Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Wreturn of Wrio

I have a special place in my heart for this little firecracker.

I call her names like "Snortles" and "GruntyPig." She is constantly grunting and snorting, even while fully conscious. And I've already mentioned the snoring that my roomie hears from the other side of the wall shared by our bedrooms.

She has a monogrammed tail. See the "W" for "Wrio?"

Wrio also likes to lay her head on things that could not possibly be comfortable:

* the metal base of a floor lamp
* the base of my rolling office chair at work
* the base of my rolling office chair at home
* the wooden crossbar of a TV tray
* the bottom bookshelf
* a chewed and prickly Nylabone

She's mischievous, too. I'd take something away from her and set it safely out of reach on the half wall that separates my kitchen from my living room, and five minutes later, as soon as my back was turned, she'd have it again. My roommate defended her when I accused Wrio of jumping up onto the couch to retrieve the forbidden object.

Until, that is, I pointed out the four little dents in the cushion where her stealthy feet had been. Amy was scandalized. There is some serious Scarlett O'Hara in this dog -- "Look how lovely and innocent I appear to be! Why, I couldn't possibly be guilty of such a thing!"

And why is she so fun to dress up?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Ember, the Multi-Tasking FrogDog

There are so many things I love about Ember, a sweet and silly Lab/Golden Retriever cross who -- unlike the Labradoodles I'd just watched before I puppysat her -- had very little concept of graceful motion. The first time I let her go downstairs off leash, I was a little afraid my apartment neighbors were going to kill me for making so much noise. Ka-da-KLUNK! Ker-KLUNK! Ka-BOOM-THUMP! THUMP-THUMP-BANG!

She's pretty good-sized, which makes it hard to be puppy-like and exuberant without doing some damage, at least to the peace and quiet of an otherwise silent stairwell.

Ember makes me laugh.

She's an expert at the "FrogDog" position:

But Ember is also a world record holder for the number of toys she can hold in her mouth at any given time. She never seems satisfied with just one. Just one toy in her mouth is only acceptable when she's petitioning you to play with her or to let her have additional toys.

What she prefers to do is get one toy in her mouth that can scoot way to the back and perhaps sit over her muzzle -- like this tire, or the Nylabone Ring, for example -- and then busy herself picking up other toys with the front of her mouth, like so:

The record? At my apartment, the record was six toys. I had stuffed the Holee Roller ball with a few toys, and she had picked up the tire, the Roller-full, and a light plush toy all at the same time. Unfortunately, I couldn't get to the camera fast enough to capture the moment.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Ingrid "Crazy Legs" Bouvier

After I turned in Lomax last August, I went on a puppy sitting jag that lasted several weeks. One day I realized I'd had more time with other people's dogs than with no dog at all, and I needed a break. I haven't often, therefore, watched anyone's pup since about November (when I was busy writing a novel), in an attempt to get through the holidays with some semblance of sanity, as well as to prepare for the arrival of a new puppy.

I wasn't blogging much during that time, choosing instead to concentrate on enjoying everyone else's dogs and to spend my free time doing things in the real world. But I did take some photos! We'll begin with Ingrid.

You've already read a little about Ingrid, lovely Labradoodle and sister to Ike (who has since decided he doesn't want to be a guide dog but is now training at Canine Support Teams). Ingrid is sweet, like her brother, but also a real comedy act on four legs. My roommate fell in love with her immediately because Ingrid was just so...silly. The way she ran and played was hilarious, all legs and spring. I thought she should guard for the Lakers, because she looks good in purple and has mastered the art of forcing a five-second violation -- you should have seen her try to prevent my roommate from leaving the room.

Anyway, one evening during Ingrid's visit, Wrio's puppy raisers asked me if I could watch her for a few hours. Knowing my roommate was out for the weekend, but feeling confident, I thought, "How hard could it be?"

I had been warned that Ingrid could be a bit... not aggressive, but perhaps firm... with smaller or younger dogs. But the girls got along famously, I must say. So famously, in fact, that it was difficult to keep them separated in a down/stay for any length of time.

And guess who was the instigator? Ingrid was not the only one who slept soundly after Wrio went home that night.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Truman Show Begins March 9th!

Lomax's news had to come first, of course, because we have worked and I have prayed so hard for this day; he deserves his recognition.

But I thought you might also like to hear that on March 9th, I'll be picking up little Truman, another male yellow Lab, who will be my next puppy-in-training for GDA.

And finally, to add to the joy of Lomax graduating with his brother Liam, I'm also thrilled to announce that I will once again be raising littermates with Liam's raisers, my dear friends Matthew and Amy, who have started their own blog ("Growin' Up Guide"). Truman and his brother Tai will no doubt be fast friends.

Stay tuned for the Truman Show!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

More Details, as Promised

What an insane weekend it's been.

Nothing about Lomax has been conventional or expected, thus far. I received him a few days after his one-year birthday, not as a wee pup. I had been assuming all along that I would get a black Lab, but he was yellow. I thought I'd only be fostering him for about six months, but I had him for ten. I thought it would be easier to start with an "older" puppy. Ha.

Likewise, I always thought that if I received the news of his impending graduation, I would spend the rest of my day making phone calls, telling everyone I knew in just the right order, posting some eloquent announcement on the blog, et cetera. However, I got the phone call about ten minutes before I was due to leave my apartment for a weekend getaway. So I left a voicemail for Joanna, put up a slapdash "guess what" on the blog, shot a quick e-mail to my puppy group leaders, flung everything in the car and spent the next hour or so trying not to cause an accident while calling people from my decrepit cell phone while I was sitting in traffic on the 405 freeway.

Not exactly the big hoorah I had planned, but it was a mad rush.

And you know what else? There were a few people who didn't think he'd ever be a guide dog. And by that I mean there were a few people who TOLD me so. One person looked at him one day, as Lomax was doing his best to "sit" at the end of the leash (which meant tap dancing and wiggling his butt so hard that he couldn't actually remain seated), and said to me flat-out, "He's never gonna make it. He's NEVER gonna make it." Who knows how many more people simply never gave voice to their thoughts?

Lomax's exuberance and wiggly distraction (dogs, people, whatever) was challenging and frustrating and yes, at times, discouraging. But we never gave up. I knew he wanted to work, and I knew there was someone out there who would need him and love him and give him an important job to do.

That someone is Barbara. I won't tell you her last name or the name of the Arizona town where she lives, just to preserve her privacy. But I will tell you that she leads a busy, active life, and that she has two kids. What could be more perfect for Mr. Wigglepants? I can't wait to meet her.

And oh, yes...I believe I have also neglected to mention that next Sunday's graduation is going to be a family affair. Lomax and his beloved brother Liam will BOTH be looking handsome in harness, with their new partners.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Big Fat News

He's matched. He's going to be a guide dog. Guide Dog Lomax!

I can't tell you how excited and emotional I am right now, and how very proud of him I am, and how grateful that this moment -- which has been my fervent prayer since the day I first saw his happy little face on September 24, 2005 -- has finally come.

Of course, I'm about to leave for a weekend trip at the moment and can't pause to write my usual course of lengthy purple prose...but all of you have been so supportive of me throughout my time with Lomax, I had to tell you!

I'll have more news for you later this weekend or early next week, and I'll certainly post a million words and pictures after graduation a week from this Sunday.

Thanks in advance for the many comments that are certain to follow this post!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

More Dogs With Important Jobs

Can I apologize again for my lack of attention to ye olde dog blog? This is what happens between puppies. I promise, there will be more photos and "guest dog" posts soon....

In the meantime, I ran across an article I thought my fellow puppy raisers might enjoy. In the body of this post on Tanker Brothers -- one of my favorite military blogs -- there's an interesting article about K-9 teams working in Iraq. Click on over, scroll down a bit, and be grateful (as I know you already are) for smart, capable dogs with important jobs!