkin as I always seem to have one dog or another with me and carrying a pumpkin while walking a dog (or dogs) is a challenge I think I will pass on. But nevertheless, I have a lot of fun watching everyone else carve their pumpkins. But I am getting ahead of myself!

This was Josie's first major outing into the city beyond my neighborhood. Here she is sitting on the foot bridge that goes over a major highway.

After making our way across the foot bridge, we headed for the subway station. I was glad that once we were inside the station, we had some time to just hang out before the train came (a rare thing to wish the train did not come!). A train arrived on the other side of the platform, which was great as it allowed Josie to hear the sound of the train but not have it directly in front of her. Josie waited very patiently.

I worked really hard with Josie the first few weeks that I had her to teach her to "close," as it is a very useful command when on a subway. She did "close" almost perfectly but as the train ride went on, she gradually scooted over to one side. We will have to work on this.

After we got off the subway, we stopped at the corner of W. 57th Street and Broadway, right in the heart of midtown Manhattan, for a nice photo of Josie with traffic whizzing by behind her.

After a nice walk through the city (with near perfect loose leash walking I might add!), we finally arrived at Silva & Felipe's.

The pumpkin carving commenced, along with watching The Shining (red rum!). It was a great Halloween with some spectacular pumpkins! Josie agreed to put on her Halloween costume for a few minutes to get a nice Halloween photo. She was a moose (with a very tempermental head!).

Hoping everyone had a wonderful Halloween!!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Another Fall Photo

I just had to post this fall photo of Josie. It was taken in Patterson, NY, at the Guiding Eyes guest house. She looks so sweet and ready to take on the world.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fall photos

Fall has arrived and with it comes some beautiful photo opportunities. I took Josie outside for her first "official" photo shoot. I had forgotten how challenging it is to take pictures of a dog who does not know stay. Every time I had Josie positioned, I would back up to take the picture only to have Josie get up and run to me. This made me laugh which only reinforced Josie's behavior of getting up. We managed to get a few nice pictures though.

So far it does not seem as though Josie shares the same love of the camera as Frito did...

Raising a puppy in the fall can be challenging in that there are leaves and sticks EVERYWHERE. Each and every leaf and stick tends to catch the attention of young puppies who, with surprising speed, pick these things up and swallow them before you even get a chance to remove it from their mouths. I was very proud of Josie for laying in this small pile of leaves without eating a single thing.

One final super cute photo of Josie in the 'hood.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Welcome, Josie!

My second GEB puppy has arrived!! Josie was born on August 11, 2010, to Mama Phyllis and Daddy Cletus. She is one of eight puppies in her litter. Josie's first night in NYC was very, very busy as we had a fund raising event called the Night Walk to attend. This event was hosted by Bruce Stark and his store, Beacon Hardware. Bruce is a good friend of raiser John McNally, who helped Bruce with the event. According to John, the event raised approximately $12,000, which was all donated to Guiding Eyes. I would like to think that Miss Josie had something to do with the money donated - who wouldn't be enticed into doing whatever these sweet eyes ask you to do??!

RC Workshop

Every year Guiding Eyes hosts a workshop for the region coordinators and team helpers from every region. Everyone gathers together for a few days of learning, fun, and puppy snuggles. This year's workshop was my very first one - Julia and Kim from the NYC region also came. The theme of the workshop was Puptoberfest! I'm not really sure why that theme was chosen, but it made for an excellent German-themed dance by all the region managers!

The first night was basically just an introduction to the workshop, which involved eating some German-themed food and shopping at the region tables. I really had to restrain myself from buying every item there! Lots of regions had some really creative stuff - I ended up buying a wind jacket and some dog toys (as if my dogs don't already have enough toys! haha). It was also the first time I saw all the region managers - it was nice to put faces to the names.

The second day of the workshop involved a lot of instruction on the wonderful new preplacement classes that Guiding Eyes has developed. We have tested the new classes a few times in NYC so I was already familiar with the material but it was great to hear the questions from other regions about issues that we had not come up with. There was also a surprise visit from the next puppy I will be raising (Josie!) who, along with her sister Joan, were the demo dogs.

That night we had yet another delicious meal and a short comedy sketch/speech from comedian Brian Fischler and his guide dog Nash. He was hilarious as usual. Poor Nash had spotted his puppy raiser in the audience and cried throughout Brian's sketch.

There was also an AMAZING presentation by the Heeling Autism program, which included updates on every dog that has been matched while a child. The father of one of the kids who received a Heeling Autism dog gave a speech that was incredibly touching. There was not a dry eye in the house. I really enjoyed learning more about this program.

The final day of the workshop was the day everyone had been waiting for - community run day!! From what I understand, this was the first time that Guiding Eyes brought everyone into the community runs and allowed people to request specific dogs they wanted to see. Initially I was a bit bummed because Frito had recently been spayed and was on the "do not run" list but then I learned that instead of the community run, I was allowed to spend 30 minutes alone with Frito in her kennel. It was pure heaven!

And then it was time...time to pick up my new puppy!! She was hanging out in a van with her sister Jamie, just waiting for me to take her home. (I borrowed the photo from Laura's Facebook page - Josie is on the left).

After a great workshop where I got to see Frito again, learn lots of new things, and meet many of my Facebook friends, we headed back to NYC...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Frito's IFT

Only a few days after dropping Frito off at the Guiding Eyes training school, Julia and I returned to watch Frito take her in-for-training test. Frito was scheduled in the afternoon session but Julia and I arrived early so that we could take the kennel tour that was offered between the morning and afternoon sessions. I confess, it was really just an excuse for me to see Frito as soon as possible.

The moment we set eyes on each other was incredibly emotional and I almost lost it right there...

After a quick hello, we finished the kennel tour, went to get some lunch, and then it was test time! I do not think I have ever been this nervous for any tests I took for school and this time, it was not even me taking the test! There were a few other raisers there to see their dogs and of that group, Frito was scheduled last. I watched the other dogs do their tests, feeling so much pride for all of these dogs whom I did not even know. And then it was Frito's turn - Julia and I had to hide behind a piano so that Frito would not spot us.

Frito did really well on her test - the only moment where I was absolutely horrified by her behavior was when they had a toy bird/bat fly around in the area. Frito jumped up at the bird, not once, but twice! I was so surprised as she has never shown any interest in the many birds, pigeons, etc in the city.

And then finally - her test was over and it was time for some Frito snuggles!! She was sooooo happy to see me!

I considered smuggling Frito out the back door...

Gotta love lapradors!

A final squeeze! Frito is officially in for training!! Yay!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Frito Returns to GEB

The time for Frito to leave me and return to Guiding Eyes has finally arrived. When I first started raising Frito, this moment seemed so far out in the future that I never really thought about it. But as soon as I was given Frito's IFT date, all of a sudden I could not think of anything else and time flew by faster than it ever has.

While I am obviously sad to see Frito go, the initial drop-off was not a terribly sad experience. Frito had no idea what was going on so her excitement to be in a place with over 100 other dogs was catching and it was hard to be upset or sad.

Our first stop was to check in with an instructor assistant who promptly removed Frito's collar and placed a training collar on her and attached a different leash. I almost started crying right at this moment as this somehow seemed to make it official that Frito was no longer mine.

The instructor assistant then asked me a variety of questions about Frito, including what type of food Frito eats and whether she was in heat. Frito then hopped on the scale and was weighed. Another raiser asked me days later how much Frito weighed but I appear to have repressed some memories of that day as I had absolutely no idea what to answer.

Frito and I were then led into a temporary kennel space where we were left to spend some last few moments together. Again, it was hard to be sad when Frito was so interested in her surroundings and was clearly not aware of what was going on.

Frito kisses are the best!!

Julia and Frito saying goodbye...

All too soon, it was time for us to leave. Frito looked a bit confused when we exited the kennel and shut the door after us, leaving her inside. But I knew that it would not be long before she had moved in with her doggie roommates and started having a wonderful time.

Goodbye Frito and good luck! I am so proud of you and everything we have accomplished together!! I cannot wait to meet the person who will love you even more than I do!