Friday, July 29, 2011

Shark Bite

Vinson hugging and kissing the shark toy
Another new dog toy unveiled - the blue shark by DogTuff. Super tough construction, two squeakers and a mouth ready to attack. Vinson is quite pleased... for now!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Here Come the Teeth!

Vinson is suddenly in full baby teeth-losing mode! We've been suspicious that his teeth were bugging him over the last few days, as he's been a bit fussy.

It seems like Vinson lost at a couple teeth tonight, each of which he didn't want to reveal, finally chewing up some pieces and relinquishing a few others. Yes. It sounds gross! But this is a timeline moment for the little guy - he's losing his puppy teeth and his adult teeth are coming in.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"Okay, monkey. Here's the plan. Meet me at 3:00 a.m. in the living room."

Last night was the first time a long while that Vinson woke us in the middle of the night. Both surprised (and still in the heavy fog of deep sleep), we decided maybe he needed to go out to park.

Of course, we had played right into Vinson's trap. After opening up the crate, he happily pranced not to the door where we exit to "park", but instead into the living room to pick up his monkey and play.

The squawking squeaker soon rendered us too awake for a quick return to sleep; Sarah played with Vinson a bit, then took him out to park. I caught up on some reading (not coincidentally, "Marley & Me"); and then, just as quickly as he'd awoke, Vinson drifted off to sleep. We weren't so lucky...

Monkey Man

Here's a quick video of Vinson playing with his new monkey toy. Of course, as soon as I got the camera going he stopped maniacally squeaking the squeaker in the machine gun-rhythm he has mastered.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Traffic Cone Exposure - Mixed Results!

Taking a rest on the traffic cone
One of the most important duties as a puppy raiser is to expose the pup to as many real-world items and situations as possible: sounds, sights, smells, textures, etc.

I thought I'd take advantage of some large, orange traffic cones that are blocking off a landscape-under-construction on the training path here at The Seeing Eye.

I placed one cone on the pathway, let Vinson smell and investigate it and then proceeded to walk him back and fourth past the cone.

He did quite well at ignoring the new item, but he must have decided he was tired. When I asked him to sit next to the cone, he slowly melded his "sit" into a "down" and relaxed on the pavement, as seen in the photo.

One thing's for sure - Vinson won't have an aversion to traffic cones.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Is it Time for our Morning Walk?

Vinson "asking" for our morning walk
As I've mentioned before, developing a regular routine with your pup is a key to keeping things running smoothly. We always take our morning walk early - what I do change up is the direction, path, length, etc. to keep it interesting (and sometimes, based on the weather).

This photo (taken by my coworker, Pat), shows Vinson's over-exuberant manner of "asking" if it's time for our walk. Pat has often joked that, if I were to write a book about raising Vinson, this should be the cover photo - me trying to work at the computer and Vinson "requesting" we do something else. Of course this behavior was more of a problem when he was younger; and I do correct any unacceptable behavior. Still, you can imagine this moment when you're sitting at your keyboard and the pup won't have it!

This morning's early walk to beat the heat took us down to the farmhouse at the end of The Seeing Eye's property. There, a large, fully-fenced yard is ready for staff to work their dogs - complete with a bucket of toys, dish of fresh water, a hose and poop bags. Now, Vinson and I have tried taking advantage of this yard in the past, but he wasn't quite ready for the stimulation, and ended up eating clumps of mowed grass rather than playing ball. Today was a whole different story! We both had a blast! Vinson would sit calmly and wait for me to throw the ball, then break into a steam-engine run, snatch up the ball and gleefully return it. We had a great time, and I'll have to admit, I felt proud of the little guy!

Both worn out, we returned to the comfort of the air conditioned office, where Vinson drank lots of water and fell asleep on the floor - where he remains now!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Stuffed Animals and Figurines: The New Fascination

Vinson, Pat and the Moose
Vinson has recently become fascinated by the multitudes of stuffed dog toys and figurines throughout the building here at The Seeing Eye. But his favorite - by far - is the magnetic-footed stuffed moose that hangs on a coworker's cabinet.

Vinson will literally sit, look up at the moose and speak to it in a variety of chirps and yaps. In this photo, Pat, our Outreach Specialist (and owner of Seeing Eye® dog "Garcia" who posed for a photo with Vinson in an earlier blog post), is holding Vinson near his beloved moose so he can have a better look.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Vinson playing with his new monkey squeaker toy
Like switching up your walking routes with your pup, adding a new toy into the mix creates lots of interest and keeps your puppy engaged. Today we gave Vinson a new "big head" monkey squeaker toy and he is loving it!

Sarah and I intentionally reserve different toys for home, work and the car so wherever we're going or arriving, he has something different to look forward to.

The Heat is On! Keep Your Furry Friends Safe and Healthy

The Seeing Eye has posted some great summer safety tips for keeping your dog protected; and the timing couldn't be better with the heat wave that is currently gripping more than half of the United States.

With high humidity and daily temperatures well into the 90's, we're being extra careful with Vinson, walking him early in the morning or at dusk, ensuring he has plenty of water and ice chips and keeping him in air conditioning in the car, at work and at home.

The following tips are provided by The Seeing Eye:
  • Keep it Cool:
    If you leave your pup outdoors, whether you are there or not, he or she could suffer the effects of too much heat faster than a human. Keep your dog inside where it can stay cool. If you must take your dog out into the heat, bring along a spray bottle to cool him/her down, make sure you have plenty of water, and try to stay in the shade when possible.
  • Boots aren’t Just Good for Cold Weather:
    When walking outside, if the ground heats up it can burn your dog’s feet. Boots will protect your dog’s pads from these hot surfaces. A good way to decide if booties are needed is to put your hand on the sidewalk. If the ground is too hot for you to keep your hand on for very long then it is most likely too hot for your dog’s feet.
  • After a Swim
    Be sure to rinse your dog off thoroughly to get rid of any salt, chlorine and/or bacteria. Make sure you dry your dog thoroughly, even after baths, so they do not develop hot spots. Be sure to apply an ear cleaner and dry both ears to prevent an ear infection. Discourage your dog from walking through or drinking from a creek, or any standing water which could possibly have parasites.
  • Do Not Overdo Strenuous Activity
    Do not feed your pup before exercise and try to keep your dog calm on hot days. Try to go out early in the morning or later in the evening when the temperatures are not as hot. Heat exhaustion can set in quickly for dogs because they are unable to perspire and can only dispel heat by panting and through the pads of their feet. Do not leave your dogs in hot cars. The inside of a car can reach 120 degrees in a matter of minutes, even if it is parked in the shade or the windows are cracked.
  • Debug your Dog
    Be sure to check your dog for fleas and ticks daily. Ask your veterinarian about flea and tick preventatives for your pet.
  • Beware of Toxic Substances
    Summer is often a time when people fertilize their lawns and work in their gardens. Plant food, fertilizer, and insecticides can be fatal to your dog.
  • Cruise with Care
    When driving, it is best to secure your dog in a crate to protect him/her in the event of an accident. Dogs are more likely to be injured or lost if they are riding loose.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Friendly Tip: Mushrooms and Your Pets - Avoid them at All Costs!

The "Death Cap" mushroom has been found growing near the base of oak trees in NJ
Lately on our walks, I've noticed the hot, moist weather has caused mushrooms to sprout up in yards and along roads; and it got me thinking - since mushroom types are so difficult to identify and many are known to be toxic to humans, some must also be toxic to dogs. Turns out, that's the case.

As with any plant or living organism, the best advice is to ensure your pup or dog never ingests any type of mushroom. Be vigilant - mushrooms grow fast and can literally appear overnight.

There are lots of advice columns online for what to do if you suspect your pal has ingested a mushroom. Most say to give an oral dose of hydrogen peroxide which will cause vomiting and then head straight to your nearest emergency vet clinic or animal poison center (you do have these numbers in your cell phone, right?).

Nancy Kay, DVM, of the Best Friends Animal Society writes, "Ingestion of a Death Cap mushroom causes liver failure (in people and in dogs)- makes sense given the liver’s function as the “garbage disposal” of the body. Symptoms typically include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite, delayed blood clotting, and neurological abnormalities.  Every year at my busy hospital, we see at least a handful of dogs with liver failure clearly caused by mushroom ingestion.  In spite our very best efforts, the individuals who survive mushroom poisoning are few and far between. Affected people can receive a liver transplant; no such technology available (yet) for dogs."

Few of us are mushroom identification pro's, so the safest bet is to treat all mushrooms you and your pooch come across as toxic.

Vinson's Business Cards Heading Cross-Country

Vinson's newest card features a QR code for smart phones
Vinson's "grandparents" (my folks) are about to embark on a big move to Oregon and will be driving cross-country. They've loaded up their bag with a bunch of Vinson's business cards and will be helping share his story and The Seeing Eye's from New Jersey to the great Northwest!

The latest version of Vinson's cards have a QR (Quick Read) code on them that allows smart phone users to snap a quick photo of the code and go directly to this blog!

More Exposure Experiences: The Ice Cream Shop

Vinson, Sarah and My Parents at the ice cream shop
Fully recovered from this weekend's underwear experience, we took Vinson for a walk to town last night. Sarah, my parents and I enjoyed ice cream at the Alpine Creamery, while Vinson worked on sitting and resting in a new location; and he loved meeting more new people and young children.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Redefining "Pooping Your Pants"

Vinson's X-ray showing "something" in his stomach. "Has anyone seen my underwear?"
Vinson gave us another exciting day on Saturday. He began to vomit very early in the morning and was obviously not feeling well. I called our area coordinator first thing in the morning to inform her of the situation and get permission to head to the vet.

Vinson continued to get sick at the vet's office and they ordered an immediate X-ray to see if he had ingested a foreign body of some type. The X-rays revealed a small unknown item in his stomach; and while it didn't warrant immediate action or surgery, it was considered to be the cause of his sickness.

The vet gave Vinson a shot to stop the vomiting, which worked immediately, and placed him on a diet of rice, ground beef and other bland foods to be fed in small amounts more frequently. She asked us to call immediately if he vomited again.

The vet staff commented that Vinson could've been named "Hoover", as even at their office, he tried to eat their cotton balls, paper towels, etc. Dr. Carol loaned me her copy of "Marley and Me" so I could see how much Vinson looks like Marley, and so I could have a laugh about other Lab's who have found themselves in strange situations.

As the day went on, Vinson seemed to be feeling more like himself; and very late last night, he pooped out a pair of underwear when we were out to park!

Mystery solved! Vinson now seems completely back to normal, is super hungry, is parking normally and is back to high energy level. We don't know how or when he ate the underwear but have done another full sweep of the house to ensure all gates are tight and all "targets" (basically anything smaller than a chair) are out of reach. We'll keep monitoring him as we reintroduce kibble. Another wild day with Vinson!

Friday, July 15, 2011

New Neighbors

On our walk last night, Vinson and I met some more neighbors. One of them asked if I had read the book, "Crashing Through: The Extraordinary True Story of the Man Who Dared to See", which immediately kicked off our conversation, as that book is written about Seeing Eye® graduate and trustee, Mike May, whom I've had the pleasure to meet on many occasions.

We had a great chat and I left them with one of Vinson's business cards.

Ceiling Fans and Stuffed Animals. Oh My!

In the last couple of days, Vinson seems to have become more aware of interesting items that aren't directly in front of him. This morning, for the first time, he sat and calmly stared up at the ceiling fan, seemingly mesmerized by it's slow, constant movement.

At the office, he's noticed the stuffed dogs on high bookshelves throughout the building. He will sit and vocalize toward them. It looks as though he's trying to get them to play, but I know Vinson really just wants to get a hold of them and start chewing!

The Food Motivation is Strong with this One

Because we leave for work quite early, Vinson gets his breakfast in my office at The Seeing Eye. As he'll show you in this video, he's well aware of this schedule and the fact that he must always sit and rest before eating. This demonstrates why keeping a regular schedule with your dog or pup is of the utmost importance. If we were to arrive at our regular time and he didn't get breakfast, Vinson will immediately recognize that the schedule is off.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Latest Chews

While Vinson's chewing and nipping has really been reduced in the last couple of weeks, there are still new items that attract his mouth. The latest?
  • Metal Zippers on anything from jackets to pillow covers
  • His stainless water bowl (he'll finish the water and then run away with the bowl)
  • Metal latches on leashes, tie-downs, etc
These hard and cool surfaces are likely attractive because of his teething / loosing his puppy teeth. Like the magazines, papers and towels before them, these items have now been removed when not in use or placed up high; and correction must be given to avoid damage to the pup's teeth or worse, creating a habit of chewing them.

The Thinker: Vinson Goes to the Library

Vinson and Ryan on the front steps

The staff at the Sparta Public Library love Seeing Eye® dogs and puppies and were immediately open to us bringing Vinson into the building.

We had Vinson sit on the front steps before entering the building. Once inside, he was intrigued by that library smell and all of the people that were quietly reading. He behaved very well and stuck with the library etiquette of remaining quiet.

After Sarah found the book she was looking for and Vinson was finished exploring, we left a nice big stack of Vinson's business cards on the checkout counter with permission from the librarian. Next time you're at the Sparta Public Library, pick up a card - and be on the lookout for Vinson in person!

Vinson & Sarah lounging in the reading area

Another Trip to Highlands Veterinary Hospital in Sparta

Resting patiently in the waiting room
The good folks at Highlands Veterinary Hospital in Sparta, NJ love seeing Vinson, and he had an appointment last night for the "L" (leptospirosis) in the DHLPP inoculation series.

As is typical with Vinson, he didn't whine or wince at all, and he posed proudly in the waiting area, on the scale and even on the exam table!

Up on the scale, Vinson weighed in at 29.5 pounds.

On his way out, Vinson was happy to leave behind a big stack of his personal business cards for other visitors to the office.

And then we were off for another adventure.

Vinson sitting on the exam table

Direct Link to New England Photo Gallery

Some people have reported problems viewing the full size photo gallery of Vinson's New England adventures. If you are in this boat, you can go directly to the gallery on Flickr at:

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Vinson Goes to New England

Heir to the Hartigan Wastewater Management fortune?Backseat DriverSitting at the PondMad River Marathon FestivalFast FriendsShowing Off
Mr. PopularThe Mad RiverDipping a Toe InAnd They're Off!The Finish LineRounding the Final Bend
Waving to VinsonEntering the Finish LaneThey Did It!Sarah & Vinson at the Finish LineVinson, Sarah & RyanSprinkler Fun
Making FriendsHorse & BuggyRyan and VinsonSarah and VinsonThe Paddle-WheelerThe Next Mascott for Lake George?

Vinson Goes to New England, a set on Flickr.

Vinson had a big adventure this weekend! His first trip out-of-state brought him to Vermont, where Sarah was running in the first annual Mad River Half Marathon in Waitsfield, Vermont.

Along the way, Vinson stood in huge crowds, experienced new and exciting moments and met hundreds of great people and dogs, all the while spreading the mission of The Seeing Eye. We handed out a boatload of Vinson's business cards to people from Europe, Canada, and all over the United States!

New Experiences Included:

The loud sound of the starting gun at the Marathon
The sight (and smells) of horses and cows
A crowd of thousands of runners and spectators
A Festival filled with music, food venders, people and dogs
Three nights in dog-friendly hotels
Long car drives
Meeting motorcycle riders from Canada
Standing in a cool flowing river
The sound of the fog horn on a huge ship

Vinson did wonderfully on the trip and is really progressing. On Sunday, he turned 19 weeks old.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Behind the Scenes at a Recent Photo Shoot

Vinson with a Giant Stuffed Candy Cane (supervised!)
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that Vinson had been asked to participate in a special photo shoot here at The Seeing Eye. This photo was taken while he was resting on the sidelines, but the toy he's laying with may give you a clue as to where you may next be seeing this famous pup in print!

More to come...

Vinson Highlighted in The Seeing Eye's Summer 2011 Edition of The Guide Magazine!

While reading through the latest edition of The Guide Magazine, Vinson was happy to see his very own article about him and this blog on page 15!

You can read the entire magazine, including the article about Vinson, at:

Growing Up, But Still a Pup!

Getting Big, But Still a Puppy!
Vinson has recently exhibited some nice "grown-up" behaviors - resting more quietly both at home and at the office, greatly reduced barking and nipping since we began working with the spray bottle, etc. He's still just a puppy, but it is really neat to witness what can be daily developments in behavior and learning.

In the photo on the right, Vinson is happily sleeping on my office floor, the blue rug a sharp contrast with his light caramel coat. He's curled into a crescent shape with his head resting on a big soft bone toy, and his hind quarters resting on his favorite red, yellow and blue "key chain" toy.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Flashing Lights, Loud Sirens and Horns

The line of firetrucks and rescue vehicles in the Fourth of July parade was a good chance to further Vinson's exposure to the sights and sounds. In this video, the firetrucks turn on a blaring siren, followed by a very loud horn. Vinson sat in the yard with us, just a few feet from the action. While the experience definitely got his attention, he did very well.

Independence Day Parade

Sarah, Vinson and Ryan checking out a an old U.S. Marine Corps truck.
Vinson enjoyed the Fourth of July parade; and what better way to celebrate Independence Day than with a Seeing Eye® pup?!

 In this photo, Sarah, Ryan and Vinson are posing in front of a large green U.S. Marine Corps truck. One of the Marine Veterans in the parade took special notice of Vinson; and it turns out, his friends have been longtime puppy raisers for The Seeing Eye!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Happy Eighteen Weeks, Vinson!

Vinson is four-and-a-half months old today. Official weigh-in: 27.6 pounds.