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Waiting Patiently

 

Golden Retriever, Penny, lays on the stairs waiting patiently for her mama. The picture shows her head laying in her paws that are very close together.

Penny lays on the stairs looking angelic while I take clothes out of the dryer.

Penny’s taste for fabric does not include clothes.  She has been known to bring one of Daddy’s socks down stairs on occasion.  Her preference is couch fabric.  I am glad to share that her fabric appetite is curbing with maturity.  Thank God for her cast iron stomach and digestive track.  I love my Penny!

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Penny’s Favorite Bone

Penny, a Golden Retriever, lays on her back on the couch chewing on a Nylabone.  She is using her paws like hands to hold it.

Penny chewing on her favorite Nylabone.

Penny is a power chewer.  This Nylabone with two bones at each end is her favorite.  She moves on her back and growls/talks to it.  She is a very content goof ball!

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As The Feathers Fly

Penny, a Golden Retriever, and Coco, a gray Cockatiel, are nose to beak.

Penny and Coco are nose to beak.

Coco, a gray cockatiel, spreads his wings as Penny, a Golden Retriever, sniffs him.

Coco spreads his wings as Penny checks him out.

Penny’s true Golden Retriever nature shows when it comes to getting along with our cockatiels, Jack Bauer and Coco. Titan and Max were gentle and good with the birds, even letting them have back rides. Chip is also laid back and pretty much ignores them when we have them out of their cages. Penny, on the other hand, is a totally different story. She may see them as awesome dog toys. Better yet, she sees them as a Scooby snack! Penny loved to nose the cages to make the birds flutter their wings. The ‘leave it’ command was very popular; and I am surprised that Coco has not repeated it yet. The first time that Jack flew from her cage in front of Penny, in February of 2014, the pup chased her and got a tail feather. I think that Jack released the feather as a defense mechanism because she seemed fine otherwise.

Progress has been slow for Penny’s predatory relationship with Jack and Coco. By March of 2015, the birds were able to be out of their cages for thirty minutes before Penny passed the excitement point of no return. Coco seem more at ease with Penny and sat on my lap beak to nose with Penny. Before coming home with Penny and Chip, the birds came out of their cages daily for human contact and play time. They seem no worse for ware for their lack of freedom during this prolonged adjustment period. Jack is almost five and Coco four years old. Penny and Chip just turned three. The birds throw seed treats to the dogs? Peace offerings? Hopefully as they all age and mature, calmness will ensue and freedom restored.

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Beat the Heat (June 16, 2015)

penny, a golden retriever, lays with her head on chip, a yellow lab,'s his ass.

chip and Penny, June 16, 2015

 

Penny and Chip know where to snuggle on a hot afternoon penny and chip nowhere to snuggle on a hot afternoon. On a 90° plus day, they lay at Mama’s feet.

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Let Sleeping Dogs Lie (May 1, 2015)

Penny lays sacked outon the couch with her legs straight up, tail tucked under a knee, and an ear flapped backwards on her head.

Almost 3, Penny still sleeps the puppy death.

It never ceases to amaze me how these dogs can sleep in such strange positions. Note that Penny’s tail is tucked under one of her legs wow that leg is still touching the couch. Also, her ear is flapped backwards over her head. She is such a goofy golden! I wouldn’t have her any other way.

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Long Lost Post from April 30, 2005

This old post about Titan and Max popped up on a blog site that I had totally forgotten about, Blogger. I am reposting it here for your enjoyment.

Wil and Max left for Tampa, Florida on 4/4/05 for two JAWS courses at Freedom Scientific (which is really in St. Petersburg). Titan moped around the house for two days missing Max. Wil said that Max missed Titan as well. We talked on the Ventrillo server at night and tried to get the dogs to respond to each other. One of Wil’s classmates got a picture of Max smiling in the ‘JAWS for Windows’ class. Thursday, Wil’s parents and I left for our visit over the long weekend. Titan travels very well. We stayed somewhere between Jacksonville and Lake City for the night. The Best Western clerk tried to charge Jessie $10 for the dog; and I went into activist mode. Needless to say, the charge was reversed quickly and we settled in for the night. Titan wasn’t too crazy about his parking arrangements. I took him out repeatedly only to go back to the room without any lifting or squatting (Titan, that is). The little devil would only park for his grandma. We ate breakfast at a Bob Evans in Lake City and made it to Clearwater before Wil got out of class.

Max Smiles in JAWS Class

Max smiles in Freedom Scientific JAWS class, April 5, 2005.

The boys were so happy to see each other that Max wanted to leave Wil behind to see his brother. Wil won a JAWS cookie jar in class that makes the sound from the Jaws movie. You know the one – ‘just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…-Dodum Dodum!’ Both dogs were fascinated with it. We have it filled with peppermints and are conditioning the dogs to respond to the sound. It will be like cats coming to the kitchen at the sound of a can opener. Anyway, the boys enjoyed their play time together in the room. The Days Inn where Wil stayed was very accommodating and super nice. The picture below shows the boys as they tugged on an innocent woobie in the room. They also rested together laying the same way on the floor like little hams for the camera. They look like peaceful little lambs in this picture.

Titan and Max play tug of war with an innocent woobie.

Titan and Max tug on a woobie in the hotel room, April 8, 2005.

Max and Titan pose like sweet little angels on the floor of our hotel room, April 10, 2005.

Max and Titan pose like little hams on the floor of our hotel room, April 10, 2005.

We ate at some really nice restaurants including Antonio’s Italian, Sam Seltzer’s Steak House, Bob Evans (a few times), and good old Waffle House in Clearwater. On Saturday night, Wil and I and the boys met up with eight other people who worked for Freedom Scientific at a Karaoke bar called Mugs and Jugs. All ten of us were blind (no sighties that night) and we had six dog guides between us. They had good food, great beer, and awesome root beer shooters. Wil and I drank like college kids at a frat party and I sang my own words to the karaoke tunes. We had a blast!! At one point, Brother Max became possessed by an imp, stood up, and snatched my napkin out of my lap. The awesome worker that he is, he remains full of puppy life. I swear that he is my Mississippi reincarnated. God bless his soul at the Rainbow Bridge. Mugs and Jugs is the first totally non-smoking bar that we have been to. It was clean and the people treated us as if we weren’t any different from the sighties. Florida has an indoor clean air policy.

Max and Titan admire the Gulf Coast Waters, April 11, 2005

Max and Titan are fascinated with the clear Gulf Coast water.

On Monday, Jessie drove us all to the Gulf coast. We stopped at Key Stone Park where we were able to walk down to the water’s edge. Both boys really wanted to play in the waves. Titan has been to the beach at Hunting Island, SC when he first came home with me. We took Mississippi’s ashes to the ocean as he really loved the water. Titan and Max look happy in this picture as they check out the beautiful Gulf water. We went to the Marina at John’s Pass where Wil got his seafood fix at the Friendly Fisherman. I, of course, ate chicken fingers since I am allergic to all seafood. We walked the boardwalk; and it is a REAL boardwalk. The boards are uneven in their flatness and spacing. It was a good challenge for both dogs as I’m sure the boards felt weird to their paws. Here are pictures of the boys smiling pretty for Grandma; and of Wil, Max, titan, and myself on the boardwalk. I would love to take a week and stay on the Gulf Coast and do nothing but eat, sleep, walk the beach, and play (not just on the sand).

 

Max and titan smile at Grandma outside the Friendly Fisherman, April 11, 2005.

Max and Titan sit pretty and smile at Grandma outside the Friendly Fisherman, April 11, 2005.

Wil and I with the boys on the boardwalk at John's Pass, FL, April 11, 2005.

Wil and I with Max and Titan on the boardwalk at John’s Pass in Florida, April 11, 2005.

Shirley, Jessie, and I left early Tuesday morning to return home. It was a great trip. Wil and Max came home on Saturday, April 16th. The boys were so glad to see each other at the airport that they wanted to spar and play when they greeted each other. It was the first month I took clomid; and we tried really hard to kill the rabbit while in Florida. We are using clomid again this month. Since the rabbit is still hopping, we will keep humping; and sooner or later it will die and there will be a baby.

UPDATE: After dealing with fertility specialists for three years, the rabbit still refused to die. Wil and I continue to parent and love our Leader Dogs, Penny and Chip and cockatiels, Jack Bauer and Coco.

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Final Training Week: January 26 – 30

Leader Dog ID Picture of Denise and Leader Dog Penny

Graduate picture of Denise and Leader Dog Penny

Leader Dog ID picture of Wil and Leader Dog Chip

Graduate picture of Wil and Leader Dog Chip

 

Before I write about our final week of training, I want to briefly tell you a little about the home adjustment process. It takes a lot of energy when coming home with a new Leader Dog. I will go into further details in a separate post. It can be stressful for the dog and human. Remember that it takes six months to a year to become a seasoned team. I plan to share the reality of our progression to that goal of seasoned team. Penny and Chip are like night and day. Chip is docile, laid back, and goes with the flow. Penny is a bundle of energy, always ready to go, and demanding of attention. He naps on and off during the day and takes life as it comes. She stays full of life from waking until she sleeps the puppy death after ten at night. Their guide work is absolutely extraordinary!

And now… the blog journey continues!

Another snowy night covers the pavillion at Leader Dog.

Everything is further covered from another snowy night in Michigan.

On Sunday, January 26th, we had our second down day. This day was made for napping, doing laundry, socializing, perusing the gift shop, and most importantly, getting to see Mary again. Wil and I met Mary in 2002 after I got Titan. Mary had Titan’s breeding stock mom, Whistler.    Titan was Whistler’s first Leader Dog graduate. She came to Georgia for our wedding in 2003, walking Titan down the aisle as the ring bearer. When Wil got Max in July of 2004, Titan and I stayed with Mary for a weekend full of fun and visited Wil and Max at Leader Dog. Max was also a Whistler pup born in litter number three. Even though Whistler and Titan have gone to the Rainbow Bridge and Max is in Nebraska, we are still quite close. Mary is currently raising a golden named Sunshine for Leader Dog.

Penny and Chip had some play time together. Actually, Chip gave Penny’s new Nylabone a spin; and she was not amused.

Monday, January 27th, found us back in downtown Rochester. Plans to head to Royal Oak for mobility on clear sidewalks were thwarted by the abundance of snow that turned Rochester Hills into a large parking lot with no exits clear for leaving town. Can you guess where Wil and I wanted to take our morning route? That’s right! Destination…Bean and Leaf coffee shop! There was another team of instructors working their dogs at the training center. They had set up obstacles for their morning work which added fun and extra challenges for us. Penny and Chip both worked like little champs with the obstacles, traffic, and strange dogs.

We returned to the training center for an afternoon of obedience and distraction work. The obedience routines went without a hitch. Then, out came the balls, squeakers, strange noises, and other assorted doggie no no’s. Chip remained calm and focused while Penny went ballistic. Even in her gentle leader, she was rearing up on her hind legs excitedly wanting everything that crossed her path. Randy, also known as the Leader Dog Whisperer, sat down next to where she and I were standing and covered and rubbed her nose. She immediately calmed down. He told me that what she couldn’t see (smell) wouldn’t distract her. I asked him why he held out on such an important piece of info, but he just laughed.

When we went to hang out and relax in the lounge after our busy day, Chip demonstrated to Daddy that he is really a 58 pound lap dog. He is such a cute pup!!

Chip sits in Wil's lap in the lounge at Leader dog

Chip, a 58 pound lab, sits in Wil’s lap.

The bitter cold and subzero wind chills kept us in the Polk Residence on Tuesday morning, January 28th. We began our training with obedience, distraction, and recall work in the hallways. Chip performed like a champ with the obedience and distractions. I am pleased to report that Penny was calmer and much less distractible. Sue rode up and down the hall in an electric wheelchair. Phil had a half inflated basketball rolling around. There were some noisy children’s toys, crinkly plastic packing material, and a giant fluttering trash bag. I was relieved to see Penny’s improvement from one day to the next. For our recall exercise, we stood next to Sue at one end of the hall. We (one at a time, of course) put our dogs in a sit and stay. Sue took the leash as we walked about halfway down the hall reinforcing our stay command as we walked away. When we got to Phil, we stopped, turned around, and called our pups. Penny and Chip came bounding to us ignoring everything on the way. It was a great feeling to know my pup came to me without hesitation or distraction.

We continued our morning work by learning to use a revolving door with our dogs. The Polk Residence has a revolving door between two standard doors at the building’s entrance. I will not describe the experience as the video below says it all. I am a bit on the claustrophobic side; and did not want to do this exercise at first. Leader Dog’s revolving door is quite roomy; and I took the plunge. I am glad that I did.

Before lunch, Roberta from the Leader Dog Philanthropy Department came to give us a brief talk and present us with little angels that were made by a special elderly lady who loves Leader Dog and what they do. Wil and I chose our regular spot on a couch with Chip and Penny at our feet. I sure was surprised to see laid back Chip whack Penny with his front paw resulting in an all-out game of bite the snout between them. When they got pretty rowdy Roberta stepped out to get a trainer. I got up and took Penny to another spot in the room to separate them. After Chip and Penny settled down, Paul’s buddy, Miley, started showing out. Penny and Miley were the two rowdiest and goofy dogs in the class. Incidentally, Miley is Chip’s brother. The poor winter weather had the dog play pens iced and snowed in. All of the dogs had a good bit of pent up energy with no running time to release it. We all were pretty keyed up since there were only a few days left before going home.

The afternoon found us in another mall. Summerset Collection is no ordinary mall; it is the foo-foo mall! Wil and I made a visit to Starbucks for his usual coffee and my peppermint white mocha with a chocolate caramel muffin. It was the perfect place for me to have such a treat because Summerset is actually two malls connected by a long skyway that spans two parking lots. Sue came for Wil and Chip while I consumed my sinful delight. Randy took the walk with me and Penny in my attempt to work off a crumb or two of chocolate. The skyway has a two directional people mover. Penny and I left that alone. The vast third floor of this mall had expensive stores that a plain Georgia Peach like me would just assume not stick my big toe in. The area where we all waited to take our mobility turns had a programmable baby grand piano that entertained us. The dogs attracted much attention from passersby. As usual, I have never met a stranger and talked to all who spoke to me and Penny.

Wednesday, January 29th, took us back downtown to the training center. You guessed it! Wil and I went to the Bean and Leaf coffee shop. We made a pit stop at the pharmacy to grab some beer. Since Leader Dog previously had a no alcohol policy, the clerk questioned us on whether we were allowed to have it. We explained the not so new policy changes, made our purchase, and headed for coffee. Keep in mind that we work mobility routes with traffic, obstacles, and unplanned encounters when making our way to coffee shops and other destinations referred to in my blogging.

The Leader Dog bus parked next to a curb with ankle deep snow.

Thick snow greeted us at the Leader Dog bus.

We made it out of Rochester Hills and headed to Royal Oak for the afternoon. Randy rode on the bus with us on the trip up. Penny completely ignored him. I took that as a very good sign that her turning over to me was at least well on the way. The hardest part of the route was getting off and back on the bus. The snow was so deep, that I sank into it like quicksand. Wil’s legs are so long that it didn’t faze him at all. Where did Wil and I work our mobility route to? That’s right! Starbucks!! We worked on crossing railroad tracks with our dogs on the way. Chip and Penny treated them as curbs; and we all handled them well. Our instructors made sure that we all met our training objectives with our dogs despite the brittle cold, ice, snow, and subzero wind chills.

Wil kneels inside a current Leader Dog kennel cage.

Wil poses like a dog in current Leader Dog kennel cage.

Wil stands in the back of Leader Dog's large and spacious future kennel suite.

Wil demonstrates the spaciousness of future Leader Dog kennel suite.

 

Thursday, January 30, proved to be a very different and exciting day. We began the training part of our day by taking a tour of the kennel. We left our dogs on tie down in the room and took the bus over as the wind chill was below zero. The kennel facility is a whirlwind of activity. It houses Puppy Land, the vet clinic and multiple bays that can hold approximately three hundred dogs in various phases of training. The kennel will undergo a massive renovation that will improve the atmosphere for the dogs while in training. Instead of single kennel cages, dogs will reside together in small packs in much larger more spacious suites. This should reduce kennel stress for some dogs while fostering a positive community experience for all of them. Speaking of kennel stress, Sue told Wil that Chip was so depressed in his cage that they put Sasha (black lab) in with him to keep him company. Here are pictures of Wil demonstrating the difference between the old and new kennels by posing in demos set up in the banquet room of the Polk Residence. Leader Dog is currently conducting a major fund raiser in order to finance these vital changes.

The six students from Spain left for home on Wednesday making it too quiet in the building. They were a fun and friendly group. The rest of our day was spent doing laundry, packing, and hanging out with our new found friends for the last day. We had our going home touch bases with our instructors that included the signing of our Leader Dog contracts. We received our Leader Dog ID’s and going home packet. Penny’s target weight is 58 pounds while Chip’s is 60. When I went in for my chat with Randy, I shut the door and turned Penny loose. I wanted to see if she would run straight to Randy. Instead, she went running wildly around the room to see what she could get into. I retrieved her quickly and reined her in. She is a goofy golden. His remark was, “Well, that’s good for her cerebellum!” I had a good laugh out of that; and was further assured that she was turning over (sometimes goldens take a while). We had exit interviews with Leader Dog staff. I enjoyed reminiscing about how it was when I trained with Mississippi and Titan versus all of the wonderful improvements that have come along over the past nineteen years.My overall experience was a great one! Our class will definitely be remembered for braving the snowiest January ever and surviving.

Until next time…

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Puppy Raiser Night: Meeting Penny’s First Family

Me and Penny with Dick and Peggy Wanat at Puppy Raiser Night

Dick and Peggy with me and Penny

After Saturday’s dinner pizza party, the time had come for some of us to meet our puppy raisers. The excitement in the air was palpable and contagious between dogs and humans. The dogs were taken out to park then brought to the banquet room for their visit. Penny was extra excited as she was free of her harness and Gentle Leader. Linda led us in via sighted guide as Penny was beside herself with energy. The room was set up with small groups of chairs spaced around it to facilitate semi-private visitations.

Linda led us to the back of the room where Dick and Peggy Wanat waited patiently. The Energizer Bunny, I mean Penny, was super charged and sniffed her curiosity all over the room. She was a happy handful, lunging and sniffing the floor in her totally Golden way. She did settle down enough to get some loving from Dick and Peggy. Many pictures were taken. Penny and Dick are members of the Lathrup Lions Club here in Michigan, with Peggy serving as President. Penny was a proud hole sponsor in their fund raising golf tournament this year. Penny will be transferring from the Lathrup Lions to the Augusta Lions on February 4th. I shared a few golf hat clips from the Augusta Lions Club Willard Pryor Memorial golf tournament held in October of 2013 with them to present to their fellow Lions. We had a nice conversation; and I felt really comfortable with them. Penny was their first puppy raised for Leader Dog. They turned her in for formal training in August of 2013. The Wanats are now raising their second puppy, a Lab Golden cross.

Dick and Peggy brought us a couple of goodies. Penny was given her favorite toy, a round Nyla bone. She could not keep her nose off of it during the visit. They brought me a little photo album with puppy pictures of Penny and a tactile picture with the state of Michigan on it. The outline of the state including the Upper Peninsula are raised so that they can be traced with the fingers. I am inserting a video of Penny enjoying her new toy for your entertainment.

We exchanged contact information so that we can stay in touch. Peggy told Penny that she missed her; and told her to keep me safe. I know Penny will make them proud!

Until next time…

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Let It Snow: January 23, 24, and 25

The weather has continued to challenge our training objectives; but flexibility and adventure have prevailed. Thursday morning (23rd) took us to the downtown training center for obstacles and traffic checks. Penny and I made a right on the sidewalk in front of the training center to meet a Leader Dog van traffic check coming out of the driveway. Penny stopped on a dime allowing room for the van to pass while keeping me safe. As we continued an overhang obstacle blocked the sidewalk. This obstacle was a fake tree limb with leaves; and can be adjusted to various heights. It stood about waist high enticing Penny to stand on her hind legs and sniff the leaves. She is as curious as I am about these strange encounters. Penny then took me around it finding the sidewalk again on the other side. As we proceeded on Walnut Street heading toward 3rd Street, another obstacle met us blocking the whole sidewalk. Penny successfully navigated it as we continued without incident. We crossed Walnut Street and made our way toward 4th Street opposite the training center. The van met us again in the driveway of a bank and Penny calmly stopped, waiting to resume our safe travel. I must admit that my first instinct was to yell, “Asshole!” but I remembered where I was. After crossing Walnut at 4th to return to the training center Penny led me through a couple of cones and signs without missing a beat. Penny’s work impresses me more with each subsequent venture.

The afternoon was filled with administrative tasks and a visit from Dr. Wilson, one of the Leader Dog vets. Wil and I spoke with a couple of people from the Marketing Department about our LD histories as well as our experiences training as a couple bringing successor dogs home together. Group and ID pictures were taken as individual dog photos for the end of the year LD poster. I met with staff regarding the GPS device, Kaptin Plus, provided to all students in training. Dr. Wilson examined Penny for our trip home. Penny tried to get onto the table on her own; but was not quite tall enough. I utilized my P90X muscles to lift her easily onto it. She weighed 60 pounds when issued to me; and 57.5 on the 24th. Her target weight is 58 pounds. Of course she checked out just fine. The afternoon concluded with a meeting with Will Henry about the future of Leader Dog. The post-dinner lecture was on country travel. We will practice this as soon as the weather permits.

Penny got to meet up with her litter mate, Roxy, during our free time. Roxy will be going to Spain with her partner, Natalia. Penny and Roxy played bite the snout and had a great time. It was nice for them to be able to socialize a little bit.

Roxy and Penny play bite the snout in the Piano Lounge.

Littermates, Roxy and Penny, get to play together.

Friday, the 24th, we went to Target for our morning training. We all congregated in the Starbucks ordering hot treats. Thanks to my Evil Twin, Barbara, we are set with Starbucks gift cards. Wil and I walked through the store looking for a pin brush for Penny to no avail. Wil returned to the Starbucks while Penny and I took advantage of some extra walking time. After finding a Powerade Zero, I too returned to Starbucks for our trip back to the school.

The afternoon brought a new adventure, Lakeside Crossing Mall. Wil and I were allowed to team up and explore. Our first stop was Bath and Bodyworks. The air is so cold and dry here that I needed to find some really thick moisturizing lotion. I lucked up and found a good buy one get one deal. Because this mall has a Bose store and a couple of adult beverage providers, Wil walked into the mall without bribes or complaints buy cheap viagra uk. We wandered over to Bar Louie to see how our dogs handled laying under the table while we grabbed some boneless wings and a couple of big Blue Moons. As shown in the picture below, it was a roaring success! It was fun to have a little time to ourselves. We are looking forward to doing it again at the Village Deli when we get home. Unfortunately, we ran out of time and never made it to the Bose store.

Denise and Wil enjoy Blue Moons while Penny and Chip rest under the table.

Penny and Chip rest under the table at Bar Louie.

Since we didn’t have an evening lecture, I attended services at St. Mattress of the Springs from 6:30 to 8:00. In other words, I took a nap.

Saturday, the 25th, proved to be a day full of excitement. The morning training took us to the downtown training center. It had snowed most of Friday night; but we were actually able to walk a longer route into the neighborhood behind the center. Our instructors set up obstacles on the sidewalks of Walnut Street as described above. The route took us right from the center to 3rd Street. Penny and I made a right at 3rd and walked two blocks up to Oak Street. It started to snow; and I mean really snow. Everything was so white that I could not determine where the sidewalks began or ended. Penny could tell and did a fantastic job guiding me. As we walked, the snow blew in my face and crunched under my feet. It was exhilarating and I found myself proclaiming, “Woo hoo! It’s snowing!” An unplanned obstacle awaited us on Oak Street. There was a pickup truck with a trailer attached blocking the sidewalk and driveway all the way to the street. Penny stopped for me to investigate and request her to advance forward. She led me into the street at the end of the driveway, walked me around the front of the pickup truck as I told her move right and find the sidewalk. She stopped as it was not safe to re-enter the driveway due to a high snow drift. When I told her to move forward, she walked me around two parked cars on the shoulder of the road; and then took me back to the sidewalk via and empty driveway. When she is in work mode, my little ball of energy is spot on. Below is a short video of our little snow joy.

Before heading back to the school, we practice getting into and out of the front of a car with our dogs. After nineteen years with LDs, it was old hat to me and Penny nailed it like a pro.

The afternoon session took us back to Lakeside Crossing. This time, we did find the Bose store. Wil has been wanting a Bose SoundLink for a long time; and let’s just say that it is now in his room at the school. Thank goodness it can be paid for in small payments with no interest. We revisited Bar Louie only to find our classmates, B.J., Jonathan, Alex, and Jeff, enjoying brews and appetizers. We gladly joined in the fun with repeats of Blue Moons. The six dogs under the table behaved like total pros. It is awesome that as adults, we can have a little bit of fun while working with our dogs. That is the kind of experience we will have in our home environments.

The evening brought meetings with puppy raisers. I had a wonderful meeting with Dick and Peggy Wanat. I am going to make this meeting a separate post as it deserves its own spotlight.

Until next time…

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Time To Shop: Updates for January 20, 21, and 22

A view of my room at Leader Dog with Penny sleeping on her bed in the corner.

View of Leader Dog room with a sleeping Penny in the corner.

Training days at Leader Dog can be intense and tiring for both dog and human. I have tried to settle down early for the past couple of nights to rejuvenate myself and Penny. We have awesome classmates; and enjoy our social time with them. We all seem to mesh together creating a light and de-stressing atmosphere. The Polk Residence is comfortable, spacious, and perfect for dog/human relaxation and bonding when not training. The above picture shows a view of our room from the corner by the desk. The room has a full size bed with shelves built into the head board, night table, and chair. There is a dresser/desk combo with an alcove for a small refrigerator. Atop the dresser is a flat screen TV with cable and wired as well as wireless internet. There is also a lock box in which to place valuables. We all have a room key (scan card) and a lock box key attached to a lanyard worn around the neck. Beyond my bed lies Penny’s bed and tie down. There is a spacious closet that backs up to the bathroom. A big coat hook hangs on the wall on the way to the hall door which holds Penny’s leash, harness, and working collars. Not in view is a door beside the bed that leads directly to Penny’s relief (park) area and the smoker’s spot. Wil and I are in rooms 20 and 21 which has an adjoining door. We keep it closed most of the time; only opening it when we are relaxing at night together. It gets closed at bedtime.

The weather has been so bitterly cold and unpredictable that training is carried out accordingly. Monday (January 20) morning took us shopping at Meijer (similar to Walmart). We were trained on how to heel our dog while someone else pulls the shopping cart as well as having the dog guide while we pulled the cart. Shopping and pulling the cart is routine to me; and Penny handled it with no problems. My shopping list consisted of Bud Light, Diet Mountain Dew, Pall Mall Red 100s, and Ibuprofen. After my first phase of shopping was complete, Wil and I walked the store together with Penny and Chip. I got a couple of generic sweatshirts for extra warmth. Incidentally, those over the age of 21 can have alcoholic beverages in the room for sole consumption in said room. Intoxications is grounds for dismissal.

We met with Deb from the Puppy Department who shared our dog’s ancestry and affirmed which puppy raisers would visit on the 25th. Penny, born on June 8, 2012, is a Sophie x Alphie pup. Upon sharing this on Facebook, some great Golden information was given to me. Apparently, Penny comes from Sophie’s pre-retirement litter; and is sister to Janice’s Mama Lacy (from an earlier litter). Penny is also a sibling to Harriet’s Dillon (from another earlier Sophie litter). Penny’s grandmother is Pam’s Breeze. The cool thing about these relations is that I met all of these named individuals through Titan and our Golden gang almost twelve years ago. It is awesome to be related by dog! I don’t know as much about Chip, born May 10, 2012. His parents are Gabe and Sofie. Wil and I both get to meet our puppy raisers; and are very excited!

The afternoon training for Monday took place at the Downtown training center with all of us taking a short solo walk with our dogs with our trainers close by. Penny worked well; but still had a bit of a tug. Wil reported that Chip worked well also. I am trying to encourage him to write about his experiences as well. We returned to the school for a lecture by Dr. Wilson (the vet) who will be examining all of the pups tomorrow. Our day concluded with an after dinner lecture about our shopping experience.

We spent both training sessions on Tuesday (the 21st) at Lakeside Mall. It felt good to walk the mall. Randy made both walks with us and showed me the technique for taking the escalator with Penny. One of my training objectives for this week is to work with Penny on her slowing down (steady) so that she doesn’t tug too hard. If she pulls too hard, I won’t be able to feel her guide effectively through her harness. We sat in the Food Court while awaiting our turns close to the A & W stand. Wil and I had to have one as it reminded me of the days hanging out with my sister, Theresa, after losing my sight. We had many a diet A & W Diet Root beer belching contest. Penny took an opportunity to meet and greet and elderly couple while I was putting the lid on my refill. Randy came to the rescue. After observing Penny, it was decided to use a Gentle Leader when working. The after dinner lecture was about obstacles and the use of the Gentle Leader.

This morning we went to the downtown training center and made two short independent walks on the block near the training center on Walnut Street. The instructors were stationed on the street corners. Afterwards, Wil and I were allowed to venture to the Bean and Leaf Coffee Shop on Main Street and enjoyed a warm treat. The temperature was eight degrees with a wind-chill of minus seven. Our other classmates were allowed to do the same in teams of two. It felt so good to experience that independence with a dog again! Penny had a total attitude change with the Gentle Leader. She worked like a champ! Chip did an excellent job for Wil.

This afternoon, part of the class went to a college campus while the rest of us went to Royal Oak. It was bitterly cold; but we were able to work routes on clearer sidewalks. It is a neat little town with all kinds of store fronts, sidewalk signs, railroad track crossings, and some strange street crossings. Penny was a little excited as it was snowing and blowing everywhere. The wind wanted to freeze my face; but it was fun walking while it was snowing.

The snow covered Lion in front of the Downtown Training Center at night.

Snow covered Downtown Training Center Lion

After dinner, Phil took me, Wil, and two other classmates’ downtown for some night travel. Everything was white (streets and sidewalks) from today’s snow. It was cool hearing the snow crunch under my feet. Poor Penny got a little salt in one of her back paws. I had no problem getting it out of there while walking with her. It was still snowing for our walk. I was truly impressed with Penny’s work. She is a very smart dog and knows her job. Upon returning from our training sessions, I wipe down and check her paws for salt, ice, and snow. She will be glad that Augusta rarely has that white stuff.

It is time to publish this and settle down. Tomorrow will be a full day. I’m not sure what the morning will bring; but the afternoon schedule includes ID, class, and dog poster pictures; an examination by Dr. Wilson; and a meeting with someone about GPS devices. Penny is already sacked out.

Penny sleeps on her blue bed in Leader Dog dorm room.

Penny is dog tired.

Until next time…