January 22, 2001
Vicki just received a very high honor. She has been chosen as a Pennsylvania delegate to the National 4-H Conference. Only five 4-H'ers are selected from the state each year. This conference is actually the highest honor a 4-H'er can receive, so Vicki is incredibly excited. The conference runs from April 1 - April 7, 2001.

Life is busy as always for this special teenager. Echo celebrated her 1st birthday on Dec. 27th, even though she still sports a baby face through and through. She is such an affectionate dog and always wants to be with people. Vicki could be receiving "the call" anytime now for this little girl.

The baby of the bunch, Ilsa, is already four months old! Already weighing 35 pounds, she is definitely going to be a big girl! Smart and attentive but not too serious (after all she is a Golden!), Ilsa is certainly a mature little girl. She loves going to church and Sunday School. And, Echo and Ilsa got to go to the Pennsylvania Farm Show at the beginning of this month. Vicki was only able to move about five feet every 15 minutes as everyone just had to see the puppies. They were both very well behaved and really enjoyed themselves. Vicki will be starting a new activity soon, with her very own Golden. She and Breeze are starting agility classes next Monday. (Well, Darcy and I sure know how much fun that is!)

Vicki received a letter from The Seeing Eye today about her Zinde's training progress. This is what it said:
Dear Vicki:
As you know, Zinde has been in training with one of our instructors and is currently working on the various town routes as well as being exposed to stores, elevators, buses, loud traffic sounds, and all the kind of diversions that she will encounter as a guide for a blind individual.
I am happy to report that Zinde exhibits capability and willingness in her training and at this time she shows good potential as a dog guide. Hopefully, Zinde will continue to do well with her education.
The Seeing Eye is most grateful to you for raising Zinde, and for your interest and support of The Seeing Eye Puppy Raising Program.
Peter Lang, Training Manager


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March 24, 2001

Zinde's town walk was great! She looked so beautiful! She can be matched anytime now. Her trainer said that she is "extremely mellow" and that she has a very slow pace! Zinde will probably be matched with someone with multiple disabilities or an older person as she walks so slow! She also changes into "serious mode" whenever the harness is put on her. Zinde is very serious about her job!

Echo leaves on Monday. Such a good and sweet little girl, she is extremely sensitive to people's emotions! But, something tells me she wasn't overly thrilled with being dressed up as an elf.

Ilsa is already getting BIG even though she is barely six months of age. A smart and very sweet puppy, she simply loves loves hugs and kisses and is, of course, great with kids! This photo shows Ilsa and a little boy from Vicki's church. This youngster comes running up to Vicki's girls every week, hugging them and exclaiming "Kiss me! Kiss me!". The girls happily accommodate him.

Ivy is still her happy self. She's enjoying her retirement — her days spent sleeping on Vicki's bed mostly. Yet, she pops right up should she hear Mom say the 'magic' words of "ride" or "walk"!


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August 13, 2001

Zinde with her trainerWe haven't heard from Vicki for five months so she had a lot to fill us in on with this latest entry. Zinde graduated in March and she is now working with an older woman in Massachusetts. Here she is with one her Seeing Eye trainers.

Echo returned for her training the end of March and if all hEcho leaving for traininger medical tests pan out, she is going to be a breeder. Of course, we know that Vicki will surely want to raise one of her puppies as well. Here is Echo playing in her beloved snow and just being a fun Golden with no cares in the world. It is so very wonderful to see how well these dogs can both work and play so hard.

Vicki's family went to New Hampshire for Easter to visit some friends... and of course all the girls came along as well. At that point Vicki had Ivy, Breeze, and Ilsa. She also went to Salem, Massachusetts for one day while to research a report that needed to be done on the Salem Witch Trials. Vicki took Ilsa with her to the Salem Witch Museum, an ice cream shop, a restaurant, and more. She was a big hit, at least a dozen people stopping to take pictures of her as she is so darn cute. Echo enjoying the snow

Ilsa is now 10 months old. Still a mommy's girl, she is always at Vicki's side. She is so obedient as well. They attended the Pennsylvania Seeing Eye Puppy Show in May. This is the show where the trainers come out and judge the dogs, picking out the best dogs basIlsa with her awardsed on the dogs' behavior, grooming, and more. Ilsa won BEST IN SHOW as the trainers were so impressed.

The final decision was down to Ilsa and a German Shepherd. The had the handlers put the dogs on the down rest command and walk eight feet away from them. The trainers then walked around the dogs bouncing balls and squeaking toys. The German Shepherd broke her command within the first 30 seconds. The trainers wanted to see how long Ilsa could last, though, so they kept going around and around her trying to get her to break the command. She started to move at one point and I gave her "the look" and she immediately repositioned herself. The trainers finally gave up, very impressed with her especially high concentration level!

Ilsa is another one of those perfect dogs, her only downfall being that she still gets carsick. If she doesn't make the program Vicki will surely take her back in a heartbeat. A real people dog, she would be excellent for therapy work. Like a big teddy bear, Ilsa simply loves to be hugged. Vicki brags that she is her sweetest dog ever.
Baby HildieVicki also got a new puppy to raise in May. The Seeing Eye didn't have any Goldens available and they desperately needed some folks to take a Lab  . so our Vicki automatically helped out. She got an adorable little yellow Labrador Retriever named Hildie. Amazingly, this is Vicki's 10th puppy to be raised for the organization. Almost five months of age, she already thinks she's a Golden Retriever.

Ilsa plays the part of "big sister" to the new baby in Ilsa and Hildiethe house so perfectly and these two are now always together. I can't imagine a cuter photo than this one of these two girls. But, Vicki can see the difference in personality between Goldens and Labs, admitting that she still prefers Goldens (that's our girl, converted through and through!).

Breeze is still the princess of the house. She does what she wants when she wants to do it. Her problem is that she's too smart for her own good! She's such a gorgeous girl though. Ivy is one of the happiest dogs ever. She's always grinning and wagging her tail, so happy to be retirIvy enjoying the snowed and merely sleeping on Vicki's bed or going for walks. In fact, Ivy hardly ever leaves Mom's bed unless it's to eat, go for a walk, or go for a ride! Or, maybe to play in the snow. For that, she is able to leave the bed.

Karma, the family's German Shepherd, just figured out that the Goldens always seem to get more attention  . so now she's trying to act like a Golden and join the pack of Golden girls. It's so funny. Whenever Vicki says, "Golden Girls, lets go downstairs," Karma is always right there joining in. This is the same dog that used to hate the Goldens! It's funny to watch her try to be a Golden!

Vicki went to the East Coast GoldenFest in May and Ilsa and Ivy both passed their Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test. She will be going to GoldStock 2001 in a couple of weeks, and of course taking all of her girls  . Breeze, Ilsa, Hildie, and Ivy. Vicki also spent a month in Europe, traveling to Holland, England and Ireland. Vicki and her four Golden girls

When her group was on a 12 hour layover in Amsterdam, she and a few others were asked by Dutch Customs to help with a training exercise for their drug dogs. At different times they needed them to carry a bag containing illegal drugs through a crowd and act as if they were just heading towards the gate. In this way, they could see if the dog would pick them out of the crowd. Vicki was told not to stop walking until they yelled, "FREEZE, DUTCH CUSTOMS." The fun part of this was that the dog that sniffed out the drugs she was carrying was a 2-year-old Golden Retriever named Boris! Vicki and EchoAfter she handed the "drug bag" to the handler, he let Vicki pet Boris. When she got home and told her mom this story, she wondered if Vicki was worried what people around her would think when the officials yelled "Freeze!" But, Vicki didn't even think about it. She was just so excited to see a Golden! [I had a similar experience when I got to meet a bomb sniffing Golden at a middle school where I worked. Rather than be afraid that there could be a bomb, I was more excited to meet Golden Dudley on the job.]

Back home, Vicki learned that her Blair has been retired from breeding and is being retrained as a guide. And, she just heard this week that Blair's trainer thought she was doing exceptionally well and was such a sweet dog. Ilsa will probably leave Vicki in October. And while Vicki is hoping that Echo makes it as a breeder so that she could raise one of her pups, she will be graduating this year and going to college next year.

We'll just have to wait and see what happens with this busy busy girl. Always learning and working, she will probably have many more surprises in store for us.



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