Friday, June 29, 2007

Before, After and After Again

Well, it's been a busy time with vet appointments for Mason. Last week he went to the Animal Eye Hospital for an eye check up. This is a requirement for future guide dogs. The good news is that Mason's eyes are fine.

Dr. Bonney and Veronica check Mason's eyes.

On Tuesday we went to Towne North Animal Hospital for Mason to get neutered. Below is a picture before the appointment.


There is a Far Side cartoon of a car backing out of a driveway. The dog in the back seat of the car is bragging to a dog on the other side of a fence. He says, “Ha, ha ha, Biff. Guess what? After we go to the drugstore and the post office, I’m going to the vet’s to get tutored.”

Mason looking forward to getting "tutored"

AFTER - A wiser dog emerges sporting an E-collar to prevent him from taking out his stitches.

"I am smiling!"

Later that night Mason decided he didn't want to have stitches anymore. Where there is a will there is a way. Mason has a strong will and made a way - E-collar or not. He started pulling out his stitches. Luckily we caught him right away. But what could we do? The first thing was to hold him while calling Michelle Pelletier, Puppy Department Supervisor. She suggested covering the incision and wrapping an ace bandage lightly around the area to get us through the night until he could be rechecked. We did that but Mason didn't want to take "No" as a negative. As soon as we looked away he was trying to get the bandage off. We knew we had to make the E-collar larger. We looked around to see what might work. We came up with 2 giant playing cards. We had them as decorations for the Guide Dogs of Texas Casino night in April. We taped them to the E-collar and they did the trick. Later we cut them down a bit.

Mason is finally resigned to his fate of having stitches.

Mason made it through the night. We heard loud scraping noises every time he moved in his crate but he hadn't bothered his incision any more. Mason needed a little help eating his breakfast the next morning.


By the time we got back to the vet's office Mason found that he could press down on his collar and chew the playing cards. We knew the quick fix wouldn't have lasted another night.

AFTER AGAIN - Dr. McIlhany and Carlos fit Mason with a larger E-collar.

Mason was his normal, spirited self during the appointment. Dr. McIlhany said, "He's quite a handful, isn't he?" We agreed. The doctor gave us some tranquilizers to help Mason stay a bit calmer during his healing. Someone asked if the tranquilizers were for Mason of for us! Whatever!
So, that's Mason's Before, After and After Again story. He's now adjusted to the larger collar and is not running into so many things. There's never a dull moment when raising an guide dog puppy!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Mason Speaks

Hi from Mason. Mary said I could write this edition of Mason's Tales. I'll catch you up on what's been happening in the last month. I got to see my namesake again. His name is Mike Mason. He used to be the pack leader of the Guide Dogs of Texas. He and his wife, Chris, are really nice. I'm honored to be named after him. I hope to make him proud someday if I become a guide dog.

At the end of May I went to Retama Park with Ernie and Shawna Landy, Ernie's guide dog, Mikey, and Wes and Mary. It was nice to see all those horses going by. At first I thought they were funny looking dogs, but when Mary took me down to see the horses closer up I saw that they are really, really big! I was kind of scared and was glad when we went back upstairs and watched from afar.

Boy, you should have seen Mikey guide Ernie, and all the rest of us, back to the elevator when we were leaving. I heard all the people saying, "Which way is the elevator?" They didn't know. So Ernie just told Mikey to "find the door." Well, Mikey led all of us to the elevator and out to the van. There were several turns and I didn't know where we were going but Mikey did. Wow, he is totally awesome! Someday I hope I can be a guide dog like Mikey.

I got to stay with Ernie, Shawna and Mikey for a night when Wes and Mary went away. Mikey hasn't always been overly friendly to me. I guess he doesn't like us young pups so much, probably it's because we bounce around a lot. Anyway, when I went to his house we got along great. I really liked that night with them. And then I went to another nice home for over a week. Tim and Cindy Buechner took me in. I had a great time with them and their kids, Morgan and Joseph. They were so much fun. I especially liked playing hide-and-go-seek with them. I found them every time. And they had cats too. I didn't have any experience with cats so it was good to learn about them. They're not as bad as I've heard. You know, the whole "Dogs Rule and Cats Drool" thing. I hope all cats are as nice as them. Thank you, Buechners, for taking such good care of me while at your house.

Well, that's about it for now. Mary will write soon about my recent vet appointments. She promised to have some very funny pictures. So come back soon. And if you want to tell me anything please be sure to leave some comments.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Mason Grounded

Well, I can’t believe it’s been a month since I last sent a tale about Mason. I went to PA to visit family for 3 weeks. The plan was for Mason to come with me for more training exposures. Heidi, a previous guide dog puppy flew 13 flights with us on four different airlines, so I didn't anticipate a problem.
Heidi flying United Airlines to Florida
But as Mason and I went to the gate to board the Southwest Airlines flight I was told that he was not allowed on board with me. Even with proper documentation and a health certificate he wasn't allowed to fly.

That was certainly a disappointment. How else can guide dogs get trained to fly with a person they will serve? Can you imagine how it would be for a visually impaired person to have to fly with a dog who has never been exposed to airplanes and flying? We were glad we had taken our Southeastern Guide Dog puppy on several flights. When she was matched, Jim, her new owner, flew to the facility in northern Florida and flew in a small commuter plane back to southern Florida. Heidi had already flown on a commuter plane on two flights. It was a relief for Jim to know that his new guide dog had flying experience and wouldn't be nervous on the flight home.

The four airlines (Continental, ExpressJet, United and U.S. Airways) we’d flown previously with a guide dog puppy were all very helpful. U.S. Airways was especially accommodating. They allowed our puppy raiser group in Charlotte, NC to visit a hanger and board an airplane so the puppies could get experience before they actually flew. U.S. Airways staff also arranged for our whole group to go through airport security at a non-busy time to give experience to puppies, raisers and security personnel. (Yes, this was post 9/11.) Several of the dogs also rode on the carts that transport passengers from one terminal to another. That could be very helpful to a visually impaired person and a guide dog.

The Charlotte Area SEGDI Puppy Raiser Group
When I got back I heard from Guide Dogs of Texas staff that they often need to transport guide dogs in training to meet with a person with whom the dog may be matched. Sometimes the best flight arrangements would be on Southwest Airlines, but they are not allowed to fly with the dog even though the dog is fully trained and ready to be placed with a person. So, my question is: What can we do about this? I’m not sure yet. Anyone have some suggestions?

I'll have more about Mason and how he did while I was away on my next blog.