Sunday, February 24, 2008

I'm Off to College!

I bet you are all wondering what I'm doing writing in my blog when I'm now officially in college! Well, my puppy raiser and I wrote this over the course of the weekend. So, while I'm now getting settled into my dorm room my puppy raiser is busy typing all of this up. It sure is nice how she serves as MY assistant!

I'll write about Saturday's events in just a second. But, first I've gotta tell you about Friday. On the drive home from work on Friday we saw a big bright rainbow in the sky. And, get this... we drove right under it! My puppy raiser said it must have been some kind of sign that I was headed for a very bright future!

Friday night rocked! We had a camp out in the family room... I'm talkin' sleeping bags, fire pit... [side note by puppy raiser: it was actually a fireplace... :-)] Whatever it was... it gave off a bunch of cozy warmness! It was like camping out in the mountains, but warmer, and we could watch movies! We saw Disney's Snow Buddies. I watched transfixed for quite awhile. What can I say? I kinda had a thing for the puppy, Rosebud. But, it was a long day and we were all super tired. We all (even Ashley) fell asleep while watching the movie.

Saturday we woke up bright and early. Zuleika and Frisco and their puppy raisers came over at 7:00am to pick us up. Z and Frisco are just little pups... they're not a big dog like me, so they weren't heading off to college. But, they came along to see me off and attend the CCI graduation ceremony. The car ride to the Santa Rosa was the BEST! My puppy raiser and I rode in the back seat the whole way and snuggled!

When we got to CCI, I was given a fancy new blue cape. I was lookin' good! Then, I had to pose for photos. Ugh! I tell ya'... going off to college sure is going to be a nice break from all the photo sessions! After the countless photos, we went out to lunch. I was hoping we would get to play at the big CCI park before heading over to the graduation... but, it was rainy and muddy so we didn't get to do that... :-(. After lunch, we drove over to the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts, where the graduation ceremony was to take place. I've been to graduations in the past, but this one was in a much smaller theater than usual cause the band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was playing later that night in the larger theater. I told my puppy raiser that they should have come over and joined our ceremony... and she agreed!

The graduation ceremony was packed with people and dogs. It was all pretty exciting. It was like a big reunion too. You won't believe who I saw there... my mama's breeder-caretaker! This is the wonderful person who was there with me when I was first born! And, she took care of me for the first few months of my life! I was very happy to see her... and gave her my big smile! LMRAT was there too... and I also gave her my big smile! It was so cool 'cause the 3 people who were the most important people in my life, were all there in one place to give me good wishes as I was about to head off to college.

The graduation ceremony started off with a bunch of people talkin'. And, then there was a slideshow of all of the matriculating dogs (dogs heading off to college)... and get this... the photo of my puppy raiser and I under the rainbow made the opening slide!!! After the slideshow, all of us matriculating dogs and our puppy raisers walked across the stage and each of us dogs got a medal placed around our necks! I felt like I was winning the olympics... only the medals were made out of paper instead of gold.

The absolute best part of the graduation ceremony was when the Graduating Class of February 2008 came out on stage. These are the people and canine companions (dogs GRADUATING from college!) who just finished their two week team training session! The graduating class consisted of Skilled Companion Teams, Service Teams, and one Facility team. It was very exciting to see the puppy raisers of the canine companions present the puppies they had raised to the recipients! If I work really hard in college, my puppy raiser will get to present me some day!

After the ceremony was over, my puppy raiser was pretty emotional. At first she told me she just had something in her eye. As if I would believe that! Then, she said it was because she was so happy for the graduates... and so happy that I was about to embark on the next chapter of my life. I believed that... but, I think she was also kinda upset that her little boy (ME) was about to head off to college!

We drove back over to CCI, and by this time it was really raining. My puppy raiser gave me my dinner in the car (so I wouldn't get wet outside). Then, she took me into this room, where she handed over my fancy blue cape. The CCI trainers told her to take as much time as she needed to say goodbye to me. She quietly walked me away from everyone, gave me a big hug, and told me she loved me and she would be happy no matter what my future held. She said that it was up to me now to decide my destiny. She gave me one last hug and said "Goodbye Sweet Boy". Then, she walked me over to a trainer, handed him my leash, and the trainer walked me down the hallway to show me my dorm room. As I was leaving, out of the corner of my eye I saw a bunch of other puppy raisers hugging my puppy raiser. She sure does know some awesome people!

As for me... I excitedly trotted down the hallway with the CCI trainer. I'm ready to embark on the next chapter of my life!


P.S. My puppy raiser told me (through telegraphic thoughts) that once she left, Skipper was outside waiting for her. He's the little pup who is going to keep my puppy raiser company this next week. She said she snuggled with him all the way home. Supposedly this little dude, Skipper, reminds her of me. She said that he's like a mini-me. Here's a photo of me with mini-me taken before I was turned in. He was trying to kiss me. Ick!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

All My Bags Are Packed...

In the words of John Denver,

"All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go..."
[side note: my puppy raiser told me Peter, Paul, and Mary made the song a hit... but, it was actually John Denver who wrote the song "Leaving on a Jet Plane"... in 1967. I don't know who the heck any of these people are... I just know the song is ancient!]

It's almost time to head off to college! However, on Saturday I won't be going to college via jet plane (as in the ancient song), I will be going via car... and from what my puppy raiser tells me, it will be full of other dogs and puppy raisers. Woohoo! PARRRTY!

The poll as to what I should do with my blog officially ends tomorrow. However, I'm going to be snuggling with my puppy raiser instead of writing in my blog tomorrow, so I thought I would chat about the results now. As of right now, the winning answer to the question of what should I do with my blog when I head off to college is: Have puppy # 5 (my puppy raiser's next puppy) take over my blog. Ummmmmmm.... whatever! As if puppy #5 could ever be as entertaining as ME! Fortunately, a close 2nd is: Continue writing in my blog by sending telegraphic thoughts to my puppy raiser. Ahhhhh... now that's more like it!

So, here's what I'll do. I'll write on my blog when I can by sending telegraphic thoughts to my puppy raiser. But, since I'm not sure if the frequency will be all that great, I'll have various guest blog writers (like puppy #5, Lucky, and Skipper... whatever!). So... I guess what I'm saying is that all of the answers win on my poll! Cause, it is my poll and I make the rules! [side note: I bet you're all wishin' that all elections were like this, huh?! ;-) ]

I'm sure I won't be bloggin' tomorrow night. But, my puppy raiser and I will write some stuff eventually so you all know how Saturday goes. So, for now... Adios, Auf Wiedersehen, Arrivederci, Au Revoir, See ya'... yada, yada, yada!

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Snowy Yosemite Weekend

This weekend my puppy raiser and her Special Guy Friend (SGF) took me to Yosemite!!! I had been there once before with them (in fact, the photo above is from the last time we were there). They thought it would be a great place to celebrate my last weekend before I headed off to college. And, boy were they right! The weekend was full of fun and adventure!

There was lots snow in Yosemite, which my puppy raiser was totally not expecting. She knew it had snowed a bunch there this winter, but since it has been warm and sunny the last few weeks, she sorta figured the snow would have melted. Boy was she wrong! Wrong, wrong, wrong. I mean totally wrong. Wrong-o! [side note by puppy raiser: Carlo, I think we get the picture!]. Here are a couple photos of me in front of a wall of snow (which my wrong-o puppy raiser thought wouldn't be there).

Even though there was so much snow, we still did some really fun stuff like hike up to Mirror Lake. Here's a photo at Mirror Lake (notice all the snow!).

We also went to the Ahwanee Hotel for dinner. Boy, was that a nice place! The waiter and waitresses kept coming by and asking if I needed anything. I was thinking, "Heck yeah, I could use a steak, and some fish, and... " But, my puppy raiser just smiled and said, "No thank you, he's fine." Hey! I thought it was my celebratory weekend?! I had to lay under the table with smell sensory overload while my puppy raiser and her SGF enjoyed a fine dining experience! And, this didn't happen just once... it happened TWICE (since we went to the Ahwanee twice for dinner and both nights my puppy raiser had the same response when asked if I needed anything).

One thing about the Ahwanee that wasn't so great was the restrooms. It had the smallest restroom stalls ever! My puppy raiser had a rather difficult time cramming me in there. I'm a pretty big boy and I tell ya'... I'm still not so sure how we managed to both fit in there. The door only opened inward... and it came really close to the toilet. The only way my puppy raiser could open the door was to have me lay down, open the door over my head, and then have me do an "out". It was quite an accomplishment and I'm really glad we didn't get stuck in there! Once we did escape from the stall, there were many women in the restroom that came over to pet me! I think my puppy raiser was a little embarrassed by the whole experience, but I loved all of the attention! I would get stuck any old day in a restroom stall if it meant getting that kind of attention!

It was a GREAT weekend and I'm really happy that I got to go to Yosemite again! Even though my puppy raiser didn't let the Ahwanee waiter and waitresses serve me dinner, and we almost got stuck in the Ahwanee restrooms, my puppy raiser did shower me with lots of hugs and special treats this weekend. She really wanted to make this last weekend a special one for me.

Now that I'm home and I've had a bath, I'm wayyyyy tired. It's a good thing I've got the work week to rest up before I head off to college!!!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Hiking by the Monster Dogs

Yesterday I went hiking with my puppy raiser, my buddies, Z and Hope, and Z's puppy raiser. We went to that place called Salmon Falls again. That's the place that had all of the ticks the last time we went. This time there were no ticks! But, you're not going to believe what we saw!

So, we were hikin' and havin' a good ole' time, when all of a sudden, just to the left of us... we saw a bunch of BIG black dogs. I'm talking monster-sized! They looked just like Z and Hope... only bigger! Much bigger! And, they were right there... not behind any kind of fencing or anything. As we got nearer, all of these monster dogs stopped and looked right at us. At first we ignored them, but then we stopped and the puppy raisers started chatting about the monster dogs, who they kept referring to as "cows"...

My puppy raiser said, "Hey... cows aren't like bulls, are they? They don't charge people, right?"

Z's puppy raiser responded, "Ummmm... I dunno..."

My puppy raiser said, "I'm sure they are ok. They must be used to people since they get milked and all".

So, with that... we continued on hiking. We reached the top of the hill and just as we started coming back down the other side, we looked over and saw the mother of all monster-sized dogs (or cows)! Dang, this thing was HUGE! It stared right at us and then took a few steps in our direction. We all froze. Then the puppy raisers quickly agreed that it may be best if we go in the other direction.

Once we were away far away from the monster dogs, we looked back and saw some guy on a mountain bike. He came down on a path pretty close to where the monster dogs were and then up the hill where we were. As he rode past us, he said, "Wow, did you see the size of that BULL?!" The puppy raisers looked at each other and agreed they made a good decision to go the other way!

P.S. The photo above was taken after we were far away from the monster dogs (aka cows and bulls)... but, you can see them in the distance just to the right.

P.P.S. The photo below was taken after the monster dogs were no longer in sight. Z is laughing cause I asked her if she and Hope were going to some day be as big as the monster-sized dog bull creature.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Stinkin' it Up in Point Reyes

Today LMRAT invited all of us Big Dogs (and our puppy raisers) to her place in Point Reyes for Big Dog class!!!

Since LMRAT fostered me for a bit before I came to live with my puppy raiser AND I've been to her place a bunch of times since, I know her place inside and out! So, I was able to show my puppy raiser and the other dogs around (assistance dog in training, Luna, has been to her place before too... but, I like to think I still know it better!). I showed all of the Big Dogs how much fun it is to play under the deck... and how you can zoom out from under the deck to this other area. And, I showed them that LMRAT's pet dog Scout is just like Lucky... queen of the roost, but still fun to play with!

After we played for a bit, we headed into town for a training session. We worked on distraction training... and dang there was tons of stuff to distract us! I'm talkin' dogs, children, hay piles, narrow store aisles with interesting stuff on the shelves, and all kinds of cool things to smell and see! We worked on commands like "up", "jump", and "out". We got to do an "up" on the post office counter and the nice post office lady behind the counter talked to us and patted us on our heads while we did it. It made me wanna do an "up" forever!

The hardest part about class was doing the scary stairs. We had to walk up these stairs that were kind of see-through. Holy smokes, they were scary! And, the worst part was comin' back down the stairs! My puppy raiser had to really encourage me. She kept saying, "Come on Carlo, you can do it! That's a boy!" And, guess what?... I DID IT!!! My puppy raiser was very proud of me!

After class we headed over to this super cool area... where there was lots of water and dirt... what could be more fun?!! I had been there before... so, again, I showed everyone around! We played and played and played.

Before my puppy raiser and I headed home, we drove out on Point Reyes peninsula. My puppy raiser wanted to check out a lighthouse. But, when we got there, we found out we would have to take a shuttle to get to the lighthouse (they do this to relieve traffic congestion). Anyways, I was all up for going on the shuttle, but my puppy raiser said we couldn't cause I stank. She said I smelled like a stinky wet dog... and I couldn't use public transportation wearing my CCI vest while I was stinkin' like that. Geesh! I didn't think I smelled that bad! So, instead of the lighthouse, we went to the beach. That turned out to be tons of fun and, best of all, I could stink to my heart's content!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Open That Bottle Night - Uncork Some Memories!

My puppy raiser and her special guy friend told me about something called "Open That Bottle Night (OTBN)". OTBN started about 9 years ago and was the idea of Wall Street Journal winos, John Brecher and Dorothy Gaiter [side note by puppy raiser: Carlo, they are not winos... they are wine columnists!]. Uh, Oh yeah! According to these wine COLUMNISTS (whatever the heck that is)...
Imagine if an evil genie took some of your very best memories and hid them in a wine bottle. That's what so many of us do to ourselves. These dear bottles have a special way of retrieving warm and often-forgotten memories, but you have to pop the cork to release them. That's why we invented Open That Bottle Night. So very many of us have that special bottle -- from a departed loved one, from a visit to a winery, from a vacation -- that we're always going to open for just the right moment, but, of course, that moment never comes. So the wine sits and sits and sits and becomes more and more precious, so it sits and sits some more.
So, on OTBN you are supposed to open up that special bottle of wine! And, preferably, you're supposed to open it up with a bunch of friends, so that you can tell stories about why that bottle of wine is so special and you can yack and gab on and and on and on (which, as we all know, people tend to do!).

So, why the heck am I writing about OTBN when I don't even drink wine? Well, here's the cool thing... this year, OTBN is on the very same day that CCI is holding a graduation ceremony and I head off to college!!! So, if there is ever a good time to celebrate OTBN... it's on February 23! I encourage you all to get together with friends, open that special bottle that's been gathering dust, give a celebratory toast to the special people and dogs graduating that day... and, most importantly, talk about ME! :-)

P.S. You can read more about OTBN in this article, An Evening to Uncork Memories.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Happy Election Day!

In honor of it being Election Day, I'm putting a poll on my blog! My puppy raiser and I have been wondering lately what we should do with my blog once I head off to college. We are having a really hard time deciding what to do. So... we're leaving it to you... my loyal supporters... to help us figure it out!

On the right side you are going to see the poll. You can vote for more than one answer (for you indecisive people out there). And, you can even do a write-in vote, by selecting "other" and sending me a comment! How cool is that?!

You have until February 22 to vote. You can vote from the comfort of your own home... no waiting in long polling place lines! And, you don't have to worry about confusing things like cacas and gates [side note by puppy raiser: Ummmm, Carlo - that's "caucuses" and "delegates"]. Oh. Well, whatever they are... you don't have to worry about them in MY election!

So, what are you waiting for? Vote for what really matters... my blog!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Two Weekends Left

Today my puppy raiser was looking at her calendar and said, "Oh my gosh, Carlo, we only have two weekends left until you go off to college!"

Wow! I had no idea it was that soon! I mean, I knew it was soon... but only weekends weekends left?! Wow!!!

My puppy raiser went on to tell me that she had some really special activities planned for us in those last two weekends. I pestered her with questions, but she wouldn't tell me what kind of activities she had planned. She just said it was a surprise. It was then I noticed tears well up in her eyes. I immediately was concerned, rested my head in her lap, and gazed up at her. "What's wrong?!" I asked.

"Oh Carlo," she said, "it's nothing."

Geesh, as if I would take that for an answer when I know she is upset! So, I pestered her to tell me what was wrong. I can be a pretty dang good pester-er!

Finally she gave me a half-smile, and said, "I'm just very proud of you and can't wait for you to go to college and do well. Someone out there needs you Carlo. Someone out there needs you more than I need you." And, she gave me a big hug. But, as she was hugging me, I could tell she was wiping tears out of her eyes.

I do hope I do well in college. I want to make my puppy raiser proud! I want to make everyone proud of me!

But, college is still a few weeks off. And, I'm tired after a long hike along the river trails. So, for now, I'm going to enjoy the fireplace and curl up and take a nice winter's nap... :-)

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Library Quiet Talk

Today, after my puppy raiser's photography workshop photo shoot turned into a flop (cause of the rain), she took me to Big Dog class. For some reason she doesn't like getting her camera wet, but she has no problem gettin' me wet!

Big Dog class is the last class we (CCI pups in training) take before heading off to college. We always feel like we're hot stuff when we strut by the Riff Raff and, in particular, the KPT classes. KPT is the very first class pups take. CCI pups start going to KPT when they are only 2 months old and they don't know ANYTHING... unlike us Big Dogs.

When we first arrived at Big Dog class, I was a little excited. I couldn't help it though cause first I ran into my buddy Z (who is still in Riff Raff)... and then I saw LMRAT! She is the lady who teaches our classes, AND she fostered me for awhile before I came to live with my puppy raiser, AND I get to stay with her every once in awhile, AND she is the absolute BEST!!! I can't help but get super excited around LMRAT. I always give her my biggest smile.

Usually we hold our classes outside, but since it was rainy and cold, we headed over to a place called "the library". It was fun... but, we had to be REALLY quiet. My puppy raiser kept whispering commands to me and I had to listen carefully to make sure I heard what she said. I asked her why she was whispering and she told me that it was the library rules. She said that you have to be quiet in the library so that you don't disturb people who are reading.

We practiced commands like "out". This command means that I have to swing my butt out, turn around in front of my puppyraiser, and face her. This command is usually used in conjunction with "back". So, we practiced things like walking up to an aisle full of books, doing an "out", and then doing a "back" all the way down the aisle. My puppy raiser said I did really well... and I even noticed that LMRAT gave me the thumbs up (I learned later this means good job in library quiet talk)!

When we got back home, my puppy raiser started taking some photos of me with a bunch of our favorite dog books. But, it didn't turn out to be a quiet event like the library. At first everything was going well. In fact, I almost started falling asleep. But right after my puppy raiser took the photo above, I shifted (a little too much) and I accidentally pulled the black sheet I was laying on (which was being held down by a bunch of glass coasters on a table in back of me). The coasters came tumbling down behind me and crashed! I jumped up from where I was laying. Books went flying. Ashley (the parrot) got spooked and flew down to the floor. My puppy raiser stood up, looking a little stunned. And... I didn't notice any "library quiet talk" thumbs up!