Sunday, January 25, 2009

Oh no, the Gentle Leader!

Good morning again,

Life in Colorado has been so much fun, until now. I have been able to sniff and smell along routes which usually results in a yank or two from Dad to hop up, but that's his job! But now, the gentle leader has been brought out and who came up with that name anyway?

Yes, Dad has had a few problems working me through restaurants. Well, I'm a growing teenager and I love to EAT! So, when I smaell or see scraps on the floor, I'm diving for them!

Our first major incident was a couple weeks ago when Mom, Grandma, Dad and I went to Outback Steakhouse. As we walked in from a snowy scene outside, all the people standing in the waiting line for wanting to pet me, love me, saying nice things about me, you know, the normal stuff that we guide dogs get! Dont' get me wrong, I don't mind it at all. In fact, I love it. But it does tend to distract me from my job.

Once we got our name called, Dad told me to follow the waitress to our table. I did for at least two seconds then promptly ran Dad's right leg into a wooden pillar of a booth whene some people were eating. I saw some scraps on the floor and knew it was my turn to snatch some food. Oooops, Dad was not too happy with me.

When we got to the table, I found a few scraps under the table. Well, I'm a Lab and I was hungry! Even though Dad had just fed me about 30 minutes earlier, I was still hunger. I'm still a teenager, so I'm not really worrying about my girlish figure, at least not yet!

Dad attended on Friday a breakfast meeting with clients and a lunch meeting with a nice guy named Charlie. But I was anything but well mannered as I sought out food and other people to sniff and get to knw to see if they wanted to share some of their food!

Dad was really exasperated with me. I could hear it in his voice. PARKA, lay down, REST!

Dad called Becki, my puppy raiser, to find out what she knew about my paper-eating habits and how unruly I was when going into restaurants. She confirmed that I LOVE to eat and when given the chance, would pick up and try and eat just about anything, especially paper.

Dad called Kae Ann in Boston, a real Rowdy Girl, to see what her experiences had been with Miss Melody. She mentioned that she had to use the gentle leader and high collar at times to keep her under control. Uh Oh.

Dad got the idea and pulled out the gentle leader and, of course, put it on wrong and had the leash attached to a ring in front of my eyes. I did not want to tell him that this was not correct, but then I did not like that strap across my snout anyway. I kept rubbing my nose on Dad's leg to try to rub it off. Kae told Dad how to properly loop it from the heck collar and finally it was on snug. Dog gone it!

Now Dad has control of my head and I am at his mercy. Well, maybe that's stretching it a little bit too far, at least, he has better control of my head. I guess that's what was needed, but I feel more like a slave. Where is that Abraham Lincoln guy when I need him? Wait a minute, I heard President Obama is trying to do a lot of things like Lincoln did, maybe he will "free the slave dogs?"

Oh, even better, the Obamas are looking for a dog for the White House! Maybe I could be the FIRST DOG? then maybe I would not have to wear this gentle leader? Hmmmmmm, gentle leader, why don't I just try to be a gentle leader of the pack?

Oh well, I love Dad and he takes such good care of me. I guess I will just have to straighten up my act. I promise to be GOOD, will that work? Please, no gentle leader!

Help my fellow caninces. Do you have to put up with this type of in-canine treatment?

Love, licks and hugs. A despondent Parka!


Anonymous said...

Well, Parka ... I hate to say it but you certainly had it coming to you! You know better than to pick up things off the floor, and I can't believe you were so busy sniffing around that you let Richard run into something. I bet you felt really bad about that. Well, young lady, you can see that he means business now. The sooner you start behaving better, the sooner that gentle leader will go away!

With (tough) love ... Your puppy mom, Becki

Zane Train II - The Parka Express said...

Mom? My other mother,

So great to hear from you! It was so great to see you again and the girls at our graduation.

But, you are being so hard on me! Didn't you hear how COLD and snowy it is where I live now? It takes a lot of energy to think about Dad slipping, watching out for these crazy drivers and keep an eye out for scraps!

Ooooh, I think I just indicted myself. I'm just a growing teenager and I love to eat, you know that! Dad wants me to worry about my girlish figure, but I need to fuel to keep my engine burning and churning.

Yes, I felt BAD when I heard Dad groan as his leg hit that pillar. He was not happy with me at that moment. I kinda laid low after that and paid more attention of getting him to our seats.

Gosh, I HATE this gentle leader. Who came up with that name anway? It's like being in bondage. Heh, with the right guy, that might not be so bad, right? Zane, where are you when I need you?

Yes, I will do better, Mom. You taught me well, but I have been a little rebellious lately.

Thanks for encouraging me and giving Dad some great hints. He is
so nice to me, I need to do better.

Accepting tough love ugh, Parka

Becky said...

Parka ... you are SO cute! The gentle leader does wonders doesn't it! Cricket hasn't worn it but was so helpful for Pantera when she was settling in.

Dear sweet loveable Zane said...

Parka (eyes-only)

Hey good looking! Getting caught eating scraps off the floor could lead to a one-way ticket back to Oregon and your puppy raisers, so you have a big decision to make. Do you want to be a professional guide dog or do you want to go back to your puppy raiser family that loves you so much? I can tell you for sure, that as much as they love you, they really want you to succeed with Richard. But honestly, I know how good those bits and pieces of dropped food look and taste so I totally understand why you took them. Little does Richard know but I got away with scrap eating for the entire time I was with him! He never had a clue! So here are some recommendations that might help you.

First, make sure at restaurants that you move toward the food slowly and discretely....never allowing yourself to noticeably pull on the rope attached to your collar because Richard will feel the tug and that's a dead give away to what you're trying to accomplish. It's best to settle down for a few minutes and wait till Richard and the others are deeply involved in conversation, then s-l-o-w-l-y move toward the dropped food. Slow moves will be interpreted by Richard as normal adjustments to your resting position. Any fast moves will get you busted for sure and you obviously know what that's like at this point. Embarassing to say the least and now you have the threat of the Gentle Leader. And remember, although Richard can't see that well, there are lots of others watching you from other tables and you don't want them to see you sneaking food. They'll develop a low opinion of you and you don't want that. Somebody might even snitch. (Us dogs have nicknames for those types of people).

My philosophy, my dear, is simply this: "what others don't see you doing won't hurt you". Just be discrete as you attempt to floor snack in public places. Slow steady moves are the best.

I remember the time I filled up on snacks on the restaurant floor in Denver and got away with it scot-free. And to top it off, Richard gave me a couple more treats for being such a good dog! Life for Guide Dogs can sure be good, you just have to learn to use the system to your advantage.

PS: Please don't let Richard or any others in his immediate circle of influence read this.


Egg said...

OK, this article is cute, and Parka is adorable, however, you really may want to reconsider that Gentle Leader. I for one, find them inhumane. Their popularity is a result of clever marketing, human gullibility, and anthropomorphism - it has nothing to do with being humane or gentle.

Head halters are all about torque and leverage. They give the handler enough physical strength to manipulate the dog as desired.

Consider this:
-If the product were marketed as "Facial Restraint" and described as "Giving you enough physical power to control your dog through added torque and leverage" - would you still have purchased it? Would you ignore the obvious signs of discomfort your dog displays while wearing it?

I suggest you take a step back and examine both the Gentle Leader and prong collar empirically and unemotionally. The prong collar is far safer and does physically manipulate the dog; rather it proves a consequence for ill behavior. It does not hurt (put it on your arm) and dogs do not hate having it put on.

For more info on the Gentle Leader, see this article:

Best of wishes to you and Parka.