Friday, December 31, 2010

The Evidence

I love a good mystery, and always try to piece together the evidence to find out “Who did it?” And so, as I look around my house, I find a LOT of evidence. Proof in fact. No doubt in my mind! Irrefutable! He was here.

Let’s start with my NEW sofa. “So Mrs. Harrison hmm, is that a band-aid?” “Oh, no sir Mr. Officer, it’s packing tape, holding in the holy chewed up spot.”

“And how about those walls Mr. Harrison?” “Um, yeah, uh well those are salt-licks, also known as drywall licks in these here parts.”

Taking a closer look at the walls reveals another clue…dangling paint chips!! The pieces are slowly coming together. “This is going to be a messy one to clean up,” said the nice Detective.

While pondering the clues, the Detective looked up and there it was, the final clue. Of course, how could he be so naive? The proof is always in the picture! The hole, also known as Let’s Throw the Toy for the Millionth Time Oops.

It’s a lot easier to do things now that he is older. For example, I can make the bed, the ENTIRE bed, without someone eating the foam or running off with a pillow. And, I even know which end is up, thanks to the chewed corners at the foot of the bed. Such a helpful dog he is. If I go outside to get the mail, or even down the street and around the corner, I can leave the house knowing that the boy is waiting at the window instead of shouting “Yee Haw, I’m free” as he chews up the plants and the pillows and the chairs, etc. Drop it now really means Drop it, not I’ll drop it when you catch me Drop it. There IS a difference you know. Of course, I did find myself telling another barking dog “No Noise” the other day. Oops, my bad….habits are hard to break.

As the months turn in to weeks, and soon to be just days left before the boy heads back to guide dog school, someone asked if we were going to miss him. Of course we are, I thought, but then chuckled thinking that he will be around for a long, long time after he leaves. From the hair in the car, to the many busy bags that came out of the laundry (not used thank you, left in pocket), to the frayed edge of the blinds, to the Kong marks on the kitchen cabinets, Trapper will probably be here forever!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Temptations of Trapper

After a very long morning at Jury Duty, I came home and decided to take Trapper to the pet store and Publix. I was going to take the boy to jury duty, but visions of "contempt" and a jail cell, made me think that might not be a good idea. Before we even got to the pet store, his nose was twitching and the whimpering began. WHAT??? My Trapper? Whining? I don't think so. "No noise..."

I park the car, and I find Mr. Fancy Britches has relocated himself to the seat while I went around to the other side. I open the door, and thankfully he waits until I tell him to get out. I figure he can go in the store without his coat, just like all of the other orderly good doggies. Pull!! Yaaank! Snniffff! Stretcccchhh! He was like that Rumba vacuum stop, start, turn, drop, sniff, suck, start, stop, etc. I grab hold with two hands and head for the store. I can do this I tell myself.

As soon as we get inside he is just quivering with excitement. Now Trapper is still intact, if you know what I mean, and I know that has a lot to do with his behavior. The scents must have been like dropping head first into Willy Wonka chocolate room or something of the sort. We weaved our way down the aisles and to the left is the aviary, otherwise knows as chicken nuggets on a branch in the doggie world. I see him take a big breath and hear a big bark coming so I quickly divert him with a "forward." Yikes he is lifting his leg! Oh my word, all I wanted to do was buy a stupid toy. We speed to the toy isle as fast as we can, grab our loot, and then the horror, we had to go in reverse through all of that temptation! I made it out, maybe with the right change, maybe a receipt, I think the toy I came for and my arms two inches longer.

We arrive at Publix and I open the car door and I hear "Excuse me mam, my name is...". I was praying Trapper wasn't going to leap out like Superman, or worse, Jaws. It was someone asking for money, and I politely told him now was NOT a good time. Danger averted.

I've learned to call in the meat orders at the deli since our deli line is always so long. And sure enough, today was no exception. Trapper knows right where to go, it's his favorite part of the store. The place is packed and he pulls, stretches, gooses someone in the crotch, sniffs someone's leg, oh good grief let me get out of here. I hear giggling as we try to maintain what little pride we still have and march away.

We head to the Benadryl aisle since poor boy got stung this weekend, of all places, in his private worlds. He has had hives and itching since then, and hopefully learned he better look before he piddles next time. Probably showered some little bee one too many times. On the way to the ice cream section he scarfs up some piece of food substance and drops it on command. By now I am sweating, and wondering if I could just leave him in the frozen section for a couple of days. Maybe they won't notice.

He settles down at the register, of course, since we are leaving, and was Mr. Manners himself. Sit, down, stand, forward, sit, no sniffing. We hop on the scale for our obligatory, make everyone smile, weigh in. He does that perfectly:) 72 pounds of lean machinery and out the door. Ring! Ring! Ring! Ringgggg! Oh no, the Bell ringer is going to town with those bells and there is no escape route. Ringaringaringggg! He hops forward to see if his bud Rudolph is around and "Agggghhhhhhh! I'm afraid of dogs!!!" I though her little kettle was going to flip right over. Meanwhile, the not so nice lady behind me is asking if she can get by. "No you can't get by until the lady in front of me moves", I said. I was thinking some other not so nice things by this time. We quickly cross the street and I am shouting the "find the car" command as quickly as I can. We find the car, load our measly one bag of groceries and head home to our humble abode!

Said all of this to say that while the boy is mostly very good, very obedient, and truly a joy to have around, he is still a puppy with a very good nose. Every shopping trip can't be boring, or I would have nothing to write about. We got his IFT letter last week, along with the rest of the litter. Looking through the list of things he should have done by the time we turn him in, we all realize yikes there are still a few things to catch up with over the holidays and we better get to work. I hope his little hive problem goes away too, as he was up itching and scratching in the night too. Maybe all of those things led his little mind astray today. Who knows? Until next time....

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Approaching One Year

Gosh, it's hard to believe how fast the time goes! Trapper will be a year old in November. He has had quite a few adventures over the past couple of weeks, mostly not with us. We took a little trip to Wildacres in North Carolina, and Trapper spent some time with Drake, and David, as well as a nice play date with Melisa and brother Duke. Apparently he was pretty good, or at least they were kind enough to not tell us:)

Yesterday we took Trapper to a Serbian Folk Dancing Show. The music was very loud, lots of jumping and stomping, an accordion, a violin, drum, and a clarinet I believe, and he did quite well. Sat in front of our seat, and although I tried to take a picture, it was too dark. He is so big he stretched out in front of three seats! Every time we go somewhere like that, I try to imagine how he will ever fit on an airplane, but as our fellow puppy raisers have noted, somehow they do fit.

As time passes, I realize that I no longer have to say "no" as often, he mostly listens to commands, and all in all is turning into a very nicely behaved young man. I even made the bed this morning and he didn't eat the foam overlay! That in itself is a big accomplishment. He made a small move towards the towel yesterday, and after a brief "leave it", he walked away. Could it be?

He has a long list of things he no longer does, like chewing, mouthing, stealing (almost), and I realize that all of these changes eventually happen over time and repeated consistent instructions. He is still Velcro, but in a good way. It's a lot of work raising a puppy, and those first months are exhausting trying to keep up with the little tyke. I chuckle when I read the blogs of other raisers with their new puppies. But one day, they "get it". He even likes the cats, and they like him. Of course, from what I'm told, that's when you get the letter to bring your puppy in for training.......and then you get to start all over:)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Trapper Truly Traveled To Teach

We were very privileged and fortunate to be able to travel this week to St. Augustine to visit with the students at The Florida School for The Deaf and The Blind, FSDB for short. Founded in 1885, the school is part of the public school system. "The School has grown from three small buildings on five acres to 47 major buildings on nearly 80 acres of land" as per their website. Our audience also grew, from 8th grade students, to 6th, 7th and 8th.

The day started early as we had a long drive to St. Augustine. We put Trapper on a tie down in the back seat and that seemed to work better for all of us. Otherwise, he is shifting around the entire trip trying to get comfortable, while squishing my legs in the foot well.

We arrived at about 1 pm, scheduling our talk at 1:45. Our audience was about 90 students, as well as their teachers. We met in a small auditorium and were given instructions on the microphone, and the interpreters that were present. They would sign what I was saying to the students, and when the children had questions of us, they would interpret so we could understand. That part went so smoothly, I forgot I had an interpreter signing.

The students had LOTS of questions, and they were very good questions. Where are Trapper’s parents? What toys can he play with? How many hours a day does he have to wear his coat? How do you know he is happy? What happens if he can’t be a guide dog for some reason? What happens if the guide dog user dies? How did we get involved? What was our training? Can you show us some of his commands? Why does he have a chain on his neck? And…what would happen if you let him off leash? Hee hee, you don’t want to know.

Trapper did beautifully! He greeted 90 plus kids and their teachers, didn’t bark once, although he did squeak a little on stage. He was quite obedient when given his commands, but did become a little restless in the middle. Larry was chief puppy wrangler and had him do his puppy exercises, and even took a trip outside to get some of his energy out. When we asked him if he was happy, he wagged his tail obediently:)

The students were VERY good! They were all quite polite in taking turns asking questions which made the entire visit go smoothly. It is an interesting assignment for the students, and they are fortunate to have several components of the assignment come visit. The book outlines the raising of a guide dog, and then giving him back to the school, and his placement with a guide dog user. An actual guide dog user will be visiting to share their experience receiving a dog, and the author of the book will visit the school to speak to the students. I’d say the students are very fortunate to have all of these experiences, and Trapper was glad to be a part of it!

The last leg of our trip, we passed a carousel and stopped to see if we could expose Trapper. As w got out of the car there was a big NO PETS sign and I thought to myself, I hope we don't have a problem taking him inside, even in coat. We opened the gate and the manager of the ride says to his employee, "Now this is exactly what I was telling you about. These guide dogs, even when they are in training, have access to any place they want....if they want to ride the carousel, you have to let them including the dog". I was so surprised to hear him state things correctly, and complemented him on his knowledge. He asked if we wanted a picture of Trapper on the ride, and of course we obliged.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Social Butterfly

Larry and I have come to realize Trapper has a busier social calendar than we do. He spent a weekend with David and managed to go see the Rays and go out for dinner. Drake took him to the beach to play not too long ago. The Sessions took him to meet the St. Pete Police Department. And of course, he had a swimming soiree with his brother Duke.

I took him with me when I went for a massage earlier this week and he was WONDERFUL with a capital W. Of course when we arrived, everyone wanted to pet him. He has arrived at the "no petting in coat" age which is going to be a challenge at times. He has such a sweet "Yes I would love to be petted" look, I find folks are already bent over with their hand on his head before I have a chance to blink. The manager of that location looked at me with saucer size eyes and asked "Are you here for a massage???" Well yes, as a matter of fact we are. Actually, one poor woman asked me if Trapper was there for a massage, and I jokingly said yes. She went on and on about how massage is so good for your pet, which it is. But if I am paying for it, it is for me:) We went into the room, and of course, being the toweliban that he is, he spied a used towel on the floor. We quickly removed it and put him on his tie down. Then, you get ready for the massage, lie down on the table...quietly...unable to look at the dog....straining to hear any crunching noises, licking sounds, etc. Not a thing! He was quickly put to sleep by the music and we survived. Thanks to Ken at Massage Envy for allowing the boy in the room.

Today, we stopped at the Open House at Fire Station No. 7 and let Trapper sniff the trucks, boots, hoses, etc. of the firehouse. He did quite well and decided he still wants to be a guide dog, although the nice fireman would have had him stay on as the station mascot I am sure.

We headed downtown to the Saturday Morning Market. Lots of people there, and lots of dogs and different smells. There were big dogs, little dogs, hot dogs and brats:) He was exposed to so much, and he did great. He sniffed a few puppies, and of course he got sniffed. One woman approached us and said a friend of hers was on his third guide dog, they had changed his life. That is always nice to hear.

Trapper has a big excursion next week. We are going to St. Augustine to do a presentation to the Florida School for The Deaf and The Blind. Every year the school has an author come and visit. They usually try to prepare the students by reading one of the author's books. This year the author is Pamela Bauer Mueller. She is the author of several books for older children, including "Hello, Goodbye, I Love You" about the relationship between a guide dog trainer, the dog, and the visually-impaired person who eventually gets the dog. So, we are taking Trapper to visit the 7th and 8th grade students and allow them to ask questions about the raising of a guide dog. We are very honored to be able to have this opportunity. And to the students, if you are reading this, Trapper is very excited to be able to meet all of you next week! He is practicing his "best behavior" manners:)

And now? Off to Red Mesa for dinner...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My First Haircut and Other Tidbits

We went for our first haircut today. OK maybe I went for a haircut, and Trapper came with me. By the way, it sure is a little cooler out today. Trapper didn't drag me across the pavement as his feet are seared, so I know it's cooler.

I arrived at the salon, had him sit, told him to ignore all of the leaves and papers blowing around tempting him, and opened the door. We enter and WOOF, WOOOOF, RUMBLE, GROWL, WOOF!!! Not a real growl, but just how I should write that, I don't know. Under the table in the foyer is, of all things, a statue...of a kitty. OK Trapper, if it were another BIG dog, maybe a gargoyle, a raging lion, but a kitty? Where's your pride? For a million dollars he wasn't going to get any closer, until I knocked on it to show him it was nothing. And then he was fine, no big deal. Of course he barks at bags of garbage, too. Should I be worried?? :)

Walk farther into the salon and he sees another statue, this one oh maybe 8 inches high, of another dog. He started to do a repeat, but I could see him processing "Hmmm I did this once, and it was nothing. I'm going to bet on nothing and not bark." What a good boy. And he was great. I had my hair washed, and I'm assuming he sat nicely since my eyes were closed. Went to the station to get my trim, and he positioned himself under the counter and stayed until I was done.

We had a play date yesterday with his best bud, Duke, brother extraordinaire, and as I watched them wrestle and run and play, Melisa sent a picture of the boys at their first meeting.

She said not much has changed between them, except for 50 pounds or so. And it's true...they love playing with each other, and as an added bonus, are pooped (equals well behaved) the rest of the night! Thanks Duke!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Burglar in the House

Ok, not a REAL burglar but it might as well be. Trapper the Juvenile has arrived. I just told Melisa, auntie to Trapper since she has Duke, how well behaved he has been lately, what a sweet dog, sits at our feet calmly, walks so nice, etc. Lo and behold, not two days later, he hops up on the back of the sofa, two feet perched, and grabs my hair scrunchie...while I'm still using it. He isn't subtle either. He's a grab and go type of burglar, hopping and smiling "Lookie what I have"! Luckily he is responding nicely to "Drop it" and "Give". I put it back on my pony tail and Klop! Klop! Grab!, he takes it again, plus a few strands of hair. "Now lookie what I have! Huh? Huh? Whatcha gonna do?"

Friday was the Day of the Dish Towels. Not one, or two, or even three, but I am guessing seven dish towels were swiped by the boy right off of the counter. Rats! Be Right Back. So, just to prove my point, as I am typing this sentence I hear Klomp! Klomp! and here he is, towel in his mouth. Larry was using a towel and just left the house and in lightning speed, the Trappersaurus grabbed his towel. Ugh. I can't even take the pictures fast enough!!!

As I was retrieving the towel and heading for the washer, the little thief shows up with a book! As I retrieve the book, he is yanking on my bathroom towel! Oh, good grief!

Now, I know this phase is coming, so I'm not too bewildered. I look up on the Internet "how long does K-9 juvenile phase last?" Trapper is 9 months old now; we have had him 6.5 months. "The juvenile or teenage phase is at it's worst from 9 months (OK I know that) until 2.5-3 years"(!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

What???????? You mean he will never be good again while he's with us???? I'll be digging scrunchies out of his throat for 6 more months????? And just to show he is doesn't give preferential treatment to my stuff, he managed to break off a piece of his blue nylatoy this morning (Klomp! Klomp! Krunch!).

I am hoping that is not the case, although images of other dogs this age at meetings come to mind. I survived three teenage sons, I am confident I can weather Trapper.

Hey, give me back my umbrella!!!!!!!!