Monday, November 30, 2009

Goodbye Power Cord....

So today I was at the doctor's office and left Bright home with my mother to watch. Not good!! She proceeded to chew through my power cord for my laptop! So now I have to order a new one and I'm without a computer until then. What will I do now???? More time for training!

And she looked so innocent when I scolded her for chewing on the cord. She has tried to chew it apart before, but we have always been able to stop her before she got that far. Oh well, hopefully I will catch her next time!!But how can you possibly resist and yell at that face???

Saturday, November 28, 2009

And onto Christmas we go!

I used to work at Borders in Eatontown years ago and I always saw that they had free gift wrapping where organizations and groups would come in and wrap gifts and just ask for donations. So I started seeing if we could get CCI there to get some donations. Here we are, two years later and we are having fun again at Borders!!!We always have Black Friday and the Saturday after Thanksgiving from 9-4 to do some gift wrapping. It's always a bunch of fun and we always try to get a whole group of people there.

We were at Borders yesterday from 7-4 since they opened early for the "holiday". I also made a sign for us so that we can attract some more people on their way out.We were joined by pup in training Spike II and SC Orson and Kimmie. It was a lot of fun!!Today my mom and I were on our own with Bright, but were joined at the end of the day by newly graduated SD Monty and Nancy! Another great day.
We make some money, but really it's a great way to spread the word about CCI and Service Dogs in general. I'm not sure if I have said this before, but Service Dogs in my area are something that people have no idea about. This area is dominated by The Seeing Eye in Morristown which has been there for probably about 30 something years. Seeing Eye, or Guide Dogs really, are the only kinds of dogs that people associate with a "working dog". It's a bit frustrating because I am constantly having to correct people and tell them that no, she is a Service Dog in training. Just a bit annoying, but I know where people are coming from since The Seeing Eye is so prominent in our state.

But this weekend we passed out a lot of brochures and received almost $200 in two days!! Not bad, and we spread the word about working dogs.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Like Bright, I'm wiped out from a very great Thanksgiving!!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Nuri Update: November AT Report

Well with Thanksgiving on Thursday and no one working on Wednesday (well for the most part anyways!) the AT reports went out today instead! So I was very excited to see what Nuri's report read.

For the most part it told me everything that I already knew would be the case. Her trainer is Lisa (YAY!) and she is still pending on her health evaluations. She went on a field trip to Petco and there they take them off their GLs and take their vests off and just see how they react in an environment. Nuri apparently wanted to meet and greet all the other dogs in the store! Very shocking for her since she tends to be a bit more aloof towards other dogs.

She was also forging on her leash which is something that is not really news to me. I have been trying to work with her on a flat collar and she was never very good at this. She worked better while on the GL than anything else. It will be interesting to see how she progresses as she begins to work with a prong collar.

She has also adjusted well to the kennels which is something that I was a little worried about. She has stayed in the kennels before and I hoped that this would calm her down when she turned-in. Seems that it worked out well!!

It really wasn't a bad report, but again, it's only been about a week and a half of her being there. She begins her Advanced Training next week and that's when all the fun begins! It will be interesting to see her next report and see how she has progressed.

Until then I'll have to entertain you all with stories of little Bright!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Bright Beginning....

Well little Bright II has been home with me since Saturday and has settled in nicely. She has started to follow me around the house and keep me in her sights at all times! It's hilarious!

Well after Nuri went back into the kennels, Katrina brought out Bright and all the oohing and aahing began because she is such an adorable little puppy! We took a few pictures with her and she is so good! She's going to be a big puppy, I can already see it. Sandy, a fellow PR, did a quick check into her eyes and he pronounced that she will graduate! After having her for a few days, I can believe it.

The love of a puppy can be a big help when overcoming the loss of turning in a puppy. This has been a new experience for me since normally we overlap our puppies by either a few weeks to a few months. I have never before turned-in a pup and picked up another. I was handed this little bundle of fluff and my heart immediately melted. Here was this adorable puppy with the longest ears I have ever seen and so many wrinkles that when she lays down, her entire brow area furrows and all you see are wrinkles. I knew then that a new chapter had started and that it really was off to a Bright new start.

It's weird in the house now that Nuri is gone. It's very quiet! The last few months Nuri decided to start alert barking and nothing I did helped to make her stop. Bright hasn't really barked yet, but did let a yip out the other day! She doesn't seem to like the car very much since she whined a portion of the way home. When my pups are old enough (or big enough) they are no longer in a crate when we travel. Instead we put them into doggy-seat belts! This is an easier way of restraining them than constantly putting in the crate and taking it out whenever we have to go somewhere. Can be a bit cumbersome! Instead Bright wanted to be as close to me as possible.

On Sunday I had to pick my brother up from the airport and Bright came along with me to get her used to the car rides. I have the sling carseat cover in the back fo my car and she managed to flip herself over the side trying to get up to the front with me! So we really have to work on that.

Bright has picked up on "Sit", "Hurry", and "Let's Go" already which is awesome! We have been working on "Shake" since she likes to do that anyways. She's such a bold and independent puppy as well. I took her on her first public outing: Borders! All the employees love it when I bring the puppies to the store to say hello. And it's the perfect place for me to introduce the puppies to larger crowds of people.

We went to the kids section of the store where I knew that they had a big stuffed Golden Retriever. Nuri was a little timid around the stuffed animal. Bright was the complete opposite! She wanted to play and in her exuberance she toppled the thing over a few times.

I took her to the vet yesterday to let the doctor meet her and evaluate her. Dr. Heins said that he sees a little bit of discomfort in her hips but that he doesn't think that should bother her later in life. So that's good! He said that he will just keep an eye on it. She also weighed in at 25 pounds!!! YIKES! Huge puppy! Well she is 3 months old, but that's still a big puppy. Maybe too much loose skin?? LOL

I'm happy to have this new little puppy in the house. I love puppies and I'm excited to see where this new journey will lead me!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The End of Another Chapter to my Story

I know many people are waiting for this post, and I will try to do it some justice! Turn-ins are never easy for me and I hope that I can get all my thoughts into this post! And to let people know:

TISSUE ALERT! (and very long post)

So I was up early on Saturday to make the long drive out to Long Island and NER's home office. We barely made it 15 minutes on the road when I realized that I forgot my camera! So we turned around at the next exit and went to get my camera. We also realized that we forgot the seatbelt for Bright! We have one for Nuri, but it's waaaay too big for Bright to fit into. Couldn't find the seat belt, but found my camera and off we went again. After picking up Karen we continued on our drive.

We made it to NER with plenty of time and got there around 10 am. I went into the center and headed over to one of the training rooms. There they have three tables set up with signs behind them that have the first two letters of pups names on them to direct people to their appropriate table. Kind of like when you vote and you go by last name, this is by the puppy's name. So we went over to Lauren (who was Shane's trainer!) since she was sitting at the table we needed to go to.

Now many PRs already know how it goes at turn-in. We sit at the table and answer a whole bunch of questions. What nicknames does she respond to? Any medical problems? Anything that we need to know? I always answer as truthfully as possible. I also joked around with Lauren and asked her if she was ready for Nuri to come in and her response was "well physically we are..." I was cracking up laughing and it made the whole process that much easier to go through.

I informed Lauren of Nuri's habit of pulling out her fur near the base of her tail. It's an odd behavior and we really haven't figured out why she is doing it. It's not irritated or hot or anything like that. I believe that it might be behavioral and she does it out of boredom. It could be, not too sure, but they will keep an eye on her with that.

I got Nuri's cape and blue collar and leash that signifies that she is a puppy that is Matriculating that day. Then it was time for pictures! We took many pictures of Nuri in her cape and here are a few of them:We met up with MaryAngela and she's raising Nuri's brother, Nico. We took a bunch of pictures with the two of them on the bench since Nico made that his little bed and didn't want to be moved from it! We all joked that we were going to have to carry him on the bench to Graduation since he didn't want to move!It's crazy to see the differences in the two of them. Where Nuri is light in color, Nico is so red. Nuri is high-energy and Nico likes to sleep all day. Nuri's face is so dainty and Nico has the bigger head. It's so weird!

At 12 we headed over to J&R's Steakhouse for lunch! They love us there and love to see the pups as they come through. It just happened to be the 5 of us this time and just Nuri as the sole puppy. The food was delicious as always and Nuri was incredibly well behaved the whole time we were there. She laid down next to my chair and pretty much stayed there the whole time. I was so proud of her!We went to the Islandia Marriott where graduation was held and I decided to take some more pictures. I was also looking around to see who else from the NJ-Chapter was there. Dave & Regina were turning in India and I wanted to get a picture of Nuri and Indy together. (I managed to catch up to them after the ceremony)We then went in to the ceremony. The ceremony is always heart breaking and I am always filled with so much pride when I see Nuri's part of the Matriculating slideshow. My eyes were watering when it was my turn to present Nuri and receive my certificate from CCI for raising her.

India and Nuri
The ceremony was beautiful and it was great to see all the new graduates receive their dogs.

Now comes the hard part: Turn-In.

We made it back to CCI NER and back into one of the training rooms. I saw other people going through the turn-in process and was glad that I had done that before. This allowed me some time with Nuri without having to just answer the questions and then say goodbye. I'll put it plain and simple, I was a complete mess. Nuri wanted to wander and all I wanted to do was hug her and just tell her how much I love her and will miss her. I spent about another 10-15 minutes with her before Katrina came my way. She had paperwork for me to sign for Bright. After I finished signing everything she asked if I was ready. (Of course I wasn't ready, but what else could I say?) So I whispered "Be good and Behave" into her ear and gave her a last kiss before handing her leash over to Katrina.

As I wrote in my post before, all NER puppy raisers hand over their leash and then watch as their pup walks away down the long hallway and disappears through the doors to the kennels. Well that's what happened with Nuri. Off she went without a glance back. Of course she had to stop right before the door to scratch. I started laughing through my tears as I recognized her usual stall tactic. As always, we stand there with the tears streaming down our cheeks and watch as a piece of our heart walks away to begin a new part of their journey.

I cry each and every time, but know this: I am proud to be a Puppy Raiser. I am proud of the pup that I just returned to CCI. And I am proud to say that I am able to open up my heart time and time again and love these puppies until their time to journey on without me arrives.

So I close another chapter in my CCI story. This one was a lot longer than the others and filled with more frustration and puzzlement than normal. But even through it all, I am happy to have known and loved Nuri for the past year. She is an exceptional dog and as CCI's motto goes: "Exceptional Dogs for Exceptional People" And I truly believe that Nuri can become one of those exceptional dogs.

So to Nuri, I wish you the best of luck in Advanced Training. Pay attention and work your hardest to be the best that you can. Know that I love you and miss you every day and I'm wishing you all the luck that I can. You have made me a smarter Puppy Raiser and I thank you for that. You have also helped me to become a more patient person and to listen to my pups when they tell me things. You have taught me so much that I will never forget any of your lessons and I will use those lessons well.

Love to my little Golden Girl...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Almost time for Turn-In

(possible tissue alert)
Well the days are quickly winding down and I'm preparing Nuri for turn-in. It's one of those days that puppy raisers across the country know so well. These little fluff balls come into our lives not knowing much and we accept them each for who they are. Through patience and constant repetition we begin to guide these dogs to an ultimate goal of graduating as a working dog. Whether you are raising a Service dog or a Guide dog, all puppy raisers travel the same road and have the same temporary ending. We all must give them back to the organization that they truly belong to.

But I always remember that I am doing something for a greater purpose. I am working hard to make another individual's life easier and more independent. This purpose alone helps me to get through the difficult day of Matriculation. I go with a heavy heart, but one that is also filled with an incredible amount of pride and accomplishment. I have started this amazing dog on a great journey and helped them to become a well behaved, well trained dog.

So on Saturday I will be a complete mess. I will be laughing and smiling on the outside, but inside my heart is breaking yet again, as I let another puppy begin a new phase of their life. I am usually ok during the ceremony (tearing up of course!) but I truly fall apart when the trainers or kennel staff come to take the puppy from me and escort them to the kennels. As any NER puppy raiser knows, they take the pup and we watch them walk away praying that the pup doesn't turn around to look for us. When they disappear through the doors to the kennels we stand there, left behind, with tears rolling down our faces. I hope that my pup doesn't turn to look for me, that shows that they have been well trained and are trusting towards others. They will follow others and not constantly be looking for us. I will know that I have done the best job I can and I'm sending them off to "college" with some great training.

This year has been an unusual one for me. I have been one of those "lucky" ones that has to turn-in two puppies in one year. I had to turn-in Wilara in February and now I turn-in Nuri in November. I let each puppy go with a whispered "be good and behave" hoping that they will follow my warning and act like the good little girls that I know they are.

To all CCI Puppy Raisers with dogs matriculating on Saturday, or the following Saturday depending on your region, good luck to all of you and stay strong. The puppies have been trained well and have had an amazing time with you. Know that they will try their hardest to do you proud and if they happen to have a Change of Career, I hope you welcome them home with loving, open arms.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A trip out to SouthWest

So last week I went out to the SouthWest, aka, Los Angeles for a short mini-vacation! It was incredible and I had a great time! We decided to stop in to the SouthWest Regional campus of CCI and check out the facility. They are also in the middle of Team Training now and so we weren't sure whether we were going to be able to see the campus or not. The campus normally gives tours to the public on the first Thursday of every month and we were hoping to make it to the campus on time!

Instead we arrived about a half hour after the tour began and it turned out that no one showed up for the tour so the woman left! We were very disappointed, but I had been communicating back and forth with SWR's PPM and Stu said that he would be happy to give us a quick tour! I was so excited and very thankful to him for taking an hour out of his extremely busy day to show us around the campus. He really is a great guy and I can see how he makes a great PPM.

So here are some pictures that I took!The front of the campus

My mother and I in front of the sign for the SouthWest!

An area dedicated to PRs and Graduates. The bricks all have names and such on them.

This is what the sign reads. I love it!!

One of the resident cats. I don't think it liked being disturbed!

This is on the outside of the campus wall. I saw this first thing as we came up to the campus which alerted me to the campus! What a great sign!

The campus really is beautiful and is so open and airy! It's so different from NER since they have such a constant in temperature and can do a lot of work outside on the grounds. It's a lot of stuff packed into a small (2+ acres I believe) area, but it really works well for them. Stu was saying that they would like to expand, but there is no more room! They are boxed in by the roads on three sides, and a therapeutic riding school on the fourth side. But, like I said, it is so nicely spaced out that they are well situated.

Gorgeous campus!!!

Also, while at Downtown Disneyland we spotted a puppy-in-training from Guide Dogs of America! Having this blog has helped me to see a lot of the other organizations and recognize their capes and vests. So I saw this dog and immediately recognized it from a distance! Was anyone at Downtown Disneyland on Saturday Nov. 7th from GDA?? The pup was a yellow lab/golden cross from what I could see and very well behaved! The woman was too far ahead of me to catch up to her and have a quick chat.

Then a little while later I saw ANOTHER dog walking around! I'm not sure where this dog was from, but again looked like a yellow lab/golden cross with a blue cape on, but not CCI. I didn't recognize anything about the vest, but that doesn't mean anything! I tried to get a picture and this is what I ended up with!
As you can see, I barely got the dog's behind! Anyways, it was a fun trip and I wished I had Nuri with me since there were so many experiences that she would have loved to experience!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Nuri was spayed!

Well we received a decision from National about whether Nuri would be kept intact or not after she was turned in. I told NER that if she was going to be spayed anyways, then I might as well get it done before she turns in. Working at the vet office lets me get the spay at a discounted rate and so it saves everyone some money!

So Nuri went in on Monday and she had the surgery in the afternoon. Dr. Trotter came out to find me in Reception to tell me how the surgery went. She did great! There were no complications or anything and she was back in the Dog Runs recovering. I went back there a few times throughout the night to see her. She was really out of it and a bit depressed. I tried to coax her to eat her dinner, but she wasn't very interested in it.

When I left work at midnight she looked at me like I was abandoning her. I felt so bad!!

I picked her up yesterday after coming home from NER for a TT lunch (more on that in another post!) She was so happy to see me when I went into the back to get her! Of course she wasn't eating her breakfast either (typical!), but she was so happy to get out and go home.

Thankfully she has not gone after the incision and so does not have to wear an e-collar. Although that would be hilarious to see her with it on! I'm sure she's happy about that too.