This weekend was a busy one. We celebrated my son’s 5th birthday all weekend, and went with a couple of Canine Hope families to the Arboretum.

We started off at the Lazy Dog Cafe for lunch. It is one of our families favorite places to go for lunch, and it has “dog” right in the name, what’s not to love? The picture above shows the family waiting for our table. They are in the “missing man” formation, as I should be in the seat on the right 🙂

We met up with Crystal (our trainer), the Gonzalez family (down from Sacramento for training), and Dorrie (Jedi’s handler, mom of Luke, a 3 year old type 1) at the restaurant, had lunch, and then headed off to the Arboretum for a day of pictures and fun. We had a total of 9 people and 5 dogs, which is fairly light for a training session. That’s why we were so gung ho to go, we got to spend good quality time with everyone.

Lazy dogs at the Lazy Dog
 My beautiful wife spending quality time with Raven
We had Major, Raven, Scout, Jedi, and Apollo with us at the Arboretum. For those of you not from around here, or who have never been, the Arboretum is a massive botanical garden. It is a great place to take Labs for training, as there are lot’s of birds such as peacocks, ducks, geese, a couple of ponds, and all kinds of distractions, but not a lot of crowds to get in the way.
From L-R Raven, Scout, Jedi, Apollo, and Major
One of the purposes for this particular session was to give the handlers some extra training. The Gonzalez family were expecting to take Scout home next month, so Crystal wanted to work with them some more so they know what they need to continue to work on when they take him home. (They got a surprise later, more on that shortly)

One thing that you will hear me talk a lot about is the amount of work and training that continues with these animals even after they have been placed in the home. These dogs are not robots, they are living things. If you don’t continue to work and train them, they can potentially get complacent and lazy, and what usually happens is someone complaining about a service dog they spent a lot of money on that “doesn’t work”. In reality, what most likely happened, is the family assumed they were getting a robot that would just continue to work. If you don’t praise and treat when the animal does something good, or exercise it, or continue to reinforce obedience, or teach it new things, or even train it to custom fit your lifestyle, activities, work and school schedule, etc, you will end up with just a pet. These dogs require work for the rest of their lives. Please know that prior to starting this process.

So, with that in mind, it is important that the trainer provides us, the families/handlers, with the proper tool set to help set us up to be successful. Who better to do that then the group that helped raise/train these dogs. Crystal and her team provide a fantastic foundation for us families, and the continued support, through a monthly get together, email, phone, etc that she provides proves to be exceptionally valuable.

Scout and Sarah working through a low
Here, Raven is being trained to whistle 🙂
Working with the dogs
Scout was the first puppy that I have been able to watch from the time Crystal first brought him in as a puppy all the way to completion of his DAD training. He is a spectacular dog, fantastic at his job. One of his very first outings was a trip to my house for some puppy pictures:
I have enjoyed watching the team of Sarah and Scout getting to know each other and work with each other. This is a family that has done lot’s of homework, even working with a local service dog organization to get some more experience for when their own dog would be joining them.
Congrats to Sarah & Scout!
Speaking of which, while they assumed they were coming down for training, and going home without Scout while he finished up his training until March, Crystal surprised them by turning him over to them for final placement! So exciting! Congratulations to the Gonzalez  family, and to Scout!
Dorrie (mom to Luke) was also there training with Jedi, who is with Canine Hope for a few weeks getting some more obedience training. The puppy training program they have established has the puppies staying for a period of time with the family, and a period of time with the trainers. But the family still comes out to work with the puppies, and get’s to see how well they are doing.
You always know when I’m around. I get all the dogs to jump up on the furniture
The yellow lab is Apollo, another DAD in training from the same litter as Jedi.
We had a lot of fun wandering the grounds and setting up pictures and enjoying the great weather. The Arboretum is also home to the hotel from “Fantasy Island”
The main fountain at the Arboretum
I love the lighting in this shot
Here, all the dogs are talking shop. Things like, “I can’t believe they let the small blonde girl have the fettuccine! I’m gonna be up all night!”
2 of my favorite ladies
I have taken a lot of pictures on this bench
Even Dash got in on the action!
Team Black Dogs Rule


… and they were all yellow…
The waterfall, a must take picture op
Stella did a lot of work with Raven
The hotel. Picture Tattoo running around saying “the plane, the plane!”
All in all, an amazing day, spent with amazing people. We were so fortunate to be able to tag along. It was a fun day, with more time for chatting and hanging out then we normally do, so it was a very enjoyable day.

Lots of love,

Team Blackdogsrule


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