April 30th, 2008

Fiona and me in the snow

a very short update for this morning

Before I go to boring yet essential traffic lecture, I thought I'd write and say that an entry update as far as what's been going on will come when I have a break. We've got a trip into town (our third on this route), then lunch, then I should have some time to write. What I wanted to say mostly (and this is odd because I usually don't write this journal for the audience) but is to thank everyone whose commented so far. I've had a hard time finding time to write much less comment, but know I read them and love getting them. I'll write you all back when things calm down. They will.

More this afternoon.
Fiona and me in the snow

Day 3 in which I talk about traffic checks and other asundry things

I have about an hour until we need to go out again, so it should be plenty of time enough (I hope) to give an update on what's going here.

Yesterday and today, we went out on what they call here the Maple Route. It's the first route that everyone whether new at getting a dog from here or a second timer like myself goes with their new dog. It's not a particularly exciting route ... it's pretty much a straight shot down the street a few blocks, and then up the other side. It's designed so that we get to know our dogs and so that they get to know us. It's a good route, but this afternoon will be the last time and that'll be kind of neat. This morning's traffic lecture introduced traffic checks--a controlled traffic situation designed to test you and your dog on how they might react to traffic--and on this upcoming trip we get to experience traffic checks for the first time with our new dogs. Traffic checks always freak me out because the instructors do things like turning in front of us in a street crossing (as someone might do when they run a light), pulling out of driveways, etc. This is all to make sure that when we get out of this tightly controlled situation here at school, we can be safe if and when it happens to us out there. That doesn't mean it's not scary at times for both of us. The dogs have had lots of traffic training, so I'm sure it will be fine.

Velvet's been working very nicely lately. She seems to have lots of energy, and as we get along, she's gotten more playful. Velvet's favorite thing to do is run in circles between my legs as I scratch her butt. She does this while holding her nylabone, which seems kind of dangerous, especially as she's running around in circles with bone at face height. Silly puppy.

Food continues to be really good, but what else should I expect eh? Today we had ham and Belgian waffles for breakfast, and these really tasty Tuscan grilled cheese sandwiches (bread, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, and basil) and minestrone for soup. Tonight will be simply Celestial for me with grilled ribeye steak for dinner. Crazy. We're having a meeting with the counsellor person here at the school tonight to talk about our experiences with getting a new dog after retiring another one, and I wonder if she's really coming for the steak. I'm really looking forward to the meeting. As the days go on (almost two days now) I notice how much Velvet is doing for me, a guy she doesn't even know, and I've come to terms with the fact that Fiona will be there for me when I get home, but for now Velvet is and will be my guide. I guess I"ll just have two best friends, and I'm ok with that. It will be good to talk about the whole experience though, and that's what this meeting's designed to do.

Another milestone and an exciting thing for us students--I can't say so for the others but I know I'm excited--is that we actually get to use our harnesses inside the dormitory starting today. This is a great thing because I won't have to worry about falling down the stairs as I heel, or have the dog follow, me. When I'm not using the harness--when I'm not holding the harness--the dog is not guiding me, and therefore ti's all me. But when they actually let us pick up the harness and have the dogs be at the helm as it were, it will be beneficial for us and the dog. The dog will feel, hopefully, as if they're bonding closer to us, and I'll be able to feel like I can trust Velvet. Everything--the training, the sequence of events such as when they les us work our dogs inside the dorms, is set out for a reason, and it's great coming back the second time because I understand this reasoning more completely. The next milestone I get to look forward to is getting to Let Velvet hang out in my room off leash. The won't happen for a while, but I'm sure she'll enjoy it. I'm sure that will introduce another challenge, that of keeping her from bounding on the bed as she's put her paws on the bed a time or two.

Another thing I forgot to mention. Velvet has three other sisters in class, Vixen, Vance, and Vegas. They're all v names, and that's because each letter is alphabetically named as they are born. I'm sure that it's hell when they get to the z litter :). From what I can tell from talking to their owners, all of the siblings act alike. I'm sure their personalities are all different, but it's kind of neat to know that Velvet's brothers and sisters made it through the intense program here.

The weather has been cool yet breezy ... nice jacket weather in the morning, and sweatshirt weather in the afternoon. This is much better than the gulleywasher we had on Monday.

I used the amateur radio equipment here last night. Though the band was completely (mostly I should say) dead, and though it took me about an hour to figure out the Kenwood in the radio shack desk, I've figured it out which will help me get back on the air at least.

And that's about all I can think of to write now. But there will be more, and it'll come soon.

P.S. Velvet is a really loud dreamer. She even growls when she dreams. I don't want to hear her for real barks and growls ... positively scary :).