Category Archives: Career Change

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.


He even barks in his sleep.

Canine Indiscretions

Trooper has been better behaved this morning, content for the most part to lie quietly beneath my desk, hidden by the cubicle wall that separates this office into two little rooms.

He does occasionally wander out, though, to sprawl beside my chair. As long as he’s quiet, I don’t pay too much attention…until I hear a comment from a passerby.

“Well, THAT’S a pretty picture.”

Modest Trooper, snoozing comfortably on his back in a pose reminiscent of an untressed Thanksgiving turkey, is apparently visible from the waist down to everyone in the hallway.

Chained to My Desk

This week I’m watching Trooper again; I haven’t spent much time with him since he was a wee ten-week-old potbellied pup. He’s now six months and wee no longer! He’s very strong. He’s very “mouthy.” And he likes to bark.

The Troop spent a few days up at the GDA kennel before I started caring for him. Madeline, his vacationing puppy raiser for whom I’m dog- and housesitting, will no doubt be thrilled to learn that he left a generous yet unnoticed gift for her in the back bedroom. It was nearly four days before I found it myself…better to discover by smell than by step, I always say.

Today finds me on my first day at work with the little tyke. A brand-new executive assistant has moved in to share an office with li’l ol’ part-timer me, so there’s all manner of change afoot here. This new employee presumably did not know upon her hiring that she would be A.) sharing an office, and B.) in residence with El Barko. Welcome to your new job!

Trooper wants to follow me everywhere, which is fine at home but not so good when I have to go to, say, the fax machine or the printer or the kitchen or the ladies’ room. The first time I tried to get up this morning, he went to the end of his tie-down and sat there, staring at the door. I gave him a firm but wary “stay” command. Really, he could do nothing BUT “stay” at that point, since there was no more lead.

But he could also make his displeasure known throughout the land.

Sorry, new officemate, for the barking while you were on the phone with a person who I hope was not our company president.

Things I Have Learned From Ohana

1. Toilet paper makes a delicious between-meal snack.

2. Humans are not the only ones who snore.

3. Male dogs are not the only ones who…ahem…”assert dominance.”

4. Labrador is just another name for “landshark.” You know those stories about great whites where somebody catches one and cuts it open to find things like license plates? Wouldn’t surprise me a bit.

5. Rain is very exciting. Must bite rain! Rain must be conquered! WHY CAN’T I KILL IT?

6. If guide dog work is not in her future, Ohana would make an excellent drug-sniffing dog — she seems very excited about my neighbor’s apartment door every time we go into the hallway.

UPDATE 9/2005: Unfortunately, Ohana has been “career changed” (this is what GDA calls it when a dog is dropped from their program). She has a tumor behind her eye, which renders her ineligible for guide dog service. But while she may have a few medical challenges ahead of her, she’s now headed for a life of leisure and TLC with a wonderful person from GDA’s “I want to adopt a career change dog” waiting list.