Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Many Faces of Truman

September 7 -- I'm telling you, if this dog decides guide work isn't for him, he's got a job waiting in Hollywood:

You may have noticed I just put up about 15 posts...that means I'm mostly caught up! Anyway, this should hold you for a bit while I'm out of town and Truman is up at "Camp GDA" having his first evaluation. Wish us luck!

Saturday Class at GDA

August 25 -- Fortunately, I was able to make this month's puppy class up at GDA, and to see little Camry, being raised by our friend Joanna. Here's Camry, being her laid-back little self:

Since Tai and Tori are the only "T" littermates who consistently show up for the Saturday classes, it looks like we've started a monthly habit of getting family pictures. I don't know if it was the light obedience session (due to the hot weather in Sylmar), or just their natural goofiness, but it seems like there was at least one of the siblings goofing off in every picture I took.

First, Tori gives the old squinty-eye:

Then, Tai makes a face while everyone else is serious:

And finally, Truman sticks his tongue out at the camera:

Friday, September 28, 2007

Brudder Time

August 24 -- Because Truman requires so much exercise in order to be able to focus and behave, I try to get him as much dances-with-dogs time as I can. Brother Tai, who is also a bit more high-energy since Paige went in for formal training, is our favorite playmate. The lads are evenly matched and romp well together. Two furry peas in a pod:

More Family Photos

July 28 -- While I was away on a weekend-long volunteer gig with Soldiers' Angels, my fellow puppy raisers Madeline and Bob were kind enough to puppysit dear Truman. They even took him up to the monthly puppy class at GDA, where these photos were taken of Truman with his brother Tai and sister Tori. There is no mistaking their family ties:

Thursday, September 27, 2007


July 19 -- Truman's post-operative energy level has not decreased in the slightest, but he's being remarkably good about leaving the incision site alone. The couple of times I've caught him nosing toward the area, I've found that a quick "leave it" will do the trick. He's such a good boy that way. But even the best "good boy" cannot be left to his own devices at night, so we must of course enlist the aid of the dreaded cone.

Predictably, he hates it. Who wouldn't? But after the epic struggle ensues in which I am finally able to hold him still and shove it onto his gigantic head (the struggle to get it off him is far worse, unfortunately, which often sees my vocabulary devolve into three or four choice words and phrases I won't repeat here), he's remarkably compliant. He's still a small enough dog to be able to go inside the kennel with it on and lie down comfortably, and he -- unlike poor Lomax -- is not afraid to move around while the torturous thing is on his head.

Still, he's not pleased. He merely looks pathetic in this photo. I am for some reason unable to capture his more common expression, wherein he regards me with a hatred like the burning of a thousand white-hot suns.


July 16 -- Truman enjoys posing in front of other people's houses.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Calendar Boys?

July 15 -- The South Bay Puppy Raisers publish an annual wall calendar full of lovely photos of our puppies in training, breeders, and working guides. In 2007, Lomax's winning smile propelled him to fame as "Mr. March," a distinction of which we were both quite proud (and which no doubt helped boost calendar sales and the resulting proceeds to GDA).

Because I always seem to have the privilege of raising lively, handsome, personality-plus yellow Labs, I wanted to make sure I got some quality photos for this year's calendar submission. Matt graciously offered his photography skills and superior camera for the cause, so we took the "brudders" Tai and Truman to the park for a photo shoot.

On Not Letting Sleeping Dogs Lie

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Nothing But the Tooth

July 13 -- When did little puppy Truman become big dog Truman? The little man is growing up so quickly. That's why puppy raisers have to be so vigilant and consistent -- a few months of development, with all those bad habits or good habits (depending on the work you've done), can take place in just a couple of weeks.

The milestones have been coming fast and furious. We received early permission to start using a training collar. We received Truman's "big boy jacket" in the mail. And finally, FINALLY, he has all his adult teeth (can't tell you how happy my wardrobe and I are about that).

For the longest time, I didn't see one discarded puppy tooth anywhere, which seemed crazy to me, as I don't have a yard for him to leave them in (and you'd think I'd notice a tooth on the floor in my apartment). It seems the moment I mentioned this out loud, however, Truman started leaving a trail for my amusement. I looked down one day to find a tooth in the middle of my living room carpet. Then there was one on another puppy raiser's living room floor. Then there was one on the floor of my cubicle at work. But my favorite one happened at church.

It's illustrative of the parental mode a puppy raiser can find herself in, even if she's never had human children. Like the mom who puts the toddler's used Kleenex in her purse when there is no nearby trash can, we find ourselves dismissive of any passing thought that what we're touching is just plain gross, because life just has to go on sometimes. So when I was sitting in church that morning and noticed Truman playing with something on the floor, I reached for it immediately, discovered what it was and put the little tooth in my pocket. A few minutes later, I put the communion bread in my mouth, realizing only after I'd done so that I'd just employed the same hand that had picked up the tooth. The mental "oh, well" followed in a split-second.

A few minutes after that, as it dawned on me that our "sanctuary" is the gymnasium of the local Boys & Girls Club, I found myself saying a quick prayer and pulling the tooth out of my pocket just to make sure it was actually Truman's.

What He Really Wants to Do Is Direct

July 8 -- This photo, taken by the graphic designer where I work, will be the perfect headshot for Truman's career in film noir.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Hoofers and Woofers

July 1 -- In an effort two combine two of my great loves (puppy raising and swing dancing) I took Truman on his first outing to Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade, on a Sunday evening when the Third Street Swingers were holding one of their outdoor dances. It continues to be my hope that Truman will someday be mature and self-controlled enough to accompany me to my weekly dance class, so I wanted to see what he would think of loud music and lots of motion. Figured this would be a good introduction.

The group dances at the very end of the Promenade, blocks from where I typically park to go to the mall, so we had some walking to do. While Friday and Saturday nights see crazy crowds there year-round, a Sunday evening in the summertime can be busy as well. I was pleased; Truman navigated the crowds with surprising ease and confidence, and demonstrated impressive obedience once we reached our destination and parked ourselves on a nearby curb to watch. A few of my friends from dance class came over to tell him how handsome he is, as did at least a dozen passersby. He took in his surroundings, watching everything with great interest, but he seemed most interested in people who were walking their dogs, which was not a big surprise.

By the time we took this photo, Truman's attention span was about shot, but I did manage to get him to hold still for just a moment:


June 28 -- Truman just barked and woke himself up from a sound sleep.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Rodeo 24/7

June 24 -- It's good to have friends. My puppy group area leaders are wonderful people who always seem to have a house full of Labs, whether the dogs belong to them or not. I guess that's what happens, though, when you live near several members of your puppy group. And when you are qualified to administer puppy shots.

Pictured below, L to R: Truman, Paige, Mika, Dusty (in the background), and Tai (in the lower right corner), otherwise known as the usual suspects. Not pictured: Jetta, Tallee, and Luke, otherwise known as usually on a couch somewhere napping.

The (Human) Graduation Party

June 23 -- Truman attended his first human party.

My cousins have graduated: one from high school, his brother from college. Truman, being the delightful charmer and life of the party that he naturally is, was invited to share in the festivities. He was a pretty good house guest, considering his age...and the presence of two cats...and the amount of noise and activity being generated by the revelers, many of whom were adolescent males joyously engaged in raucous video games and the dropping of tasty food-bits on the floor within reach of a still-quite-low-to-the-ground dog.

The unflappable Truman didn't flinch when the elder statescat of the house held his ground and hissed as we approached the front door. He didn't take much notice of the ubiquitous balloons. And he weathered with good nature, as did I, the many drunken choruses of "Ain't no bugs on me" (a refrain from a TV commercial for flea prevention, starring a Truman lookalike) sung repeatedly to him by an enthusiastic partygoer.

When things got to be just a bit too much, little Truman and I would escape to the relative peace of the upstairs bathroom ("The Queen's Room," as it is known in my aunt's world) for a time out. Letting him nap and chew bones in the portable soft crate, set upon the cool tile floor of the bathroom, was just the thing to help him center himself. It was also just the thing to allow me to actually head back downstairs to partake of the party food and to hold conversations with other people that were not punctuated with "leave it," "drop it," and "sit."

Saturday, September 22, 2007

TrumanVision: Truman's Post-Bath Shuffle

I am thrilled that there's finally an easy way to upload video directly to Blogger....

Though I tend to take more still photos of Truman than actual video (you would think the opposite would be less of a challenge), I occasionally like to record a moment for posterity. This is a brief clip of the madness that occurred after Truman's first bath. I had promised him that I would feed him dinner afterward if he was a good boy.

Yes, I fed him anyway. But that's not the point of this story.

For your inaugural TrumanVision experience, please enjoy a little of his post-bath "Labrador Shuffle." Pure energy burn or an attempt to air dry himself? You decide:

Friday, September 21, 2007


I can hardly believe it, but Lomax turns three years old today! I bought him a little birthday present and had it sent (through the school) to him and his partner, along with my request that she shower him with hugs and kisses on my behalf. Happy birthday to The Moof and Liam as well!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

New Kid on the Block

The people who raised our friend Trooper are raising another puppy. Everyone, meet seven-and-a-half-week-old Geo:

Yes, he's a cute little stinker. But don't worry, Truman. You're still my little sunshine.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Truman Makes a Splash

Lots of splashes, actually, and mostly with his front paws. But we'll get to that in a moment.

It's been a busier than originally planned holiday weekend, and my big dreams of catching up on my dog blogging have been thwarted once again. So, my apologies to those of you who check in here daily, hoping for more glimpses into the world of Truman and the exhausted humans in his life. I have photos and stories in the wings that date back to late June, believe it or not, and my anal-retentive (or maybe OCD? should we take a vote?) personality is vexed that I've been unable to keep things in chronological order for you. Okay, for me.

But please know that I have much, much more on the way, and that I will be entirely caught up by the end of this month, because Truman and I have a quarterly sponsor report due...the contents of which come primarily from this blog. So, accountability strikes again! Hang in there with me, won't you?

Meanwhile, enjoy this story from our Lab(rad)or Day Weekend festivities....

A group of puppy raisers got together for a pool party on Sunday. Perfect day for it here in the middle of our Southern California heat wave, which brought temperatures in the hottest parts of town up to 113 degrees (118 with the heat index). I didn't officially count the dogs in attendance, but the number could safely be estimated at around a dozen (46 with the enthusiasm index).

By the time we arrived, there were too many off-leash and in-the-water dogs to be able to gently introduce Truman to the steps in the shallow end of the swimming pool, so I just let him fly. And fly he did, only to discover that his landing spot was not, in fact, solid ground. Surprise!

Not that he was traumatized. There were plenty of people in the pool to help him out of the water, and after a few minutes of some land-based hijinx with toys and other dogs, he worked up the fortitude to try it again. And again, and again.

Though he is a brilliant and coordinated dog on dry land, Truman's seafaring aptitude leaves something to be desired. He eventually got to the point where he would leap enthusiastically into the water (or onto my head if I misjudged the distance) when I stood in the pool and called him, but his swimming skills could use some work. Truman attempted to navigate his aquatic environment by paddling furiously...with his front legs. Was he trying to climb out? To build his upper body strength? To splash the rest of us? In any case, it rendered him vertical, and required someone lifting his hiney (by grabbing hold of his prodigious and stretchy skin, as he has yet to properly grow into his Truman Suit) in order to get him moving in the right direction. Add to that his repeated attempts at biting the water droplets he was splashing up, and you'll understand why I'm disappointed that I was in the water at that point and not on land with a video camera. He would head toward the steps, where all the other dogs were exiting, and either try to climb out next to the steps without their assistance, or he would get to the steps, put his front legs on land and hang out (sometimes chewing on a toy) as if that were the point of being in the pool in the first place.

Truman did, however, immediately take to use of the raft in the middle of the pool, leaping upon the unsuspecting (and much too near the pool edge) Yasmin as she lay face down in short-lived relaxation. Epcot joined them, in a bid to claim the territory for the yellow Lab populace. Truman enjoyed many return visits to the floating paradise throughout the afternoon, to wrestle with his brother Tai, to play "Tugboat Truman" in towing Katie to shore, and -- as shown here -- to snuggle with Yasmin, "Queen of Yellow Dog Island."

When he wasn't actually in the water, he was finding a way to make his mark. Whether it's leaping sideways over another dog, licking up spilled drinks, zipping like wet lightning through a barely open door into the house, or leaving a "gingerbread trail" of squishy, chlorine-water-inspired dog droppings on the pavement next to the pool, Truman always leaves his wacky calling card. That's my boy.