Graduation Anniversary

One year ago today we were in Boring, Oregon for Apex’s graduation. What happy memories I have of that day. When it was over I just couldn’t stop smiling, I was so happy to see Apex and his new companion and was a wonderful match GDB had made. Today we have gotten to know Sue much better and have confirmed that they are truly a great team. They had there follow-up with GDB this weekend and everything went very well. The rep said Apex was doing great and was well adjusted. She was amazed at how well the two of them work together and how well bonded they are. They did so well on their evaluation that unless a problem crops up they will probably do the check by phone. 

Apex relaxing with Sue
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8 Months Old

Casey is 8 months old today! It is hard to believe she is that old. If she goes back at 14 months we are now at the half way point. Boy does time ever go fast with these puppies. She is surely growing up because I noticed on Thursday that she was in season. I was hoping she would wait until she was much older like Banta did. Now we might end up having go through two seasons with Casey. 28 days is such a long time when we only have these pups for a year.

Casey is growing up nicely. She is a calm girl with a lot more confidence than we imagined she would have when she came off the truck. She has her challenges. She has chewed through three ropes in the last month and two puppy leashes in the last week. We are trying bitter apple to help with the leash chewing and absolutely no rope chewing only tug time. Her nylabone chewing has matured too. She has always enjoyed chewing her bones but hasn’t been that effective in actually wearing them down. While we were in Florida Casey took about an inch off one side of her wishbone. Since than she has chewed the side down to a nub and has started on the other side.

Speaking of Banta we still haven’t heard any news on her from the Breeding Department. Nordia the other female that went back the same time as her that was still in evals was confirmed as a breeder this last week. So every time the phone rang I would wonder and hope that it was the GDB on the line calling with news of Banta. I sure hope we hear from them this week. I wonder what is holding up the decision?

Kennedy Space Center

Today we drove out to Kennedy Space Center. Sue’s parents drove because we could all fit in their van. It was good to get out of the city and see some of the Florida countryside. The space shuttle wasn’t out today. They had moved it inside to fix some problems with the fuel tank. The KSC doesn’t use any tax money in the operation of the visitor center. It runs off the ticket prices which aren’t cheap but I like the idea that it pays for itself.

Apex guiding Sue at Kennedy Space Center

Sue and Apex with an Astronaut

We saw two 3-D movies on the IMAX screens. One on the Hubble Telescope and the other on the Space Station. On the first one we got to go in first (guide dog privileges). Sue didn’t go to the second one because the first one effected her limited vision and was threaten to give her a migraine.

Alligator at Kennedy Space Center

I got to see my first alligator in the “wild” by the lake behind the movie theater. They have an retire shuttle there that you can get into part of it. I imagined the cargo bay to be much bigger. Bill and I and Amanda stood in line for awhile to go on the shuttle simulator. It was really cool and not at all scary like roller coasters.

Raelyn and Bill with Apex under the Space Shuttle

After the Space Center we drove to Dixie Crossroads, a seafood restaurant that is her families favorite. I think that was one of the main reasons her parents wanted to come today. They are famous for their rock shrimp so I ordered that and Bill ordered crab legs and then we split them so we got to eat both. It was very, very good. The also serve little cornbread doughnut holes with powdered sugar on them that were so tasty. I had to restrain myself so I’d have room for the rest of my dinner.

Sue and her family at Dixie Crossroads

Another wonderful day in Florida. I hated to see it end because who knows when we will get to see Apex again. We stopped Sue’s house before we went back to the hotel so we could see Apex in his spiffy red sunglasses. It was hard to leave but we know that Apex is in good hands, that he loves is life and that he is well loved in return. We couldn’t be happier about his partnership with Sue and she seems to be very satisfied with his work as a guide dog.

Apex in his red sunglasses

Quiet Sunday Afternoon

We were going to go to church with Sue and Apex but it turned out to not be a great Sunday for visitors so I looked up on the internet the closest LDS ward to her house and we went to church their. It was a big ward with quiet a few Portuguese speaking members.

Apex hanging out in his back yard

After church we went to Sue’s house for a relaxed meal with her daughter and brother. We had steak and pasta with a fruit crisp and ice cream for dessert. Apex got to have one of his special doggy ice creams too. After lunch we went out in the yard to watch Apex run around. Sue has a kumquat tree in her back yard so we got to see what they taste like. They are rather sour, like a lemon, but have more of an orangy flavor. I like them.

birds at the lake

Then we drove a couple of miles to a lake to feed the ducks. Bill did all the feeding but the egrets ate the most. The ducks didn’t seem too hungry and the geese were rather slow coming a quick to leave if anything startled them. There were also some sea gull, (they are different than the California gulls we have around here) and a squirrel kept watch over everything up in a tree.

egrets at the lake

It was a such a nice, peaceful day, perfect for a Sunday. 

Holy Land Experience

On Saturday we went with Sue and her daughter (and Apex of course) to the Holy Land Experience. We got to see how Apex worked with lots of people around. They have a replica of the Tabernacle that the children of Israel used when they were wandering in the wilderness. It was interesting to see the reenactment of what the priests did in the temple. The other part I really liked was the Scriptorium where they presented a history of the Bible with lots of old scriptures including some pages of a Gutenberg Bible.

Apex in harness

Apex is such a lucky dog. Sue takes such good care of him. She brings snacks for him of fresh fruit and/or veggies everyday. He eats a dog food with no preservatives so she can only get 20 lbs at a time. Every time she goes to get more dog food the vet checks Apex over to makes sure that he is doing well and monitors his weight. Sue hopes that Apex will be able to be her guide for ten years. He just might make it with how well she takes care of him.

Apex getting pea pods for a snack

We had committed to go to the Top Dog banquet that evening so we headed back to the hotel late in the afternoon and just before we were going to turn left and Sue and her daughter were going to turn right, a car from a side street pulled out to make a left hand turn right in front of both of our cars. Amanda was able to miss the other car and Bill almost got stopped but we still hit the other car.

Our rental car with the bumper hanging off after the acident

After all the police reports etc. were done (the driver of the other car got a ticket), Sue called her dad to bring us something to tie the bumper back on the car so we could drive it back to the rental company and get a different car. They are such kind and generous people. We feel so lucky that Apex is part of such a great family. It was nice to have some moral and physical support with local knowledge when things went wrong. Because of that what could have been a very stressful experience was just an inconvenience.

We ended up being only a few minutes late for the banquet. They had a really good speaker, Kathy Nimmer, the author of the book “Two Plus Four Equals One”. She shared stories from her book about the partnership between service dogs and their handlers. She had us all laughing and crying. At one point one of the dogs their even spoke up to put in their opinion. It was great.

An Evening with Apex

This morning we went to a couple of presentations at the Top Dog Workshop. One was on dog first aid and the other was on the GPS Trakker system. Both were very interesting. Not sure if we will make it to any more of the presentations. They are in conflict with what Sue has planned and I’ll pick spending time with Apex over classes that are more geared to guide dog users than puppy raisers.

Today we did a little shopping until it was time to meet Apex after Sue finished work for the day. When we got to her work she was outside waiting for us with Apex our of his harness and off leash. We he saw us and realized who we were he got so excited and ran around and jump like the “tigger” that he is. It was so good to see him all grown-up and strong. We brought him a huge nylabone and he loved it.

After all of the running around we walk a few blocks away to an Italian restaurant that is one of Sue’s favorites. Apex was all business again when she put the harness on. He is very relaxed when he guides and watches the world around him but he seems to know just what to do. We had a super yummy meal with Sue’s daughter and her parents. It was obvious that they all love Apex just as much as we do plus they are so grateful for the freedom and safety that he has brought to Sue’s life.

Finally we ended up back at Sue’s house where we relaxed on the couch with Apex. It is different to see him on the couch but it is good to know that the rules can be more relaxed in many ways when these puppies get partnered up. It was the perfect end to a wonderful evening with our first puppy. While we were on the couch I remembered to bring our my camera a snap a few pictures.

Snuggling on the couch with Apex

One more day until we see Apex

We made it to Florida really late yesterday. Our flight got in just before midnight so we slept in this morning. After all we are on vacation. We don’t get to see Apex until tomorrow so we decided to go to Universal Studios and see the new Harry Potter experience. The rest of Islands of Adventures was not too crowded but Hogwarts had lots of people. It is really cool. They have it set up so it is like a winter trip to Hogsmead including snow on the roofs of the shops. They have all the stores etc.t that they talk about in the books.

Hogsmead

The lines just a week ago were really long, something like 5 hours but today it was less than an hour. The last part of the line you are inside Hogwarts and it is amazing. They have portraits that talk and move and the effect is very realistic.

Inside Hogwarts

 
The concept of the ride is you are riding a broom and boy was it ever intense. You transition back and forth between a virtual environment and a physical one. It was exciting but I was glad it didn’t last much longer or I might have thrown-up. I wasn’t up to any more roller coaster today.

Hogwarts

 
I can’t wait until tomorrow afternoon when we get to see Apex. It has been almost a year since he graduated!