Saturday, November 29, 2008

Giving Thanks

I'm getting to be a big girl!

When I came here a tad over four weeks ago, I weighed 36 pounds. My PR Mom took me to my doctor's office last week, and when I sat down on the scale it said I now weigh 47 pounds!

My PRs say my legs are longer. They don't have to bend down so far to scratch me around the ears (or hand me a puppy treat). My collar fits me better, too. One time, when my collar was a little too big, I slipped it, and did I ever have a good time! I thought going after me would be good exercise for my PR Dad, but somehow he didn't see it that way. So then we had lots and lots of Gentle Leader practice (sigh).

But I'm not done growing yet. My feet are still too big for the rest of me! Get a load of these paws. I'm going to be a gorgeous, GIANT service dog. Sooper-Kelda! Faster than a speeding squirrel! Able to leap over wheelchairs in a single bound! Wait a minute - I don't know if "leap over wheelchairs" is a command. And speeding after squirrels is definitely not a command. I don't do that. Ha ha. I was joking.

My family celebrated Thanksgiving, and I did, too. Imagine - a whole day just to say, "Thank you!" (or, in my language, "Rrrrrrr-ooof!"). My PR Mom says the Pilgrims were thankful to their Creator for giving them a new home, for keeping them alive, and for new friends. I have the same Creator, so I'm thankful for those things, too. I am also thankful for MEE-YOWs, puppy treats, fenced back yards to run around in without a leash attached, car rides, breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.

My Gentle Leader and anybody's stairs? Not so much.

I celebrated first by going out to the country for a couple of days. There were some very nice dogs there.
They're much older than I am, but they were CCI dogs when they were puppies, so they showed me a lot of things I need to know. They're really good at "here" (golly, they go right up to the person calling them!) and "wait" - better than I am.

The people are nice, too. And I also met some new kinds of dogs called "cows," "chickens," and "horses."

Then I celebrated by traveling a long way in the car. We went to see three little girls and their mama and daddy, and all of them are related to my P
Rs. There were other people there, too, and another dog - a "hot dog" named Maisie.

I met some other dogs as well.

They're so little that you can hardly see them in the picture. But not everybody can be 47 pounds like me. Those little dogs sounded as if they were scolding Maisie and me for being in their neighborhood. But I knew better. They were just making pleasant conversation. The way the people were saying, "Quiet!" makes me think it wasn't very pleasant for them. You'll be pleased to know that I was quiet. I know what a service dog should do! (Not that I always do it.)

I learned to stay away from that big thing the little girls play on. Ouch!

But I didn't jump on anybody (much)...
and I put on my very best manners...
and everybody was glad I came.

Then... I got a Thanksgiving-weekend treat.

Do you want to know a way for your
people to make you happy? (Christmas is coming!)

Get them to get you one of these funny-looking things.

It's called a Kong toy, and it's fun to chew on (and it bounces, like I do).

But this makes it even more fun: Get your people to put a little peanut butter inside it.
Wow! Good stuff. GREAT thing to be thankful for!

I might come when I'm called for peanut butter. I might stop jumping on people for peanut butter. I might even be better on stairs for - no, wait. Can't promise anything about stairs. I'll tell you about stairs another time.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Educational Matters

I'm now six months old, and I've been having a good time!

My people take me places. I can't show you pictures of every place, because they don't always take out their cameras. (Sometimes I keep them too busy.) But I'm learning how to get around in stores and shops. I've visited a couple of people in their homes. I've been to the Post Office twice. Everybody likes me. I'm learning how to like everybody... politely.

I'm embarrassed to say that one reason (among many) that my Puppy Raisers are taking me so many places is because I have some, ahem, bad habits. Just a couple. When I get up in the morning, I'm full of bounce and I'm rarin' to go. I like to jump, I like to bark (I'm just full of conversation), I like to chase the MEE-YOWs around. So...

My people want me to put all that wonderful energy into my schooling. Sometimes, after they walk me, we're off on an errand or two at eight o'clock in the morning! They're happy about it. The you-know-whats are happy about it. Me? Well, it's all right. I know other CCI pups to go offices and schools early every morning.

I take naps in between being educated.

So this week, I got to educate. I did my first demo. Demo is short for demonstration (yes! - another big word). At a demo, I get to help teach folks about service dogs and CCI, and everybody else gets to look at me and give me attention and say how cute I am.

Since this was my first one, I didn't quite know what to expect. But, although I'd never been to the school before, I knew the teacher. She's my Puppy Raisers' puppy - er, daughter. I've jumped on - er, met her before.

Of course, when she has puppy treats in her hand, I would never think of, um, you know, jumping on, um, her....

So I visited her classroom, and my PR (Puppy Raiser) Mom talked about me. I sat around and looked cute, and occasionally did a sit or a down when she told me. I did it like a pro! (Of course, the cuteness comes naturally.)

And, of course, I had to show them how I can take my Gentle Leader off all by myself.

My PR Mom told the students what I'll learn to do - even though I don't know much yet - and how, by the time I'm grown up, I'll be able to help somebody who can't move around very well. She told them the difference between a service dog and a guide dog (do you know?). She taught them what to do when they see a service dog in their neighborhood or at the mall. She taught them what to do when they see any dog they don't know (do you know?).

Then she let everybody practice on me.

That was the best part.

They each came up and asked, "May I pet your dog, please?" And of course the answer was yes.

I must say that, about halfway through, I didn't know if I wanted to bounce around and play with everybody or lie down and take a nap. So I did a little of the first, and, after I got back in the car, a lot of the second. A puppy's life is soooo strenuous.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Family Ties

I am excited (pant, pant, wag, wag) to tell you a little more about how I got here. Not by car - I told you about that. I mean... how I became a CCI puppy!

I was born to this position - a little like a hereditary monarch. It's the only thing the Queen of England and I have in common.

There are lots of service dog organizations (organizations, monarch, hereditary - look at all the big words I know!) and they get their dogs in different good ways. The way Canine Companions for Independence does it is by growing them! My Puppy Raisers tell me that my mama and daddy had me on purpose so that I might become a service dog if I can pass all the schooling.

Guess who this handsome dog is?

This is my daddy! I've never met him. He has this job where he travels a lot.

When he was a puppy, way back a couple of years ago....

... he looked a little like me, for some reason. He had Puppy Raisers who loved him and played with him and taught him important things. He learned to eat politely and speak only when told to and sit and stay and all that great stuff.

Then he went off to Advanced Training. That's puppy college. Not all CCI puppies graduate from puppy college! Many of them get other jobs instead - like being put in charge of a nice family. (I'll tell you about the other options another time.)

My daddy went to puppy college, and the teachers gave him lots of tests. They x-rayed his hips and other parts of him to make sure they were strong and healthy. They made very sure his heart and lungs and the rest of his insides were good. They watched him to see how smart he was, how patient (oh, dear) he was, how confident he was, and a whole lot of other things.

The teachers said, "We like what we see! In fact, we wish we had more puppies like him!" That's how my daddy got his job. His job is to be the daddy of a lot of puppies.

He lives with very nice people. They feed him and play with him and take him to his job sites and love him all to pieces. When he retires, he'll keep on living with the very nice people, and they'll keep on feeding him and playing with him and loving him all to pieces. Talk about job security!

Of course, I have a mother, too. But I'll tell you about Mama (yawn) another time.... this keyboard stuff is really tiring to do when you don't have fingers....

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Bad Habits and Greatly Mistaken Identity

I have a bad habit. Well, more than one, I'm a little embarrassed to say.

This is one:
Hey, I was just making conversation! These MEE-YOW things are interesting!

This is another (I won't say I have just these two):

It looks as if I'm merely enjoying a fine breakfast (and the bigger, the better, as far as I'm concerned). But I'm also setting a speed record. I can inhale a bowl of Eukanuba in eight seconds flat. They say this habit could make me sick. How could good puppy food make me sick?

Life sure isn't always fun. Sometimes I think my name has been changed from Kelda to DON'T!

But my Puppy Raisers say it is part of growing up to be a Canine Companion. A service dog needs to be really healthy and not get tummy-aches (or worse) from eating too fast. When I'm a service dog, I'll need to be quiet, too, except when my person commands me to speak. Commands me to speak? Hey, I'll enjoy that command, if I can learn it.

Here's a picture of me in my fashion-forward, royal blue Gentle Leader:

Some folks actually think I must be a bad dog because I wear a muzzle. This is no muzzle! A real muzzle would keep me from opening my mouth (and biting). But I'd rather chew on puppy treats and nylabones than on you any day, thank you very much.

A Gentle Leader works like a halter does on a horse. When I have it on, my Puppy Raisers can lead me around by my head. The rest of me follows, of course, and it's easier for both of us than pulling on my fine muscular neck all the time.

Do I like it? No! I think it's a doggone nuisance. But the waggy-tailed friends I met at puppy class this week told me that with a little practice I can get it off my nose with my front paws when nobody's looking (presenting my Puppy Raisers with the opportunity to practice putting it back on me). It's loose enough to do. I can eat, drink, pant, and yawn with it on. I could probably bite with it on, too, but I'm not that kind of dog. Please!

Um, when is lunch?