Friday, October 30, 2009

A day with my peeps!

Time to get schooled!

This has been a busy time for Jethro. He went on vacation to the Dominguez State Jail where Guide Dogs of Texas has a great program called PAWSitive Approach, where the offenders raise pups just like I do. They even get to leave the prison and train all over town in all the places we traditional puppy raisers do. They even come to the training center and participate in the group puppy classes.

We had just such a training last Saturday. All of the puppies in training, all of the puppy raisers, all the offenders (and their corrections officer) and all the potential puppy raisers waiting for puppies, and some of the volunteers who help with the pups at the prison came to the GDTx training center. I asked John, who helped with Jethro at the Golf Tournament, to help me at class too. Even Jethro's Sister Twist was there! Michelle the Puppy Nazi had all kinds of crazy stuff for us to do this time. We played with hula hoops to practice obedience with dog and human distractions, soccer cones to practice down stays as puppies and humans walked passed by is, we practiced tuck in in under chairs so that we could make sure our pups were always as inconspicuous as possible in all places, and then we practiced all that on a pretend bus. Ernie, our volunteer coordinator and guide dog user supervised the correct spacing of the "bus seats" to make sure Michelle didn't make to easy for us. Let me tell you, getting on and taking a seat on the buss, with PASSENGERS ALREADY ON THE BUS is not as easy as it sounds!!!

She forced us to work the dual sided lunch buffet with dogs on BOTH sides. She did make a great comment I'd like to share with you. She pointed out, when we all complained that it was HARD to get our food while controlling PUPPIES, there were people everywhere, puppies everywhere and at one point MUSTARD everywhere. So Michelle tells us, think about the end goal. Would this be acceptable behavior for YOUR GUIDE DOG, if you were invited over to your in-laws, for a Thanksgiving buffet, and your GUIDE DOG was behaving like your guide dog IN TRAINING is? Wow, you know, we spend so much time dealing with the normal issues of raising a puppy, getting the next skill mastered, that sometimes we really loose sight of of the end user. A visually impaired Texan, who is going to rely on this puppy we are raising to get them through life's little moments, and some not so little moments. It really made us all pause for a moment.

We ended the day hearing the story of Dakota, the once guide dog to be who has been re-purposed to be a diabetes alert dog. What a fantastic story. You can read all about it on his blog! you will be amazed! That last hurrah of the day is always a free run for the pups all together. I love to watch dogs play and just be dogs, even the working variety! so play they did!