A Training Bonanza!!!

This weekend Stephen and I participated in the National Brain Tumor Walk at Trinity Park in Ft Worth, Tx. It was a beautiful day, although quite chilly! I expected it to be a good training outing for Stephen, but it turned out to be a real Lollapalooza!!

There was a huge crowd of milling folks, young, old, infirm. Wheelchairs, strollers, loud music, balloons, much laughter and cheering.

There were LOTS of kids –

Wanting to pet

Playing Football!

Running and playing all along the walk

There were DOGS! Oh so many dogs! Big and small. Mostly very well behaved. There was even a gentleman playing fetch with his big Lab. In the river!!!


Stephen was really put to the test with all of this.  In the beginning he had a REALLY tough time with his “Impulse Control.” His impulse being to meet and greet and play! But it didn’t take too long for him to settle into the job at hand.

There were trains –

Stephen handled it all like the real trooper that he is!


The whole affair began and ended with a ride on a narrow, crowded shuttle bus

All in all it was a tremendously successful day! For the National Brain Tumor Society. And for Stephen!

 

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October Fun

October was quite a month for Little Stephen. Lots and lots of rain. Rain and more rain. And Stephen does LOVE the rain!!

The rain did create some difficulties for us. Stephen missed out on the big Alzheimer’s Walk and a wedding.  I don’t think he minded too much though.

He had plenty of Fun Opportunities in spite of the rain. He went to the movies with Brother Arthur.  Rear Window. He slept through the whole thing.

Then there was a Big Awards Dinner. Aunt Chrissy was receiving a Distinguished Alumni Award. Stephen was quite proud!

Obedience at the Mall where we worked on ignoring distractions

A bigger distraction for Stephen than those treats on the floor, was a couple of kids running in circles around him! He did soooo want to join them!

Stephen spent some quality time at school

The North Texas Puppy Group spent an evening at a Halloween Store.

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He does make a pretty good Thing 1, I think!

Stephen managed to get in some early Voting. He’s not telling who he voted for!

He SCORED at a business workshop

Sister Mandy came for an extended visit. Stephen was a pretty good host.

Mandy & Stephen

And now he’s off to Mandy’s house for a few days while Mom Person goes for a bit of a trip.

A busy, productive month – in spite of the rains!!

Galveston, Oh Galveston!

Another trip to the beach for Stephen!! He does LOVE the beach!! The sand, the waves, the birds, the smells, the sand crabs, digging, running, watching, sniffing. A sensory Wonderland!

Only problem with this trip – NO KIDS!! To romp with and splash with and dig with and chase! NO KIDS! He kept watching for them, but they never came.  😦

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He did have a bunch of Sweet Dog-loving Ladies to dote on him tho!

It was a rather stormy, rainy weekend, but Stephen didn’t mind one bit. Slept through all the thunder and sat out in the rain meditating.

The beach sure is empty when it’s raining!

He got to ride on the Ferry.

And he got to enjoy a SWEET Pup Treat at Barnaby’s Cafe.

A fine fine weekend!

The Brotherhood

It has been a Puppy Merry-Go-Round at the 7 Acre Wood! Pups coming and going. You met Stephen’s brother, Arthur, in the last post. Arthur arrived August 17. For 3 weeks it was Brother Stephen and Brother Arthur. Running, wrestling, chasing, splashing, growling, barking, sharing, snuggling. It was a bit tricky training 2 at the same time. But we kind of managed. And they took turns going places.

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On September 12 the Dallas Puppy Raisers had a great Bowling outing in Dallas. Both Arthur and Stephen came along.

Stephen & Arthur
Arthur
Arthur

This bowling outing marked the beginning of Puppy Camp for all the pups. Puppy Camp is something mandated by Southeastern Guide Dogs whereby puppies go to spend time at someone else’s house for 2 weeks. This provides new experiences and new handlers for the pups to learn about. So when we left the bowling alley, Stephen went home with the Ledbetters and their pup, Griffy, came home with me and Arthur. Griffy is another Brother!! These 3 brothers are from the QQ17 litter born at SEGDI on November 12, 2017. They also have a sister in Dallas, Dottie. I don’t know of other siblings, but there might be some in other places. Anyway, now we have Brother Arthur and Brother Griffy at the 7 Acre Wood. Chasing, wrestling, jumping, splashing, growling, barking, sharing, snuggling.

Arthur did not seem to fit on our dog beds –

And it seems that Griffy had the same problem –

On September 17 Arthur’s mom returned to Texas and he said Adios to Brother Griffy and the 7 Acre Wood. Griffy is left all alone. Well, the only pup, anyway.

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Looking at these pictures it appears that Griffy got to go to more places than Arthur, but that was not the case. It is just that Arthur did not like to have his picture taken. I was seldom quick enough to capture him before he would duck and leave.  😦

And, there was no river to play in while Arthur was here, but while Griffy has been here we’ve had MUSHROOMS! Everywhere! That all the pups have wanted to eat! So, Griffy has not been able to run free in the pasture. 😦

Puppy Camp ends tomorrow, Wednesday. Griffy will go home to Dallas and Stephen will come back to the 7 Acre Wood. He’s been having lots of fun experiences himself and I’m anxious to hear all about it! I’ve missed my boy!

It’s been a fascinating experience to spend time with all the Brothers. It’s uncanny how very much alike they all are. Their appearance, their personalities, their habits. Uncanny. But they ARE Brothers after all!!

Seeing Double

Stephen’s brother, Arthur, is staying with us for a few weeks. Brother, as in littermate. And they are best buds! Can you tell who’s who?! Of course not!

In most of the following pictures Arthur is wearing a blue color and Stephen’s is brownish. Without collars you have to look at tails. Stephen’s is a bit thicker.

Have fun!

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Jazz at the Library

The Ft Worth Library offers a summer Jazz Concert Series every 3rd Thursday of the months of the summer. A great place to listen to some great music – air conditioned, beautiful setting, spacious, welcoming to all walks of life.

Stephen enjoyed an evening of great learning experiences. He doesn’t get to the Big City very often, so a night of Jazz provided an evening of busy city streets with laughing, loud passersby, whizzing, blaring traffic , visions of look-alike dogs in shop windows, birds sauntering by, all kinds of tidbits on the sidewalks, and oh, the smells!! So much to take notice of! Seeing and smelling and hearing. Lots of the same sensations he experiences in our little Glen Rose – but on a much larger scale! Whew!!

Then there was the library. MUCH grander than our hometown library with those sweet librarians. More folks wanting to pet and ask questions, kids everywhere, computers and printers and copy machines all with their whirring, clicking noises.

And then the highlight – the Music. Stephen hears music all the time. It’s playing through his home always, and blaring in his ears in the car. It’s just background noise for him. And the Jazz  Concert was the same. Lots of feet to watch out for, but otherwise a nice place to nap. He was VERY excited to meet the trumpet player afterwards though! He couldn’t contain his JOY!! Mr Luke Wingfield was happy to meet Stephen as well!!

Thank you Ft Worth Library and Mario Cruz and his Band!

jazz at the library

Making Friends and Building Relationships

Most all of the Guide Dog Schools in the United States are non-profit organizations taking on the business of breeding and training Guide Dogs for the seeing impaired. They breed their own dogs so that they can know with some certainty what the end product will be. The dogs are bred at the school and pups are whelped there. But they depend on volunteer puppy raisers to foster those pups for at least a year. In their homes, away from the kennels. They do this so that the pups can experience home life with humans and learn to make bonding connections with those humans. That’s extremely important for a Guide Dog who ultimately will be taking a blind person’s life in their capable 4 paws. They will need to REALLY care about that person. That person who will be trusting their lives to that dog.

Bonding is “a relationship that establishes a basis for ongoing mutual attachment.” But wait a minute! “Ongoing mutual attachment.” Ongoing. Forever. So why would the school want their pups to BOND with a human family that will only be in that pup’s life for 1 year?! And then BOND with a blind person with the same “mutual attachment?” It can be a problem.

If a dog is to become a working Guide Dog, he/she must be able to switch allegiances. And not only from family to blind handler. But,

from Mom

to Family

to Trainer

then to Blind Person.

Whew! A lot of dogs can’t do that. Those emotional ties are difficult to sever. Becoming a working dog requires a lot. Most Guide Dog schools have discovered that Labrador Retrievers are more capable than other breeds of making those transitions successfully. Labs tend to love just about everybody.

Stephen is learning about bonding. Forging meaningful relationships. He’s meeting lots of folks who are showing him how fantastic Humans can be. And he’s learning to get along with other beings as well. He’s also learning about transitions, spending time with other folks besides me. He’s happy wherever he is no matter who he’s with. He takes it all in stride – making friends wherever he goes.

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Well, maybe not quite with everyone –

He hasn’t quite learned to speak CAT.

But his Heart is BIG and it will come!

Happy Days to you and yours!

 

 

 

The days and nights of a Guide Dog Puppy in training