Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy Roo Year

May your 2008 be joyous, prosperous, and filled with the blessings of family and dear friends. Truman and I wish you a very Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Going Up the Mountain

Truman and I had a great Christmas day, with presents and family and food and a little time for reflection. We hope yours was lovely as well!

And now we're headed up to Mammoth with Tai and his people for a few days in the snow! Thus, there will be no blogging until about New Year's....

In the meantime, please enjoy the billions of posts that I just put up a few days ago. I hadn't blogged since about Thanksgiving, so if you want to see everything since then, be sure to click on the archives to your right.

We'll come back with lots of good brothers-in-the-snow pictures, I'm sure. See you soon!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas from Truman

May you be blessed today, as we are, and remember the true Source of hope and expectation, who is the reason for this holiday. Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Seeing Other People

Truman has become very focused on me & very clingy lately, so I've begun farming him out to other puppy raisers, especially ones he does not know well.

Fellow raiser Tracy and her brother Steven took him for a few days. Truman had a great time -- he went to a couple of Christmas parties, the Cal State Long Beach campus, and a brunch at Knott's Berry Farm, where he and Tai both met Snoopy.

Aside from barking at door noises (even on TV) and stealing a piece of pineapple off a slice of pizza, he was a good boy. He and Tai spent hours and hours amusing the Dolan family in a typical display of what I like to call, "MUST...CONTINUE...PLAYING...!" The boys just don't get tired of each other. Or tired at all.

My favorite quote from Tracy: "Truman's a funny guy." Yes. Yes, he is.

I'm glad he burned off a little energy; I have a lot to do over the next few days. Thanks again, guys!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Truman at the Grove

As a fellow "employee" of the nonprofit where I work, Truman got to attend our annual holiday party -- a lunch at Maggiano's Little Italy. Because he was so good, tucked into a corner under the table where I was sitting, many people didn't even know he was there. But he wasn't left out of the merry-making! After our "white elephant" gift exchange, the VP of my department stood up and announced that Truman should receive a gift as well. She handed me a cute little bag, in which was a bone-shaped ceramic bowl for his Christmas treats.

After lunch, I took Truman for a little walk through The Grove shopping center, greeting the enthusiastic children of harried holiday shoppers, and stopping for photos in front of Santa's house. When we'd had enough of the crowds, Truman and I headed toward the parking structure to take one last picture before the trafficky drive home.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Our Favorite Meeting of the Year

The December puppy raiser meeting is always my favorite. There's plenty of food (and chocolate!), everybody's in a good mood, the photo-op decor is festive, and the holiday spirit abounds. Nobody seems to mind the chaos.

In addition to a raffle and a gift exchange (we got a fleece tug toy and an adorable paw print cookie jar filled with organic dog biscuits), recent tradition has added the viewing of a year-end DVD full of photo montages. This year's show included the usual "everyone's included" video as well as salutes to the South Bay breeder dogs, retirees, "doodles," and Christmas parade participants. Plenty of tears and belly-laughs to go around....

Funny how the humans are the only ones tired after such a long evening. Looks like whoever plugged in the tree also plugged in the dogs:

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Ghosts of Christmas Past

One tradition at the GDA holiday potluck is the puppy Christmas tree. Puppy raisers bring an ornament for their puppy-in-training, and hang it on the tree. Ornaments from previous years are hung on the walls of the building.

Next year, after Truman has been turned in for formal training, I will find this little ornament I made for him, and hopefully have a good laugh.

Our Festive Friends





Party Time at GDA

Today was the annual GDA holiday potluck up at the school.

It rarely occurs to us puppy raisers because this is our everyday existence, but when you stop to think about it, it's pretty remarkable how well behaved these dogs can be. Dozens of them, all in one place -- and puppies, at that -- in close proximity to each other in the presence of food, people of all ages, and unusual sights and sounds. You might expect an explosion of barking, at the very least. But somehow, it never goes that crazy.

Not to say that it can't go a LITTLE crazy, especially when littermates are involved.

After Truman, Tai and Tori posed nicely for several photos in the little sleigh (did someone say "cookie," Truman?), the three of them -- as if on cue -- took a simultaneous flying leap over the decoration on the side, like furry little superheroes. I wish someone had captured it on camera...would have made great video.

Anyway, after that, I think they were a little concerned that Santa thought they were naughty.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

America's Next Top Model

Because it took me so long to sew the garland on Truman's jacket, I decided to leave it on an extra day or two so he could show off for my co-workers. When we went back to work on Tuesday, I was thrilled to discover that the lobby of the building had been decorated for Christmas. I took a few quick photos, then the graphic designer at my organization offered to take a few more with her nice camera equipment.

The folks at the building security desk folks are very nice, and they love Truman -- especially Yolanda. When she noticed Truman was getting distracted by passersby who stopped to watch his little fashion photo shoot, she very kindly (and unsolicited) directed traffic for us. We felt quite fancy and important.

Do I hear reindeer on the roof?

Santa? Is that you?

Monday, December 03, 2007

This Year's Christmas Card Photo

Sure, he doesn't look thrilled about the jingle collar. But come on -- he's even cute when he's mortified!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Truman On Parade

The South Bay puppy raisers march in the Downey Christmas Parade every year. It's a great opportunity to spread holiday cheer as well as awareness of the GDA program. The dogs get terrific exposure to crowds, marching bands, horses, and all kinds of other distractions. It's fun for the people, too. Everyone dresses in Santa hats and red vests, and gets to spend the first hour or so trying to prevent their puppy from chewing the garland off its jacket.

This year, our day began at Baker's Square restaurant, where we met the group for breakfast. After attempting to settle Truman under the table in the presence of some exuberant young puppies and apparently fragrant intact females, we relocated, I was able to use both hands on things like utensils for my pancakes, and he did just fine.

Here's how it went: The walk to and from the parking lot to the parade staging area was practically longer than the parade itself. Truman -- who is usually a champion loose-lead walker -- nearly decapitated himself by pulling so hard on the leash, he was so excited. My left arm was killing me by the end of the route, but I know he had a great time. Everyone applauded for the dogs, and the excited shouts of "puppy!" and "doggy!" from children lining the route were a welcome addition to the shouts of holiday well-wishing. And, this being Southern California, it was a brisk and Decembery 78 degrees outside.

He was NOT tired afterward.

Friday, November 30, 2007


Truman has been very affectionate, very clingy lately, which is quite nice in the chilly weather. Every time I turn around, it seems like he's on Amy's feet or at the base of whatever piece of furniture I'm sitting on, doing his best to look cute and cuddly. And there's nothing like snuggling up next to a warm puppy for a nap in front of the (fake) fireplace. Gaze upon the SnuggleRoo and envy his well-loved people and their nice warm toes!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Perhaps Something In a Sailor Suit?

After returning a costume I'd rented for the Victorian Grand Ball I attended with a friend from my swing dance classes, I walked Truman around Old Torrance for a while until we stumbled upon "The WWII Store." The proprietor was very kind and invited us in with great enthusiasm (which is not something you always get when you have a dog in tow). Neat place -- the store grew out of this one man's personal collection, and has since expanded to include an interesting selection of vintage uniforms & clothing, models & dioramas, films, memorabilia, military ribbons and insignia, and of course, books from floor to ceiling.

I didn't see anything there that might fit Truman, but I'll have to pay another visit before I go back to the Great Los Angeles Air Raid this coming year.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I Swear It Wasn't Me

Breakfast on Main Street

September 22, 2007 -- Restaurants are always an adventure with Truman, because if I don't do good enough under-the-table recon, there is potential for great mess making. It's happened before: the apparently delicious puddle of syrup I didn't see against the dark pattern of the carpet, the gum I completely missed until it was so embedded that I had to do hair surgery....

But this was quite a successful outing, despite the challenges inherent in an outdoor venue like the patio of the Omelette Parlor. Namely, birds and bird by-products.

Truman is quite the avian enthusiast around our neighborhood, typically going out of his way to acknowledge our feathered friends, greet them, and very thoughtfully alert me to their presence so that I may enjoy them as well. And there were plenty of birds on the patio this post-thunderstorm morning, having emerged from their rainy day hideaways in search of carelessly dropped breakfast tidbits. However, the boy was quite well behaved! He spotted them from his place on the brick floor beneath the table; he watched them, but he did not move.

When it rains, poor Truman is mostly relegated to my apartment because there's no suitably dry place for him to play outside, and this thunderstorm had given him quite a case of cabin fever. So, after exercising such remarkable restraint at the restaurant, I thought he deserved a little stroll down Main Street. So we window-shopped and people-watched and did our best to avoid other folks with dogs. Not too shabby! He pulled at the leash a bit, but was mostly cooperative, even for a couple of photos (though there is a limit to his patience).

"I will pose for your stupid artsy photo, but I will NOT be happy about it."

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Definition of Trust

Leaving the burrito unattended on the seat of the vehicle while you walk around to get into the driver's side.

Truman and I have achieved trust.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Truman's First Thanksgiving

As much a part of our lives as these puppies become, sometimes it's hard to remember that the holidays we spend with them are often the first and only ones we get to spend with them. Truman is ten months old, so by this time next year, he will most likely be in formal training up at GDA. The thought is always bittersweet.

We spent yesterday at my aunt's house with her and my two cousins. While Truman had had an uncharacteristically mellow few days -- I'd been sick and thus he didn't get as much exercise as we all know he desperately needs -- he was very well behaved under the restraint of a leash and some marathon down-stays. It must have been difficult. He's always excited about visiting other people's houses, he knew there were cats on the property, and everywhere he turned, there was something forbidden that looked delicious and smelled even better.

I played with him for a few minutes in the backyard so he could get some of his energy out before I asked him to lie down politely next to my chair during dinner. Aside from a few "grumpus noises" of complaint (he is less a whiner than a grumbler, vocally speaking), he was quite patient. Nevertheless, while I was on the phone with my parents, Truman decided he'd had quite enough of this self-control business and broke into a gloriously unfettered Labrador Shuffle, much to the delight of my aunt and cousin, who had never witnessed such a display (they have two very dignified cats, no dogs). The house is hardly puppy-proof, but Truman is surprisingly nimble and managed to turn his speedy circles on the carpet with only one head-smack into the coffee table. The hardwood floor proved amusing but not as shuffle-friendly, so he returned to the living room for the finale. I haven't heard my aunt laugh that hard in a while....

An after-dinner stroll around a nearby park and a brief visit to the neighbor's house -- where he was greeted with great enthusiasm by young and old alike at their family-packed celebration -- rounded out the evening nicely, and we returned home to a good night's sleep: mine, due to the turkey; Truman's, a job well done.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

He may not look it in this photo, but I know for a fact that Truman is thankful for many things. Food. Naps. Playtime with his favorite canine buddies. Belly rubs. Ear rubs. Chicken chips. Ice cubes. Magnolia leaves. Denim. Birds. Wind. His Amy (pictured here).

I, too, am thankful for many things. Food. Naps. Playtime with my favorite canine buddies...okay, you get the idea. Honestly, there's just too much in my life to list in the blessings column without making this the world's longest post. I have a great "day job" and the most satisfying volunteer work I can imagine. I'm healthy, I'm loved, and I'm free. I have a lovable, goofy dog, and a lovable, goofy roommate who will tolerate posing with him just because I notice their outfits match.

There is so much more to acknowledge. Not only do I owe thanks to God for the grace He has extended to me in my life, I owe thanks to family, friends, and strangers alike -- anyone who has ever supported, protected, defended, befriended or encouraged me.

May you know your blessings today as well, and take hold of them, and give thanks.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Truman Makes a Shameless Plug for Devil Dogs

This post will remain at the top of my blogs until November 11, 2007. Skip on down to the new stuff if you've already seen this...but please read on if you're new here.

Truman and I are big fans of the U.S. military; you might remember our care package posts, and you might also know that I am a Soldiers' Angels volunteer. Both my dad and my grandpa served during wartime, so this is a cause that's dear to me.

Many of our young men are coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan with devastating hand and arm injuries that result in isolation and frustration in addition to the physical pain of the injury itself. Think about it: is your computer your lifeline? Your source of news and entertainment? Your outlet for self-expression? Your means of earning a paycheck? If your hands were burned, bandaged, missing -- such that you could not even scratch an itch or hold a toothbrush, much less send an e-mail from your hospital bed to a faraway loved one -- what impact would this have upon your life?

Project Valour-IT exists for this reason. The project that serves our wounded troops by providing them with voice-activated laptops is having its annual fundraising competition, complete with a little good natured inter-branch rivalry.

I made a generic pitch/bleg last year, but this year I'm aligning with Team USMC, in honor of my adopted Marine (and because Truman also fancies himself a devil dog of sorts).

Will you take a moment to make even a small tax-deductible donation (via PayPal or credit card)? Every dollar counts, and every cent goes to the purchase and shipment of the laptops. This is a perfect opportunity to show your gratitude for the sacrifices made by our military (especially if you live in an area not directly connected to the military community), or to teach your children the value of giving, or to be a vital part of someone's healing process.

Help Team USMC reach our $60,000-by-Veteran's-Day goal! Please give by clicking on the thermometer graph in my sidebar.

Thank you. And now, back to our regularly scheduled puppy posts.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Working Like a Dog

This is why passing co-workers often snicker.


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Before I run out to my humans-only costume dance and leave Truman to his well deserved nap in our quiet apartment, I thought I'd take a moment to tell you how very well he did on a walk through our neighborhood this evening. I didn't take photos because I wanted both hands free, so...sorry about that.

But Truman has impressed our entire neighborhood! After dinner, just as the sun was dipping into the Pacific, I leashed him up and took him to see all the cute little kids in costume and to find out how he would react to strange sights and sounds. He was shrieked at by random sound effects emanating from overly decorated houses, offered bites of candy by well meaning princesses, and assaulted by toddlers dressed as cows. He maintained composure for the most part (though the minuscule bovine WAS a little scary), sitting when asked and greeting nicely. The only thing he really wanted a piece of was a yappy little "Toto" dog who accompanied a teenaged Dorothy -- and I'm sure that was more about playtime than about anything serious.

Everyone who walked past us told him how very handsome he is, and told me how very well behaved he is. We met neighbors, we had a nice walk, we enjoyed the festive decor, and we even benefited from the generosity of people who recognized us from our daily strolls. I got a candy bar from a nice man with a table set up outside his house (who, incidentally, once adopted a career-changed German Shepherd from GDA), and Truman scored a huge dog biscuit from the couple down the street who see us walk past their house on a regular basis. Maybe next year we'll wear costumes....

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Zamboni Is Not a Fancy Dog Biscuit

Truman and Tai attended their first Kings game this evening. Here they are with us outside Staples Center, putting on their game faces (and their Terminator eyeballs).

I hadn't been to a hockey game since the unfortunate demise of the Long Beach Ice Dogs, who had always been gracious and welcoming when the South Bay group brought a sizeable contingent of four-legged fans to an annual outing. So I was thrilled to "suit up" in a borrowed jersey from Matt and Amy (even though it rendered me and my fifty-eight bulky I-am-a-wuss-in-the-cold clothing layers a bit too reminiscent of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man). Because how can you not show a little team spirit when you are sitting...NEXT TO THE BENCH AND FOUR ROWS FROM THE ICE?!?!?

No joke, we were this close, thanks to a friend and fellow puppy raiser who works for the venue and had some unused company seats to spare. Close enough to hear the skates on the ice. Close enough to see the blood when one dude's face got skated on. Close enough to read more than the jersey numbers of the superstars. What's up, Cammy!

Our proximity meant that the experience would be all the louder for the pups. It was a good test. Truman has been in crowds before, but not for this sustained amount of time and intensity. The first time or two that the puck (or the people) smacked the wall in front of our section, Truman sat up to investigate, but he settled in after that. He didn't seem to be bothered by the cheering, the music, the lights, the people chanting "Oilers suck! Oilers suck!"...but what would happen when the Kings scored?

A really loud *horn* is what would happen when the Kings scored. And Tai was not too pleased about it, sounding as it did like an oncoming train. Again, Truman was startled the first time. But luckily, the Kings gave us plenty of opportunity to practice (sorry, Edmonton!) the third and fourth goal, Truman just lifted his head for a second then went right back to his nap on the nice cool floor.

The boys were very well-behaved and impressive overall, and of course garnered the usual attention from nearby fans and event staff alike. Our handsome lads attracted more "hockey ho's" than the players did.

We celebrated the 4-1 win by heading back to Matt & Amy's house for sports report highlights and some delicious forbidden cat food.

Okay, that last part was just Truman. I guess everyone's got their game day traditions.

Friday, October 26, 2007

No Jacket Required

We all need a little break from work once in a while. Occasionally, I let Truman go naked at the office.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

This One's For "LW"

Someone has a little crush on Truman!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

"Halloween Meeting" Part 2

In order to convince people that Truman was dressed as President Harry S. Truman (and NOT as Harry Potter), I made sure we had some other identification with us. Not only was he sporting an authentic American flag lapel pin I purchased for him on a recent trip to the Mall of America in Minneapolis, he also accessorized with a replica of the famous "Dewey Defeats Truman" 1948 election outcome as erroneously reported by the Chicago Daily Tribune.

The President was also seen with his Secret Service detail, Tai, who did an excellent job of protecting him all evening.

"Psst! Don't be alarmed, sir, but there's a scary ghost right behind us."

The President's aide adjusts his tie before the briefing:

Even when Secret Service has to go to the bathroom, the President is always protected: