Thursday, January 31, 2019

Jan 31st/Day 4

6:00- We wake up to Donna knocking on the door this morning.  I was having a hard time sleeping last night as my mind was going.

6:45- I had quickly gotten dressed and it was soon time to feed, water, break the dogs.  It was bitter cold out too.  AJ didn’t want to sit for some reason with her food. She kept going to a down instead of a sit. So we finally got it and offered her water but she didn’t want any.  We went out and she did a number 1 right off the bat but took a little bit longer than normal to do her number 2.   We head back inside and go to breakfast.

7:20- Breakfast was a croissant roll, eggs, a couple of slices of bacon and a cup of grits.  AJ really surprised me and went back in the right position under my chair and pretty much stayed there for me. I reinforced the behavior as it is where I want her to lay.

8:00- Because it is cold outside from the polar vortex that is affecting much of the country right now, it was 3 degrees when we got up, so trainers opted to not have us work the van routes this morning and we just worked out to break area and then to the vans themselves .
9:00- We  went in the vans to Smithtown Mall this morning since it was too cold to work our morning routes in Huntington.  The plan is to go to the mall this morning, come back this afternoon, and then spend the whole day in Huntington tomorrow to make up this mornings routes there.

We walked the mall twice. The first time going to the middle of the mall, making a stop and talking about a couple of things I want to do customization work on and then coming back to the food courts.  I talked with Cristina about a couple of settings that might be intimidating for AJ, which one is attending track meets and that especially for home meets, the throwers are in the infield and that there are numerous “shots”’fired with the starting pistol from various positions on the track.  Secondly I asked about going to the Central Park Zoo, since I do take my dogs to the Indianapolis Zoo and Cristina explained that the Central Park Zoo does not allow them to come in with dogs. She seemed a little surprised when I explained that I do take my dogs to the Indy Zoo.  Lastly, I asked about doing something with bleachers since we attend orchestra concerts, awards programs, and sometimes sporting events at the high school that has wooden bleachers.  I have found that the dogs are intimidated by the movement and vibration of the bleachers as well as the noise that reverberates off of them especially when cheering is happening.  Cristina said she would talk with Brad and see what options we have.

So back to the mall, AJ did very nicely taking me around people and through the kiosks and aisle stations.  On the way back to the food court AJ slows way down, anticipating a right turn to the elevators and we have to hop up there to get her to work past it.  We wait our turn in the food courts and my student partner walks his route.  We go a second time and this time we walk to the center of the mall and AJ takes me right to Brad that was standing in the center of the mall watching the teams.

We make a left turn and I fumble miserably on the footwork but am able to recover well enough to keep working and we work our way down the branch off and to the doors at the end.  AJ pulls towards the Disney store and Cristina starts to laugh as she tells me that she had been in there with her dogs so that was why AJ is looking to go in there.  We do an about and again I struggle with the darn left turn.  AJ knows what she’s doing, it’s just that I have two lead feet.   We work our way back to the food courts and then we work our way to the vans and head back to GDF.

11:30- We get back to GDF and it was still icy on the square so the trainers dropped us off at the sidewalks and we all worked out way to the break area with a chance to busy before we get inside.   Once inside Cristina comes and has me harness AJ up and work her to the dining room.  I am now allowed to work her in harness in the building.

Photo on the left- YAY!  We can work in harness in the building now!   AJ laying on the floor with her harness on and the stinking long handle laying somewhat across her back and she is looking up at the camera with big huge eyes.

Photo on the right- This was after a silly dog scoots about the room and wiggling butt after she came out of harness before lunch and getting a drink.  AJ standing next to the door frame going into the bathroom, with her head slightly down, looking at the camera.

Photo:  AJ surprises me and photo shows a dog laying next to my bed next to me and her nose nearly touching my shoe.  Is she starting to "Turn over"? 

12:00- lunch - Kevin made an amazing turkey chili with sour cream and Fritos in it.  It was good enough that I asked for seconds!   It was hot and Yummy!

Sadly we have had a dog switch on this class.  I only bring it up to explain what it is.  My understanding is that GDF tries to have two possible matches for you when they invite you to a class.  It’s not always possible but they try.

So a dog switch is where a joint decision is made by the handler and the trainer that for some reason the dog is not working out for the person.  It can be a personality conflict, the dog is too fast, too slow or the dog is has too much drive for the handler.  There is honestly any number of things that can create the need for a dog switch and it is all about making sure the handler goes home with a good match and a dog they can control and work together as a team.

When a dog switch happens, the first dog is returned to the kennels and hopefully matches to someone else soon.  If they have another match, the new dog is brought over from the kennels and the handler continues with the class but somewhat starts over with the new dog.  Depending on how well the new pair does will determine if a trainer goes to the persons home following the class and continues work with the team to make sure the team is a strong team.

This is the primary reason that GDF doesn’t want the dogs names shared on social media, in case the match doesn’t work out and the disappointment to the puppy raiser that their dog is not graduating.  GDF has changed their policy quite a bit in the last few years; being more open about the dogs coming up in training and the shutterfly site of dogs in for training site is shared on the GDF Facebook page when new photos are added each month.

1:00- We again did not work through the obstacle course to the van due to the cold and head back to the mall.  I rode in the front and AJ leaned into my leg and put her head on my knee.  This is really the first real sign of affection she has shown me since they brought her to me.  Today she’s been wanting to stay closer to me as well opting to lay next to my foot and later on the blanket I gave her after talking with Cristina.  We arrive at the mall and when we got there she popped up and put her front feet on my lap and wanted to look around. The. I got a bunch of wet  Labby kisses too.

Left- AJ laying under the table in front of my feet at a table in the food courts of the mall.
Right:  AJ also at the mall on the floor but now sprawled out on her side taking a snooze before the next job.

 At the mall we work in to the food courts and for the second time today the sliding doors won’t open for me.  Not sure what was up with that.  We decided to try the gentle leader on her just to see how she did with it. We both didn’t think there was much need for it as she has been very good about walking through   distractions and so forth. The only thing that I could see possibly needing to use it for is if she is scavenging, but that hasn't seemed to be an issue except when landed somewhere, she’s bored, and then sees something on the floor.  So after putting it on, she really slows her pace and was working dejectedly, we opted to take it off of her. She immediately returned back to her perky fast self with it off.
AJ and I take off first and she first takes me directly to the Hagen Daus store instead of making the over left moving turn to the main walkway.  Not sure what was up with that but we reset ourselves and took off again. We worked through the main concourse of the mall to the center and she kind of veered to the left for something that smelled good and had to re direct her straight.   We continue on, going straight to the other end of the mall this time.  AJ threads me between two people pulling carts loaded with boxes and as we approach the entrance to JC Penney’s and the children’s play area in front of it, a young girl is calling to AJ and she starts to veer left towards the  kid, so I had to correct her and told her No! hop up.

We go on into Penny’s to work the escalators and find that they were not working for the day.  So we worked our way back to the main concourse and head back toward the food courts and turn left into Macy’s.  Macy’s is ALWAYS a challenge and creates anxiety for me with its make up department right in front with the super narrow aisles that you have to walk around and past and many open shelves in the aisles with lots of little bottles of products.  AJ slowed way down and took us through here at a really good pace and we got around to the escalators.   We worked up the first floor escalator and it is pretty much the same as it has been. I tell her to find the escalator and she targets the right side handrail for me.  I then drop the harness handle and tell her to “walk” and we both move forward onto the escalator.   After we are on I keep my right foot on the same step that her front paws are on and my left foot on the next step ahead, whether it is going up or down.  I then use my right hand to rock the handrail back and forth.   When in the middle of the lift, the handrail will be loose and easy to rock back and forth.  When you approach the end of the lift, the slack and ability to rock it from side to side will disappear as it feeds into the track to go down into the floor.  So this is my cue to be ready to exit off the escalator.   I again tell AJ “walk” and we walk off the escalator together and praise and give her some kibble.  So we worked up and down both floors of escalators and then back out to the front of the store and through the make up dept again.

We continue to the center of the mall and do a moving over left turn down the left side of the concourse which we had come up. This put AJ closer to the store openings and she became somewhat sniffy, so gave a correction of No! Forward to redirect her back to her work.  Cristina comments that AJ definitely is looking like she is tired and I responded that my arm was definitely sore from her pull. I asked if she thought a little bit longer of a handle might help at all and she said that we could try one later so I’ll ask her about it again tomorrow since we were essentially done for the day. We move on and cross over to the other side of the concourse and make a moving over right turn back to the group in the food court.   Cristina tells me that we were looking really good, that she was glad to see AJ actually be herself and “misbehave” a little bit as it gave me the opportunity to work her through it and that she like how I did my corrections and re-directed her back to her work.

We then work out to the van and AJ is not liking getting in and out of this van we are using. It’s basically like the dogs are trying to jump up into and hit a landing in a basket- the floor space is small and the seats in the way and for her being so small, she is balking. So this evening I got in first, which is what you are supposed to do and tried to call her up. Cristina lifted her and she went to the bench seat behind me. She wasn’t having it to try to come around the seat so we opted to let her ride there for this time and tomorrow we will work on this and probably have her get in first.  So we leave the mall and head back to the foundation.

3:00- We arrive at GDF and my student partner goes first to work to the break area and as he got out, up pops AJ’s head.  She isn’t on the seat but just has her paws on the front seat because she's so short, so she can see out of the van and watch what is going on.

Photo:  A shot of the bench seat with AJ, a black lab with her paws on the seat itself, but her back feet on the floorboard and looking out the window of the van to watch everyone else unloading from the vans.

At my turn, I get her out and we work our way to the break area for her to go pee and then go inside to take it easy, warm up, and just chill until time to feed the dogs at 4:30.

We get inside and she does her wiggly butt dance with taking off her harness and leash.  She grabs the extra large Kong toy to play for a bit.  She then comes over and practically sits on my foot.  I take the opportunity to love on her and she surprises me and puts her paws on my lap and starts licking my face.  I love on her and she actually stays there for being petted and when she hops down I grab the blanket I had brought with me for my new dog if it was safe to allow them to have a blanket to lay on.  Christina told us on the way home that AJ was good with blankets and would somehow scratch and nose her blanket in the kennels to be all neat and perfectly flat before laying on  it.

I lay the blanket down next to my bed and she immediately comes and sits by me and then lays down on the blanket.  I notice she’s watching where I’m going now and somewhat following me about the room and into the bathroom if I go in the bathroom too.  We are now given the choice of heeling or working the dog in harness throughout the building.


Left- AJ curled up next to the bed on the blanket I'd just laid down next to the bed I'm laying on. 
Right- This photo is the perfect representation of this girls Diva personality... AJ is sitting on a red blanket with multi-colored polka dots and looking over her shoulder and down at the floor with an expression on her face that implies that she is "the stuff". 

4:30- the time comes quickly to feed, water, and break the dogs. I got up to go in the bathroom and she follows me in there and watches as I get her food for dinner.  She sits and I blow the whistle 3 times to keep reinforcing the whistle for recall if I need it.

5:30- Dinner is beef stroganoff  and Kevin made the best thick and chewy chocolate chip cookies.  We all ate our dinner and I came back to the room.

I'm waiting for the 8:30 call to take her out and will be raking some ibuprofen and crawling in bed early tonight.  The shoulder and arm are pretty sore tonight.
8:30- final break- I have her walk to the break area as I didnt want to mess with the harness in this cold wind.  She did number 1 but wouldn't do a number 2.  We tried for a bit, so she will have to wait til morning break now.

After break we come back inside and another classmate asks to talk together and we head down to the leather lounge.  The classmate and I talk for a while and talk with Dan the trainer too before he went home for the night.

Left- AJ in her harness looking at the loveseat to my right.
Right- AJ and pup mate both looking at my classmate since the classmate is eating chips.


And so it's a Good Night All from AJ & Kacie!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Jan 30th-Day 3

6:00- I set my alarm to 5:35 and was awake at the wake up call.  Started the morning with bundling up in base layers, wool socks, and wool fingerless glove for the cold weather we have here, though not as cold as it is at home.  The kids at home are cheering for the day out of school, though they will be making it up on Feb 18th.

6:45- fed AJ and she held her sit/stay very nicely for both her food and water.  It was soon the call to go out and she surprised me yet again with being very quick to do both number 1 and 2.  She quickly went and we were back inside and I peeled the outer layers and we worked our way to the dining room for breakfast, stopping for the fire doors.

7:20- Breakfast was a bowl of fresh fruit, a mouthwatering cinnamon streusel and several slices of bacon.   I asked if we could make a stop at a store/pharmacy either on the way there or back as the one pair of sunglasses that I brought with me and put in my backpack on the flight here broke in my bag, breaking off one of the ear pieces at the hinge.  So we are planning to stop on the way back.

8:00- After breakfast the trainers came and found us individually and we did another Juno walk around the square out behind the building. This is where eventually the obstacle course will be set up. It is a series of distractions and different obstacles that we will walk through to get from the building to the vans each morning and afternoon.   We all head back in and get our stuff together to go to the Smithtown library to take our first walk in harness

9:00. At the library we take turns going out with our instructor and it is a big almost square loop that has soccer fields in the center of it.  Cristina gets me out and we put the brand new harness on her. (We get new handles before pictures and going home). We walk over to the path and the handle is too short and I feel like I’m lifting AJ off the ground but they didn’t have a longer handle for me yet.
We take off and she is just flooring it.  It had been since last Friday since the dogs had been worked so they all had a lot of pent up energy they were needing to burn.  We go blazing along the path and came to what we thought was water but very quickly realized it was ice and all three of us start sliding a bit.  We stop and Christina sight guides me around and off the path to get away from the ice.  We come back to the path and take off again.  It was a liberating feeling to be able to open up and take off again.   AJ saw several other spots of ice and quickly learned to go around these spots. We also passed a couple of the other teams working the opposite direction that we were and AJ did beautifully, working past the other teams with only maybe a slight head turn to keep a mindful location of where they were.   We get all the way around the loop and Bill and Rebecca were out too, getting some pics as well.
My student partner then went on his walk and I just sat in the van soaking in the sun and heat and probably dozed off a bit.  When he was done with his route, Christina took AJ and I out again and we went the opposite direction this time.  We took off well and Christina took off the safety leash and we took off.  AJ had a much more relaxed and comfortable pace this time though her pace wasn’t bad before.  We got about 2/3rds of the way around and I started to struggle with keeping the rings of the harness engaged as she was starting to slow down and I was still trying to get used to her pull when it wasn’t a full on charge ahead so she started to disengage with her work.  We stopped and took a moment to break or just live on her for a moment to reset ourselves and then took off again and we were good.
She did even better this time with passing the other dogs and there was a lady walking her two dogs and the larger of the two was jumping and lunging towards us as we rounded a turn and they were coming up an incline towards us.  We stopped and AJ was rather distracted with watching the other dogs and I tried to regain her attention and was able to as the other dogs passed and we waited a few minutes for them to get down the path a bit and then took off and AJ did really well.
Cristina guides us back to the van and took my student partner out again as I started typing up the happening of the morning here.   After my student partner was done with his route, we started back to the foundation and Cristina told us that we wouldn’t be working the dogs in harness inside yet.   She told us not to worry if we saw other teams working in the building in harness as she is looking for the dogs to settle more and be looking to us more.  She explained that it’s not because of the work we are doing but that the dogs themselves are not quite there yet.    

We then stopped at the CVS to pick up a pair of sunglasses and another pair of reading glasses for me.  We took AJ in with us but Christina sight guided us though the store.  The glasses were all in the back and lots of crates with products around so it was narrow and a little harder to navigate.  We found the needed glasses and went back up front to pay.   Though we had not  covered it yet, I had AJ sit between me and the counter to pay, but there was all kinds of stuff and packages of items all along the wall of the counter and right as nose level to AJ so she was sniffing a bit at all the different smells. She sat there patiently until we asked her to get up to leave though.

11:25: We arrive back at GDF, and work the dogs through the van route and the obstacle course of barrels and then to the break area where she did a number one very quickly.

11:40: AJ and I work our way inside and I gave her some water and then she grabbed her Nyla bone and was all happy.  Praises her for being a good girl and the wiggly little lab waggled her butt back and forth carrying her bone in her mouth.
I went to the bathrooms and came and sat in the bed.  I’d been trying to let her have a few minutes of time off the leash every so often to give her the opportunity to engage and interact with me and to kind of gauge where the bonding process is.  She came over and laid down for belly rubs and then seemed to stretch out and just chill.  I laid back n the bed for a few minutes and I heard her get up and walk to the bathroom   Next thing I hear is the soap dish on the bathroom sink clatter to the floor.  I jumped up and AJ was starting to chomp on the bar of soap.  I tell her NO and to go to her place which is on her platform bed.  I clip her on the tie down and she drops the bar of soap on the bed.  I thought it was long gone and was surprised that she hadn’t inhaled it yet. I grabbed it and left her on tie down staring at her in disbelief because Rei had done the same thing. But she was stealing the soap out of the bathtub. She ate 3 bars of soap before I realized that she was doing it!  

12:00- Lunch is a large garden salad with chicken cutlets on it. It was really good.   As I ate AJ really started fighting me on staying under my chair. She wanted to be in front of the chair and tried to visit with the next dog or lay halfway outside the chair on my left side. Cristina wasn’t in the room so she started up whining again and popping up again too. I dealt with them as they came and kept putting her back in position.  We were told we would do some more Juno walks and would work the back square with learning how to do corrections for different situations.  Then we would go out again with our dogs and work the square with the dog too.

12:30:  I went back to the room and put AJ on tie down and as I’m full and warming up I’m getting really sleepy.  I lay down on the bed and yeah I dozed off.  Cristina wakes me up knocking on the door to go out and do the Juno walk.

1:30 Cristina takes me out to work on how to do corrections, what to do if she strays off her line of work, what to do when distracted, and overall performance management skills to keep her skills sharp.   We went around the square out back, stimulating incorrect behaviors and. Me showing how to correct them.  It was getting colder with the winds picking up.
I then came in for a bit and Cristina worked with my student partner for his corrections lesson.  Then she came and got AJ and I and we worked the full van route.  Which means we worked out to the break area, gave her a chance to go- which she went number one pretty quickly again.  We then worked across the break area, down the walk and made a left and a bit later made a right to go across to the square.
Worked around the square and though the obstacles which were series of orange barrels.  By this point the wind was really blowing as the cold weather was starting to really move in at this point an emergency broad cast came on and announced high winds and squalls. We make our way back in and both my partner and I meet Cristina in the lobby to go over giving medications, clean their ears, and other grooming discussions.  We finished with this and had some time before dinner.  I went back to my room with AJ to feed and water her.  She did very nicely again.

4:30- feed, water, and take the dogs out for break. I can’t tell you how happy I am that she breaks super fast and she has done very well so far. The winds were blowing intensely, blowing over bins and stuff and she went right out, did her business.  We came back in and I went to the dining room to wait for dinner and to work with her on sitting under my chair.  AJ has been sitting sideways under the chair and trying to get her to sit longways under the chair and ultimately so her head is facing out the back of the chair.  We worked on reinforcing staying in that behavior and she did really well.

5:30- Dinner is Caribbean tilapia with rice and broccoli.  It was sooooo good.  Then there was a choice of red velvet or cream cheese cake again. I went for the red velvet cake.  Cameron also left a large black Kong for AJ to play with.

6:15- I came back to the room after dinner and gave AJ water.  We could see the snow outside and the winds gusting through the trees here. I then decided to go down to the grooming room and give AJ a good brushing since I hadn’t done so since since being here.  She didn’t seem to care much for the grooming but did play with the toys a bit.


Picture on the left is AJ walking across the room with one front paw up in the air as shes in mid stride across the floor.

Picture on the righ is of AJ standing next to the grooming bench and looking at me and the camera.

After she showed she was done I tried to clean up the hair and gathered up my brushes and come back upstairs, working to type up this evenings events as I wait for the call for last  break at 8:30.

8:30- final opportunity to relieve Took AJ out and she went number one super fast and we went back in. I went to the dining room to fill my water bottle and got caught up chatting with Jody M and a couple of other students.  So another nap may be in order for tomorrow!  LOL

Night all :)

AJ curled up in a tight ball on the end of her platform bed.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Jan 29th- Day 2: Dog Day

Day 2. Morning: Dog Day!
6:30- wake up call and Donna came and knocked on my door to make sure Inwas up. Love the staff at GDF and that they know me so well.
7:20- Breakfast was scrambled eggs, a sausage patty, and toasted poppyseed bagels. Our last student on class joined us this morning too. Our amazing chef, Kevin, went though the days menu and we all chowed down on our food
8:00- we gathered in the gathering room ifor a review of the day and met Brad Hibbard the Chief Program Officer. He explained that he will be with us out in class for most of this class as we have three apprentice trainers on this class.
8:30- we did the fire drill and went to our designated emergency spots. After everyone was confirmed outside we were released back inside.
9:00- Juno (short handle) walk; This is where the instructor holds a rectangle harness handle with a leash attached and essentially pretends to be the dog to work on proper footwork for turns, following the dog, giving corrections, verbal commands, and giving food rewards. Cristina and I started with how to hold the leash and handle. I actually have been doing something pretty similar to what the new way of holding the leash is so it wasn’t a big change for me. We then went out and worked the square out back. Reviewed my footwork, and this is really important for positioning and to keep the dog from curling around in front of me when I give it’s food reward.

We worked on left turns more as I wasn’t very fluid in those and was kind of choppy. These got much better as I became used to working then with her suggestions. I’m still learning the treating piece too as you need to be diligent to keep the foot position and reward on a sweeping motion across your body like clicking a seat belt. Then treating down at the dogs level by your left thigh. This keeps the dog from coming out of position and curling around in front of you. Cristina said she’s gonna be nit picking me as I’m doing well with the foot work so she will work on fine tuning.
We walked around the square doing right turns, left turns, and around some easy obstacles. Then we worked on pace and I needed her to speed up quite a bit. She had to keep reminding me to keep a consistent pull in the harness handle as all of my dogs have had a very strong pull and it’s not usually been an issue to keep that counter pull as they call it.
We worked back into the building and showed how to roll though the doors which is dropping the harness handle, holding the dog back, opening the door and putting my back to the door and turning toward the direction I am going and calling the dog that direction and guiding it with the leash in that direction.
Cristina dropped me off at my room and said she would be back in about a half hour to do another juno walk and go through corrections and some performance management to keep the skills sharp The trainers are doing two Juno walks with their students to make sure that the dogs they have in mind for their students are the right pull, pace, and are able to handle the personality of the dog too.
Just a few hours and we find out who our dogs are!!! I have a feeling mine is going to be a girl.

10:00- Juno walk 2. Cristina acted like a dog again and we went out to the square where I learned to give a time out and showed how I give corrections. She has started to give me me tips about my dog and said that when we cross the break area to get to the square that if we go too quickly in that spot that my dog will try to blow the curb there, that it likes to work and wants to keep going. We worked around the square again and I gave her commands and praise like she is the dog, and corrections and a time out when she pretended to be distracted. I felt bad as I nearly jerked Cristina off her feet when I stopped for the time out. LOL. We then worked on to the curb with the leash in my right hand. My left turns are still kind of wonky and going to have to really work on those. I think it’s because I hadnt been doing them right or have done a moving left turn so out of practice with them.
We worked out way back inside and to find the door again and Cristina said that when my dog finds and targets the door handle I’m going to feel a really wiggly butt on my dog. So personality hint #2.
She dropped me off at my room and said they will call us down at 11 to the leather lounge and if we don’t get in the leash guiding or heeling work before we go to lunch and get the dogs, we will put he dog in tie down and do that work after we get the dogs.


11:00- It’s the big moment.  Everyone gathers in the lounge and we find out who our dogs are.  We are all waiting as the trainers finally come in and gives us the name and breed of each of our dogs.  I am receiving a female black lab of which I will call AJ from here on out through the duration of my training. :)

11:30- Media and marketing lecture- Bill and Rebecca from Media Relations come and share the communications policy with us and that we are not to share any information on our classmates or their dogs as well as GDF prefers that you do not share your dog's name until Celebration Saturday in case the partnership possibly does not work out.

12:00- Lunch was a phenomenal veggie soup and roast beef sandwich.   We all chatted excitedly as we waited for the time to go back to our rooms.

1:00- we all were back in our rooms and it was the big moment!  We put the leash and martingale collar that we had in our rooms on the door handle- for our trainers to take and go get our dogs from the kennels.  We waited for the instructor to bring the dogs to our rooms and it is totally like having a new baby each time.
Cristina came and knocked on my door and asked if I was ready.   In bounded a very wiggly lab whose but was just wagging from side to side with her tail so petite and small and she came over and walked back and forth soaking up the butt scratches and jumped up and gave me kisses.  Bill took photos of our introduction and Cristina said she’s called her a couple of different things including wiggly butt.  I will continue to call her AJ for now.
After they left the room she quickly came over and slid down and rolled over for a belly rub and then popped up and started making rounds back and forth between my desk  where the treat pouch with kibble in it was sitting and the feed bucket in the bathroom- sniffing and hoping for some kibble.

Photos of a very petite black lab- the first one is of AJ laying on the floor with feet spread apart and looking to her left.  The second is her sitting in front of my legs and looking back over her shoulder.  Below left is of AJ laying on her back enjoying a good belly rub.  the last one is of AJ looking intently past the camera at the door.

She soon realized that Cristina wasn’t coming back to get her and started to whine and wasn’t wanting much to do with me unless it was my hand giving her kibble. 
2:00- one of the biggest changes in the training program since I was there last, is that we have started and will continue to do loose leash walking this week until Saturday.  Cristina came and got me and we took AJ out to break first. In which she surprised me and actually did a number two pretty quickly.  Usually dogs will hold it with new handlers and when under stress.  Then we started down the long hallway to the dining room, working to each fire door and the dog stops and we reward the dog.  We are to keep the dog at a controlled pace and if getting too excited or pulling too hard, then we are to stop, make the dog go to a heel position and give the Walk command again.
We work to the dining room and sit in there for a while trying to get the dog to settle and stay as other dogs walking in and out of the room.  AJ is already showing her stubborn streak as she would start out between my legs and beneath the chair but keeps creeping out the let side of my chair to the point that she is half way out from the side of my chair.  Cristina said we will give her a few days with this and then start trying to work her to stay  between my legs, which is where I’m most comfortable with her being and safe from people walking by.
We then worked to the leather lounge to do the 3:30 meeting with everyone and all of the dogs in the room together with their new handlers. Which is organized chaos at first since it’s the first day of dogs and handlers learning each other.  Soon everyone’s dogs begin to settle down except my diva that is rather vocal and whiny because her trainer was a few feet away and not rescuing her from this crazy human in the end of the leash.  A strong correction got her settled down and we were told that we would learn how to feed our dogs individually and how much.
AJ was a little heavier than the vet recommended when she came in for training so she had been put on a reduced amount of food. She is at a pretty good weight and she now will be fed 3/4 cup of Nature select in the morning, a 1/2 cup will go into the treat pouch for the day (this will go down as we start to scale rewards back after we get into next week) and then a full cup in the evening.
4:00- Cristina let me go ahead and feed AJ on my own since I was familiar with the whistle feeding process.  This is where you make the dog and stay.  Then you put the bowl down and blow the whistle in 3 short blasts and that releases the dog.  This is used for several reasons, the primary being for if the dog should get away from the handler then if they are wearing their whistle, the dog will associate the whistle with feeding/treats and return to the handler promptly.  The second if for recall when fee running the dog in an enclosed area and the dog should return back to the handler.  AJ is another 30 second food inhaler like Rei was.
5:30- dinner. We worked our dogs down into the dining room and had a wonderful dinner of breaded pork and pasta with asparagus and cheesy garlic bread.  AJ stayed pretty good under the table until about dessert and then started getting antsy and creeping out from My chair again.

6:15- Water the dogs
6:30- All students that are transitioning to a successor dog went downstairs to the rec room and had that lecture.  The first time students had their lecture on dog and leash basics.  The returning students discussed a lot of things about our dogs and actually talked up to the 8:30 break time and we all made our way back upstairs

As I went to the bathroom AJ came in an laid on the floor so maybe that bond is starting to turn a corner

    AJ on the floor in the bathroom laying with her head on her paws

8:30pm- We took the dogs to the break area to go out and AJ quickly went pee and came back up onto the curb indicating she was done.  I sent her back off the curb a couple o times and she indicated she was done so we went back inside. 

I then called home and talked with MD, AC, and Mike about AJ and how training has been going.  They were thrilled with her and asked all kind of questions.

Now I'm reviewing my lectures for tomorrow before heading for bed.

Automobile Travel 

Street Work

Addressing Errors

Monday, January 28, 2019

Day 1- Monday 1/28 Travel day

8:30am- Dad picked me up and we went to the Indianapolis Airport.  We parked in the garage and made our way inside.  It was a new experience at the ticket counter as we checked in at a kiosk first- checking in, printing my boarding pass and paying for my 1 bag of luggage.  Then we went to the counter and turned in my luggage and it was under the weight limit at 49lbs!  whoo!   I was worried about it being too much.   We got a gate pass for Dad to help me back to security. 

The further we walked into the airport the more I hated my cane and the more I realize how much my vision has changed since I last went to NY with Boomer. :(   We got to TSA and they were phenomenal in assisting us to the scanners where there we unpacked all the electronics, removed shoes,belts, and coats.   Because of having a CI, I do not do the bio scanner and thus this meant I needed to do the personal pat down. 

The TSA agent, a woman was very good with me but I'll admit I was a little surprised at the extensiveness of the pat down.  Maybe I've just been lucky in the past and the agents took pity on me and just did a quick down the front and down the back and between the legs from about my knees down.  This was a full on pat down several times down my front, down my back, up to my inseam, and even pressing on my chest to make sure I didnt have something tucked away.   She explained what she was going to do before she did it and that she would hold her hands a certain way to be as least invasive as possible, but had I realized that this would be a 10 minute process I certainly would have opted for the private screening area that she had initially offered to me instead of the glassed in area for all to see. :P  I appreciate that they are taking the job seriously though, but was a little surprised at how extensive the check was.

Once I made it through the inspection, we made our way back to the gate and checked in with the gate attendant to let her know that I was hard of hearing and would need assistance onto the plane.  Dad and I talked and took it easy as we waited for time to board.

The time came to board and I was in seat 11A, next to the window right on the wing.  We settled in quickly and took off without much turbulence and honestly the flight went by faster than I thought it would.  We landed and it was 1:10 pm and the moment I stepped off the plane a Delta employee took my arm and guide me to the baggage claim area and made sure I met up with Jody from GDF and got my suitcase as well.  I was quite impressed from both places at the customer service of all of the Delta employees.

Jody grabbed my bag and I tried to follow her with just using my cane but the lighting was not good and I nearly fell over another person's bags.  I resigned to taking Jody's arm and having her sight guide me to the van where I met 3 other classmates.   I quickly ate the packed sandwich and chips that Kevin had packed for each of us coming in.   We took off to Smithtown and arrived at GDF, and started to put everything away in my room. 

There is a dog bed in the room and all of the dog supplies were already here in my room to my surprise.  The training program has changed up considerably since the last time I was here.   I received a bowl, a brush, whistle, tie down, clicker on a springy bracelet, collar bells, a martingale collar, harness light, treat pouch, and poop bag dispenser.

3:00- I worked on unpacking my bags and setting up my room when trainer Anna knocked on the door and we went through the building for orientation purposes.   Not much has changed since I was here the last time, which is a good thing- as it means I remember where things are. :)   After the "tour", I went back to the room and finished unpacking and getting my electronics set up on the wi fi.

5:30- Dinner was an amazing Chicken Marsala, green beans, and garlic mashed potatoes with cheese cake for dessert.   Talked with trainer Cameron and made the connection that she had been at UGA as a puppy raiser and she knew Boomer from that time period too.    We had one person come in a little later with a flight delay and we have one more person that will be joining the class tomorrow morning since they won't be getting in until late tonight due to some delays.

7pm- Everyone gathered in the leather lounge for introductions, a general overview of training, and the schedule for tomorrow.  We met the trainers for this class and they are Jody E, Barb, Christina, Anna, and Cameron who each will be working with 2 students.  There are 8 guide dog trainers at GDF now and 5-6 service dog trainers.  I was surprised to hear that Mike D has moved to the service dog side of training too.  I hope to at least get a chance to talk to him sometime before I go home. 

They gave us a run down of the rules and expectations and the general overview of the training for the two weeks,which are as follows:

6:30 wake up (only sleep in day)
7:20- breakfast
8am- meet in the leather lounge and meet Brad Hibbard, the Chief Training Officer, do a fire drill Then we will do Juno or short handle walks.
11am- We will receive the names of our dogs, breeds, and the trainer that we are working with if we don't know yet.
11:30am- Social Media lecture with the Media Relations person.
12pm- lunch
12:30 - 1pm receive our dogs.
Afternoon work- We will work up and down the hallways and to the break area and work on obedience.
4:30- Water, Feed, Break the dogs
5:30pm- Dinner
6:15pm- Water dogs
6:30 pm Those that have had dogs before will go to the transition lecture and those who have not will have the equipment/dog basics lecture.
8:30pm- last break for the dogs and wrap up for the day
10pm- quiet hours

Wednesday will be more short handle/Juno walks, working routes on the square with obstacles- which will happen each trip out, and then everyone loading up in the vans to go to the library where it will be our first walk with our dogs.  The afternoon will be routes to the van, how to do grooming, and working on obedience. 

Mornings for Thursday through Monday morning- Every day will be goign to the town of Huntington and working the same route.  The goal of this is to allow you to work your dog in a familiar route and work on improving your fundamentals and footwork over the course of time and to allow the student to see the progress between them and their dogs as they improve on their route.

Afternoons for Thursday, Friday, and Monday- will be going to the mall to do indoor work, working through stores, doing escalators/elevators and such.

Saturday afternoon will be free time for the Student and Sunday afternoon will be another trip to the mall and mid class interviews and determining what we need for customization during the second week.

Monday night will be a night walk on the same route we've been working in Huntington.

Tuesday afternoon will be traffic checks.

Wednesday will be a full day trip of going to Manhattan.

The rest of the week is more customization work

Saturday- Work the morning routes- Afternoon is Celebration Saturday- where we meet the dog's puppy raisers if they are able to come.  Evening- pack stuff up to head home the next day

Sunday- Say our goodbyes and head home!

Tonight before I sign off and head to bed, I am reviewing our lectures for tomorrow which are the following (these are pretty short 2 page word docs):


Directional Cues
Feeding and Watering

Performance Management
Night all!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

January 22 2019

Today was an enlightening but bittersweet one...

There has been lots of talk on various Usher groups about different genetic testing and the new Luxterna gene therapy that has been a result of the discovery of a successful therapy for the RP65 gene.   This therapy has resulted in some restored sight in patients in the clinical trials and has been FDA approved.

There has also been the creation of the Usher Syndrome Coalition and for genetic testing- Project Usher.  In these discussions, the discussions brought about the distinct changes in testing over the last 20 years.  I had given a sample to Boystown Research soon after being diagnosed in 2001 but had not heard any results from the two places that samples were provided to.  Thus with the advancements in genoma geneticist e sequencing and such, I felt it would be worth reaching out to my family doctor to see if the testing through Project Usher was worth pursuing.  My doctor has been phenomenal all these years in supporting us and working with a diagnosis of Usher Syndrome and she didnt fail yet again.  .   She sent a referral to the Medical Genetic Clinic and an appointment was scheduled for this morning to have a consultation.

It was informational and encouraging.  I was asked to fill out a family history form- which I gave my parents names, DOB, DOD (if applicable) list all of their parents, siblings, nieces/nephews and any family "traits" and common medical information.  It asked about all kinds of medical history, traits, and other things for me and so forth.

We met with a geneticist and went through my history of being deaf from birth, when my vision loss set in, and how I was dx'd with Usher Syndrome. She talked with us at great lengths that it would mostly likely be a dx of Usher type 2 or 3, given the later onset of vision loss.  She explained that they work with a lab out of California that does clinical testing, not research testing.  Thus we would receive an answer and most likely confirm a diagnosis for sure.   We further discussed the theory that the mutation had started with myself, given that in my family that there is not any known history of deafness or blindness for my parents, my grandparents, or great grandparents.  She explained that with a genetic recessive trait and with advances in genetics, it has been seen to skip 4-5 generations.  So that was a new concept for me to learn today.

She also explained that with my clinical symptoms that it will likely be a dx of Usher type 2 and that while rare, Usher is one of the more common genetic conditions seen today so the research has significantly changed in the last 5-10 years and that what some sub types had been in the past have been re-categorized now to new sub types and that the testing much more accurate today.  She inquired about my balance and I said that I didn't feel that I had balance issues from the RP, but that it was due to the lost of depth perception and vision, of which she agreed.

We then went over the goals of pursuing genetic testing, whereas for me is to determine the type of Usher Syndrome that I have for my personal knowledge and to have this information for my children for when they begin to start their own families.   And the last goal is to determine if there are any clinical trials or gene therapies that I would even possibly be a candidate for RP65/Luxturna gene therapy.  She explained explained that from what she could tell, it seemed that the RP65 gene therapy only pertains to patients with Macular's degeneration- given the gene that it is tied to.

We then discussed the cost of various forms of genetic testing and if there is any chances of it being covered by insurance.  Working with the Medical Genetic Clinic would be on a clinical basis and that a pre certification would be attempted with my insurance and that if it does come down to not being covered, then the Lab and Clinic both work with the patient to make genetic testing feasible.   

She went on to encourage us that the samples that had been given years ago, to the research projects in the past have given definitly lead to advancments and the  knowledge to find the genes that are known to cause Usher Syndrome and a wide variety of alleles on those genes that cause the different sub types of Usher. She then took all of my information and then met with Dr. Torres-Martinez.  He went through things and recognized that Mike and I were knowledgeable about the basics of genetics and Usher Syndrome being a genetic recessive trait, realizing that this means our children are carriers.

He explained that they would do the gene sequencing and sub sequencing to obtain a definite diagnosis.  However, we will wait for the pre-approval process first, which takes about a week and added that it typically about 3-5 weeks for the results to come in.  The geneticist returned and explained that she will call next week with the information and that if we wish to proceed, she will then send the a cheek swab test test kit directly to my home.  It will come with the packaging and shipping labels to send directly to the lab and it will start the ball rolling.  Once the results come in and as long as they come back positive for Usher syndrome, then we will come back in for an appointment and discuss the inheritance patterns and what it means for our children and so forth and if there are any clinical trials that my type would be relevant for.

We explained to her that I will be leaving next Monday to go to GDF for 2 weeks, but that she could communicate with Mike on the details and move forward from there.

Mike and I left and I had an appointment to pick up  the new hearing aid mold we had made up on the north side of Indianapolis.  I have  been preparing for the upcoming training as it's hard to believe departure is only a few days away.  We went up to Castleton Mall to look for some waterproof hiking/walking shoes for me.  This mean we made a trek across the mall and back before heading to the appointment and it was here that I realized how much it is truly time to retire Boomer.  It wasn't crowded but he was showing signs of being stressed and he kept turning his head to he left and would begin to veer to the left as he seemed to be turning his head to see better.   He kept his pace with following Mike so it was at a pretty good clip.  Made our rounds to the appointment, of which my audiologist loved on him and said goodbye to him as we talked about his working life some and the changes over the years.

We grabbed a bite to eat at Chipotle as we were both starving and Boomer crashed under the table.  Heading on home, there was a message from my trainer, Christina, with a call to talk about the plans of the two weeks and pick up information from La Guardia Airport.  As I sat here on the phone with her and Boomer was zonked out for several hours- not even being insistent for his dinner at 4pm as he normally is. The realization that today was really his last day working was quite a bitter pill to swallow.  It is hard to let him go but it's definitely the best thing for both of us. He is finally starting to come around and listen to the kids more as well.   

He woke up about 5pm and gave a big yawn and stretch and came up and laid his head on my lap and looked up at me in those big brown eyes.  Alex went and fed him and let him out and all was right in his world again as it should be and with that, let the spoiling as a pet begin.

Love you Boom Dog, my golden fluff ball

Friday, January 18, 2019

Retirement for Boomer soon....

Boomer and I have been a team for just over 5 years now.   It's been an amazing ride and my heart hurts to say that Boomer will be retiring at the end of this month.

We have had an awesome journey as a team, and he had joined me to many things with the kids- basketball games and track meets with KT, Boy Scout Court of Honors, Black Belt promotions, Orchestra concerts, and track meets for AC, Orchesta concerts, Girl Scouts,  Art classes and guitar lessons with MD. 

Boomer has been with me to volunteer in the schools and give talks about people with disabilities.  He's been to church with us nearly every weekend as well.   A large group of people know him well and love him too.

Boomer is 7 1/2 so he is a little bit young for retirement, but thanks to a wonderful organization called AVCO/Stokes RX- they provide free yearly eye exams for guide dogs   You register for your exam through this website in April and call and schedule the exam with a Veterinary Ophthalmologist during the month of May.


We have taken Boomer for the last several years for his eye exam and in May of 2017 there were cysts noticed in his left eye.  It was noted and since dogs sometimes get these and people don't even know they have them we weren't terribly concerned, however if these are accompanied with pigmentation dispersion, especially in the Golden retriever breed, then there is concern of a hereditary condition called GOLDEN RETRIEVER PIGMENTARY UVEITIS or also called GRPU for short.

So we continued on our merry way and a year later, with a different Veterinary Ophthalmologist, his exam in 2018 showed progression in the left eye with the second symptom and the formation of very small cysts in the right eye- leading to a confirmed diagnosis of GRPU.   We were still in what is considered early stages of this journey and his work was still safe and we were to begin eye drops to prevent the secondary complication-glaucoma and have a follow up appointment in October 2018 to monitor progression. 

The summer brought several trips for college visits to various states for KT, who is a senior this year in HS and was being recruited for throwing discus and shot put for Track and Field at various colleges.  We began to notice that Boomer was missing some minor things that he hadn't been missing before.  After contacting GDF and a follow up with the VO- she reported that there was progression but that his vision was still considered to be safe for working, however that it was advisable to have an exit plan in mind since it is obviously progressing and and that a realistic progression to no longer being safe to guide would occur within the next year give or take. 

Thus the decision was made to go ahead and start the application for guide dog #5 with GDF.   I knew that with the TODAY Show puppy- Sunny and his siblings and late President Bush's service dog Sully, who all are from the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind/America's Vet Dogs program, that there has been a large influx of inquiries and applications to GDF/AVD. 

GDF Field Rep Bryan came and also evaluated Boomer to see if he felt his work was still solid and did my home interview for the the application process as well- which is where we discussed my current needs in a guide dog- speed, what I desired in a dog regarding it's work and to some degree it's personality.  We discussed my past dogs and what things have worked for me and what hasn't and we talked about the changes that have been made in the training program since I'd been there last.  I voiced what concerns I had and we talked through these and I am excited to try the new training format of two weeks instead of 4 weeks as Boomer and I had done. 

I told him I wanted a dog that would make a decision and go with it or have lots of intuition and needs little instruction to accomplish the task once asked to perform that task.  I need a dog that is able to handle stressful situations with large crowds on a regular basis as our church has continued to grow by leaps and bounds and is exceeding 4000 members across 4 services in a weekend.  A dog that doesn't have to be around little kids nearly as much as in the past but one that can handle going to basketball games, Karate graduations/competitions, Boys Scouts, Orchestra concerts and Track and Field meets and unfamiliar routes that we haven't been to before because of these.   I said that while I don't necessarily have to have what some long time handlers call "hard" dogs, but that from my experience and from what I've heard from other handlers, the traits of a "hard" dog seems to thrive better with my lifestyle.   They tend to be a more solid and strong willed dogs that when the work is put in, the bond is immense and we become a solid team over time.

The approval of my application took a little longer than it has in the past with all the publicity with Sunny and Sully, but I received an email the week of Thanksgiving that my app was approved.  I was actually quite surprised when the ladies in the Consumer Services Office called me on December 26th to invite me m to the Jan/February class that begins January 28th through February 10th.  It's become even more real as I received the envelope in the mail with my luggage tags/flash drive with the class lectures to read/listen to before my arrival at GDF.  Then I received my plane ticket confirmation in an email yesterday and it's becoming almost nerve wracking with the impending change.   I keep saying a prayer for God to keep me calm and take the changes as he sends them, as I have done just fine through each of the first 4 training and will be fine for this one too. 

Boomer has been handling things OK as we moved his bed into the girls room and he is sleeping in their room.  He was struggling a lot at first with being asked to leave me and go to bed at 9:30 with the kids and was not happy with being left at home as we have begun his transition to retired guide life.  After a week of sleeping in the girls room, he isn't flat out running the other direction when MD comes to get him, but he is responding to her calling him to follow her, but still with a look back at me like "Mom- why do I have to do this? It's not where I'm supposed to be..."   MD will get up in the morning and feed him and let him out and he immediately comes running to wherever I am and lands at my feet to stay for the rest of the day.  So we will see how he continues over the next few weeks and after I get home too. 

So with the new training format, I have some homework to do before I head to NY in order to be prepared for our training.  I'll share more on this in a later post.

Night all!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Dec 7th 2013

I always love all the decorations at church at Christmas time, so had to get a picture of Boomer tonight!

Nov 30th

Lesson of the weekend.... DON"T lick the train tracks of the electric train running around the bottom of the Christmas tree.... Poor Boomer- took some work last night to get him comfortable with being in the playroom last night after doing so.

Would never have thought the dog would lick the tracks. Upon doing so, he jumped upward and knocked a handful of ornaments off and shot down the hallway and wasn't coming back. With some treats and lots of praise he's willing to be in here now with me, but only if someone is with him and he keeps one eye on the train at all times.

He is OK to come in the room now, but he still eyes it warily. he's laying here with me now. I have heard from GDF Consumer services and a trainer called and gave me some tips to work with him.  He still eyes the train whenever it comes out but will not get close to it. LOL.

Nov 23rd

I have the BEST group of boys in my Wolf den, as they made Boomer and I Welcome Home signs! 
So sweet!!!

Had a pretty good and fairly low key day today. Woke up about 9 am, went with Alex to his ball practice and we walked about the school where we could to let Boomer check out the layout of things.

Then in to the gym and on the bleachers to watch. He was pretty excitable for a while with all the kids moving around and running. We just worked it and he obeyed as I'd ask him to go back to a down.

From there, we went home to grab the shopping list for the scout store and did drive through for some lunch. He rode very well in the car and did fairly well at the scout shop. He whined a bit as he got bored with standing still so long as Mike and the kids worked on getting all the stuff needed for the pack.

From there we went to Frys to pick up an adapter Mike needed for the computers and looked at surround systems and at laptops for me since mine is starting to have some issues. We took our time working through there, focusing on foot work and slowly directing him where I wanted him to go. He picked up following the family very quickly so was a little irked at me when I made him slow down, or take different directions, as I want him to do the work.

From here we headed towards home but went to CPCC- our church first to walk through the building and rooms when people weren't there, to kind of get a feel for things before we go tomorrow morning.

He was really wound up here as it was a whole new place and smells. Really had to work on steadying him down.

We went into the worship center during rehearsal and he was more concerned about the family sitting in the back than the music.

So came on home for the evening and just been taking it easy.  :)

Day 26- Nov 22nd

Waiting my turn to go check in. Nearly the last person to leave but that's OK. This way I won't be rushed to get where I need to be.

On the plane and waiting ing for take off 

OK off that plane and off to another gate. Now waiting for windshield to be fixed on this plane. Waiting attendant took my ticket to counter ahead of the masses in line and re-booked. 

New gate and new plane. Third time is the charm right?

At 3rd gate/plane and took Boomer out to break too, which meant security all over again. At least it looks like I'm in first class this time.  Had to laugh though. Two diff TSA agents didn't want to pat him down. Finally super. Comes over and was like fine. He has his face buried in my thighs and my hands on both sides. She touches then harness handle, bends down and looks under him and says ok. *SMH*

This guy is not enthused with spending the day here in the airport, but he's being a champ about it :)

Sheesh, and now we are delayed again.... Praying to leave at 4:15

We are finally home!  :D  
We'd left GDF at 8am and walked in the door at 8:30pm. Left the airport about 7:30, but stopped to grab me some food and pick up a kid from practice. 

Day 25- Nov 21st

Wow. In less than 24 hours, Boomer and I will be home and embarking on the next part of this journey together.

Today was airport training, in which I had my first experience of a full pat down and hands being swabbed. Then we went and I did our last walk together as a group at the Horseshoe.

Came back for lunch and had our going home lecture and video.

Have our graduation packets and now have our official owner tags on the dogs too.

We'll be up at 5:30 to be gone out of here by 8 am for the group of us leaving in the morning hours at La Guardia. Should be home late afternoon.

Will miss the new friends I've made here though

Day 24- Nov 20th

Beautiful crisp day at the Bay off of the Long Island Sound. LOVE the area and feel of the town.  I went and sat on a bench while the trainers worked with other teams.   We spent the day here and worked through the different areas and while on my walk I decided I would treat the whole group with a yummy turnover from the local bakery too as a dessert to go with lunch.  :)

Day - Nov. 18th

An amazing morning this morning, as my big guy awesomely iimpressed me. Barb had a family of 5 kids come in ranging from 10 mos to age 10 and they ran, screamed, got in his face and you name it, they did it. He did get excited as they ran, but with a NO! Down!, he went right back to a down and was good. Barb even had me put him under the table and had them come pull his tail, grab his face, and pull his ears to show me how well he did in accepting this. We won't be doing this to him, but wanted me to see he could take it. Very pleased!

After meeting the kids this morning, we went to petco where we had to do obedience with Barb squeaking toys and bouncing balls past him. He really surprised me as he only got up once, the first time and with putting him back, he didn't move at all, even when she threw the ball at his feet.

Came back for lunch and then went out again to do the backwards "P" in groups like we'll be doing here very shortly. We then stopped on the way back to campus at the Catholic Church and did church training of how to get him in and out of the pews.

Just got the call to break and head out for our walk!

Backwards' "P" night walk- CHECK and nailed it! :) In the words of Mike D. "You guys were ROCKETS!"  :) Seriously we are the fastest on class and when you say "Go", we go! :)

He did very, very well, I'm pleased as he left the bushes alone on the back half of the walk and gave me plenty of clearance around the people and found the curbs right away and lined up nice and straight. He stayed clear of the things overhanging and actually stopped for the one narrow area, that he doesnt stop for during the day, so he's more cautious at night, which is awesome.

Definitely in LOVE. :) Just ready to go home and start off the next portion of our journey. Just a few more days. :)

Tomorrow morning is a walk- will leave it up to the students (San Remo/Port Jefferson, etc) and then the afternoon will be exit interviews.