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 Seeing Eye Dog Day

img431Today, January 29, is National Seeing Eye Dog Day. A day to recognize the JOY that is a working guide dog. A seeing eye dog becomes the eyes for someone who cannot see. They become an unbeatable team!

Michael Jernigan_Brittani-web

Michael Jernigan and his guide dog Brittani

It all started with a serendipitous intertwining of a few forward thinking individuals. A lot of veterans came away from the terror that was World War I, blinded and in need of assistance. A school was set up in Germany to train German Shepherd Dogs to assist these veterans. An American lady, Ms Dorothy Eustis, happened to be in Switzerland and learned about this German school. She was so impressed that in 1927 she wrote an article for “The Saturday Evening Post” about these “seeing eye dogs.” And she began her own training school. In America, a blind man, Mr Morris Frank was read the article by his father and he decided that a seeing eye dog was just what he needed! He contacted Ms Eustis to see if he could come train with her and receive one of her dogs. He promised to come back to the United States and teach others.

morris-frank-and-buddy-2In 1928 Buddy, the German Shepherd, became the first seeing eye dog in the United States and Mr Frank was the first blind person in the US to use a seeing eye dog! And in 1929 The Seeing Eye Guide Dog School was established in Nashville, Tennesseee. In 1966 the school moved to its present location, Morristown, New Jersey. It is the oldest existing guide dog school in the US.

I came from a Guide Dog school, myself. Southeastern Guide Dogs in Palmetto, Florida.

img338That ultimately was not my destiny, but we stay connnected to the school and continue to raise pups for them. Our little Dogzilla, Electra, is one such pup. And we also like to educate folks about guide dogs.

jolly last day 004This is our friend Mr Allen Preston and his guide dog Jolly doing a presentation at our school. Jolly was a pup that we raised for Southeastern Guide Dogs and ultimately for Mr Preston.

For more information about Guide Dogs visit The National Association of Guide Dog Users website HERE.

For more information about blindness visit the National Federation of the Blind website HERE.

To find out what day to day life is like for a working guide dog team visit Jo and Wiley at their blog Daily Life of a Guide Dog HERE.

Find out more about Michael Jernigan HERE and HERE.

And here is Mr Morris Frank in his own words —

I hope that you will do a little research today and learn what you can about Seeing Eye Dogs and the kind of difference they make in a blind person’s life.

Wishing you a day of thankful independence!
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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Remember

9/11 – a day of sadness, reflection, commitment, and hope. A day to remember those who were lost, those who were found, and those who worked tirelessly in the rescue efforts.

I was not alive when all this happened. I only know from what I hear from those humans around me, but I understand that almost 100 dogs made their way to New York and worked tirelessly and enthusiastically alongside their handlers and other folks involved in rescue efforts. Those dogs helped save many lives. I am in awe of these heroes.

In 2011, there was a nice article about these dogs — you can view it HERE. I hope that you do.

And remember.

Your humble friend
Rhythm
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Chip Wants a Dog

We’ve got dogs at my house. Real dogs. Stuffed dogs. Dogs in books. Dogs on the walls. Dogs on the shelves. We big dogs even have our own dogs –

IMG_6115Look at poor little Electra. Don’t worry, she has her own dog, too. —

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Do you have your own dog? If not, would you like to have your own dog? Are your dreams filled with dogs?

We recently found another great book from Mr William Wegman about a young guy who wants his very own dog.

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Electra really liked this book!

Chip Wants a Dog
by William Wegman
published by Penguin Young Readers in 2014
a Level 2/Guided Reading Level H

It begins –
Dogs!
Dogs! Dogs! Dogs!
Chip thinks about dogs.
Chip reads about dogs.
Chip dreams about dogs.
Chip wants a dog!

This is a hilarious book! Chip wants a dog! Chip IS a dog!! But he wants his own dog for a friend. He thinks about all of the things that he and his dog could do together. They would be best friends. But his parents don’t want a dog. His mom is a cat person. ARF! ARF!!

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What’s a fellow with big dreams to do?!

I won’t tell you what happens in the end! It’s a big surprise! You’ll have to read the book yourself and find out!

This book had me rolling on the floor. Electra didn’t get it. Walker had his own dream going on.

This week, May 12 – 18, is Children’s Book Week. A week to celebrate “books for young people and the joy of reading.” This is the 95th anniversary of this celebration!!! 95 years! I would like to know what books were celebrated 95 years ago. And think about all the books since then! Wow! Mind boggling!

CBW_Poster-smallYou can find out more about Children’s Book Week by clicking on the poster above.

Every week is a Children’s Book Week for me, but it’s nice to spread the celebrations around.

Check out Mr Wegman’s websites HERE and HERE.

I’ll leave you with a bit of Mr Wegman himself — enjoy!

I hope that your week is filled with Picture Books and dreams that come true!
Rhythm
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Mother Goose

We are at the end of April and poetry month and I thought I would close out the month with some really fine poetry. Short and sweet verses that are Rhythmic and thought provoking. Clever and full of magical imagery. It’s what poetry is all about —

IMG_5897Mother Goose is the quintessential poet. Her poems have it all – humor, tragedy, drama. They are loved far and wide by young and old alike. Mother Goose has been interpreted in countless ways over the ages. But by far the most fabulous representation of Mother Goose poetry comes from Mr William Wegman and his weimaraners.

I present to you –

Mother Goose
by William Wegman
published by Hyperion Books for Children in 1996

The Cast of Characters includes Batty, Chundo, Crooky, and Chip. And Buster as Old Mother Hubbard’s pup.

The book includes 19 classic Mother Goose nursery rhymes in astonishing vignettes. You won’t believe your eyes!!

IMG_5903Jack Sprat could eat no fat and his wife could eat no lean — had Electra wanting to eat the book!

William Wegman is an extraordinary creative genius. You can find out all about him at his website HERE. And HERE.
There is an interesting article about him at the Guardian HERE.

I have talked about some of his other works before — The Night Before Christmas HERE.
William Wegman’s ABC HERE.
One of his movies – The Hardly Boys in Hardly Gold HERE.
And Flo and Wendell HERE.

I leave you with a performance of the ever popular Rub a Dub Dub – Three Men in a Tub

I wish for you a poetic week!
Your friend in the library
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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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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