Category Archives: Truman’s Humans

Thanks Anyway, Sandy, But I Prefer Earthquakes

For those of you who know us only from the blog, we’re fine. Hurricane Sandy blew through yesterday and last night, and while we did have some lights flicker and some pretty scary-sounding winds and rain, the townhouse we’re renting stayed dry and intact and electrically powered.

Truman slept through much of it.

Anyway, we’re grateful to have come through this unscathed, and ask you to join us in praying for the many millions of people who are dealing with loss and destruction today. Please also remember the folks who are working so diligently to restore basic city services and to shelter, help, and comfort those in need.


Resurrected more times than Lazarus, the blog shall rise again!

It’s been six months to the day since we left Southern California for Pennsylvania, and while the events of my last entry took the wind out of my blogging sails for a while, I’m ready to come back.

I have a lot to tell you…the, er, three or four of you who are still out there reading, that is. Truman likes to think of you as his loyal fans.

Yes, there will be photos.

Stay tuned. (Do people even say that anymore?)

Very Sad News

I wanted to make this announcement myself, because I know some of you are likely to hear of it elsewhere, and I want to prevent the scuttlebutt from getting around before the truth does. Please bear with me and read this entire post before you form any opinions.

Unfortunately, GDA has reversed the decision to allow us to finish Jethro’s puppy training in Pennsylvania. He will be re-homed upon our move in March.

Of course, I am heartbroken.

I appealed to the decision maker respectfully and to the best of my ability, but there is nothing further I can do. I will comply with the mandate and try to make the best of things as I enjoy the time I have left with Jethro. We will spend that time as we would have spent it before: training, obedience, puppy raiser meetings, house manners, outings for socialization and public exposure. There is still a goal ahead of us, and I will continue to pursue it with him even though I won’t be the one beside him when he achieves it.

There are no further details at this time, and I respectfully ask those of you connected with GDA to not let this become grist for the rumor mill. I absolutely do not want there to be any unpleasant ramifications for the puppy department staffers, whom I hold in high regard.

Regardless of my personal opinions about these circumstances, I still maintain that GDA runs an excellent program, both for their volunteers and their visually impaired constituents. The dogs are top-notch. The program staff is amazing. People benefit from the life-changing mission of the organization.

Jethro and I appreciate your friendship, encouragement and discretion.

No Reading the Tea Leaves

I look at the “Los Angeles” mug I’m drinking my tea out of, and wonder whether it will make me sigh someday and miss my hometown, or if our life will be so different-but-better that drinking out of the mug will make me laugh and remind me of my own shortsightedness. I imagine I’ll have intermittent moments both ways.

Either way, I’m excited. Life seems full of possibility right now, and I am full of joy.

Wherever we end up, I’m sure the dogs will just roll with it — possibly even roll IN it — and be absolutely fine. There’s a lot to be learned from a dog.

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….

“So, What Does Truman Think?”

It’s a question I get a lot. Much like when a younger sibling enters the family picture, people seem to be curious about how the previous only-child canine is faring with the change brought about by the presence of a new puppy.

In general, Truman’s pretty happy to have another dog to play with; he has always preferred the kind of tug-and-wrestle play that other dogs provide to the toss-and-retrieve games I tried to get him excited about (“Humans can be fun!” … “Whatever. I fetched it for you once, what more do you want from me? This is a pointless exercise. Feed me, then we’ll talk.”).

That having been said, there’s been a little jealousy — I’m assuming that’s natural for a pretty demanding attention-hound who’s been the center of his own universe for three and a half years. The puppy takes up a lot of time and energy, and sometimes Truman makes his displeasure known in the extremely vocal manner to which we have all been accustomed. When I cradle Jethro, for example, Truman stands and stares at me and makes the “grumpus noise” (grunt-grunt-grunt-whiiiiiiiine), which escalates to “whuff”ing and then full-scale barking if I do not immediately stop what I’m doing and cater to his whims. As you may surmise, this is unacceptable. So Truman gets to have some alone time in my bedroom while I spend some training time with Jethro.

But I have been trying to make sure Truman gets some “special grumpus time” with me every day. I take him outside in the sun for obedience practice and a good long brushing, we go for walks, and I’ve been letting him sleep on the bed with me at night since Wolf’s been away. It’s tough doing this by myself, and the presence of another human — while never truly taken for granted — has taken on important new meaning around here. I am simply outnumbered by Labradors, and as overwhelming as it has sometimes been already, I am assuming this scenario is nothing compared to what military wives face every day, to say nothing of single parents. I’m exhausted.

Fortunately, some wonderful puppy raiser friends have come to my rescue on several occasions. I threw out my back, for example. With a new puppy to carry everywhere? Talk about bad timing. The concept of “it takes a village” has always been true when it comes to puppy raising, but it’s come into much sharper focus for me lately.

So the boys get along, but Jethro is still a puppy — and that brings a host of puppy behavior that older dogs typically tolerate only until the little guy is somewhere between 16 and 20 weeks old. Jethro is like a furry little remora, insisting on cleaning out Truman’s ears and nibbling on his toenails. He bites and chews on Truman’s tail, legs, face, ears, neck, tags, you name it. And sometimes Truman just needs a break. He makes the Face of Tolerance, shoots a pleading eyeball toward me and grumpuses his way toward the closed door to my bedroom in a bid for relief.

It’s coming together; this is the vehicle to bring about a bunch of much-needed lessons in patience and planning and perseverance for me, I’m sure of it. We’ll figure it out.

A Snuggly Send-Off

The boys figured they needed one more good roll-on-the-floor snort-&-snuggle with their pack leader to wish him well on his journey. Watch closely for the elusive Double Labrador Bellyrub maneuver. It’s very impressive.

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Jethro’s First Public Appearance

I had to work today, but Wolf was available to take Jethro to his first official public appearance as a representative of GDA — a GDA booth at the Disability Awareness Fair at Honda headquarters here in Torrance.

GDA is always looking for donors and puppy raisers (especially now, in the middle of the Great Puppy Glut of 2010), and the presence of a tiny puppy in his tiny puppy jacket does wonders for recruiting. We live close by, so despite Jethro’s not-yet-fully-vaccinated status, he was allowed to participate because it was a short time period and he was small enough to hang out on top of the table, with the literature.

Seriously, could you say no to this handsome face (or the puppy, for that matter)?

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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.