Bringing Home the Tree

Yakira in the parking lot

My family has the tradition of going into the mountains to cut down our own Christmas tree. We like to go the Saturday after Thanksgiving. There wasn’t much snow down in the parking lot but it got deeper as we climbed the hill to our favorite area to find a tree. Yakira had a great time. She got a little cold when we got off the beaten path and the snow was deeper than her legs. I sat down on a log and picked her up, cuddling her inside my coat until she warmed up. Meanwhile Bill got our tree cut down and headed off to help Eric and Danny get their tree down the hill. Our tree is rather little because we put it up on a trunk. This keeps the tree from being too tempting to the puppies. But my sister’s house had 16′ ceilings in their living room so their tree is much bigger and is hard to get down the hill. I was really impressed by Yakira on our trek back down the hill with the tree. She just plugged her way along, keeping a steady pace until we got back to the car.

After the trees were all back to the cars we ate baked potatoes with chili, hot chocolate and other yummy treats. Yakira was very tired after her tromp through the snow and slept on the way home. She loves to put her chin in the notch in the folded up seat in the back of our station wagon.

Yakira sleeping in the back of the car


Phase 3 & 18 months old

Casey – photo by Lisa Thompson

This week’s phase reports came out a day earlier because of the Thanksgiving holiday. Our CFR (Community Field Representative) is on vacation but our club leader used her connections to find out how Casey and Radison are doing. They are both is phase 3! Way to go girls. Here is what they learned in phase 2: In Town and Responsible Lead

  • Body Handling Acceptance
  • Kennel Adjustment and Routine
  • Wearing the Harness
  • Pattern Training Progression
  • Planned Distraction Route
  • Up Curb Exercise #2
  • Physical Agility
  • Responsible Lead Session
  • Obstacle Course Progression

Now what she is learning in phase 3: Preliminary Testing

  • Preliminary Obedience Testing
  • Obedience and Distraction Training
  • Preliminary Blindfold Testing
  • Difficult Distractions
  • Body Handling Acceptance
  • Guidework Training
  • Pattern Training
  • Up Curb Excercise #3
  • Physical Agility Programs
  • Obstacle Course Progression

Today is also Casey’s 18 month birthday. It is hard to believe that our little sweet girl is a year and a half old. It looks like Casey is probably in the same string as her brother Crosby, Radison, and Snickers who all went back on the truck at the same time as she did. Keep up the great work Casey!

Phase 1

Casey – photo by Lisa Thompson

We got the phase report today and Casey is in phase 1. Now Casey is really learning how to be a guide dog. In this phase they cover:

  • Food Reward and Clicker Techniques
  • Obedience Responses & Teaching focus around distractions
  • Formal Obedience
  • Food Refusal Protocol
  • Socialization
  • Body Handling Acceptance
  • Introduction to the Harness
  • Treadmill Training
  • Pattern Training
  • Up Curb Exercise #1
  • Developing Physical Agility
  • Dog Agility Walk
  • Back Up Chute
  • Obstacle Course

I’m so excited that Casey is getting to learn all these things. I can’t wait to see the next phase report.

Three Months Old

Yakira on a quilt

Today Yakira is three months old. She has been with us for a whole month and it is hard to believe that it has been that long already. She is such a smart little girl. In someways too smart. She makes connections sometimes that are not intended. Yakira is a very oral puppy and she likes to not only put her mouth on you but she likes to clamp down with her sharp little puppy teeth. I’ve been working do redirect that biting to toys but instead she has learned that if she bits me I will give her a toy and play with her. Opps! So now I’ve got to work to teach her another way.

Yakira sleeping on the quilt

A to Z installation

Bill and I at the Gale Center with Christmas from A to Z

Today was the day to take the tree to the Gale Center. I picked up a cold last week and didn’t quite get the green finished on Saturday so I had to finish this morning along with a few touch ups. Finally it was ready to clean off all the hot glue threads. With that done I gathered up my supplies and waited for Bill to come to help me get it moved. It wasn’t too heavy, less than 50 lbs. I would guess so it wasn’t too hard. We put couch cushions in the back of our station wagon and it just fit. Once at the Gale Center it took a few minutes to get the table set up and then move the tree into place. It was too tall to go on the stage but the table fit on the step down so the stage area still worked fine. We played around with how to best arrange the packages etc. that go under the tree and then we glued them into place. Last thing was to make sure that all the new hot glue strings were cleaned off. Bill went the extra mile and took the heat gun over the whole tree again.

It will be on display at the Gale Center along with their annual Gingerbread contest through December 2nd. The Gale Center is at 10300 South Beckstead Lane. ( Beakstead Lane is the first light east of Redwood Road.) They are open from 10 a.m to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. But they are closed for Thanksgiving from Wednesday to the end of the week.

It feel so good to have this done. I still want to use the images to make a children’s picture book. I’ll have to squeeze that in between other projects that have taken a back seat while I finished this one up. 

Phase 0

Casey with a couple of her favorite ropes

We finally got the phase report for this week this morning. Casey is on it in phase 0. This is the phase were they do health screenings and kennel socialization. It probably seems pretty much the same as what she has been doing for breeder evaluations. For Casey she is probably just finishing her recovery from being spayed and is waiting to be assigned to a training string. She has probably been assigned a kennel mate by now. I wonder if she is sucking on her kennel mates ears?

Waffle Update

Waffle in pink sunglasses

I was so excited today to see an email from Waffle’s new raiser. I not only got one email but Claraliz replied to all the emails I have sent her and she also send me three photos of Waffle! Yeah!!! She is doing good and seems very well adjusted to her new life. She is still having some fear issues but is making progress. Within just one week we have gotten photos of Apex, Banta and Waffle. What more could a raiser want? Well maybe a webcam that would follow Casey around so I could check on her anytime I wanted.

Beautiful Waffle in her Halloween Costume
Waffle sleeping on her back with her new siblings

Yakira is 12 Weeks old

I took Yakira to the vet today to get her next round of vaccinations. She weighed 22.4 pounds. Just three weeks ago she was 15.6. That is some good growing girl. She has learned so much since we got her almost four weeks ago. She has lots more to learn but she is doing good. We also stopped by JoAnn to get some glue sticks for my candy project. She was so excited to see people and especially kids. Thank goodness for Gentle Leaders so I can redirect her without having to give her a big correction.

Yakira gets her jacket

Yakira taking a snooze in her jacket

Big milestone today with Yakira, she got her jacket. We had puppy class at the South Towne mall today and so she needed her jacket for that anyway. But she did so good. We went to a quiet corner of the mall and all the dogs practiced recalls and go to bed. She did great on recalls and almost did as good on go to bed as at home. She did better on that than some of the older dogs. Nothing wrong with Yakira in the smarts department. She is plenty smart. The challenge is figuring out how to communicate in a way that she understands. She was so cute in he little jacket. And she walked through the food court like a little pro. I forgot to take my camera so no pictures. Today is the last puppy class where she will be the youngest puppy. The Millars are getting a second puppy on the truck on Thursday, a lab/golden cross with the letter “S”. There other puppy, Santini is now the oldest puppy in the group since Cobb got career changed. Santini is just a week or two older than Waffle. Boy they grow up so fast.

Candy Day 18

Today (and the next week) was all about gluing on the green candy to cover the tree. I am cutting most of the candy in half but not down the middle to help the candy go farther and to make them different lengths. Hopefully this will give a more realistic look to the tree. After I had done a section, I decided that it needed something more so I decided to add a bunch of yellow sour balls. It was a bit of a pain to get them on in the area that I had already covered but I think it helps the tree look better and it should help the green candy stretch farther. I’m pretty sure I don’t really have enough but I’ll have to find a way to make it work. The back side probably doesn’t need to be glued as close together as the front side because it won’t be viewed as closely. I’ve calculated that if I get one side of the tree finished every two days I should finish the tree next Saturday. That will give me Monday to clean things up and get it transported over to the Gale Center.