Wednesday, March 10, 2010

New Look

Time for a haircut!  I loved Alfie's luxurious, fleecy fur but it was starting to get impractical for a working dog.

rear view of Alfie in his training jacket, sitting; the long fur mostly covers the words GUIDE DOG so that all you make out are the words IN TRAINING
What's that say, do you think...'Teddy Bear in Training'?

At about 4" long, the fur hung down over his shoulders, obscuring the words "Guide Dog" on his jacket.  Sometimes I don't know if people read that anyway...they certainly don't act like they do...but the cuddly stuffed-animal  look probably wasn't helping anyone to take him seriously!  Then there's walking him in the rain...Alfie doesn't mind it a bit, but that long fur does certainly get wet and takes a while to dry!

Alfie's wet paw in Charissa's hand; the long strands of fur are dripping wet
...especially the paws...

We were scheduled for a training walk with our supervisor Michelle on Monday, so I asked her if she'd mind bringing me a set of clippers to borrow.  The actual clipping (later that night) was a family affair.  We got out a card table and put Alfie on it, with Charissa and Tim helping to situate him so I could reach him (and preventing his accidentally falling off!), while Katharine scooped up the swatches of fur as they came off (otherwise he'd just step in them and make an even bigger mess).  So, what do you think, does he look different?

side view of Alfie; his wavy chocolate coat is clipped to about an inch all over, with fur a bit longer on the tail and face
Ta-da...look what was under all that fur!

I have to admit that at first, his new look just cracked me up.  I was so used to his fluffy, rotund appearance that the new streamlined effect caught me off guard.  I'm no longer worried about him being too fat!

with the shorter cut, you can see Alfie's slim, long-legged build
Me...fat?!  I'm a lean mean guiding machine!

Our walk with Michelle Monday went pretty well.  We visited a grocery store...

Alfie & me walking past displays of produce
Mom loves the produce section...boring!

Alfie sitting, watching me intently as I hold up a dog toy in the pet section
Dog toys?  Now you're talking!

...and then a coffee shop where Alfie actually laid down like a mellow little boy while we talked.  I was pleasantly surprised!

Alfie laying at my feet looking up as I give him a little treat for being good
I know it's important to try and impress the boss, that's all.

The real fun began when Michelle brought out another guide dog in training, Jethro.  I call him the Jolly Grey Giant.  He's huge, even for a German Shepherd...the pictures don't even really do him justice!  Apparently his work is terrific but he needs a little help with dog distraction.  Alfie and I were more than happy to help until...surprise...coming toward us he lunged forward and the strain snapped his leash in two!

Jethro on his hind feet, straining toward us on the wet pavement as Michelle holds him back; this is right before the leash gave way
Ready or not, here he comes!

After that little unscripted moment, we let the dogs greet, Michelle tied the leash back together, and everything was great.  You see, Jethro's not mean at all, just a little...shall we say...enthusiastic!  That, and he's pretty much just a force of nature.  We took the dogs inside Whole Earth Outfitters and they both worked nicely. 

Jethro's large black German Shepherd face nuzzling Alfie's small curly brown doodle face...cute!
Best buds.

We even switched dogs for a while, and I got to take Jethro for a test drive.  For all that size, he does handle really well!  He's very responsive...he'll be a great guide dog I'm sure.  The strangest thing for me, actually, was people's reactions.  When I worked Alfie, wherever I went there was a wave of "Awww...isn't he cute...ohhh..." in that high voice that people use around puppies.  When I walked out with Jethro, a hush fell over the bystanders and it was more like the parting of the Red Sea!  Funny how people react to appearances, isn't it?

Jethro gives me a serious, questioning look; to give an idea of size, his head is above my waist
Jethro, do you think you could teach Alfie your intimidating look?

 Alfie lying down in the grass at home with a bone...his scruffy little face could never look too serious!
On second thought...looking at this face...I'm just not sure Alfie could pull it off!

The great thing is that with the variety of dogs used at GDTx, and the attention given to matching the right client with the right dog, I'm sure that both Alfie and Jethro will end up being just the perfect dog for their respective partners.  Wonder who that's going to be?


Erin and GuidePupPompei said...

He looks very Handsome with his new hair cut! I am so glad you don't shave it completely like the did with the doodles at WSD!!!

Katrin said...

Amazing what's under all that hair! I find it interesting that on the doodles they don't clip the face clean. To me I would prefer that type of look, more of a poodle clipped face. Nice clean shaven lines on the muzzle, longer coat on the top of the head and ears. If I ever had a dog with that type of coat that's the head cut they'd get. Less dripping at the water dish too! LOL

Sierra Rose said...

What a great pair! Love the Best Buds photo.
And, the new doo looks pretty nice, ready for spring!!

Hugs and snaggle-tooth kisses,
Sierra Rose

Alphini's Puppy Raiser said...

Thanks for the comments! I should clarify, we don't actually have a doodle clipping policy...and at the moment, Alfie's the only guidedood in the program. So it was up to me! I stopped short of the total poodle look because it just seemed sort of extreme. I actually kinda like his doodle whiskers (though they're much shorter now!) When he goes in for advanced training they'll probably "poodle" him with the shaved face and all...less dripping, as you so rightly point out, Katrin! :-)

I should've mentioned, his freshly-clipped coat is the softest velvet. Fun!

Megan, Fullerton and Paris said...

He looks great, such a cutie! Sounds like he is one awesome puppy.

Toby- The dog with a blog said...

Alfie, you look VERY cute still, your new haircut is very pawesome:)

Souns like you did well on the walk, good boy!!

Lauren and Don said...

What a handsome fella! I'm glad you didn't trim his face too much- I've always liked doodles with nice, full faces.

I love Jethro's coloring, and also his long snout and big nose. I find him quite adorable! It sounds like Alfie did really well on his outing. Good work, Alfie!!

Becky said...

The whole matching process as you indicated in the end is amazing to me! Both my guides have been just what I needed and so right for me. What a cute boy he is.

Lisa, Ellie and Hosta said...

Oh wow - he does look so different! He looks taller and leaner! Oh, and Jethro is so handsome too. I think it's funny how people respond too. Even with differences in age. Like, as a puppy, people are all Oh cute! And then, even as PIT's when they are adult looking, people think you are really blind and parting of the sea occurs. How funny. He looks like he does so well...