Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Time for a Change of Career

Hello! Here I am again! I haven't done any blogging because I've been too busy at school out in California. They've been teaching me things like how to walk beside wheelchairs and crutches. They've also taken the commands I learned at home and tried to make them better.

Most of this has been fun. But some things just aren't fun. I've had a great time going various places on leash with my trainers... some of the time. But sometimes I get worried about everything. I'm not sure whether I like having all those other dogs around, even though they are my friends... unless I can be boss of them. And the trainers want me to quit jumping on people, and I'm just not good enough at NOT doing that.

So CCI has decided I need to have a different career. It's not that they think I'm a bad dog. Heavens, no! It's just that a service dog has to be practically perfect in every way (like Mary Poppins; my PR mom read me that book) - calm and patient and willing to go anywhere and do anything. This job would be too hard for me to do.

So... what would I like to do instead? I'd like to supervise a terrific family. I'd like to be a princess! I'd like to have a great volunteer job. I'd like to have ice cubes and peanut butter every day. CCI has strict requirements for anybody who wants to adopt a release dog like me and, to tell you the truth, I'm not sure if they have the peanut butter and the ice cubes on their list. Don't know how they could have missed that. They have some other good things, though. (Want to know what they are? Contact your nearest CCI location.)

For various reasons (which I understand), my PRs can't take me back, but they're in on the search for the best career change options for me. I'll keep you posted! Have a Meowy Christmas and a Yappy New Year!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Kelda the College Student!

Here I am in Oceanside, California, at the Companions for Independence Southwest Training Center! But that's a mouthful, even for a dog with a big mouth like me. I call it Puppy College for short. But you knew that, didn't you?

I began college on August 22nd. My PRs were going to fly out with me to give me a little extra vacation (and give themselves one, too). They were going to take me to Legoland and Sea World and maybe to the Getty Museum up in Los Angeles. And, of course, they wanted to take me to the beach and let me see what the ocean was like. Colorado does great mountains, but oceans? Not so good.

But my PR Dad fell off a ladder and cracked some things. (This picture is from right after he came home, and yes, I had permission to be on the bed! He couldn't move well at first, but I hear he's much, much better now!) So they had to stay home. And the CCI folks went into high gear. A nice lady in Denver offered to take me out with her, my friend Aunt Kelly was willing to take me up to Denver, and another CCI lady was willing to take care of me while I was in California. It's not just the dogs who are wonderful at Canine Companions!

So my PR Mom packed my bag with all the most important things: my leash, my cape, my Gentle Leader (I was hoping I could leave that at home), a couple of bones, and, of course, my FOOD!

The car pulled up at my house, I licked my people (the MEE-YOWS wouldn't let me lick them), and Auntie Kelly put me - and the bag - into her car.

She had a doctor's appointment in Denver - that's why she was really going - so I got a little more doctor's office training. Long hallways are good for sit/stay practice.

We pups need to have good manners at any office. We can't just wander around sniffing everything - unless somebody says it's all right.

Did you know I can read medical information? Hee hee.

This is my new friend Gloria. She was going out to Oceanside to see her dog graduate! Her dog's name is Alesia. (It rhymes with amnesia, which is what I have when I forget my commands.) Maybe in a few months I'll be graduating, too! She took good care of me on the plane, and I took care of her. I'm an old hand (paw) at flying - after all, I took my PRs all the way to the land of Indiana and back on an airplane!

Once in California, I switched people again. I just love meeting new people. Jeni and her daughter, Brooke, had a younger CCI pup with her (sorry, she didn't get any pictures of us together), and we had a good time. When you start puppy college, you leave your old bones behind - and get new ones - so I gave mine to Nettie to keep.

I didn't get that big vacation, but I did get to see how pretty Oceanside is! We went down to the marina. Ah, the wonderful water! I wonder what kinds of food people keep on those big boats. The birds were cool, too - made lots of noise. I loved it.

That afternoon, we went to the big ceremony, where the terrific dogs who are graduating and beginning their CCI careers are honored! They also introduce all the new guys like me.

I got to wear a special cape just for this ceremony. When I graduate (notice I'm saying when), I'll have a different kind of blue cape to wear when I work.

Here I am (above) by the big sign in front of my college. This school - one of the five CCI training centers around the country - is named after some famous people who love CCI very much. Everybody else knew who Dean Koontz was! But I never read any of his books. I did read one of Trixie's.

There are always lots of nice people and nice dogs at these ceremonies. Here I am standing in line with Brooke waiting to be introduced, so everybody can see how cute I am. The man standing there is Mr. Wahrenbrock, who is the PUPPY BOSS! He runs the puppy-raising program. If he's the puppy boss, he must always carry puppy treats in his pockets, don't you think? I have to check that out.

After all the fun, it was time to say goodbye to Jeni and Nettie, and go with another lady to my new dorm room. (She was holding on to a yellow leash on my collar so she wouldn't get lost.) I couldn't wait to see what my new place was like.

And... the first thing I found out was that my roommate is my old friend Emmy! Hooray, hooray, hooray! (Wag tail at great speed.)

All that was last month. I've had a great time since then. There are 32 dogs in my class, and sometimes they divide us into little groups and just let us play! My teacher - they call her a trainer - is named Becky. She's nice... smells like dogs, and knows how to make me wag my tail. While she and the other trainers get to know us, and check our bones and our eyes and the rest of us, they'll also see what we've learned and how well we've learned it. They'll find out if we're scared of anything (there aren't any cows around here, are there?), if we're noisy or quiet, if we play nicely, if we get too distracted by Bob the Cat or the bunnies (you could say they're trainers, too), and much more. Then they will decide if each of us pups should stick around here or if we need to go into another career. My PRs will get a report card about me once in a while.

What happens if (gasp!) I get released? It won't mean I'm a bad dog. It certainly doesn't mean I'm less wonderful than I've always been! (I probably won't even become more modest.) I might get to go to a different school and become a hearing dog or a drug-sniffing dog. Or I might come back to Colorado, supervise a wonderful family, and become a therapy dog, visiting people in nursing homes or reading to kids in libraries (oh, reverse that - they'll read to me). Or I might stay in California and supervise somebody here, and maybe live by the ocean, and get to know all those noisy birds... and maybe even go sniffing around in one of those boats.

But my plans right now are to stay right here and become a Canine Companion!

P.S. There are ice cubes in California!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Fun and Games before Puppy College

I'm getting closer and closer to the time I get to go to puppy college at the CCI training center in Oceanside, California! It's exciting to think about. My PR mom says I'm gonna love it. It's a place that is comfortable and safe for me. There will be a whole lot of other dogs there, the teachers really know what they're doing, and there are lots of volunteers to bathe me (okay), love me (yes!), take me for walks once in a while (super), trim my nails (yuck), and do many other things. So - good learning, good playing, good sleeping, good attention - what more could I ask? Other than a little peanut butter. Maybe an ice cube once in a while. Do they have ice cubes in California?

So my PRs decided I could use a few more adventures... sort of a combination of pre-graduate studies and senior trip. This is what we've done:

One day we drove way out into the country. Finally we got to a small town (even I could tell it wasn't a big city) called Calhan, Colorado, and went through a gate that said, "El Paso County Fair." Well, I've been to street fairs, but they weren't like this. The streets were dirt and not asphalt. And they had things I'd never seen at a street fair.

This is a pond exhibit - a fine place to practice an "up."

There were also a lot of trucks. Dogs who like to chase trucks (I'm not one) need to run the other way from this one!

There were also quilts and photographs and paintings which my mom wanted to see, so of course we were gracious enough to let her. (It was time for a nap, anyhow.)

At this fair, I saw animals I had never seen before. I usually like other animals...

...but not this one! I would be embarrassed to tell you what this cow said to me.

The goats and sheep were... well, okay. Some of them were scared of me, but most of the just stared. The 4H people raising the goats liked me, though.

So did other people at the fair.

Here I am posing on a little tractor.

Here I am posing on a big tractor.

Pssst! Here is how it was really done! That's my tail end you're seeing as my dad picks me up!

After that, my PRs took me to another kind of fair. It was mostly people. But what people!

I am a cool dog. They didn't scare me.

But I wouldn't want to be seen in getup like that. I'll keep my nice fur coat, thank you.

I found these guys interesting. You have to look over the blue fence. I thought I'd stay on the near side of it. Not that I was concerned.

On the other hand, these weren't interesting. Rare cork-nosed piggies, my four feet! I was looking around for real piggies.

Hm. I had to see if this was a real fur tablecloth or a make-believe one. Couldn't tell for sure. I don't think the smell was interesting enough to be real. They may not want everybody to know that.

After a while we sat in the grass... and watched horses (and people on them) ride around like crazy. This rider came to the end of the riding area, saw me, and smiled. I don't know whether he was supposed to do that or not, but I liked it.

Now here are some Renaissance people I really like.

Here is Cindy, the Mastiff. Her ancestors were really around in Renaissance times!

And so were my greyhound friends!

After lunch, we visited some more friendly beasts... well, not quite. Uh-oh - there's another one of those cows!

The little horse was friendly...

... and so were the goats.

But the llama couldn't make up its mind.

Oh, look - a real pig! Now, that's better. You can really only see our noses.

And the sheep said my fur coat was better than theirs. They did. Really.

By the time I'd taken my people all around this fair, I was exhausted!

The next day my PR dad fell off a ladder. (If he'd had four legs instead of two, he probably could have landed properly.) So I did some visiting around to friends' houses while they took him to the hospital. But the hospital people said I could visit - actually, I could have visited even if I weren't a service dog in training - so that's what I did.

My dad is home now. He's going to be OK, and I'm trying to help him. I seem to get in the way a lot, though. I wish I could pick up what he drops and give it back to him. (Well, I do pick it up, but I don't always give it back.) I seem to sit in the wrong place and then I need to move. I want to be a Service Dog, but I'm not one yet. I guess that's what I'm going to college for - to learn more!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Kelda the Great Traveler

We are back from Indiana, and I had a good time. I think it is probably a good thing to wear a fur coat all the time. My PRs don't have that privilege, and they came home with little pink spots all over their arms and legs. They sure looked funny! My mom said they were chigger bites. But nobody chigged on me.

We got on an airplane. (This is my dad and me on the way to the security gate.) I had not been on an airplane before. Adventure was everywhere.

When we got off the plane in Indiana, my mom took me outside to hurry. But I couldn't. Indiana smelled so different from Colorado that I had to sniff every inch I could! Another strange thing is that the air always felt as if it were just about to rain. My PRs call it humidity, and say I got off easily.

Then I had to go inside the baggage claim room and give a traveler a puppy fix. I call it public relations work.

Then we drove and drove and finally reached my dad's Aunt Margaret's house.

And her two dogs welcomed me with wagging tails! This is Sammy (Samantha). She doesn't run a lot, but she's very nice.

This is Buddy. There isn't much of him, but he and I chased each other all over the big back yard.

One day we got in the car again and went to another country called Ohio. I had to share the back seat of the car!

We visited some relatives who liked me a lot. I liked them all, too. I liked their monogrammed beanbag chairs even better.

Another day we sniffed around Oxford, Ohio, with friends of my PRs. They all went to college there together - long, long ago. I'm going to college in August - but not to this one.

Please look carefully at this photograph. Remember that sad puppy who was afraid of stairs? These are not only steps. These are steps built like sidewalk grates! They were a little scary, but they held me up - amazingly - and I went up and down them! Everybody cheered me, and I got a couple of extra puppy treats out of it.

If you just like dog pictures, I'm just a minor character here, so you can ignore these.

All right. Back to important things.

In Indiana we went to a big parade with my dad's mom and dad.

At a parade, you sit on the sidewalk with a lot of other people, and you watch other folks walk down the middle of the street wearing funny clothing and making noise. It was fun for a while...

...but eventually I had other things to do. Ahh, attention! Scratch right there, please.

You never know what kind of dogs you're going to meet in a foreign country.

Another thing we did was to go to the boat races. The Madison Regatta has about a half million people (it seemed that way) and some very noisy boats. Some are fast and some are slow, but everybody cheers when something happens along the river.

To go to a Regatta, you bring your own blanket. If you are a human, you bring your own chair. You bring things to eat and drink. Remember to share with your dog. If you don't share with your dog (sigh), bring something for your dog to do.

Dogs, remember to pray before chewing on your bone.

When nothing was going on in the river, and I got tired of napping...

... I went to the dog park! Yessss!

Here's what I looked like most of the time I was there.

Soon it was time to go back home. Here is the crate I use when I travel. My dad can fold it down to almost nothing. It's great for napping, too.

Here is a real picture of real benches at the airport! My PRs thought it was pretty funny.

When we got off in Denver, I thought that somebody really hanging around outside the window was pretty funny. My dad said he was washing the windows. Why didn't he just lick them clean?

Now I'm getting close to college time. My people are filling out forms so the CCI teachers will know what I'm like (besides adorable). I will have to go to my favorite veterinarian so he can tell everyone I'm healthy. More fun coming up!