Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Gondy Ride

Winter has met Winter at Mammoth Mountain, California. On Christmas Day, I turned 10 months old, and my puppy raisers decided to spend the Holiday in the snow.

I've never been in the snow before. There are so many different textures for my puppy paws to experience. There was soft snow, crunchy snow, ice, salt pebbles, asphalt crumbles, dirt,,,,,all of these textures are good for my paws, because it toughens the pads up. When I go "In For Training", I should have some awesome tough paws to train with.

After every walk, I would get a little mini spa for my paws. They would get washed and checked for any injury. With the ice, it's possible to cut a paw pad, and little pebble could get stuck in between my pads too. My little big paws got burrrrry chilly, but the nice warm water bath after my walks was super duper nice. I was in no hurry to get out!

Today I got to ride the "Gondy", aka Gondola! But first, to reach the Gondola I had to walk about a 1/4 of a mile very, very gingerly for my handler. The last thing I wanted to do was take her down. The snow and ice is very slippery for her, not so much for me. I have claws ;-)
We got up to the Gondy and it said NO DOGS. Hahahaha. Fortunately for me, I was dressed and ready to work. I sat and watched the Gondy cars go by for a few, before I decided to get on one. I was curious how this contraption worked. I've been on many car rides before, not one in the air!

I walked right up to the Gondy car and hurried on, with a little jump and I was in! Now what? Hmmmmmm. Not too sure about this. We are all sitting in a circle looking at each other, and uhoh, zoom,,,,,,there goes the gondola. We are in the air! Climbing, getting higher. The ground beneath me feels funny. My handler had me jump up on the seat so I could see out. Wow, what a view.

Now we are getting closer to the Lodge where we have to get off. A few bumps later and we are at load-out. The door opens and out I go. And the crowd goes wild. "AWE". "Mommy, look a puppy and he has clothes on." "What's his name?" ..."Winter" AWE!!

I had a really great time escorting my puppy raiser, Tina, to the hill and back home. I can't wait to do it again tomorrow. She said she would take me to the top of the mountain, over 11,000 feet on the Gondy if I get used to it. We'll see.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Are You Kidding Me?

Leave it.

(heart shaped peanut butter treats)

OK, fine, I'll just chew on my toy then. (Good Boy)

Winter and the Italian

When NASCAR was in town, my dad took my mom and I along with him on a very important dinner with our friend Richard and race car driver Max Papis. Max is Italian, so we went to an Italian Restaurant in Newport Beach on Lido Isle. I had to be on my best behavior, and table-up! I did, no problem, it was past my bedtime. Afterwards, my mom and Max talked about each other's charities. He was going to Children's Hospital in Long Beach the next day. I hope I get to meet Max again someday to tell him more about where I came from and what I was born to do, be a Guide Dog! He's a really nice man, and a great race car driver. GO MAX!

Winter and the Hollywood Bowl

MY FIRST CONCERT! It all started about a month ago, when mommy Tina joined the Jason Mraz fan club on Facebook. Jason's fan club had a pre-sale, and 10 minutes after they went on sale, all of the tickets were sold! Tina happened to get two tickets, but..........they were not together. How can I go to Jason Mraz, my first concert and not sit with both puppy raisers? One ticket was in Garden seating and the other ticket was in the Terrace. Dad was worried, mom was not. A dilemma indeed.

The day before the concert, Tina called the Hollywood Bowl and introduced me as "Winter" a Guide Dog Puppy In Training. She asked if there was an area that we could be moved to that would have a little bit more room for me to dance! They were tickled pink, and happy to accommodate......just look at the face I gave them! So, we traded in our tickets for two seats next to each other and away we went.

The gates were not open yet, so we decided to go to the Hollywood Bowl Museum, located on the grounds and free to the public. You can learn about the history of the Hollywood Bowl, and about the artists that have performed there. They also have larger than life musical instruments to experiment with. Here is a picture of me conducting with Esa Pekka Salonen=)

After the museum, my dad Brian took us around to the super secret back entrance that is open to the public, but the public doesn't know! Hence, we were the first in line to get in, and when the gates opened we immediately bee-lined it for the restaurant. (Speaking of bees,,,,I'm okay after my bee sting. Nothing that a weeks worth of Benedryl can't handle!) After enjoying a wonderful "table-up" with my puppy raisers, we headed for our seats. WHAT A SURPRISE! FRONT ROW RISER, STAGE RIGHT! It was not even traditional seating. It was more like, my own yard, but shared with six 12 year old girls, and it was their first concert too! Here is my view!

I had such a great time, and I can't wait for another concert! It was a long night, and I really tried to stay awake, but with two opening acts, Brett Dennen and G Love and Special Sauce,,,, and then when I had to "get busy", it was a really long walk out of the gate and then back in,,,,well I conked out.

Until next blog friends......I have a "table-up" date with a famous race car driver!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Sawdust Festival

In the Summertime, I went on an excursion to the Sawdust Festival. Yes Sawdust!!! Sawdust here, there, everywhere! No sniff, no sniff, no sniff. I was just shy of 6 months old then (now I'm 8 months old). This place would make a great backyard. It was so full of fun, foliage, water, bridges....oh, I was happy here!

Here is our group picture.....well a series of pictures to get to the group picture. You see, it took us awhile to get just the right shot. The puppy raisers were laughing. They all thought it was funny, but somehow I felt if I stepped off of the bench without being released, it wouldn't be funny, so I just STAYED!

"Hey, where are you going?"

"Get back here!"

"There you are!"

"Now we are all here." And look I stayed the whole time! I'm so proud of myself.

Winter and the bee

Last night at obedience class I was doing so good. Ramona had us on a downstay, and I was watching the ants go by in the crack, and then this bigger bug came by, so I sniffed it! Bad idea. I got stung by a bee! I flicked him off of my lip really quick. My puppy raiser saw the bee and immediately announced that I had been stung. All of the puppy raisers ran to their cars to search for Benadryl, luckily Dutch's raiser had some in her car. Within 10 minutes my whole lip swelled up, so that means I'm allergic! I have to tell GDA what happened so they know that I am allergic for future handlers. AND I have to keep Benadryl in my "Go Bag" all of the time now. The swelling could have kept going, but it stopped and was kept localized, so that's good, but had it gone any further than just the localized area we would have gone to the emergency, as this situation can turn quickly into a breathing problem. It's good we have bee's. We need them, but not on my body!

Note: Puppy Raisers: check with your vet as to the proper dosage for your dog's weight, and be sure to report any allergic reaction from any kind of sting.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Dog Gone Summer

Wow, has it been a long time since I have given you an update. The Summer went by so fast, and now here we are in the Fall already. I'm 7 months old now, and I can't wait for Halloween. I get to dress up, and go Trick or Treating with my niece Emma. It's her first time Trick or Treating too. I hope we don't get too frightened.

So, back to why I have not been blogging lately. I was sick for 3 weeks, no obedience, no walks, no shopping, no bank, no post office, no playing with my doggy buddies. Can you say "Patience Young Grasshopper"? I learned how to be on a tie down really good. I learned my backyard configuration very well. Hmmmmm, I like television and music, especially Wall-E. That Eve is so sweet. I love her. When Wall-E says Eeeeeeeeeeeeva, I just melt, and tilt my head to the side. I like to lay on my mom's lap while she rubs my belly and watch Wall-E.

Speaking of belly. There is something else I have to tell you. I am one step closer to becoming a Guide Dog, because after I got better from my icky Summer sicky, I got called in to be neutered. Yep, I had the Big Boy Operation! So my belly rubs are very gentle right now, and we are back to the no no no's. No running, no jumping, no rough-housing, no walks (well we can have short controlled walks), and the nice vet department sent me home with a thing for my head. They call it a martini glass. I call it a real pain in the.........neck! Some people call it a lampshade, the cone of silence, conehead, really is limiting my activity level here.

With all of this down time, I did manage to get lucky and attend the 2nd Annual GDA Campout, at Lake Casitas, in the Ventura County mountains, near Ojai.

My puppy raiser Tina, took the Airstream and we joined dozens of other GDA dogs. There were working Guides, and Puppies in Training, and Breeders there. My mom brought the Puppy Pool and I swam with Kelly and Catalina. It was very hot there, over 100 during the day, but in the 60's at night. We saw racoons during one night as I had to "get busy".

Every morning I went for a walk with my fellow GDA puppy friends, Sammy, Perry, and Catalina. We got to play on the playground and go down the slides. That was fun. I didn't hesitate at all. Here are some memories.

This is Catalina, Sammy, Perry, and me, Winter:

This is Catalina and I playing tug of war:

I had the best time at the campout. I can't wait for next year! I really like this camping thing. Next stop, Napa!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Obedience Week Two, Brian's Turn

It's Brian's turn to take the leash! I can get away with things when Brian is at the reigns. He doesn't get to spend as much time with me like Tina does, so I really take advantage of Brian. But this is not a good idea, not a good idea at all, especially when in front of Ramona. She knows my antics and moves right in to correct me. Ramona helped Brian a bunch today with me. I acted up a bit, but I got over it. Here's a picture of me with my group. Notice how Sydney , Palmer, Garth, and Yogi are in a perfect big boy sit, except for me? "There's an awful lot of movement going on there. What's going on with Winter?", says Ramona. Ughh. Brian's face turned red. I better behave. Here she comes!

We then warmed up a bit. Brian and I led the pack, and I gave him a bit of a hard time, but Ramona coaxed us along. Along with bouncing tennis balls and squeaky toys to distract us. I finally settled down. We then lined up and went to a down stay, and Romona walked all around us trying to distract us. We looked at her, but we didn't get up. I figured, no other dogs were getting up, so I'm not either. We are trying to work up to staying down for 4 minutes. We all stayed!

I was really surprised when Brian took ahold of me for obedience today, but I'm glad he did. I need to spend more time with him. Until next Tuesday!

Round and Round and Round I Go!

Today was one of those days where we really didn't have anything planned. My Auntie Michelle came over and we went to Sport Chalet and South Coast Plaza, oh yeah!

First, we went to Sport Chalet because my jacket needs an extension. I'm a hefty 40 pounds now and my baby jacket is tight. When we walked in, we realized that the item I was in need of, was on the second floor. There it was right in front of us, the Escalator! Hmmmm, rethink,,,,,,,find elevator. I'm not trained to go on an escalator yet, or an elevator for that matter. We found the elevator, ding , the door opened, and then shut!

We just sat there for a minute before the button was pressed, a minute too long, because , magically a completely different door opened up behind me and a man walked into our elevator. I was a good boy, and stayed down. The man pressed a button, and then the floor moved up into my belly. We arrived on the second floor and out we went to find my jacket extension strap. Yay, success, they had one. Back to the elevator, and down we went to checkout, and then off to the Plaza.

We arrived inside South Coast Plaza, and came around the corner,, what I saw before my eyes was complete joy, a Merry Go Round.

Here I am, first in line for the Merry Go Round:

It had music and horses and lights, and colors and kids, oh boy! I got right on and sat with my Raiser, while Auntie kept another horse company.

The Merry Go Round started, and round and round and round we went. The wind in my face felt great. The lights were so fun to look at. The music was blazing. Some horses stood still, while others went up and down. I had a horses hind hooves just inches from me, but I never touched them!

I really enjoyed the motion and put my head down and just let it ride. What a great ride. I'm coming back again sometime.

Here's a picture of me with my Auntie at the fountain. That fountain is big enough for me to swim in:

After my fun ride, we all went to The Rainforest Cafe. I was so tired, I just slept! When we left, I stopped by the water tank bar and took this picture.

I like the mall! We should go there more. It's air conditioned!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I'm 5 Months Old Now!

Today is my birthday. I'm 5 months old now, and growing up fast. I am 39 pounds, and too heavy to be picked up anymore. I'm big enough to get in the truck all by myself, although I still need a little lift into the H2. I must be in my teenage years, because I have acne! Can you imagine that? Oh, I received a nail trim today. With the acne medication and nail trim, I felt like I was at the spa!

I got up bright and early this morning and went to Guide Dogs of America for our monthly obedience. My littermates, Westin, Wiki, and Wailea were there. It was so nice to see them. In exactly one month, we will all see each other again when we spend three days together in the kennel for the first time.

During obedience today, we practiced walking with a loose leash, sit, and stay. I have been practicing this everyday, but I get so excited and end up pulling on my leash. I think that the pulling is going to end today, because after class, I received a new accessory. It's shiny and has links, and is sort of like a necklace. They call it a "training collar". What a nice gift Yvonne gave me today at GDA. She said that I will get a new one in another month. Woohoo, I think :/

After obedience, I stopped off at my cousin's house Cheyenne, and Cinnamon. They have a super huge backyard with grass! This was my first time to run free in a yard and play. I ran and ran and ran, until I was exhausted. I had never stretched out my legs like that before, and oh boy did I have fun. They had a really nice tennis ball that I wanted to play with, but I'm not allowed, so I saw a bone and grabbed that instead. I was so proud of myself to ignore the tennis ball, and so was Cinnamon. Thanks Aunt Michelle and Uncle Brian! I was so tired after that, I took a 3 hour nap!

Today was a really fun and full day, and I'm ready for bed now. Off to my kennel I go. I need my sleep, so I can grow! Until next time!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Basic Obedience Begins!

I have been in Puppy Kindergarten since I was 7 weeks old. Now that I am 5 months old, I can join the big group at Basic Obedience. We meet for one hour each week with Ramona. She keeps us on our paws, and our Raisers on their toes. I acted up a bit and before my mom knew it, Ramona was in my face. I was talking back, and Ramona was not having any of that. I listened to Ramona, for sure. My mom just let her get in my face. She almost looked happy. I guess I have been giving my Raisers a hard time by barking back when I don't like something. My little eyes were like saucers. I guess I better listen really well because if I don't behave next time I see Ramona, she's gonna get me!

After that little episode, I decided I better follow along. That means no barking. The first thing I learned in class is that I am a big boy now and I should sit like a big boy, no lazy sits. If I sit lazy, then my mom takes a step forward, and makes me sit all over again. We practiced downs and sits, and downs and sits, and then stay! Stay, while they walk away. This was hard. Since I am little still, Ramona told my Raiser to move up a little with me. That way I would not have a tendency so much to break my "stay".

Our next task was something that all of the other dogs had done before, but I had not. There was a 50 foot lead that replaced our leash. Our job was to "stay" in a sit, while our Raiser walked away 50 feet (without looking back at us), turned around, called us, and we were supposed to run back, with vigor! Yes, it's a lot to ask, I think. But I paid attention and watched all of the others do it first. Garth, Palmer, Kip, Sidney, all did really well, except that Sidney was not quite vigorous enough, so he had to do it twice. Now it was my turn. I was put in a sit, and Tina walked away, never looking back, but Ramona was right beside me keeping me company. Tina got to the end, turned around, said "Winter come!", and I bolted. I bolted so fast, right to Tina's arms. She was so excited, and so was Ramona. Everyone was cheering for me. They made me do it again. Woohoo. This time I didn't stay, so Ramona had to correct me. But, believe me I listen to her! The command was given, I bolted, and everyone cheered. I can't wait to try this game at home. It was fun.

We all lined up and it was question and answer time. My dad decided to chime in, while my mom gave a slight grimace, and said that he was ratting me out. He asked, "What do you do when your dog is running around crazy and you can't catch him?" (hahaha) Ramona gave a big smile, and said "You mean the Labrador Shuffle?" That's when we tuck our behinds under and run run run. Laughter filled the lesson, because everyone knew what she was talking about. Ramona says that we have a bunch of energy, and we can't be exercised enough, so it's our way of letting loose all of that energy we have. It's amazing the precision turning ability that we have during the Labrador Shuffle.

I really enjoyed the Obedience class, and can't wait until next week. The park is really nice and had so many distractions, like birds, geese, skateboarders, bicycles, balls, walkers, runners, dogs, whew!

My First Group Outing

Last Saturday, I was finally able to join other Puppies in Training from our Orange County group. In attendance were Dexter, Darla, Kip, Luca, Palmer, and myself, along with our Raisers and Puppy Sitters (Barbara, Chuck, Pat, Arica, Mark, Tammy, Tina, Brian, and Colby. We all met at Downtown Disney in the 97 degree heat and made our way to the jungle, The Rainforest Cafe!

But before I tell you all about our outing, first I wanted to tell you that while waiting for the other pups to arrive, I saw Cinderella's Carriage. Her beautiful shiny carriage was horse driven. The horse was shimmering white and very tall. I got to stand just a few feet from him for a long time. He was so tall, and I was so intrigued by his stature that I never moved a muscle. Luca and Kip showed up with Raisers Barbara and Pat, and they tried to get closer but Cinderella's Carriage driver said that was close enough!




As we made our way through the sea of people to the Rainforest Cafe, we came upon a really adorable little girl. She loved us! We all received a tender touch from her. I actually gave her a kiss! Isn't she cute!

Here are some pictures of us making our way up to the second floor seating.

For those of you have have never heard of Rainforest Cafe, it's an animated themed restaurant, with thunder lightning, gorillas, elephants, giant butterflies and dragonflies, monkeys, and fish tanks, and so much more. Every few minutes, a lightning and thunderstorm appears and the animals come to life. All of the pups did really well. I was so tired, I just stayed on my side, and the only thing that moved were my eyeballs! The other pups, who are older were more curious and would sit up, look and listen, and then lay back down.

After we left the Rainforest Cafe, Luca, Darla, and Kip had to go, but Palmer, Dexter, and I stayed and walked on over to the theater. Our Raisers wanted a chance to listen to a movie that had listening devices for the blind. These are headsets that narrate great detail of the movie as it plays. Unfortunately, they did not get to experience this as the system was down. We saw the movie anyway! The movie we chose was "Public Enemy". We sat all the way at the top. The top seats seem to have more room for us to sit at our Raiser's feet.




This movie was really really loud and full of shoot em up, bang bang scenes. Perfect for trying to annoy us or get our attention. It didn't work. The only noise you heard from us was snoring, and an occasional jingle of our leash. Dexter snored a little louder than me. Palmer was exceptionally well behaved. He had not had dinner yet and it was 10 o'clock by now. He was a trooper!

This was such a great day. We incorporated what we learned at our last meeting about heat. Our Raisers always need to have water on hand to keep us hydrated. We walk in the shade as much as we can. Our Raisers touch the pavement with the backs of their hands to see if they can keep it there. If they move their hand, then it's too hot for our precious paws.

I think I did really well for my first outing with the group. and I can't wait until our next one!