Good-bye Waffle

Salt Lake Tech Guide Dog Class

This morning we handed-off Waffle to Claraliz, a student in the Salt Lake Tech Guide Dog class. At 9:00 this morning there was a meeting for the students and their parents to get their new puppies in training. We learned that the program started just five years ago and that the program is also associated with FFA (Future Farmers of America). The state chapter president came and gave a short speech. There were five puppies given out today; Waffle, Tartan, Shiva, Silver and Rosco. Two more students got their puppies in the spring. So there are 7 puppies in this years school program.

Claraliz and Waffle

After the ceremony the students and their dogs went outside for photos. Then we had a chance to talk to Claraliz. We gave her Waffle’s “Go To Bed” blanket and a cd of Waffle’s book. Waffle was such a good girl. While we were chatting she laid down on Claraliz’s mom’s feet. We are going to miss that sweet little girl. I’m sure she will adapt quickly to her new home, but she has left an empty spot in ours.

Construction Day 4

shaped tree structure

I got the tree structure all shaped today! I like the new shaping technique I figured out. I think it will work well when the candy is put on. It better because I’m stuck with it now. It was hard work to get the shaping finished and I felt like I was on the verge of getting a blister on my thumb to I did the last bit wearing a leather gardening glove. I hate to admit it but I’m getting a cold so I’m not sure how much more I’ll be getting down in the next few days.

Good News!

Apex using his blanket as a pillow while hanging out at the hospital with Sue’s Dad

Sue called to day with great news. The pathology came back today and the results were good. They got clean margins. That means that they got all the cancer! They will be watching him closely but everything looks good. They super glued his incision shut now that they know that they don’t have to go back in. The staples will come out on the 30th. I found out that when Apex went in for surgery they had decided that if when they got in there the cancer was into the bone they would take his leg and if it had progress further they would go ahead and put him down. Oh that must have been such a difficult decision to make. I’m sure that it was the right thing to do but it must have been so hard to send me to surgery knowing that she might not see him again.

I’m so grateful and feel so blessed that Apex has made it through this challenge in such a good way. It turned out that his having an ear infection was such a great blessing. If he hadn’t gone into the vet when he did the outcome of this would probably have been much different. Yeah Apex! Heal quickly you strong handsome boy.

Construction Day 3

Partially shape tree structure

This afternoon and took the tree out in the back yard and started the shaping phase. I though I’d be able to use a saw to take down some of the ridges but it didn’t work very well. The next ridge was getting in the way. So I ended up doing the scrap method, with a chisel. I got the ridges knock down most of the way but there is a lot more work to do to get the shaping right. Towards the end I was experimenting with how to use the chisel and came up with a twisting sort of stroke that leaves an interesting and uneven surface that I think I like. The tree will have a simple cone shape but I don’t want it to look too sterile and I think this method will help.

FrontRunner Ride

Waiting on the platform for the return trip – Bill & Casey

For puppy class this week we road the FrontRunner commuter train from Salt Lake City to Layton and back. One of the puppy raiser’s husband works for UTA and made arrangements for free passes. Casey has been on the train before when we did they same thing for puppy class last winter. Waffle did good too. I thought she might have trouble with getting on the train and going over the gap but she handled everything just fine. I did quite a bit of food rewards as we walked around by the trains and buses just to make sure she kept moving along and didn’t get into her “I don’t want to move” mode. All the dogs seemed to handle things very well.

This was Waffle’s last puppy class as part of our club. Friday she will be transferred to a high school student. It was also Cobb’s last class. He is going to Colorado for our CFR to evaluate him. Lindsey thinks he doesn’t have what it takes to be a guide dog and so Barb will be decided whether to career change him or send him back for training on the October 15th puppy truck. Just one more puppy meeting for Casey, Radison and Kasha. Boy lots of big changes are coming to our club in the next few weeks.

Casey & Waffle Farewell Party

Invite for Waffle’s & Casey’s Farewell Party

We have the tradition to have a Farewell Party the Sunday before each of our puppies gets on the truck. Since Waffle is transferring to the high school program on Saturday and Casey gets on the truck a couple of weeks after that we decided to combine the two parties together. It is just a relaxed fun time where friends, family and especially kids from the neighborhood and play with the pups and see them in their home environment. We had a card to sign for each of the girls. Usually we have a guess the puppy name contest but since we don’t know what letter of puppy we are getting yet we had a vote for your favorite photo contest. We have an official puppy portrait wall and I had narrowed Waffle’s photo down to four and thought it would be fun for people to vote on which one they liked best. We had an obvious winner. So I uploaded it here because I didn’t get any photos take at the party.

winning Waffle portrait – taken by Lisa Thompson

Now I need to get this photo prepared to take to Pixels and have a canvas made for our wall. I don’t think I can get it back before she leaves but hopefully it won’t take too long to get done. Waffle is finally big enough to wear her big girl collar. The other pups have been able to wear it at 6 months but Waffle has such a skinny head that it could easily slip off. Our little girl is getting all grown-up and ready to leave the nest. Friday is going to come really fast I’m afraid. I wonder if it will be harder to had a puppy off to another raiser than it is to put them on the puppy truck back to Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Construction Day 2

With Bill’s help we got the structure of the tree all put together. Yeah! We ran into a few snags but we go through them all. First Bill couldn’t fine his jig saw so we had to cut the plywood base by hand. I had to make three trips to Lowes to get things. First the plug I got for the end of the pvc pipe didn’t fit inside the pipe because it was the same side. So I went to find the right size. I couldn’t see one so I got a coupler and that fixed that problem. Next the 1″ bolt I got was too short. By the time we got all the layers – metal plate, washer, plywood, pvc plug and two more washers there wasn’t any bolt at all to put the nut on. So I went and picked up a 2″ bolt. After we got the support system all assembled we started gluing together all the Styrofoam tree parts. Then we ran out of liquid nail on the last big piece to stick together. So I made one last trip to Lowes.

assembled tree structure

 It feel so good to have this phase of construction done. Bill is happy with how the support system worked out too. Now I should be able to do the rest of the project without any help from Bill. Next week I want to get the tree to its final shape, insert the Christmas lights and paint the structure. If possible I’d also like to rough in the large objects that go under the tree.

Two Years Ago Today

Beautiful Banta on the fresh green grass
It was two years ago today that we first met Banta. She came off the puppy truck with lots of attitude, ready to go out and explore the whole world. Though she was a challenge at times, there was a moment in those first couple of weeks that I saw a glimpse of the dog she could grow up to be. We so enjoyed her wonderful spirit and we know that you do to. Just wanted to let you know that we are thinking about the two of you especially on this day. I sent an email to her handler in honor of this day and here is some of what he said about Banta:
She still has the attitude that she probably had coming of the puppy truck. Boy, I am finding out how stubborn she can be. Now most of our challenges have to do with her stubbornness, and what I call retaliation for going where she may not want to go. For example, if she does not want to walk to the grocery store, she will make it a long, slow, and miserable walk. When she wants to work she is a star.  She is very destination oriented, which is good and bad. If we are somewhere new she targets every door she sees. She still makes me laugh when she is happy and jumps off the curb and I can feel her bouncing up and down as she walks. She is a lot of fun to play with, but again only how and when she wants.
It is fun to get news of how she is doing. He really understands that sweet and spicy girl. I’m so glad for the good match they are for each other. They have been working together for about four months now. Time sure goes by fast these days.

Construction Day 1

This afternoon I went to Lowes and purchased a 2″ x 4′ x 8′ sheet of Styrofoam, two tubes of liquid nails and some hardware to attach the tree to the base. This evening I spent about an hour and a half cutting the Styrofoam with a hand saw into tall triangles to form the structure of the tree. The largest triangles are 48″ tall and 24″ wide at the base. The next size was 40″ tall, then 32″ etc. until the last one was just 10″ tall. There are two triangles of each size plus one that is cut in half to fit around the pvc pipe that goes up the center of the tree for structural support. I glued the two halves of the tree together with liquid nails and bamboo skewers to help hold everything in place while it dries.

two halves of tree structure

Tomorrow I hope to get the base cut and assemble the tree structure the rest of the way. I hope to get Bill’s help on some of this because he is a much better engineer than I am and it is important that the structure is very sturdy. Things get heavier than you think when you get all that candy glued on.
I actually enjoyed the process. It has been 3 years since I made a candy creation on this kind of scale.

Sorting Candy

Yesterday I met with Kathryn and picked up the candy that she had. She doesn’t know what happened to the turntables but she doesn’t have them. So yesterday I looked on line for turntables and came to the conclusion that I just don’t have the budget for one. I could get one without an outlet but then I couldn’t have light on my tree and I really want that. It is probably better this way because it really simplifies the construction phase.

I spent a bunch of time today sorting through all the candy. I threw out a bunch that is just too hard to work with or all stuck together etc. I’ve got all the same color candy together in boxes. It was kind of fun to be sorting candy again. This year really is a test to see if I seriously want to get back into doing candy windows again or if I’m really done. So far it seems positive. Now the boxes of candy are all neatly stacked under the table in the storage room downstairs. I think I might make that my main workspace. For sure it will be were I put things when I’m not in the middle of working on it.

I’ve decided on the green candy for the tree, the green licorice pastilles that I posted about before. But I think I’ll wait to order them until I get the check from South Jordan. I’m a little anxious to get the supplies to build the structure. Not sure when that will get fit in. And Bill told me this morning that he might need to go to Seattle next week. I think I only have about eight weeks to get this thing put together. Yeaks!