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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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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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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A Lucky Dog!

I’m a pretty lucky dog. I’ve had a nice life with people who love me.I get to go to work with my Mom Person and play with kids. I have a lovely river not far outside my door. I have a full toy basket with LOTS of tennis balls and jars full of treats. I never have to stay out in the weather or miss meals. Life is pretty good.

IMG_2473I hear a lot about homeless dogs and dogs who live in shelters. I worry about things like that. All dogs should have a family to love and take care of. I also hear stories about lucky dogs who find those loving families by pure chance.

We read a book today about just such a dog. He not only found a great family full of love, he also found a job full of adventure and became famous along the way. He was very lucky!

IMG_3762IMG_3763

A LUCKY DOG, Owney, U.S. Rail Mail Mascot was written by Dirk Wales and illustrated by Diane Kenna. I couldn’t find much information about either Mr Wales or Ms Kenna. I did find an interesting interview with Mr Wales that you can watch HERE.

A Lucky Dog was originally published in 2003 by Great Plains Press. Our book was published in 2006 by Scholastic.

This book is suitable for K & up

Themes — working dogs, rescue dogs, postal service

The book begins — “Nameless and homeless, the small dog shivered in the gloom.”

That would be a homeless little dog in Albany, New York in 1889 who was lucky to find an open door into a dry, warm post office with nice, soft mail bags to curl up on. Then he was lucky to be found by a nice young postal worker named Owen who had a nice supervisor who let the dog stay. They all called the dog Owney because he was Owen’s dog. Owney became the Post Office mascot and got to go wherever the workers went. Even on the rail cars that carried the mail across the country! Owney was lucky to be able to travel all over the country and eventually around the world with the mail! At all the places he stopped on his travels he received a bagging tag and acquired so many that they had to make a special coat for him to hold them all.

owney_postal_dogMs Kenna’s illustrations are quite nice. Simple with a lot of emotion. They make you feel like you’re riding the rails with Owney! We had a fun time reading this book. The kids all agreed that Owney was indeed a very lucky dog! They had never ridden on a train before. Lucky Owney! The book has a railroad map from 1890 that was pretty cool to look at. We couldn’t find Glen Rose – the words are VERY tiny, but it showed that Owney stopped at a few places in Texas.

It would be interesting to have a bigger discussion about some of the places that Owney travelled along with the mail.
If you happen to be lucky enough to live near Washington DC or lucky to travel there, you could visit the National Postal Museum and see Owney himself, stuffed and wearing all his tags. You can click here and learn more.

Here’s a little video about Owney —

The Postal Museum has actually created a curriculum guide for teachers. You can find that HERE.

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday and there are a lot of great picture books to be found at Susanna Hill’s blog. You might want to check it out! You might get lucky!

I hope you have a lucky day today! I have a day off and will be taking it easy!

rhythm sleepingRhythm

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The Play’s the Thing

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HeeHaw at the Intermediate School

I have done a little acting in my time. Small parts in some musical productions at school.

Rescuing the baby from the burning building

Rescuing the baby from the burning building

And in plays put on by the Boys of the Detention Center. Last year the boys wrote and produced a play about working dogs. They put a lot of work into that production and Walker and I had starring roles.

This year a different group of guys decided to do a play as well. They decided to write about military dogs. And of course Walker and I filled those parts! In preparation for doing this play, everyone had to learn about military dogs and what kinds of things they actually did. We got the boys a couple of great books about war dogs. Wow! Those dogs are some real super heroes!!! We all learned a lot!

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Dogs on Duty is by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent. Ms Patent is a pretty prolific writer of non-fiction books for kids. (We have another excellent book of hers titled The Right Dog For the Job). Dogs on Duty was published in 2012 by Walker Publishing. Walker Publishing. How about that? This is one incredible book! Unbelievable photos of military dogs in action. There is a history of dogs being used in wartime, from ancient days til today. In WWI dogs were used as messengers and as Red Cross dogs helping wounded soldiers. In WWII a civilian group called Dogs for Defense encouraged people to volunteer their family pets to the war effort. Over 9,000 dogs served, saving the lives of thousands of soldiers. Through the years, the role of dogs during war has expanded to being scouts and sentries and alert dogs sniffing out enemies and IEDs and hidden weapons.

The book tells us about the training that goes into making a military dog, the equipment that they wear, (which is a whole lot of stuff!), and what life is like in a war zone. There are lots and lots of pictures. In the back of the book is a glossary and lists of websites and books for further resources. A most excellent book!!!

Now, back to that play. The play was about a group of soldiers in Afghanistan trying to take a city. Walker once had a class in sniffing out scents so he got to be the bomb alert dog and sniffed out IEDs. I was the Red Cross dog taking medical supplies to the wounded. The boys researched the whole thing, wrote it out with script and scenes and the works, then acted. They did such a good job!!! They had to learn to work as a team – cooperation! They had to read and write – which some of them didn’t care to do. They had to learn to communicate with each other and with us dogs – how to get the best from someone.

I’m very proud of our boys!!

Here is a link to a very interesting article in the Smithsonian Magazine about the Education of a Bomb Dog

And a military dog’s story –

Sally Gets a Job

Our Perfect Picture Book Friday Pick this week is Sally Gets a Job written and illustrated by Stephen Huneck.

This is a fiction book published in 2008 by Abrams Books for Young Readers. It is suitable for ages 6 and up.

From the 1st page — “There they go, off to work and school. I wish I could go, too. Maybe I should get a job.”

Thus begins Sally’s musings about what would be the perfect job for her. Maybe she could drive a school bus, or be a teacher. Maybe a lifeguard at the beach. Maybe an archeologist or a pro ball player. So many options!

In real life there really are lots of dogs doing very important work. There are guide dogs for visually impaired people, service dogs for people with other needs, search and rescue dogs, drug sniffing dogs, bomb detection dogs, guard dogs, hunting dogs, show dogs.

I myself am a working dog with multiple titles — therapy dog, library dog, reading dog, school dog. And much like Sally, I have often dreamed about other jobs that I could do —

I have been a teacher and library dog, a farm dog, an actor, a rally competitor. It might be fun to be a fire dog. But like Sally in her book, I have found that the best job in the world is —

Taking care of my family!

There are lots of “Sally” books. She’s a very busy dog. She’s one of my very favorite book characters. And her Dad Person who was also her author and illustrator was an incredible artist using hand carved wood blocks. Mr Huneck died in 2010 but his influence on the dog and art worlds is huge. His home in Vermont has become a haven for dogs and their owners. It is called Dog Mountain. And on the mountain is a unique chapel called Dog Chapel. Dog Mountain is open to the public and they often have special events there.

If you were to read this book in your classroom it could open up lots of discussion about jobs that dogs do for people. And then you might talk about what jobs the kids’ dogs do for them. We have these talks a lot when I go to school. And there are probably dog groups of some kind in your area that probably have members that would LOVE to come visit a classroom. Dog people LOVE sharing their dogs!
Some resources that you might look into¬† —

Therapy Dogs International, Delta Society, Canine Companions for Independence
Guide Dog Users, Search and Rescue Dogs, Police Dogs, American Kennel Club.

So what does your dog do for you? Think on that!

And go check out Sally Gets a Job — and all the other Sally books!
And then check out the other PPBF books at Susanna Hill’s place!