April started with the usual routine of work and play and one visit to the office (good reports so far), but the next week was a big change: a five-day sleepover at Robin’s house, where I got to play with Lucy. I tried my best to be a good guest and I think everyone was impressed with how well I listened and followed commands. I went out with Robin to a dinner party (boy, do people eat late at those events!) but Robin took pity on me and fed me first. The first night was a bit scary because Robin put me to bed all by myself, but things were all right after she came to check on me because I knew she’d always come back for me.
Next morning when I was out doing my business, there was a weird sound that Robin wouldn’t let me check out until I was finished. Guess what? That sound was clucking, and the chickens were as interested in me as I was in them. Lucy and I had a good time running around chasing each other.
Then off to puppy class before breakfast. I missed coming the first time she called my name, but when she pulled out some fish treats, I really paid attention! We practiced climbing stairs to a slide, and whee! What fun to slide down! Then – listen to this – Jennifer dropped pieces of chicken nuggets and corn dogs all around, and I wasn’t allowed to eat them. Didn’t she know I hadn’t had breakfast yet? A growing puppy has a hard time managing on little bitty fish treats. I guess I survived because I had a good run with some buddies at Hero Dogs and had fun playing with Lucy when we got home. Then, nap time.
Afterward we took a walk and met a lady who was afraid of dogs. When Robin explained that I was a service dog in training, she not only came to talk to us, but she took a bit of kibble from Robin and gave it to me. A good experience for all of us, since seeing me follow Robin’s commands taught the lady how well-behaved a dog can be.
Robin took me to a Test Kitchen and I had a nap while inhaling the most delicious odors. The rest of the day was too quiet for me and I had a hard time getting to sleep that night. The next day, though, lots of running and playing with my Hero Dogs buddies. Yay! It was really hot that afternoon, and Robin thought I’d like a drink from a hose, but I couldn’t figure out how to manage that at first, so Robin let me drink from her hand. I’ll have to give the hose another try sometime.
The next day, Robin worked on some of the skills I’ve been learning, and when I didn’t do something right, wouldn’t you know: Lucy did do it right and got a treat. That sure made me concentrate! Then we really worked together — I think I taught Lucy a few new things.
Rain made the next day look like it would be a bore, but Robin played with me in her basement, so we both made the best of it. Then the next day, we got to play in Jennifer’s field, and I think I wore Lucy out trying to catch me — she’s nearly 10 years old, and I guess she needs more rest than I do.
I had a good time at Robin’s, and Lucy and I are great buddies now, but I was very happy to go home and back to my old routine. I showed how glad I was to be back by behaving very well while there were workers in the house for three days making various noises. I was a little worried when they were up in the attic and I couldn’t keep an eye on them, but I was well-behaved.
Another romp at Jennifer’s with my buddies, and I kept up my good behavior at a Hero Dogs Golf Committee meeting. I had a little tiny lapse when Jamie had a friend over to visit. I got excited and I’ll have to work on greeting etiquette.
All in all, April was a good month — a little routine here, a little change there. I can handle it!
March started off with an outing to Jennifer’s house with Java. We got to run and play, and then we settled down to work. The whole next week was work, work, work, but I did a good job. Then we went on an outing to Fort Meade where we visited a motor home that had all sorts of noises and smells from the generator and engine, but those things don’t faze me at all. The best part of the visit was at the Base Exchange where I got to say hello to a lot of new people. Weird ending to the outing, though — we went through a special shower where you sit inside the car, nice and dry, while water and soap make a lot of noise pouring down on the car and all sorts of whooshing things swoosh around the outside. All very strange, but nothing scared me.
Another good outing was to the Brookeville Animal Hospital where I met a pony, llamas, and sheep. A couple of days later Becca came to visit and check out everything I have learned, and to work with me on staying quiet when I hear the garage door.
Our next visit to Hero Dogs was to work on “paw,” “stay,” “heel,” and “side.” I’m happy to report that I’m really developing a knack for these commands. On the way home, we stopped at the post office and Home Depot. I’m getting to be a very savvy shopper.
I could really become a fan of golf. Jamie, Brent, and some friends took me to the country club and we played nine holes. Lots of grass to walk on, lots of people to watch, and other dogs (who were busy barking while I was very proud of myself for not joining in). Only problem is those little white balls; they have nothing to chew on and they’re not for dogs to play with.
After a few days of training and exercise, we hung out at the country club bar one night for drinks and dinner, and I was a perfect guest. The month ended with another visit to Jennifer’s house with my buddy Java.
Even though February was a short month, there were several milestones on my journey to becoming a Hero Dog. Early in the month, Jamie, Brent and I rode the Metro again and went to the big city. This time we went to the D.C. Auto Show at the convention center where there were thousands of people. Brent tried to see all the cars but came up short because so many people wanted to meet me and learn about Hero Dogs. I think he was OK with not seeing everything at the show because on the train ride home he did tell me he was proud of me for how well I behaved.
About midway through the month, Brent and Jamie took a vacation. I don’t know what that means but I got to stay with Jennifer and her family and her dogs. I had a great time running and playing and training. And, on top of that, I had my birthday while I was there! I am now a 54 lb one-year-old!
I think the most important news of February is that I am really starting to make progress on my service dog training. I can now pull a wash basket all the way across the floor. I help load and unload the washer and dryer. I can retrieve anything that gets dropped on the floor. And, trust me, Jamie drops a lot including keys, credit cards, and cell phones. I think she does it on purpose. And I’ll gladly retrieve shoes, socks or gloves (one at a time) in exchange for some kibble. Actually, I’ll bring almost anything I can carry for some kibble. Sometimes I surprise Jamie and Brent with what I have in trade.
I can also now touch whatever Jamie points at. And I really like the game “find it.” In that game, Jamie puts some kibble in a special ball and then makes me “wait” while she hides it. Then she tells me to “find it.” I’m pretty good using my nose and I know all her secret hiding places now. It’s a lot of fun.
I’m also getting good at saying “hello” by putting my chin in someone’s hand and at “lap” by waiting patiently with my chin on someone’s leg or lap. Jamie tells me these are all skills that are important for Hero Dogs to master. Brent tells me that while I may not be the biggest Hero Dog, there’s no doubt I have the biggest heart.
Brent was right. Snow is a lot of fun! Java and I ran and played and caught snowflakes. I heard Jamie say she wishes it was warmer. I definitely don’t agree. This is perfect weather for a fellow with a handsome black fur coat.
This month started off with a visit to Brookeville Animal Hospital to have a surgery that little boy dogs have. Although I wasn’t looking forward to it, I like Dr. Marcie and the other people at Brookeville, and I got to spend the night with them. Actually, the worst part of the surgery was not being able to run, play and take long walks for 10 whole days after the surgery. Anyone that knows me knows that did not make me happy. But now I am back to my old self and I weigh 52 lbs.
The highlight of my month was starting to train with the Hero Dogs. I guess I’m officially a big boy now. I think Brent, Jamie and I have been training well since I was a baby but now that I see what is expected of a Hero Dog, I think we’ll have to study even more. My favorite part of our training is when we get to play in the Hero Dog yard.
In addition to the stores and restaurants that I go to regularly with Jamie and Brent, I had a real adventure this month. I got my first ride on the Metro train and went to the city. The people on the train all smiled at me and many asked questions. In the city, there was a lot of activity going on for the inauguration the next day. But my favorite part was visiting the Smithsonian Museum’s Renwick Gallery. I was on my best behavior and the security guards were very impressed. I was pretty tired on the Metro ride back home.
Don’t tell Jamie but I hope we get a lot more snow.
December was an eventful month for me. I continued my training and completed Puppy II class with Miss Tammy. Again I think I was probably the class valedictorian but that was mostly because this was my second time at Puppy II and I already knew the answers to the test questions.
We visited Brent and Jamie’s favorite locations several times this month. I think they are starting to recognize me at the Fort Meade Commissary and the Burger King. We also went to the base I.D. office where I was well-behaved. One thing though: If they don’t want me to bark in the clubhouse at Argyle Country Club, then why would they put a scary 2-foot tall snowman as part of the holiday decorations? Couldn’t anyone else see the potential danger in that?
The highlight of this month was a visit to Dover, Delaware, where I got to spend my first nights in a hotel. It was pretty neat. Even better was that we went to a park and the beach. At the park I stood in the water and I saw ducks and geese. For some reason, they didn’t want to play with me. The next day, we went to the beach. Brent said it was low tide. I don’t know what that means, but the sights and smells were almost overwhelming. Java and I ran and played and got muddy and sandy. It was heavenly.
I got to see my first Christmas this month also. I like Christmas. Jamie put extra pumpkin in my dinner and then I got my first Christmas present – a stuffed green dinosaur that has a zillion squeakers in it. It is my new favorite toy.
December ended with my first snowfall. I’m not sure I understand how snow works yet. Brent and Jamie laughed because they said I looked like a confused sugar donut. Winter is definitely a better time for a fellow with such a handsome fur coat. Brent said that one of these days the ground will be completely covered in snow. I’m still looking forward to that.
Happy New Year!
November started with a terrific party. I was proud to represent Hero Dogs at the Combined Federal Campaign event at National Credit Union Association (NCUA) in Alexandria where I met so many people I couldn’t count them—75? 100? Wow! Just keep those new friends and supporters coming!
The next couple of days I worked on my skills and got to visit Jennifer and play with her dogs.
Social life got busy as I went to a country club and met over a dozen new people. My report card for that event reads “reasonably well behaved.” Then, off to Puppy II class. I expressed myself with a little barking, but Jamie seemed to think I should not speak in class without being called on. Well, I did enjoy playing with my fellow students after class.
Next visit was to the Post Office, then the following day, off to Brookeville Animal Hospital. I’m happy to report that I weighed 46.7 pounds and I need a bigger vest! Off to pick up my new outfit at Hero Dogs, play with some buddies, and visit my friend Jennifer.
If I were not a Hero Dog in training, I could be tempted to become a mall rat. Jamie and I had a great time at the new mall in Olney. Jamie got her hair cut, and we visited the Unleashed Pet Store, made two stops at Panera Bread, and did lots of shopping. I went up and down stairs a lot, and practiced “paws up” and “paws down.” I give the mall two paws up.
Another great outing at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission CFC event—100 new people in two hours. Becca and I made such a great team that our new friends promised to support Hero Dogs. The next night, we had a party at my house, with a campfire, and (shh—don’t tell them I found out) my humans were proud of me because I was well-behaved and showed no fear.
The last big excursion of the month was to the VA Hospital in DC where it was Brent’s turn to see the doctors. I waited in the lobby and saw all sorts of people with all sorts of equipment that was really interesting—canes, walkers, prostheses, and wheelchairs. That was all fine with me, but I got startled by another service dog who sorta snuck up on me, and I let out a big bark. Well, even grown-ups get startled sometimes, right? After all, I had been really good and patient for two and a half hours.
Happy Holidays to all my friends at Hero Dogs.
I had a relatively quiet month in October. I worked hard on my training. In addition to sit, down, and settle, I’m now getting pretty good at heel, side, and place. And I’m perfecting wait and stay.
We visited several of Brent and Jamie’s favorite stores like Golf Galaxy, Unleashed Pet Store, and Home Depot in October. I also finished Puppy II class and won a blue ribbon and a prize. I got to pick a toy out of Tammy’s bucket. I chose an orange teddy bear and he is now one of my favorite toys.
We did do one new, interesting thing this month. We went to the annual craft show at the Dulles Exposition Center. There were people everywhere and most weren’t watching where they were going. Apparently there must be a shortage of hand-carved candles, wood carvings and kettle corn. So I really had to pay close attention to what I was doing to make sure I didn’t get stepped on or trip someone. I met a whole lot of people there and they said I looked handsome in my vest. Brent took me to Hooters Restaurant after that. He said it was a reward for my good behavior. Jamie whispered something to me about “being dubious.”
Also, I’m starting to enjoy the cooler weather. My handsome black fur coat is definitely a better fashion choice this time of year. Brent said something about snow and I’m looking forward to that.
September was a relatively quiet month for me. I continued to perfect my parkour skills. Since I now weigh 40 lbs, it’s even more fun. The sofa and chairs are on a hardwood floor, so when I run and jump, I can move the couch. My record so far is moving the couch 2 full feet before Jamie could catch me. The funny thing is Jamie keeps trying new arrangements of the furniture to keep me from doing this. What she doesn’t realize is that this just helps my parkour training even more.
While I try to be a really good boy, I really can’t resist the temptation of the great smells in the kitchen when someone is cooking. My legs aren’t very long yet but if I stretch everything, including my tongue, I can reach almost a foot onto the counter. It’s basically a new game. Brent and Jamie try to remember to keep everything out of my reach and I try to see what I can get. The butter dish is one of my favorite targets. When I do this, Jamie calls me a “counter terrorist.”
During this month, we visited some new places. I had two favorites. We went to the National Arboretum for a long walk. Jamie said that we reached a milestone in that we found the first thing that I am afraid of. I prefer to say that I just have a normal, healthy concern about koi fish. When I dipped my nose in their water, those things tried to suck on it. That’s just wrong.
I also got to cool off in the fountain at the old National Capitol columns in the park. That felt very nice because it was such a warm day.
Later in the month, I met Hero Dog Dolley and volunteers from National Capitol Contracting for a fundraising event at the Bark pet store in Rockville. We met lots of people there, and one little girl kept waving her ice cream cone in front of me. I never got any of that ice cream. When I got home, Java smelled Dolley on my collar and I was really in the dog house.
In addition to getting Jamie to rearrange the furniture, I also got Brent and Jamie to fence in an area of the yard for me to run and play fetch in. Soon, I will have this house exactly the way I want it.
Sometimes when Brent and Jamie aren’t paying close attention to me, I get on the computer and search the internet. It’s really not very easy with these paws and a touchpad. Today, I got on a site called Wikipedia and researched my namesake. To be quite honest, I’m not particularly impressed.
I learned that Ulysses S. Grant was very successful in the Mexican-American War. But could he retrieve two tennis balls when he was 6 months old? Nope.
I learned he was successful in the Civil War at battles in Vicksburg and Chattanooga. But was he house-trained by 6 months? Again – nope.
Apparently, he was quite successful at the Overland Campaign and Appomattox as well. But could he “Sit,” “Stay,” and then go to his “Place” at 6 months? Uh uh.
And sure, he was the 18th President and oversaw Reconstruction. But could he walk 3 miles without barking and stopping to smell everything when he was 6 months old?
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think my namesake may have been a slow learner. And here’s a trivia question… Do you even know what his middle name was?
I continued my training to be a Hero Dog this month. I trained at the Hero Dogs facility and at Harris Teeter with the other Hero Dogs. We started new skills like “Place” and “Heel” which I am learning quickly. We also started training on “Leave it.” That one is hard. At one training session, Jennifer thought I was barking too much so she put a special collar on me that sprayed a stinky smell when I barked. Everyone thought that was hilarious – except me.
Early in the month, we spent the day at the annual Hero Dogs Golf Tournament. Before the tournament, Brent took me to meet people where they practice. At the country club, when people hit a bad shot, they said words I didn’t understand.
In addition to Hero Dog training, we went to all of Brent and Jamie’s favorite stores, including the Fort Meade Commissary, PetCo, PetSmart, Golf Galaxy, Home Depot, Lowes, and the Pennsylvania Dutch Market.
We made a trip to a new restaurant in August. Brent referred to this outing as “pure genius” and said we may make it a regular event. Apparently, all of the waitresses at Hooters Restaurant like cute, well-behaved puppies. After lunch, Brent took me to his office. That wasn’t nearly as interesting for me (or Brent, apparently).
Well, I guess that’s about it for this month. I think I hear Brent and Jamie coming, so I have to get off the computer.
Oh, his middle name? His middle name was Ulysses. Apparently, my namesake’s real name was Hiram Ulysses Grant. When he was appointed to West Point, his congressman mistakenly called him Ulysses S. Grant and that stuck with him. Imagine not even using your real name. I guess it kind of figures for someone who couldn’t even carry two tennis balls in his mouth when he was six months old.
Well I came into this month feeling quite proud of myself because I kept hearing Brent and Jamie refer to me as “Grant the Wonder Dog”. Then, I overheard Brent on the phone say they call me “The Wonder Dog” because they often wonder just what I’m thinking when I’m getting into trouble over and over again. I don’t think I like “Grant the Wonder Dog” so much anymore.
But there’s something Brent and Jamie don’t know. In addition to training to be a Hero Dog, I’m secretly training for something else…
Parkour (noun): the sport of moving along a route trying to get around or through various obstacles in the quickest manner possible, as by jumping, climbing, or running.
Note that this definition is not limited to humans only. And that is why Brent and Jamie wonder how I do things like defy gravity as I run around them on the face of a couch or on the wall. Won’t they be surprised when I figure out how to run across the ceiling?
I started this month with Hero Dog Abe at the Pawtriotic Celebration at Pet Dominion in Rockville. We had fun but boy was it warm. Then, Brent, Jamie, Java and I got in the car and drove for about two hours to stay with friends in Virginia for a weekend. Bob and Laura had a big greyhound, Janie. I don’t think Janie liked me, but Java and I played and had fun anyway. When it was time to leave, Java stayed in Virginia. I thought that was strange, but Jamie told me Java would be fine while Brent and Jamie went on a vacation. That’s when they told me I’d be spending time with Jennifer and the puppy sitters. I know I like Jennifer and learned that I like the puppy sitters too.
I’m quite sure Brent and Jamie would have had a better vacation if I was with them. I’m sure cruise ships like cute puppies too. But I had a blast with my puppy sitters. With Maureen and her family, I got to practice all my skills and went to a lot of new places. I went to Macy’s, Costco, Weis Market, a realty office, a bank, and a library. I also got to play with a cat and many dogs. Then, I went to stay with Natalie and her family. There, I got to go on lots of walks (Natalie called it “exploring”) and smell all kinds of new smells. The best part of staying at Natalie’s was playing with her two dogs, Mack and Daisy and three cats, Ellie, Lila and Speckle (my favorite).
Brent and Jamie appeared to be quite happy when they returned from their vacation which surprised me because I just can’t imagine how they could be happy without me. They were probably just putting on a happy face. But, I did miss them and Java and we have now settled back into our routines including training with the Hero Dogs at the Safeway where we concentrated on automatic doors, shopping carts, and stairs.
Well that’s about it for this month. My paws are getting tired from all of this typing so I think I will go relax and then practice my parkour again. I hope to have mastered running on the ceiling by next month.