If I Could Name All the Guide Dog Puppies | A List of Names Beginning with E

Well, it’s been a while, so I thought it was about time we added another list of dog names. Here are my ideas for a litter of E’s.

Ephie (Feminine): Greek, meaning well-spoken.

Ellory (Masculine): meaning island of elder trees.

Elowen (Feminine): meaning elm tree. I think this name is gorgeous and would love to use it for a child, but am absolutely positive it would be shot down by my husband hahaha. If you’re in that situation too, maybe you can use it for your pup instead.

Esther (Feminine): Meaning star. Biblical, a heroine of the Hebrew people, chosen for her beauty to be the new queen of Babylon. Rescued the Hebrew people from geniside at the hands of the king and his adviser.

Ezrah (Masculine): Biblical, apparently means helpful person, a prophet from the old testament.

Echo (Neutral): nice and short, a similar vibe for me to the name Shadow. 

Emerald (Feminine): could go either way really but it feels more feminine to me. Emmie could serve as a sweet nickname.

Elias (Masculine): Greek and Hebrew origins, meaning “Jehovah is God”.

Everist (Masculine): for a mountain of a dog. 

Everra (Feminine): my made up feminine version of Everist. Maybe it’s a real name somewhere? If not, maybe you could make it a real name by choosing it for your pup.

Estella (Feminine): derived from the Spanish word for star.

Eragon (Masculine): okay, here’s the thing. I wanted to include Aragorn, because I am an LOTR fan, but didn’t realize Aragorn is spelled with an A, not an E… so here’s the Christopher Paolini name equivalent that does start with an E.

Elf (Neutral): here’s another E word with fantasy vibes.

Elm (Feminine): because I like nature names.

Elite (Feminine): I met a dog once with this name and I thought it was a unique option.

Elysium (Neutral): from Greek mythology, heaven, paradise.

Ember (Feminine): as in a burning ember. 

Empyrean (Masculine): paradise. 

Epic (Neutral): My dog is Epic… no really, that’s his name.

Eulalia (Feminine): the war cry of the anthropomorphized hares in Brian Jacques’ Redwall, this word also refers to a flowering ornamental grass and a patron saint of Barcelona… careful about looking up her story though… it’s not for the faint of heart.

Do you have a pet or service animal with a name beginning with E? What would you add to this list?

Seasonal Shedding — Is There a Solution?

Labradors are many things… oversized lap dogs, excellent workers, enthusiastic playmates, and yes, constant shedders. There are a few dog breeds that don’t fit into that category, but often, being a dog owner means vacuuming up fur from the carpet and off the furniture, wiping it off your kitchen counters, dusting it from your shower ceiling (I still don’t know how fur gets up there), and wearing it on your clothing on a daily basis. I was told early on in my dog-ownership journey that brushing would help, but often I find that grooming doesn’t do much other than encourage the fur to loosen up so that even more of it can come out all over my newly washed floor.

Still, while labradors, and other breeds like them, shed year-round, their seasonal shedding during spring and autumn can be intense and thus harder to manage. So what’s the solution?

Spend More Time Outside 

Less time in the house equals less time for your dog to shed in the house. Getting out for more walks or allowing your dog some off lead time in the garden or at a dog park does make a difference in the amount of fur on your floor.

Clean Your House Regularly 

I know this sounds obvious, but when your dog is shedding their winter or summer coat, it really is not overkill to be vacuuming once or twice a day until the shedding settles a bit and isn’t so extreme. Speaking from experience, it REALLY IS worth vacuuming frequently, even if it sounds like a lot of work. It Is far quicker and easier to suck up fur that has accumulated over just a few hours, rather than a few days, and it will be less overwhelming in the long run.

Don’t Bother Sweeping!

Maybe I just have bad sweeping technique, but I’ve never found brooms to be effective at dealing with pet hair. If that’s been your experience, too, don’t bother! If you have hard floors, try Swiffer products, or just get a vacuum 

Get Yourself a Cordless Vacuum 

As I was saying… Seriously, this will change your life. Choose a quality, cordless vacuum that has shown to be effective for dog fur. We have the Dyson Animal

Popping the cordless vacuum off the charger and zooming around with it for a few minutes is SO MUCH EASIER than plugging the darn thing in, hoping the chord will reach wherever you need to go, realizing it won’t and having to unplug it and plug it back in somewhere else, getting tangled up in the chord while you are trying to get into an awkward corner, your dog getting tangled up in the chord while they try to chase your vacuum… you get my point.

If you would rather not do the vacuuming yourself, get a robot vacuum and let it do the work… just keep in mind that this can be a bad combination

if you have a puppy that is still toilet training. If you plan to use a robot vacuum, check your house before each use to make sure there aren’t any messes that would not be vacuum friendly. 

Bathe Your Dog 

I find that baths have a tendency to knock much more fur loose than brushing on its own, so when you notice the shedding is getting real, pop your pup under the hose for a good rub down or bring them to a professional groomer if you’ve got the cash. As always with bathing your pets, choose dog-friendly products, make sure the water is a comfortable temperature (particularly not too hot), and avoid doing it too frequently so as not to dry out their skin.

Care less 

I’m not joking. Your life will be simpler and easier if you just care a little less about seeing fur falling around the place.. It’s the price of having a dog that sheds, and there’s no point in getting up tight about it. Relax, enjoy your furry friend, accept that having a furry friend in the house means there will be fur there, and move on with your life.

Grooming Tools that (May) Help

As I’ve said, I’ve never found brushing particularly helpful in keeping the shedding at a minimum, but you may have a different experience. Here are some tools that could aid you in your quest. This list includes a slicker brush, nylon bristle brush, silicone massage tool, and brushes designed specifically to remove dead undercoat, such as the Furminator. The Furminator may prove especially useful during heavy shedding seasons, but be sure to read the instructions attached, as such tools are usually recommended for weekly or by-weekly use, rather than every day.

So, no, there’s no “solution” to seasonal shedding as far as I can tell. It will happen no matter what you do, but staying on top of house maintenance, spending more time outdoors, and trying a few grooming options can make a difference… and if all else fails, just care a little less. 🙂

If I could Name All the Guide Dog Puppies | A List of Names Beginning with D

Welcome back for more dog names! This week, it’s the letter D.

Check out my list of C names here, or my list of A names if you’d like to start at the beginning.

Daiquiri (Feminine): who doesn’t like a good strawberry daiquiri when you can get one? And with this name, you would always have one on hand.

Dainty (Feminine): a delicate option for a prim pup.

Drifter (Masculine): the exact opposite thing for a male dog that likes to plow into things and take corners too tightly at too high speeds.

Dryad (Feminine): from Greek mythology, a spirit or nymph that inhabited a tree.

Dolan (Masculine): a second name in Ireland meaning dark, associated with an Irish high king from the second century.

Delila (Feminine): a beautiful one, from Hebrew meaning delicate 

Dapper (Masculine): a word you would use to describe your handsome man when he’s all dressed up in a suit, but also a cute name for a handsome doggy.

Dove (Feminine): as in the bird, associated with peace.

Dover (Masculine): a male option with similar sounds, but denoting a ferry port town in England, as well as several American towns.

Dekker (Masculine): I heard this one from a Guiding Eyes puppy raising page, and I liked it.

Dori (Feminine): just a cute one, and fairly popular for dogs already if you’re looking for something particularly wearable.

Dragon (Masculine): I’m not so sure about this one, but it’s easy to say and obviously brings up some powerful images. Do you think it could work?

Domovoy (Masculine): From Russian, meaning house lord. In Russian mythology, a domovoy was a benevolent household spirit that guarded the families with which they lived.

Doliver (Masculine): an English second name. I like it because it has the sound of Oliver, but the uniqueness of the D at the beginning.

Dittany (Feminine): a plant used in herbal medicine, also called the “burning bush”, as it’s blooms have a tendency to spontaneously combust.

Dorian (Neutral): a musical term referring to a scale often used in celtic traditional music.

Dulcimer (Neutral, but maybe masculine?): a box-like wooden instrument with strings stretched across it, played using hand-held hammers 

Dolce (Feminine, pronounced with a soft CH): meaning sweet in Italian 

Duende (Feminine): a word in Spanish that we don’t have an equivalent for in English. Connected to the excitement or emotional arrousal you feel at seeing or hearing something artistically beautiful.

Daphne (Feminine): “a small Eurasian shrub with sweet-scented flowers and, typically, evergreen leaves ” (New Oxford AmericanPrimie2017

 Dictionary). This was also 

Dutchus (Feminine): female equivalent of duke.

I’ve always had a personal affinity for D names, and I think that shows in the length of this list. I’d love to hear your ideas. Do you have a beloved dog in your life with a name starting with D?

Learn to Teach your Dog with a Click // Clicker Training 101

Maybe you’ve seen it on the shelf at the pet shop, or seen the word mentioned in puppy training books. The clicker is a small plastic box that emits a loud popping sound when pressed. It is a simple but powerful communication tool and a positive way to condition your dog to new behaviors or tasks. Sound crazy? Let me explain.

The Psychology Behind the Clicker 

The concept of the clicker is based on the psychological phenomenon known as “conditioning”, as discovered by Pavlov in his famous experiments with dogs during the early 20th century. He found that when he consistently paired food with the sound of a metronome, the dogs began to salivate, I.E. expect food at hearing the metronome alone. Clicker training makes use of this concept by teaching the dog to associate the sound of the clicker with a treat. This is your first step in introducing the training tool to your dog. 

What Kind of Food Rewards Should I Use?

Because clicker training is fast moving and based on repeated rewards for desired behaviors, you want something small, low calorie, and easy to gobble down in a second. You may choose to use pieces of your dog’s normal kibble, a brand of commercial training treats, or small bits of plain chicken. Whatever you choose, make sure to think about how much they will be taking in during each session and calculate that into their meals for the day to avoid weight gain.

Teaching Your Dog to Love the Clicker 

Be aware that some dogs may have sensitivity to the loud noise of the clicker at first. If you suspect this may be an issue for your pup, start off by simply taking out the clicker and feeding them when they see it. Once they seem excited when it comes out, progress to feeding them at the exact moment you press the clicker. The timing is very important here. Your dog needs to know that this sound always means a treat.

Connecting the Clicker with Desired Behaviors 

Once your dog understands that the clicker means something tasty, you can begin to use it as a marker for desired behaviors. The moment your dog hears the clicker, he will assume that whatever he is doing will result in an immediate reward. For example, if you would like to teach your dog to sit, the minute you observe your dog exhibiting this behavior, speak your chosen command, click and immediately feed. He will quickly learn that sitting in response to your cue is an exciting and beneficial thing to do.

*A word of warning though. It is very easy to accidentally reenforce negative behaviors if your clicker game is a little off. If you are slow on clicking when your dog sits, and instead click a few moments later when he has decided to jump up on you instead, he will learn that jumping is the thing that will get him a click and a treat. During training sessions, you must keep the clicker and food reward ready so that you can mark desired behaviors the instant they happen, not too early, and not too late. That said, if you are a few moments late in clicking and your dog is still doing the thing you would like him to do, that is perfectly fine. In fact, delayed clicking may even come in handy as a technique to teach sustained tasks, such as a down stay.

Short Sessions and Small Steps 

Training sessions can be demanding for both you and your dog. Try to keep them short (10 to 15 minutes) and consistent (once or a few times a day). Particularly when teaching more complex tasks, make use of a technique called “shaping” by rewarding small progressions toward whatever final behavior you are looking for. For instance, if you are working on the “stay” command, you might start by clicking and treating after a shorter period, and progress gradually to longer and longer spans of time. Or, if you are working on teaching your dog to pick items up off the floor, you might start by clicking and treating when they merely look at or sniff the object you want them to eventually retrieve.

Teaching the “Touch” Command with the Clicker 

So, you’ve got the basic theory down. Let’s put it into practice by teaching your dog a useful little command called “touch”. When you ask your dog to “touch”, he should eventually bop your closed fist or palm, depending on your preference, with his nose. This command is simple, but has three great uses.

1. Focus. If your dog is distracted by something and behaving poorly, you can use “touch” to get his attention quickly back on you.

2. Movement. It can be an incredibly easy and effective way to maneuver your dog without pulling the leash. Just put your hand where you want your dog, tell him touch, and he will be there in a flash if he knows there’s a click and treat coming. 

3. A fun game. Your dog might need to get some energy out on a rainy day. You can use the touch command for a fun challenge for your dog. Put your fist all sorts of different places for him to find and bop. Here you can start asking him for a few touches in a row and reward only after several successes.

Here are the steps 

1. Start your session in a low distraction environment with your clicker and treat pouch ready and available.

2. Put your touching hand (I use the right as I usually have my dog’s leash in my left hand) somewhere your dog can reach it. Wait until he investigates your hand by sniffing it. If he doesn’t do this right away, you can shape the behavior by first rewarding him when he looks at your hand, or put a treat in your hand to give him an incentive to come close and sniff. Don’t give the treat to him until you have marked the behavior with the clicker. Click and treat as soon as he makes contact with your hand.

3. Once he is consistently making any sort of contact with your hand using his nose, pair the behavior with the word “touch”. Click and treat when he responds appropriately.

4. Start to click and treat only for his more insistent contact. Ignore any less than passable “bops”, and wait to reward his best ones. Make sure that he is bringing his nose to your hand, and not the other way around.

5. Repeat this process until he is giving you the exact sort of bop you want… pretty enthusiastic, firm, but still with his nose, not teeth.

6. Practice refining this command by moving your hand to different locations on your body or around the room, and then progressing to higher distraction environments. Remember always to keep your dog on a lead or in an enclosed area outdoors unless you are certain that his recall is rock solid even with distractions present.

Et Voila!

You have learned to train your dog with a click. For more posts on dogs, look for the “related posts” header on this page, or click here.

If I Could Name All the Guide Dog Puppies | A List of Names Beginning with “C”

If you’re a dog-lover like me, you might consider naming your canine pal to be a pretty weighty task. This is especially true if the pup in question will be a working partner, as well as a best friend. The following is my third post in a series dedicated to listing some of my favorite potential dog names. As a service dog handler myself, I’ve chosen names that I think are particularly suited to give to a working dog, taking the length, ease-of-pronunciation, meaning, and associations all into account. Check out my list of A names or B names for more ideas.

Dog Names Beginning with “C”

Cruise (Masculine): I like this one for a guide dog particularly because “cruising” is such a great way to describe what it feels like to walk freely with your guide. It is also clear, short, and distinct from most English commands that I can think of 

Callum (Masculine): Scottish derivative of “columba”, meaning dove

Clemintine (Feminine): these little citrus fruits are bursting with flavor. Good for a little girl with a lot of personality.

Conan (Masculine): this comes from an Irish word meaning little wolf, which seems appropriate. It is also the name of a U.S. special forces military dog who was awarded a medal of honor at the Whitehouse in 2019. Notably, Conan was named after TV personality Conan O’Brian.

Chloe (Feminine): I think this name is fairly widely-used for dogs already. It is a Greek name that means “green shoot”, and refers to Demeter, goddess of aggriculture and fertility. Appropriate for a dog with a youthful attitude.

Corin (Masculine): containing the Latin route for “heart”, this is the name of a prince from C.S. Lewis’ The Horse and his Boy.

Coco (Neutral): the delicious stuff we put in cakes.

Clodagh (Feminine): a popular name in Ireland associated with a river in County Waterford as well as a saint.

Chico (Masculine): meaning boy in Spanish. I just think it’s cute.

Ceili (Feminine, pronounced “Kay-Lee): a social event or step dance traditional in Scotland and Ireland. I attended a Ceili with my friends for my 16th birthday (I know, make fun of me all you want) and had a blast! Great memories associated with this word and I think it makes for a great name.

Cooper (Masculine): an English occupational name associated with those who made buckets and barrels 

Chapel (Masculine): this one could maybe go feminine too. Just draws to mind beautiful places with stained glass and I liked the sound of it.

Cherry (Feminine): as in the fruit. Might be a good one if your dog’s coat has a reddish hugh.

Cheer (Masculine): a similar one for a male, denoting happiness.

Chess (Masculine): as in the game. Good for a clever or somewhat mischievous dog.

Chesapeak (Neutral, Chessie for short): a similar sound, named for the bay on the east coast of the U.S. between Maryland and Virginia. 

Chaucer (Masculine): as in the English author, for a scholarly type.

Coral (Feminine): a lovely shade of orangey-pink, the tiny sea creatures that grow in reefs, and the mother from Finding Nemo.

Calypso (Feminine): from Greek mythology, meaning “concealing the knowledge”. A nymph who kept Odysseus prisoner on her island for 7 years.

Celtic (Masculine): beginning with a hard “C” sound, this refers to a cultural and linguistic group of the British isles. Use with caution if you plan to spend any time in the UK, though, as it is also a football (soccer) team and could get you into some trouble.

Cove (Neutral): a small inlet or bay in a larger body of water. Might be associated with peace and calm as a more sheltered place along a coastline.

Clue (Feminine): only thing with this one is you could never say “I have no clue” without lying 🙂

Castle (Masculine?): I just think this makes for a cool name

Carolina (Feminine): a region, but also a wild dog breed 

Chip (Masculine): reminds me of the little china cup from the Beauty and the Beast 

Camberra (Feminine): the name of my stuffed koala bear growing up, and the capital city of Australia.

Cornflower (Feminine): a European bloom associated with growing in aggricultural fields. Blue, white, or pink in color. Can be used medicinally for various ailments.

Do you have a dog with a name beginning with C? What would you add to this list?

See you next time for “D” names, and don’t forget to check out the “A” and “B” lists if you haven’t already.

The Symbiosis of the Guide Dog Team

I am often asked questions about the nature of my relationship with my guide dog.  A topic we frequently touch on is the interdependence of it.  I like to point this out to people, because no one is surprised that I depend on my guide dog.  After all, she is my eyes, in a sense… but they usually don’t think  about the fact that my dog depends on me, too.

My guide dog does have a lot of responsibility, especially for a dog.  Prim protects me.  She keeps me from walking into traffic, or stepping off the edge of a platform or stage.  She navigates me smoothly around things in our path, and shows me when there is an obstacle like a parked car or construction barrier obstructing our way entirely.  Prim provides for me.  She helps me find landmarks like doors, steps, trashcans, and chairs, and is a source of ever-present laughter and comfort besides.

But like with any other dog, I have a great deal of responsibility as Prim’s partner and handler.  I protect Prim.  I make intelligent decisions about when to cross the street, and think about Prim’s physical and emotional safety in any given environment.  There are some places I simply do not take my guide dog due to risk of injury or discomfort.  Crowded bars and loud concerts are just two examples of places where paws could be too easily trampled and ears too easily overwhelmed.  There have also been situations where I had to physically protect my guide dog when she was in danger of being attacked by another canine.  I provide for Prim.  I feed her, groom her, take her outside, take her to the vet for medical care, and of course have the enormous pleasure of being her primary playmate and cuddle buddy.

It’s a relationship of giving, not 50/50, but 100/100.  Of course, we both fail, but the beauty is that not only do we both provide and protect, but we also persevere.  There are days I am convinced I have a two-year-old child on a leash, and there are days that Prim is convinced she will starve to death because we get home late and I forgot to throw her dinner in my backpack, but I keep loving her even after she throws tantrums about not being able to eat the cat, and she keeps loving me after I feed her an hour or two later than our schedule dictates.  In that way, it is undoubtedly a symbiosis of sorts, but not a symbiosis of chance, rather one of choice.  Primie, I’m so glad I get to choose you.

My Girls’ Canine Family!

Recently, I got to chat with someone from Guiding Eyes who shared the family information for both of my guide dogs.

Oleta was born on October 23, 2009 to parents Loren and Mark.  Her siblings in birth order are:

Orchard (released)

Osa (released, but became a different sort of service dog)

Bailey (released)

Oak (retired guide dog)

Oleta (retired guide dog)

Opera (released)

Ogden (retired guide dog)

Octavian (released)

Prim was born on October 21, 2015 to parents Peter and Daphne.  Her siblings are:

Peyton (in training)

Promise (released)

Posh (released)

Peace (working guide dog)

Parker (released)

Pongo (detection dog)

Pearl (working guide dog)

Prim (working guide dog)

Pumkin (working guide dog)

It’s great to know where my sweet girls came from.  I’m hoping we can meet some of Prim’s siblings!  We already know her sister Pumpkin, who was in training when we were in class in September.  It was pretty clear they knew that they are sisters, judging by how much they wanted to play together every time they saw each other. ❤

So thankful to Guiding Eyes for breeding, raising, and training so many fantastic dogs.

Guiding Eyes Training (September 2017), Day 12|Yorktown…1781

We visited Yorktown on Friday.  No no, not Yorktown like from Hamilton, Yorktown, New York.  I know.  These things can get confusing.  Friday was our day for night travel, so we did the route in the daylight early in the morning, then repeated it after the sun went down that night.  In between we had our visits with the vet.

Prim was very excited about the new route, so we worked on, you guessed it, steady.  She did the route very well, only overstepping one curb and not at all distracted by the grass and street furniture that we passed.  We encountered one loud truck that she stopped for, even though we were on the sidewalk.  She was just being a bit cautious, I think leftover from our traffic check activity on Thursday.  The night route went similarly, other than the fact that it was dark, but that didn’t change much about my perspective really.  Our trainer huffed and puffed behind us like usual, and we had a blast.

At the vet, I learned Prim’s weight, birth date, and health history.  The vet gave her a full physical, and pronounced her healthy but for a slight ear infection in one ear.  She will be on medication for that for the next several days and we will visit the vet a second time before we leave to make sure it is all cleared up… which reminds me.  I need to choose a vet for Prim in Nashville.  If anyone has any good recommendations, please let me know.  Oleta had a vet in Nashville that we loved and appreciated, but I would be interested in looking into others.  Crazy, but I do need to start thinking about getting settled in at home.  Only a week left of training now!

Guiding Eyes Training (September 2017), Day 11|Pizza

To continue the theme of food in titles this week…

Thursday was our country-travel/picture day.  Country travel is the term we use to refer to traveling on roads without sidewalks.  Our dogs are trained to walk on the left side of the road, but with no specific borderline on the other side it is easy to accidentally drift into the middle of the road from time to time.  So, we use a technique called “shore-lining”, which means my dog does her best to keep the curb line directly on our left, and every once in a while (or when I hear a car coming) I check our distance from the curb or grass line by telling her “Wait. Left, to the curb.”  When we arrive at the curb, whether that be one step later or five, she gets an enthusiastic “yes” and a treat.

Prim did fabulously.  There were no distractions, and most times when I asked her to go to the curb, we were right on top of it.  She showed me a big truck in our way at one point and we went around it then returned to the shoreline.  She was pulling like crazy, so we did have to work on steady some, because my arm was hurting haha.  Again, a problem I am okay with having.

In the afternoon, Prim and I got “gussied up”, as one of my instructors put it, for our ID and class pictures.  The class picture was interesting, with 13 humans and their 13 dogs as well as six instructors attempted to get in the frame and get settled.

“Say pizza!” our photographer told us… so we all called out “pizza!” at random intervals while he snapped photo after photo.  I found the whole thing very entertaining.  After that, we trooped into the hallway to wait for our individual pictures with our dogs.  I was second to go, so it wasn’t long before Prim and I got to hop onto the table together and pose for our photo op.  Prim sat very primly and looked right at the camera.  She is super photogenic.  I think it came out well.

To close out our day of training, we had a traffic check activity followed by lecture.  For the traffic check activity, the trainers set up a narrow isle that could only fit one guide dog team at a time.  At one end was the opening entrance, and at the other a door, which served as motivation for the dogs to continue down the shoot.  The first time we went down, we simply told our dogs forward, arrived at the door, and treated our dogs.  When we returned to the entrance, we instructed our dogs to walk forward into the shoot, and one of the trainers pushed a cart directly at us.  The only safe response in that situation is for the dog to back up to a safe distance, wait for the cart to clear away, and then continue down the isle way.  Prim did so beautifully.  The third time we walked through, a trainer drove the cart in front of us horizontally.  In that case, the dog must stop, wait for the cart to pass, and then continue to the door.  Again, Prim executed it perfectly.  Given this activity and several real life situations where we have had traffic checks, I feel very safe with Prim in traffic, and in grocery stores… which is good, because drivers of both cars and carts are crazy in Nashville.  You can handle’m Prim!

Guiding Eyes Training (September 2017), Day 8|A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the White Plains Building

There are days I just have to step back and marvel at the incredible phenomenon that is the guide dog team.  Dogs don’t naturally walk in straight lines.  They don’t naturally refuse to chase other animals or deny themselves food lying on the ground.  Most dogs don’t want to spend their days forging a path through pedestrians on crowded sidewalks, locating curbs, and playing in traffic… and yet these dogs do.  They love their job, and most, if not all guide dogs, seem to realize at one point or another that they aren’t just doing this for the food reward.  These are the sort of dogs that Guiding Eyes breeds, raises, and trains, and I feel so blessed to be able to experience life with now two of them.

Prim had a number of things thrown at her today.  It is only our sixth day together and we had two major traffic checks, plus a skateboard check (yep, skateboard. You read that correctly), escalators, crowded, narrow sidewalks, indoor work, and major distractions in the dog food isle at CVS.  That “major distraction” took the form of my class supervisor (who is also Oleta’s trainer and my instructor from 2011) tempting Prim with all sorts of very appealing squeaky toys while we did puppy push ups (sit, down, sit, down, sit, down, sit).  It was pretty hard not to look, and she definitely did struggle to listen to a couple of my commands, but we got through it well enough.  Honestly… can you imagine trying to concentrate while people danced around you with Chic-Fil-A and gift cards for pedicures and the latest technology gizmos, or whatever tempting treat might strike your fancy, and be expected to keep working at the same high performance without ever lunging for one of those waffle fries or gift cards or iPhones?  Mm… Chic-Fil-A… I discovered today that Chic-Fil-A doesn’t exist in this area, bless their hearts.  Anyway, what was I talking about?

Prim handled it all very well.  I was impressed with the way she dealt with the traffic checks.  One was on the left side of the street with a legal right turner.  She saw it coming ahead of time and stopped about ten feet away from the car.  The second was a car turning very illegally on the wrong side of the road.  That was slightly more startling to me as it was completely unexpected, but Prim just came to an abrupt halt, let the car pass, and continued to the curb.  It didn’t seem to throw her at all.  She got a cookie and lots of praise upon reaching the sidewalk.  She did her job very well.

Prim loves escalators.  I am sure that her trainers used a great deal of positive reenforcement with them, as they can be scary for some dogs at first, but I think Prim also just likes the ride.  She did very well pulling me to the edge of the metal plate and showing me exactly where the escalator started.  She is brilliant with targets.  When she hears the name of a familiar target (like the steps in this case) and recognizes it, she is there and fast, and she doesn’t stop pulling until we are all the way on top of it.  Since I have practically no vision, this is extremely helpful for me, because she makes it very clear where whatever I am looking for is, whether it be the curb, the escalator, the door, etc.

We are still working on slowing down a tad in certain situations.  For example, when we entered the CVS in the afternoon, we were moving so quickly the automatic doors didn’t quite have a chance to open all the way, so I got clipped by the still slightly closed sliding door.  We also had to slow in the isles so as not to knock any displays or innocent bystanders to the floor.  On our way back from CVS, we had a slight sniffing distraction with some trash cans (which, in her defense, did smell very strongly!), but as my instructor observed, Prim seems very responsive to my voice and a “Prim, leave it” was all she needed to get going again.

Shortly after that we crossed a street, made a right, and then I felt Prim angle over to the left a bit toward a building.  She approached the wall of the building, then made a quick right and continued along the block.  I wasn’t sure what had happened, until my instructor came up from behind to inform me that Prim had seen herself in a glass wall.  Apparently, Prim got all puffy and upset like, “who’s that over there?!”, until she realized it was her own reflection, got embarrassed, and quick changed her direction like, that didn’t just happen.  We laughed all the way back to the White Plains building.  There are days you have to marvel at the incredible phenomenon that is the guide dog team, and then there are days you just have to laugh… and with Prim, that’s every day.  This dog cracks me up.