Monday, April 15, 2013

Straub Park December 11

We only have one meeting in December, and this year we went to look at the decorations at downtown St. Petersburg's Straub Park on a wet Tuesday evening. New puppy Braxton made his first appearance, but you will have to look for him in future posts as we have no pictures from this meeting. Sorry about that! We'll try to do better next year.

Michaels 66th St November 27

The holidays are upon us, so what better time to take a trip to the store for holiday decor, Michaels! After some obedience out front, we took our pups through aisles and aisles of tempting pine cones and garlands and flowers (real and fake) and all sorts of miscellaneous items to get our pups ready to handle all the new sights and sounds they'll come across in the next few weeks.

Alas, no pictures for this one. You will just have to use your imagination.

Pinellas Pioneer Settlement November 10

November's Saturday meeting took us back in time to blacksmiths and printing presses at the Pinellas Pioneer Settlement. We practiced some obedience, went over some announcements, and explored life in the early days of Pinellas County on a beautiful fall day.

Faith (with Jim), Hayden (with Marcy, and Victoria watching), Popi (with Ric and Betty Jo), and Koko (with Diane) all gather in front of the old gas station.

Our newest puppy, Twyman (aka T-Man), poses with Eileen.

Trapper (handled by Chris), at her last meeting in our group before going to her finish home, follows Lacey (handled by Liz).

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Pinellas Park Library October 30

Another special opportunity caused us to push our Tuesday meeting back a week as we welcomed two Southeastern graduate teams to talk to us about life with a guide dog. We met in a room at the Pinellas Park Library in a combined meeting with the St. Pete West group to hear the stories of these two teams.

Tim is a comedian by trade, naturally making his talk very entertaining. His guide dog JC is a smooth-coated collie raised by the AC of the North Pinellas group, Carolyn (who kindly arranged this meeting for us) and sponsored by a raiser from our old Pinellas group.

Debbie, a friend of North Pinellas Assistant AC Stephanie, is a first-time guide dog user who is still learning what life is like with her dog Luke.

The audience of puppy raisers gave their rapt attention to Tim and Debbie as they gave us a clearer picture of what lies ahead for our puppies and how important it is for us to do a good job in preparing our pups for their training. I know everyone was inspired by what Tim and Debbie have been able to do and by listening to how their guide dogs have transformed their lives. I don't think there were any dry eyes at this meeting.

All the puppy raisers were able to leave this meeting with renewed vigor to do a great job as they received copies of the brand-new puppy manual. This was also the last meeting for John & Trudy, long-time Pinellas puppy raisers moving to Colorado. Good luck in your new adventures!

Museum of Fine Arts October 11

We had a special opportunity to visit St. Petersburg's Museum of Fine Arts for a Yappy Hour benefiting and raising awareness for Southeastern Guide Dogs, so we switched our Saturday morning meeting to Thursday evening to take advantage of it. We had an obedience demo and opportunities to practice greetings and talk about Southeastern, plus we were able to take the pups on a tour of the galleries. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures to share, but I'm sure the pups appreciated both the human interaction and the chance to bone up on their art appreciation.

Northeast Park Shopping Center September 24

Our Tuesday meeting was moved to Monday for a full-meeting obedience session with Puppy Raising Services Field Services Representative Jen, held in the glamorous Northeast Park Shopping Center parking lot. Despite the mundane location, the meeting was full of great information as we learned to do our "come" recall command in a new way using treats, placing a treat in our closed right fist, holding the fist in front of our leg, and calling the dog to come to the target created by our fist before rewarding with a treat.

I know I'm biased, but I think everyone would agree that a highlight of the meeting was watching my own calm and relaxed puppy, Mars...

turn into a crazed fool when he encountered the treat lady (Jen). It seemed like the meeting would be over before Mars ever settled down, but he finally did. Way to make your AC look good, Mars!

Here are some of the good pups listening calmly to Jen and watching Mars's antics – Nigel with Ellen, Trapper with John, Maggie with Jeff, and Popi (Mars's brother) with Ric and Betty Jo.

And here are some shots showing just how attentive our pups get when there are treats involved!
Here's Lacey with Liz...

 Sasha with Annie...

And Zoe with Alexis.

I think the raisers enjoyed themselves. I know the puppies did!

The Pier September 15

We've been hearing for years that The Pier in St. Petersburg will close down, so every now and then we have a meeting to say farewell to The Pier, but it always seems to be there. I think this time it's for real, though, so we picked our Saturday meeting in September to give it one last look (maybe).

We usually start off with a ride on the trolley from the parking lot, but wouldn't you know, the trolleys weren't running when our meeting started, so we started off with a long walk instead. We settled in the food court for some announcements before heading outside for some obedience on a beautiful day. Then we took some time to explore the fisherman on the wooden docks and nearby pelicans as well as the shops and elevators and the upper deck with its fantastic views of Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg.

Unfortunately, I did not get many pictures, but here's one of Brandon handling Otis and Jeff handling Maggie (plus either Hayden or Sasha) with the sun and the water to give an idea of what we will miss when The Pier goes away.

A new pier is slated to replace the old, so look for pictures from that meeting sometime in the (probably very distant) future.