So, everybody, what have you been up to lately? Whatever it is, I bet I can top it! First off, I spent a day working at the training center with all the other guide dog puppies. We had to do a bunch of obedience work and training exercises to help us pups get used to doing our work even with other dogs around. Mom said I was way too excited and needed to settle down...and I (eventually) did!
The first game was kind of like musical chairs, only with hula hoops. We were given a limited time to go from one hula hoop to the next, trying to ignore all our doggy buddies, and get ourselves sitting politely before time was up. Tougher than it sounds, believe me!
Next we had to practice "tucking in," like service dogs have to do in buses and other tight quarters. It was a lot easier for me than some of those big guys, but we all did it...even giant Jethro!
We also practiced getting on and off a "bus," which was really just chairs set up in close formation. Other than poking the person in front of me with my nose (for some reason people don't like that, go figure!), I did pretty well.
The most challenging real-life situation was at lunchtime, when the puppy raisers had to go through a buffet line and fix their plates with one hand, while keeping us dogs under control with the other. When I saw Twist on the other side of the table, I was tempted to just make a grab at her, but Mom was pretty determined that wasn't going to happen. Oh well!
The other pups got to play when we were done, but since I start class with my new human in just a few days, there was NO way our boss, Michelle, was going to take a chance on something happening to me. I had to sit out. As if those dogs could even catch me! Believe me, I was pretty upset about that. But I forgave her when she gave me a bunch of new treats. She says they're supplements for healthy joints, but she's gotta be confused...they're definitely dog candy!
Look what else is new...I've got a brand new designer outfit! Since I'll be doing diabetic alert work instead of guide work, I've got a wardrobe of tan jackets that say "GDTX SERVICE DOG" on them. Pretty awesome, don't you think? The webbing is a nifty desert camo print, and a chest piece is being designed to go with it that will say, "I'M WORKING." Plus, since they're custom-made for me, I've finally got clothes that fit! I used to embarrass my family by scratching at my old jackets in public...but you would scratch at your clothes too, if they were made for someone twice your size!
I don't have any pictures of the whole next week, because my family went on vacation without me and I got to visit different people while they were gone. I started off at the good old Greenwood School with my friend Tracy...she doesn't have a guide dog puppy of her own right now so I filled in as best I could, helping her stir up -- wait, I mean look after -- all those cute little munchkins who come over every day.
Next, it was off to Michelle's house. Let me tell you, that Michelle lady works...hard! It was go, go, go all the time. She really kept me busy. We had work, and walks, and meetings, and I even got an "assessment" from our head trainer (I couldn't tell it from a regular walk, but they seemed to think it was important!) Then, when we got home to her pet dogs, I had to take them all in hand and show them who was boss. A tough job, but someone has to do it! By the end of each day I was really exhausted. Fortunately someone must've given Michelle the memo that I sleep on people beds now, so I didn't have any explaining to do.
Michelle is a very discerning person -- almost as smart as a labradoodle, I'd say. She finally figured out what I've been trying to explain to my family all along...I much prefer eating from a plate! Sensitive doodle ears like mine HATE annoying noises, and the tinny jingle of my kibbles rattling around a ceramic bowl is just like nails on a chalkboard to me. Who can eat with all that racket? One night she just poured my food out on the floor and I ate it all up and even wanted more! So now I get to eat out of paper plates. They're nice and quiet, and my ears don't touch the sides. Finally, someone who understands me!
But let me tell you, it was great to get home yesterday and see my family again. I've got one last week with them before I head off for my new work and new people. But first...
...time for a looooooooooong nap!