Thursday, August 30, 2007

Time with the Big Dogs

We were recently at the Guide Dogs of Texas Training Center when the older dogs in training were having some free run time. The gates were closed and the dogs were allowed to run and play in a large area. They love this time to romp and explore the outdoors. Mason loved it too. Here were some big dogs who accepted his puppy energy and put him in his place if he got too rambunctious. Only one dog told him in dog talk, "That's enough, youngster."
Part of the exercise is also practicing "recall." When individual dogs were called they had to respond by returning to the trainer who called them. They were praised for coming and then released to continuing playing. Good recall is a must for guide dogs. This is one thing Mason does well.

It was a warm day. There were lots of dog tongues hanging out. One dog found a nice, shady spot under the van.

It was time to return to the kennel. All the dogs went inside and were told to lie down in a circle and stay. It can be hard for the dogs to stay in one place with other dogs so close by. Mason again did well. This is not his strength but he followed the lead of the trainers and the example of the other dogs. The dogs were then called one by one to another area of the kennel and again told to lie down and stay. All the other dogs had to stay in their original place until they were called. It was very good practice, especially for Mason. It was encouraging to see him respond so well to the trainers. It was a good day.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Haircut, Busted and New Trick

Mason is doing well and enjoying his life as a guide dog puppy. He's growing and changing - that includes his coat. The other day we noticed he was getting a little shaggier, especially around his eyes. And his one ear looked a little lopsided since his chewed off some of the hair when he was wearing his e-collar. We decided to give him a little trim.

So, what do you think? Doesn't he look cuter? Now we can better see his nice eyes. The rest of his coat is turning from almost white to light brown. The brown started as a streak down his backbone. Then it worked its way down his sides and up his neck. At the top of his head you can see the line of the adult hair and the puppy hair. What we especially like is that his coat doesn't tangle or shed.
Mason likes to chew paper. When he was very little he shreadded a roll of toilet paper. He really had lots of fun with that. But he outgrew that. He has moved on to tissues. Its especially fun that when he tears one out another one appears just like magic. But when the box is less full he has to reach into the box and get one. That is how he got busted one day.
I knew I should scold him to break the habit, but he looked so cute. For his punishment I made him stay and "wear" the box until I ran and got the camera. Don't you think he looks like he's saying he is sorry. Or maybe its just the embarrasment of being busted.

To keep Mason a little busier I decided to teach him a new "trick." I got the idea from Ignacio, Jade's puppy raiser. I give Mason a Down command which he does quite well. Then I say with slight sterness "I mean it." Below is the result. He's so much fun to work with. We're enjoying being puppy raisers.

Friday, August 17, 2007

National Night Out

The Guide Dogs of Texas sponsored a neighborhood gathering at their headquarters in San Antonio last week. Their participation was part of a nationwide event called National Night Out. Below are some photos of the event. There were free items donated by Aetna and HEB donated a grill which was raffled. The proceeds of the raffle went to the local school library.
Ernie Landy, Volunteer Coordinator, stands by the display board that he created to explain the work of Guide Dogs of Texas.
Ernie and volunteer Wes Reimer grill hot dogs for attendees. Q 101.9 provided music for the event.
Puppy Raiser Mary Reimer and Mason were on hand to greet people. The blood mobile was available for those who wanted to donate blood. Donations are always low during the summer months.
Sarah Mumme, Apprentice Guide Dog Mobility Instructor, staying cool as she staffs the table to fingerprint and photograph children.

Sandy Merrill, Director of Training, prepares to donate blood.

Local children participated in sack races cheered on by Larry Gelvin, Puppy Raiser Supervisor.

The adults had their turn at the sack races. Though a bit less graceful than the children they still had fun and we enjoyed watching them.

Firefighters came with their truck but had to leave shortly afterwards to go on a call. A local policeman and Judge Karen Crouch also came to participate in the activities. It was a great night out for neighbors to get to know their neighbors and have a fun time together.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

A New Friend

Mason has a new friend. She is an 8 year old beagle named Augusta. (Her last name is National, so guess what her owners like to do.) She lives in the neighborhood and came to visit last week, with her owner Martha.
Mason, being a puppy, is much more exuberant in his play.
Augusta plays for awhile and then says it's time to take a break.
Mason literally runs circles around her trying to entice her to play some more, but Augusta is done playing and ready just to go and explore the yard.
"Hey, Augusta. Whatever you had for breakfast sure smells good."

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Our Growing Boy

So, what's Mason been up to lately? Well, he's been growing. Here are two pictures of Mason with the same toy guide dog puppy. In the left he is almost 3 months old and on the right he is 6 months old.

Mason now weighs 39 pounds. That's only 1 pound less than his mother and 6 pounds less than his father. He was born to Amelia and Mudgee of Dixie's Doodles near Austin, Texas on January 27th, 2007.

We think Mason looks more like his mom (top) although both are very good looking doodles. Note that the website for Dixie's Doodles is on the right side of the blog.

Between growing, walks and training sessions Mason has also been watching us clean our carpet. His male hormones told him to mark his territory, which included the carpet and corners of furniture. We joked that his elective surgery of neutering was really life saving surgery. To make a long story short we found that OdorMute works the best on pet stains and smells. We also highly recommend the Bissell SpotBot. Thankfully Mason no longer feels the need to mark his territory.