Deacon goes to Florida……

My new Sister-In-Law, Dana :)

My new Sister-In-Law, Dana 🙂

Yes, it’s been a little while since my last post, but it’s been a little hectic around here! My little brother just got married (Ya!!! More to come about that later!) and there was a wedding in North Carolina  (a non-dog friendly hotel, if you can believe that!) and next weekend, is a reception in Florida, so there has been a lot of comings and goings, and still more to come.

I never travel without the camera! I was using my formal back-pack for the shower :)

I never travel without the camera! I was using my formal back-pack for the shower 🙂

As promised, here is the story of Little Deacon’s first trip to Florida. He’ll be making another one next week! He’s so well traveled for a 5 month old puppy 🙂

Waiting patiently for our flight :)

Waiting patiently for our flight 🙂

Y’all met little Deacon a few times already. He was featured as the “sensible” dog in Sense and Unsensability, and his videos have appeared in a few other posts. What you really need to know about him is that he is one of the coolest dogs I have ever been around, and no I’m not just saying that because he’s my dog. He really is pretty awesome. Everyone he meets loves him and he loves them. The one thing I appreciate about him the most is how much he loves to do try new things. Nothing bothers him. From the first time he jumped up in my truck to go home to walking through security at the airport, I haven’t found anything that phases him.

I’ll give you the back story on my perfect little boy first. I have always wanted a lab, but they are normal, so obviously I did not think that would fit my abnormal personality. I few months ago, I finally let Stonnie convince me that a field bred lab would be perfect for me, because no one would expect me to get one!

On a side note, for all of you non-Labrador aficionados, field bred Labs or American Labs, are the hunting dogs that you see in Garden and Gun and Field and Stream magazines with the birds in their mouths. They are usually fairly tall, as compared to their English Lab counterpart, and lean , lanky dogs. They are also full of energy, which is what they need to hunt for hours at a time. English or Bench Labs (as my friend Jayne says “proper labs!”) are shorter with a boxier build. They are also not as energetic as a field dog, preferring the show ring to the great outdoors. You see them in Garden and Gun and Field and Stream sitting next to the Purdy shotguns with the men in their tweed outfits, non of which have ever seen a dove field! Like the shotgun and the man in tweed, they are “Purdy” :).

These stunning creatures are Norton and B. They are English Labs, and very "Purdy". I'm pretty sure I've never seen either one retrieve anything all the way back! However, you can't beat them as service dogs! They do bring a lot of joy and comfort to so many people.

These stunning creatures are Norton and B. They are English Labs, and very “Purdy”. I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen either one retrieve anything all the way back! However, you can’t beat them as service dogs! They do bring a lot of joy and comfort to so many people.

After Stonnie’s reverse psychology, I set out to find myself a dog. I can’t tell you how excited I was! I love labs and hunting dogs of all kinds, and I couldn’t wait to have one of my own. I don’t think Stonnie thought I would get on this project as fast as I did. I think that he underestimated my obsession with puppies, and since all of mine from Reba’s litter (you’ll meet them later, I promise) had grown up and moved on, I needed a new one :). I started by researching the available litters that were within a couple hours of Lexington. Labs, being a very popular breed, meant that there were a lot to choose from. I already knew I wanted a black male (what can I say, I just get a long better with the boys), so I narrowed my search to litters with those available. This narrowed my choices down to two litters. One in Louisville and one in Sparta. I went to Louisville first. No dice. They were very nice puppies, but I did not feel the connection that I wanted. So Sparta it was.

This is what a field bred Lab does! They may not be "Purdy" but they bring the retrieve all the way back!

This is what a field bred Lab does! They may not be “Purdy” but they bring the retrieve all the way back!

I called Mr. Otey (no the names have not been changed to protect the innocent!) and told him I was interested in 1 of the puppies that he had emailed me pictures of. He would gladly meet me at the Kentucky Speedway (the only thing in Sparta, Kentucky!) with the 2 boys and their father the next day. I could barely sleep that night and was like a kid before Christmas. Stonnie was the only one who knew I was going, mostly because I didn’t want to hear it from everyone about getting another dog! I show up at the Speedway and meet Mr. Otey and his giant lab Boss. He is a HUGE dog who has many, many titles. Otey rambled all of these titles off to me and showed me how well the dog worked. He was an impressive specimen, bit I was there for puppies, not big dogs. He finally let the boys out of their crate and they were awesome! I immediately knew which one I wanted; he was the first to jump in the pond and swim out with his Dad to bring the dummy back. I was going to leave Sparta with that puppy!

My little man's first head shot!

My little man’s first head shot!

Mr. Otey and I are talking and I tell him I want one of his puppies. he replies back, “Well I wasn’t planning on parting with them today, I thought you were just going to have a look at them.” This is not how I remembered the conversation, but I wanted this puppy, so I mustered all the Sweet Southern Belle that I could and replied, “Well I had planned on just looking, but let me tell you, I am so impressed with these puppies that if I didn’t leave here with one, I’m sure someone else would scoop them up right out from underneath me and I would be kicking myself for years!”  Like I said, I’m better with the boys :). I just needed to send a few pictures back to Stonnie, because I can barely get dressed in the morning without his opinion. I texted him a few pictures and responded with “That’s the ugliest puppy I’ve ever seen”, like I said, these dogs aren’t the “Purdy” ones you see posing, they are the working dogs, bringing the birds back! I was a little deflated (okay, I was crushed and wanted to crawl in my truck and cry!) until his next text said, “We already have good looking dogs, get the one that works.”

Norton, being "Purdy" in his uniform.

Norton, being “Purdy” in his uniform.

I tell Otey that I got the okay from my boss and would pay right now. He says, “well alright, I’ll miss these boys, but you look like you’ll give ’em a nice home.” What did he mean by boys, I only wanted one and one was what I was going to leave with! I may be puppy crazy, but I know when someone is trying to play me! After about 10 minuets of haggling and him insisting that I had agreed on two puppies over the phone and he just didn’t feel right about separating them, I played the last card I had. I said “Well, if you find someone else who just wants one, let me know and I’ll take the other. It was nice to meet you and thank you for showing me your great dogs.” I was opening the door to my truck when the old man said, “Well, I can’t let you leave here without a dog, since you like them so much and all. If you take the one on the left (the one I had already picked out!) you can take him tonight” It worked; I was getting my puppy! He just happened to have all the registration paperwork in his truck, even though he hadn’t planned on parting with them that day. I think he knew what I saw, and that was that these were special dogs, and he didn’t want to see them go just anywhere. I felt very honored that he was letting me take one of the puppies that he loved so much.

So my time with little Deacon started. I have big plans for this dog, he will be (if all goes to plan) a field trial dog, a demo dog, a service dog to work with children with Autism and soldiers with PTSD, as well as a fun companion for me to play with. I will explain more about our Therapy and Service dog Program later, but Deacon started his training for this program right away. Since he is a service dog in training, I decided to take him with me to Florida when I went down for Dana’s (my now Sister-In-Law) Wedding shower. Again, I kept this little jewel of information to myself, mostly because I didn’t want to hear all the reasons why I shouldn’t bring him with me. All of which would have been valid arguments, but I had made up my mind, so why should I let everyone else waste their breath 🙂

How could you just not eat this face up!

How could you just not eat this face up!

Service dogs ride in the cabin of the airplane with either their trainer (like what Deacon did) or the person with a disability that they have been placed with. Deacon would be treated like any other passenger, and this included going through security. I found out very quickly that the people in line behind you at security and the security people themselves frown upon being held up so that you can take pictures of your puppy going through the metal detectors, no matter how cute he is! Even though there is not photographic proof, I will attest that he was the perfect dog. He stripped down to nothing but his little nylon collar and sat on one side of the metal detector while I walked through. After I had been cleared, I called him through. Everyone was so impressed! “We usually dread seeing service dogs come through security, because they are so crazy, but your dog can come through anytime!”, they guard told me as I was redressing my little man. We went to our gate, where Deacon played with a few little kids and showed them all of his tricks. They really enjoyed the high five and wave. I payed extra to pre-board the plane, because I didn’t want to be in anyone’s way and when our turn was called, Deacon and I made out way to our window seat. He settled right in at me feet, curled up and went to sleep. The plane filled up and in no time we were on the runway about to take off. If we were going to have any problems, now would be the time! Puppy still didn’t move; I was so impressed! I settled in to my book and Deacon settled in to his nap.

About an hour and a half into hour and forty five minuet flight, Deacon stretched his legs out and hit the ankle of the man in the middle seat. He looked down and exclaimed, “I had no idea there was a dog laying there next to me!” This was a huge compliment to me, whether this man knew it or not. The plane lands and I run my little man to nearest patch of grass, because after all, at the time, he was just a four month old puppy, and I knew his bladder was full. Hurdle one down! He had made it through the flight, and you would think this would be our biggest obstacle, but no, our biggest challenge was driving to the airport to pick us up. My Mom was on her way and had no idea I had brought a dog with me. You have to understand that my Mom only knew my unsensible dogs, so I understand the look of horror that washed over her face  when she saw little sensible dog sitting on the bench next to me. My Dad happened to be with her and I could see him mouth, “That’s your daughter!” as they pulled up. I couldn’t blame them, I just knew that they would have to meet Deacon and see that he was a dog that everyone loved.

This is what they are use to seeing me handle :) I can't really blame them for having some reservations!

This is what they are use to seeing me handle 🙂 I can’t really blame them for having some reservations!

It happened on the ride home. Perfect dog sat in the back of the truck and never moved. We got to the house and he went out and played with Dad’s dogs like the little gentleman that he is. He was winning them over with no effort! At one point, Dad asked me if his brother was still available. I said “I don’t know, I’ll check and I can ship him down here to you when I get back”, to which he replied, “No, you get that one, and I’ll keep Deacon!” Mom liked it when Deacon accompanied her to feed the horses i the afternoon. He fit right in to everyone’s routine; the trip could not have gone better. I will let the following album tell the story of Deacon meeting all of his new Florida friends. You’ve met Lula Belle and Bugsy in the “Sense and Unsensibility” post, and now I will introduce Trout, my friend Jen’s yellow Labrador, who was nice enough to have Deacon over for a play date, as well as my Brother, Osco’s, new German Shorthaired Pointer, Ruger.

Deacon toured the big town of Punta Gorda and met a lot of really nice people and dogs. On the last night we were there, Dad asked me when I was coming down for Osco’s reception. “Well, I’ll be down the week before to help Mom get ready”, “Well Deacon’s coming back with you, right?” He was very concerned that I would be back without the dog! “Of course Dad, I’ll bring him back with me, just because you asked.” In reality, I had already added Deacon to my ticket for the trip in November.

The next post promises to be very interesting…..the raw diet and why every responsible dog owner should feed it 🙂

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