Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bad Dawgs (by: Gerrit)

Bad dawgs, bad dawgs, whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?

Every dog has got to be a dog once in awhile. And, sometimes us dogs like to be well... a little bad. It's what makes us dogs... and it's what keeps life so entertaining!

Yesterday, as part of my new year's dog distraction resolution, Carlo and I got to go to Point Reyes with a bunch of other dogs (and their peeps). We spent the first part of the day doing training type stuff. I've gotta admit, it was super tough for me to keep it together while training. I try super duper hard... I seriously do, but when I see other dogs... I just get so happy! And, then I lose focus.

I did ok though... especially the part where we had to do an under on top of these big plastic tubes that moved. I wasn't scared one bit! We also got to go into a store that had tons of dog food. Our puppy raisers took us in there just to see what we would do... so, we were on super loose leashes, and our puppy raisers did not correct us or say anything at all to us while we walked through one at a time. They just observed. We were all pretty good... just a little sniffin' here and there. I saw Skipper scarf a few pieces of food off the ground and was worried that there wouldn't be anything left by the time it was my turn... but, there was! :-)

After all the training, it was FINALLY play time. Instead of going to play in the water (like we usually do when we go to Point Reyes), the puppy raisers thought it would be a great idea to take us to a big field instead... that way we wouldn't be all wet and smelly during the drive home.

So, they let us all loose at this field... and OMG... I was in heaven! I ran and ran, with my ears flapping in the wind. All us dogs ran as a pack... this way and that! Through bushes, over hills, and under logs, we ran! And, then... well, one of us (I won't mention any names!) came upon a GREAT discovery. Behind some bushes (and NOT visible to the puppy raisers) was a... GREAT BIG LAKE! The puppy raisers saw us disappear for a moment from sight and I could vaguely hear, "SKIPPER, CARLO, GERRIT, IDELLE.... COME HERE!"... before SPLASH! One after another, all 7 of us were in that great big lake, water and mud flying everywhere... it was pure heavenly bliss!

But, then THEY came. The puppy raisers. They came for us... and they were not happy. They were even less happy when they got a few of us out of the water, and while they were getting the others (and before they could leash the few of us who were out), we were back in the water! Ok, ok, we all knew we were being bad dawgs... but, when you've crossed the line to already being bad... heck, you might as well continue having a little fun as long for as you can!

But, the puppy raisers finally got us all out of the water. And, needless to say, after our little water episode, play time was over. We were a little bummed that it ended so soon... but, would we have done it over if given the chance? Would we still have dared pissing off the puppy raisers by jumping in the lake? Heck yeah! Jumping in that lake was way, way, way too much fun!

The photos above and below were taken at a cool old brick building in the town of Point Reyes Station. Painted on the wall was "No Parking"... but, someone had changed it to say "No Barking"... how funny is that?! If we all look a little wet... it's cause we are! I know... bad dawgs, bad dawgs...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Hotel for Dogs (by: Gerrit)

Today my puppy raiser and her SGF (Special Guy Friend) told me that they were going to take me to a hotel for dogs! "Oh boy!" I thought, "this must be part of my dog distraction new year's resolution... I'm gonna get to go to a hotel FULL of other dogs! How cool is that?!"

Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed when we pulled into the parking lot of a movie theater and I found out that we weren't going to an actual hotel, but a movie called Hotel for Dogs! But, even though it wasn't a real hotel and there were NO real dogs (other than me and the ones on the screen), it was still a good time! As we went into the theater people kept saying "Hi Marley!" as I trotted by. It's weird because these days it seems as if everyone knows me... but, for some reason they all get me confused with that dog from the Marley movie.

The movie Hotel for Dogs was awesome! From where I was laying, I could totally watch it and every time a dog barked or howled in the movie, I snuck a peek between the seats in front of me. We were surrounded by lots of kids in the theater. There was this one part of the movie which was really sad and all the kids around us were sobbing. I won't tell you why they were sobbing cause I don't want to give the plot away... but, I will say that the movie wasn't Marley and Me sad... fortunately, it had a happy ending! And, all the kids around us weren't sobbing by the time the movie was over.

After the movie, I got mobbed by people... but, it was all happy people since Hotel for Dogs had a happy ending. As my puppy raiser was taking the photo above, I had quite the audience. There was one little girl who kept posing with me... she was really funny! And, HAPPY! I love happy people! And, I love happy movies! If you ask me ALL movies should have happy endings... especially dog movies!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

My New Years Resolution... which was my Puppy Raiser's idea! (by: Gerrit)

My puppy raiser told me shortly after the start of the new year that MY New Years Resolution was going to be more dog distraction training. I don't quite get the whole concept of resolutions, but I thought that people (and dogs) were supposed to write their own resolutions! What's up with my puppy raiser writing mine? Anyways, I decided to just go with it because heck, I LOVE dog distractions!

Today I found out that my idea of dog distractions and my puppy raisers idea of dog distractions are totally different. Or, I should say... what we DO with those dog distractions are totally different things. I thought by dog distractions I would get to go play with a bunch of other dogs. But, instead my puppy raiser brought me to a dog park and worked with me on commands!!! It was awful! It was like the biggest tease in the world. Here we were at this HUGE dog park with TONS of dogs of all different shapes and sizes, and instead of entering the dog park, my puppy raiser made me work! The worst part was when we went to this bench and she made me do a whole sequence of commands... down, up, side, jump, off, heel, under, etc. etc. And from where the bench was, I had FULL view of all the other dogs running and playing. I could hardly think straight! My puppy raiser told me that was the whole point. She said I tend to lose a few brain cells when I'm around other dogs and that we need to work on that. Lose a few brain cells? Of course I lose a few brain cells... who needs them when play is involved?!!

After working around this bench, we then walked up to the fence of the dog park and we walked along it. Every time my brain cells would start to fade and I began forging, my puppy raiser turned into me. This was even worse than the bench... because we attracted an audience of OTHER DOGS! They walked along with us on the other side of the fence and every time we turned and went in the other direction, they turned and followed us! Everywhere we went, they went!

After the whole dog park ordeal, my puppy raiser then took me to the pet store where we worked some more! She made me do all kinds of commands right in front of the fish tanks, dog toys, dog food, and OTHER DOGS!!!

Needless to say, by the time we got home I was TIRED... but, not too tired to play of course! So, while my puppy raiser worked in her studio, Carlo, Lucky and I played. But, then we got kind of bummed that my puppy raiser wasn't playing with us, so we kept peeking our heads into the studio to see if she was done yet. She managed to take a few quick shots of us doing this. That's a photo above of me and Carlo peeking in (I'm the one with the nylabone in my mouth)... and here's a photo of Lucky doing it as well.

After a whole lot of peeking, we finally convinced her to set down the camera and we ALL ran outside and played. Whew, FINALLY!

I tell ya'... this dog distraction New Years Resolution sure is gonna be a tough one!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

My Very First Hospital Visit (by: Carlo)

This week I went with my pal on our very first hospital visit to Sutter Memorial!

There was quite a bit of prep before we even made it to the hospital. Before EVERY visit we make, I have to be totally clean. So, the night before our visit, my pal gave me a bath. I hopped in the tub and she scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed me some more. It wasn't like I was even all that dirty, but there sure was a lot of scrubbin' going on! After my bath, she cleaned my ears, trimmed my nails, and brushed my teeth. Then she used the furminator on me. The furminator is this special brush that makes my hair go flying off. Every time my pal uses it, she comments on how much dang hair I have. What can I say? I'm part golden retriever!

All that cleaning was totally worth it because I REALLY enjoyed the hospital visit the next night. We went with a group of four other handlers and their dogs... one dog was big like me, one was sort of medium sized, and two were itty bitty little things. I think I was the youngest one there. There were also three people there who have been Delta volunteers for a long time... they took us around the hospital and showed our handlers what they were supposed to do.

We first went to the high risk maternity ward. We were told that this was a good place to start because it was a low stress environment for new dogs and handlers. After visiting a few patients there, we went to the cardiac monitoring ward. This was a little more stressful because several of the patients recently had surgery. We had to be very mindful of equipment and tubes. Fortunately, because I'm so big, I could walk right next to beds of patients, where the patients could easily pet me. Eventually, I'm going to learn how to also sit on a chair and lay in bed with patients, so that they can pet and snuggle with me even more.

I sure am glad that I had all of that training when I was younger to be a CCI assistance dog. Even though I didn't make it in that program, the training sure did prepare me for my new line of work. I'm used to being out in public and experienceing new things, so nothing at the hospital phased me. But, I could tell it was a little stressful on the other dogs. Some of them got a little nervous around big machinery and in the elevator. The other volunteers kept commenting on how calm and mellow I was, but having been a CCI pup in training, I totally had an advantage!

We got to visit some really nice people at the hospital... and they were so happy to see us! We even got a ton of attention from the hospital staff. They have very stressful jobs, and I think us dogs helped relieve that stress (sort of like when I used to go to work with my pal and my pal's co-workers would pet and snuggle with me when they had stressful days). The absolute best part about my hospital visit was visiting with the patients. When I would enter a room, I could immediately sense a patient was not feeling well. But, then the patient would see me and his/her face would totally light up! Several patients told me about their dogs at home and how much they missed them. I bet these dogs can't wait for their person to come home again. I'm happy that I can be a doggie substitute for these people until they can once again snuggle with their own dogs in the comforts of their home.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I Love Vacations and San Francisco! (by: Gerrit)

For the holidays, my puppy raiser and I were on vacation for a whole week and a half! That meant no work... just fun! We slept in, went on long walks, played, opened Christmas gifts, and played some more... with our new toys! It was awesome! I wish we were on vacation ALL the time! One of the bestest things we did while on vacation was go to San Francisco with my buddies Nick, Idelle, and Skipper and their puppy raisers.

We drove to Concord and from there took a train named BART into the city. It was kind of weird because you would think that something with a name like BART would be real. But, I don't think it was real since it was a train. Although, it did rumble around and make lots of noises like something that was real! Kind of scary now that I think about it. But, at the time, I didn't think anything of it... and just fell asleep.

Once in the city, we walked and walked and walked. My puppy raiser kept saying that at the end of the long walk we would get to go to a super special beach where we could play. She said she took Carlo and Lucky there last year and they had such a good time. But, after we walked FOREVER, we still weren't there. I didn't mind the walk though cause we saw tons of stuff... like a guy who drummed on bowls, dogs of all shapes and sizes, and huge smelly creatures called sea lions. We also stopped for lunch at a restaurant at Fisherman's Wharf. If you looked out the windows of the restaurant you could see the smelly creatures... but, us pups were too worn out to look. We all just fell asleep.

After lunch, we walked and walked some more. Finally my puppy raiser took out a map and realized that the special beach was a little further away than she originally thought. By this time were near a place called Ghirardelli Square. And, it was kind of late in the day. So, the puppy raisers decided to give up on the beach idea and instead go get some chocolate. Huh?! Chocolate over beach?! We pups were robbed! Now if we had given up on the beach to get doggie treats I could TOTALLY understand, but the chocolate was for the puppy raisers! We pups can't even eat chocolate cause it's bad for us!

I was looking a little sad about not going to the beach so my puppy raiser patted me on the head and promised that she would take me there another time. Oh boy! I can't wait to got back to San Francisco! Is it time yet for another vacation?!