Thursday, April 4, 2013

Just another day in paradise

Dodger And I continue to learn to work together as a team and to bond even more so than we already are. He never ceases to amaze me with the wonderful things he knows and does for me . He always brings a smile to my face with his Eager to please personality. His tail constantly wags while we would make our way down a supermarket aisle, to a seat on the bus, Or when we are just moseying along. Dodger Truly loves to work.
About Five or six months ago, when Brian and I worked dodger together , I knew this was going to be a great match ! Brian is the trainer at guide dogs of America for those who don't know. Anyways as we were saying I knew it was going to be a great match, Brian had put a lot of hard work into this dog and it showed. Even that early on in Dodgers training, he always had Such a focus on his work and keeping us safe. The route we worked Was short small, and I didn't see my boy after that, but that one day was enough for me to know that I was going to get a really really good dog. But that day also showed me something about Brian that I liked very much, it showed me his heart and his passion for each dog he trains. I could tell there was something special between Dodger and Brian I knew my boy had whittled his way into Brian's heart . I knew dodger was fond of Brian as well. And so that day when I was done working this dog. That I had no name for, and this trainer that I had no physical description for, I decided to call a friend who was a puppy raiser at GD a and get the scoop On what Brian looked like so I could paint a picture in my mind. My friend described him to me and told me a little bit about his personality which I was also getting to know. Brian is a very cool laid-back easy-going kind of guy. He loves his dogs with all of his heart, and he is not afraid to show it either. He expects a lot from his dogs and you can tell, but he always gives equal praise and love .
What does this all habe to do with the price of tea in china you ask ? Eell ... I have a little story to tell .
Today we were working in home depot . I was looking at the fencing and trying to feel my way through the maze of boards slats and do it yourself fencing materials . Dodger was standing patiently by my side when i herd this voice - " can i help you find something mam " i had to do a double take because it sounded just like bryan !!!! Dodger also swung his head to the hard left and wagged his tail as hard as he could . After telling him what i was looking for and having him help me , my mon came around the corner . We all started talking about dogs and he asked if he. Could pet dodger . I normally might have said no , but this guy sounded so much like bryan i just had to for dodgers sake . I removed his harness and he barreled twards this guy as if he knew him - dodger is a gentelman with meet and greets but this was so not his character . He immideately flopped on the floor and rolled over on his back as if to say " pet my belly " . The guy loved this , and so did dodger ! When i finally peeled dodger off the floor and put his harness back on , his brain went back to his head and we left the store as if he had never seen the guy . I asked my mom for a description of the guy , and only then did i realize it was more than just the voice . Apparently this guy looks a lot like bryan , and dodger probbably thought " hey its bryans brother " ! Or he thought it was bryan ? Im not sure , but im glad he got to have that time with that guy .
So bryan if your reading ... You for sure need to say hi and love up on your boy at graduation cuz he misses you !!!!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Another Day another blog

Hi guys, not too much to blog about today. Dodger and I have been very busy as usual. We tend to do a lot of small little errands every day which is good Because the scenery is always changing. One thing we have been doing a lot of recently is trips to Home Depot, and the Garden store nearby. This is the time of year when we get things ready for spring planting, and we already have some stuff in the ground. Dodger has been a very good boy helping me to pick out plants and waiting patiently while I stand for hours in front of the racks in the stores picking and choosing. Now if I could just teach them to read print we would being great shape Oh yeah need to teach him how to drive also Since I can't drive and he can't drive we do use a bit of public transportation while in town. Mostly though my mom drives us everywhere. When we are not in the area of temecula , Which actually happens to be quite often, we utilize public transportation. Many many trips on buses, in taxis, and on trains. This October we will be flying together for the first time. Since dodger was raised in Colorado, and the guy dog school is in California, I am sure he had his fair share of flying. I do not anticipate any problems on the airplane. We are taking a five hour flight direct to Florida. Once we get off of the plane, we will be there for two weeks. Steve calls this my seven islands in seven days trip LOL we plan to visit Walt Disney World for the first four days and then go on over to St. Petersburg Florida area and Tampa area for the next three days. After we are done in those areas, we will go down to Port Canaveral where we will board the Disney fantasy cruise ship for a weeks voyage to the Eastern Caribbean. The only port I plan on taking dodger off of the ship , is castaway Cay. Since this is Disney cruise lines private island, I do not anticipate access issues at all. The ship is the only Ship docked in this port, they do not allow other cruise lines it is exclusively for their passengers. I have been to this Island several times with Denver, and we always have a great time. As for the other ports of St. Maarten and St. Thomas, I will leave dodger on the ship in his crate in my state room. I am positive he will be safer in the room, versus being subjected to being denied access everywhere with me. These ports are pretty good about guide dogs and service dogs as they see a lot of them, But there are no a D a laws governing service or guide dogs in those countries so I choose not to chance it. There usually is one or two people from our cruise group that will stay back on the ship, so I always give them a Heads up and let them know that my dog will be in the room in a crate. My state room host or hostess also knows this, and does not enter the room during the time that I am gone. The captain of the ship will also get memo of this, so that if there were any emergency someone will go to retrieve my dog. It is not my favorite thing to do believe me, but after talking to Andy at guide dogs of America, we both decided the ship is the safest place for my dogs. I generally will stay gone for 2 to 3 hours and then come back and check on him. And if I feel like it, I will venture back out for another couple of hours. When I get back on board, I will usually take my dog up to the fenced in basketball court and let him run around and chase the ball. Anyways after we are done with our cruise, we will head back over to the Walt Disney World area for one more night. We will go back to the parks as we have an annual pass. The next morning we get on an airplane bright and early at 8:00 AM Florida time which is 5:00 AM my time. We have another direct flight home and arrive in San Diego at 10:30 AM.

I just know dodger is going to do great with this trip. I plan on giving him lots of breaks during the day when we are in the park as it is very humid in Florida and neither one of us are used to it. We will probably go back to the hotel in the afternoons during the hottest part of the day, and take a nap. Disney also has a wonderful kennel facility in Florida unlike their facility in California which is just mediocre in my opinion. I will be able to book daycare for him here, and he will have his own sweet complete with indoor and outdoor run , raised dog bed, TV, and air-conditioning. I don't plan on making my dog worked theparks from sun up until sundown. And I know I will be using the camel at sea world one of the first four days, since we will be at discovery Cove waterpark swimming with the dolphins. I forgot to mention this part of our trip earlier. Sea world has a great kennel facility as well, inboards service dogs for free. I will be making frequent trips back and forth during the day that we are at discovery Cove to check on dodger and walk him and spend time with him. And lucky for him the park opens at nine and closes at five LOL

Well that's about all I have to blog for today, I leave you with a picture of dodger and his bird teddy . Teddy is a green winged mccaw and has a very large beak !!!! Dodger has learned very quickly to leave him alone . Teddy is very curious about dodger and dodger is equally as curious , but they both seem to respect each other :-)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Disneyland !!!

Dodger and I made another trip to Disneyland. I have an annual pass so this will be a frequent spot for us. The day went really great ! My mom and I decided to go for a few hours since dodger will have to build up to an entire day. Theme parks can be a lot for Guide dogs because there are so many people and they are constantly looking for a way around them and how to guide you through situations . Lots of breaks are Suggested if you have a dog that is not spent a ton of time at an amusement park. , But as the dog gets more adapted to these situations the less you need to Give the dog frequent breaks and you can go a lot further. Dodger and I stopped and rested about every Hour. I know I could probably take him and work him through it and he would do just fine, but I want to set my dog up for success. This is also the case when you have a new puppy in training that you would take to an amusement park.. Speaking of puppies in training, we met our friend Denise Brown Who also raises puppies for guide dogs of America. She has a new puppy in training named Pismo, but Pismo is not old enough for the parks yet. When Pismo is ready though, I'm sure dodger will show her the way. Denise also has an annual pass so she frequents Disney often with her puppies. I would think if you got a puppy from Denise that it may not require as much resting and breaks at Disneyland in the beginning as a dog like dodger. This is because Disney is something Pismo will be doing on an almost weekly basis. Dodger did not get exposure weekly to an amusement park like Disneyland So this is why he requires more frequent breaks in the beginning. Dodger however, did get raised on a horse ranch so there was no adjusting or acclimating when he got home. He fell right into the routine as if he had been here his whole entire life. This is something I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams. Finding people who actually live on ranches these days is hard to do. I was delighted to hear I would not have to break dodger in to the ranch lifestyle. Dodger was raised out-of-state in Colorado, so he has lots of experience With land , Where a dog like Pismo lives on a small amount of acreage but has more experience with Disneyland. I am trying to make the point that just because a dog is not raised in a certain situation does not mean that they cannot adapt to it, it just means it may take them a little getting used to. This is the case with Dodger and Disneyland. It has nothing to do with him not being trained or not being a good guide at all. I hope all of that makes sense LOL.
Back to Disneyland!!! We started our day by making our way down busy main street. There were lots of strollers and kids and balloons the dodger was never once distracted he led me down the sidewalk and took me around people when they Were in the way. We would walk up to a group of people standing in the middle of the sidewalk he would take me off to the left stop at the down curb I would tell him forward then he would go forward take me around the crowd of people back to the right to the up curb, and back up on the sidewalk. He is a very very smart boy. We went on a few rides that day also. We did Mr. toads wild ride, and dodger lay at my feet while the car Swung left and right through the crazy maze. After Mr. toad we walked through Tom Sawyer's Island and went through a few shops that my mom wanted to look in I love the fact that dodger can go go go When we are outside, but he can adjust his Speed right when we get inside a building to shop. We wove through aisles and around people and strollers again. Having the freedom to move around in a store and not bump into things is so nice. When you have a cane it shows you were obstacles are, when you have a dog they take you around those obstacles and you never know that they are there. This is especially nice if you are shopping and there is things in the isle . After we were done shopping, we walked over to meet Denise's family in front of autotopia. This is a ride where you can drive cars on a track. Denise and I often joke because last time we were there, Disney let me drive my own car by myself. We laughed when they said it was okay that I could drive even if I was blind. This time she asked me if I wanted to drive with dodger in the car. I thought about it for a few seconds and then told her no LOL. This is something we will conquer later when Dodger is more comfortable with Disneyland and me bumping into the car in front of us LOL After we met up with her family we walked over to small world. Dodger absolutely loved this ride. I could not believe it. He watched all of the moving dolls and singing toys inside as we snaked our way slowly through the water in our boat. He was absolutely thrilled !!! What were these things that were making noise and moving inside of this building, what were we doing in this boat, who decided to put a boat in a building with water? I'm sure all of this was going through his head. The ride was nice though, and a great starter for dogs who have not been to Disney a lot. After we got off of the ride we took dodger over to get him a drink. I took his harness off and he drank a whole bowl of water LOL this dog loves his water. Lots of people commented on him as they walked by,(wow what a beautiful dog) , (Look a doggy) . We get these Comments a lot when we go to Disneyland. After dodger was all tanked up on his water, we walked over towards New Orleans Square . We met up with the rest of Denise's family , Talked for a little bit, and then it was time to go home. We had to come home early because we had horses we needed to put in and feed . My mom and I stopped for a drink and then Made our way back down main street and out to the shuttles. We took the shuttle back to the parking lot and when we got out I decided to play a little game with dodger that Denver and I used to play. It's called find the truck . Denver used to have an amazing skill of being able to find the truck or car that we came in no matter where it was parked in the parking lot. He could've written in the car only one time in his life and if you parked it went into Disneyland and came back out he would know where that car was. The same thing went for the mall , The grocery store, the baseball stadium, anywhere we went really. So as dodger and I crossed the Tactile strip into the parking lot I asked my mom to tell me when we got close. It went something like this. Dodger find the truck, we walked a few feet walk a few more and then he started to pull even harder
Me : good boy dodger find the truck . ... Dodger walked. About another 3 feet and turn right. I thought he was headed for our truck when my mom said, you passed it. Okay I said, I'm going to let him work this one out. He took me about another 20 feet turned left and lo and behold plopped me right in front of the Passenger door of a humongous semitruck. To most of you this means nothing, but to his puppy raiser this means everything. Dodgers puppy raisers used to drive a big Rig . He would spend six hours traveling across the state of Colorado to deliver goods. He even knew how to climb in and out of the truck. Well I guess I got what I asked for. Lol !!! He was so proud of himself when he stopped me at the door of that big rig. He wagged his tail as hard as he could , I praised him and pet him , Good boy dodger good find the truck! After that I decided to give him the command find the car. I told him back because I knew the "car "was behind me, and sure Enough he took me right back to our truck. This dog totally cracks me up !!! I am Including a picture of dodger placed on the floor of the tram on the ride back to the truck. He has a tired look on his face, and his head Is resting on the bench of the tram. Have a great day Everyone , And thanks for reading.
I am also going to post a video on dodgers page since i cant post here
Facebook - dodger guide dog

Friday, March 15, 2013


Just a short update to fill everyone in on what's been going on in dodger and i's world . Dodger and I have been busy Running errands and doing every day life. Denver dodger and I have also been busy preparing the garden for spring. Dodger and I took a trip to the nursery yesterday to get some Vegetable seeds and vegetable starts. The nursery allows dogs, so I thought it would be nice for dodger to not have to work In a harness, but rather relax and just enjoy being out as a dog. Little to my disbelief dodger guided me anyways. Ue . He stopped at all of the turns as if to say do you want to go left or right? He stopped at the down curb, he stopped at the up curb, and he stopped when there were people in front of us at the register. Dodger continues to amaze me every single day. I have included a picture of dodger in the seed area of the nursery. He is laying down enjoying the cool floor while my mom reads the seed packets to me. He waits patiently, watches other out-of-control dogs walk by, and does nothing. He is so patient and so kind. He is the perfect gentleman. I am always so pleased with his behavior out in public, and at home. I always work dodger on a flat color, he never needs a correction and never needs a choke chain for corrections . He really and truly is a push button dog.
At home dodger has enjoyed being around Denver, even sharing the Dog bed and taking naps together. Both of them love to come out to the garden with me and lay in the sun while I work in the raised beds. It is almost as if Denver knows that things will be okay now, and someone is there to help him with his job of taking care of me. Dodger has never been pushy, or pushed his way in with Denver. It seems as if Dodger knows that Denver was my Right hand man, and still is. But now they are both my right hand man :-) How lucky am I to have two wonderful wonderful dogs out of such a wonderful organization . Guide dogs of America could not have matched me with a better dog last time and this time. It always amazes me How well they match their dogs to their recipients.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Training day nine - we are a team !

Sorry it has taken me almost a week to post about our last day of training . Dodger and I have been very busy since we finished training .
On the last day Steve came and picked us up to work a short route around our local duck pond . When we arrived at the pond , dodger and I made our way across the parking lot twards the pond . Once we located the gate I told him to find right - good boy ! We gently snaked our way around the pond and many ducks passed in front of us along the way . Dodger never broke his focus ! He did his job and ignored the distractions ! Good boy dodger ! Once we went around the pond in both directions , we headed back to the van so we could find a starbucks for a bagel chai tea latte and to sign paperwork . We drove a little ways and behold - a starbucks ! P steve parked the van and we worked along a very narrow sidewalk and found the door to the starbucks . These dogs are taught the find it command and they are usually pretty dead on once you know your close . Dodger does a great job at this so locating the door was no problem .
Once inside we found the counter and ordered . Dodger stood quietly in front of me against the counter and out of foot traffic until i gave him the command to find right . We located a seat pretty quickly . Once we were seated steve and i went over the paperwork , and i signed my life away - ha ha ha just kidding . I signed a few papers and we were done ! Steve and i finished breakfast and he drove me home . Steve did such a great job with my home training ! And bryan did such an amazing job training dodger at the school ! So many thank you's to so many people . To lisa and manny for this wonderful gift and companion - your countless hours and hard work puppy raising. Have shone through . To sherri and adam for opening your home and heart and doing the painful task of turning dodger in for training . To ned colletti and the dodgers dream foundation for sponsoring dodger ! Your donation is so appreciated ! Thank you !!! To lori bernson at guide dogs of america for always being there to dry my tears and hug me and tell me its possible to love again . To andi krusoe at guide dogs for always being rock solid and supporting me for the last 9 plus years ! You are so appreciated ! To chuck jordan ! Oh chuck what can i say ? You tell me you have a match , keep me in total suspense until the day you dropmy dog off t and then try to run us over with the crown vic ! Now that was fun ! Thank you chuck for all that you do , even if its sometimes followed with that evil laugh ! -smile -
To denise for managing this blog and for your friendship . For not. Killing me for not telling you my dogs name until i was allowed lol - i o u an ice cream at disneyland ! And finally to those who read this who were dodger fans from his puppyhood and the school who also read during training . To those who are just now reading and supporting us .
Our adventures dont end here and i will continue to post updates as much as i possibly can - hopefully every few days ! So stay tuned and keep on reading - we have a lot of years to blog and a lot of miles to walk !
Cari and dodger

Monday, March 4, 2013

Training day eight - almost done

Well today was another great day ! Steve picked me up a half an hour early so we could stop by the school and see the vet before we went to do platform work in south Pasadena . We were going to go to union station , but decided to go to Pasadena instead .
We worked a route from a little ways away from the school and down to the kennels . Dodger did great ! I just love how focused he stays on guiding us and keeping us safe . He is such an intense worker !
Once at the vet department at the school . He was looked over and Steve was given the heads up to sign him over to me tomorrow . When you leave class at guide dogs of america you own your dogs , same thing with home training . Some other schools retain ownership for a year and some forever , it just depends on the program . I really like having sole ownership of my dogs .
After that was all taken care of , Yvonne came and got me and we took my picture for my ID and a few other pictures of my handsome boy .
We stopped at the admin building on the way out so i could say hi to Andi and Lori before i left . Just before i went in the door i herd my friend Denise's voice ! She is a puppy raiser for GDA and was there to pick something up for her puppy Pismo . She had an envelope for me that she was going to leave , but it worked out and i was able to get it from her . Here is what i found in my envelope :-)

Okay so hopefully that Picture posted above this and not below it but if it did, we will call it and I failure LOL. After Stephen I left the school we made our way to downtown Pasadena. We parked on the side of the street and I unloaded dodger from the van. Dodger , find left- good Boy ! We came to a busy crossing, dodger forward. Good boy !!! Steve then instructed me to tell him to find the ramp . Dodger, find the ramp. My boy found it with ease of course :-) We zigzagged back and forth down the ramp until we wound up at the bottom on the platform. Once we We're at the bottom of the platform Steve asked me to drop my harness handle and told me he was going to give me a brief lecture about safety and platform work. After the lecture, he asked me to pick up my harness handle and ask dodger for the forward command. Dodger forward- Good boy. Then he told me to ask dodger for the Hault dodger Hault -good boy! Then he asked me to ask dodger for the left command. Dodger left , But this time dodger would not do as I instructed. He gently pulled me off to the right away from the platform. This is what they call intelligent disobedience. Intelligent disobedience is where a dog refuses a command because they know it is not safe. This is a critical part of becoming a guide dog. If we tell our dogs left and it is not safe and Vago left anyways we could get seriously injured. If we tell our dogs left and they do not go left we are taught to follow our dogs. . This is where trust comes into play. You have to have 100% trust that your dog is making the right decision and knows better because they can see and you cannot. They are taking you away from an unsafe situation. My dodger boy was doing just that. Way to go big D !!! I praised him after he took me away from the edge and continued down the walkway. I walked about 10 feet and ask him to go left again. My boy or refused the left turn again, pulling me a little harder to the right this time as if to say no mom stay away from there it's dangerous . We reversed directions this time me on the same side as the platform dodger on my outside. We walked about 10 feet and I asked him for the right - Dodger right- Dodger refused the right command and immediately made a U-turn putting me back on the other side, and him on the platform side. . WAY TO GO MY SMART BOY ! And thank you for keeping me safe. Although this was a set up, just because the trainers leave does not mean dodger would not do this for me again . He has this so dialed into his brain, he will never forget. We will always be a safe team walking by platforms and drop offs . Stephen I D cited the exercise was over, and to end on a great note. We worked back to the van. Steve took me home and gave me an evening assignment To do on my own. I was supposed to put booties on dodger so that he could get used to them. A lot of guide dog teams use booties when the pavement is hot so that their dogs feet do not burn. We also use them in rough terrain or snowy and icy conditions . Later this evening I slipped the booties on him for what I think might have been the first time? He was absolutely hilarious !he was like a fish out of water flailing his feet everywhere. . At first he did not want anything to do with them, trying to get them off of his feet. After a a while though he accepted the booties and joyfully played in the barn with the other dogs. I love how willing this dog is to please, and how willing he is . I just want to end this post by saying I love my dog ! I also included a picture of him in his booties - enjoy !

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Training day 7 - we are a team

Well where to begin ? Lets start out with this morning . Chuck was good enough to come out and do traffic with us ! Steve came and got me and we went to town and parked in a parking lot that had multiple exits . Chuck was lined up and ready to do the traffic check . I walked my boy out to the curb and started down the sidewalk . Once we got to the first down curb , steve told me to ask him for the forward - forward boy - we stepped off the curb and got half way out in the crossing when out of nowhere came this crazy guy driving a crown vic right at us and then screeching the breaks - ah the chuckster ! My boy had no idea this was a set up and he did his. Job with perfection !!!! He stopped and backed us up a little clearing us both out of the way YES!!!!!! We got to the up curb and as soon as we were out of the street i praised my boy like crazy :-) what an amazing feeling it is when a car comes at you and you can put total confidence in your dog knowing he will get you out of the way !
We continued forward through a few intersections and then ol chuck got us again ! This time he came around the corner really fast ! My boy stopped before we even got close ! Double yes !!! We were sailing through our crossings !!!! We worked up a hill into a residental neighborhood where we had our last traffic check . We went to cross the street and got revenge of the chuck again ! Only faster and this time he was turning left ! Ha ! My boy pushed me out of the way like a champ ! I was so happy ! We were safe .
After the workout we met up with chuck and went to breakfast where i got to learn about my puppy raisers and my dogs sponsor ! This is the exciting part !!! My raisers name is lisa and she and i both live a simillar lifestyle :-) my boy DODGER was raised on a ranch around horses ! What a great match .
We finished eating and chuck took me home so we could call lisa . We got to the ranch and unloaded Dodger and went inside . Chuck called lisa and after a second he handed me the phone :-) it was all over at that point lol i hope chuck has a good cel plan cuz i think we talked for like a half hour or more ! We clicked right away ! I cant believe how well we clicked ! She told me dodger was sponsered by ned colletti and the dodgers dream foundation ! She and ned are friends :-) how cool is that ? I then found out that we have a friend in common on facebook and that she had raised a puppy for her husband too ! Small world ! They kept dodger for three weeks before turn in and turned him in on turn in day . This is the day puppy raisers say goodbye to their beloved babies and send them off to college and cross their paws !!!
I can not begin to tell you how happy i am that i have such a wonderful dog and a very special puppy raiser and puppy friends sherri and adam ! And lisas boyfriend who is very attached to dodger too ! I especially hope he can come for graduation ... We can all cry together :-)
So that was our eventful day besides a little outing tonight . Tomorrow is subways light rails and platforms , cant wait to share that adventure with everyone :-) thank you all for reading and supporting us !!!!! MEET DODGER !!!!!