Pupdate: Apex & Yakira visit

Yakira and Apex

We were privileged to spend a whole week with two of the puppies we raised, Apex and Yakira. They flew in from Florida, with their owners just to visit us and do some sightseeing in the area. They are both healthy and happy in their careers and their lives in general.

coming down the jet-way

We got gate passes so we could “help” Sue and Sharan, but it was really so we could see our pups asap. When they saw us they got super excited and ran to greet us. Not sure what everyone at the gate thought but it was super fun to have two happy black labs come running to say hi. It was so great going places with them.

Sharan, Yakira, Apex and Sue outside the Conference Center

the whole gang at our house

Only fly in the ointment was Fable was in heat so she had to stay home. We did borrow another puppy in training, Tamara, for a few days. I wonder what people thought to see three black labs traveling around together. There favorite activity was watching the Tabernacle Choir practice.

Apex at the Tabernacle Choir rehearsal

Yakira at the choir rehearsal

I was sad to see them go. Too bad they don’t live down the street so we could all get together every week or so. Can’t wait until we can swing a trip to Florida to visit them!

Apex

Yakira

 

Pupdate: Emma

Emma at her last puppy class on September 2nd 2014

Emma at her last puppy class on September 2nd 2014

We found out this week that our 8th puppy that we raised for Guide Dogs for the Blind has been adopted. Remember back in November they discovered that she has a bad back so she couldn’t be a guide dog. So they have been looking for just the right situation for her and her luxating lumbar. Emma’s mom’s family wanted to take her but their life style was too active for Emma. On December’s update they said that another family was considering her. I don’t think that worked out either. But when we got the latest update they said that a long-time volunteer at GDB has adopted Emma. This person is retired to Emma isn’t home alone much and they are doing well together. I think that after 30 days we will get the official paper work on Emma’s adoption. Hopefully they will want to keep in touch. I have a hard time imagining a volunteer at Guide Dogs for the Blind not being willing to keep in touch with a puppy raiser, so I’m hopeful.

Today also marks 6 years since our very first puppy, Apex, graduated as a guide dog with his handler Sue. He will be 8 years only in May. The age that the “R” word starts to creep into the picture. We hope he will enjoy working for another year or two but it is a rare dog who works past 10 years old. So far he is a happy and healthy guide dog. Since he is very well-loved and taken care of, I think he will be working for a while yet.

Pupdate: All pups

As I looked back I realized I haven’t done an update on most of my pups since March so here goes:

Apex curled up on the car seat

Apex, the senior pup of the group turned 6 years old in May. He is still a happy and healthy boy. They went on a cruise to Key West in the spring. Apex is a frequent traveler. I wish I traveled to as many fun places as he does. Sue retired from a long-time position a couple of months ago, so Apex’s days are a little slower, though she has been super busy taking care of family and friends in need. Sue starts a substitute teaching job this fall. I’m sure Apex will enjoy being around the kids again after the summer off.

Mark and Banta at the Furry Scurry

Banta still loves being a guide dog. She and Mark went out to dinner a while ago and as they were leaving a group of people where admiring Banta. One of them said, “your dog looks so happy.” She had her head and tail up and wagging as they walked out. Mark loves her spunky personality. They are such a perfect match. He wrote this about her recently:

She has learned a new bad habit. When we are going home and I have my cane, I undo her leash when we are getting close to our back gate. She lets me walk about 5 feet and then runs and either jumps and hits me in the back or runs around and punches me in the stomach. She does this about every 5 feet until we get home. It probably does not help that I start to laugh and give her treats when she punches me. Sometimes I reach out to grab her and she will jump and do a 360 turn in the air, of course that is worth another treat.

Casey curled up on her bed

Casey and Carrie spent 10 days in Italy this year. She enjoyed the cobblestone streets and lounging in the sun. When they got home Carrie went through the final ceremonies for becoming a lawyer. She is working in the same firm where she articled. They moved her office to the sunny side of the building so that Casey could enjoy the sun. She is a fair weather girl.

Waffle met Carole two years ago on Sunday. She gained another sibling this year. It is a four dog household now. With Emma going to San Rafael there is a good chance we will be taking a trip there in a few months. Waffle lives in the area so I’m hoping the timing works out to see Waffle and meet Carole while we are there. No new photos of Waffle to share but Carole posted this Short Video on Facebook. I think you will be able to see it. Waffle plays the supporting role to her sister Shelley.

Sharan and Yakira on the cruise to Key West

Yakira got to go on her first cruise in May. Apex who is a veteran cruiser was there to show her the ropes. So awesome that two of our pups got to go on a cruise together. Sharan had hip replacements soon after the cruise and is now starting to get out and about again. Yakira is enjoying life in Florida at just the pace she likes, slow and easy.

Zodiac and friend Roxie watching over Kolton

Zodiac and David just passed their year mark as a team this month. They are now officially a successful guide dog team. Zodiac is devoted to David and remains the same fun-loving dog he was as a puppy. I am hoping to plan a road trip to Missouri to see them in the near future.

Dune chillin’ out in her new digs

Dune and Ashleigh have been a team for two months now. Though she is not a fan of the Arizona heat she loves being a guide dog. Here is some of what Ashleigh has said about Dune:

I have to say, Dune is an amazing guide. Dune is a spark plug. She always wants to get going and I am so happy to see her tail wag when I grab the harness. I really have seen her excitement and joy at being told she did a great job and getting a good pat on the head. It makes me smile regularly to see her tail wag in excitement at finding that tricky doorway or that randomly placed light post.

Emma’s Farewell Party Invitation

Emma will be getting on the puppy truck in two weeks from tomorrow. The last few weeks always go so fast. So much to fit into those last days. I never seem to get enough photos taken. I still need a really good picture for her official portrait. We are having the traditional farewell party for Emma a week from Sunday in the afternoon. If you are in the area and want to come let me know and I’ll send you our address. We are going to miss her lots, but she is ready to go and I’m excited to see if she wants to be a guide dog.

Puppy Truck Countdown14F puppy comes in just 13 days! Time to get geared up for a cute but clueless puppy. It is such a shock to go from a well-trained dog to the brand new puppy but it is also fun to see them for the first time, learn their name, and get to figure out their personality. Each puppy is different and we learn so much from each one of them. Still time to add names to the name guessing contest.

Boy that took longer than I planned. Guess I’d better do updates on the pups as they come in instead of doing them all at once. It will be my goal to get updates done every Friday.

Lots of Pupdates

It has been a fun week in getting news on our pups. When I think about it I’ve heard something from all of our pups in one way or another so lets take them in order.

Apex: you may remember that we are planning a cruise to Alaska with Apex & Sue. Sue is a super organized planner and she is keeping us on track in make plans for this exciting trip. This week she sent us an update some of the little details of our trip.

Banta: She is in perfect health. Banta recently had her annual trip to the vet for shots etc.

Carrie and Casey

Casey: We got a wonderful update from Carrie and Casey about their holiday travels including photos from Invermere. Plus some stories about a “couple of typical lab incidents.” She had some trouble eating a fleece blanket and the stuffing out of her dog bed while in her crate. Thankfully she didn’t develop a blockage and all is fine there. The other one had me laughing because she pulled something similar when she was being puppy sat when she was young. Here it is in Carrie’s words:

One night, I was up extremely late preparing for two important presentations the next day. I had 3 hours of sleep in total. Sometime in those 3 hours of sleep, Casey got up and consumed half of the cat’s litter in his litter box! Gross! I was in my business suit and high heels, cleaning up large amounts of upchucked litter, wondering if I could take her with me to the courtroom and if she was going to throw up cat litter all over the place while I made my submissions! She looked a little green but I called the vet to make sure she didn’t need to go in again and they said she should be okay. That was a really rough day. Since then, Casey is now happily on tie down on her bed, and I’ve installed a door thing to prevent her from gaining access to the litter box. She is so sneaky and mischievous sometimes but it is hard not to resist her beautiful brown eyes.

Casey running in the snow

Waffle: Bill was going through some mail and found a card stuck between two other pieces of mail from Waffle’s new partner! This was our first direct contact with Carole! We didn’t even have her name. I’d sent a couple of things to her via Guide Dogs for the Blind. But with career change situations if is up to the new owner to decide if they will have any kind of contact at all. Carole offered to send photos, so I popped her an email and we got a few photos of Waffle in her new life. Here is a little of what Carole said:

Waffle has a busy life.  She travels with me for work.  She’s been to Boston, Arizona, Costa Rica, New York so far. When we’re home she’s with our elderly boxer, Tucker, and her best friend, Evie – a 2 year old black lab.  She still doesn’t swim in the pool but I’m planning to teach her this summer.

Waffle

Now I can do the last version of Waffle’s puppyhood book, including or career and a little about her home and family.

Yakira: Puppy #5 is continuing to move along through training. This weeks phase report has her in phase #7! She will most likely be class ready next week and a new class is starting in Oregon on the 21st so it is possible that Yakira could be graduating as soon as February 2nd. Of course it will probably take longer than that for her to be partnered but who knows.

I need to get moving on Yakira’s book too. I’ve worked on it a bit but I’d like to have it pretty much done by the time we go to her graduation. Coming up with words that start with “Y” for her book isn’t the easiest thing to do but I think I’m close.

Zodiac: Our current puppy is doing well. He is really starting to mature and he kept things lively around here and he probably makes me laugh every day. He is such a fun-loving boy.

Puppy #7: Our club leader said to keep next Wednesday open for a new puppy to come. It isn’t 100% for sure yet but it is the first hard info we have had on our new puppy. Thinking of a new cute little puppy always brings a smile to my face.

It is amazing to me that with seven different dogs involved that we could have some kind of contact or information on each dog within a week span. That makes this week extra special to me.

Pupdate – Yakira, Zodiac and Apex

Yakira – photo by Lisa Thompson

First off, Yakira is in phase 3! Way to keep it up girl. I think she is going to make someone an amazing guide dog. More on what she is learning in phase 3 here.

sunset from Apex’s cruise

Next up, Apex and Sue just got back from a cruise! He is such a lucky pup. Here are a few photos from their trip.

Apex enjoying his cruise

Apex’s litterbox on the cruise

Last up is Zodiac. We went to the Eye Institute of Utah this week. They were so generous and donated a generous amount to our puppy club. Plus the pups each got a fleece blanket and a dog toy. It was so much fun to stop by so that the employees could get a little puppy love.

Nairobi, Zodiac, Sony, Yanni and Savoy at the Eye Institute of Utah – photo by Karen Fuller

Zodiac and Sony – photo by Karen Fuller

pups with their toys and blankets from the Eye Institute

Yakira – phase 1

Yakira - photo by Lisa Thompson

Yakira – photo by Lisa Thompson

This weeks phase report finally had Yakira’s name on it. She is official in phase 1! It seems like it she has been gone for such a long time. Actually it has been almost 7 weeks. Some of the other dogs that went back on the truck with her are in phase 5. I’m guessing that the Thanksgiving holiday slowed down her start into training. I know I shouldn’t get impatient about it all but I still do. I really do know that it will all work out and that the best life for her is ahead, no matter what road that is.

For more details on what Yakira is learning in phase 1 see this post on Casey in phase 1.

On news on some of the other puppies in our life:

  • Zodiac is doing great. I’ve seen some maturing in the last week or two. He is being much less of a rebellious teenager. Sometime I see him crouch to jump on me and he stops himself. He turns 9 months on Monday.
  • Apex is off on a cruise to the southern Caribbean for more than I week. Sue has promised pictures. I can’t wait to see them. He has such a great life with Sue.

Apex Update

Apex in his rain coat

I got some of the cutest pictures of Apex this week. Even though they didn’t get hit by hurricane Isaac, they got plenty of rain in Apex’s neck of the woods. He wasn’t too happy about standing in the rain to get his photo taken but isn’t he just so handsome.

Apex is a good listener

We also got this sweet photo with the following explanation:

He was in the 2-year-old class today making friends when we caught her telling him the story about her picture. Today was her 1st day and she had been screaming all morning… But after Apex came to visit all was well.

It makes my day when ever I get news from one of our pups and when photos come too it is even better. It is icing on the cake when I get a sweet story like that above about the impact a puppy we raised is having on the world.

 

Update on Apex

Apex in a little red wagon

Yesterday we got a fun email from Sue and Apex. It was these two photos of Apex. It makes my day anytime we get good news or photos about our pups. This week has been National Volunteer Week so I think of these photos as a way to celebrate the spirit of volunteerism.

Apex in his sunglasses

Two Wonderful Yet Event Filled Years

Sue and Apex from our trip to Florida – January 2011

Today marks two years since Apex met his handler at Guide Dogs for the Blind in Boring, Oregon. Sue sent out the following email about her life so far with Apex.

Today marks a wonderful milestone in my lifethat I wanted to share with you all.  2 years ago last week I received acall giving me the flight information to go to a cold and wet Portland toget my guide dog.  As I finished the final preparations and packing, I wasnervous and worried how this would all play out.  Amanda, mydaughter, was only months from graduating high school and I needed to finda new way to get around.  How would he fit into my office life? Would Istill be working? What and where life would take me in these last 2 years hasbeen remarkable and totally unthought of at that time. I took a plane flightacross the US changing planes several times – it would be the last time I wouldbe so scared to travel alone.  It was 2 years ago today that I metApex for the very 1st time.  His birth date is the same as my kitten’s, andhe was the tall, dark and handsome man I prayed for since I was in high school(so… he came on 4 legs instead of 2 – I had to compromise somewhere – haha).He and I hit it off within minutes and we have been unstoppable ever since. He does not mind shopping as long as lunch is included and he loves to traveland see many new faces and places. As I type this, he lays next to me sleeping(and snoring) in the warm Florida afternoon sun.
I have traveled all over (Eastern Caribbean/Bahamas/Virgin Islands/ Massachusetts/Connecticut/Vermont/Florida/Texas/Georgia just to name afew) with my tall, dark and handsome guiding my footsteps, we watched asAmanda graduated high school and we partied the night away (I had earned it !),we worked several full military honor funerals with out a flinch from my guideduring the honor gun salutes, we tackled and attended a movie premier (Lettersto God– it was filmed at my office just before I got Apex), we survived 2long endless months with dad in CCU/ICU/PCU and then his death and funeral, wegot caught in the October snow/ice storm in the northeast, and we stillcontinue to work, travel and shop on our own.  We have found anew church home and attend every chance we can.  I still remainindependent although my brother refuses to let me mow the yard, fix theplumbing, or hang pictures (things blind folks don’t do so well at anyway).
We (Apex and I) are currentlyplanning more trips: to the Caribbean in early 2013, another to go skiingin Utah in the fall of 2012, and then I am starting the process ofplanning my dream trip to Alaska to see the Arura Borelis and Hawaiito see the volcano and black beaches (both states are on my bucketlist and I can not believe they will actually become reality in the summer/fallof 2013) as well as a trip, or two, to see family and friends all acrossthis land.  Laying down my drivers license was very hard as I thought itwould be the end of my working and traveling days but instead God traded me -my driving a car for my wonderful guide dog. 
Apex has truly lived up to the meaning of hisname and been the pinnacle of my life even thru the health scares we haveboth endured.  Two and a half years ago it took me nearly an hour to go 1block with my white cane finding every crack in the sidewalk and more oftenthan not, I sat at home totally frustrated and exhausted by trying to travel orwalk. Yesterday, Apex and I did 2 miles in 30 minutes without thinking aboutit – what a joy to be able to walk like a sighted person again.  Heloves children and so I am getting back into working with them more andmore.  He also loves to entertain the crowd while I (attempt to) sing, soI am once again beginning to sing on stage ( I always hated being taken and ledlike a small child so I stopped singing when I started loosing myvision.).  I also have begun pursuing things that interest Sue as I beginto enjoy the “empty nest” now that Amanda has moved out.  It isamazing how much less house cleaning there is to do when there are no childrenaround…humm  (I had forgotten that part of being single…)
Thank you all for your prayers and emotionalsupport over these last 2 wonderful and event filled years and continue to prayfor us as I have no intentions of slowing down anytime soon. Who knows- you maysee me at your door or even hear me as I go by.  God truly does give usriches beyond measure and often more than we can think of.
Celebrate today – it is all we know we have -tomorrow is simply hoped for and yesterday was.  
on our Happy “Puppy Day” 
Sue and Guide Apex