Category Archives: uncategorized

More Dogs With Important Jobs

Can I apologize again for my lack of attention to ye olde dog blog? This is what happens between puppies. I promise, there will be more photos and “guest dog” posts soon….

In the meantime, I ran across an article I thought my fellow puppy raisers might enjoy. In the body of this post on Tanker Brothers — one of my favorite military blogs — there’s an interesting article about K-9 teams working in Iraq. Click on over, scroll down a bit, and be grateful (as I know you already are) for smart, capable dogs with important jobs!

Please Mr. Postman

As most of you know, I’m in the middle of writing my novel. Or, rather, I’m past the middle of the month-long noveling adventure, and my word count is, let’s say, not quite as past the middle as it should be, which is why I’m spending my Saturday night at home writing, instead of my usual activity…spending my Saturday night at home doing laundry. Hmm. I guess that’s a story for my other blog.

Anyway, I was going a little bonkers and had to get out of my apartment, so I went to Chipotle to grab a power-noveling burrito. A woman behind the counter spied my Guide Dogs of America sweatshirt and asked if I was a trainer. After explaining the difference between “trainer” and “puppy raiser,” I told her that while I unfortunately did not have a four-legged charge with me this evening, I used to bring my dog there all the time.

She smiled. “The Golden Lab, right?”

Smiling back, I didn’t bother correcting her (YELLOW Lab — say it loud: “I’m yellow and proud!”). “That’s the one. Lomax. He’s in formal training right now.”

She gave me the sympathy face. It’s funny how even people who don’t know anything else about the program seem to know about this part.

What a great moment that was! On my way back out to the parking lot after much well-wishing on the part of this woman I don’t recall ever having seen before, I thought to myself, wow. Either Lomax made a more memorable impression than I ever realized, or I have been eating too many burritos. And I found myself wondering how he’s doing, and when (if?) I would receive my next “Postcard From the Moof.”

Lo and behold, I checked the mail on my way back into the apartment:

Dear Mom,

Hi! My trainers tell me that I’ve completed my first set of tests wearing my harness! I got to guide my trainer while they were blindfolded the other day. It sure was fun!

I know I still have a lot to learn & soon we will learn to guide on stairs, elevators & even escalators!

We have fun when we’re not working too. The kennel staff gives us bones and toys to play with. We also run & play in the grassy off-leash area!

Take care!

Wiggles & Wags,


You go, little man…keep up the good work!

Happy Howloween

You guys know I’m busy this month, right? Well, no worries. I’ve pre-written a few blog entries that I’ll be posting over the next thirty days just so you won’t forget all about me.

Please enjoy these fine photos of some of the South Bay pups in costume at our October meeting….

Ike as Sirius Black, accompanied by his boy Beck as Harry Potter:

The always enchanting (and perfectly postured!) Princess Wrio:

Reese, as a martini, winner of “most creative” costume:

Ember, as a very intimidating SWAT team police dog:

Breeder Jetta and puppy Victory (both black Labs), winners of “scariest costume” for their realistic portrayal of poodles:

And finally, the incomparably adorable Soren The Pooh:

Happy Halloween!

Congratulations to Liam and Voight’s Mom & Dad

Liam’s people — Matt and Amy — officially became Mr. and Mrs. Toussaint this afternoon. It was a sweet, intimate ceremony that included Guide Dog Voight and his partner Mary as ring bearers. Matt and Amy are loved by many, people and dogs alike. Unfortunately, not everyone in either category was fortunate enough to be able to attend the wedding, but three very special individuals made sure to send a letter to be read during the proceedings….

Dear Mom and Dad,

Greetings from Guide Dog College! Lomax and Nevada and I wish we could all be there to help you celebrate your big day, but as it turns out, we’ve got some midterms to study for, and the professors here take attendance in class like EVERY DAY. Seriously, we’ve tried skipping out a couple of times just to blow off some steam — you know, Lab-shuffle drag-racing down Glenoaks Boulevard, or taking a road trip or something — but no can do. They like to keep the three of us wearing extra-jingly collars and tags, and the big-mouth poodle a few kennels down doesn’t help in the secret-keeping department. Anyway, like I said, we wish we could be there.

But we know Voight’s there as our representative, and that’s awesome. I’m sure he looked handsome and dignified walking down the aisle with Mary…Lomax says all the classy dogs are wearing bow ties this season. Please also tell Voight from the three of us college students that Mary can do whatever she wants, but he should remember to be responsible at the reception, because he’s the designated driver.

So, this wedding thing. We’re totally proud of you guys, and we were trying to come up with some stuff to say to honor you and the occasion. All of us know how much you love each other. Voight and I especially know it because it showed in how you raised us — love is the foundation for all good things, including being a great mom and dad. Nevada told me to tell you that he hopes you have lots of puppies of your own some day. He says you’d get to keep them for 18 years instead of just 18 months. Is that true? Man, I wouldn’t want to be there for THAT turn-in day!

What else…oh yeah. The guys and I were thinking that getting married must be kind of like becoming a working guide team. You two are both important to the success of the team. You may have different roles, but you are equally dependent on each other, working together to get where you need to go. You’ll have to listen and communicate really well and be ready to face some tough challenges. Sometimes you’ll have to figure out how to get around something that’s in your way, that maybe only one of you can see. You’ll have to protect and respect and take care of each other, and always make the decision that will be best for the team, not just the individual.

We weren’t quite sure how this part would work, but we figure you guys will probably have to take turns wearing the harness.

Anyway, we want to say that we love you and we’re proud of you, and we’re glad this day is here. Say hi to everyone for us, and have fun at the reception! (Lomax is TOTALLY bummed he’s gonna miss the dancing, so I hope you’re getting some good pictures.)

With love and smiles and wagging tails,

Liam & Lomax & Nevada

Dog Lips!

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been puppysitting Ingrid the Labradoodle, littermate of beloved Ike. Her time with me thus far has been mostly confined to the usual: work at the office, obedience and walks in the neighborhood, Sunday mornings in church, outings to restaurants and coffee houses and the like. This has been a terrific opportunity for me to get to know her, because Ingrid isn’t in my usual puppy group (someone from GDA asked me if I could watch her while her puppy raiser, Mary, is out of town for a few weeks tending to some unexpected family business).

She’s quite a good girl! She settled into my apartment and my pseudo-schedule immediately and seemed to make herself right at home. Mary warned me that Ingrid has some dog distraction, though, so I thought a day at the annual Long Beach Walk to Save the Animals would be good practice (I took Lomax last year; it was our first GDA event together, so I was feeling a little nostalgic today). And since the event is in our area group territory, the South Bay Puppy Raisers always attend, so Ingrid got to meet some of her brother’s friends.

This year we even put up the kissing booth! While it was thoughtful of the woman on the microphone to promote our little dollar-a-kiss fundraising booth, and even funny that she said, “who KNOWS what you might get for twenty,” I would have appreciated it more had she made it clear that it would be the PUPPY giving the kisses.

I did get a few looks.

Happy Anniversary

One year ago today, I drove to GDA to watch Joanna take Lomax through puppy class, and to take the leash afterwards and bring my puppy home.

Here he is, freshly bathed, with the first toy I bought for him. Many thanks to my roommate’s mom, who took a bunch of great photos of us on his first night living in my apartment. Happy anniversary, Lomax!

I Couldn’t Take It Anymore

Yes, I got the post card. But I have really been missing my Little Yellow Man the last couple of weeks, and I wanted to see if I could ply the puppy department for more information, so I broke down and e-mailed Louise.

Louise is not one to gush and offer specifics, typically. She’s too busy, and too smart, for that. Can you imagine thirty puppy raisers getting wind that you have all the inside scoop on their beloved pups-in-training? “How’s my dog? How’s my dog? Is she stressed? Is he eating? What’s he learning this week? What time does she go to sleep at night? Has he had enough play time? Did she get the toy I sent? Does he still pull to the left when he sees a Volkswagen?”

It’s best just to say “how’s he doing?” and be satisfied with the answer you get, no matter how brief. So I asked, and I got.

“He is doing great. Very willing to please and taking to the guide work.”

And that’s all I needed. I can imagine Lomax, looking handsome and working happily in his harness — the special hinged one they had to make to accommodate his wiggling, of course.

Happy Birthday, Lomax!

My boy turns two years old today!

When I drove up to the school on Monday to pick up Ingrid, I took birthday presents for the boys: a Jolly Ball for Liam (from his puppy raisers) and a linked ring tug toy for Lomax. Hopefully, they’ll play nice and share with their sisters Luca and Lara as well (no word yet, by the way, on the three sisters still under breeder evaluation).

I also baked Lomax’s favorite cookies for the kennel, vet, training and puppy department staff.

The note I attached read: “In honor of Lomax’s birthday, please enjoy these indicators of his discriminating palate: they’re the only thing he ever stole off my kitchen table.”

UPDATE: Want to see some Lomax baby pictures? Joanna has some on her blog!

You’ve Got Mail

I got a postcard in the mail today:

Dear Mom,

How are you all doing? I’m great! I’m learning how to walk with a special black & white harness on. Boy do I look handsome. Next we will be learning right and left turns. Hope you guys are great! Take care!

Wags & Kisses,


My little man’s doing well in school! Between all the partying, that is.

Remembering a 9/11 Hero

Do you know the story of Roselle, the guide dog who led her partner Michael Hingson to safety down more than 70 flights of stairs at the World Trade Center five years ago today?

Michael and Roselle are scheduled to appear on the Larry King Live show tonight (9PM Eastern, but check your local listings).

Fellow puppy raisers, this is just one more reason we do what we do — one more thing to remember when your heart is breaking on turn-in day. Your sacrifice means independence for someone else, but it might also mean life itself. Kiss your puppy and say a prayer for the person who will receive him, and may you all be blessed today.