Rugby & Rosie

We are all about guide dogs here at the 7 Acre Wood. And goats. And grapes. And swimming. And tennis balls. But I digress. I want to talk about guide dogs today. My family here has raised guide dog pups off and on for a good number of years. The very first one was a black Lab named Gretta. During her long, illustrious life she actually achieved Sainthood. St Gretta came from a guide dog school in California called Guide Dogs For the Blind.

img502All the other pups that have passed through our gates have come from a guide dog school in Florida called Southeastern Guide Dogs. Including myself.

img338And my buddy Walker -

scarb fair 5-08 016And now Electra -

IMG_5312There have been others in between. Some have made the humans proud and become working guide dogs. Some have made the humans proud and been extraordinary therapy dogs.

The life of a guide dog puppy in training is an emotional ride – for the humans and for the pups. There is a real bond that develops and lots of love is invested and then the pup has to move on to other things. The humans have to let go. The pup has to let go. And both have to create new bonds and new attachments. Some dogs just can’t do it. I couldn’t and came back to live where I knew I belonged. Only about half of the pups that return to school actually go on to become working guide dogs. Statistics show that a higher percentage of Labs become working guide dogs than any other breed. I think that that may be because we Labs are basically happy with anyone who feeds us on a regular basis.

Anyway, I have a Perfect Picture Book for you that’s about a year with a guide dog pup.

IMG_5796Rugby & Rosie
by Nan Parson Rossiter
published by Dutton Children’s Books
in 1997

Theme – dog training, guide dog pups, friendship

It begins-
Rugby is my dog. He is a chocolate Labrador, and we have had him for as long as I can remember.
………..
We used to do everything together – just the two of us.
Then Rosie came.

The narrator of the story is a young boy who has a really close friendship with his dog, Rugby. One day his dad comes home with a little yellow pup named Rosie. Rosie was a guide dog pup and would only live with the family for one year. The boy knew all about this, but didn’t know how to tell Rugby. Rugby was not happy about the new pup. She tried to get him to play, but the wasn’t interested. It took him quite a while to decide that she wasn’t going anywhere and he might as well make friends. After that the two dogs were always together, romping and playing and napping. Rosie needed a lot of extra training out in public where Rugby didn’t get to go. But he was always waiting when they returned home.

Then the day came that Rosie had to return to the guide dog school. Everyone was sad. Even Rugby. Rosie became a guide dog and the family, along with Rugby, got to go to the graduation ceremony and see Rosie again and meet her new person. They saw that Rosie was happy and making a difference in the life of this new person. All because of their love and devotion. They were all very proud of her.

IMG_5793This book makes my Mom Person cry every time she reads it. It’s a well done story. You can see and feel all the emotions tugging at everyone. Even the dogs. When we read this book to kids, there is always a discussion about letting go. Life is full of letting go. Even if you’re a little person growing up.

There are 13 accredited guide dog schools in the United States. For information about all of them visit the Guide Dog Users, Inc. website.

If there is a school near you, you might want to go for a visit. I know that Southeastern has puppy hugging days when they let people come play with all the pups. You can visit their website and find out all about pups and being a volunteer puppy raiser.

HERE is a link to some thoughts on etiquette when encountering a guide dog team.

HERE is an article for kids about blindness.

You could have a discussion about being blind. Put on blindfolds and take a Listening Walk around the room. Think about how you would be using all your other senses if you couldn’t see.

Here is a little video to show you what it’s all about — enjoy –

And now you might want to venture over to Susanna Hill’s blog to see a whole big list of Perfect Picture Books and resources to go with! — Enjoy!!

Your friend indeed
Rhythm

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The Hound Dog’s Haiku

I understand that April is National Poetry Month. I don’t know a lot about poetry. I like to listen to the Rhythm of a good poem. Poetry sounds nice to my ears. I try to get my reading buddies to read poetry to me, but I’m not always successful. When I was the official Library Dog at school I seemed to have better luck steering kids to poetry books. I even had some kids writing poems about me!

IMG_1934Here are a couple that came my way –

Rhythm
Golden fur everywhere
On the ground
or floating around.
She is sweet
She is furry.
She likes to sleep and sit.
Rhythm is who she is.

The Dog Called Rhythm
Hairy, sweet, yellow
She snores, rolls, chews all around
Rhythm is her name.

Now those are unbelievably lovely poems!! But I also have an unbelievably fantastic book for you as well! After all, this IS Perfect Picture Book Friday!

IMG_5701The Hound Dog’s Haiku
and Other Poems for Dog Lovers

by Michael J. Rosen
illustrated by Mary Azarian
Published by Candlewick Press in 2011

Theme – poetry, dogs

This is a book of Haiku poems about dogs. There are 20 dog breeds represented here. Each with an incredible wood block portrait done by Mary Azarian. Ms Azarian can create magic with a block of wood. The poem for the Labrador Retriever is -

the first duck splash-lands
speck in the iced pond’s lone eye
soon … the chase restarts

IMG_5705At the end of the book are several pages with notes about each of the breeds described in the poems. It is a book for dog lovers and lovers of poetry alike.

Of course if you are going to read a book of Haiku with your little people, then you must have them create their own Haiku!

You can read about Haiku at Poets.org HERE.
You might also visit the Haiku Society website HERE.

You might want to let your little people try their hand at print making -
Try this link from Pinterest
Or HERE for some more printmaking

And if your are really ambitious here is a video of REAL wood block art making -

And after all of that, you might want to venture over to Susanna Hill’s blog for a list of Perfect Picture Books and some great resources to go with!

Happy Rhyming!
Your friend
Rhythm

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Light It Up Blue! 2014

The month of April is Autism Awareness Month. And April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day. A time to learn about and think about and be aware of Autism in our lives. It has been a big part of my life. I have spent a lot of time walking and playing and just sitting with young people who have autism as part of who they are. Autistic people do not perceive the world the same way that most people do. Their senses work differently than most of the world’s.

CIMG3491Some autistic little people love to stroke my hair – with their hands, their feet, their faces. Some don’t like to touch my hair at all, but they like the feel of my leather leash. They stroke it with their hands and rub it on their faces. They feel things differently.

People with autism sometimes smell the world differently. I have had kids sniff me from one end to the other. They want to smell my feet and my ears and in my mouth. They bury their noses in my hair.

I’ve been on many a walk with autistic little people. For some, the world is far less confusing with their hand on my back. For some, holding on to my leash is comforting.

And the illustrator of my book Reading With Rhythm, Paul Howell, is a very talented young man with autism!

IMG_1501I recently did a post about a Listening Walk. I like going on listening walks, and sniffing walks and rain walks. Today I’d like to take you on a walk with Ian.

IMG_5648IAN’S WALK
A Story About Autism

written by Laurie Lears
illustrated by Karen Ritz
published by Albert Whitman & Co. in 1998

Ian is a young boy with autism. This is a fictional story told through the eyes of Ian’s older sister, Julie. Julie, and another sister, Tara, are planning a day at the park and Ian wants to go, too. But Julie isn’t sure she wants him along. Ian sees the world differently and has to be watched closely. He sometimes does things that are embarrassing. But the girls decide to let him come along.

The walk to the park is all about how differently Ian senses the world around him. The things that he sees and doesn’t see. As they pass a diner, Ian wants to stop and watch the ceiling fan, but doesn’t notice all the people. The things that he hears and doesn’t hear. A fire truck rushes by with its siren blaring, but Ian doesn’t seem to notice. Ian smell things differently – he doesn’t like the smell of the flowers at the flower stand, but when they go past the post office, he puts his nose up to the wall to smell the bricks. Ian doesn’t like the feel of a soft feather, but lies on the ground to feel the warm, hard pavement. When they stop to sit on a bench and eat some lunch, the girls get distracted and Ian slips away. The girls are now in a panic and rush around frantically asking people if they have seen him. Julie decides to close her eyes and try to think like Ian. Where would his senses take him. Suddenly, she hears the big bell ringing and remembers that Ian loves that bell best of anything! And that is where she finds him! The girls are so relieved to find their little brother that they decide to walk home the way Ian likes.

IMG_5649This is a really lovely little book with some great illustrations. This is not a book to teach you all about autism. It is a picture book that provides a window into a life with autism. I like that it’s the point of view of the sister. Siblings of autistic children can have a particularly hard time sharing life with autism.

There are lots of resources out there for further study –

The Autism Society website is here.
Autismspeaks.org is the official Light It Up Blue for Autism website.
NPR recently had an interesting program about some new studies of autism.

Here is a recap of the 2013 Light It Up Blue campaign

Think BLUE today! And Light it up tomorrow!
Your friend in BLUE
Rhythm

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Water is a Precious Thing

Saturday, March 22, 2014 is World Water Day

CIMG6942I love the water. I love to splash in the pools in the river. I love to feel it raining down on me. I love to drink and slurp it. I love to shake it all over everything. Water is a precious thing. We live in a place that doesn’t get a whole lot of water raining down. We do happy dances when rain comes. Rain makes the river flow with JOY. Rain makes grass and flowers pop out all over. Rain means our well won’t run dry. Water is a very precious thing. My Mom Person worries when the rains don’t come. She worries when the river goes dry and the trees start to die. She worries when she passes by houses with sprinklers going. She likes living here at the 7 Acre Wood, but she likes the rains to come.

IMG_0286Water conservation is a really important thing. Water is precious. I understand that there are some places in the world that have more water than they can deal with. And there are some places that have less water than what we get here in Glen Rose, Texas. There are people in some parts of the world who don’t have clean water to drink and bathe in. That’s a sad thing. Water is sooooo precious.

I have a book about water. It’s a cute book about a summer day in the life of a city park where water is an important part of the daily cycle.

IMG_4745Water in the Park

written by Emily Jenkins
illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
published by Schwartz & Wade Books in 2013

A note from the author about the story reads -

“The story comes from my spending early mornings and evenings in Prospect Park, in Brooklyn, New York, one summer when we had many, many ninety-eight-degree days. I watched the people and thought about the way the park’s water is used differently by all the inhabitants of the neighborhood, human and animal.”

This neighborhood seems to have plenty of water. The people here do not seem to worry about a lack of water. But the water in the park is precious to them nonetheless.

The story begins in the early morning when the park is quiet and empty and the turtles come out of the pond to sun themselves on the rocks. Then the dog walkers come to let their dogs have a romp in the pond. They are very lucky dogs!! As the day progresses the neighborhood awakens and more and more people come to enjoy the park. They play in the pond and the sprinkler pool. They drink from the water fountains. Kids fill water balloons and pour buckets of water in the sandbox. They pour water down the slide to cool it off. Birds and squirrels come to play and bathe in the water. Workers come to water the gardens. The pond and the fountains are a haven for everyone. At the end of the day the rains come. Everything in the park is now wet with glorious water. Water is a precious thing for sure!!

IMG_4747I really liked this book. It’s not a conservation book. It’s kind of like you’re sitting on a park bench watching the day go by. But the day is filled with water. And I like a day filled with water. The illustrations are great with lots of details to catch the eye. I will be looking out for more books by both Ms Jenkins and Ms Graegin.

There are quite a few organizations that work to provide clean drinking water for people around the world who are without this most precious commodity.
Living Water International
Goodnet.org has a list of seven non-profit organizations that provide safe water solutions for developing countries. You can check out the list HERE.

I am submitting this post to The Small Fry Safari Reading Challenge at The Bookshelf Gargoyle as an entry for Category # 6, A book with something PRECIOUS in the title.

I recently did a post about a Listening Walk. What about a Water Walk? How far would you go for Water?

Enjoy YOUR Water Day!
Your friend at the river
Rhythm

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A Good, Good Day

Saturday was a Good, Good Day here at the 7 Acre Wood! The rains came!!!

Not a whole bunch of rain, but rain nonetheless. Enough to perk up the bluebonnets and make the river bubble with JOY!

IMG_5423The rain also provided a training opportunity for Little Miss Electra. She came here from Florida so I’m sure she’s seen lots of rain, but I don’t know about umbrellas and thunder. She was not bothered by any of it. We all had a nice rain walk.

As I said, this was a Double Good Day — The mail lady came to our house and delivered TWO, yes, TWO surprise packages for ME! I love that mail lady!

IMG_5456IMG_5457

One of the packages was from our friend Kay. It was actually for all of us Pups to welcome the “new addition” to the family. TWO bags of yummy treats!!!! From the Canine Cookie Company in McKinney, Texas. One bag had tiny treats for Electra and the other had nice big treats shaped like squirrels! All chicken flavored! MMMMMMM! They sure know how to make some GOOD snacks in McKinney!! There was also a bear for Electra. Walker thinks it was meant for him.

IMG_5483IMG_5467

The second package came from the Mom Person’s friend Rhonda. It was a new book! A new book of my Hero, Momo. The book is called Find Momo. Momo is a border collie who likes to hide. We follow Momo on Facebook where he posts pictures every day of good hiding places. He is a GOOD hider. And I am a GOOD finder! I’ll tell you more about this awesome book after I’ve had a chance to peruse it and find him.

In the meantime you can check on Momo and his hiding places on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/gofindmomo

And if you’re looking for a relaxing vacation spot you might check out Rhonda’s inn in Arkansas - Mountain Thyme Bed & Breakfast. I understand that she is a very GOOD cook!

And some more GOOD cooks are found at the Canine Cookie Company! You can visit their website HERE and order some of those GOOD snacks for yourself!

I hope you had as fine a weekend as I had!

Now I will wish you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
May your day be filled with rainbows!

IMG_5488Your friend in the clover patch
Rhythm

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Some Swell Pup

As you may know already, we have a new pup in our house. A Guide Dog Puppy who will grow up to be “eyes” for some lucky blind person. Her name is Electra and I am in charge of training. (With some help from the Mom Person and my buddy, Walker.)

Training a puppy is not an easy task! Ms Electra is a Mini-Godzilla! Chewing and eating everything in her path! What’s a good dog to do?!

IMG_5174The Mom Person to the rescue! She pulled a book off of our shelf that is a story about puppy training. And written by none other than Mr Maurice Sendak and his dog training buddy, Mr Matthew Margolis.

IMG_5376The book is titled SOME SWELL PUP or Are You Sure You Want a Dog?

written by Maurice Sendak and Matthew Margolis
illustrated by Maurice Sendak
published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 1976

Suitable for K and up

Theme – puppy training, being kind to animals, the power of love

IMG_5378I think that this would be considered a graphic novel. It’s done in comic book style. It begins with a brother and sister pining for a dog of their own. And then a pup is left on their doorstep. They are thrilled! Until the puppy proves to be a Mini-Godzilla! Chewing and eating everything in its path! They get angry at the pup and decide it needs to go off to school. The pup is soon returned to them with a note saying the pup is too young to train and the school is now a wreck!

What are two kids supposed to do now?! Well, a stranger comes along and tries to show them that what the pup needs is lots of love. That everything it has been doing is normal puppy stuff. The kids continue to argue with each other (as siblings are wont to do) but soon realize that talking kindly and showing love to the pup is the right thing to do.

The sub-heading of this book “Are You Sure You Want a Dog?” is a fitting one. This is a tale of a Godzilla pup. But it is a realistic view of what it is like to have a puppy in the house. It is a BIG responsibility! They chew things, they pee and poop, they jump, they whine and bark. Having a new puppy is not just fun and games!

This is not really a “training book.” It is a Maurice Sendak take on a training book. It is a very old book and hence has very old ideas. One thing that is a bit befuddling is that it asserts that the pup is too young to train and you should wait until a pup is 12 weeks old. That’s just crazy!! Training needs to start at day ONE!!! The sooner the better. The book does show that shouting and hitting and ignoring are NOT the ways to deal with a young pup. A pup needs lots of love and understanding. And that’s the main thing about pup training. Love and patience and understanding.

The story could also be seen as a story about getting along with other PEOPLE in the big world. The book is actually a good lesson in how to treat ANYBODY. Not just pups. Be kind and gentle. Always. Show some love and it will be returned to you. A BIG lesson to learn!

I am trying to be patient and understanding with my Godzilla pup. It’s not always easy. But I can already see some improvement in her understanding of household rules. She is learning to be more polite. It’s not easy for her either. She is just a pup after all.

IMG_5177There are some good pup training books out there for kids.
Dog Training for Kids by Carol Lea Benjamin
See Spot Sit by Carol Lea Benjamin
My Dog! A Kids’ Guide to Keeping a Happy & Healthy Pet by Michael J. Rosen

Martha Stewart has instructions for making some cute origami animals from napkins.
Southeastern Guide Dogs likes to get donations of DIY paracord puppy collars. They provide instructions HERE.
HERE are instructions for making a great fleece tug toy for your dog. We LOVE these toys! And our detention boys sometimes make a bunch of these to give to the local animal shelter.

Now you might want to visit Susanna Hill’s Blog for a list of more PERFECT PICTURE BOOKS and fine resources to go with!

And here is a little training video with a 5 week old pup!

I wish you success and love in all your endeavors!
Your friend in training mode
Rhythm
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Crazy Hair

I have some crazy hair. Not the long, flowing, curly kind, but the flying everywhere kind. I shed. A lot. I leave trails wherever I go. Everyday I get brushed and combed and furminated. And sometimes I get vacuumed. I like getting vacuumed. Yet the hair still drops wherever I go.

dog fuzzAt school the kids are always fascinated by my hair. While they read to me they are messing with my hair. If the Mom Person is reading, they brush me with their fingers and collect handfuls of hair. They always want to take some home with them. The Mom Person carries some with her wherever she goes (on her clothes, hehe!). She loves having a bit of me with her all the time. :D

This is not actually me, but it could be. Someone was very clever. The Mom Person has a friend who knitted a sweater with her dog’s hair. Crazy.

My Princesses were here recently for a short visit and we read a book about Crazy Hair. Not the shedding kind of Crazy Hair, but the long, unmanageable kind of Crazy Hair.

The book is called Crazy Hair!!

IMG_5049Written by Neil Gaiman
Illustrated by Dave McKean
Published by Harper Collins in 2009

This is a crazy book about some REALLY crazy hair!! Scary kind of crazy hair. With stuff living in it. It’s written in some fun, jivey rhyme and is fun to read. The illustrations are FANTABULOUS!!!! It begins with a young girl, Bonnie, telling the narrator that he has crazy hair. Then -

I said, “Miss,
How do you dare
Talk about my
crazy hair?
This hair, you know,
Is all my own
Since I was two
My hair has grown.
Birds fly down
From everywhere
Nesting in my
crazy hair.”

IMG_5039He then proceeds to tell her all about the birds and other wild beasts that live in his hair. Hunters have expeditions and get lost. There are musicians and dancers and hot air balloons! Carousels and pirate ships! The Noodle Princess, who is 3, was a little terrified by the thought of those kinds of goings on in someone’s hair and worried about what might be in her hair! I won’t tell you how the story ends – but it is a little scary!

IMG_5042I don’t think I have anything living in my hair. I think it’s a pretty safe place to run your hands through. This book is one crazy read!!! You really need to check it out!

Ms Gruener at The Corner on Character recently did a post about hair and shared a really charming video that i would now like to share with you. And feel free to visit Ms Gruener at her blog HERE and see the whole inspiring post. She is a school counselor and does some really fine things at her school.

I wish for you a Good Hair Day!
Your friend with the Furminator
Rhythm

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Napping Day

Today is National Napping Day. A day to recover from the weekend when we all lost an hour somewhere. I’m still trying to figure that one out.

I had a fantastic book picked out to celebrate with. A really good go-to-bed read. But, alas, I could not find it on our shelves and our library doesn’t have it and the Princesses couldn’t find their copy. All of these books must be napping somewhere.

Anyway, the book is The Napping House.

Napping_HouseWritten by Audrey Wood
Illustrated by Don Wood
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers in 2000

This is a fabulous, fun romp in the bed. It starts with Granny in the bed and then everyone piles on! Kind of like the story of the House That Jack Built.

You definitely need to check this book out! And then go take a nap. Alone. On a nice bed. A long one. Like I would like to do. After a long week with the Godzilla Pup, I deserve a good quiet nap.

IMG_5265I need to teach this young lady about napping. It’s good for your health and good for the soul. Napping is a very good thing.

For more about Napping Day, visit the Huffington Post HERE.

Or if you don’t mind a lot of ads jumping out at you The Examiner has a nice article HERE.

Here’s what napping should be about –

I wish you sweet dreams, always
Your Friend
Rhythm

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Block City

I recently had some serendipity in my life. I look for serendipitous moments. Life seems to be full of them if you are open to it. I recently read a post on Ashley Wolff’s blog about her book Block City. The story she related was kind of a circular story about the making of this book. You can read the post for yourself HERE.

I thought it was a lovely story about art and books and boys. All meshed together. Ms Wolff is a very talented artist. I really admire her work. It has so much feeling in it. Well, shortly after reading this story about Block City we made a visit to our favorite shopping spot – Half-Price Books in Dallas, Tx. And what do you think jumped right off the shelf at me? Block City! Now, how cool is that?!

And this evening we took it to the library with us and my favorite library buddy, Sunshine, showed up to read it to me and Walker!!! Now, how cool is that?! Serendipity all around.

IMG_5246Block City is a poem written by Robert Louis Stevenson and taken from his book A Child’s Garden of Verses.

Illustrated by Ashley Wolff

Published by E.P. Dutton in 1988

Theme – poetry, building, imagination, the magic of play

Suitable for 3 and up

It begins-
“What are you able to
build with your blocks?
Castles and palaces,
temples and docks.”

The story within the poem Block City is similar to Where the Wild Things Are. Without the monsters. A boy is swept away on an imaginary adventure and returns home to his loving Mom. The boy in Block City builds a city of blocks and is then whisked away to a fantastical city by the sea. There’s a kirk and a mill and a palace. (I didn’t know what a kirk was – do you? Well, it’s a CHURCH! A Scottish church.) There are ships in the harbor and all sorts of fantastic folks and animals at the palace. The young lad has a grand time in his city. Then his Mom comes home and the boy is back on his sofa and the city comes tumbling down. But he’ll always remember his town by the sea.

IMG_5249A sweet story with fabulous artwork made especially special because the boy in the book was created from a real boy. I love this book!

And what activity to go along with a reading of this book? Well, pour out the blocks and build!!
Zoe at Playing by the Book has a really cool idea for making your own building blocks. You can check it out HERE.

And for a list of more Perfect Picture Books visit Susanna Hill’s blog.

Here’s a clip from Sesame Street that might provide some inspiration -

Now go out and PLAY!
That’s what I’m going to do!
Your friend at the library
Rhythm

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