June 8, 2011

141 - One Puppy's Trash ...

... could be your treasure! Romero has been helping us with the final preparations for our garage sale this Saturday - stop by if you're in the area. All funds raised will go to Dog Guides Canada in support of Romero.
Black lab Romero is decked out in his green Future Dog Guide jacket and thick red leash, sitting near the front of our open garage. He looks unusually young in this picture, with his head slightly tilted and his wide brown eye staring curiously towards the camera. Behind Romero is a large pile of STUFF stacked on and around a big plastic table. These items have all been sorted and priced for our upcoming garage sale. The pile contains, among other things, a red metal desk chair, a blender and other kitchen supplies, two bags of kids' golf clubs, shoes and boots, a Barbie suitcase, a humidifier, a push lawnmower, boardgames, a small blue bookshelf, and many miscellaneous decorations and office supplies.

June 5, 2011

138 - Outdoor Baseball

On a sunny day, Black lab Romero is lying near the bottom of a grassy hill with a baseball diamond behind him. The baseball game is in progress, and a group of pitchers in blue jerseys can been seen chatting just beyond the short metal fence that surrounds the field. A few spectators are leaning up against the fence watching the game. Romero himself is a very happy baseball fan. He's facing towards the camera, looking slightly down and to the right, with a huge smile on his face and his long front legs stretched out in the grass in front of him. He's wearing his green Future Dog Guide jacket, a blue and grey patterned collar, and a black leather leash.
The Blue Jays were out of town today, so Romero and I headed to a different  ball park in Toronto to watch the Toronto Maple Leafs of the Intercounty Baseball League play a double header.

June 4, 2011

137 - Hand Height

Romero has just reached the perfect height - I can pet him without bending down!
Black lab Romero and I are at the top of a mint-green carpeted staircase. I am standing and Romero is sitting on my left side in the heel position. The photo is taken from my chest level looking down at Romero. His blue and gray patterned collar is clipped to a thick red leash that is slung over my shoulder. My left hand is resting on Romero's head - he's just at that perfect height where I don't have to bend down to reach him. Romero is looking up towards my face. He looks rather comical with his big brown eyes rimmed in white and his helicopter ears sticking out from his head. With the angle of the photo, his front paws look tiny and delicate at the end of his long legs, and they are slightly turned out like a ballerina.

June 2, 2011

135 - Garage Sale Prep

Black lab Romero is lying on the floor of our bedroom in front of a very big cardboard box filled with items for our upcoming garage sale. Only Romero's head and shoulders are visible. He is looking slightly off to the side with his silly left ear folded back against his head. The objects in the box are pretty random, but visible is a chair for a doll, a stack of clothes on top of a blue pillow, and a big white stuffed bunny sitting in a small wastebin decorated with pictures of poodle puppies. Behind Romero and the box are two bookshelves filled with books.
We'll be continuing our fundraising for Romero's "scholarship" with a garage sale this month. Romero and I are looking forward to getting this big box of STUFF out of our room.

May 30, 2011

132 - New Friends

This picture is taken inside the Blue Jays shop at the Rogers Centre. The main focus of the picture is a large, probably 6 foot tall, statue of Ace, the Blue Jays Mascot. Ace is a Blue Jay who wears a white Jays jersey and blue and white running shoes. Black lab puppy Romero is lying down on Ace's right, and his friend Rafiki is sitting on Ace's left. Rafiki is a slightly younger black lab puppy with brindle markings. Both dogs are wearing their green future dog guide jackets. Behind the dogs and Ace are several tables and shelves covered in Blue Jays merchandise, and various racks of Jays shirts and jerseys.
Romero poses with friends "Ace" and Rafiki before the game

Our Seat: Section 524A, Row 4, Seat 106

Our Record: 5-3

Memorable Moments:
- Taking Romero's friend Rafiki to his first baseball game
- Red and white hats for Memorial Day (even though it isn't Memorial Day in Canada)
- Only one Blue Jay home run (Jayson Nix), but lots and lots of Blue Jay hits
- 11 batters batted in the bottom of the 4th inning (scoring 7 runs - most in one inning this season)

I knew going in that we'd see history - either Jojo Reyes would get his first win as a Blue Jay, or else he'd break the record for most consecutive starts without a win. Thankfully, it was the former! And a complete game for him at that! I have been a fan of Jojo since he joined the team, so it was great to be part of the crowd cheering for him and also to see his teammates congratulating him after the game.

May 29, 2011

131 - Walk For Dog Guides

Black lab Romero is sitting on the stone pathway out front of the Dog Guides training facility. He is wearing his green future dog guide jacket and a red and black training leash. He is looking very proper, sitting up straight and facing the camera, with his eyes like little black marbles. Above him, hanging from the overhang of the red brick building is a large white banner advertising the Purina Walk for Dog Guides.
Romero didn't get to participate in the Walk for Dog Guides this year (still recovering from his neuter) but he did get to pose with the sign once all the excitement died down.

May 28, 2011

130 - Lucky Pennies

Black lab puppy Romero is lying on the floor of my bedroom at the end of my bed. He is on the left side of the picture, wearing his Blue Jays collar, and looking slightly up and off to the side. His left ear is sticking out of the side, while his right one hangs down beside his head. Next to Romero are 4 jars full of coins. The first is a big white bucket with DONATIONS written across the front. The lid is resting against the bucket. It has a whole cut in the centre, and PENNIES FOR PUPPIES written around it. Next is a big blue Maxwell coffee can. Finally, a big peanut butter jar filled with pennies, and a smaller jam jar filled with silver coins.
A successful penny and bottle drive left us with several jars full of coins. Off to the bank tomorrow!

Thanks to everyone who donated, and thanks also to yellow lab Expo who joined me for the event since Romero is still resting up from his surgery (I figured if I couldn't take a dog named after a baseball player I'd take one named after a former baseball team).

May 27, 2011

129 - Penny Drive Prep

Black lab Romero is lying on the floor of the bedroom next to a big white bucket with a lid and a handle. The lid has a round hole cut in the centre, and around that is written Pennies for Puppies. A large label on the front of the bucket says DONATIONS Thanks for your support! Below that is a panoramic picture of eight black and chocolate labrador puppies wearing brightly coloured bandanas. The bucket is also decorated with red heart stickers (the same ones that come with Heartguard medication). Romero is facing the camera and leaning slightly away from the bucket with his front legs stretched out in front of him. He is wearing his blue and gray Blue Jays collar. His sleepy brown eyes are partially hidden in shadows. His floppy velvet ears are hanging down on either side of his head.
We're nearly ready for our penny and bottle drive tomorrow ... here, Romero poses with our newly-decorated penny bucket.

May 26, 2011

128 - Recovery

This is a close-up of black lab Romero's head resting on my leg as we cuddle on the floor together. We are sitting on a cream-coloured carpet and he is lying on his side with his head resting on my left knee. I am wearing beige corduroy pants and a red sweatshirt. My left hand is reaching down and rubbing Romero's head. Romero's brown eyes are slightly open, he looks quite relaxed.
I'm making sure Romero gets lots of rest and TLC as he recovers from his neuter.

May 25, 2011

127 - Boxes of Bottles

I will be conducting a bottle and penny drive in my neighbourhood this weekend for Romero's sponsorship (and am continuing to collect bottles and change throughout the year ... let me know if you have any to donate!). 
Black lab puppy Romero is posing in front of a pile of empty bottles which are waiting to be returned to the Beer Store. This picture is taken in the garage, where the cement floor is covered with streaks of paint. Romero is in the foreground, attached to a red leash and looking up into the camera. His silly left ear is sticking straight out to the side as usual. Behind him are two boxes containing 24 beer bottles, several smaller boxes of beer bottles, and about twelve loose wine bottles.
Here, Romero is posing with the bottles that we have collected so far ... this is what about $11 in returns looks like!

May 22, 2011

124 - Covered In Confetti

Black lab puppy Romero is lying on his side on the ground amid the blue plastic seats in the 500 level at the Rogers Centre. His head is lifted off of the floor, looking up into the camera. He is wearing his Blue Jays collar, red leash, and slightly dirty green Future Dog Guide jacket. His jacket and shiny black fur are sprinkled with small white paper circles, which have been punched out of All Star game voting ballots.
Our Seat: Section 519, Row 8, Seat 102

Our Record: 4-3

Memorable Moments:
- Second game in a row, and third in four days!
- A family affair ... all 6 of us (including Romero) attended the game today
- Punching our All-Star Game ballots ... those are the white dots all over Romero in the photo
- Two Blue Jay home runs
- An exciting bases-loaded bottom of the ninth, though unfortunately nothing to show for it

May 21, 2011

123 - Baseball With A Side Of Bagpipes

Black lab puppy Romero is intently watching a bagpiper playing outside the Rogers Centre. Romero is in the bottom left corner of the picture, wearing his Blue Jays collar, black leash, and green Future Dog Guide jacket. He is facing away from the camera, looking across a wide dirt path to the male piper, who is dressed in full scottish attire including a green jacket and kilt. On the right side of the photo there is a shadow of a photographer who is capturing a shot of Romero. Directly behind the bagpiper is a small white canopy tent set up as a first aid station, with a couple people sitting on chairs inside. Behind that, a big white bus is parked on the road that goes around the stadium. A few people are walking along the sidewalk in front of the road. Across the street is a larger white tent that is set up as a temporary theatre, and behind that four tall apartment buildings can be seen against the clear blue sky.
Our Seat: Section 525, Row 14, Seat 101

Our Record: 4-2

Memorable Moments:
- No guests today, just my pup and I enjoying an afternoon game
- Our first interleague game (it would be more exciting if the pitchers hit)
- A slow start for the Jays, but a come-from-behind win in the end
- 2 more homeruns from the major league HR leader Jose Bautista!
- And for good measure, another from Junel Escobar too
- Some post-game entertainment outside the park, including the bagpiper above

May 19, 2011

121 - The Roof Is Open!

Black lab puppy Romero, wearing his Blue Jays collar and green Future Dog Guide jacket, is sitting in the second row of the upper deck at a Blue Jays game. Romero is looking back towards the camera, and behind him is a view of the Rogers centre with the roof open (also directly behind Romero is a fan with blue hair watching the game very intently). Our seats are on the first base side of home plate, so the picture looks over to the third baseline side of the stadium, including the Blue Jays dugout down below. The game is in progress, so you can see the umpire and the catcher's leg's near home plate (the catcher is partially blocked by the blue railing in front of our seats). The blue stadium seats appear less than half-full, with more fans in the lower levels than the 500 level. A few tall buildings can be seen beyond the open dome, though not the CN tower, which is on the opposite side from this photo.
Our Seat: Section 518, Row 2, Seat 3

Our Record: 3-2

Memorable Moments:
- Romero's first "outdoor" baseball game, and my first this year
- The third game in a row that we've attended with Tampa Bay as the opponent
- Watching Aaron 'Pingu' Hill converse with the umpires before and during the game ... I think Aaron wants to be an umpire when he grows up
- Juan Rivera's "I got it" hand motions to the pitcher whenever he was taking a ball to first base
- Wade Davis' rather hilarious move to check on baserunners - maybe they couldn't steal because they were laughing too hard?
- A win ... putting both Romero (the dog at least) and the Jays back over .500
- The great games from Ricky Romero and JP Arencibia made all the more special after reading THIS

May 18, 2011

May 12, 2011

114 - Introducing The Halti

Black lab puppy Romero is sitting in our upstairs hallway, with an open white door behind him and the wooden bannister of our stairs on the right of the picture. The photo centres on Romero's head. He is wearing a halti - a head halter made of thin black fabric that circles around Romero's muzzle and clips together behind his head. A safety strap attaches to the halti under Romero's chip loops down and clips to Romero's blue and gray Blue Jays collar. Romero is looking directly into the camera with his big brown eyes. His mouth is slightly open in a half smile. This photo highlights the long black whiskers on his muzzle and chin. There is a small bead of water dripping from Romero's wet nose.
No, it's not a muzzle! The halti is a head collar, like a horse's halter. It's important for future dog guides like Romero to be comfortable with the halti on, as he may wear it when he is a working dog.

May 11, 2011

113 - McHappy Day

black lab puppy Romero is sitting on the greenish tile floor in the entrance to a McDonalds restaurant. He is wearing his green Future Dog Guide jacket, a green leash, and a bright blue bandana with yellow suns and a McDonalds M on it. Romero is in full working mode - sitting nicely and staring seriously into the camera. Behind Romero is a large window covering most of the wall, an through it you can see people sitting at tables enjoying their dinner. In the top pane of the window is a small white poster with a picture of a cute yellow lab in a green jacket, advertising for McHappy day.
Today was McHappy Day at McDonalds restaurants, with $1 from the purchase of certain items going to charity. In Oakville, these donations went to Dog Guides. Romero spent dinner time at our nearest restaurant greeting the diners and gladly accepting donations in exchange for some puppy love.

May 7, 2011

109 - Gang's (Almost) All Here

Four dogs are lined up in my messy bedroom. From left to right - Dallas, a black lab wearing a red collar is lying with her back half out of the photo, facing slightly away from the camera. She looks rather un-enthusiastic, not thrilled about posing for a picture. Next is 6 month old black lab puppy Romero, catching up to Dallas in size. He is wearing a blue collar, lying in the centre of the photo, facing towards the camera but sort of staring off into space. His big, expressive ears are held forward, framing his face. Third is visiting collie Tanner. His long soft fur is mostly tan and white, with a few black highlights around his eyes and ears. He is lying right against Romero, staring into the camera, and has his mouth open in a smile. Next to Tanner's paw is a black and red rubber ring toy. Last but not least is big yellow lab Baloo, who is standing slightly behind Tanner. Baloo too is looking directly into the camera, but with a curious look on his face. Behind the dogs are Romero's open wire crate and a big carboard box full of stuff for an upcoming garage sale.
With most of our human family away for the weekend, the canine kids are all hanging out together. Missing is camera-shy silky terrier Noel.

April 25, 2011

097 - Sleepover

Black lab puppy Romero is lying in the middle of my bedroom on the cream coloured carpet. He looks worn out, with his head resting between his two outstretched front paws. He also has a bright lime green, chewed up old stuffed toy under his right paw. Romero's new friend Tanner is lying on a thick gray blanket near Romero's back feet. Tanner is a big collie - he looks just like Lassie! He too looks pretty tired, with his paws tucked under him and his long nose resting on his blanket. Behind the dogs, the bedroom is rather messy, with various piles of boxes and stacks of books.
Romero thinks that dogsitting can be tiring, but he's happy to have a new friend to play with.

April 23, 2011

095 - Dog In The Dome

Black lab puppy Romero is sitting near the bottom of the field level bleachers at the Rogers Centre before the game. He is wearing his green future dog guide jacket and red leash, and is sitting in the middle of an aisle a couple rows us. There are blue seats on either side of him, and behind him a short blue gate that opens onto the field. The green turf field is empty, save for a bat boy sitting beside a bucket of baseballs. The vast stands are almost completely empty too - it is still quite a while before the game is scheduled to start. The dome roof above is closed (it is still April in Canada after all) and the bright stadium lights are reflecting down onto the field.
Our Seat: Section 526, Row 6, Seat 107

Our Record: 2-2

Memorable Moments:
- Being back at the stadium less than 12 hours after leaving last night
- Watching pitchers (including Ricky Romero) warming up before the game
- Hearing one of the pitchers thank their coach for the help
- Sam Fuld = still awesome, though I wish he'd stop scoring against my team
- The (excellent) return of Brandon Morrow
- Two more Bautista home runs!! (and a walk and a single)
- Seeing the cheerleading usher for the first time this season
- Yet again, coming close in the 9th
- No better way to spend a Saturday than at the game with my puppy

April 22, 2011

094 - He Can Sleep Anywhere, Ballpark Edition

Black lab puppy Romero is lying on his side, asleep on the concrete floor of the 500 level stands at the Rogers Centre. He is wearing his green Future Dog Guide jacket, his Blue Jays collar, and a red leash that drapes over his shoulder. His face is completely relaxed, his top ear is flopped over the top of his head, and his front legs are stretched in front of him. Behind Romero's head, you can see the legs of the person in the seat next to him, as well as a fair bit of popcorn kernels and other garbage littering the ground.
Our Seat: Section 522, Row 16, Seat 1

Our Record: 2-1

Memorable Moments:
- My mom and sister joining us for the game
- Sam Fuld = awesome, even though he's not a Jay
- An improved outing for JoJo Reyes (I'm rooting for him)
- Jose Bautista taking two walks when he's a single short of the cycle
- The wave going around Rogers Centre / SkyDome (I know it's silly, but it reminds me of baseball games as a kid)
- Extra innings
- Romero sleeping through all of this
- Chants of "Johnny Mac" as we walked back to the train station

April 21, 2011

093 - Donation Dog

Romero helped spread the word about Dog Guides at a subway station this afternoon, and got to wear a special "donation dog" vest over his Future Dog Guide jacket.
Black lab puppy Romero is sitting in the middle of a Toronto subway station, looking like a perfect dog guide ambassador! He is decked out in his Blue Jays collar, red leash, and green future dog guide jacket. Over top of his jacket, he is wearing a smaller purple vest. On each side of the vest it says DONATION DOG and there is a plastic pocket to hold donations. There is a blue five dollar bill in the pocket of Romero's jacket. In front of Romero is a red plastic Dog Guides donation bucket. Behind Romero are various pillars (we are on the lower level of the station), a small convenience store, and escalators leading down to the tracks. There is one person wearing a black jacket and light blue backpack heading towards the escalators.
Best comment of the day (from a lady who stopped to take several pictures of Romero) ... "He's going to be the next Prince William!"

I'm not 100% sure of what she meant by that, but I enjoyed the thought of Romero as royalty being chased by paparazzi.

April 16, 2011

088 - Family Reunion

5 month old black lab siblings Jazzy and Romero are sitting side by side in the hall at the Dog Guides training facility. Both are wearing their green future dog guide jackets. You can tell they are being bribed with a treat because both are looking upwards, Jazzy has her mouth slightly open in anticipation and Romero's pink tongue is licking his lips. The two dogs have similar features - dark brown eyes, floppy velvet ears, and long slender faces. Romero is just a little taller than Jazzy but she is thicker-set. There are a couple people standing in the hallway around the dogs, and behind them is a black floor mat in front of the open sliding door to the relief area.
Romero (right) met up with his sister, Jazzy, today at the Dog Guides spring open house

April 14, 2011

086 - A Few Fundraisers

We continue to slowly work towards our goal of raising $20000 to sponsor Romero's training as a dog guide. Check out the ticker in the right sidebar to keep track of our progress.

Here's an update on some of our new and ongoing fundraisers for Romero's scholarship ...
5 month old black lab puppy Romero is sitting in the corner of my bedroom where the blue wall meets the white door. He's in a typical puppy sit position - with his left hip sticking out the side, and his head just slightly tilted. He is wearing his blue and gray Blue Jays collar and looking towards the camera with a serious expression on his face. Resting against his front legs is a long, thin plaqued poster. The image on the poster is eight six-week-old labrador puppies sitting on a stone step in front of the green grass in our backyard. From left to right is a light chocolate lab in a red bandana, a black lab in a yellow bandana (hanging in front of his chest like a bib), a chocolate lab in a dark green bandana, a smiling black lab in a blue bandana, a black lab in a purple bandana, a chocolate lab in a pink bandana, a black lab wearing a maroon bandana and chewing on her brother's neck, and finally a chocolate lab in a lime green bandana who looks like she's about ready to lie down and go to sleep.
1) In the above picture, Romero is helping to display our newest fundraiser - cute puppy posters! These poster prints of the Dog Guides' 2009 "B" litter are $10 each (please note, poster plaquing not included in this price). Contact us at dogguideromero@gmail.com to purchase posters, or CLICK HERE for more details.

2) We also have some other great items featuring the above picture available at our Cafepress Store.

3) Romero's quilt is now complete! Raffle tickets are on sale from now until June - $2 each or 3 for $5. CLICK HERE for more details and to see the finished quilt, and email us at dogguideromero@gmail.com to purchase tickets!

Of course donations and spare change are always gladly accepted ... every little bit counts.
Thanks for all of your support, and stay-tuned for some upcoming fundraising events!

April 7, 2011

079 - Reactions To Romero

Romero and I are taking a break from our normal "photo-a-day" format to join in the 3rd Assistance Dog  Blog Carnival with the theme of REACTIONS:
Spending the majority of my time with a dog guide puppy in training by my side, I encounter many different reactions from the people we meet throughout the day. Take today, for example ...
Romero and I were up early, catching the train into Toronto where we were helping out with a fundraiser at one of the subway stations. It's always fun to see the smiles on the commuters' faces as they pass by the puppies. Several people commented that puppy greetings were the best way to start the morning!
After the morning rush, Romero and I ran some errands and ended up at the mall. We stopped to take a rest on a bench, and were soon joined by an older couple who stopped to admire Romero. A brief encounter can turn into a thirty minute conversation when there's a puppy involved. We covered the typical topics ("How old is your puppy?" "What kind of dog guide will he be?" "How do you teach him to be so calm?" and of course "Won't you be sad to give him up?") and even ventured into a bit of baseball chatter (after explaining that Romero was named after a baseball player).
Next was a bathroom break for me. Romero does well in public washrooms, tucking in to the tiny stalls. I do wonder what people think when they see a little black tail sticking under the door though!
For lunch, we met up with a friend and her dog guide puppy - Romero's "girlfriend" Jewel. With two puppies, we attract even more attention (and you can imagine the reaction when get together with a group of ten or more puppies!).
The main event of the day was an outing to the Blue Jays game. I have taken Romero and my previous foster puppies to the Rogers Centre many times before, and never had any access problems. Today, they didn't bat an eye at the two dogs, but security was concerned about the roll of paper towels in my backpack. Once I explained that they were for puppy cleanups "just in case" and I wasn't planning to throw them on the field, we were allowed into the stadium.
We settled into our seats - way up top but with a great view for both us and the dogs - and the two pups promptly fell asleep. They remained that way for most of the game, showing no reaction to the clapping and cheering of the people around us.
Probably my favourite reaction to Romero ever came after the game. We had stopped to get a picture of Romero under Ricky Romero's banner outside the stadium, and a fellow Blue Jays fan must have overheard us saying Romero's name. He asked me if I'd named my dog after a Blue Jay, and when I said that I had, he stopped to shake my hand. This led to another conversation about both baseball and dog guides, and before we parted ways he gave me another sincere handshake, this time in appreciation of the work I do as a volunteer puppy raiser. It was an unnecessary gesture (fostering these puppies is more enjoyable and rewarding than I can explain) but appreciated nonetheless - so thanks, Mr. Blue Jays Fan, and I hope Romero and I will run into you at another game sometime!
Black lab puppy Romero is in a down on the concrete floor beneath a blue stadium seat at the Rogers Centre. He is wearing his green future dog guide jacket. His head is perked up and he is looking slightly off to the right, with his paws hanging over the ledge in front of him. Next to Romero (slightly behind him in this photo) is another dog guide puppy, black lab Jewel. Jewel is about 10 months old, but about the same size as Romero, with a thin, triangular face and big floppy ears. She is looking towards the camera with her chin resting on the ground. There is no one sitting in the seats above the dogs (we are in front of them taking this picture) but there are several jackets and bags saving our seats.
And now for our report on our 2nd baseball game of the season ...

Our Seat: Section 523, Row 10, Seat 1
Our Record: 1-1
Memorable Moments:
- Romero's first "date" with Jewel
- Seeing Ricky Romero pitch live and awesomely
- Aaron Hill (Sam's favourite position player) getting the first hit of the game, then stealing second and breaking his belt in the process
- Coming close in the bottom of the ninth

April 6, 2011

078 - More Pennies For Puppies

5 month old black lab puppy Romero is sitting on an olive green mat at the front door, ready to go out on an errand. He is sitting sideways so that you can see the FUTURE DOG GUIDE written along the side of his green jacket (which is getting a bit small for him). A green leash is attached to his blue collar. He is looking into the camera with a goofy smile on his face - he is holding his left ear out from his head (classic Romero look) and has his pink tongue sticking out just a little. In front of Romero is a small metal jar with a dog silhouette on it (used to be a dog cookie jar, now a coin jar) that has ROMERO'S SCHOLARSHIP written on it.
Romero and I are off to the bank today to deposit another batch of spare change that we have collected for Romero's scholarship.