All posts by readingwithrhythm

Beach Adventures

Donnie has never cared much for getting his feet wet. From day 1, rain and wet ground have had him staring up at me with scorn. When the weather started getting warm, I put out a blue plastic pool for him. He’s been happy to drink out of it. I can pick him up and place him in it. He will stand – with that same look of scorn – for about 10 seconds – then he’s outta there.

My Family’s Annual Beach Trip Gathering took place the 1st weekend in May. I was anxious to see how Donnie would take to the whole event. I knew he would enjoy the kids and all the attention. I thought he might think the sand was fun. I could not bring up a vision of him in the water.

He fooled me though! He DID enjoy those kids!

And he DID enjoy the walks on the beach.

He DID enjoy chasing the birds. I can’t say that he ENJOYED the water, but he was willing to cater to my whims. He followed me in – for a little ways. But was very happy to head back to the dry sand.

But I think by Saturday afternoon he might have been actually enjoying it. Maybe just a bit. Having the kids there helped.

He mostly just enjoyed lounging and soaking up the sun.

Overall it was a GOOD weekend. For me, for Donnie, for everyone.

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Making Friends

When encountering other creatures – be it dogs or cats or squirrels or whatever – a guide dog must remain neutral. He can’t let himself (or herself) get excited – either in a positive way or a negative way.  As a puppy raiser it’s part of my job to give Donnie opportunities to meet and greet lots of different beings so that they will become “old hat” to him. No big deal about the big dog coming my way! No big deal if I see my best buddy across the room! No big deal if that cat wants me to chase it. Donnie needs to be above all of that.

He also needs to know how to interact with other dogs. Nicely.  So we plan pay dates with friends.

Pointer friend Heidi

Little friend Lobo.

Big friend Benjamin

Benjamin was not real impressed with Donnie and Donnie was a bit afraid of Benjamin. Donnie likes to talk Smack with bigger dogs – whether strangers or good friends. Other dogs find this rude.

Hiking buddy Juniper. This is a great way to get to know another dog. Just out walking.

Canine Companions for Independence puppy in training Marina. Marina is a little bit older and a little bit bigger, but they got on great together.

Best Bud, Carver. Carver is 2 weeks older than Donnie, but they have spent a lot of time together and they are quite tight. 

And then there are the “home” buddies –

Walker has finally gotten pretty comfortable with the little guy. But Donnie does get in his face talking that Smack. Walker and I both find it quite irritating.

And Wally the cat has learned  that the best way to deal with the little gangster is to be oblivious to his attentions. Donnie pulled this bed around the room for a bit before he finally decided to just give it up.

So, Donnie has a lot to learn about polite social interactions, but he’s learning.


Donnie and the Bluebonnets

I think Donnie is going to start a new boy band –

Donnie and the Bluebonnets

This has been a great spring for the wildflowers. The 7 Acre Wood is covered with Bluebonnets and Donnie and I spent a lot of time this past week romping and playing in them.

Here’s a view of our time in the fields –

You can click on each picture to see it bigger. If you’d like.

Happy Spring!!

The Waiting Game

Guide dogs spend a lot of time waiting. Being still and being patient. It is sometimes a tough skill to learn. Guide dog pups have to learn NOT to be a puppy!

Waiting at the bank to get forms filled out.

Waiting at the post office

Waiting for the humans to finish eating and talking

Waiting for the humans to just quit chatting and move along

Waiting at the doctors office for an eye exam. (This was a routine exam requested by the school. His eyes are perfect!)

Waiting for the car to be ready

Waiting for shoppers

Just Waiting for something! Anything!

Donnie, for the most part, has been handling the Waiting Game remarkably well. Sometimes not so well. But he’s learning.

Life on the Farm

Donnie has landed in a country full of wide open running space and  inhabited by some strange beings that leave trails of candy wherever they go. He’s having a fun time figuring it all out.

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Stephen’s favorite toy was his food bowl. He loved it! If it was left on the floor, he would toss it and scoot it and have a grand time with it.

I’m not so sure what Donnie thinks of his —

Happy Trails to you All!!

Hello Donnie!

Meet Donnie
from the 2KK18 litter
born 07 Dec 2018
Black Lab Male
Sire – Murphy  Dam-Josie

The rest of his litter – Donnie’s brother, Neely, 2nd from left, returned to Texas with us. The other 4 went off to Jacksonville, Fla.

Donnie is sponsored by Tim and Missy Griffy – fellow puppy raisers of the North Texas Puppy Raiser group. He is named in honor of Donnie Cechan, another fellow raiser who died in 2017.  His wife Leslie now has puppy Donnie’s brother, Neely – also sponsored by the Griffys.

Leslie with puppy Donnie along with Neely on the left and Carver on the right. Sitting on Donnie’s Bench. Carver is not from the same litter and is a couple of weeks older than the other 2, but is here in Texas with us. The 3 pups will be learning new things together.

Donnie and Neely returned to Texas together and were great travelers – just like their predecessors, Stephen and Arthur.

I think they will be best buds!

And now they both are adjusting to their new lives away from Mom and Siblings. House rules, yard rules, people rules, leashes, grass, furniture, strange animals. It’s all new and exciting.

So far, so good here at the 7 Acre Wood!

I will keep you apprised of their progress!






Saying Good-Bye to Stephen

The hardest part about Puppy Raising is not the sleepless nights, or the vomit and poop and pee, or the chewed shoes and gnawed furniture. It’s not the battle scars from sharp baby teeth, or the frustrations of training, or the worries that you are not being the best for your pup. The hardest part is letting go. Letting go of a piece of your heart. So why do we do it?! Because the rewards at the end are unbelievably precious. The Knowing that that pup that stole your heart and love will be pouring it out for someone who NEEDS his love. It’s a gift. A gift to the visually impaired person who receives the pup, and a gift to the raiser of a job well done.

Stephen has moved on to “college.” His next phase of training. He was, I believe, the best pup I have had the pleasure of raising. He has taken my heart and my tears off with him. And I’m pretty confident that he isn’t missing me too much. He’s with his Best Bud, brother Arthur. And he’s spending his days learning new things. He loves learning new things. I’m anxious to see where he goes from here.

I did a road trip to Florida for the big event. Along with fellow raiser, Leslie Cechan. Leslie has had Arthur for the last year. We had a great trip out there. The boys were good travelers. Did well in the car and in the hotels.

Southeastern Guide Dogs does Turn In Time BIG. It’s quite a day for the puppy raisers. 28 pups showed up for their Freshman Orientation. 28 + folks showed up with lots of kleenex.

This is Stephen’s litter – Magic, Arthur, Dottie, Stephen, and Griffy

Stephen was quite ready to go off with the new trainer!

So, Stephen is off to bigger and better things. A whole new world for him. He’ll be fine. I believe that. He’ll be fine.

And I went from the intake kennel to the puppy kennel to pick up my new charge! Nothing soothes a broken heart like a new puppy!!

Meet Donnie!!

And I’ll tell you all about him tomorrow!!


A Holiday Travelogue

2018 ended with a big whopping road trip to California. Stephen is a road trip warrior and handled the trip with aplomb. Even with a packed full car.

Besides the usual stops for busy time and stretching the legs a bit —

we made a couple of touristy stops —

The Changing Hands Bookstore in Phoenix, Az

A great children’s area, and good distraction/impulse control atmosphere! It was kind of dog friendly- several little dogs checking things out as well.

Then there was a stop in Quartzsite, Az to visit the Hi Jolly Monument. A fantastic cemetery in the desert!

First thing on the agenda when we arrived in California was a performance of The Nutcracker presented by the Long Beach Ballet Company and featuring our own Little Princesses.

Stephen was ready with hair and make-up advice.

He said the accommodations were a bit tight, but that girl in front of him sure had nice smelling hair!

Next came a visit to the Aquarium of the Pacific and some fun Christmas lights.

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Stephen had to call on all his training skills to get through the maze of crowds at the aquarium. The toughest part for him was all the pigeons everywhere outside!!! Man! Hard to ignore!

Then it was Christmas and play time with everyone – Some lucky folks got some really nice blankets.

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And time to say good-by to California. Lunch at Tio’s Tacos in Riverside and hit the road again.

Just in time to catch the Blizzard blowing through Arizona! Stephen thought it was great fun!

We managed to make it home safe and sound.  A couple of days rest then off again to Galveston to celebrate the coming of the New Year! More to come —-

Christmas Cheer

It’s been a busy Holiday Season for Stephen and his fellow Guide Dog Pups of the North Texas Puppy Raiser Group.

We had a walk through the neighborhood to see all the pretty lights.

All the pups did great! No one had any issues with all the noisy, whooshing, moving beings they encountered.

Next came PARTY TIME!!! With treats and packages and Santa and kids and friends and …….

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Then there was shopping and more Santas! With more kids and more dogs and more ……

It’s all enough to wear a boy out!!

And tomorrow we head out on a big road trip to California!! Stephen is a Roadtripper Extraordinaire!!! He loves going places!

Y’all have a Blessed Christmas and we’ll see you in the New Year!!