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Thursday, September 29, 2011

FLD Scout at (almost) 11 Weeks

A busy, busy six days in the city for FLD Scout.

FLD Scout finds nature in the city.

Visiting friends, mall-shopping, restaurants, doggie play-dates, soccer games, Home Depot trips, Lab-wrestling at the Bicegos, a meeting at Leader Dogs for the Blind, walking with traffic, hanging out with my nieces.

FLD Scout gets thirsty at Elaina's soccer game.

On our way back north, a quick stop back at Leader Dogs for puppy-shots.  All is good.

In just less than four weeks, FLD Scout is DOUBLE the puppy she was.  

Weigh-in = 15.8 pounds!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

FLD Scout's First Swim

Scout, safe on shore.

Andy launched Gypsy with a throw of a stick and Scout bounded unknowingly after her. Gypsy hit the water with a tsunami-splash.

Scout reversed on a dime, had there been one in the sand.

She was content, then, to sniff around the water's edge and wander into the shallows.

FLD Scout gets down and dirty.

Testing the water to get to a stick.

Later, when I waded into Grousehaven Lake, she bounded in to me without regard to the water's depth. Suddenly, she was swimming! And not the usual puppy's-first-time-in-water-slap-the-front-paws swim. She swam like a pro!

But headed back to shore anyway.

FLD Scout's muddy face.

Did she decide to wash it?

Yes, Scout, you are a pretty puppy!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Coyotes and Owls and...Bears? Oh my!


1:30 am. I dream of coyotes squalling under moonlight, but it's just Scout complaining from her mini-crate under the blind-covered window in our bedroom. I slip out from the warmth to find my jeans and flannel shirt that I strategically placed on the floor when we went to bed.

I lean against the dresser. Right leg in; now left. Wait. It's stuck. I teeter back onto the bed and match up the correct legs. Jeans on. If I put my shirt on backwards or inside out, no one will know.

It's dark, in spite of the moon. On my hands and knees I blindly feel for Scout's collar where I left it next to the crate. I've learned to leave it attached to her leash.

FLD Scout curled up in her mini-crate in the truck, on assignment with me.

I whisper, sit, hoping I will feel the fur ball as I open the door. No worry, it is all wiggles and licks and I curse the skinny collar buckle as I fumble to snap it on her. I'm awake enough now to trust myself to pick her up and find the back door.

Scout. Park, I say after putting her down on the arid ground. No rain tonight, even though the Milky Way is a cloud across the heavens. There is some advantage to these middle-of-the-night excursions.

In mid-park Scout alerts. A coyote chorus fills the southern darkness like a waterfall. Scout bolts for the back door. I reel her in and we pause together, until the song fades.
Blaine Bailer calls for coyote.

FLD Scout raises her head, briefly, when she hears the predator hunter make a coyote call at a Hunting 101 class in the Rifle River Rec Area. Does she know it's not for real?


4:00 am. A repeat, sans coyotes. Although I manage to get my jeans on right at first try.

Scout finishes her "park" and sniffs while I crane my neck. It is still clear. The moon has dipped behind the trees. I don't know why I can never get enough of the night sky.

WHOOOOOOO, WHOOOOOO, WHOOOOOOOT!!!  A branch cracks beyond the black tree-wall ringing our yard. Scout hustles back to me and leaps up in desperation. I half expect to hear her yelp, "Pick me up! Pick me up! Hurry up, PICK ME UP!!!"

So. I do.

We listen a while longer until the pounding behind her ribs (that I feel against my chest) settles.

and BEARS?

An Ogemaw Voice assignment to the Besser Museum in Alpena. With permission, I tie Scout's Future Leader Dog bandana two times around her tiny neck, work her up the short flight of cement stairs, and enter the building. A room to our left holds stuffed wild animals in a central display, including a 600-pound black bear.

No big deal!

FLD Scout bounces around the exhibit at my side, sometimes needing a pat on my leg to get her attention away from whatever it is she smells on the floor. She takes no mind to the dead critters. Perhaps she knows.

I set her atop a bear-rug bench and she licks the back of the grimacing head.

FLD Scout licks the bear-rug bench.

Funny puppy, or maybe just a bit smart. She's afraid of howls in the night, but stuffed bears? Not.

Gypsy is comfy in our woods. FLD Scout looks over her shoulder. Just in case.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Puppy Update 2: FLD Gus


FLD Gus passed all his physicals with flying colors!  All is good.  He's just about his ideal weight of 64 lbs--weighed in at 63.8.  He's been neutered, and now is playing with his puppy pack at Leader Dogs for the Blind.


FLD Gus and his group will be evaluated by the trainers at Leader Dog, and assigned to a team.


(now go show 'em how it's done)

This picture of FLD Gus was taken just about one year ago!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Ghost of FLD Gus

I'm trying to pretend that these things are just coincidence.

You know, that a puppy would naturally run immediately over to Gus's old "mat" and sit on it the very first time she entered the room.

FLD Scout, sitting on Gus's "mat," just like she knew what to do!

Yes, of course she would.

Gypsy showing off her stick.
Or, with a stick-crazed dog like Gypsy to set an example, a puppy would immediately try to drag around her own big stick.  (Well, big for her.)


FLD Scout, making off with a stick of her own.

AHA!  Here's a bigger stick!

At the beach, FLD Scout begs a stick to play.

Ok, so grabbing the stick out of the water just HAS to be a learned behavior from watching Gypsy.  FLD Gus never really cared about that--he preferred to chase Gypsy chasing the stick.

And, wouldn't you expect that it was normal for a puppy, if given the chance, to yank out weeds, flowers, and small saplings?

FLD Scout weeds around our square foot garden.

FLD Scout gazes up in feigned innocence, flower-bud between her lips.

FLD Scout tugs with all her might at a tree root.  (And eventually gets it!)

Most certainly.

FLD Scout thinks, "But, but, I don't know what got into me!"

"Something just made me do it."

BUT.  You have to admit.  It's pretty freaky.

It was this look in FLD Scout's eyes that really made me wonder.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Pictoral Post for Thursday, September 8, 2011

FLD Scout, the day we picked her up from Leader Dogs for the Blind.

In one week, FLD Scout...

day 1



day 7


Sitting nice for Elaina and Nat.
Girl paws. Sofia and Scout snuggle it up.

Nose to nose with Natalie on the floor.

Rosie thinks, "Hey, this isn't Gus!"


FLD Scout checks out Gypsy's stick.

Went out for breakfast and dinner.  Shopped at Meijer's, Krogers, Home Depot, Glen's, and Walmart.  Heeled down Brady Road.


FLD Scout, hot on Gypsy's heels.


Trying to catch Finn's tail as my brother Jim washes him.

FLD Scout after Finn's bath.


FLD Scout, taking over Gypsy's bed.

(and wormed her way into our hearts)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tuesday's Training TIP: BE QUIET

FLD Scout's first task: learn to be quiet.

Typical times of BIG VOICE exercise (from her point of view).
  1. "Food? Am I going to get any food?"
  2. "Why am I in this pen? I can't reach you!!!!! I just want to be close to you! Don't you understand that?!!!"
  3. "Hey, I don't want to 'kennel up!'"

Here is a short video of FLD Scout in her pen in the kitchen, voicing her feelings about the situation.


Believe it or not, the quietness is growing around here. Oh, FLD Scout is not totally silent, and she will probably never completely stop expressing her opinion, but her noise-making episodes last considerably less time.

How am I helping FLD Scout suppress her natural urge to vocalize?
  1. IGNORE, IGNORE, IGNORE.  This is definitely easier said than done. But seriously, ANY attention only reinforces her noise-making. Eventually she'll figure out it's the sweet sound of nothingness that gets her what she wants.
  2. PRAISE THE QUIET.  Catch the brief intake of breath and reward the lack of noise. Timing is critical to bring the quiet on.
  3. TREATS.  Yep, make the crate a wonderful place with a few well-placed morsels of her daily food allotment. Use treats as in #2 above, then wean away to just praise.
  • Get everyone on board. I caught Andy reaching into the pen to pet Scout when she was hollering for attention. He got hollered at from both sides!
  • Make sure it isn't something else. The other day FLD Scout raised her decibel level. I suspected she was trying to tell me something specific. I snatched her up at the first noise-less opportunity. She had to "park!" YIPPEE, making progress on that front, too!

A very quiet FLD Scout next to me as I'm writing.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Puppyhood Thrill Ride

It wasn't quite the "Millennium Force," but it made me wonder if I could now cross roller-coaster-ride off of my "bucket list."

Good-bye Gus.  Hello new puppy!

In about the same amount of time it takes for that Cedar Point behemoth to turn your stomach, I turned my back on Gus, trundled across the kennel lobby at Leader Dogs for the Blind, and paused at the precipice to wipe my eyes.

My new thrill ride?

FLD Scout!

Features               Black female Lab/Golden mix puppy.
Whelp date          July 11, 2011
LD Mom/Dad         Reese (Lab) / Kasey (Golden)
Siblings                5 girls, 1 boy in the litter (3 black, 3 yellow)
Ride Time            1 year


FLD Scout and I aboard for the ride!

Another "Licky Lab!" Scout greets Andy.

Andy and FLD Scout.

Natalie and Sofia are aboard with FLD Scout!

FLD Scout and Sofia

Raise your arms and jump aboard!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

No Words

"Forest" Gus is history. It's Future Leader Dog Gus for real, now, as long as he passes his physicals next week.

We left him to his destiny last Thursday. It's been a pleasure getting to know this funny, intelligent, curious, helpful, determined, brute of a puppy. Gusto Gus!

Here, in pictures, our last day with FLD Gus.

FLD Gus picks up his old shoe-habit as we pack for our trip to take him back to Leader Dogs. He knows.

Glorious sun rays, filtering through morning mist and trees across our road, fill me with hope as we depart.

A quick stop at my sister's for a last Lab-wrestle with cc'd Rosie. Gypsy hollers with a premonition, "Oh no, you're not going to bring ANOTHER one home again are you?"

Cc'd Rosie (on the right) counsels FLD Gus. "Dude, it'll be alright! They have great food there!"

Andy, Natalie, and Sofia pose with FLD Gus in front of the Leader Dogs for the Blind's sign.

Seriously. FLD Gus is sad that there are never enough volunteers.

FLD Gus is more interested in the Leader Dogs kennel statue than taking ANOTHER photograph!

Natalie, looking sad. She's going to miss her buddy, FLD Gus.

FLD Gus gets his pick of new Nylabones while Natalie and LD staffer, Allison, look on.

FLD Gus looks back at me as if to question, "Alright, what's REALLY going on here?"

Nat sneaks a pet with FLD Syndey, a pal of Gus's, who is in for training too. (FLD Gus is right next door!)

Sofia says "good-bye" to FLD Gus.


FLD Gus--it is your "scary-smartness" that I will always remember!