Sunday, January 30, 2011

Obedience with Jennifer

We had our third obedience class meeting with Jennifer on Monday. Tomorrow will be our last class!

Dodger has been in the circle of acceptance from the beginning and usually gets to play one of the circle 8 dogs as he is one of the least dog distracted dogs in the group.

Here is a shot of Fred and HRH Berkeley practicing a down stay. She is in the circle of acceptance too. This is a new experience for us after having Bingo. She relishes being in the spotlight and Carolyn has even caught her crossing her paws for that extra special cuteness factor!

Thursday's North Pinellas Meeting with a Panel of Guide Dog Users

Last Thursday Chuck was able to secure a wonderful panel of guide dog users for us for our monthly meeting with Don and Donna. They spoke about their experiences with their dogs and some of the things that they thought we as puppy raisers should be aware of. Chief among them was that the stay and the come commands were VERY important for our pups to know. Kathy said she was out on a hike with a fellow guide dog user and they both had told their dogs to stay and the other woman went to feel for her dog and it wasn't there. Kathy immediately put a hand out and Angel was right where she was supposed to be.

Thanks to Don and Donna for setting up the meeting and making it all go smoothly!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bill Jackson's Jan 2011

Bill Jackson's Outdoor World was gracious to allow us to hold the January south group meeting in their facility. Full of smells, sights and sounds not usually encountered, the meeting was a success.

Announcements from Marcy were followed by greeting/distraction training. Experienced raisers shared their stories, tips and tricks making for a quite informative session.

Other distractions such as kayaks, all sorts of merchandise and even an indoor shooting range supplemented the normal meeting distraction...other puppies!

Take a look!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Who Let the Dogs Out? Woof Woof

It was a big IFT (in for training) week, lots of puppies returning for more intensive guide dog school. Duke and Trapper were part of a litter of nine, Princess is one of the puppies in this litter, as well as Pal from our group. Faith was in Tampa, and several others from different parts of the state and country. Duke and Trapper are best buds, having frequent play dates and work-outs together this past year.

As hard as it is to give the dogs up, I realize looking at some of the pictures, they were happy as clams heading back to school. Who wouldn't be? Lots of dogs to play with, plenty of time to run, big fenced areas for chasing each other, they will have a blast.

To ease the "trauma", we took the dogs back to school "in style." Melisa rented a stretch limo, warning them ahead of time that there will be a slight amount of vacuuming to do after the trip. No problem! Our poor Limo driver, Guy, showed up right on time and was grinning and quite possibly shaking his head. I asked him "You did know what the gig was today, right?" He admitted he had been told a little bit, but not the entire story. We assured him his cleaning crew would be able to handle it. "Uh, I'm the cleaning crew", he said.

So Melisa, Ed and Duke, Larry, Gabrielle and Trapper loaded up the car with dogs and champagne and a fun trip back to school. The boys were in coat, and on their best behavior. Not so much with the we made juvenile faces out the window of the limo, we were all reminded that sometimes the folks outside can see in. Oops...maybe we need to be going back to school.

A quick stop at the entrance for some photo ops with the "stars", and we were greeted by the trainers at the office. "My these dogs are so calm, much calmer than some of the others", said one of the trainers. Melisa and I were sure we misunderstood her, meaning these were NOT the calmest, but no, they were perfect. No barking, no yanking or pulling, sat when told, and quite mannerly. Ready for guide dog college!

So for all of those folks wondering how hard it is to give up your puppy, my heart was breaking. But both dogs walked off with their handlers without a problem, tails wagging and a spring in their step. The dogs love to work, and I am sure will be absolutely content learning a lot more than we can teach them. They are smart dogs and eager to please. Of course now they are referred to as "the limo dogs". Hey, why not? They deserve it! Give those boys some Evian!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Princess goes in for training

Tough to put into words all the emotions that this day causes... thanks for all the support. She can't wait to see her brothers and sisters!!

Sarasota Polo Outing

A group of Suncoast Puppy Raisers attended a polo match on Sunday. It is a great dog exposure - tons of other dogs, people, balls, birds, food and did I mention horses running past all day? They even got to see some clydesdales and a real working guide dog! We had Duke (Melisa & Ed), Elvis, aka LV (Krisemans), Bruce (Dave), Trapper (Harrisons) and photographer Cindy Weatherby, hubby Doug and their two pups. The matches are every Sunday down in Lakewood Ranch ($10 entry). If you have not even been - think tailgating with horses. Fun was had by all

In For Training Time...

For Billy, Pasco, Wallie, Tell, Mac, Pal, Duke, Trapper and Princess...and the raisers who love them...

I Send You Like a Prayer
by Emily Overcarsh

I send you like a prayer
To shine in a land without sun
Where scents and sounds bloom
Like thunder over the expanse
Of the impossible black horizon
Could you have known where you were headed?
That all along you were a hero?
You were never mine to keep
So I held you just long enough
For you to grow into a savior
For the lost
And now I let go

I send you like a prayer
Like a fulfilled promise
I hang on to your scent in your blanket
That you're too big for now
And as the tears every mother has wept fill my eyes
Know that you carry my heart with you
To the land without sun
So don't look back now
Instead, look ahead
To the impossible black horizon
And shine with the knowledge
That you were born for this moment
Where you set a blind man free

(taken from "Two Plus Four Equals One - Celebrating the Partnership of People with Disabilities and Their Assistance Dogs" by Kathy Nimmer ISBN: 978-160844-716-9)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Obedience with Jennifer

It was rather a dark and rainy night when the 11 of us started our class with Jennifer the trainer. You can see Carolyn in the distance and Dodger, our only yellow lab, sort of glowed in the night.

We started out the night with a basic circle of acceptance with most in and a few outside of it. The big thing to realize is that being outside the circle isn't a bad thing, it only means your dog needs more time to deal with his dog distraction before he/she can get closer to the circle or get into the circle. With time and patience, admittance to the circle is guaranteed. 8-) Go out from the circle until your dog obeys your command the first time. Then, periodically, come closer to the circle and see how your dog does. It may take 15 minutes, it may take two classes! It's all about the dog feeling good and getting praised for following commands.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Luncheon for the Visually Impaired

Hi puppy raisers,

Saturday, January 22, at 12:30 p.m. my church will be hosting a luncheon for the visually impaired. The pastor has extended an invitation for all the puppy raisers to bring the puppies out to this excellent exposure.

There will be food, door prizes, and special music -- all at absolutely no cost!

This particular group of people will be especially appreciative of our efforts, I am sure.

If you plan on attending, email me at so I may give the church a head-count.

Church's address:

Community Bible Baptist Church
3800 17th Ave N
St. Petersburg, FL 33713

Mitch and I hope to see you there!

Heather Gibbs


During puppy hugging the dogs were more interested in an antler than each other or the people petting them. Wallie is keeping the bone away from Isabella and Bernice.

Break time

Wallie & Isabella taking a break after the puppy meeting at the Discovery Center in Sarasota.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Eddie goes to Court

John sponsored a pup named Eddie. Karen Hamilton is finishing Eddie and takes him to work with her at the court house. We are so proud of this handsome pup.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Discovery Center Meeting

On Saturday we had our first puppy meeting of the 2011 year in Sarasota at the new Discovery Center. The center is really nice. They have two great meeting rooms, a nice gift shop and a very cute puppy petting place.

Stephanie and Princess made the long trek from Clearwater for their last meeting as Princess goes in for training next week. She's a real sweetheart and has really grown from the rowdy gal that Stephanie got to finish!

After the meeting we all took a walk down to the farmer's market where it was crowded with people and dogs. Quite a challenge walking for everyone.

After braving the market, we decided to head over for some lunch. We had five dogs under a table, which is a new record.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Wallie and Isabella

A day at the park for Wallie (Doreen Heller, raiser) and Isabella. One of their favorite games is tug followed by "chase me, I have the toy".