Saturday, October 29, 2011

Vinson's First Snow will be Sooner than Expected! Winter Storm Warning: 8-12 inches on the way!

We've been excited to watch Vinson's first experience with snow but weren't quite expecting that moment to come before the leaves are off the trees! As I write this, it's already snowing here in Sparta, NJ, and the forecast here now calls for up to 12 inches by Sunday!

It's also a big day for Vinson because he's having another sleepover tonight with his favorite Seeing Eye instructor, Joy, while Sarah and I travel through the snow to a wedding. So, lots of excitement. We'll try and capture some first snow moments on the camera.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The New Smells of Autumn

Vinson is fascinated by his first Autumn - the smells, the blowing leaves, the cooler air, the wet grass, the appearance of busy creatures like deer and squirrels.

Today at The Seeing Eye, he got his first look at a pile of leaves. What a treat! Here is enjoying the fall scents in the air after inspecting the pile.

Vinson tiptoeing through the leaves as he enjoys the Autumn air

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Vinson Graduates to the Training Collar

Vinson recently moved up from the martingale to the official training collar, allowing more direct control and correction. Sometimes people have a difficult time mastering the proper use of a training collar, so Vinson and I put together a brief video to show it in action.

You can watch the video in high definition on The Seeing Eye YouTube channel at

For puppy raisers, never switch your dog to a training collar without first speaking with your area coordinator. Younger dogs should not use these collars, and no training collar should ever be left on an unsupervised or crated dog.

The Gate Escape

Vinson gave us a little surprise at The Seeing Eye. Pat and Garcia were standing just outside my office gate while Pat and I discussed a project. Suddenly there was a commotion, and by the time I peered around my computer monitor, Vinson was standing outside the gate, happily licking his pal, Garcia! By the sound of it, the escape was not graceful.

I'll be keeping a close eye on him to ensure this behavior never repeats; and he loves being in my office. It's just that his adolescent-like energy wouldn't let him resist a chance to see an old pal.

Now, Vinson is sleeping as close to the back of my chair as possible; and he matches the color of his bed quite well.

It's tough to have a bad day at work when you can spin around in your chair and see this!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Joining the Flock

Vinson had his first experience with a large flock of trumpeting geese flying in formation on their journey southward this morning at The Seeing Eye. He stopped in the grass, sat and gazed upward, seemingly amazed. He's used to seeing birds of all types, but the loud sounds eminating from this formation really caught his attention.

The Teenage Years

Vinson has entered another mode of challenging the rules and explosive energy - the puppy equivalent of a teenager testing the limits. He's also growing quite rapidly at the moment.

Some issues we're working on are:

  1. Jumping and biting at the leash on walks, twisting and tugging, etc. With this issue, we're taking the advice of the Pro's at The Seeing Eye and looking at it from the standpoint of reward. Vinson's "reward" in biting and tugging the leash is the game, the attention and interaction. To remove the reward, we tell him "no" and then stop in our tracks, not making eye contact and giving him no attention at all. As soon as he ceases the behavior, we give him big, happy praise and go on with the walk. The idea is that with repetition, eventually Vinson will make the connection the jumping and biting the leash means we don't get to go anywhere and he doesn't get any attention. The hardest part about this? Until Vinson "gets it", a lot of patience is required on walks - and a lot of time.
  2. Resistance barking: This behavior had stopped many months ago, but with Vinson's adolescent growth stage, it's back. He seems impressed with the volume he can put out now, and will occasionally use his bark to make his feelings known, whether it's to remove a cat from his bed or to resist a command we've given. We're working on this one through repeated correction and using the spray bottle when required.
  3. Compulsive behavior - spots on the floor: Just like the barking, the spots-on-the-floor issue is the return of a past problem of Vinson's. Small spots or patterns on floors draw his attention - even if they're just tiny blemishes. He will frantically "dig" and sniff at the spot as if he's about to unearth a pot of golden kibble. This one is a bit challenging - we correct the action, but are not sure what the cause is yet. Like a true show-stealer, Vinson decided to display this trick at last Friday's puppy club meeting!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Vinson's Brief Cameo

Vinson makes a very brief cameo appearance in his pal Garcia's very popular dog's-eye-view video on The Seeing Eye's YouTube channel. See if you can spot him at the end of the cool clip.

The Latest Chews

A maple tree seed
It's been quite a while since I posted a "latest chews" article, thankfully because as Vinson has matured (I use the term loosely), he's stopped most chewing behaviors - but not all.

Recent items of interest include:
  • Leaves! While they used to be a favorite of his, Vinson lost interest in leaves, BUT, the arrival of Autumn breezes filled with circling leaves has completely rekindled his interest. They're boring on the ground, but once they start moving they become a whole new distraction.
  • Deer poop - unfortunately Vinson has recently discovered deer droppings. Frankly I'm not sure how he didn't investigate them earlier on. Regardless, a suspicious nose to the grass and zigzagging pattern alerts me that he's honing in on a deer treat. Swift, repeated correction is the name of the game.
  • Maple tree seeds (we called them "helicopters" as kids).

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New Perspectives

Shot this quick video this morning using our new GoPro Hero camera.

The first clip shows tightening the martingale collar properly - keep the collar high on the neck and tighten until you can comfortably fit two fingers between the collar and your pup. The second part is a unique perspective of Vinson exploring the Seeing Eye campus.

Watch in 1080p high definition on our YouTube channel.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Breakthrough Cat Moment

Last night, Vinson and one of our cats, Porter, had a huge breakthrough in trust. Vinson has been sniffing at the cats as they pass since he arrived home in April, but none of them would give him a long enough sniff to satisfy his curiosity.

Porter mustered up some bravery and now it appears a strong friendship is on the horizon. Porter laid quietly and let Vinson approach. After completing the sniff-a-thon, Vinson began to lick the cat, covering him with tiny little kisses. Porter purred and let the bath continue - which it did in grand style! Vinson gave more generous licks, leaving the cat looking as if he'd been caught in a rainstorm; but Porter purred.

After the "bath", Vinson and Porter napped together for the first time; and Vinson had his left front paw wrapped around his new friend as they snoozed. Of course, I didn't have a camera handy when this event transpired, but something tells me there will be more cat and Vinson moments to come.

Have You Seen this Man?

 Featured on the homepage, Vinson is promoting the 2011 Seeing Eye holiday cards, which are now on sale. As you can tell from this photo when he was just four months old, Vinson was part of this year's photo shoot and is featured on the actual cards.

You can order your holiday cards online at

More Milestones

Vinson has been a busy boy lately as he continues to grow up. Some of the latest milestones?
  • 33 weeks old
  • 44.5 pounds
  • No accidents in the house in months
Keep up the great work, bud!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Vinson had a great time staying with one of the instructors and her dogs on Friday night. Although it sounds like he was a bit "over-excited" at having two other dogs in the house with him, everyone wore each other out and had a fun time.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Preparing for a Special Slumber Party

Vinson will be getting a special treat Friday night. While Sarah and I are traveling for a wedding, Vinson will be spending the night with a Seeing Eye trainer and her two golden retrievers!

Since Vinson loves all dogs, and already clearly loves this particular instructor, he's in for a great slumber party!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Vinson Receives Fan Mail Card at The Seeing Eye!

Vinson's first fan mail card arrived today!

Vinson was thrilled to receive his first physical fan mail card today. It arrived at The Seeing Eye addressed to "Vincent, Puppy in Training", and contained a wonderful letter written to him about how great it was to meet him in person at the recent open house.

Vinson enjoying the crinkly ears on his new bunny
After reading the card to him, Vinson got a reward, courtesy of our friends at HUGGLEHOUNDS - a plaid and corduroy bunny toy with various squeakers and his new favorite, crinkly ears!

New Exposure

Vinson spent the last four days being exposed to something new - home remodeling! During a summer home project I discovered that our house was not insulated, so before another cold winter sets in, Sarah and I took on the project of ripping out drywall, installing insulation and re-drywalling the rooms.

Because of the mess of dust, nails, etc. during the project, the rooms were a no-puppy zone. Using the gates and moving his toys and bed, Vinson relocated to the kitchen for the duration. He could hear and see us, and at first whined to be with us. But within just a few minutes he seemed to understand the new situation, and for the remainder of the project, he made no complaints, happily sleeping in his bed in the kitchen and greeting us when we entered the room to bring him out, etc.

What a great guy?!

More new posts to come now that the computer is back online at home!