Monday, December 30, 2013

Day 11 addendum- Nov. 7th

Ok I forgot to add too, that we had our evening lecture and then a good friend, Maria La Malfa, a breeder caretaker for Siena, black lab female, came and picked me up for the evening.   We went to Starbucks to get a peppermint mocha and then went to Maria's house so I could love on Siena since I wasn't allowed to get down in the floor and love on Boomer like that yet.    I could love on Boomer, but in establishing the bond with him and that I was to maintain control and that he is to look to me for direction, I wasn't to get down on the floor and such with him yet.  

So we got to Maria's house, which by the way is gorgeous!!! :)   Siena greeted us as we came in and as I sat on the floor loving on Siena, Maria and I talked for hours together.   It was good to get out and talk to so someone without the pressure of the whole training atmosphere and such.    we talked so late it was nearly 1am before I got back to campus and crawled into bed and crashed hard!   I knew I was gonna be dragging the next day for sure! LOL!

Day 11- Thurs. Nov. 7th

We got up this morning slow again.  I'm finding more and more I'm just worn out and dragging from the emotional and mental drain of everything.    The trainers have been great about working with us and such but still, there's a lot of work to this and it's hard work.

We started off by taking the dogs out to break and then going in and having another amazing breakfast from Kevin.   We all gathered in the gathering room to load up on the bus and found out we were going to the Horseshoe walk and learn how to do rounded curbs.   This was another new item for me, and ask Barb explained, many people don't realize they even have rounded curbs in their neighborhoods until they go through training and get home with their dogs and begin to walk their neighborhoods.  

The rounded curb is a curb that is just that, rounded.   When you like up straight to the opposite curb/path of walking, depending on which way you are approaching the rounded curb, either you or the dog will encounter the rounded curb first.  When you are walking and the rounded corner of the curb is on the teams left side, the dog will come to the edge of the curb first and when the dog stops, the handler is to step forward and investigate with the left foot to find the edge of the curb.  For this situation, the handler finds the edge of the curb and then steps back to place themselves at the dogs shoulders, angle slightly to the right to help line up straighter, and.also getting the feet in position with the left foot ahead of the right (known as the starting position) and when you step off with the right foot, it will still be on the curb and the left foot will step down off the curb and continue walking.  

If the team approaches and the rounded corner of the curb is on the teams right side, the dog will come to the edge of the curb first and the handler will then advance their position and do what the trainers call:  "Feet in the Street".   The handler steps forward and literally put both feet in the street with their heels against the edge of the curb, to keep the straight line position as needed to cross the street.

So after we got to the Horseshoe, Barb worked with each of her students individually and I honestly didn't fee like fussing with Boomer this morning about being good and laying down on the bus, so we went outside and sat in the chairs.  It wasn't long that it started to get really overcast and it began tThe

Boomer and I were often the last team to work with Barb, but we were the fastest walking team on the class, so we often made up time needed. :)    We worked down the street doing numerous rounded curbs and past an elementary school with a bunch of scarecrows that the kids must have decorated for Halloween.   Boomer stopped perfectly at all the curbs as we worked our way down and back.

After we got back, there was still enough time and the rain had let up, so Barb asked if anyone wanted to do a solo walk around the Horseshoe route as we'd be doing the night walk there on Friday night.   Boomer and I took off around the walk and it was nice to take off and be on our own and just feel him out and open up and stretch out the legs and walk at a good, strong, fast pace again. :)   We made our way around the route and got back on the bus as others were coming back too.  

We all loaded back up on the bus and made our way back to GDF for lunch of soup and sandwiches.   We also had some special guests join us for lunch and the afternoon, as the breeding manager/geneticist and training manager from the Australian Guide Dog School had come to the U.S. and was looking at GDF's dogs in hopes of some new breeding stock and in how the program was ran.   The breeding manager had asked before arrival to join the class for the afternoon, but after meeting Boomer and the other golden on class, she definitely was interested in going out with the class and asked if she could video the two goldens and the poodle on class working to take back to their school.   Apparently, she liked Boomer soooo well, that she actually told the trainers that she wished he hadn't been neutered, as she would have really, really liked to have had him in her breeding program.   Thus was checking out his bloodlines to see if there may be other dogs available for breeding purposes. :)

So after lunch, we met back up in the gathering room again to load up and go to St. James to do country walks.  There in St. James is a little coffee shop, called the Tic Toc.   A very nice little place that supports GDF too.   Since a good handful of the students in this class liked coffee and tea, the trainers worked each of us down to the coffee shop to allow us to sit there and enjoy our coffee/tea while they worked with the other students.!

And this is where the fun began.   There was three of us sitting at a table, another student sitting beside me and it was a wooden bench with a back and open space between the ends/legs of the bench underneath.  The trainers were both out working with other students as we sat in the place enjoying a coffee and talking to each other.    I had Boomer laying down all still, with his head facing backward towards the door/entryway that our bench was backing up to.  I figured he'd be less likely to be stepped on if he could see who was coming and his tail not right in the walk way of the entry.  

I'm pretty attentive to movement in the leash and twice he lunged forward and I immediately respond with the command  LEAVE IT   I look around don't see anything on the floor both times just to make sure there isn't some dropped food or something and there's nothing there.   The next thing I know, Boomer lunges to my left and I see a piece of bagel at the end of the bench at the table next to me and i'm like LEAVE IT! and I immediately turn him around so his head is facing inward and moved up so he's not in the walk way either, but he's also not within reach of the food on the floor either.  

A few minutes later he makes another lunge to my left again!  But I knew he didn't go far enough that he could get to where that food was and then he is chomping on something.   I am bewildered at what he could have gotten and look down and the piece of food is gone!   I look up to my left and there is an old man standing there with this big ole grin on his face.   I look at him sternly and say DON.T FEED THE DOG! and he walks off ignoring me.    And I'm telling my companions what's going on and try to locate him again and where he went.   I realize he's standing just outside the door of the shop and the trainers come up with the students they are working with and he follows them back into the coffee shop.  

I tell Barb to keep an eye on this guy, he is throwing food to the dogs, that Boomer kept diving for stuff and he kicked food over to him.   Barb says OK good to know, and takes the student up to get his coffee and seats him and then she goes up to the guy.   She says to him very calmly and politely although in her stern voice, "Don't be feeding the dogs.  These are guide dogs and their handlers have to be able to go into restaurants with their dogs and if you are throwing food to the dogs, they will start diving for food and also start trying to take food of of people's plates. Then they will get kicked out of the restaurant.   And besides, when you throw food to the dogs, they have to correct their dogs for going for it and that is your fault.   The dogs get treats and food when they are at home and don't need you feeding them."  

The old man looked at her and said "You're a meanie!"   Barb calmly says, "And for a good reason!" and turns and walks away and comes to me and we go outside and she tells me, the other trainer, an the breeding manager from the Australian Guide Dog school what had happened.   She said the guy is there in this shop all the time. Several of the apprentices later told us that this guy seems to have a personal agenda to distract the dogs and says that he feels he has to spoil the dogs since they are made to work.

However, the result of this was it really messed with Boomer's head.   in the first two blocks after we left the coffee shop, he blatantly ran me into a bush and completely blew a curb (meaning he didn't stop at the curb/street crossing) when he was supposed to.   This made it every clear how important it is that people don't distract and feed guide dogs, as his mind was still on searching for food on the floor of that coffee shop!  

Thankfully he straightened out after a correction for blowing the curb and we made a right and began our work on country walks which is streets without sidewalks.   We worked as a team here and Barb and Steve both worked with us and the breeding manager videoed Boomer and I as we made our way around the corners to cross the street.   Doing a country walk, we walk on the left side of the road and before crossing a street, we follow the corner around the corner and in about 6 feet to get us away from the very corner of the intersection and to be able to assess the parallel traffic.  Steve showed us a method he'd learned at a different school, where once you stopped, as you were on the left side and facing towards the oncoming traffic, to do a right and an immediate halt.  Thus you were facing the curb that you were walking straight to and making yourself perpendicular to the traffic, thus making it easier to access the traffic coming from both sides, instead of trying to access the traffic from behind you.    Then once across and you've located the edge of the road, you do a left and follow the corner around again and either continue on straight or halt and cross again.

We continued this and worked our way down a good long street and made a big rectangular square bringing us back up to the main street just before the block with the Tick Toc and back to the supermarket parking lot where the bus was parked.   Trainer Jody got on the bus with me and Barb and Steve walked back to the Tic Toc to start working the other students out of the coffee shop while Jody started up the bus and we drove to pick them up in front of the shop. :)

We headed back to GDF for a delicious dinner and lecture that evening.    I crashed hard pretty soon after going down to the groom room and brushing down Boomer really well.   I came back up and crashed hard!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Day 10- Wed. Nov. 6th

We started off the morning with Boomer nudging me in the face when Donna knocked on the door to come in and wake me up, however I wasn't coherent enough to realize what he'd done to reward him for it though, so he's getting it. :) Then we went out to give him a chance to break and again he's being much slower about his business. Kind of wondering if something is up but still watching to see what he does.
We went to breakfast and Kevin had a bowl of fruit, and a wonderful toasted egg, cheese, and bacon sandwich on bread like French bread. YUMMY! :) We then went back to the room and got our stuff together before heading out to the gathering room to go on our morning walk. We all loaded up on the bus and were off to Kings Park again to work the opposite direction we'd worked the afternoon before. Kings Park isn't too far away so we were there pretty quickly and the weather while a little cool was warmer than the day before. Barb was driving the student with the poodle in a separate van as her allergies were just going haywire on the bus, (hence getting the poodle), so they parked the bus and the van parallel to each other a couple of spots apart but the doors facing each other. Then they put the chairs out for the students to sit in between the two vans.

I decided I should work on my listening exercises, as I'd found a new IPad compatible app from Advanced Bionics, called Clix, to do this. So while all but one of the other teams went outside to sit, I stayed on the bus since the conversations can get quite loud, this way I could work on these exercises. As usual, Boomer was ready go work and was just up and down repeatedly, but I was being persistent in making him lay back down. After about an hour, I was looking at the IPad and changing through some of the programs this app and moved, in which I unintentionally dropped the leash. Boomer heard that leash hit the floor immediately stood up and looked at me like "Time to go!!!??? OK!!!!" and as I reached forward to grab the leash, he spun and flew forward to the front of the bus and down the steps giving me an absolute heart attack. He had gone out to say hellooooooo to everyone else! LOL! I don't think I've ever gotten cords off that fast and got myself untangled from the cords I had around my neck and was grabbing for the whistle that I also have on a cord around my neck and flew off the bus in hot pursuit. As I came off the bus, another handler was like he's over here, I got him. LOL!

BOOGER!!!!!

After I got him, I went back on the bus to get my bag and came back out and sat in a chair with the circle of teams all together. Barb came and got me and we took off through what appeared to be downtown Kings Park by the library. We worked along to the first street, crossed and then made a right working along to the next corner, which was the funky one. We worked straight to the curb and then made a left, going around the pole, and then up the hill to the next street, to pass the other golden team. We then crossed the street and worked our way on towards the next curb without hesitation. At this curb we did a Left and started back towards the main street. We'd been going along at a good clip and all of a sudden Boomer jumped forward, startled by something, not sure what and then a dog began to bark. Wasn't really sure what happened but he re-composed himself very well and went right back to work. We worked our way towards the next curb and Barb stopped me as we had a really weird curb coming up. I was going to have to do almost a weave to the left around a big pole and then a sharp right back to the curb to be at the actual curb. So she told to just follow him and let him work it, so I did and he did great. We made a left and took off down the main street headed back in the direction of the bus. We worked our way past the open door, around the light pole and outside easel signs for the stores up to the next curb, a pretty major intersection.

We came up to the intersection and a police car was across the up curb across the street and another police car was parallel to me and partially out in the street and blocking the intersection entirely. We stood for a couple of minutes trying to figure out what was actually going on, thinking it was a funeral procession coming, but wasn't seeing anything yet. The officer happened to look over and see us and asked if we were just crossing and Barb answered yes, and he replied, go ahead and cross, so we did so and then worked our way on down to the driveway entry to the park and did the country walk, cutting in close to the curb along the front of the parking spots and then around the back of the bus and back to the bus. We then loaded up and headed back to GDF for lunch.

After lunch, which was soup and sandwich, we went into town to downtown Smithtown and sat at the town
hall parking lot. Since we were between the two vans, while the wind was blowing, for the most part it was blocked, so it was so sitting outside. We waited our turn as Chris; one of the media/PR people came to video several of the teams doing this walk. I was the first one out and Barb had collected up all of her student's handles except mine and had me duck into the bicycle shop that we were passing. As we walked in, a couple of guys came out and Barb, with the two guys, began putting the grip material that you find on handlebars onto the harness handles, scooting them onto the hand portion of the handle. It was an odd feeling at first, but I liked it as I got used to it.

We worked our way in and as they worked on these, I worked on the sit/sty I'd put him into. He pretty much sat there and watched everyone wrestling with the harness handles until time to go we did an about and worked our way back to the door and then made a right and continued on down the street to the top of the “p” where we made very sharp and nearly backward turn to get us heading towards the rounded part of the “p”. We continue on and work along until we cut back inward to the main street of Smithtown and soon back past the bike shop. Barb did stop me once as we travelled here as I was instinctively pulling my arm in to keep him from brushing me on the right side, so had to think through that and not make it easy for him, as when my vision deteriorates more, I won’t be able to catch these mistakes and it can mean really smacking into something hard.

We met up with another team just beyond the bicycle shop and the other trainer, Steve, worked with me back to the bus. We then went back to the GDF campus and had dinner together, of which I unfortunately cannot recall what it was.

After dinner, we had our grooming lecture, which Trainer Dan went over ear care of the dogs. We talked about how with the dogs ears, that the old saying, “If it isn’t broke, don’t try to fix it!” holds true in this case too. If the dog’s ears are doing well, leave them alone. ;) However for if the dog does have an ear infection and we need to clean the ears while it’s being treated, we were shown now to use ear cleaner, some 100% cotton, and how to use these to clean the dog’s ears. We also practiced cleaning out the ears and what are some of the tell tale signs of having an ear infection. After this lecture, it was break time and everyone pretty much headed to bed.

Night all!

Kacie & Boomer

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Day 9- Tues. Nov. 5th- Election Day!

Did you go vote???

I had a really hard time getting up this morning, after being up more than enough times last night.    However I made it out of bed and got myself ready and actually went down and talked to Chef Kevin to see if I could just have some toast and a banana for breakfast.    He actually still had some of the rice left that Ann Marie had fixed on Sunday, so he said he'd fix me some rice and toast instead.    Also got to meet the breeder stud dog that he had brought to work with him today as it was a "work" day for the gorgeous male lab.   I went back to the room and got all of my stuff together to take with me on our morning walk and then it was time to feed and water Boomer.   Barb made the call that it was time to break the dogs so took them out and then came back in for breakfast.   I was seriously dragging and just feeling under the weather.   So I ate my rice and toast and came on back to the room and grabbed my stuff and took off for the gathering room.

I put Boomer down and under the chair in one easy slide and more people were making their way to the gathering room as Consumer Services Manager, Karen, came in with the two breeder dogs she takes care of and things got a little crazy for a few minutes as all our male dogs were going "Helloooooo Darlings!"  LOL!    So we all got our dogs straightened out and settled back down and by this time everyone had made their way to the gathering room.   Trainer Jody was pretty sore after her fall yesterday and actually over lunch she did go get checked out and all was fine, just some pretty good bruising.   We all loaded up on the bus and we were off to the town of Kings Park for a walk through the downtown area.  

This time most of the students sat inside the bus and I went on outside as Barb had given me a "rake" and de-tangling comb to try on Boomer, as they are used for the goldens and the long feathering they have on their bodies.   So I went outside and went to give these a try on him and give him a pretty good brushing as I was waiting for my turn.   And the next thing I hear is BEEEEEP from my hearing aid.    I'm like oh, no big deal, I have batteries in my back pack.   I check the pocket and no batteries.    Then I think- no big deal, I also have batteries in the CI case I carry with me.   I dig it out and OYE!   No batteries there either.  So it beeps at me a second and a third time and then it turns off completely.    I'm sitting there thinking OK, how am I going to do this walk???   I have the CI but I hadn't taken the hearing aid off and try to go CI alone for quite some time.    I pull the CI out and soon it was my turn.

Barb comes up to get me and I tell her right off the back, the battery has died on the hearing aid,  so I'm on the CI only.   Plus, being that I've done all combination trainings with GDF before, I've never walked this route before, so this is going to be all new for me.   We take off country walk through the parking lot and walk straight up to the curb to the right of the driveway in.   We make a right and cross the street and work our way to the next street.   There were multiple signs, meters, and poles that Boomer expertly took me around.  We then made a right and made our way down the sidewalk which was somewhat uneven and then there was actually a break out in the sidewalk that was several inches deep and he made sure I stayed clear of this.   He slowed for the other break in the sidewalk as well.   We worked our way to the next corner and made another right.  

We continued on and was working our way down an incline in  which he worked very nicely.   The corner that we came to had two ramps and it was on a funky angle so the team has to walk pretty much in an S shape and because I didn't know the area and couldn't see the other ramp yet, Barb quickly jumped in and said Follow him!   I heard her in time and kept going and he took me to the right curb. :)  We then crossed the street and came to the next curb.   I had to angle myself Right as the path actually split into three ways at this point- left at an angle for the sidewalk, straight ahead into a church yard, and then right and around a large traffic light pole  to go up the sidewalk towards the main street.   The next corner was similar to the funky one we'd just worked, so Barb stopped me and warned me that this was a similar thing.    We worked through most of it beautifully, but being that we were nearly back to the bus, Boomer didn't want to make the right cut in to the curb.   Thus I reached down and tapped him and pulled the leash to the right to get him back in to position quickly.   He was anticipating that we were very close to the bus and KNEW where we were headed, so that's where he wanted to go.

We did another Left and then a Left, Find the way at the driveway entrance to the parking lot where the van was parked.   Barb told me to have him move over left a bit to follow the parking lot like a a country walk.    We stopped and I asked her then, what is the proper way to walk through a parking lot?   She explained that the dogs should treat it like a country walk, following along behind the row of cars, the dog between the handler and the cars and dipping in slightly if there is an opening, and if there is a long stretch of openings, the dog should go inward and treat it like a country walk there.

So we work around the bus and I tell him to find my seat and he took me straight there through the center of the circle of the other teams sitting outside. :)

Soon it was time to load up and head back to the Foundation for the afternoon, in which we were to work on dog distractions.   We first watered the dogs and then took them out to break before going to lunch.   I again stuck to the bland diet of rice and a couple of pieces of toast, hoping feel better.    Lunch was good and I was really tired having been up most of the night before in fitful sleep.   So I took off pretty quickly back to the room and still had a little over 45 minutes until time to meet up again and I'd found that taking my shoes off and stretching out on the bed was some really good downtime and I felt a lot better in the afternoons when I'd do this.   Well, yeaaahhhh, I did this and was out within minutes.    Next thing I know I hear someone knocking on the door and I jump up and I'm apologizing to Barb.   She's like don't worry about it, you needed it. :)   Come on down with your dog.   I threw on my shoes and grabbed the leash and off we went to the gathering room.

We started the afternoon with almost a mini-lecture, basically Barb introduced us all to the Gentle Leader- a head collar that is used on the dog to give you more control for specific situations.   Some use them to slow a dog down, some use them to keep the dog from scavenging, some use them when a dog has a little too much of a dog distraction and there are other uses too, but the purpose of this was to show us all what a Gentle Leader is and how we would put it on the dogs.   Barb gave us each a Gentle Leader and walked through showing us the different parts of it and putting it on each of our dogs and adjusting them properly.   She then had us take them off and then put them back on our dogs by ourselves.   She made it clear too that if for some reason any of us were given one of these to use on our dogs, that we had not failed in being able to handle our dogs in any way, but it is another tool to use if it is needed.    She explained too that some dogs do just fine on class and then when they get home need to use one, so they were now taking the time to show each handler what this tool is and how you put it on, in case at some point in the future, we had a need for one and the school could send us one to use until a trainer could get out to work with the team.

So once we were done with how to put the Gentle Leaders on our dogs, Barb told us as we were waiting for Jody to come back from the walk in clinic we could hang out about the building and they'd come get us to work on dog distractions.  Jody went to over lunch to get her arm checked out and ultimately was sent for X-rays.  Nothing was broken but  she did wind up being in a sling to stabilize her arm and keep her honest as it heals to not use it.

Before too long, Barb knocked on the door to come out to the break area to give Boomer a chance to break before going over to work the dog distractions.   We did so and then worked over to the block behind the Foundation and Anne had Tiger, Barb's sheltie that will bark and get all excited on command.    We started out just walking along the sidewalk with Tiger out in the street a little behind us and Boomer really surprised me, he didn't really care too much and Barb warned me, don't over-correct, he probably will only need verbal corrections, as long as he doesn't make a liar out of me.  He took a look and pretty much kept going.   We rounded the corner and Anne had moved with Tiger to be coming towards us from the dog side and again he did well in leaving it alone.   At the third side of the block, Anne brought Tiger right up next to us where he was jumping around and barking and Boomer was like "OK, old news!" and kept right on going without even looking at him.   We then went to the fourth side and did a meet and greet.   I had Boomer sit and stay as Anne came and we shook hands and I we talked to her a bit, then she patted him on the shoulder.   Then I walked forward to say hello to Tiger and at this point he popped up and wanted to say hello too, but put him back at a sit/stay and I went back to petting Tiger and then came back to Boomer's side.   Anne moved away with Tiger and then we worked back to the residence building and on inside.   I was quite impressed.

Once inside, we hung out in the room for just a little bit before going to dinner, which was a really, really good baked chicken, hand mashed potatoes, and steamed veggies.    Trainer Doug joined us at the table and we had some good discussions about dogs and various things.   After dinner was the evening lecture, which for this evening is on harness mechanics.   Trainer Jody taught us how to take apart and put together the handles, putting them through the "ears" of the harness and attaching them to the O rings properly too, making sure we didn't place the handle upside down, since with the offset handle, it needs to put the handle closer to your body and allowing the dog more space and allowing you to not have to place your arm out so far from your body to stay over the dog's back.  

After lecture, we took the dogs out for one last time and I'd been noticing more and more that Boomer is becoming slower to do his business with each time today, especially since it appears that all the leaves are gone from the corner he kept going to in the first week we've been here.   He's pulling more and more to the grass beyond the "street" so we'll see what he does tomorrow..

Night all!   We have Kings Park in the morning and the Backwards "P" in the afternoon.

Kacie & Boomer

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Day 5- Friday, Nov. 1st

OK, I'd thought I'd posted this but apparently I hadnt and found it in draft mode!
Today was our first day to leave the foundation with our dogs. We got the 6am wake up call and were to be ready to go out and break at 7am. We all headed out and boys were we met with some NASTY winds and wet/damp weather. My silly boy thought it was great fun to chase the leaves in his break area spot, so he did a #2 pretty quickly but didn’t get him to go #1 at all.... He was sooooo focused on that leave at his feet that it took calling him to heel and heading inside to get his focus off of them.
So we went in and then I packed up my backpack with the stuff to take with me on the bus and then went down to breakfast. This morning’s breakfast was over easy eggs, an English muffin, and a slice of Turkey bacon. They had us get together in the gathering area at 8am and were trying to get out early to try to beat the rain coming in. We walked one at a time, working through the doors with our dogs and loading up on to the bus. Once we were all boarded, most of the dogs settled down and began to snooze, but not this big golden guy. He was up and down, up and down, and didn’t want to settle for some reason. Not sure if he was just so excited to be going out or if he was truly anticipating the work and ready to get at it.
Our first Harness walk: Kings Park bike path.

We arrived and with as windy as it was, they sat out a chair but not many, as it was damp and misting too. Boomer and I were the last team to go this morning so you’d have thought he’d have settled down after arriving, but no, he whined and circled quite a bit, wanting OUT of that bus to get moving. He’d put his head in my lap and then let out this big *sigh* and then move around some more. When it was finally our turn, he was so pumped to get off the bus he could hardly contain himself. to walk patiently beside me.
I took Barb’s arm and she sight guided me to the edge of the street and we gave Boomer a chance to break. He really did a #1 since he hadn’t gone this morning. With all the wind going, it was a little hard to hear Barb’s so we discussed tactics to get my attention on the walk, which was for her to poke me in the left shoulder to say stop and I’d halt to be able to turn and look at her. I had also changed out to my waterproof CI in case it wound up raining on us with the 3/4 mile U shaped bike path.
We took off and Boomer was ON THE MOVE!!! He wanted to go and Barb showed me how to steady him down, giving a strong pull back on the handle and saying STEADY at the same time. He steadied down and we moved along at a really good clip completely around the path passing the apprentice in blindfold and her dog. Then we unharnessed him and headed back to the bus, just in time for the skies to open up in a torrential downpour on the apprentice and the 3 other trainers on hand. They finished their route and then once loading up on the bus, we came back to the foundation to water and break the dogs, eat some hot lunch, that was a hearty tomato soup with pasta and grilled cheese sandwich, and to have a short break before heading out again at 1pm.
Our second outing was also at King's Park, and this time we reversed the route we'd taken in the morning. The weather this time was the complete opposite of this morning, with the sun shining and it warm and just a beautiful fall day. Barb had a prior commitment she had to attend, so Training Director, Anne Mercer, joined us on this trip. Again Boomer and I were the last team of our group to go (they know we walk fast, so will be done fast.) and I had to chuckle when one of the apprentices told me that Anne had commented that the prior team, had nothing on us, to be prepared to have a fast walk. The apprentice sight guided me over to the street edge and we gave Boomer the chance to have a break, which he was readily did a #1 since he hadn’t at the last break. We harnessed him up and he’s a big boy, using a size 50 harness and a 19 inch handle with him.

We took off along the street at a country walk (street with no sidewalks) to the bike path and made a left onto the path. At this point I told him forward and we just leveled out and started striding on, moving at a very fast clip. We’d gone a little bit when I saw another team come around the curve at the other end and then saw what looked to be a darker colored young deer dart out ahead of us from outside the path to inside the path and into the very high brush. I heard someone yell “Deer!” and then Boomer swung around real quick as Anne had come jogging up behind us to get my attention to let me know of the deer and that we’d soon be passing the other team coming towards us. I acknowledged these and then gave the forward command and we took off again. We got around to the other side of the path and Anne stopped me and asked if my back was feeling a little contorted. I said yeah a little. She told me to ask Barb to try a 20 inch harness on him as my arm was quite straight and the shoulder dropped a bit, being out of a normal position.
We continued on around the path and it was so liberating to be able to stretch out and MOVE again and know that I shouldn’t run into things or bonk my head on low lying branches anymore. We made it about half way around and came to the sidewalk portion that is really rough and Boomer did beautifully, slowing down through this area. So we hoofed on around back to the breaking area by the van. We unharnessed him and Anne asks what I think of him. I told her I really, really like him, just so long as he gets along with kids and the large group of kids situation, we should be fine. Anne then comments that as fast as we walk, that Boomer reminds her of the drive in a German shepherd, but laid back enough to handle and be around kids. She said too, that watching his back end as we were walking, he made her think of the little petite women that are power walking, his legs just a pumping along! LOL! Anne then guides me back to the van and with the gorgeous weather; I choose to sit outside with a couple of other classmates as the last team takes their walk. Once this team finished we packed up the chairs and headed back to the Foundation.
Arriving at the foundation, we feed, water, and break our dogs. My big goofball still was trying to chase the leaves a bit. So we got him to do a #2 and then came on in to chill for a bit before dinner. We met Chef Anne Marie, who works Fri though Sun hours here in the dining room.
Dinner was a very good chicken breast, rice pilaf, and broccoli. After dinner was the grooming lecture. We started out in the leather lobby to talk about the different reasons why you should groom your dogs and how to go about doing so. We were taught to start by running our hands backward through their fur to feel for any sores, dry spots, ticks, and possibly fleas.
Once we were done going through all this, we all made our way downstairs with our dogs and brushes and I’d brought my zoom groom and fulminator brushes, so I spent a good half hour on him, getting a lot of fur off since he’d just had a bath before they brought him to me. Of course he started being silly and wiggling around.
We finished up with brushing and headed back upstairs to my room. I figured I’d get a jump on the laundry, so I put my clothes in the washer and it was soon break time. Took the dogs out and came back in and kind of chilled and caught up on the FB news feed for a bit until the laundry had finished, since I was just too tired to concentrate on typing up this post.
Once the laundry was done, I actually fell asleep again with the laptop on my lap, waking up about 3:30am, putting stuff away and getting actually into bed.
Kacie & Boomer

Day 8- Monday Nov. 4th

Well  Good Morning!    It's the start to week 2 of training! :)

We started with the routine 6am wake up call and a quick shower before feeding and watering Boomer at 6:45am and then out to break at 7am.   I'm very pleased at how easily he breaks, even from the very get go.   We came in from the break area, which we work to each door and stop at the door, for him to "show" me the door and then I tell him Forward, Straight to "xyz", wherever xyz may be. :)   We work our way down to the dining room for breakfast and we are finally getting the hang of the down and under the chair command.   I was finding that when I'd say down, he'd go down so fast it was often facing the wrong way and I couldn't get him to move under the chair.   Trainer Mark suggested to try just saying under and not give the down part of the command.    So we'd been working on doing it this way for the last couple of days and had an "AH HA" moment this morning as I've learned to quickly sit down in my chair before he gets the chance to turn around and in one swooping motion, give the Under command and move my hand at an angle under the chair and under he goes super smoothly and right into position.    He was willing before, I was just kind of struggling with feeling like I was wrestling his head in the right direction and so forth, so now we are working together well as a team to do it smoothly, quickly, and quietly.   Yippee! :)

Breakfast was a fruit cup, a bowl of oatmeal with baked apples in it,  half of a bagel, and some eggs.   Barb and Jody came in and let us know we were headed to Patchogue this morning and it was a bit of a drive, so to please make our way to the gathering area as soon as possible so we could get back on time for lunch.   So we went back to the room and gathered up my stuff to take with, since I knew the drive would take a bit and the weather was rather chilly this morning, in the upper 30's.   I'd layered with my thermal pants and jeans, a t shirt and sweatshirt, and then wore my fleece jacket.   So we made our way to the gathering room and one by one the group started loading up on the bus.    We then made the journey to Patchogue and I started listening to the book Eragon on the way there.

Upon arriving, the trainers set up chairs outside the bus and several of the teams got out and sat in the sun, even though it was a little bit cool outside.   I decided to stay inside and listen to my book instead, since a couple of the guys have high carrying voices.   Two other teams went on their walks and then one of the teams decided to come back on the bus, so I was ready to go outside as well so I did so.   I'd also brought my brushes with me, so I figured I'd work on brushing Boomer with the slicker brush while we sat there waiting.    Soon it was my turn to go on my walk and Barb took us over to an empty parking spot to let Boomer go busy busy.    We harnessed up and she directed me to make a right down the sidewalk.

We worked our way to the corner by the library and then made another right, taking us a full block up to the main street of Patchogue.   Upon reaching the end of this sidewalk, we went straight to the curb, and then made a right to walk down the really wide sidewalk along the storefronts.   There were lots of people, strollers, and even a metal cellar cover that Boomer walked us over well.  He did very well and I honestly was surprised at how close people would come in front of us, cutting across and such, which I struggled with not trying to steer and direct him clear of these situations, but I had learned with Rei to wait and let her handle it and WHEN she messed up or we hit something, then worry about correcting/saying something.   Boomer too is impressing me more and more each day as he is taking me past objects, poles, branches, and bushes with such precision and within inches but not hitting a single thing.   He was no different here as we worked down the main sidewalk and turned right to work our way back towards the street we'd started from.  

I learned more here as when we came to the curb and there was a fence outcropping, I learned I need to advance my position up to his head and angle myself to the left towards where I want him to go- all in tune to the straight lining concept- point myself in the direction we are to go.    So gave him the command to Forward, Over Left, Find the curb!   So we worked around the outcropping and quickly got back to the sidewalk on the other side, which was a series of "stair step" corners.   We went straight, then a 90degree right turn, then  straight, and a 90 degree left turn, then straight, then another 90 degree right turn and then straight on to the street.    Here we made another right turn and back to the front of the bus.   Another team went after us and we all loaded up on the bus to head back to the Foundation, as we were running a bit late.

We got back to the Foundation and unloaded from the bus and took our dogs in, watered them, went to the bathroom ourselves, and then took the dogs out to the break area to give them a chance to break.   We came in from the break are and went down to lunch, which was a barley soup and turkey sandwich.   I was also snacking on the dried fruit I'd gotten from Costco when on the bus too.   We were able to make up the lost time as lunch went quickly and we all gathered again in the gathering area to head back out again to Patchogue for the afternoon walk.   We made the drive there and one other team went first and I took Boomer outside and sat in the warm sun.    The other team came back and it was our turn.  

This time, we went the opposite direction that we'd travelled this morning.   We went and did the "stair steps" first and I angled myself towards the other direction, towards where I wanted him to take me.   We worked through this and up to the main street.   This afternoon, the sidewalk was MUCH more congested with lots of people walking and going around.   There were people standing and talking, a guy riding a bike, and my favorite part of the whole walk was when we were moving along at a really good clip.   There were two ladies walking along slowly, in which we came up behind them pretty quickly and I told him to steady.   There were two other ladies walking towards us and you could just see the wheels in his head turning, as Boomer slowed down very slightly and surged ahead doing a very quick backwards "S", first to the left and immediately to the right to avoid the oncoming walkers as the distance was quickly diminishing and once past them he went back to the left to go back to to the middle of the sidewalk where we were supposed to be and within 10 feet passed dog to dog, the other golden team that is on class, with the two dogs not even so much as turning their heads towards each other.   Through this all, I didn't touch a thing and he did this so quickly and cleanly, that Barb actually got stuck behind the people walking towards each other and had to get around them to catch up to me. :)   I have to say I was QUITE impressed! :)

Barb was just chuckling when she caught up to me and as we approached the corner, as this guy was standing there just in awe at the two dogs as he had just watched Boomer had just done and then the two goldens passing each other within inches of each other and not even flinching.   He said to Barb, what kind of dogs are those???    Barb looked at him and said, "They are both golden retriever guide dogs."    He was just like Man, those dogs were just amazing!!!

We then did a left turn from the corner in which Boomer took me cleanly around the large light pole that was there on the corner and then back to the right to center us down the sidewalk again and on to the street that the bus was parked on and such.    We did have a bit of excitement though, as when the other golden team got back, trainer Jody had taken a tumble in the street. :(    She was so focused on watching the team that she didn't see the pot hole that was about 6 inches deep and she went down right in the middle of the street.   The guy of this team immediately turned to come get her and Jody was like NO!  Stay there.  A guy from across the street came running and a car stopped and the driver got out to see if she was OK.   She skinned her knee a bit and her arm too and jammed her shoulder pretty good.   We were all very worried about her but she kept right on going, doing another walk with another team and when when done, we all loaded up on the bus asking her if she was sure she was alright.   We made the 25 minute trip back to GDF and my stomach just started churning more and more.

We got back to the foundation and unloaded from the bus and took our dogs in, fed and watered them, and I made a bee line for the bathroom too as my stomach and bowels were rumbling more and more violently.   We also had another student join the class at this time and as we were all out in the break area, Barb brought her the dog she was getting, a gorgeous poodle. :)   Thus bringing the class to 1 yellow lab, 3 black labs, and 2 golden retrievers. :)   The other golden and Boomer are the two biggest boys in the class, and are affectionately called the golden bookends, since often times the other handler and I are sitting together outside and the dogs tend to sit with their heads facing each other.  

Once everyone was inside, Barb and Jody came to work with me again on the alerting.   We put his alert collar on and this time Barb stood outside the door to do the knocking and smoke alarm.   I sat on the bed this time and when she knocked, I'd say Alert! and he'd push hard on the disk and then I took the short leash and he took me to the door and sat.    I praised him big and treated him.    We did this a couple of times and then worked on the smoke alarm.   The first time, I sat on the bed and he at first kind of looked to Jody and then came to me and I said Alert! and he pushed on the disk and I took the leash, but he was more focused on receiving the treat than going to the door.   I keep saying "What?!" and would take one step, so we worked our way to the door.   He's doing well and getting the hang of it.   The second time, I went and sat in the bathroom and Jody had him come stand by her.   Barb started the alarm and for a few seconds, Boomer was looking to Jody, even jumping up to try to alert her and she took a step back and you could see it on his face, he spun and looked on the bed  for me and then bounded to the bathroom where I was sitting and pushed hard on the disk as I said Alert! and then took me to the door.    The trainers were both pleased and said that next time they would try with a piece of double sided sticky tape for him to push on, to start working away from the disk.  

So then it was time to go out for break and then we all came in from the break area and to the dining room for dinner.   Dinner was a large chef salad, stuffed Italian shells, meatballs, and Italian sausage with garlic bread.   Thankfully I had Kevin give me half portions, so one shell, the one meatball and half of a sausage for me!    Then I couldn't resist the chocolate cake that they had, which it think was what did me in for the night that was to come ahead for me.  

After dinner, we had our Harness & Leash correction lecture, which is ALWAYS a fun lecture to watch. Trainer Mike gives this lecture and he makes it fun and informational at the same time.   We learned that the #1 purpose of a correction is this---  To get the dogs attention.    The key to harness and leash corrections is getting the dogs attention with the least amount of correction needed, which honestly comes with experience and time with your dog, thus learning what your dog needs in what situations.   Often times, a verbal correction will suffice, but other times if the dog is severely distracted, a single, strong, quick leash correction is needed to get the dog's attention and then we are to quickly give it something to do and praise the dog if it does it.   The philosophy of corrections has been changing over the years, even from when I got Rei to being here this time.   Training and corrections seem to be more positive reinforcement based and using treats to reward the desired behavior in the beginning and then wean off the treats and utilize more and more praise.

For this lecture, the beginning of it is where we listen and interact with talking about the different things, what we should and shouldn't do. Then was the interactive part of the lecture, where Mike has a handle on a dowel rod and pin allowing the handle to swing and a leash attached to this dowel too.   Each of us went up and showed how we did both a harness and leash correction.   Mike also showed us how to get the most effective leash correction by the posture of our arm and the motion we make with our arm when giving the correction.   He also showed us how to give a correction if the dog has wandered from our side and pulling to the left- which is by stepping back with our left foot at the same time as giving the correction.   He called me up first as he knew I'd been here in April and was able to give them appropriately.   At this point I was welcome to stay or go on back to my room if I desired.  I had to make another dash for the bathroom again as I was finding that I was pretty much running to the bathroom nearly every half hour throughout the rest of the night and my stomach and bowels were still churning something fierce and revolting violently.   However after the trip to the restroom, I came back and it was good to watch the others as they learned this and other things came up through questions and thoughts while working with the other students.

After we were done with the lecture, it was nearly time to break the dogs for the last time of the night, so I ran to the restroom again and then hung out until they called us to take the dogs out.   We did so and I came back and then skyped with Mike and the kids for a bit to talk to Mike about his first day on his new job.   He had a pretty good first day on the job and was oriented to the building and settled in his new office. After telling the kids good night, I took Boomer down to the grooming room and gave him a good grooming all over before heading back up stairs quickly as I had to run to the bathroom yet again. :(   At this point I went to the nurse and asked if she had anything like Kaopectate or Pepto bismal, which she did and I took those and they finally kicked in to slow things down after about 2am. I was still up 2 or 3 times before getting up the next morning though.    So not a good night of sleep, but to tomorrow will be a new day!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Day 7- Sunday Nov. 3rd, - One week of training complete!

Today marks one week of this 4 week training complete.   I'm just in awe at how fast things are going and how quickly we are moving along and wondering how much farther we will come in the next two weeks.   This morning we got to sleep in an extra hour, which is good since for some reason I'm just not sleeping well.   I'm finding that I"m really warm, even with the window open at night, however that should change tonight since the temps here have dropped considerably and should be in the 30's tonight. 

We started off the morning with the 6am wake up call and I got myself up and ready to go in hopes of catching the staff member that has Favor at breakfast, since he normally works this meal.   We went out Boomer pretty quickly did his business and then we went back to the room to drop off my coat and go on to the dining room.  I was a little disappointed to see that He wasn't there, but I'm here several weeks so will catch up with him at some point.   Breakfast started with a bowl of fruit and then a plate of eggs, a chicken sausage link, and croissant roll.

About 8am we all made our way to the gathering room and ready to load up into the van for a second trip to St. James.   We gave the dogs their monthly heart worm pills quickly and then one by one made our way to the bus.   At Barb's instruction, for the trip to St. James, I put my foot on the leash to keep Boomer at a down stay, since he's been popping up so much in the van.   It worked well, and only after a couple of tries to get up, he stayed down until we arrived.  

Today is much cooler than it was yesterday, the high today being around 48, so it when we arrived, I was already was planning to sit outside since Boomer had made it clear with both trips yesterday he was not happy with being cooped up in the van and missing out on being able to see the action outside.   So while it was chilly out, I was wearing my fleece jacket and able to stay warm.   Each trainer took a team and headed off in the opposite directions that the teams had walked yesterday.   Once they came back, Barb came and got me in which I took him over to break and he again did both quickly.   Barb then said she was going back to the 48 harness, as the one she found fit him decently and we'd start off with the 20 inch handle and see how she likes it today.   A lady with a pair of dogs went by and Boomer became pretty excited and I had him sit and then when he was hyper focused on them, I snapped the leash and Barb was like he doesn't need corrected, he was just looking.  You'd told him to sit and he was doing that, so didn't need to do the correction.   I was like OK makes sense.  Man, I'm learning this stuff as we go!

So we harnessed him up and walked in the opposite direction than we did yesterday, coming to the street crossing pretty quickly.  We crossed the street and made the right turns to start down the other side of the street.   We moved along pretty well and then came to the lady with the pair of small dogs.   He did beautifully, and kept moving along, yet still watching them.   I told him Leave It! Straight! a couple of times as we passed and he didn't miss a beat other than turning his head to look at them.   Soon we came to one of the other teams coming from the opposite direction, so we stopped for a photo of the two of us "walking" towards each other.  Boomer continued to stop straight at the ramps as I reminded him to stay Straight.   We did pass some bushes and he started angling left and Barb called out "Sniffing!" when I thought she said "Snap Him!", as she and Jody had told all the students at the beginning of the class that they might tell us to do a snap and to not question, but just do it.   I hesitated for a second but went ahead and did the snap, which effectively corrected him for the sniffing, but was a little overkill unfortunately.   However, will say he didn't sniff at anymore bushes as we passed them. LOL!

So we continued on for another block and stopped at a side street that wasn't very busy and Barb switched the handle back to the 19" handle to try for a while.   We went on a couple more blocks and then made a right, right turn instead to line up to cross the street back to the other side.   We crossed over and he did very well again.   We then made a right turn and started down the sidewalk.  Boomer took me past the branch we'd bumped yesterday, but then we came to another branch hanging down, in which it hit me in the head/hat again, so we re-worked this one and told him "over left/find the way" and he took me around it and we kept on going.   we worked on for a few more blocks and Barb stopped me again and asked how I felt with the 19" harness, and I was like well, and she said, You're more comfortable with the 20" aren't you?   I said yeah, as I was already feeling it a bit in my shoulder and lower back.   So she put the 20 back on him and we went on from there.   

With the next block, we came to another team coming towards us and Barb had me stop and wait so she could snap a few pictures of the other team working.   Then she had me start up as she took a couple of pictures of us working past her.   So I continued walking and Boomer slowed me down for the uneven spot and made sure we cleared the city trash receptacle and then I got to the next ramp and didn't hear anything.   I looked around and didn't see Barb to my right or left side, so turn around and here she comes walking down the sidewalk and I'm like OH!   I didn't realize you weren't with us!   She said she was taking pictures of the other team and knew that if she yelled, I wouldn't hear her, besides I was doing fine and figured I'd stop at the next curb.   So as we cross the street, she jokingly said, You don't need me! LOL!   So we worked up to the driveway of the grocery store parking lot and Boomer immediately started to angle towards the inside of the lot and Barb was like No, go straight to the other side of the driveway and halt, to do you right turn and keep your orientation, plus it keeps him from anticipating heading back to the bus until you've told him to go that direction.   So we did this and had him find our way back to the bus and praised him up HUGE as he did an awesome job. :)

The other teams finished up their walks and we were done pretty early, so we came back to the Foundation and Barb told us all that when we got back, we'd water and break the dogs and then take them back to our rooms.    Then after doing so, we were to come back to the gathering room and we'd get to meet the smooth coat collie that the apprentice was working with this week, since this was her last day being in blindfold.    She would go to lunch in blindfold and then take it off and the dog would be going back to the training kennels.   

We all watered and took our dogs out to the break area and then took them back to our rooms.   And then we went to the gathering room and the smooth coated collie was brought around to each of us one by one to feel how his body shape and fur was like, since many had never seen a smooth coat collie before.  

After getting to meet the collie, Barb told me and Jody that we'd work on the next step of alerting with Boomer.    She brought out a smoke detector, a dumbbell, and what was going to be his new collar for when he's expected to alert me, letting him know that he is "on alerting' duty".    The collar is actually a flat nylon collar that is threaded like a martingale collar, but over the majority of the webbing, is what looks to be water line tube, making it round and smooth, to slide easily over the dog's neck.    It then had a very short leash, probably about 4 to 5 inches long attached to the the ring of the collar.

So we go back to my room and Barb explains that the collar is to go on him when he is to be on duty, so we put the collar on and then we grab the small cd disk and she tells me to hold it in my hand and gives me some kibble as treats.   Barb stands with me and Jody knocks on the door and he started off a little confused, going to Barb, as he was used to going to her, but very quickly found the disk that I was holding against my leg and it was the point in which he was to press hard for us to say "YES!" and give him a treat.   Then I am to take a hold of the short leash and say to him "WHAT?" and he is to then take me to the door and I tell him to sit/stay and then I say "YES!", treat hm again, and then open the door.   We did this three times and with each time get got faster and faster at coming to me and taking me to the door.

Next we did the smoke alarm.   Jody set off the alarm outside the door and this one took him a couple of minutes to do anything.   Barb told me to tell him "ALERT!", which is why she had been having me practice doing this with him over the past few days, rewarding him for touching the CD disk against my body.   He ran over and touched the disk and I then told him "WHAT?" and he was to take me to the door.    We did it a second time and he came to me and touched  the disk and then took me to the door a second time.    Barb then said that we'd try to practice this several times a day going forward and once we had him doing this well, we'd start working on the alarm clock. 

So by now it was lunch time, so went to the dining room for lunch and the staff member that has Favor was serving lunch, so I asked him if he had some time to talk.   He said he would be happy to bring Favor over, but just needed to make sure it was OK with Barb first.   Barb said he could just take Favor to the free run pen and I could visit with him there and all would be fine.  He said he thought he could do this about 3pm as he had an errand to run.   So I ate lunch, which was a roast beef sandwich and some veggie straws and then came on back to the room after.

I figured I'd go ahead and get Boomers grooming and obedience done for the day, so grabbed my bag of brushes and headed downstairs to the groom room and worked on brushing him out really good.   I got a lot of hair, but not as much as yesterday, so we are slowing working through that under coat.   He is really looking good now with the consistent brushing. :)    After working over his coat with the zoom groom, the furminator, and then the slicker, I put the brushes away and worked on some obedience with him.   It's crazy, as down there, he's like sooo excited to do what I ask, I say sit and his butt hits the floor with a thud.  I say down and he practically flattens to the floor with his head and all.    I made a long leash and walked all around him in a circle and then since we were in an enclosed room, I dropped the leash entirely and walked all around him too.    He did great, staying exactly where I told him, but then there weren't anything to distract him either, however it takes starting with baby steps to build that bond/trust/confidence. :)

We went through the different motions of obedience and then I gathered up my stuff and headed back upstairs to chill for a bit until time to hopefully see Favor.   I went to the snack room and not long after Barb came in and we talked for awhile, discussing if there were any adjustments we need to make in how we are doing things, to make sure I was understanding what she was trying to convey or if I was missing anything/doing anything repeatedly and need to especially work on.  :)  

Soon the staff member that has adopted Favor came in and said he was ready to bring her over.   I went out to the free run pen and he brought her in.   She immediately ran around checking out the area and smells of the other dogs being there and didn't really have a whole lot to do with me.   She did come up and gave me a look and I said Come Favor and she started yipping a few times and ran and jumped up on me.   She became very vocal and ran up to her new owner often before running back to the fence and looking in her yard.   Her yard actually backs up to the free run pen, as her house is right on the other side of the residence hall building.   He asked if I wanted to meet the other two dogs and to let her run around.   I said sure and we walked over to the house and he let out the black standard poodle he was temping because it wasn't doing well in the kennels, and the male golden that was slated to be a breeder.    The three dogs ran and tore through the yard non-stop as we tried to talk about the things she liked and disliked. 

Kacie with Favor sitting next to her  and both looking at the camera in a yard with lots of leaves.

It was really, really good to see her so happy and relaxed.   I have to honestly admit though, that I am honestly glad that I do not have her anymore as a guide dog.   Working with Boomer, I'm feeling that the more laid back personality is fitting me better at this time and I'm definitely more relaxed with him.  I'm actually starting to enjoy having a guide dog again and the fears are starting to subside.

I came in from seeing her and it was nearly time to feed, water, and break the dogs.   I worked with boomer on the Alert/touching the disc.   Then we went for him to break.    Came back in and chilled for a bit until dinner time.   Dinner tonight was a salad, baked tilapia fish, rice, and steamed broccoli.    It was kind of somber as quite a few of us had challenging days today and with the "loss" of one member of out "gang", Jackie, everyone was pretty quiet.   Several of us decided to go down to the groom room and work on grooming the dogs and I grabbed the laptop and went and hid out in the TV room working on various things in the mean time until time for the 8:30 break. 

After the 8:30 break, I'm just catching up on a few things and taking it easy as Boomer chills too.  Tomorrow we are supposed to go to Patchoague, a little more busy town with traffic lights and such.  

Night all!
Kacie & Boomer