Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Goodbye summer ...

Molly and Mackenzie are spending their last week of summer vacation with us. It's time to start back to school next week... Just where did the summer go, anyway?

August 15, 2011

Smokey is having alot of fun playing with the girls.  He weighs as much as Molly now - can you tell, he is growing like a weed! He just turned 7 months old and weighs 60 lbs.
March 15, 2011

Above is a picture of Molly and Smokey in March, just after we got Smokey. He was 9 weeks old and weighed 13 lbs. Big difference, huh?

Molly is working with Smokey alot. She is practicing obedience commands with him which is great because a pup-in-training has to learn to respond appropriately and obey everyone that gives him a command.  

As you can see,

There is lots of hugging going on between these two...

and snuggles every night...

Smokey has learned to follow Molly around wherever she goes...

...'cuz treats are frequently on her person (LOL).

Kenzie gets in on the snuggles and loves playtime, too. 

She is a bit camera shy, but we got a few photos during playtime!

 Molly found Smokey's birthday hat and posed for a photo-op...

What a cute pair!

Now, WHO wants to PaR-tAe!?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

It's Sssssshow Time...

 Recently, the Houston Puppy Raiser group took our pups on an outing to the Dog Show at Reliant Center.
We got to spend some time walking the pups around the vendor booths. Many people stopped to ask questions about the pups, and, the mission of Southeastern Guide Dogs, Inc. Public venues like this are a great time to spread the word about SEGDI and the puppy raiser program.
The pups got alot of exposure in more ways than one. The Dog show is crowded with lots of kids and a variety of dogs of all shapes and sizes (and manners). All of these things are distractions that a guide-dog-pup-in-training must learn to ignore. These kind of distractions can be intense for our pups, most of whom are under 7 months of age, but all of them did very well.
Our area coordinator, Carol, was nice enough to schedule an appointment with a professional photographer for a group photo of all the pups.
 Okay - time to start lining up.
Texas Star (L), Smokey (C), and Suzette (R)
 The plan was to take a group photo with all 9 pups together. But the booth was too small to accommodate all the pups, their raisers (holding the leashes), and the photographer's assistant. The photographer thought it best to take photos of the pups, 3 at a time; then with a bit of photo shop magic, assemble them into a group photo.  I will post the group photo of our pups when the prints come in.
After the photography session, we headed over to the arenas to watch some of the events.
The agility trials were Smokey's favorite event to watch. Our seats were just feet away from the course. Smokey watched closely as the dogs whizzed by in front of us, running from obstacle to obstacle.
Smokey watched the events for quite a while, but he was soon exhausted from all the excitement.  Within an hour or so, he was finding a comfie place to stretch out and catch some zzzzzzzzzzzzz's.
 Soon it was time to go.
He was one tired puppy when we got home!

Friday, August 12, 2011

You've got a friend

We really enjoyed having Parkie with us the last 11 days. She is so sweet and easy going. She has been very tolerant of her rough and tumble brother, Smokey.
 Parkie went home last night, and Smokey is really missing her today.
Hmmm.  What to do now?
Catching up on sleep is an option...but one can't sleep all day!
So we got out of the house for awhile. 
As luck would have it, Smokey encounters a very unusual customer at Michael's craft store.
Hey, you!
Would you be my friend?
We love you, Parkie!

You just call out my name,
and you know wherever I am
I'll come running, oh yeah baby
to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall,
all you got to do is call
and I'll be there, yeah, yeah, yeah.
You've got a friend.

Love, Smokey

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Catch me if you can!

Rise and shine puppy dogs!  We have to get an early start before it gets too hot to be outside. Let's head over to the ball park to run off some energy.

...and they're off like a herd of turtles!

bet'cha can't catch me!

haha! Grandma was slow, but she was old!

hey, what'cha doin?  
Let me show you how I do it.



 now what do we do?

how about you chuck it, and we fetch it, dad?

Ready? Ready!
I'm going to get it - no, I am!

Go ahead! Throw it dad!

I'll get it!

Got it!

break time in the dewey grass..

what are you up to Parkie?

come on, Parkie - let's get goin 

Dad says it's time to go...

....and find some serious shade.

oh yeah, that's better.

Check yall later!

Monday, August 8, 2011

August outing

For our August outing it was pretty easy to decide what we WEREN'T going to do -- something outside!  Temps hit 105 yesterday and the heat index was even higher. 

So a visit to Katy Mills Mall was the perfect idea.

photo by Carol Anatrella
 ...including lunch at the Rain Forest Cafe. If you have never been to one of these restaurants, they are really unusual. They have recreated a tropical rain-forest environment inside the restaurant - including waterfalls, vegetation, and indigenous jungle creatures. They have simulated lightening and thunder storms every 15 minutes and lots of jungle noises..

While we humans enjoy our food and chat it up... here's a peek at what goes on under the table!  Four puppies - gathered in around the table leg - nose to nose. They were more interested in hanging out with each other than any distraction from the Rain Forest.   (note: The 3 black pups in this photo are all siblings...and the yellow pup is Hannah, from another litter.)

Speaking of siblings, we got a picture of the 3 above mentioned litter mates from Ellen and Boomer's litter (born 1.8.11) that are being raised by members of the Houston puppy raiser group. It's alot of fun to see the pups reaction to each other when they see each other at meetings. They gravitate to each other as if they recognize that they are siblings. For all we know, they really do!

Suzette (L), Smokey (C), and Parkie (R)

Not only are these three pups similar in looks, we are finding out that they are also similar in behavior. While it is good for puppy raisers to compare notes on training experiences and successes, it has been very interesting for us to compare notes regarding these three pups in particular. We are finding out that some of Smokey's  idiosyncrasies are shared by his siblings; such as car entry/exit challenges, excited responses to some people types, and some "not so excited" responses when asked to get up and get going.  Our 11 day puppy sitting time with Parkie, and, our discussions with Sharon (Suzette's raiser) over lunch revealed to us how similar these siblings are. 

After lunch, Greg and I decided to stretch our legs with some shopping... but, these three didn't last long. Greg finds the nearest bench and the pups crash, side by side, while I made a quick stop into the Coach store.

The food court was full of distractions for the pups. Food smells, dropped food and discarded napkins, crowds of people, kiddie rides, noises, and so much more (OH MY!). The pups were interested in the kiddie train the first time it came around and the driver blew the whistle. But on this day, the kids on the train were much more interested in the pups than the pups were in the kids.

Toot toot!
How come they don't let dogs on this train?

The spinning carousel with it's music was not much of a distraction, today, either.  I think the pups were so tired at this point, they were ignoring pretty much everything except the occasional dropped french fry or napkin wad -- but both did well with slight corrections.

At 7 months, these pups are at the age where public petting and attention are not allowed when they are in jacket. It's hard for us to tell an excited little boy or girl that they cannot pet the puppies because they are working... but for the most part, they understand.  A big part of being a puppy raiser is to educate the public about service dogs and the behavior that we are trying to teach them.  One little girl we talked to was very captivated by the idea that we were teaching the pups to basically ignore people and other distractions when in jacket.  Well, that is the desired behavior.

Now if we could just teach Smokey to ignore shoelaces! 

Thanks, all, for checking in with Smokey - 
please stay tuned for more stories to come.

Note: The above pictures are photo ops, not one handler trying to work two dogs.  Not that one handler would WANT to work these two scent driven machines in a busy mall full of luscious smells in a food court.


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