Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas, everyone!

We wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Greg, Melissa and Smokey

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sheep and cows and donkeys, oh my!

Yes, that's what I got to see at our church's living nativity program!  Every year for 55 years, St.Timothy's Episcopal church in Lake Jackson, TX has been presenting a living nativity program out on the church lawn. This year, I got to go with mom and dad.

That's me posing for a quick photo with one of the 3 kings of Orient Ore (also called Maji, or Wise Men of the East) before the performance. (I know that this is a Wise Man, cuz he's my dad, and he's very smart IMHO).

The Annunciation

30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”  (Luke 1:30-33)

I got to see and smell lots of new things at the living nativity. Cows, sheep, and donkeys were there. These are all required exposures for a guide-dog. So, check those off my exposure list, people!  I also got to see and smell hay for the first time.  

The shepherds worshiping baby Jesus in the manger

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
   and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 (Luke 2: 8-17)

I didn't actually get to participate in the program, even though I volunteered to dress up as a black sheep! LOL!  Mom and I watched on the sidelines, out on the lawn, with the audience. There were so many people there with lots of kids running around me. I tried really hard to sit still and behave myself. With all the distractions around me, I had to work really hard! 

The 3 Maji following the star

1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:1-2)

The Maji bringing gifts to baby Jesus

 9 ... and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  (Matthew 2:9-11)

It was a beautiful performance on a lovely, brisk evening.  What a gift this performance is to the community, and an important reminder of the REAL meaning of Christmas. Thank you, St.Timothy's!

 Now, this last photo is not from St.Timothy's program, but I had to share it with you. One of my mom's friends sent it to her.  Isn't it PAWsitively the cutest living nativity scene you could ever imagine? These well behaved pups all got staring roles in this program. Hey, I wonder if I know any of these guys?  Is that horse the director? (Ha Ha Ha)  Good job guys (and gals)!

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas from Smokey

Hi everyone!  Smokey wants wish you many special Christmas blessings!  Smokey got his very first Christmas present at the Houston Puppy raisers Christmas party on Dec 11th.

This really cute stocking, 

a black KONG, and some yummy smelling oatmeal shampoo. 
We don't know who gave us this gift (it was a white elephant gift) but whoever it was, we thank you!

Smokey made a short movie to celebrate his very first Christmas season. Enjoy!  
Click on the link below to watch:

Merry Christmas Ya'll!!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Waiting for Mr. Paws

Hi everyone!  I'm so excited about my very first Christmas. 

Yesterday I got to meet a few friend. Santa Paws! I heard that if you give him your Christmas list, he'll bring stuff for you on Christmas morning.  But you have to be really good!

Here's my list. I am a really good boy and I believe in you, Santa Paws. 
I am excited to see what you bring me. (Please don't forget the treats!)

We also went to the mall to do some shopping. 
Can you tell that dad doesn't care too much for shopping?

Just look at his face.  Shopping is one thing, but waiting on MOM to shop is another!

I got to help dad pick out some new shoes.
I saw lots of kids pointing at me and yelling, 
"Hey, mom! There's a DOG in here!"
And, I thought the mannequins were real people...but after sniffing them was obvious they weren't.

Dad and I didn't last very long we loaded back up in the car to go home and put up the Christmas tree.  
(Hey, either I'm getting MUCH bigger, or this car is shrinking. I can barely fit anymore!)

Mom gave me a surprise when we got home. Hmmm, what is it? 

It's a Santa Paws hat! She must have known how much I loved Santa Paw's red suit....
I look quite fetching in it, don't you think?

Oh joy. Mom just put my jingle bell collar on too.
I feel a photo shoot coming on...

While dad is busy assembling the Christmas tree...
mom is keeping busy... pestering me!

How much longer til Christmas?  Mom, have you addressed those Christmas cards yet? 
Maybe that's what you should be doing now!

I'm adorable...You know it... I know it...

But there's only so much a puppy can take. I am going to sleep now. 
Maybe when I wake up, Santa Paws will have been here. Do ya think?

Merry Christmas, yall!

Meeting the harness

At this point in every guide-pup-in-training's life (around 11-12 months of age), he or she gets introduced to....

....the harness

When Smokey goes back to Florida for final training with professional handlers, the harness will replace the blue service jacket that he has been wearing thus far (shown above).

At this point, we are just introducing the harness to Smokey so he gets used to it.

The harness is a bit heaver, bulkier, and more constrictive than the blue jacket he's been wearing up to this point.

The first few days, we just laid the harness down by Smokey's bed so he could smell it and get used to having it around.

We won't walk him while holding the handle of the harness, we will still use the leash. We only want Smokey to get used to the weight of the harness and maneuvering with a larger, more bulky device on his back. Our goal is that he is comfortable laying down,  sitting, obedient to commands and continues to act appropriately in the harness. Introducing the harness to the pup at this age and in a familiar and trusting environment reduces his final training time. Plus, it's one less thing that the professional trainers have to deal with when they begin working with him in March. Keep in mind, the pup will have lots of changes at that point in their lives -- new environment, new handlers, kennel mates, and a total different life experience. Therefore, learning about the harness early is a good thing.

Smokey is very laid back so the harness is no big deal.. 
To be quite honest, he wasn't even interested it, which is good!

It's just another day in a guide-pup-in-training's life..

The harness goes over the pup's head, just like the blue jacket..

And then snaps under his belly...

Ok. Done. Next! So, what do you have for me NOW dad?

ooooh. A Stocking! What do you mean I have to wait till Christmas? 

Good grief... I guess I have to be good, too, don't I?

While I'm waiting, I'll just make my Christmas list for Santa Paws. 
Treats, treats, and more treats.
Please and thank you!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Thanks PEO ladies! U Rock!

Hi again yall!  On Dec 8th, Smokey was asked to be a special guest at our local chapter meeting of P.E.O. International.  Of course, he had to be sweet smelling and looking his best for this special group of ladies, so I guess you know what that means...

Bath time!

If you have never heard of P.E.O. it stands for Philanthropic Educational Organization.  Please click on the link above to read more about their wonderful organization.  P.E.O. exists to be a source of encouragement and support for women to realize their potential in whatever worthwhile endeavor they choose. I have taken the liberty to share the mission statement from their website, which states:

P.E.O. is a philanthropic organization where women celebrate the advancement of women; educate women through scholarships, grants, awards, loans, and stewardship of Cottey College; and  motivate women to achieve their highest aspirations.
Needless to say, we were very honored to be the guests at their meeting to discuss Smokey and Southeastern Guide Dogs.  As usual, Smokey "worked" really hard during the presentation, but unlike other presentations, he managed to stay awake, and, for the most part, was on his best behavior.

Not working...
still not working...

Now...THAT'S working!

The ladies at P.E.O. were very interested in hearing about Smokey, his training, and his service potential for the future. Their encouragement and support warmed our hearts and is very much appreciated!  We didn't take any photos because Greg and I were too busy talking...but we hope that Tissie Schwebel will send us a copy of the photo she took at the end of our talk so we can post it here on Smokey's blog. 

We want to say a special word of thanks to Catherine Nagle and Jeanne Manry for inviting us, and to Jeanne for hosting us in her beautiful home. We enjoyed the delicious lunch, too!  We are so touched by your interest in Smokey and his future. And to ALL the ladies who so generously donated to help support the efforts of Southeastern Guide Dogs, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Melissa & Greg & Smokey

Oh, and Happy Birthday Smokey boy! 
You are 11 months old today! 
Party on, you little party animal!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Good Training Ground

Mom has been going to a physical therapist at Texas Women's hospital in Houston about once per week.  Dad and I accompany her (cause Dad's the best driver).  Hospitals are usually not considered fun places.  However, it gives us the opportunity to do some training.  There are lots of neat things to see and walk on there.  I get to work doors, elevators, parking garages, handicap ramps, waiting rooms, cars, sirens, benches, traffic and get exposure to lot of different walking surfaces.

The first time I went to that hospital, I was just a little guy (4 months old).  I saw a VERY shiny, slippery floor in the lobby that had a ramp with an upward incline.  It kind of freaked me out to walk on that floor so I decided I didn't really like that place. 

Since then, I have been back to the hospital about three or four times and I've got to admit's a pretty cool place.  I like it mostly because I get lots of questions from people asking why I'm there, and I get lots of looks and smiles from everyone.  Dad likes it because we get to see a lot of things that we don't normally see where we live, and, we get to work on a lot of different commands.  It is always an adventure for me to go the 4th largest city in the US (Houston) and I get to go quite often... enough that I am getting used to all the people and all the traffic.

Dad, try to remember where we parked this time

The first exposure that I'm getting used to is the parking garage.  It feels like a roller coaster ride -- all that driving around... trying to find a parking place and then get settled in.  It's dark in the garage and there are lots of echoes, but I don't mind it too much.

Next, we find the elevator.  I am working on my "Find The..." commands, one of which is "Find The Elevator".  Elevator is an awfully big word for a puppy.  I am much better with my other "Find The.." commands, because they are much smaller words.  Besides... there are no elevators in my small town, so I don't get all that much practice in elevators.

Once in the elevator, we take Mom up to the physical therapist, which is way up on the 11th floor -- a long ride in the elevator.  Sometimes we have to stop on the way up and let other people get in.  I can handle it when people get into the elevator with me (sometimes better than other people handle me being in the elevator with them), and sometimes it does get a little crowded. 

I like watching the fish swim around in the aquarium...Dad likes to snooze.

We settle into the waiting room for a little "chillin time" until Mom is called in for her treatment. Once Mom leaves us, Dad and I hit the bricks for about an hour of exposure time on the hospital grounds.

Bricked sidewalk

There are a lot of different walking surfaces around here.  This is great, because when I am in my coat I have a lot of things to focus on (eg. not pulling, not jumping, not sniffing, not pulling to greet people and about 100 other NOTS). Sometimes with all that focusing on the NOTS, a change in footing will freak me out a little.  When this happens, Dad lets me sniff the change in the floor and then we do it again.  Sometimes there are a lot of DO OVERS.

Walking across this grating used to scare me, but NOT ANYMORE!

There is Red Bumpy Stuff

There is yellow Bumpy Stuff

A manhole cover

(Dad calls this a manhole cover...but  I don't see any man!)

A grate venting steam.

Look at this cool thing we found! A grate with some steam coming out of it.  This is TOTALLY weird so Dad let me check this out for a long time.  The first time the wind blew a little of that steam on me, I didn't know what was happening!  I sniffed the metal part and it wasn't really hot...but let's just say I don't want to sniff it again...


We cross Fannin, a very busy street near the hospital complex.  

Wonder if anybody will mind if I track a little mud into the hospital ?

It seems to me that the mayor needs to put a little money into sidewalk repair around here!  This is a virtual obstacle course with a scrap of board, some mud, a manhole cover, and a big crack in the sidewalk.  Trust me when I say, there are a LOT of DO OVERS on this path.

Hey buddy, where is your blue jacket ?

It's about time to meet up with Mom and head for home.  In the gift shop, they have this black dog for sale that looks a little like me.  Well, at least he was black...and about my size.  I tried to get to know him a little, but he didn't have a lot to say.  Mom embarrasses me when she starts singing "how much is that doggie in the window?" Ruff Ruff

Find the Chair

As we are getting ready to head back home, I get to work on my other "Find The..." commands.  Remember? I told you that the smaller words are much easier for me.  "Find The Chair" is easy.

Find the Steps

But Dad has to remember that it the proper command is "Find the Steps", not "Find the Stairs".  Stairs and Chairs kind of sound alike to a little guy like me.

Finally, FIND THE CAR.

Yay, it's finally time to head for home. 
Isn't it almost my chow time, dad?  I'm getting hungry!

Patience is a virtue

It figures. First, the humans get to eat!  Not me! I have to lay still under the table while they eat.  Not only that, but I have to wait another two hours before it is MY meal time.  Something is wrong with this picture .  I do all the work, and THEY get to EAT.  Wonder what they would think if they had to lay under the table while I ate?

It was not a bad day, tho. It's fun to practice and learn my commands. I want to grow up and be the best guide-dog ever!



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