Sunday, April 29, 2007


April 16 - Truman and I are officially Puppy Kindergarten graduates!

Of all the group pictures we took, I thought this one was most appropriate. (Back row: Truman, Tia, Unity. Front row: Suki, Tai, Salem, Stuart.) Don't we all look like pros?

The "T" siblings:

My little man matriculates!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Hey Good Lookin'

April 13 - Truman is handsome. But he is handsome EVERY day.

And Blogger's portrait-view image issue still sucks.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Tough Day at the Office

April 12 - Truman takes out his boredom on an unsuspecting beloved American icon.

Or perhaps he's just angry because he's not allowed to go to Disneyland until he's a year old.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Save the GDA Breeding Department!

Those of you who live here in California, can I ask a favor? There's a state assembly bill coming up for a hearing on April 24th (tomorrow!) that could -- if it passes as written -- have a destructive impact on Guide Dogs of America, and possibly other organizations like it. If you're a puppy raiser, it might affect you as well.

We probably all agree on the importance of spaying and neutering pets so as to prevent unwanted litters, strays, abuse and abandonment. The California legislature may have the best of intentions, but Assembly Bill 1634 endangers Guide Dogs of America (the breeding department in particular) because it seeks to impose mandatory spaying and neutering of all pets four months of age who do not have a special "intact permit."

This explanation comes from the GDA Breeding Manager:

It is extremely important that you email or fax your opposition before 4/24/07. The current bill DOES NOT make any provisions for our breeding stock. Aside from no provisions for our breeding stock there will be a $150.00 intact permit fee for all pups and dogs over four months old. Because Guide Dogs of America is the owner of these dogs we would be responsible for paying for these permits. Just for the breeding stock alone our yearly fees would be around $9,000, this does not include any of our unaltered pups. If an intact fee is not obtained there will be a $500.00 fine for each violation.

Because our breeding stock does not qualify for an intact permit this would put an end to our breeding program. At this time we have enough puppies in the program to hold the school over for about two years. After that, good luck finding quality pups.

Please send your opposition to all of these assembly members. Also, it might help to send a letter to our Governor to veto the bill if it should pass.

Here's more opposition to this bill, which affects not only service dog organizations, but also members of The American Kennel Club.

I followed up with her when I found a revised version of the proposed bill that seemed to cover service dogs, and she replied:

The key words are "being trained or trained as a Guide Dog." Our breeding dogs are not being trained or trained to be Guide Dogs therefore would not qualify for an intact permit. The most unfortunate point is the extremely high licensing fees the raisers would need to pay for all pups four months and older that are not sterilized. Four months is way too young to make any decisions in regards to a pup's future in the Guide Dog program (i.e. breeding or a future Guide Dog). In most counties the licensing fee is around $100.00 a year for intact dogs. GDA has a kennel license but it does not cover dogs that do not live on the premises.

You can see the problem. I know this is last minute, but if you have a moment to craft an e-mail today (especially if you are affiliated with a service dog org) and CC all of the following folks, that would be fantastic:

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814

Assemblyman Mike Eng, Chair
Fax 916-319-2149

Assemblyman Bill Emmerson, Vice Chair
Fax 916-319-2163

Assemblywoman Karen Bass
Fax 916-319-2147

Assemblywoman Wilmer Amina Carter
Fax 916-319-2162

Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi
Fax 916-319-2118

Assemblyman Edward P. Hernandez
Fax 916-319-2157

Assemblywoman Shirley Horton
Fax 916-319-2178

Assemblyman Bill Maze
Fax 916-319-2134

Assemblyman Curren D. Price Jr.
Fax 916-319-2151

Assemblyman Alberto Torrico
Fax 916-319-2120

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Truman 3, Pants 0

Three pairs of my favorite jeans, which are no longer made.

Trumanated. Ripped by an exuberant, open-jawed, leaping Labrador who doesn't always want to go for a nice calm walk.

It's a good thing he's so freakin' cute.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Truman Meets the South Bay

April 9 -- Truman's first South Bay meeting was full of activity. He was officially introduced to the group (though I forgot to mention his status as a very important sponsored dog -- whoops!), and actually did quite well lying under my chair for the announcements and official business.

But the fun part was obedience at the beginning of the meeting. The dogs still in puppy kindergarten were separated from the rest of the group and given their own obstacle course and set of distractions.

While Truman and brother Tai looked on the dancing chicken with more than a little concern, my little man took the stairs like a pro. He should be a pro by now -- he lives in my third-floor apartment. Here I am telling him if I can run down three flights with him and his tiny bladder at 5:30 in the morning without tripping and killing the both of us, he can certainly deal with six measly steps:

GDA Puppy Class

April 7 -- Truman's first puppy class at GDA

The ride up to GDA on Truman's first Saturday puppy class was lovely, thanks to Velo's puppy raisers, who offered to carpool. The boys were thrilled to see each least, that's what I think the ridiculous barking was all about.

The moment we parked and opened the door in the parking lot to "Doggy Disneyland," as GDA is known, all bets were off. Truman did nothing but bark and lunge and spin in the presence of other dogs. This is not entirely a surprise -- the school is a challenge even for older puppies with stellar obedience skills. But Truman was like a piano wire on the verge of snapping, the whole time.

We attempted to take a side-by-side photo with his only other littermate in attendance, but neither of the pups cooperated, so the humans had to step in. Family resemblance, you think? Adorable sister Tori not only looks just like Truman, but they share a similar "voice" as well. "I know you! I know you! BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK!"

After a heeling exercise (which is always a challenge because your dog is either attempting to butt-sniff someone or being butt-sniffed himself) and a little obedience, we paired off with other pups and hunted for Easter eggs.

Such hard work earns you a little rest:

Teach Me Your Ways, O Truman

Many would say I'm witty and intelligent, and some might even find me interesting and perhaps even attractive. I have a good job, am involved in a variety of activities, service organizations and church groups, and I meet new people all the time here in Los Angeles -- one of the largest and most diverse metropolitan areas in the nation. Despite my best efforts, I am still single.

And yet, not ten weeks into his earthly existence, my dog has a wealthy benefactor.

Great news: Truman is now a "sponsored puppy." That means some generous person (in our case, a "Mr. R") has donated money to GDA that will take care of the expenses involved in Truman's puppy stage. That means, among other things, that we get reimbursed for an obedience course and receive several free bags of our expensive dog food, which is welcome news for my budget!

I suppose it's rude of me to assume Mr. R is wealthy -- but he is extremely generous. Truman is the seventh dog he has sponsored, and he has yet to see a graduate. (No pressure, little man....)

It's an honor to be asked to raise a sponsored dog, because it comes with extra responsibility. It will be my joy and privilege to keep Mr. R updated as to Truman's progress through photos and detailed quarterly reports which will surely exceed his page-count expectations.

Like A White Collar Criminal

Minimum security prison, exercise equipment, playtime privileges, and he'll be out in just a little while if he behaves.

What Commute? I Was Napping.

April 5 -- By the time I get home from work, I'm exhausted, but Truman is charged up and ready to scramble. Wonder why that is.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Mr. GQ

March 30 -- At only twelve weeks old, Truman is already turning on the charm and workin' it for the camera. If he's this much of a flirt now, imagine my misery once he gets bigger and starts noticing girls. Heaven help me if he is not neutered early....

Hairy Houdini

March 25 -- I was doing laundry this evening, and it came time to go downstairs to take my clothes out of the dryers. It was going to be a quick trip, maybe two minutes, so I figured I could put Truman, who's very good with kennel time, in the soft crate in the living room with a couple of toys.

Apparently, they weren't the toys he wanted.

I came back to a crate that been not just partially unzipped, but moved from its usual spot. Truman was lying in front of it gleefully chewing all the toys I'd previously taken away from him and put on top of the crate for "under supervision only" time:


Take the GDA Train

March 24 -- I attended a GDA outing with puppy raisers from several area groups, from Union Station on the Gold Line to Pasadena, lunch at Cheesecake Factory (and yet, we ate no cheesecake?), then back to Union Station. Pictured at left: Suzanne with Windsor in front of the MTA Gold Line train.

Truman was too young to attend, so the brave young man had his first overnight stay (at my area leaders' house) and I borrowed my favorite cuddler, Little Miss Paige.

All the dogs did very well on the train, and it was nice to meet people from different groups -- one future puppy raising family brought their two little girls. Here's a photo of Paige and...Paige.

Human-Paige's sister Aubrey brought puppies of her own. She made their jackets herself.

I was also happy to see other friends I wasn't expecting.

Joanna & Dash:

Denise & Oceana:

The MTA generously gave each of us a free day pass so we had one less expense. Having the pups ride the train was a great way for them to promote public transportation for people with disabilities.

Guide dog user Agustin, who regularly uses MTA, and his dog Shadow (who has her own MTA pass ID badge -- look closely at her picture) joined us. Also joining us was a news crew from Spanish-language TV station Univision; all day long we were asked to stop so the camera man could catch up and get a dog's eye view of our pups in training as they walked past him.

Paige received many "she's so beautiful" comments, like she always does. It was her first trip on the metro, and aside from pulling a little too enthusiastically and lying down in some gum, she did great.

Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of the best part: the looks on people's faces. One woman was unprepared to board a train car where nearly every row contained a floor-riding guest, but it was too late for her to go anywhere once she realized. And there were certainly some surprised restaurant patrons when we all got up to leave and a dozen or so dogs emerged from under the table.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Take Your Truman to Work Day

March 21 -- Truman accompanied me to work for the very first time. I'd like to say it was an easy transition, but it seemed forces were conspiring against us.

I knew it was going to be a challenge, bringing such a frequent piddler to a place where the door to the outside is, what, seventeen miles away from my desk? The nearest exit-to-pee-spot is a sprint to the door of the office suite, out into the hallway, down the stairs, across the lobby to another set of doors, through another hallway, up a few more stairs and finally, FINALLY outside.

I'd been planning to use this one bit of landscaping on the side of my office building since the day I first took a dog there. The older, "street legal" pups could use the grassy areas, but I wanted to find a spot where there were fewer neighborhood visitors. It's a perfect little patch -- away from office windows ("Sorry about the pooping dog, Mrs. Johnson. Shall we discuss your upcoming surgery?"), on a side street instead of busy Wilshire Boulevard, containing a big enough packed-dirt area to be minimally distractive in terms of leaves and twigs and rocks, not directly in view of passersby.

Turns out, however, CalTrans had other ideas. I got Truman to work and took him out to get busy immediately, successfully navigating the halls, stairs, lobby and doors, only to arrive outside to the sounds of jackhammers and construction equipment. Thirty workers or so, stomping around yelling orders to each other over the din. Orange cones and yellow caution tape. Utter earsplitting chaos. There could not be a scenario less conducive to a peaceful potty break. I mean, hey -- I wouldn't want to pee there, either.

But we pressed on. I plopped little Truman down amongst the landscaping...and the mud. And because I have to relieve him while he's on leash, somehow keeping him from eating every molecule of matter off the ground and nearby plant life, I had to stand in there with him. So my boots -- the ones that go with my warmest sweater, which I had worn in anticipation of the promised rare chilly day in Southern California -- also collected deep tread wells full of that mud. I thought the long walk around the building back to the entrance (we can't go back in our exit door, unfortunately) would work it out before we went back inside, but it was not to be. Many were the chunks of dried mud upon the office carpet in my cubicle. Many, and according to Truman, delicious.

He didn't have to pee, or so he led me to believe after 15 minutes of my most diligent effort. Nope, didn't have to pee...until we went all the way around the building and back inside.

So I did the circuit once again, by this time sweating profusely in the aforementioned warmest sweater, carrying a wiggling-and-hopefully-not-spraying puppy, back through the lobby and into the whaddaya-know-it's-going-to-be-80-degrees-today weather. And don't get me started on the ridiculous winds we were having, which did more to whip Truman into a frenzy than anything else I've seen thus far. Still, he peed like a champ, not nearly as concerned with the construction as with whatever swirling foliage he could get into his mouth.

This happened several times throughout the day. How much work did I get done? I feel like I should give back part of my paycheck.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!

Yes, I know it's sideways, and no, there's no way to fix it. The new-and-allegedly-improved Blogger is buggy in this area, and will all of a sudden only post my portrait photos as landscape. More reasons Google is evil, I'm afraid. I'll go back and fix it when they figure out the bug.

So, turn your head to the right and look how cute we are! Happy Easter from me, Truman, and apparently someone's hiney:

Monday, April 02, 2007

Puppy Kindergarten

March 19 -- Our first night at puppy kindergarten class was...mellow. Truman had just had his nine-week puppy shot, so he was deceptively calm and gave no resistance when I cradled him.

No resistance whatsoever. Nighty-night, little man.

Since You Asked...

Here are a few more photos. This first one shows Truman in his Happy Place by the door, on the blue rug, snoozing contentedly in modified belly-up position. This is a great showcase for his fancy collar, by the way; Denise made matching collars for Truman and Tai. The collars also perfectly match their GDA jackets. And as soon as Denise gets her website up, we'll be sure to link here so EVERYONE can wear such attractive accessories!

This is the bunny that came home with Truman as part of his "puppy kit." A stuffed animal meant as a little comfort item to snuggle with on his first night away from his littermates, the bunny quickly became a target for The Teeth That Know No Rest. He once wore a cute little bow around his neck. A mere two weeks later, it may now be said of bunny that he also once wore a cute little nose.

And this seems to be one of Truman's favorite toys -- a tiny, smiling stuffed carrot (perhaps he is taunting the bunny with it?). It's one of my favorites as well, so I took a picture of it for posterity, before it is inevitably Trumanated. He's figured out that it squeaks, and loves to carry it around the house. He's almost too big for it these days....