Changing of the Guard

or the pup, as the case may be. Yes, our dear Dogzilla, Electra, has gone off to college and a new pup has taken her place. It seemed to be a traumatic event for my Mom Person. She sometimes can be so emotional. But I don’t mind providing the needed comfort. We did have some good times with that crazy pup. I have to admit she was quite entertaining.

For the week before they all went off to Florida there were lots of tears flowing. For that crazy pup!!! But from what I hear, Ms Electra proved to be quite the champ on the trip. My friend, Sarah, at Dr Bruton’s office had a talk with her on our last visit there. I don’t know what exactly was said, but it must have made an impression on Electra. I’m glad she didn’t make a fool of herself.

So Electra is now off to the kennels with a new roommate to lay on. She’ll be getting some top notch schooling and I think that she will probably enjoy that. She always really liked school. Hooray for Electra! And Hooray for us!!

And now there’s a new pup in town. Her name is Marni. My Mom Person puts a lot of stock in names. Names are important. I don’t know what Marni means. It sounds kind of like a flower to me. I seem to remember that there is a movie called Marnie. That Marnie was a liar and a thief. Hmmmm. Maybe I should find a good place to hide my tennis balls. I’ll try to keep that vision of a flower in mind. I must say that Marnie’s Mom did a better job of teaching her some manners than did Ms Electra’s. Marni is pretty flighty like Electra, but much more polite about it. She’s more of a Sparky than an Electra.

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So now it starts all over again. Ah me. Well, maybe now we can get back to bookish things.

If you are at all interested in more of this tale of pups you can visit HERE.

Wishing you the JOY of new adventures!
Your friend
Rhythm
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Safe and Sound

Yesterday was National Seeing Eye Dog Day. We celebrated this day by visiting a third grade classroom and educating them a bit about guide dogs. Most of the kids in Glen Rose know something about working dogs from knowing me and Walker. They all know our tales of being guide dog pups in training. All the kids who knew me as a pup have moved on to college now. I’m into another bunch of young folks altogether! New ones to educate.

Copy of IMG_1536So we took Electra along in her official coat that says she’s a guide dog pup. We took her coat off while in the classroom so the kids could pet. No petting allowed when in coat! Just like a working dog in harness! NO PETTING! And we took a great little book about a working guide dog to help us tell our tale.

IMG_2353Safe and Sound
by Beth Finke
illustrated by Anthony Alex LeTourneau
published by Blue Marlin Publications in 2007

Theme – Guide dogs

This book is suitable for all ages, young and old. 3rd grade was perfect!

It begins –
Look at me! See the harness strapped to my back? I’m called a Seeing Eye dog. The harness is my uniform, and whenever I’m wearing it, I’m working. I guide my partner, Beth, where she needs to go.

This is Hanni’s story of her job keeping Beth safe in a world full of obstacles. Traffic, crowds of people, holes in the sidewalk, garbage cans, tree branches. Whew!!! It’s a crazy world out there and a guide dog must be ever vigilant!

IMG_2356This book presents a great picture of what it’s like to be a working dog. It’s about the job at hand, but the story is also about the relationship between Beth and Hanni. How they had to learn to trust each other because both their lives depended on that trust. How that trust was the foundation for a deep love. It’s a lovely tale.

At the end of the book there are some factual notes from Hanni about her life from pup to working guide dog. And some notes from Beth about how she became blind from juvenile diabetes and what life is like as a blind person.

There is also a list of references for further reading.
This book is also available in Braille. To learn more about Braille visit this website HERE. You might learn how to write your name in Braille!

The Learning to Give website has some good ideas for ways to use this book in a classroom. You can visit them HERE.

We had a great discussion in our classroom about how working dogs help their handlers. What senses the dogs use to do their job. You could let kids pretend they were blind and try to maneuver around the classroom. And then let someone else be their guide dog.

If there is a guide dog school near you, you might pay them a visit. Maybe even volunteer! Southeastern Guide Dogs has puppy hugging days. And volunteers come in to walk the dogs that are in training. You can find a list of guide dog schools HERE. This is the website for the National Federation for the Blind. You can find out more about blindness there as well.

For more about juvenile diabetes visit HERE.

This is PERFECT PICTURE BOOK FRIDAY. For a list of more Perfect Picture Books visit Ms Susanna Hill’s blog – you’ll be glad you did!!

A guide dog faces all kinds of obstacles! —

Have a Safe and Sound weekend!!!
Your friend
Rhythm
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National Guide Dog Month

Rhythm in training

Rhythm in training

I’m a little late with this, but September happens to be a special month to celebrate the special works of some special dogs who are trained to assist visually impaired humans. It’s all a GRAND thing! It’s National Guide Dog Month!

To find out more about guide dogs you can check out my post from this time last year – HERE.

Petco is a big sponsor of guide dogs and every year does a fundraising campaign to celebrate National Guide Dog Month. I was actually sponsored by Petco when I was a pup! That means that they made a generous donation to Southeastern Guide Dogs for the privilege of naming one of their pups. That was me!! You can visit their website HERE and find out more about National Guide Dog Month.

img010But today I’m going to tell you about some books. Non-fiction books that will help you and yours learn about guide dogs.

IMG_1268Guide Dogs
by Charles and Linda George
published by Capstone Books in 1998
Content consultant is Carol Lippert Gray – Manager of Public Relations for The Seeing Eye

This is a really nice, easy to read, 48 page book about the history and training of guide dogs. Chapters include – History of Guide Dogs, Best Breeds, Basic Training, Guide Dogs and Their Masters, And Stories About Guide Dogs.

IMG_1267There is also some reference material in the back of the book – a glossary and index to other guide dog material. A very fine little book.

IMG_1261Guide Dogs
Seeing for People Who Can’t
by Alice B. McGinty
a “Dogs Helping People” book published by The Rosen Publishing Group’s PowerKids Press in 1999

This is another fine little chapter book with much of the same information in a more condensed format. Only 24 pages. It also has a glossary and some nice photos. It actually has some of the very same photos as the other book Guide Dogs!

IMG_1269IMG_1265A Guide Dog Puppy Grows Up
written by Caroline Arnold
photographs by Richard Hewett
published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich in 1991

This book is a little different from the other two. It’s about the puppy raising experience from birth to becoming a working guide dog. The book was endorsed by Guide Dogs for the Blind, a guide dog school in San Rafael, California. My Mom Person’s first guide dog pup came from this school a long time ago.

This is not a chapter book but it is a lovely story. In a way, it’s my story! And it’s one of those books that makes the Mom Person cry when she reads it.

IMG_1263Now you might notice that in my pictures today, I am trying to read these books to Ms Electra. This is her future in these books! But she just can’t be serious for one little minute. Ah, me. What’s a teacher to do?! What do you teachers out there do with the class clowns?!

Well, anyway, I would like for you to know that there are quite a few accredited Guide Dog Schools in the United States. You can find a list of all of them HERE on the National Federation of the Blind website. I think if there is one near you, you should go for a visit this month. Hug some puppies! Meet some future guide dogs! Become a puppy raiser!

Have a good weekend! and enjoy the month!
I’m going to go celebrate with some yummy treats!
Rhythm
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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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A New Job For Me!

Sometimes I feel like Barbie. You know, that doll that girls play with that has had like a hundred careers. I’ve been counselor and therapist, librarian, reading specialist, book reviewer, blogger, show dog, janitor, baby sitter, singer and dancer, drop dead comedienne, actor, farm dog, bed warmer. And now the Mom Person has decided that I’m not busy enough and need something else to do. I have now been given the title of Nanny/Teacher for this –IMG_5123Meet Electra. Guide Dog Puppy in Training from Southeastern Guide Dogs in Palmetto, Florida. She is 10 weeks old and came to the 7 Acre Wood this past weekend. She is being sponsored by Classic BMW in Plano, Tx. and they have named her in honor of their all electric car. The name is fitting. She is a live wire! I know that you’re saying “Aahhhh! She’s so cute!” But I know that face. I perfected that face a long time ago –

IMG_5645I know that looks can be deceiving sometimes. Little Miss Electra is actually a tornado on four legs. A shark in motion. I have been presented with quite a challenge. You see that cute face. I see this –

IMG_5117Just a blur whizzing by, chomping as she goes. I was actually a teacher before. I taught Walker the ropes. But I thought that I was retired. I hear the Mom Person saying that a lot. I must admit that she has been talking about this Guide Dog Pup for some time. I guess I just didn’t think she was serious. But here it is. And here to stay for a year! A year! I don’t know much about time, but I think that that is forever.

IMG_5115I will have an assistant. Walker has been dragged in for back-up. He’s not totally sure what he’s getting into. I was a guide dog pup once upon a time. Just like little Electra is. I have to remember that. Remember how hard it was to be so little and have to act so big. I had a great teacher. Hank was the essence of patience. The Zen master. I will try to be like Hank and as always, will do my best to whip this youngster into shape.

IMG_5172 IMG_5137

There may be hope for Electra. She is a smart little thing. I’ve already taught her to sit politely for a treat. And the good thing here is that with her training, she’s getting lots of treats – which means more treats for me, as well, for being a good teacher!!

No book today. Who has time for reading?! My goal, though, is to teach this young one the Zen Power of sitting quietly and listening to a good book.

If you would like to find out more about Southeastern Guide Dogs, you can check out my page at the top of this page. Or you can visit their website HERE.

And you can get a puppy fix by visiting their puppy cam HERE.

I wish you a good night’s sleep and sweet dreams!

IMG_5145Your worn out friend
Rhythm

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Dog Shows

The Big Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is taking place this week. THE dog show to be at. Labrador Retrievers showed this morning (this morning being Tuesday, as I write this.) and we watched on the computer. It was almost like being there!

I am a Labrador Retriever so that’s why I was interested in watching those dogs this morning. All the retrievers showed this morning. Labs, Goldens, Chesapeakes, Flat-Coats, Curly Coats, and Nova Scotia Duck Tolling. All retrievers were originally bred to RETRIEVE! That means bringing birds back to hunters. Going out and finding the downed bird and bringing it back.

labsLabrador Retrievers were first entered at the Westminster show in 1923. A Lab has NEVER won Best in Show. They have never even won Best in Group – which is the Sporting Group and includes all the other retrievers and all the Spaniels and Setters and Pointers. That being said, according to AKC records, they have been the #1 most popular breed in the United States since 1992!!! I believe that that is because they are one of the most versatile of breeds. They are excellent hunting dogs both in the water and on land. They are also the number one dog for guide dog work. jolly last day 01460-70% of all working guide dogs in the world are Labrador Retrievers. Labs are used in bomb and drug sniffing, as military dogs, in search and rescue, as service dogs, in the show ring as obedience and rally competitors, and of course at home as the perfect companion!

The history of the Labrador is a little murky. They did not come from Labrador, but instead from Newfoundland. The early fishermen, fishing in the Labrador Sea, used a small dog called a St. John’s Dog to help them in the boats. The dogs were sent in to retrieve fish that got off hooks and to help bring in nets. I will not go into a lot of history here, but the name Labrador Retriever became common in England around 1870. The 2nd Earl of Malmesbury is credited with starting the first kennel of Labradors in the early 1800s. The Kennel Club in England first registered Labs in 1903 and the American Kennel Club’s first Lab registration was in 1917. Labs began gaining popularity in the United States in the 1920s.

IMG_4930In 1981, Richard A. Wolters wrote the definitive book on the Labrador, The Labrador Retriever, the history … the people. It was published by Peterson Prints. The book is a real treasure full of historical facts and photographs and lots of artwork.

Labs come in three official colors. Black, Yellow and Chocolate. Yellow labs can be any range from white to a fox red. In the conformation ring, pink noses and white markings are not allowed. A pink nose sometimes happens with yellow labs. This is called a Dudley. The standard size for a Lab is 21 1/2″ – 24 1/2″ at the withers. And 55 – 80 lbs. They should have an otter tail – which means thick and round and straight. The coat should be short, straight and very dense. Outside of the show ring you can find a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Lab temperament should be kindly, outgoing and tractable. Labs are happy, willing dogs!

Now back to the dog show — The winner of Best of Breed in the Lab Ring today was

pauliCh. Wits End St. Pauli Girl

Sire – Ch Hunt Club Clay View Supernova at Belquest

Dam – Ch Wits End Windfall Vegas Showgirl

Whew! Those are some big names!!

My name is simply Rhythm. My Mom and Dad were Dottie and Shep. I guess guide dogs don’t need fancy names. I do have an official AKC number and papers that allow me to compete in AKC sanctioned shows. I have competed in Rally and Agility, but I prefer being a library dog.

library dog 041If you are interested in learning more about Labrador Retrievers you can check on wikipedia HERE.

You can visit the American Kennel Club website. Or the Labrador Retriever Club website. And Animal Planet has a nice little video.

I wish you great success in all that you do this week!
Your friend in the library
Rhythm

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National Guide Dog Month

Well, September has arrived and it seems that a lot goes on at this time of year! September marks a whole new year for school folks. Kids and teachers. There’s Labor Day, football, and birthdays at our house. This is the month to celebrate lots of good things. Like Chickens!!?? Did you know that September is National Chicken Month? Now you do! It’s also National Library Card Sign-Up Month. And best of all – it’s National Guide Dog Month.

img431bonnieimg432

Guide Dogs, or Seeing Eye Dogs, are dogs specifically trained to assist a blind or visually impaired person in navigating through their world. They become that person’s “eyes”. The dog takes instructions from the human, but must watch out for obstacles and dangers in the path. They alert to steps and doors. They help find things – like doors and stairs and bathrooms and chairs. Guide dogs must be alert and vigilant in their job. Never reach out to pet a Guide Dog or interfere with their work.

National Guide Dog Month was established in 2008 as a fundraising event to help non-profit guide dog organizations that are accredited by the International Guide Dog Federation. There are a number of these organizations throughout the country. You can see a list of qualifying Guide Dog schools at the Guide Dog Users, Inc. website here.

img338I, myself, and my buddy Walker were born at Southeastern Guide Dogs in Florida. Most all working Guide Dogs are bred by and born at an accredited Guide Dog school. As puppies they are usually placed with volunteer puppy raisers who keep them for about a year to a year and a half. It is the puppy raiser’s job to socialize the pup and teach us good house manners. We wear some kind of jacket or cape to identify us as pups in training and this allows us to go lots of places. After our time with our families we go back to our place of birth for work training. Ideally, after 6-8 months we get placed with a blind person and become their companion for the rest of our lives. It’s a lot of transition! Some dogs don’t handle all that moving around very well. Only about 50% of pups actually become working guides. And it’s been said that by that time, a guide dog is worth about $45,000.00!  And the blind person doesn’t have to pay for his/her dog. It is a gift to them from the school.

So Guide Dog schools depend on donations. Southeastern Guide Dogs allows supporters to name puppies. I was sponsored by Petco and named after one of their employee’s  favorite German Shepherd. You can find out more about Petco and their involvement in National Guide Dog Month here.

I’d like to share with you some pictures of me and Walker from our lives as guide dog pups in training –

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And I’ll send you off with a little music video from Southeastern — enjoy!

and go learn more about how you can help!

I wish you JOY during this fine month of September!
Rhythm

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Party Time!

We had a big party here today. A dog party! The 7 Acre Wood has become a destination for the semi-local Southeastern guide dog pups to get some exposure to country stuff. Like goats and ponies and chickens and lizards and tall grass to run in and rivers to play in and mud to splash in. Six crazy pups showed up all ready for their special day. Peg, and Ace, and Leisl, and Mercy, and Aubie, and Pearl.

I remember when I was a silly young thing and the world was full of new adventures around every corner. It was fun watching these kids throw themselves into my world with such joyful abandon. As long as they left me and my river toy alone.

No books today. Just summer JOY!!

Restaurant Mishap

Do you ever go to restaurants? I’m sure you do. I think most humans go quite often. I don’t. Most eating establishments frown on dog hair. Well, sometimes I get to sit with the humans on a patio. That’s nice. And well, I do get to go to the cafeteria at school. That’s kind of a restaurant. And well, I did get to go to restaurants a lot when I was a youngster.

I got to go to these places because I needed to learn all the rules about good behavior in an eating place. You humans have lots of rules. Like not stretching out so people wouldn’t trip on me. Like not eating all the french fries that kids drop on the floor. Like not whining. Most of the time, a place under the table provided for a nice nap. Sometimes, if it was crowded under the table, we pups would party a little. That was frowned upon.

Kids have to learn a lot of rules, too. Kids and pups are a lot alike, I think. Kids have to sit still, and not drop french fries, and not whine or be loud. It’s tough! And I have a great book for you all about those rules!

Our favorite 2nd Grade teacher, Ms Julie is presenting this book for us. Ms Julie belongs to the Mom Person and we sometimes visit her class. She has a friend, Conner Hill, who has written a little book called Restaurant Mishap. This is the 1st book in his Stubby Stories series. Conner is 11 years old. The book is illustrated by C. Carlyle McCullough and was published by Aero Studios in 2012.

conner hillconner hill

Conner came to Ms Julie’s school recently to talk about his book and sign some for the kids. He has a nice smile. I bet he likes dogs.

And Ms Julie’s class has a review for us of Restaurant Mishap!

Today, our new friend, Conner Hill, came to visit our school. He is 11 years old and is a published author! Conner told us that it is not too early to start working toward a dream career. He said we can start now while we are kids, and not even have to wait until we are grown-ups! We all thought that was really awesome!

Synopsis — “This book is all about a boy who goes to a fancy restaurant, and makes mistakes.
In the beginning of the story, John goes to a restaurant with his family and sees everyone wearing fancy clothes. He was embarrassed because he was wearing jeans and a T-shirt.
In the middle of the story, he had bad manners, made a mess, and said words wrong. He was nervous and embarrassed.
At the end of the story, he goes to bed and his dog licks the mousse off of John’s pants.”

restaurant mishaprestaurant mishap 2

And here is what the class thought about Conner and his book —

“I like how Conner was really nervous, but his mom was really happy about him.”
“It was awesome, because he’s only 11! He’s my role model!”
“I liked the book because it was a really good and cool book and I liked it a lot!”
“I think it was cool. It was funny!”
“I really liked the book because it is very funny when he made a mess and I can’t believe a fifth grade student wrote a book!”
“I like the book because he was just like me when I go to a restaurant. I forget my manners.”
“I like the book because Conner added a whole bunch of details when he was at the restaurant and I liked the drawings.”

So! It looks like the class liked the book a lot! All thumbs up! I’m hoping that they can do an interview with Conner for us so we can learn more about this fine young man.

In the meantime you should check out Restaurant Mishap. Available thru Amazon.

And check out Conner’s Facebook page here.

And thanks to Ms Julie and all her 2nd Graders for a fine review!