Saturday, January 19, 2008

A slow day...

Well, the last couple of days have been really slow at work on account of Sundance. Everyone is out looking at the movie stars; not adopting puppies! The weather hasn't helped either in the puppy adoption department. Not many people look at -10 degrees and think "I want to house train a puppy." Cats are still going at a nice steady pace.

Its been a cold, clear week, and we are finally looking at some snow tomorrow. The cold has been so bad, some nights leaving work I have to pick up Sterling because he starts crying and holding up his paws! Lately I have just been driving up to the door so that I can load everyone very quickly.

Sterling sleeping at work today.

Another Raiser (not GDB) and myself went to movie last night; what a blast! Of course, his dog is 10 months and often passes for a working service dog, whereas Sterling is determined to vacuum the floor everywhere we go. We saw 'I am Legend' and it was great! Though if you have a SDiT or SD, definitely take them, I needed some puppy hugs a couplle of times during the movie. I loved the canine co-star; a beautiful German Shepherd! Now I just hope that not everyone wants to go out and buy a GSD.

Sterling went on food protocol last week because of his walking in vest issues, and we have made great improvements! It has enabled me to actually make it to class without dragging a puppy.

I want to go up to Main Street tomorrow and work Sterling and Marley in the crowds; it should be pretty fun!

Dante just enjoying the slow day at work.

Not many pictures right now, but some of Sterling at school will come later next week. Not from that Theater class though; I dropped it because it just wasn't the right fit for me. Going to do a try at Medical Terminology instead.

Happy Tourist Season for Park City. And please feel free to comment! I am trying to be much better about responding to them and making more of my own.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Service Dogs

There are many types of service dogs.  Guide dogs, hearing dogs, mobility dogs, and seizure alert dogs are somewhat known to general population.  The newer types of service dogs, psychiatric service dogs, diabetic alert dogs, autism service dogs, and migraine alert dogs (to name a few) are not as well known.  There seems to be alot of debate with some of these newer types of service dogs.  The problem for those opposed to these types of service dogs seems to be that they do not consider the individuals truly disabled.  

I have a somewhat different view on the matter.  It doesn't matter whether you are home bound or limited in your life from blindness, paralysis, panic attacks, or a medical problem, you are still considered disabled.  The arguments over what disabilities are more deserving or worse seems somewhat petty to me.  Service dogs are for those who need them.

Which brings me to my next point.  Psychiatric service dogs and owner trained service dogs are not the ones who are creating access issues for the general service dog population, it is people who are not disabled and still feel the need to take their dogs places that they are not allowed.  

When I am out with Sterling, people will often ask where I got his vest, so that they can get one for their dog.  Or they will tell me that they have one for their own dog so that they can take them everywhere, even though they will admit they are not disabled.  These are the dogs that have no public access work, these are the ones that give the true service dogs a bad name.  

I hope that people will see the harm that they are doing by impersonating service dogs, and that people will also see that impersonators are the problem, not those with different types of disabilities.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Getting Ready!
Today was the first trial run for what will hopefully be many good seasons of skijoring with the dogs. We went out to East Canyon, a pretty little area just west of where my parent's house is. There is a trail there that we like to hike in the summer.  We mostly stayed on the road, but did make two side trips.  One to do a 'dog problem' for Hugo.  Tom went a ways out and hid, then I sent Hugo to find him.  He made a pretty direct line to Tom, not at all following his tracks. Maybe air scenting?  Many more trials will tell.  
Starting out.
There they go.
The view in East Canyon!
Tom also skied a little shot just off the road.  The dogs followed him up, but by this time they were so tired they had a hard time going through the snow.  I kept trying to get them to come down, but boys will be boys!
Tom starting down. Making that tele turn.
Paving the way for the boys.
Here they come!
Marley and Hugo following Tom's tracks
Almost there!
Snow Dogs!
Aren't they tired yet?

Coming off the slope.
Praise for a job well done.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

What a job....

All I can say is...what a job.
Tom, catching air...
(This picture is the second pic of the day on the PCMR website for Tom.)

And his only complaint from this week is that his legs are tired from skiing so much untracked powder. Poor baby.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Puppy Truck Accident

Here is the email that Guide Dogs Sent out about the accident. Keep them in your thoughts!

As some of you may already know, last Friday afternoon one of our puppy trucks was involved in a serious automobile accident. This accident was the fault of another driver who lost control of his vehicle and hit the puppy truck. Denny Epperson, who was driving at the time, did an excellent job in keeping the puppy truck upright and minimizing the accident as much as possible.

Sadly, one of the five adult dogs traveling was killed during the accident. She was a retired guide who was returning to her puppy raisers for adoption. The four other adult dogs, including Denny's active puppy that he is currently raising, and the 18 puppies aboard were not seriously injured.

The driver's side of the truck took the direct impact, and Denny was taken to UC Davis for treatment. His injuries are serious, but not considered life-threatening. He is scheduled for surgery today, to mend his pelvis and leg. The doctors expect a full recovery. Lee Shenk was the passenger and was not seriously injured. Lee remained calm and took care of the dogs until they were transported by staff back to campus Friday evening.

We are deeply saddened by the loss of the retired guide. And we are deeply grateful to Denny and Lee, who performed amazingly well in a frightening and emotional situation, and who are continuing to conduct themselves with strength and courage. We have spent the weekend ensuring that all of our constituents who had an adult dog on the truck were informed, and that Denny's family had the opportunity to travel to his location.

We also want to acknowledge all of the staff from many different departments who worked together on Friday and made sure that all of the necessary phone calls were made, the dogs and Lee were transported back to campus and taken care of and who supported them and each other.

Please send any cards or correspondence to:
Guide Dogs for the Blind Attn: Puppy Raising
PO Box 151200
San Rafael, CA 94915-1200

Back to School

Well, Spring semester has started. Lucky for me (and my wallet) I only have to drive to Salt Lake two days a week. I have some pretty fun classes too, and all count towards my degree! I have my major class EMS evaluations, a Fine Arts (Survey of Theater, bleh), a Upper division reasoning (Family economic issues, that one will be very useful), and Wilderness first responder and Rock Climbing!

Sterling went to class with me yesterday, and while he was being kinda naughty at the beginning of the day, by the time my night class rolled around we had worked out a nice routine! Lots of short socialization stuff, and plenty of play and rest time so that the day is not too long for him! (Or me!)

We have been getting pounded by storms, and nothing could make Tom happier! I am happy too, but I have to commute down Parleys so that does put a bit of a damper on things. That and I do not get to ski all day long and be paid for it. He says he has gotten some "excellent" pictures at work, and so hopefully I will be able to post those soon. As far as snow goes, it seems like we are getting about a foot of the new stuff every other day this week! Which has made Dante pretty sad when he has to go outside for potty breaks.

More updates to come soon!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Moose on the...loose?

So I came home yesterday, and as I was pulling into the driveway...
Look close...

There she is...

So skinny, I wonder what moose eat...  (Conifers if anyone really wants to know)

Tom looking at the moose.

Having a Service dog in training...

I know that people are often saying things about the weird questions they are asked about their service dogs, or service dogs in training. However, I think some of the encounters I have had need their own category of stupid.

They started back when I was workign Sterling. I was in a coffee shop, just waiting for my order, when a gentleman walked up to me. He then waved his hand right in front of my face and said, "Are you blind?" Since I was looking at him, and when he walked up to me had been reading a text on my phone, I really was at a loss for words. I informed him that there are many types of service dogs, and that Sterling was not a guide dog yet. He walked off in a huff.

Another time I was walking to my car at school, keys in hand, Sterling at my side. A group of kids were getting out of a car with their parents. As I walked past them, and opened my car to get in, the mom tells her kids that "Now you should not bother that doggie, because he is showing that blind lady where to go" While I appreciate her telling her kids not to bother service dogs, WHAT?! Since when do visually impaired individuals drive...?

With Sterling, I have been doing a lot of socilization work down at the ski resort base. It has lots of people and smells, but if he has an accident it isn't a huge deal. (He hasn't had any yet though!) This resort has avalanche search and rescue dogs, and many of the skiers are aware of them. However, they wear red vests with a white cross on them, and Sterling's is green and says "guide dog puppy in training" on it, along with the Guide Dogs for the Blind logo.

I was walking up the plaza the other day, when a guy stops me and says "We could have really used that dog [at the Canyons] yesterday. (There had been an avalanche). Two, guide dog means guide people, not finds people. Second, he is 4 months old!!! When was the last time 4 month old puppies were used for search and rescue? Think before you speak...

I was out with Sterling at the base of Park City Mountain Resort, just doing some crowd work. This guy comes up to me and asks, "Is that a Lab?" I am very used to this question, as Sterling is an English Lab, and most people are used to seeing American Labs. So I say yes, he is a lab. The guy then asks, "A black Lab?" I just don't know what to say...maybe..."No he is purple..." I mean, if he is a lab, and you can see he is black, then wouldn't it make sense that he is a black lab? Lord, I just smiled and walked away. Next time I will say the purple thing.

The final one is this...again at PCMR. A father and his daughter come up to me (daughter is my age or a little older), and the father reads Sterling's vest and says, "So he is a search and rescue dog?" The daughter gives her dad a look, and says, "No, see it says right here, guide dog for the blind." Then the dad looks at her and says "I am glad that college education is working." I thanked the girl for her ability to read and comprehend, something I do not seem to encounter much when out with the dogs.

That's all I have for now. I am positive I will have more stories of this nature to share as the weeks go on.

The last days of 2007...

Happy New Year!  Sorry it has been awhile, lots of things going on. 
Here is an update on the last 10 days...


This was lots of fun.  Tom had to work Christmas Eve day, and I went up skiing with him.  I think i hung out more in the patrol shack than I skied, but it was good to be with him.  That night we had a great dinner with Mom, Dad, Michelle, Tom and Myself.  We opened some presents that evening, with Tom getting plenty of socks to last him the rest of the ski season!
He also got some nice flannel shirts, a multi-fuel backpacking stove, a snow saw, and a crystal card for avalanche work.  I received my first ornaments meant for my own tree this year (thanks Grandma!), and will hopefully have a tree next year to put them on!!! Other gifts included ea rings, socks, money (going towards snow stuff!), books (which I have already read), and plenty of clothes!

Sterling tired after playing in the snow, and with stolen wrapping paper, Christmas morning.
Christmas morning brought with it lots more gifts, too many in my opinion!  The dogs got their presents too!  Marley got a food cube, Hugo a new throwing toy for the park, Dante a new squeaky stuffed dachshund, and Sterling a different flavored Nylabone (I need to find some better toys for him, within guide dog guidelines of course!)  We had a great dinner that night as well.
Christmas eve and Christmas day brought with it lots of snow!!!  This has made skiing great, and the dogs very happy!  While I know tourists are good for the economy, if not the environment, my sanity has been severely tested these past weeks.  From stopping randomly in the middle of the street to figure out where they are going, to clogging up the stores, trying to park in our spots at the apartment, and always putting the bar down on the ski lift!!!   

Snow Monster
The dogs love the snow.  There is an area in Park City that has some permanent tunnels for the dogs to go through, much like agility tunnels.  Marley loves them!!!  He will even jump over them.  When spring comes around, I may have to get clearance from the vet to let him do some agility work.

The bar on the ski lift is something that really bugs me.  Of course, if others want it down, I put it down, however the other day I really wouldn't have cared if these people fell off.  Tom (in uniform) and I were going to ride up Payday.  This is a lift that puts 6 people on each chair.  So we all load, Tom on the outside, and me next to him.  We have barley gotten off the ground and these people were trying to put the bar down.  They slammed  and caught the bar on Tom, Tom's pack, and my knee and knee brace.  And these people didn't even care!!!  They just ignored us and pretended like it had not happened.  I still don't know what to say.  Tourists, remember to pack your brain and some common courtesy for the people that live here all the time.