So WHY do I have no pictures of it to share with you?!...well, my daughter and blographer (is that a word?--anyway, she does the photography for this blog!), Charissa, was asked to be the official GDTx photographer for the event. She even got to use our supervisor Michelle's cool camera! So...my poor little camera just sat in her pocket all day getting lonely. Yeah, I know what you're thinking, I could've taken pictures, so I've only myself to blame! But I was a touch busy hanging onto Mr. Alf, plus it was outrageously cold and my fingers were numb. Those are my excuses and I'm sticking to them!
Anyway, I DO have a couple of things to share! Look at this fun "press pass" Michelle made up for Charissa to wear...how cool is that?
Ernie Landy, Volunteer Coordinator, shared that GDTx is truly a volunteer-based organization, with volunteers contributing (if I remember correctly) about 82% of the hours of work. Pretty amazing! Also, they figured that for every guide dog team graduated, approximately 26,000 volunteer hours have gone into the process. They recognized all sorts of volunteers, from puppyraisers, to those who help with the boarding of dogs in advanced training, to those who provide client meals, or help with fundraisers...plus the folks at the Travis County and Dominguez jails who raise pups through our PAWSitive Approach program...and on and on! I always think it's great to see so many people come together behind such a worthy and needed cause.
Of course it's always fun to get a trophy too! GDTx gives out a nice personalized trophy to puppyraisers...if your puppy was a lab you get one with a lab on top like this...
...if your puppy was a shepherd there's a shepherd on top...but what to do for the doodles?! The doodle trophy, apparently, has yet to be invented. So we get one with a nice little photo of our puppy on top! Awesome!
...the inscription reads: The Lord Family/"Alfie"/2009-2010
OK, sorry you can't make out Alfie's face in the photo above...it's his dark chocolate color, doesn't always show up well in pictures...trust me, it's really there! But to give you an idea of what it's like, here's the one we got for Dakota (yep, another doodle) last year.
The weather, although not rainy, didn't quite cooperate. A front came through the night before and it turned suddenly COLD and gusty. Since we were outside under a canopy, we were really feeling it! Still, it was fun to see everyone. Natalie and Bob were there, with Darrell and Egypt of course. It was my first chance to meet Egypt in person, and I just loved her. She worked really well amid all the hubbub...there were lots of working dogs (i.e. well-behaved) and quite a few pups-in-training (i.e. trying-real-hard-but-not-necessarily-behaving!)
I was most excited of course, to see Dakota and Ben, along with their family! We raised Dakota for GDTx last year, and when it was decided that he'd be career changed from guide dog to diabetic alert dog, we even got to participate in his diabetic alert training. It was an incredible experience and of course we think he's an amazing dog!
Well, I was doing pretty well at resisting my urge to turn around and break up the whole program by saying hello to Dakota, who had arrived with his family and was seated behind us...when out of the blue I heard my name being called to come forward! Michelle was up there with head trainer Sandy, who was reading an awfully nice speech which was apparently all about us and our training of Dakota! I was so shocked it was hard to take it in...and then they called Ben and Dakota forward too and we got to have a little mini-reunion right there! I'm not one given to public displays of emotion, but let me tell you, that was a kleenex moment!! I'm so proud of those two. What great memories we have of "Duckie" and how happy we are that he's helping take care of Ben now.
...and here's the fun part: we were awarded the first ever GDTx "Cotton Ball Trophy," haha! The backstory here is that when we scent trained Dakota, we used cotton balls...Ben would test, then chew on a cotton ball to get his saliva/scent on it...then put it in a ziploc bag and label the bag with his blood sugar reading. These little treasures would get brought to us and we'd refrigerate them carefully (in separate, sealed containers for "highs," "lows," and "normals"). I'd open a baggie and hide the scent sample in a pocket when Dakota wasn't looking and he would have to alert me to the highs and lows, ignoring the normals. So it was quite a production! Now you know why this unusual-looking award means so much to me!
...the inscription reads: The Lord Family/You're "Scent" From Heaven/2009
All in all, everyone had a great time. Alfie did reasonably well for his age, I thought. He got quite a few curious looks, and several compliments too. He was especially popular with the kids who were there...the feeling was definitely mutual, as he finds children almost irresistible. Two different people said he had a "Hershey's Kiss nose"...a pretty apt description I think!
...then why is it no one gave me so much as a single Hershey's Kiss?!