Hawk's Schedule

8/4 Lake Mills
8/12 CCSDA Training

May 31, 2010

OccuPaws WON!!

OccuPaws received a large number of the total votes for all charities represented at Bratfest this year, so we won a cool $1,000 over and above the money earned by all the great volunteers who worked for OccuPaws at Bratfest. Here is Wilbur's letter to the Pepsi-Fresh committee that got us into the final ten and probably into the winner's circle.

Candy loves a parade

Went to my very first parade today.
I just didn't understand why we had to keep standing up when ever a flag went by.

There were lots of bands going by. The loud music didn't bother me at all.

I also liked looking at the horse's when they went by.


May 30, 2010

One Week with Monte

Our first weekend as a pack started with puppy playtime at The Dog Den. It was Monte's first time there and he was bit apprehensive meeting all the new dogs. His fear only lasted a few minutes, then he spent the rest of the hour jumping in the pool, chasing, being chased, and wrestling with twenty-five of his best friends. At eleven weeks this is the best training.

The second playgroup was for puppies under a year, so Banjo was working and we made him watch the younger dogs run around. One dog in particular took a liking to Banjo, a little black and gray dog that challenged/tormented him. He did really well remaining calm with all the high energy activity and greetings.

The rest of the weekend was spent traveling and visiting new environments. Monte endured 2 two hour car rides, stayed in a different house, met my grandmothers, and visited the Blue Moon farm. At the farm, Monte's prey drive was in high gear. He lunged at the chickens and wanted to chase the pigs. He kept a watchful eye on both species as we walked around the farm; he remembered where each was located. Both dogs were on their best behavior and received plenty of attention from the other CSA members.

Monte's Week One Summary: he knows his name and will COME when called, ascending/descending stairs, climbs into the car, lured into a DOWN, hand touch and gets dressed, go to BED, handles nighttime walks well, through repetition he has learned the meaning of "NO", he cries during nail trims
Lisa/Jeff: getting Monte out to potty at prescribed times (usually - we are almost trained), struggling to allocate enough time for Banjo

We may see if our trainer wants to start training Monte and we will keep Banjo for another year.

May 28, 2010

Late Dinner

Another OccuPaws training class on Thursday. After three years we are still learning something new every class. Last night I learned how to hold a vest, clicker, and kibble in one hand while forming a loop. Then I lured Banjo's head through it to touch my other hand. And remember to click the instant he touches my hand, grab a treat, lure him into "Get Dressed" position, and reward him while protecting my fingers from his alligator teeth. It was even more difficult than it sounds.

Since getting Monte on our way home from DC our schedule has been canine focused. We haven't found time to get groceries, so we had to eat out again after class. This meant a late dinner for the little dog and his mentor. He is not the least bit appreciative of all the time we have spent with him.

He was well-behaved and sleeping, until someone stepped on his ear (shoe on left). We weren't sure what to expect for his first time in a restaurant with us. But we didn't really have anything to worry about, since he prefers to potty on the rugs in our house over any other surface.

I have a greater appreciation for our deal with Marlene to keep our puppies until they were twelve weeks old. Those extra two weeks make a big difference. I can't imagine starting out with an eight week old ...

May 27, 2010

New Name?

Last evening we stopped at the playground to work Monte on the equipment. Initially he wasn't sure. After some coaxing, he ascended the hole-y steps and crossed the wobbly bridge. Fearful of the slide, we guided him down slowly. That was the first time. The second time he bounded up the steps and threw himself down the slide before we could get top the bottom. He loves it.

Have you ever felt that your dog should have a different more appropriate name? For example we had a black lab that followed us everywhere. He should have been called Shadow.

We spent a lot of time debating possible names for our new puppy. That was before we knew anything about him. Marlene and Juan had been calling him Monte or Mantequilla (butter), which seemed to fit him. However, after three days we are rethinking this decision.

Possible names based on our experience are Hunter, for his affinity for hunting bugs on our nightly walks in the dark or Barker, for obvious reasons. I think we will stick with Monte. Hopefully these other choices will become less prominent characteristics and Mellow will be a more appropriate name.

May 25, 2010

Two Down - 363 To Go

After forty-eight hours Monte has made himself at home. He and Banjo are getting along well after a few corrections (human and canine administered).

We survived Monte's first night. Lisa and I were waking up every three hours, so we would take him outside. Not that he needed to go out, because he and we slept for seven hours on night two without any mishaps. We were just overly cautious and worried.

On day two, Monte, Banjo and Riley had a private training session. They focused on some initial clicker training, then Riley and Monte got to play.

Our little golden boy has quickly surpassed our last puppy, in stair climbing ability, but not in sweetness. Neva had an initial phobia which she conquered after a couple months. It's only been two days and he has already ascended and descended our twelve stairs. Monte still has a mentor in the house.

May 24, 2010

Cramped Quarters

On the flight to DC we were given the front row which provided a little extra room for a sixty-five pound guide dog and were not asked for paperwork. However, on the return flight we were not offered the extra room, kept our assigned seats in row eleven, and were asked for proof of vaccinations. We had verified with the airline before booking that a health certificate was not required.

Banjo wasn't phased by the cramped quarters and he may have actually had more room, if you include the area under the seats in front of ours.

We were all tired from the long week and Banjo slept through most of the flight. The deployment of the landing gear didn't even wake him from his slumber.As we exited the plane one of the flight attendants commented that she didn't even know he was on board.
The day's trip was only half over as we landed in Milwaukee. Next stop was Beloit to pick up our next assignment. As we start our fourth cycle, Mantequilla (aka Monte) has officially joined our pack. On the way home, Monte shared the front seat with Lisa while Banjo stretched out in the back, his reward for a long hard week of work.

May 23, 2010


Our final day in Washington DC was spent getting Banjo in shape. We hiked from monument to memorial during one of the hottest days this summer. Our challenge was keeping Banjo cool and hydrated. As walked the mall we were reminded of the sacrifice made by others to protect our freedom. The two most poignant reminders are the Korean War Veterans Memorial and Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

The Korean War Veterans Memorial 's message is that "Freedom Is Not Free".

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial visually depicts the high cost of freedom. The black granite wall contains a seemingly endless list of soldiers that paid the ultimate price or are still MIA/POW.

May 20, 2010

Hailey bus ride

Beloit had a open house for the new bus transfer center. Took Hailey, she was more popular than the fox mascot.

They had free bus rides all day. Took Hailey for an hour ride.

Hailey did very well. Everyone was impressed how well she did for her first time.
Ernie and Jan

May 19, 2010

Run For Your Lives....

The Dog That Ate the Washington Monument...EEEK!! I was looking for photo ops Wed, but certainly could not have TRIED to set this one up! Too funny. Being without a camera yesterday made me snap happy today so Banjo and I headed down to the Mall to walk among the monuments...again, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Viet Nam wall with names that go on and on and on, they will take your breath away by their enormity. The American History museum houses the HUGE flag that inspired the National Anthem (the flag itself was actually called "the star spangled banner," that's your trivia tidbit for the day!). You can view the actual Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights in the National Archives...There is something to be amazed at around every corner in this city. However, I digress...

Lincoln's Favorite Pet--we thought Abe could use a friendly Lab sitting at his feet, plus he makes Banjo look so small!

The friendly ducks around the mall were a distraction for Banjo especially since most had a brood of fuzzy baby ducklings toddling and chirping behind mama Duck as well. So, we worked on being around the ducks but getting his focus back on me, which he seemed to get. We'll see if he remembers his lessons today. --Oh, and a side note to our entry about our visit to the White House, if you saw press coverage of the Mexican president's visit, the door where the Obamas are greeting President Calderon and his wife for the state dinner last evening, is the very spot where Banjo stood the day before as we exited the home of POTUS! And the state dinner was held in the gold room where we were also the day before right in that room, and if you watch CSPAN to see the guests arriving to the White House for the dinner, that is exactly the route Banjo took, down the same hallway of the east entrance, past all the photographs and paintings--what a kick to see that!
--Lisa & Banjo

Home of POTUS

Yep, we actually made it~Banjo and I in the home of the President Of The United States. Again, it does not really matter your political beliefs,walking into that residence knowing who has resided there since 1800 has to give you a bit of a shiver as you walk in. I know it did me. The tour itself was pretty abbreviated, kind of a self-guided meandering through a few select rooms and artifacts, but I tried to take it all in. Banjo, of course, was less than impressed, though he was happy to be out of the cold rain (me too) and out of the line that seemed to move 5 feet and stop over and over, which obviously made no sense to him.

The tour ends with walking out the front door, the same one you see whenever a picture of the White House is televised or published. I would love to show you a picture of Banjo sitting at that door, but no cameras are allowed (along with a very long list of other things). Banjo does now have a pin on his vest of The White House commemorating his trip.

Our guide dog in training and I managed to make our way to our destination, on our own, & back, not even asking anyone along the way for directions. Banjo has also learned the route from the lobby, to the elevator, and ending at our room, so there may be hope for both our guiding skills yet!

Banjo has continued to show great manners, and we get lots of compliments on his behavior, and every time we walk through an x-ray machine, make Banjo sit and wait and then call him forward to walk through by himself, it never gets old to hear the security people express how impressed they are--you would think he stood up and danced through on 2 legs! It makes us smile.

May 17, 2010

Capitol Idea

We started our day with a train trip to the senate office building and the office of Senator Kohl. We went mainly to thank his staff in person for being so helpful in making appearances at the Capitol and White House for Banjo possible. One particular staff member was especially helpful and kind in keeping up communication with us, and she agreed happily to sit for a Kodak moment with Banjo even though it had been raining and Banjo was still a little wet. We are making it a policy not to include people's names in the blog if we have not asked their permission specifically to do so. Our new friends in Sen Kohl's office also provided us with tickets to the gallery to watch senate and house in session.

We visited the Capitol on a tour where one little girl, maybe age 2, was squealing in delight to see the puppy before the tour started & though we have routinely been telling people they cannot pet the dog because he is working, we could not refuse this tiny little soul. Not sure who enjoyed the interaction more, her or Banjo. We told her daddy somebody needed a puppy because she was great with him!

We used the gallery passes to get into the House chamber, which was not in session at that time, and then over to the Senate chamber where a little more was happening. We saw Sen Harry Reid and Sen Chris Dodd and speaking was Sen Kyl from Arizona, I believe. I think it is an honor, regardless of your political beliefs, to view our nation's congress at work. Banjo, of course, was bored with the whole thing and slept at our feet, no snoring this time. He does look majestic with the Capitol rotunda in the background though doesn't he?

Because of the rain and because we all needed a short day, we went back to the hotel early for a change today. Banjo is becoming a real master at escalators and elevators. We are on to more big adventures tomorrow. Half the battle will be just maneuvering our way around the city as Jeff goes to work tomorrow and Lisa and Banjo are going exploring, unfortunately both of them are orienteering-challenged!

Pups on Parmenter

Woof ~

Hey pups! Are you ready for our big Dog Walk on Saturday? It's called Puppies on Parmenter, and it's a big fund raiser for all of us OccuPaws pups in training. There are 24 of us pups now, so we need lots of support from dog lovers to help us become great Guide Dogs when we grow up!

I'm busy helping my mommy organize all the great Raffle Prizes and Silent Auction items. Guess what I found! A big yellow box of "Dog-gone Best Mustards." Wonder if that's for us dogs....

And maybe my mommy won't notice if I sneak a hot dog outta here....

See you all on Saturday! Capital Brewery in Middleton, 11 am - 3 pm!


May 16, 2010


Since our head trainer mentioned that Banjo was "fat", we have started a fitness routine. It just happens to coincide with our trip. We only brought 30 cups of food that needs to be rationed over the eight days. Today we walked from 11am to 3pm; started at George Washington University and ended up on Theodore Roosevelt Island. Only day two and he already looks lean and mean.

After our hike, it was time for dinner, we descended into the caverns to catch the subway. The Thai Palace has a "NO Dogs Allowed" policy, so we fought to get a seat in the empty restaurant. It was an educational opportunity as Banjo was well behaved, sleeping through dinner.

We headed back to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Neither Banjo nor Lisa appreciated the trumpet and live electronics duet. But we all found the vibraphone and piano pieces enchanting. Once again Banjo fell asleep and this time he started snoring.

We arrived home late for a Sunday and had to take a taxi home; there really isn't much room in the backseat. We had to do a little cajoling to convince the cab driver to take a dog. Back at the hotel, Banjo scarfed down his three cup dinner ration. Breakfast has been changed to one cup to avoid potential accidents.


I graduated today, with Promise alongside me. We saw the Dalai Lama on our way to graduation; we were walking along University got to watch a brigade of seven motorcycles, five police and sheriff's cars, the Dalai Lama, and a van carrying his entourage. Once we got to graduation, we all had to wait outside for our class picture, while staring into the sun on Bascom hill. Then we turned around to see the schematic diagrams of where we were to march, and then off to the ceremony.

Promise slept for most of the ceremony. The seating was like an auditorium, but with a step between every level; Promise rolled off my level into the next row, which startled her, but recovered fine and after that, steered clear of the edge. And then we walked across the stage. No good pictures of that as the lighting was bad.

We spent Friday up at the Lion's Convention. Promise got to wear a harness for the day while lounging around. She'll be moving in with Doug and Caroline this coming weekend to start harness training, so it was a good opportunity to get used to the harness. She didn't mind it a bit. Unfortunately, she and Justice got the short end of the stick when it came to pets.

May 15, 2010

Plane, Trains, Escalators, ...

We are now in the nation's capital and Banjo is resting peacefully at my feet. We just completed an evening potty excursion in our new surroundings and he is ready to sleep after a long restless day.

First, we interrupted his slumber at 4am to potty, pack and leave by 4:30. His rest in the car was interrupted to board the plane. On the plane we worried about his ear pressure; we gave him some ice to chew. He wasn't phased and curled up for a nap to catch up on missed ZZZs only to be awakened by the landing gear deploying under him.

His afternoon consisted of a bus ride, two train rides, a few escalators, two van rides, and a cat nap during our lunch. After lunch, we took another train back into DC. Our train ride is about forty-five minutes, not sufficient for a good puppy nap.

Exploring the city, we walked over a lifetime supply of sidewalk grates - they are everywhere. After all the escalators, Banjo would stop and wonder why they weren't moving.

We walked past the White House on our way to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts where Lisa and I listened to the PUFF Quintet from The Julliard School. And Banjo Slept. We had to interrupt his sleep again when he started to bark during a dream. One final train ride/nap back to the hotel for a well earned dinner and an uninterrupted good night's sleep (8 hrs).

May 13, 2010

Bienvenidos Mantequilla

Banjo's days of leisure are winding down and we are preparing to start from scratch with another puppy. We met nine week old Monte, short for Mantequilla, last week. He is vacationing at Camp Morga, until we get back from Washington and he is housebroken :-)

Monte accompanied the Rock County pack to Shopko for an outing the other day. He was very excited to be out in public and very attentive to Marlene's voice.

The big dogs trained in the store for about an hour. Monte tried to keep pace, but was hindered by his short legs and small bladder. During the hour he peed five times (four times outside the store) and pooped once (inside the store). After all that business, he was all tuckered out and settled down for a nap while the rest of us worked a bit more.

It is going to be a huge change trading in a smart dog for a know nothing ADORABLE puppy.

May 12, 2010

Movin' On Up

Maybe one of the things that keeps us working with these dogs is that they never stop surprising us by their capacity to learn new things, no matter what age they are. Monday, Banjo learned how to ride an escalator, mainly how to get on and off without letting his little toes slide under the stairs (ouch!)and not being afraid or hesitant. This is an abbreviated version of the training, please do not take this as a step-by-step "how to" guide!

We had Chris come up to Madison, which we are so appreciative of! and she first took Banjo, got his focus, standing by the escalator, letting him hear it and see it, then away and back again, and then away they went, up and down, lots of "Yes! Good Boy!" (I think we used 2 small treats between the 3 of us for the whole session & 95% pats and encouragement) and up and down again, praise, praise, praise, and Banjo's tail was literally wagging as we watched him ride the moving stairs up & down again and again--and yes, we had our camera, but we were so focused on the training, we didn't even take it out. It was our turn next, Lisa took the leash, a little bit of coaching from Chris (don't hesitate, walk right on, walk right off)and away they went, no problems, then Jeff and again, no problems. Banjo had literally caught on in 5 minutes, but we rode a few more times, went in a group to simulate a crowd, followed some strangers up, just anything to cement it in his brain and ours, making sure the humans were confident and could transfer that confidence and sense of safety to the dog when needed. By jove, he's got it!

Routinely, puppy raisers would never be given the task of teaching the dog the escalator, but we had Chris who has done lots of advanced training, and we were completely confident in her, and because of our trip, we wanted to at least have the option of taking Banjo on an escalator when we needed to use one, rather than have to avoid them at all costs.

It would be easy to look at Banjo at 1 year old and think he knows what he needs to know to start harness training, and sit back a bit and take a break and give him a break. There might even be some trepidation when we think "I don't know if we can teach him, I don't know if he can learn this," but it is all replaced with much exhilaration and pride when the dog "gets it"! And for Banjo, it was all just a game, something new and fun, and he saw it was making us happy, which meant he was happy--he would have rode up and down all day long! It must be what keeps seasoned dog trainers training when so much is repetition, repetition, repetition. It makes you remember that this is a team effort between you and the dog when teaching a new skill or cementing something you have already worked on. It sure makes us want to find the next challenge to teach him! Good Boy!!!

May 11, 2010

Making A Difference

Q: Why do we raise guide dog puppies?

A: view Sophia's Story

Miss Wisconsin

Hey pups ~

What an exciting weekend this has been! First I was hangin' out at Warner Park watching all the baby geese,

and then I got to hang out with Miss Wisconsin! Can you tell which one of us is Miss Wisconsin?

Awww....I need a ribbon that says "Miss OccuPaws Wisconsin", don't ya think? Anyway, she was very pretty and nice to hang around with.

Then I met my puppy friends and two graduate dogs, Dale and Divit, at Culver's in Middleton where we practiced giving nice greetings to all the customers. Culver's was very happy 'cause we brought in lots of new customers to eat custard. They didn't give any to us pups, tho ~ but we did get to be interviewed by the WKOW Channel 27 folks, who thought we pups were pretty cute. Can't let that go to our heads, now....

Your pal,

May 10, 2010


We took a long walk this weekend to explore and work on puppy confidence. There are plenty of new sights, sounds and smells as the weather warms. Banjo thoroughly enjoyed our visits to the three playgrounds along our route. He went up and down holey steps, across wobbly planks, through plastic tunnels, walked over and stopped on the wiggly bridges, and slid down a few slides.

With the warmer weather, we have also reintroduced our nightly walks. It is amazing how different things look and the variety of noises that we hear after dark.

May 8, 2010

At the races.

Promise and I went to the USA Cycling Collegiate Road Nationals race today. She was more interested in watching the crowd and getting pet than the race. She got lots of love from a girl sitting next to us who had about no interest in the bikes going in circles. After the third race, we were both thoroughly cold and tired of sitting on the concrete, so we came home.

The bikes were going a little too fast to get a good picture with the black pup.

Promise is also getting set for harness training. After doing not so hot on staying seated in class on Thursday, we've been hard at work staying seated instead of sliding to the ground. She's also getting some bus routes planned for the other pups who might go for some bus adventures with me.

Slumber Party

Banjo celebrated his first birthday on Thursday. We attended OccuPaws training class where he was on his best behavior, performing an excellent SIT STAY. We also got a first look at our potential next puppy, as we prepare for Banjo's departure in a couple weeks.

After class, the two birthday boys, Banjo and Geyser, were loaded into the car. As a birthday present they got to have a slumber party. It was planned at the last minute, otherwise we could have had Toby over too.

The real purpose of the slumber party was a visit to Spring Harbor Animal Clinic for the final test before harness training begins. They had to have their hips and elbows checked for possible dysplasia. Having our first puppy expelled for elbow dysplasia, we were a bit concerned. No problem though as Geyser's hips were Very Good and Banjo's were Excellent with no elbow problems either. Both are ready to begin the final stage of their guide dog journey.

Cooped up for most of the day because of the wet weather, a long playtime was recommended before returning Geyser. The two boys chased and tumbled through the wet grass until they were exhausted; it took thirty minutes to tire them and thirty minutes to dry out. The party ended with dinner for the humans while both dogs napped.

May 2, 2010


The first day the pool comes out is an unofficial "national holiday" among Labradors! Yippeee!!!

Get Your Custard Fix

Woof Fellow Custard Lovers,

A whole bunch of my pals came to help be be cute and adorable at an OccuPaws fund-raiser at Culver's in Middleton. If a whole lotta humans stuffed themselves silly and ate lots and lots, OccuPaws will get some green stuff that humans really seem to love. There were lots of people there and the food smelled great so I'm sure they had a lot. We, on the other hand just got to sit under signs and stuff.

Some of us became movie stars. You can watch us by clicking here on Channel 27!!
All for now,

Bark For Life

On Saturday we went to Oregon to help support the American Cancer Society and their Bark for Life dog walk. Here are a couple of admirers keeping the pups busy while we set up the booth.

All the pups held their downs, but just had to creep over to the kids to say hi.

Now the pups had to pose nicely in front of the signs. First in a sit stay...................

then in a down stay. They all did very well at both.

Harley will use anyone for a pillow that will let him.

It was a very nice windy day. Talked with a lot of nice people and met all kinds of other dogs.