Category Archives: LOMAX

Calendar Boys!!

I got the news last night: Truman and Tai will be featured during the month of October in the 2008 GDA South Bay Puppy Raisers calendar!

We don’t yet have a fully printed sample calendar for me to show around, but they’re very nice quality — and the photos are, of course, stunning. 🙂 We’re hoping to sell the calendars at the same low price ($12) as last year. If any of you are interested in purchasing a calendar, please e-mail me so I can get a pre-order list started, and I’ll give you details as soon as I get them. Those of you who get the GDA “Partners” newsletter (downloadable in PDF version on the website) will hopefully see a blurb about it in the next quarterly issue; you may even be able to order it through them (wherever you buy it, all proceeds go to GDA).

I called this post “Calendar Boys” — plural — for a reason. Imagine my elation in discovering this year’s “cover dog” is none other than the exceedingly handsome Guide Dog Lomax!

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Three

I can hardly believe it, but Lomax turns three years old today! I bought him a little birthday present and had it sent (through the school) to him and his partner, along with my request that she shower him with hugs and kisses on my behalf. Happy birthday to The Moof and Liam as well!

Guide Dog Lomax

What a weekend, you guys. I am wiped.

Then Blogger decided to poop out on me today by making me switch to the new version, but not letting me access either version. I am somehow logged into the old version as I post this — after writing a strongly worded “you guys SUCK, this is WHY I was afraid to switch” e-mail — so let’s hope it works, eh?

Anyway. Graduation.

I didn’t sleep the night before — not one minute of sleep. I tried, but the excitement was too overwhelming. I had been up late anyway, finishing a scrapbook of Lomax pictures and stories for Lomax’s partner and her family, and wondering what the day would hold for all of us. Sleep just would not come. And if you know me at all, you know sleep is one of my superpowers, so that’s saying something.

Sunday morning, my roomie Amy and I met Matt & Amy for breakfast at the Denny’s near GDA. I was surprisingly hungry. We shared scrapbooks and anticipation, and they gave me a lovely Lomax slideshow-set-to-music on DVD (that I could not bear to watch until today and which, by the way, had me bawling like Tammy Faye this afternoon, THANKS guys).

We got to GDA and sat in the room for, what, eternity plus a month or so? Finally, the trainers escorted Roomie-Amy and me to Lomax’s partner’s room.

I like her.

I hesitate to say too much about her here, because I didn’t get her permission to post about her in such a public forum, but I will tell you a few things.

Lomax is her first guide dog. She loves him, and she loves that he is a happy, wiggly, funny, enthusiastic dog. Her energetic boys are going to love him, too. She told me he has already had an impact on her life, and she told me a few other things that made me think he will have an impact on so much more than just her independence and ability to get around town. She loves to groom him, she says he’s great in traffic and makes her feel safe on stairs, and that he’s incredibly smart. She said she had a reputation in this class for always being the “I’ll go first! Pick me, pick me!” type…which is perfect for a certain yellow dog I know.

She indicated that she’d like to stay in touch, which was a huge gift to me. In the ensuing emotional and logistical chaos of the day, I did not get her contact information, but she has mine, and I am praying that after she and Lomax have settled into their routine in a few months, she’ll give me a call. Praying…funny. Seems like all my other prayers about this were answered: she’s young, leading a busy life, has kids, she even wants to go back to college! AND…I prayed last week that she would really hit it off with Liam’s new partner.

AND SHE DID. When I asked her how she liked the class, she said that she and Liam’s partner connected right away, before they even got their dogs, and that they would be keeping in touch. My heart nearly stopped.

Lomax, meanwhile, was on a tie-down when I entered the room, but the second he saw me, he went nutso. She unhooked him and let him wiggle his way over to me, and it was heavenly. He snorted and “fffFFFF!”ed and wiggled and tap danced and “MOOF”ed and kissed me and generally made a Lomax of himself all over the room. He was exactly the same! He looked gorgeous, healthy and strong and happy as ever. She said he weighs an even sixty pounds, and I could see that it is all muscle. His tail was the only thing on him that looked bigger to me, and I thought I was crazy for thinking so until Joanna said the same thing later. Amy and I had what seemed like not nearly enough time to visit with her and love on The Lomax, before they called the grads to harness their dogs and line up to head out to the ceremony.

She harnessed him, and it was amazing to behold. He was a whole different dog.

Not that he was missing any of his wonderful personality! He still looked around at the kinds of things that distracted him before, but he was a professional now. Such a good boy. They looked wonderful together.

I walked out behind Guide Dog Lomax and his new handler, past many of my friends and fellow puppy raisers, and took my seat next to them at the front.

Lomax sat quietly for the most part, doing his best to, shall we say, clear his immediate area of the leaves and apparently delicious tree-parts that were raining down on us from above due to the wind. He looked around at me several times, and the first couple of times I looked away so as not to tempt him to move or do something naughty, but when I saw that he could exercise some serious restraint, I gave in and looked him in the eye. Of course, we were the last ones to get to speak, so we had to sit through the whole thing before they got to us. I’m so proud of them.

After the ceremony, I gave her about 20 minutes to get back to her room and relax a bit, then I brought Joanna in to meet her. We spent more time kind of chatting with her and playing with Lomax, who had discovered the toy octopus I’d brought for him and was joyously honking and squeaking the life out of it, turning in circles and having a wonderful time. A few people came and went, and it seemed like a lot of activity, and in the overwhelming emotional rollercoaster of it all, I feel like I didn’t really get to talk to her as much as I would have liked to…but I have a feeling it’s okay. I’m sure I don’t remember everything that was said, and she probably feels the same. I am hoping there will be time and opportunity to get to know each other more.

Saying goodbye was really hard, but as I walked away from them I could see her and Lomax outside talking to Liam and his new handler, and it made me feel better.

It was hard to wash my hands when I got home, because I could still smell him on them. I miss him, and will continue to miss him, but I know he’s in good hands with her. And she is in good paws with him. And above all, I am proud of them and excited for their future, and I am grateful to God for so many beautifully answered prayers. We are all in His good hands.

More Details, as Promised

What an insane weekend it’s been.

Nothing about Lomax has been conventional or expected, thus far. I received him a few days after his one-year birthday, not as a wee pup. I had been assuming all along that I would get a black Lab, but he was yellow. I thought I’d only be fostering him for about six months, but I had him for ten. I thought it would be easier to start with an “older” puppy. Ha.

Likewise, I always thought that if I received the news of his impending graduation, I would spend the rest of my day making phone calls, telling everyone I knew in just the right order, posting some eloquent announcement on the blog, et cetera. However, I got the phone call about ten minutes before I was due to leave my apartment for a weekend getaway. So I left a voicemail for Joanna, put up a slapdash “guess what” on the blog, shot a quick e-mail to my puppy group leaders, flung everything in the car and spent the next hour or so trying not to cause an accident while calling people from my decrepit cell phone while I was sitting in traffic on the 405 freeway.

Not exactly the big hoorah I had planned, but it was a mad rush.

And you know what else? There were a few people who didn’t think he’d ever be a guide dog. And by that I mean there were a few people who TOLD me so. One person looked at him one day, as Lomax was doing his best to “sit” at the end of the leash (which meant tap dancing and wiggling his butt so hard that he couldn’t actually remain seated), and said to me flat-out, “He’s never gonna make it. He’s NEVER gonna make it.” Who knows how many more people simply never gave voice to their thoughts?

Lomax’s exuberance and wiggly distraction (dogs, people, whatever) was challenging and frustrating and yes, at times, discouraging. But we never gave up. I knew he wanted to work, and I knew there was someone out there who would need him and love him and give him an important job to do.

That someone is Barbara. I won’t tell you her last name or the name of the Arizona town where she lives, just to preserve her privacy. But I will tell you that she leads a busy, active life, and that she has two kids. What could be more perfect for Mr. Wigglepants? I can’t wait to meet her.

And oh, yes…I believe I have also neglected to mention that next Sunday’s graduation is going to be a family affair. Lomax and his beloved brother Liam will BOTH be looking handsome in harness, with their new partners.

Big Fat News

He’s matched. He’s going to be a guide dog. Guide Dog Lomax!

I can’t tell you how excited and emotional I am right now, and how very proud of him I am, and how grateful that this moment — which has been my fervent prayer since the day I first saw his happy little face on September 24, 2005 — has finally come.

Of course, I’m about to leave for a weekend trip at the moment and can’t pause to write my usual course of lengthy purple prose…but all of you have been so supportive of me throughout my time with Lomax, I had to tell you!

I’ll have more news for you later this weekend or early next week, and I’ll certainly post a million words and pictures after graduation a week from this Sunday.

Thanks in advance for the many comments that are certain to follow this post!

Postcards From the Moof

I hope everyone had a merry Christmas! I’ve been using my time off from work to visit my family in Fresno — my parents’ dog was quite pleased to see I arrived sans canine this year — and to do some projects around the apartment.

A few of Lomax’s classmates have sent postcards home in the last few weeks, so I’ve been watching my mail box. I’m happy to report that today, my little man has finally checked in:

Dear Mom,

Hi everybody! I just wanted to give you an update from Guide Dog College. I’ve been learning lots and we get to go to new and exciting places almost every day! We rode the subway the other day and worked around downtown Los Angeles.

Some of my friends have decided to go home, but I think I want to stay and try to learn more. Hope you all are doing well!

Lomax

I’m so proud of him. Just thinking about him in his harness, looking all handsome and serious (Lomax? SERIOUS?), makes me smile.

Lomax Update: Ten Weeks Down

It’s been ten weeks since turn-in day. Can you believe it? And I just returned from my mailbox with the following prize:

Dear Mom,

It’s me again from Guide Dog College. I’ve learned left and right turns and how to cross streets safely. Soon we will start walking in busier areas with more to watch out for.

But it’s not all hard work. I get to play with my friends every day — and when it’s hot out we love to splash around in the pools.

I hope you guys are doing well!

Wags and licks,

Lomax

There are no guarantees, of course, but every postcard is a milestone. Keep praying!