Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Vinson meeting an ice cube
We tried out an ice cube to beat the heat - under close supervision with a single cube; puppies that eat too much ice (or anything!) too fast will likely vomit.

Vinson was fascinated by the cold treat that got smaller as he enjoyed it. He gently licked at it and nuzzled it around until it weakened. Finally, he quietly crushed it and finished it off; he was a little disappointed but cooled-off when it was gone.

Moving on Up at The Seeing Eye Campus

Vinson officially turned 13 weeks of age this weekend, and that meant it was time for a trip back to the vet's office for his distemper and rabies inoculations. As usual for Vinson, he didn't notice either injection at all.

The best news is, now that he has crossed this key inoculation milestone, Vinson is allowed to walk in the buildings and throughout the grounds of The Seeing Eye; and given that he weighs about 20 pounds, today is a celebration for both of us!

Photos of new campus explorations coming soon...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Bath Time!

Vinson calm, but perhaps not pleased
Bath time has been one thing we haven't been able to do with Vinson while his leg was in a cast from his hip to his toenails. This afternoon, after enjoying the Memorial Day parade, Vinson had his frist bath at our house.

Vison did very well, remained calm and looked hilarious. A little time out in the yard with a towel and he's raring to go.

Memorial Day Parade

Vinson was happy to discover that he currently lives on the town parade route. This morning he was thrilled to watch all of the firetrucks going by. He didn't frighten when the military group performed a 7-gun salute with their old muskets; but we did discover he is not fond of the marching band drummers.

As for his leg, it continues to gain muscle mass and is growing stronger. We remain careful about his activity level during the healing.
Vinson watching the firetrucks go by

"Did you see that?" Vinson enjoying the parade

Vinson said hello to the fire fighters

Friday, May 27, 2011

Strong Storms? No Problem.

Last night around 10 p.m., Sparta was hit by an intense thunderstorm with sustained winds reported above 60 m.p.h.

The storm included drenching rain, nearly constant lightening and thunder, falling branches and debris and very loud wind. The wind blew away a heavy door mat, blew two patio chairs over and up against the railing and brought down tons of leaves and limbs. This morning, I found our recycling bin under a neighbor's car!

Through it all, Vinson was content to watch the activity curiously from the safety of the living room, without so much as a whimper.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sun Lover

Vinson absolutely loves to sit or lay in the grass and just watch the world go by. Here's a photo from our front yard last night, where Vinson and Sarah enjoyed a nice sunset together.

Vinson Loves to Lay in the Grass

Leaf Blowers and Coffee Don't Mix

This morning on our walk into the office, I had Vinson securely in my left arm (he is required to be carried on campus until he has completed his 13-week inoculations, which happens to be this weekend) and my coffee in my right arm. What I hadn't anticipated was the leaf blowers on the sidewalk, or Vinson's reaction to them since he's so unresponsive to most noises.

As we neared one of the staff members who was blowing grass cuttings off of the sidewalk, Vinson began squirming like a 20 pound worm. A quick blow from his foot to the coffee cup sent warm coffee up onto my face, neck and shirt. No harm done. We took a wider berth around the grounds crew and continued on.

In the future we'll work more on leaf blowers to ensure he is comfortable with them. For now, until he can walk on the property next week, the coffee and the dog will be on separate walks from the car!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Looking and Moving Better Already

View of Vinson from above his crate. He is laying down in a crescent shape that shows his left hind leg looking very good!
Left Hind Leg Already Doing Much Better

Just 24 hours after having his splint removed, Vinson's leg already looks a little better and he's doing very well at putting weight on the leg on controlled leash walks. He also stopped licking the leg shortly after the splint was removed.

Vinson will occasionally lift the leg to reduce weight on it, but has already made noticeable improvements in a very short time.

Similar to a person recovering from an injury, Vinson's body seems to be telling him to get some extra rest. He has spent some extra time in the crate and seems very content to sleep. That's not to say that he doesn't have his trigger moments when that natural puppy energy wants to burst out of him, but that's where careful supervision comes in!

I took the photo in this article just a couple of minutes ago in my office. The most viewable hind leg (his left) is the one that was broken, but as you can see, it's already looking pretty normal!

Careful healing continues...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Heartworm and Flea & Tick Treatment Number Two

On top of having his splint removed, today happened to be Vinson's day for his second round of heartworm medication and FrontLine. He gave us no trouble with either treatment, just like last time.

Vinson is putting weight on his newly-splint-free hind leg but has a lot of muscle to rebuild. A very short circle in the lawn under leash control is enough work for now. Still, he seems very happy and we know he'll soon be ready for longer walks. He's doing great.

And Here's the Leg

Vinson standing on the exam room table with support from the technician. His now-exposed leg is slightly thinner and a little irritated, but looks good overall
No More Splint!
Here's the final photo from the clinic, with Vinson's leg newly free.

Special thanks to the professional staff that made Vinson's appointment a breeze this afternoon; and also to our local vet office, where nearly all of the staff has experienced at least one splint change over the past month.

And It's Off!

Vinson being held by staff while another tech begins to cut away his splint wrap
Vinson stands calmly as the technicians begin the removal
Just got back from the Vincent A. Stabile Canine Health Center here at The Seeing Eye. Vinson's splint is officially removed.

In typical Vinson fashion, he was very calm during the quick procedure.

His leg does look predictably atrophied, his nails are long and he does have a few pressure spots from wearing the splint for so long.

With the purple wrap gone, the tech finishes cutting through the padding, revealing the clear, hard plastic, ridged splint below
Underneath the wrap, the splint is visible
Now the new challenge begins: keeping Vinson from running or performing any movement that could risk reinjuring the leg while the muscle recovers; and also keeping him from any incessant licking which could create "hot spots" on the leg.

We'll be continuing the use of the e-collar as necessary.

Monday, May 23, 2011

"Breaking" News! Bone is Healed!

Maybe Vinson was telling us something we he squirmed out of his splint on Friday.

After reviewing his latest radiographs, the veterinarians have determined that Vinson's fracture is healed! His splint will officially be removed at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 24, exactly four weeks from the date when he broke the leg.

Vinson will be allowed limited activity for the first seven days - continued crate rest with some leash walking but no running - to allow the muscle to regain strength to support his newly-healed bone. After that, he's ready to be a normal puppy again!

More photos and videos to follow.

Cone Head: The Return

Vinson wearing the cone at the office
Vinson took a renewed interest in his latest wrap over the weekend, attempting to pull padding out from the top of the splint.

To prevent him from ingesting any bits of material and to protect the splint, Vinson is currently back wearing the cone.

Here he is this morning at the office.

Friday, May 20, 2011

From Five to Six in Less than 24 Hours!

Apparently, the purple camouflage wrap didn't suit Vinson's tastes - during our rainy day routine of placing Vinson on my lap and covering his wrap with a plastic bag and rubber band before heading outside to park, the splint and wrap we had put on just last night slipped right off onto the floor!

I immediately immobilized the leg as best as possible, and used my one free hand to call one of my two area coordinators, who happens to work on campus. She relayed the information the clinic on site and I quickly but cautiously brought the little guy to the clinic.

Staff veterinarians immediately took him in, performed the radiographs they were going to do next week, and gave him splint/wrap number six - now a darker, solid purple. Vinson was back in the crate in my office in less than an hour, and seems no worse for wear.

Just goes to show you can never predict daily life with your young pup! Photos coming soon.

Vinson Meets S.E.S.Y. Students

Vinson just did a meet and greet with the May S.E.S.Y. (Seeing Eye® Seminar for Youth) class here on campus. I described Vinson's appearance for the students who are blind, gave them a brief history of his leg incident, and then held him while each student got a chance to pet him, feeling his fur and his cast.

As usual, Vinson was a big hit; and he and I both had a wonderful time meeting the group.

If you aren't familiar with the S.E.S.Y. program, you can learn more about it on The Seeing Eye's YouTube channel.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Crocodile Phase Winding Down

In the last two days we've noticed a big decline in Vinson's urge to chew and nip. It's not completely over, but just like our area coordinator said there would be, there is a noticeable decline after about two weeks of severe nipping action. Great news!

Back from the Vet

Fifth splint and wrap complete - this time, purple camouflage and a longer splint now that his legs are getting longer. Official weight - 17 pounds!

Vinson was a bit squirmy during the splint change, which is to be expected as an 11.5 week-old puppy. He was worn out when we got home and is now snoozing in his crate.

The next checkup will be at The Seeing Eye on Tuesday, when his radiographs will be done to see how the bone is healing.

Barking Resistance that Fades to a Grunt

Having recently mastered his bark (which is much louder than you might expect for an 11.5 week old puppy), Vinson has begun using his bark to assert that he would rather be out of the crate than in it (at work, until he has his 13 week inoculations, he must be crated in the office).

After a correction, Vinson will continue to bark for a little bit - typically less than 30 seconds. Once he realizes that he is not winning the situation, the bark begins to get lower and weaker, until it is nothing but a slow groan. Quite comical to listen to the fade-out; and just another part of growing, learning and training!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Splint Number 5 Thursday Afternoon

Vinson will be getting his fifth splint tomorrow afternoon at the vet's office - a bit of a milestone in that the next splint change will be next Tuesday, when his radiographs are redone at The Seeing Eye, which should tell us how long he'll need the splint. Keep your fingers crossed!

Plastic-Wrapped Rainy Day Blues

wrapped in plastic during this nasty weather
Vinson's splint wrap is made of cloth and tape and can not get wet. This week has been incredibly rainy here in New Jersey, so every time we go out to park, the splint has to be wrapped in plastic.

I've been using a simple bag and rubber band, which seems to work well. The bag holds up for a few trips to the grass, after which I use it for it's (ahemm) intended purpose and swap it out for a new baggie.

Latest Chews

While the list of Vinson's latest "chews" is thankfully growing at a much slower pace now, he has added cabinet pulls and handles to his list of potential targets. A bit of bitter apple spray and a proper toy provide the right redirection.

A Dog Gate with a Cat Gate Inside It!

If you have cats and dogs, this gate can be handy
Like other dogs we've had, Vinson is intrigued by the smell of cat litter boxes; and ingesting clumping cat litter can be very dangerous. Knowing this, we planned ahead and purchased a gate that has a smaller cat door built into it. We keep the cat boxes in a separate room, so a gate was all we needed. Although Vinson is currently small enough to get through the cat door, that will change in the coming weeks. In the meantime, we keep the gate fully closed and just let the cats in when they ask to enter their room and close the door behind them.

Moving Closer

The Cat Moves Closer
"Zane", one of our three cats, is the least fond of having Vinson in the house, so this was a big step for both of them last night when the cat quietly took a nap near Vinson.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The First Sign of Understanding "Off"

Now that Vinson is long/tall enough to get his front end up on tables and chairs to find new items of interest, we've been working on the correction, "off". Just minutes ago he seemed to exhibit some understanding of what we're asking of him. It is not yet a consistent behavior, but we're very proud of him and will continue to work on it. As with any success, we reward him with lots of praise when he reacts appropriately. Way to go, bud!

Note: as first-time puppy raisers, we incorrectly began this training using the word "down". Thanks to my area coordinator, I was reminded that the term "down" is only to be used to get the dog to lay down. If the dog is on something they are not supposed to be on, the correction is "off".

Similarly, the only term used to get a dog to sit is, "sit". If a raiser was then to use the term "sit down", the puppy would be understandably frustrated and confused, as it wouldn't know whether you were asking him to sit or lay down.

All just a product of  being new to the program. There are so many details to learn, and while we consult the manual and our coordinators regularly, it is still very easy to make mistakes when new behaviors appear suddenly and require correction.

Another lesson learned! We'll be working on "off" tonight.

Frozen Washcloth

A Frozen Wash Cloth Keeps Vinson's Attention
A tip from a volunteer at The Seeing Eye led to us trying a new chew toy tonight - moisten a clean, old washcloth and freeze it.

I'm sure it's partly due to the newness of the item, but right now it seems to be working as a good chewing distraction - the cold makes his teeth feel better and the texture satisfies his chewing.

As always, with any soft item, close supervision is required.

Monday, May 16, 2011


Chewing the Wood Table. No!
Vinson, with his growing, has discovered that he can get up onto the end table shelves. Once there, before we grab him and correct him, he has begun chewing the table legs (shown in this photo) and digging on the wood itself in a high-speed super digging action.

He brought the blue toy up there with him, but in this case the wood was more interesting. Again, not surprising - a new texture, a new location he can access - this IS puppy-hood. Repeated corrections, teamwork and patience are a key to success.

It should be noted that this is normal behavior for an eleven week-old puppy, whether from The Seeing Eye or not. You've got to be committed to working through this phase and be honest with yourselves that it is going to happen; and when the pup does calm down, give you kisses and fall asleep, do a couple of furniture scratches really matter (if your answer is yes, you may want to rethink getting a young puppy!)?

Pant Cuffs

Pant Cuff Biting - No!
What's it like to walk through your house when the young puppy is awake and energetic? Here's a perfect shot of Vinson taking on my wife's jean cuffs.

During his current crocodile phase, this is a repeated, daily correction moment (and what led to the goodbye ceremony for a pair of my corduroys).

No Problem with Very Loud Thunder!

During a heave thunderstorm that blew through Morristown this morning, a bolt of lightning struck somewhere on the property, creating a startling flash and immediate clap of very loud thunder. Power momentarily flickered and printers and various machines restarted with beeps and clicks.

Vinson was sleeping in his crate at the time, and while he awoke, he never whimpered and was not bothered at all. Another milestone crossed, and another testament to the great desensitization work that goes on at the breeding station!

Baggin' It

With heavy downpours and thunderstorms today, I have to put a thick plastic bag over Vinson's leg and secure it with a rubber band. It is very important to keep his wrap from getting wet. With this week's stormy forecast in the Morristown area, it looks like this extra step to our parking routine will be well practiced by Friday!

Another Shot of the New Wrap

Teal Wrap with Blue Stars!
Vinson still loves to sleep in the cat bed, but he's quickly outgrowing it, as you can tell in this photo.

He'll be getting one more splint change at our vet's office this Thursday night, and then the next change will be done here at The Seeing Eye on May 24th when they take his tibial radiographs to determine how Vinson's healing is going. Keep your fingers crossed!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

High Energy "Crocodile" Phase

Vinson is in extreme high-energy phase, and the nipping/biting phase sometimes referred to as the crocodile phase - and we know why! He likes to snap at virtually anything he can reach with his quick, ever-growing snout and incredibly sharp teeth - old favorites like dandelions and pant legs, and new spots like crevices in the sofa and wrists.

This is a challenging phase, with lots of time spent correcting and re-correcting. With Vinson's change in size, lots of new things are now within his reach. He can get his front paws up on furniture and can climb up the stairs in a flash. He gets onto the bottom shelf of the coffee table and then "digs" like there's no tomorrow. Lately the joke is that he'll start thinking his name is "Vinson No".

Commonly, this phase lasts just a few weeks. It's all part of the commitment of raising a pup!

New Splint and Wrap

Vinson got his new wrap yesterday - now sporting a teal wrap with blue stars! Since it was a Saturday appointment, we went earlier than our normal after-work weekday appointments - and the techs said Vinny was nearly too squirmy to perform the change. So, the next appointment (Thursday this week) will be another evening one - both out of necessity and because he'll have used up more energy by that time of day.
Vinson, the star!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Heading to the Vet in about an Hour

Leg splint/wrap number 4 today at 12:30 p.m. - check back for Vinson's latest stylish color!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Radiographs Scheduled

Vinson's one-month radiographs to check on his healing are now scheduled at The Seeing Eye's Vincent A. Stabile Clinic. He'll be getting a full checkup and update on May 24 to determine the level of healing and how long he will need to remain in the splint.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Vinson Meets Students from the May Orientation & Mobility Course

Vinson had the pleasure of meeting a handful of students who are taking part in The Seeing Eye's Orientation and Mobility course this afternoon. In true Vinson form, he lavished the chance to meet new people and get some belly rubs. He also "posed" for some impromptu photos.

Another Bridge Crossed (and another gate installed)

This evening, Vinson made his first full climb of our stairs to the second floor, cast and all. His strength is increasing daily, and his appetite is strong.

Since we're not looking for another tumble (he did need some help coming back down the stairs), and since the upstairs is not as puppy-proof, Vinson won't be spending time upstairs anytime soon. Still, this is another step in his growth and a strong reminder that he is healing.

Hunting Pose

Vinson's Hunting Pose
Vinson looks like he's in a classic hunting dog pose in this photo - chin up and pointed, tail raised, front legs straight, back legs ready to pounce - taken this morning on the front green at The Seeing Eye, but he's actually just very focused on the large riding mower the groundskeeper is using about a hundred yards away.

Purple with Blue Polka Dots!

Happy Morning Explorations at The Seeing Eye Today
Here's Vinson, just a few minutes ago - enjoying the beautiful weather and his new cast at The Seeing Eye.

Vinson seems quite sure that real men wear polka dots!

Monday, May 9, 2011

And the Winner Is...

Purple with blue polka dots! That's right, Vinson's third splint and wrap is purple with blue dots all over it. Guess it can't get much cuter than that. As usual, he was a huge hit at the vet office. At the end of the visit, he stole one of the tech's rolls of medical tape and proudly brought it out to meet me!

Official weight at 10 weeks - 14.5 pounds. Photos to come soon.

Happy 10 Weeks and Another New Phase

Vinson on the Prowel
Vinson has very clearly entered a new phase of growing in the last 24 hours, as he celebrates his 10-week birthday.

He has really found his bark, and has also discovered that he is now long enough to stand on his hind legs (even with one in a splint) and get his front paws into many more trouble spots - chairs where cats are sleeping, the top door of his crate at work, our laps when we eat dinner, etc. These two things together mean a new set of corrections we're working on to keep him quiet and teach him not to jump.

As with the other bumps along the way, this is completely normal as Vinson grows, heals, has more energy and begins to understand and test his own capabilities (and ours!). It can be stressful at times, but it is all part of the process; and we love it.

Official weight update tonight after the vet visit. I'm guessing he's around 15 pounds, but we'll see.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Third Splint and Wrap Monday Night

Tomorrow night, Vinson will get his third splint and wrap at the local veterinary hospital. The first was blue camouflage, and the second orange camo. We'll see what tomorrow night brings. Check back for photo and videos.

The Vacuum

Vinson is definitely not afraid of the vacuum. The desensitization sounds and techniques they use at the breeding station work. If anything, the problem is that Vinson really likes the vacuum and chases the business end when we're using it; he also chews the vacuum hose when he can get to it (bring in the bitter apple spray).

Latest Chews

The bitter apple spray is working great to protect Vinson's favorite chewing and licking spots; but not everything can be sprayed, and he took advantage of that. One pair of corduroys destroyed!

Crate Work

Vinson is doing very well with crate training. He sleeps in the crate every night, but we've also been working on getting him used to napping in the crate for an hour or two during the day. He's taken to the task without whining.

We never use the crate as a punishment, as that would cause Vinson to associate negativity with the crate. We also never leave him in the crate with his collar on to eliminate any chance of him getting caught or tangled.

This approach is really working well, and will ultimately lead to a dog that can easily be left alone in his crate without concern. Way to go, little buddy!

Enter the Bitter Apple Spray

Now that we've got our bitter apple spray, we've been able to more easily redirect Vinson's licking and chewing from items and spots he shouldn't be bothering. After just a few quick tastes from his favorite chew spot on the corner of the stairs, he hasn't returned to the spot for another try. We tell him "good boy" when he walks away and then reward him with a chew toy of his own. We'll see how it works in the long run, but so far there is an immediate difference.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Latest Chews

  • sunglasses (put them on before you pick up the puppy)
  • scissors (don't use them for anything when your pup is in the vicinity)

Note to Self: Check for Holes in the Bag

Vinson's doing great, but an, ahemm, interesting thing happened when we went out to park this afternoon. It seems the poop bag had a hole in it, so when tying up the bag after another successful elimination, poo squeezed out of the hole onto my hand like play-dough through an old toy play-dough press (only much less fun).

The Seeing Eye groundskeeper and I had a good laugh.

Add to your list of things to know when raising a puppy - check your bags for holes!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Lawnmower Man

The Latest Chews

The latest chews include:
  • Wall-mounted door stop (I removed it and mounted it at the top of the door now)
  • Pant leg cuffs
  • Cat scratch post
  • Chair leg
  • Carpeted stairs

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

This Flower has Little Puppy Teeth!

Vinson Fully Decked-Out
What's orange and purple and teal all over? Vinson!

Here he is sporting his complete gear set - orange splint wrap, purple waterproof bootie and teal e-collar. Typical for Vinson, he's taking it all in stride!

When Vinson is supervised (which is the majority of the time since he goes to work with me), he can be out of the e-collar as long as he's leaving his wrap alone. When we can't supervise him directly, the e-collar is an extra level of protection to keep his splint in place and keep him from digesting any of the wrap material.

The Terrible Chews - Are You Ready for a Puppy?

Like children, puppies go through many phases of development; unlike children (luckily), the phases pass very quickly - sometimes in just a day or two; some over the course of a few weeks.

For the past few days, Vinson's chewing evolved from the initial exploring-with-the-mouth to more of a need to really chew or lick. Some of this activity may be brought on by his reduced exercise following the leg break.

Having carefully puppy-proofed our house prior to his arrival, we have no exposed wires and we put shoes out of sight; but a puppy in chew mode can find and chew, mouth or lick just about anything.

Recent additions to his chew/mouth/lick list include:
  1. Brass fireplace door
  2. Stone fireplace hearth
  3. Floor-standing lamp base
  4. Lathed wood table base
  5. Magazines
  6. The metal transition strip between a tile and wood floor
  7. Grout around the tub
  8. Paper Towels and tissues
  9. A simple spot on the wood floor - just a knot in the wood!
  10. Entry mat edges
  11. Rungs of a metal dog gate
  12. Anything smooth or cold
Dandelions, wildflower, grass, leaves and sticks are still favorite outdoor targets.

This is the reality of raising a puppy - whether it's for a program like The Seeing Eye or as a family pet, you need to realize that you will be spending a lot of time correcting the puppy, consistently repeating the corrections, constantly moving things, vacuuming daily, raking debris from the yard, moving dog gates, etc.

Sarah and I are diligent about correcting unwanted chewing and behavior; and it can be a lot of work. Add to that a broken leg, Vet appointments every six days for the next six to eight weeks, special precautions to keep his leg dry outside, etc. and you can see that you have to be prepared for anything and committed to the process - the workload can be a lot. Of course, to us, the process and the mission is worth every sacrifice!

The Lamp Shade Cometh!

Officially called an Elizabethan collar, often referred to as a cone, e-collar, space collar or lampshade, Vinson had his first experience with one last night. I awoke around 4:00 a.m. to the sound of licking in Vinson's crate near our bed. I turned the light on to find that he had managed to pull a small piece of padding from behind his newly padded leg wrap. I managed to get the padding out of his mouth in an incident that made him look like Santa Claus temporarily!

So, it was time to try out the e-collar; we hadn't needed it to date because Vinson hadn't been licking or chewing at his cast. The Seeing Eye provided us with a nice, soft e-collar made by KVP. Vinson took to it with no problem - didn't whine or fuss and slept fine in it. I'll post a photo soon - between his orange leg and teal cone, he's quite a site - something akin to a flower. Quite funny to watch him walking through the house in full costume!

New Orange Camouflage Cast

Vinson Sporting the new Splint
Here's Vinson today in his crate at The Seeing Eye. He's doing really well with the updated splint and wrap. A staff member here brought him a new rubber boot made by "Pawz". It's very much like a thick balloon, and is perfect for keeping his wrap dry when we go out to park on a rainy day like today.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Back from the Vet - Weekly Weigh-In

Vinson did wonderfully at the Vet's office, and is now sporting his new orange camo-wrapped splint. His current weight? 12.5 pounds! When it was time for his inoculation, he didn't even wince. Photos tomorrow.

Small world - one of the tech's at the office is the sister of an instructor here at The Seeing Eye; and she's raised 20 puppies! Needless to say, Vinson is getting lots of attention at his now-weekly visits to Highland Veterinary Hospital.

Heading to the Vet Now

We're heading out the door to the Vet - update to follow!

Splint and Wrap Change Tonight

Vinson will have his first leg splint change tonight at the vet, along with a 9.5-weeks-of-age inoculation. We'll see how it goes!