Category Archives: Career Change

Is “Happy New Year” Still Acceptable?

Happy New Year! Can I still be saying that on the 17th?

Wolf and I have been away for the last two weeks on a little adventure. We drove one of our cars across the country so we’ll have one less thing to deal with during the move in March. We crossed something like ten states in five days on the road. Five…long…days. Then I stayed in Pennsylvania for an extra week, getting to know a little about the area where we’ll be relocating, and trying to find a place for us to live.

It is no picnic finding a rental place that allows dogs, let me tell you. Yes, even extremely well-behaved dogs! I suppose I can understand a landlord’s prerogative in that; you don’t necessarily know your tenants or their pets. If it were me, though, I’d be much more inclined to allow dogs than, say, cats. After all, I’ve never had to replace the living room carpet because of a dog.

We have some good leads and will see how it goes. I’d just like to have an address, and a square-footage count, so I can start thinking more strategically about what to take with us and what to get rid of before the move.

Meanwhile, my boys were with puppy sitters the last two weeks. Truman stayed with his favorite adoring “aunties,” and got to play with some very energetic one-year-old golden retriever girls AND his favorite career-changed goldendoodle. Sometimes when I pick him up from Auntie Georgia’s house, I’m not entirely convinced he wants to leave.

Jethro was staying with a family in my puppy raiser group who just turned in their dog — also a male yellow Lab — for formal training. So that was good for both the snuggly dog and the people who miss having one to snuggle. They brought him back to me last night, and I swear he bulked up! Can’t wait to weigh him at the school on Tuesday and find out how much he’s gained.

From the sound of it, Jethro got lots of love and attention and training time (his first lesson: how to distinguish between puppy toys and children’s toys — apparently a LEGO sacrificed itself in the endeavor). They took him to restaurants several times, where he was apparently very well behaved; and to my puppy group meeting, where they said his obedience was quite good. He responds very well to verbal correction, which is a terrific trait.

I forget sometimes what a high standard we hold our dogs to. When someone says that he was very well behaved in a public place, I always think, “Well of COURSE he was!” And then I remember that he’s just five, five and a half months old. We forget. But people who aren’t used to service dogs in training often marvel at what our little puppies can do. Know anybody else who’d take a five month old pup to the office, or to a restaurant, and expect obedience?

And doesn’t it make you smile when someone says, “I didn’t even realize there was a dog here”…? What a gift these dogs are, for their eventual partners and for us. What a privilege to raise them, to teach them, to be proud of them and to love them long after they’re no longer ours.

It’s a new year. There’s excitement ahead. Welcome, 2011.

Last Day at the Office!

For various reasons — including needing to pack up a house full of stuff mostly by myself, and also not wanting to have two months’ worth of California income tax to deal with next year after we move to Pennsylvania — I resigned from my job in December. Today was my last day.

It’s hard to believe I’m heading out and leaving my co-workers behind after five and a half years! But it’s a good thing. We’re off to new adventures.

There have been many dogs under this desk….

PennsylWHAT, Now?

We’re moving to Pennsylvania.

As I write this, it’s not official-official that we’re going yet, but I just have this…something. “I have a feeling” is a silly notion to me in practice, and I imagine myself covered with a filmy, insincere, New-Agey residue just saying it. I guess it’s more of an inexplicable confidence based on circumstances that seem promising right now but could really go pear-shaped at any time. Or maybe it’s a coping strategy to prepare myself, in case it happens for real. Anyway, in a matter of weeks — or, who knows, even days — I’ll either be able to publish this post or delete it and laugh at myself. (UPDATE: Clearly, I published it, so…there’s your update.)

Wolf and I are on the cusp of a massive undertaking, a huge and momentous adventure: a job he was seemingly born to do. It’s all come about quite suddenly, as these things often tend to. Over the course of the last few months, this idea has grown from, “I just got a phone call from so-and-so who wants to fly me out for a meeting” to, “They want me there in November.” There was a lot in between, more than you might believe, and it all happened too fast and in too much convoluted detail to recount.

So we’re moving to Pennsylvania.


(And I am collecting money for the pool, the wager on how long it will take my parents to give me the old “Come get the rest of your crap out of our garage” line. Any takers? Hurry — the “less than 24 hours” slots are being snapped up quickly.)

Wolf will head out for a 120-day trial period on the job, with time to come back for holidays and the like, in early November. I’ll stay here (my job, my dogs, and a whole lot of packing to do…all that stuff is here). If all goes well, he will return in early March or so, and we will get our stuff together and make the move for real. Yes, it’s a “trial period,” but unless something catches fire in a big way, we have reasonable expectations that it will work out, so as of this moment, we’re full steam ahead. If something else happens along the way, we’ll change plans and deal with it as it comes.

Truman, of course, is our permanent dog and will be making the trek with us, but you may be wondering what will happen with Jethro. He will be coming with us as well! We’ve been granted permission to take him to PA with the understanding that we will be responsible for transporting him back here for his evaluations, turn-in, etc. It’s an unusual situation, and let me make the official disclaimer here that GDA owns Jethro, and this permission-to-move may be reconsidered at any time, for any reason, at their discretion. For now, I’m just grateful for the possibility. Moving across country will be stressful, and while a puppy in the midst of that will also bring its own chaos, I think I would be heartbroken to have to give the little guy back now. He’s a good dog; I’d like to raise him all the way to turn-in if I can, and hopefully see him graduate.

As for me, I’ve been a California girl my whole life. I was born in Southern California and I eventually spent more years living in Los Angeles than I did in Fresno, where I “grew up” (quotes apropos, depending on the day) in the intervening time. L.A. always felt like home to me even before I moved back here for college; I thought I’d die in this city (not soon, mind you, though the road rage might have eventually done me in by way of heart attack or life in prison for vehicular murder). If anyone would have asked, I might have said I was more likely to experience an organ transplant than a hometown transplant.

But there are mysteries aplenty in this life. God is full of them, love and marriage are full of them as well, and those three are the mightiest trump cards in the deck.

Holy crap. I’m moving to Pennsylvania.

Stay tuned.

Welcome Back, Wagger

Another post in my continuing “Days of Yore” series, catching up on long-overdue photos of Truman’s final days as a puppy-in-training….

August 31, 2008 — Welcome Back, Wagger

After Truman came home and assumed his proper place as my forever dog, our dear friends from the puppy group threw him a welcome home party. Wolf and I especially enjoyed Ann’s giant hammock in the backyard, and Truman decided to join us. This was, in some sense, the first official photo of our little family.

And this is where the story of Truman’s time as a GDA dog ends. He’s completely our boy now, and now that Wolf and I are married, all three of us are living in the same place at the same time, and we could not be more blessed and grateful. At least, we think that’s how Truman feels…when he’s not giving us his patented Look of Canine Disdain over some offense to his delicate sensibilities, real or imagined. The Grumpus has officially been part of our family for two years now — it is hard to accept that it’s been that long — and he has had many other interesting moments with us. I’ll catch you up on those past stories and photos every once in a while, in between some current ones.

Meanwhile, this whole blog posting catch-up marathon has been in preparation for the arrival of the next puppy-in-training, and we’re excited to see how Truman will take on the very special role of Big Brother Dog and Teacher of Canine Social Skills. We’ll find out in less than twelve hours.

Guess I’d better get some sleep. Because if Jethro is anything like Truman was as a puppy…we’re all going to need our rest.

Stay tuned.

Crowded House

Another post in my continuing “Days of Yore” series, catching up on long-overdue photos of Truman’s final days as a puppy-in-training….

August 30, 2008 — Crowded House

It was at Service Dog G’s house that I received the dreaded phone call from GDA, letting me know that Truman had been “career changed,” and asking if I intended to adopt him (read the whole story if you like). To make a long story short, Wolf and I picked him up a few days later and brought him back to a very crowded house. Truman and G were already friends, and it didn’t take long with Imriel, either.

“What are you looking at? Can’t a couple of guys just hang out and share our feelings, talk about manly-dog stuff over a cool, refreshing tile floor?”

“No, you’re right. We need to be play-fighting and teeth-rattling with giant fangs out, like crazy vampire dogs. There. That’s much better. Then when we’re done here, we’re going to get our little friend and line up as if we intend to let you take a lovely photo. Then we’re going to make weird faces and give you the scary-supernatural-dog eyeballs. It’ll be fun. Watch this.”

It was quite the fun-filled few days.

Unfortunately, once I was back home in my apartment, being responsible for both boys wasn’t going to work out — between living in a third-floor apartment and having to drive to work 45 minutes away and leave a dog at home, there was just too much juggling and contingency planning and all-around chaos for me to handle by myself. I had taken the Imriel assignment thinking that Truman would be in training for at least a little while, so the speed of his triumphant return came as an “uh-oh, NOW what?” surprise. Fortunately, Imriel was perfectly happy to spend the rest of his Southern California visit at the home of my puppy group co-leaders, who are excellent dog trainers and enthusiastic “Shepherd people.”

Imriel is now career changed himself, and living happily with his original puppy raiser. I still think of him occasionally, with great fondness.

Big T and Little T

June 11 — Because Truman requires so much exercise to keep himself in check, I try to not only walk him two or three times daily, but also to arrange play dates for him with other GDA dogs. Trooper, who you may remember from this long-ago post, lives nearby and has just the kind of personality necessary to show Truman that the world doesn’t revolve around him.

Lomax was always an agreeable sort, and Trooper was occasionally a little too rough for him. But Truman is made of springs, teeth and attitude, and even at the tender age of five months, he is not only a willing but a fearless playmate for our manly friend Trooper, who was career-changed for being “a lot of dog.” In a few months, when Little T has grown a bit, it will be even easier for him and Big T to tussle.

Did I forget to mention that this Trooper is no relation to our littermate Trooper?

More From Doodle-Ville

Ike and his new partner. I think it’s love.

News From the Doodle

Today I heard terrific news about IkeyDoodle.

After going in for formal training at GDA last November, Ike decided he didn’t want to be a guide dog. After a week at home with his puppy raisers, he went to Canine Support Teams, where he has since been showing everybody what he’s made of.

Kari tells me that he is retrieving, turning lights on and off, opening and closing doors, and being used for stability…and that he is scheduled to be matched with the team training class that begins next week and finishes on March 3.

Sometimes a little career change is all it takes to find your place in life. Go Ikey go!!!

Ember, the Multi-Tasking FrogDog

There are so many things I love about Ember, a sweet and silly Lab/Golden Retriever cross who — unlike the Labradoodles I’d just watched before I puppysat her — had very little concept of graceful motion. The first time I let her go downstairs off leash, I was a little afraid my apartment neighbors were going to kill me for making so much noise. Ka-da-KLUNK! Ker-KLUNK! Ka-BOOM-THUMP! THUMP-THUMP-BANG!

She’s pretty good-sized, which makes it hard to be puppy-like and exuberant without doing some damage, at least to the peace and quiet of an otherwise silent stairwell.

Ember makes me laugh.

She’s an expert at the “FrogDog” position:

But Ember is also a world record holder for the number of toys she can hold in her mouth at any given time. She never seems satisfied with just one. Just one toy in her mouth is only acceptable when she’s petitioning you to play with her or to let her have additional toys.

What she prefers to do is get one toy in her mouth that can scoot way to the back and perhaps sit over her muzzle — like this tire, or the Nylabone Ring, for example — and then busy herself picking up other toys with the front of her mouth, like so:

The record? At my apartment, the record was six toys. I had stuffed the Holee Roller ball with a few toys, and she had picked up the tire, the Roller-full, and a light plush toy all at the same time. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get to the camera fast enough to capture the moment.

What I Have Learned About Toddlers

It’s a gorgeous afternoon, so Trooper and I decided to spend some time in the backyard. He seemed to prefer lounging in a shady corner of the lawn, lazily chewing on a toy, to any sort of enticement to roughhouse play on my part, so I thought it would be safe for me to go inside for a “just a minute” to use the restroom.

Sure, I knew that he’s not allowed in the backyard unsupervised, because Madeline told me he recently exercised his gastronomic impulses on an unsuspecting shrub. But the dog was planted in his comfy spot and focused on the chewing; nothing short of my picking him up and carrying him into the house like a sack of potatoes would have distracted him.

Less than two minutes later, I stepped off the back stair to discover the discarded chew toy, sans chewer.

“Trooper?” Nothing.

“Trooper?” A faint jingle. Did it come from the side of the house? I glanced. Nothing. I returned to the yard, wondering if my ears had deceived me.

“Trooper! Where are you?”

Another jingle-jingle-jingle from the side of the house made me take a closer look. I was met by a tail-wagging, yet slightly guilt ridden, dustbunny with something in his mouth that looked like the end of…

…a light bulb. Dear GOD! Don’t let it be broken!

So far this week, my attempts at getting him to surrender a toy in our games of fetch have been met with apathy at best and bucking bronco insanity at worst. Fortunately, though, for a puppy who’s not particularly responsive to “drop it,” “give it,” “leave it,” or any other incarnation of a give-me-what-you’ve-got command, he was surprisingly compliant. I felt like I was defusing a bomb; the slightest provocation could send him into an ill-fated chomp. With the gentlest, least threatening, least playful voice I could muster, I secured him by the collar and made him sit so I could pry open his dirt-caked mouth and rescue the (blessedly intact) light bulb.

I do not know what other mischief he has wrought in the crawlspace underneath the house, but I replaced the screen that covers the entrance and took a wet paper towel to his dusty snout. And that is enough excitement for one day.