August 10, 1999
Vicki, like much of the rest of the US, has been suffering from this heat wave. Therefore, she hasn't done much work with Irena. Vicki did go to Dairy Queen, though with a group of friends, so of course Irena went too. The employees at Dairy Queen loved Irena and had no problem with her coming in. There were people there who wanted to know about Irena, so Vicki had a chance to talk to them about The Seeing Eye program and give them *Irena's* Card. This card, which shows Irena, provides info about The Seeing Eye program and includes Vicki's phone number & e-mail address, as well as The Seeing Eye's phone number and homepage address.

Vicki has been quite busy lately. She just went to Penn State University July 27th to July 29th for 4-H's fun State Achievement Days. Also, Miki, a new exchange student from Japan, arrived on July 24th. Natalia, the exchange student from Spain, left on July 27th, but the family gets emails daily from her. And, she says she is coming back at Christmas time to visit. Vicki's family is also hosting a 16-year-old young man from France, who will be with them through the month of August. Boy, is he in for lots of fun. Vicki is also preparing for her county's big 4-H Grange Fair. Here, she will be showing her rabbits and cavies there, and be in charge of her 4-H teen council's fund raiser. To top it off, she just took a trip with Irena to Hershey Park. We can't wait to hear how that turns out!

We also have news about Blair's mother-to-be status. She just had her puppies, delivering four gals and three dudes. Toward the end of September, Vicki should be getting one of these pups to raise. It will probably be about the same time that Irena will have to leave. Pretty sad about that, Vicki is nonetheless excited about being a Great Grandmom! The Seeing Eye personnel said that they would pick out the cutest female for Vicki. So now, the waiting begins . . 


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August 16, 1999
Vicki took a Golden trip to the Hershey Fun Park in Hershey, Pennsylvania. It was about and hour and 45 minute drive to the park so they left at 7:15 a.m. to be able to meet up with the other puppy raisers (the family raising Irena's brother Ingle and their other puppy, a 4-month-old Yellow Lab named Venture).

Below is an adorable group photo from the park. From left to right, there's Vicki, Ashley (mostly hidden behind Vicki's head), Irena, Venture, Ingle, and Nicole. Now don't they look cute posing with the Hershey Chocolate Syrup Bottle?

Hershey Park funThe first thing on the agenda when they arrived was to take the Hershey World tour/ride. Here, you sit in cars and go for a tour. On the way, they came upon a fake cow. Irena definitely thought this mooing cow was strange. The funny looks she kept giving it was really cute. After the tour, everyone went to the amusement park area. It was really cool to have dogs, as they didn't have to wait in the long line to enter the park. The security guards just let the group go to the front of the line so the dogs wouldn't have to wait in the line.

Irena, Ingle & Venture all did very well in the park and everyone really enjoyed themselves. They went on the Kissing Tower ride, the Antique Cars ride, and the Carousel. On the other rides, everyone did a "puppy swap". They would all wait in line together and when they got up to the ride, four would get on and the other four would walk through the ride to the other side (unloading side) with the dogs. When the four got back from the ride we would switch places. This worked very well.

Throughout the day, Vicki had people asking questions. While some were about The Seeing Eye program, the majority were just silly ("How did you sneak your dog in here?" or "Does your dog go on the roller coasters?") The funniest one was when Vicki was asked which booth she won Irena at.


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August 30, 1999
Vicki just took Irena to the Grange Fair. Irena was an angel there. There is a "No Dogs Allowed" rule at the Grange except for Seeing Eye pups, so of course everyone wanted to know what Irena was doing there. It was great PR for The Seeing Eye. Irena even slept over Friday night with Vicki. They slept in an open pavilion on a pile of straw. Irena simply loved it. Vicki attached Irena's leash to herself so that she shouldn't explore the fair during the night. They didn't get much sleep, though, because the night security guards kept coming by on the hour to pet Irena! And, then Irena was awakened at 4:30 a.m. when she heard the dairy people starting to milk their cows.

August 23rd to August 27th Vicki went to her ccamp funhurch's "Family Camp." Her parents are the camp directors. Sixteen other families (about 70 people) attended. And, of course, Irena couldn't be left out. This camp, Spruce Lake Retreat in the Poconos Mountains, doesn't allow dogs. But, they always let Vicki bring her Seeing Eye pups! Irena was very popular and she had so much fun. She enjoyed a swim in the pond and loved to go hiking. Look how happy she looks here lounging in the grass.
so regal
While Vicki and Irena were at camp, they always had a line of kids following them. Vicki says that Irena is truly a kid magnet. One day they were walking around the pond, and all of the sudden the kids started yelling "Irena! Irena!" It turned out that she had caught a frog. Vicki was really relieved that she knew the "out" command! Irena spit out the frog when Vicki told her "Out!" and the frog seemed none the worse. The kids were very impressed by the escapade. And, they just couldn't believe that Irena was able to catch a frog because they were having some trouble themselves being able to catch any.

Irena just had her 1-year-old birthday. She really grew up so quickly. Vicki could get "the call" anytime now.



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September 3, 1999
Today was The Seeing Eye's Annual Show. The Seeing Eye instructors, who function as the judges, judge both the pups' and handlers' skills. The Seeing Eye instructors are the judges. Irena and Vicki won a Best In Class which was the top eight dogs in her (10 months and up) class. And, that was out of a group of 32 dogs! Vicki was so proud of her Irena, getting a score of 99 out of a possible 100. And, get this! Irena was the only Golden Retriever to qualify in this 'top
eight' group.

Vicki was puppy sitting another guy, Logo, at the time. So, she showed him as well. A seven-month-old Golden, also being raised for The Seeing Eye, he was shown in the 6 to 9 months class. Logo earned a score of 96 out of 100.
Can we come out to play now?
Vicki also got to meet Roseanna, one of Ivy's *R* litter puppies, at the show! This picture shows the litter, who were born on April 3, 1999 in Oklahoma. Roseanna's trainer asked Vicki if she wanted to show her for him. Well, Vicki could not pass up on this opportunity. Here, she was showing her own grand-puppy. Roseanna was shown in the 4 to 6 months class. Roseanna was simply wonderful for a 5-month-old puppy! Roseanna and Vicki went on to win Best In Show! Her score was 50 out of 50. Vicki was so very proud of her *granddaughter*.

Vicki also had a funny story to share about the show. One of the things the dogs were judged on was their reaction to the judge. This was to determine if the dog was scared of strangers, how friendly they were, etc. Since there were 32 dogs in Irena's class, this part of the testing took quite some time. Well, Irena was the smart one here. She laid down and went to sleep while they waited for their turn.
Now, Vicki says that when Irena sleeps, she is out like a light. In fact, there's hardly anything that will wake her up. When the judge got to Irena, she still wouldn't wake up! The judge was shaking her paws, patting her, looking at her teeth, etc. and she still wasn't waking up. The judge though it was very amusing. Even though the judge never got a reaction from Irena, she still got a perfect 10 on that test. That's because the judge was impressed by the fact that you could do anything to Irena without her getting upset.


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SepteAll aboard!mber 18, 1999
On September 10th, Vicki's puppy club rented a bus ("one of those nice buses with a bathroom"), and took "The Bus Ride To Nowhere".

They all practiced getting on and off the bus with the puppies, in addition to going on a bus ride. In this way, the puppies could gain experience with boarding buses, getting off buses, and laying under the seats on the bus. Vicki says it was really a lot of fun. Goldens seem to be happy just being involved, no matter what it is that they are doing with you!

They also all took a walk around town. One of the stores had a statue of a dog out
front and all the dogs were very interested in it! Don't ysitting prettyou wonder what our canine friends think about these big, hard, odor-less dog statues? Are they waiting for them to show some sign of life? Now, wouldn't that be really cool to know!

Then, on Sunday, the puppy club put on a demonstration at an event called "Kids Together." For this demo, Vicki worked with Irena, while someone else from the club worked with Logo (a puppy that Vicki has been taking care of). Logo became very upset, continually trying to get over his 'girlfriend' Irena. After the demonstration, Vicki took Logo back home to his own puppy-raising family. While he was happy to see them, he again became upset when Irena and Vicki left to go home. Boy was he exitHey, is this stone guy for real?ed when he got to see Irena again at the next puppy club meeting the following Monday. Vicki thinks Logo is "in love!" 

After this meeting, Vicki got some good news. Mrs. D, the group's puppy leader told her that Blair's puppy would be arriving next week! Although it is supposed to be the "X" litter, its large size may cause them to skip the letter "X" and go to "Y." Vicki just can't wait until her new puppy arrives! But, this little one will have an incredibly tough act to follow, as Irena has been such a treasure. In fact, Vicki's new nickname for her Irena is "my Mary Poppins puppy" because she is nearly perfect in every way.



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October 2, 1999 Hi, I'm Zinde!
Blair's baby (who was born on August 2, 1999) arrived today! Ready for her
name? It's Zinde! It's sounds like Cindy with a Z. She looks like a Yellow Lab, but Vicki thinks she is going to turn into a light Golden color. Zinde is a real handful. She loves getting hold of Irena's tail and then pulling on it. Although Zinde is very high energy, she is also very cute (thank goodness for that!).

Irena didn't know what to do with her at first because Zinde wanted to wrestle with her. With Breeze, if Zinde was annoying, she would just bat her away or knock her over. Zinde was the biggest in the litter, already weighing 13 pounds at 8 weeks of age.




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October 8, 1999
Vicki's new baby has sure kept her busy. While adorable Zinde may look more like a lab, she has a Golden personality though and through! But, is she a handful. Zinde likes to chew on everything, and thinks she's really tough, loving to play with the big dogs. Yet, they are very gentle with her. Look at her being so tough as she wrestles with Irena.being a pest However, Zinde adores Irena and always looks at her with a look of love. Cuddling up with her often, she acts as though Irena is her mom.

At first, Breeze didn't like Zinde at all. Then, she just tolerated her. But, now she really seems to like her. She even lets Zinde snuggle with her. Zinde has had no trouble adjusting. She LOVES to play with toys, and is always taking Breeze's favorite tennis ball and running behind the couch (the other dogs can't fit back there). Of course, Zinde then plays keep away with them.

Zinde already seems to be very smart! She already can go down five steps, and goes up any number of steps. Zinde is also perfect in the crate. At first she hated it, but she learned from Irena how to behave there. Zinde is already growing like a weed. Zinde gained 1 1/2 pounds already this week. Part of the "Z" litter, her siblings' names are: Zelma, Zelda, Zonita (her sisters), Zeigler, Zeb, and Zoda (her
brothers). Vicki has already chatted with the people who have Zonita and Zoda (the one raising Zoda also has Irena's brother Iman!), and the raiser of Zonita knows the person who has Zelma. Now, Vicki just has to locate the other three!

Irena's been an absolute angel with puppy Zinde. She is too young to go anywhere yet, so it's still just Irena and Vicki who are going out on outings. Irena just went with Vicki to the Provident Bookstore for the first time, and they of course simply adored her. She's the first dog that Vicki has puppy-raised who has gone there. Irena also went to Wal-Mart on Tuesday. It got kind of interesting, though, as one of the employees became very rude. She demanded that Vicki leave immediately with "that dog". The manager straightened out the situation, however. Vicki had never had any problems before at the store. One of the employees had even remembered Irena from when she was visiting there last December. (3 days before Christmas). Only 4-months-old at the time, Irena had ended up riding in the cart most of the time because she was so tired of walking.

Breeze is turning into a little lady now at almost 8 months of age. Although she has always been a handful (and is still goofy), she is finally beginning to mature now. Our exchange student, Oliver, from France described Breeze as "loving life" and that she was simply "happy to be alive." Vicki thinks that describes her just perfectly. Breeze just loves life and everything that goes with it. A real sweetie, she loves everyone. Right now all three of Vicki's girls are sleeping together. What a Golden picture that must make! 


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November 4, 1999
Irena's goodbye
Irena has returned to The Seeing Eye. Vicki received a call Monday afternoon telling her that Irena would be picked up Wednesday morning. That was less than 48 hours notice! Puppy raisers are supposed to have one to two weeks notice. So, this was particularly hard on Vicki. Irena left at 10 a.m. yesterday morning. And, it is now breaking Vicki's heart, as it does every time her puppies have to leave her. She knows that Irena is ready for her training, but it seems like time has flown by so quickly. Irena was with Vicki for only 370 days. Now, Vicki will be waiting to hear how she does on her medical tests. She should get a postcard in about three weeks. We'll all keep our fingers and toes crossed that Irena does well!




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November 7, 1999
Today was Vicki's 4-H county's Achievement Day. It's an event where they
recognize outstanding 4-Her's in the county, give out awards, etc. Vicki was also on the planning committee for this special day. And, since she is a 4-H Ambassador, Vicki got to be an MC for the event. Of course, Zinde was her assistant MC. Though, the only thing she did was look cute! And, she was very good for a 14-week-old puppy!

Vicki won the Best Friend Award for The Seeing Eye puppy project, and also the Clover Award (the highest award in 4-H)! Boy, are we proud, here at the Land of PureGold. Vicki also received a little update on her perfect Irena. Her leader said that Irena did great on the way to The Seeing Eye, and was very quiet and well behaved. When she arrived there, she walked up the steps beautifully (especially compared to the rambunctious Labs with her!). And, Irena didn't pull at all! Vicki says that was always a good trait about Irena. She always walked well on lead. (Maybe Vicki can talk to our Darcy about that wonderful trait!) Vicki's leader also said that Irena seemed very confident and not scared at all. And, she went into her kennel well. Now, we will have to wait to hear about her medical tests  .


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November 21, 1999

Vicki's puppy club went on a *Field Trip* yesterday to the Willow Grove Navel Air Base. Someone in the club (he is raising Golden funhis second puppy) works there. It took a lot of work, but he was able to arrange for 35 people to go on this fun trip! There were 12 dogs that went: 3 German Shepherds, 2 Labrador Retrievers, 6 Golden Retrievers, and Vicki's little Zinde, a Golden/Lab cross. Zinde was the youngest puppy in the group. But, she did just great. The group got a tour of some helicopters and also visited the on base fire station. And, they were able to go down on the runway to watch a plane taxi by. It was a very good experience for the puppies -- lots of loud noises indeed! And, of course, our Zinde was a very good puppy! Look how sweet she looks here with a picture of all the girls (Breeze, Vicki & Irena).

The base has a female Border Collie that is trained to *herd* (chase) the geese on the runway, so her handler (who also is a driver for the fire station) told us about her job, her commands, etc. He also dressed up in a fire suit so wefurry friends could see what the reactions would be from the puppies. Down on the ground with the dogs, this handler had all 12 dogs kissing him at one time! Good thing he likes dogs!

We will be waiting anxiously for pictures of this fun trip to the navalso sweet base. Until then, though, Vicki has sent us some recently developed photos taken with Irena before she left for The Seeing Eye. Isn't Irena cute with her rabbit Barkette? I wonder if Barkette misses her Golden friend now that she is gone? And, doesn't Zinde look so sweet sleping with Irena?



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December 14, 1999
Vicki has no new updates on Irena, but she reports that Zinde is doing wonderful! A very good puppy, she is truly a Golden at heart  even if she does look like a Lab! Zinde recently went to a 4-H lock-in with Vicki and everyone had lots of fun playing with her. They made her antlers out of pipe cleaners and decorated her collar. And, Zinde had a choice of over 20 sleeping bags to sleep on!

On Sunday, Vicki's puppy club had their annual Christmas party. They have a covered dish dinner, a brief business meeting, and then a puppy pollyanna (the dogs exchange gifts). Zinde was very well behaved. She reminds Vicki of Irena when on lead. A wonderful pup, she acts like nothing surprises her  just like Irena did!


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