Notre Fidele Ami

Saturday, December 3, 2011


The last month has been very busy, we were on vacation for a couple weeks and that was a good thing!  Patriot finally got to meet family and friends that had been following him on the blog, he enjoyed all the attention and was an ordinary dog for two precious weeks.

Back to home and reality, Patriot went to the Vet for his final booster shot and on November 19th completed his final obedience test.  He is now ready for his December 10th "IFT" (In For Training) date.  I'm certainly not! He has put a paw print on my heart that is enormous,  he will truly be missed when he leaves us. 

 I have always kept my focus on the end results, there is no doubt in my mind that he will be a loyal and faithful companion to his "Forever Person!"

I would like to share some of my favorite photos of this magnificent dog!
In memory of "Kelsey" another loyal and faithful companion, that left her loved ones yesterday, only to meet later at the "Rainbow Bridge"

Kelsey DeFord

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Patriot is one year old today, he weighed in at 81 pounds and measured 24 inches at the shoulder.
Patriot received a birthday card from the School along with his letter from Southeastern Guide Dog School to report on December 10, 2011 to Guide Dog U as part of the freshman class.  He will begin his formal harness training at that time.

Patriot has become a big part of our family! Our focus has always been  on the end results and we know he is going to be a wonderful dog for his forever person.  It is a bittersweet time for us!

Back seat driver

Where has October gone? We've been busy with outings, obedience classes, and just out experiencing new things.  Here are some of our photos taken this month.

obedience class

Practice, Practice, Practice

Good experience! He did well!

Dinner with the Golf League

Thursday is Golf day

I was asked by some in our golf group to teach Patriot to retrieve golf balls that had gone out of bounds.  I passed on that idea :)

For the next 42 days,we are going to relish every moment we spend with our sweet boy.  He is so sweet, he even wags his tail while he special is that! 
"Good dog....pat pat"

Friday, September 30, 2011


Patriots obedience class was held at Smyrna Dunes Park, It was his first visit to the ocean.  He walked into the water with little coaxing, when the water reached his belly, he stopped and stood motionless.
Patriot, Quincy and Shirley
After several minutes of watching the other dogs, Patriot took off jumping, running and having a good old time!
Patriot making waves!

He went out far enough that he was swimming, or should I say dog paddling.  I think a good time was had by all the dogs!  Had I known what I know now I would have worn a bathing suit :)

Of course there was rolling in the sand, chasing the waves and more rolling in the sand.  What a day!

            Yaz & Ron, Rusty & Suzanne,
                      Patriot and Bonnie

There's nothing like a two hour car ride with a wet dog.  Patriot, smelling a little fishy, received a bath as soon as we arrived home. 

Two days after his ocean exposure, I took Patriot to a nearby lake to see what his reaction would be.  He was in harness, and thank goodness,  did not make a break for the water. He was content to watch the model boat races and the nearby birds.

          We worked on bird distractions. He did well!

The birds were not too pleased
with him, but I was!

"GOOD DOG" .....pat pat

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Patriot is now in harness, I don't know if it's a coincidence but, he seems to be doing much better on the leash.  It never fails whenever I pay him a public compliment, his Dr. Jekyll soon makes an appearance, hopefully it won't be at our golf league's dinner :) all kidding aside, he's doing pretty good!

Patriot in harness

 The"find it" commands are some of the latest commands we're working on. 

"Find the door"

"Find the chair"

Recently I've noticed that Patriot is performing the command under/down without being told, I'm not sure that this is a good thing.  Need to ask my "AC" (area coordinator.)
"Patriot doing an under/down"
 The under/down is the command given to the dog to go under the table, lie down and stay while you're eating.  Patriot can be in another room and if I even sit at the kitchen counter he will come and automatically perform an under/down. Hmmmmm, I wish I could get him to be that conscientious about leash management.....but, we're a work in progress!  "Good dog.....pat pat"

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Patriot's favorite B-day toy

Patriot is now 10 months old and soon will be trading in his familiar blue puppy coat for a harness.  The boy is growing up!  In fact he had his first experience with cigarettes, no not smoking :)  Part of his training is exposure to cigarette smoke, so on his 10 month birthday we payed a visit to "The But Hut."

"The But Hut" is the only area at the VA Center where smoking is permitted, it is an out building away from the main VA Center.  With permission from VA officials, Patriot was granted entry to the "Hut." With a name like Patriot, he was an instant hit with the Veterans, a real ice breaker.

Smoke Exposure
 There were lots of questions: How long is his training? Will he be placed with a Veteran? How much does it cost to get a dog? before I knew it, I was explaining the mission of Southeastern Guide Dogs. 

Watching the interaction between the Vets and Patriot, I found the whole experience extremely moving.

Patriot the Sentinel

Remember Patriots Day, September 11th

By the way, Patriot passed the smoke exposure test.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Our Orlando Puppy Raiser Group toured the Sanford International Airport on Saturday, August 20, 2011.  Patriot and twelve of his fellow guide dogs in training were treated to a wonderful opportunity to experience some new exposures.

The dogs had several opportunities to practice their routine of getting on and off a bus.

Upon arrival at the airport, the dogs were weighed on the luggage scale at the check in counter.  Patriot is now pushing 80 lbs!

 We then went down to Security screening area.  I had Patriot "sit and stay" while I walked through the screening machine. Since I did not set off the alarm on the machine I was cleared, at which point I called Patriot to "come." Patriot's metal collar set off the alarm and he was told to "stand and stay" A TSA screener proceeded to pat him down while Patriot's tail was wagging a mile a minute... "That's my boy" He passed the pat down and we were able to collect our belongings from the bins, put our shoes back on and proceed through the airport.

The dogs ranged in age from 11 weeks to 11 months old.  They were greeted with many smiles and ahhhhs throughout the airport.

We were taken out to the hangar area where the dogs were exposed to the noise of smaller planes coming and going.  A helicopter did a demonstration for us and had the dogs full attention! They did well.

Back inside the airport, airport personnel turned on the baggage claim conveyor.  Patriot was fascinated...had I let him, he would have jumped on and gone for a ride..."No Fear"  

At the end of our tour TSA had us take a group picture that will be featured in an upcoming TSA magazine!
Good Dogs....pat pat

Sunday, August 14, 2011


I think one of the most important things that I've learned while teaching Patriot his commands is "CONSISTENCY"  He knows his commands and performs them beautifully while at home, but when we're out and about it takes him longer to respond.  I think he is interested in what is going on around him and is not focused, hopefully this improves with maturity.

I've started letting Patriot sleep out of his crate several nights a week, he "really" likes this.  He's picked a spot beside the bed that he calls his own.  In the morning (5:30am) Patriot makes "no noise" but I can feel him staring at me.  If I don't open my eyes and pretend that I'm still sleeping, he puts his head on the bed and starts breathing in my direction.  This is what I wake up to on these mornings......

Patriot's Snozzola!!

He makes me smile :) and that makes the beginning of a GOOD day!

Patriot at the Farmers Market

He wants to smell or touch everything with his nose.  I've been working with him to keep his head up while we're out on our walks and exposures, it's proving to be a little difficult!

Patriot in the Dr's waiting room

My office help guarding the shredder

"Now where's that paper going"