By Ellie





Ellie May




Ellie May Bell


Ellie's first birthday

I turned one yesterday!

Love,  Ellie May


The Great American Teach-In

Meagan and I went to an Elementary school nearby for a "Great American Teach-In" presentation. The "Teach-In" as we call it for short, is when several professionals come in to talk to the kids about their jobs. While we were waiting to be shown our classroom, we met a couple men who are in the Air Force (they even brought their pilot helmets!), men from the army, a doctor, two nurses, several firemen and a helicopter pilot.

We went with the Booses and their pup Popi (pronounced: Poe-pee) and Mr. Mihulka and his pup Joey (otherwise known as Big Joe and my "boyfriend").

We spoke to five classes, about 30 minutes each. Mrs. Boose did the first class, then Mr. Mihulka and Meagan took turns finishing the classes after.


Popi was worn out!

Every class started the same. Whoever was going to speak would stand in the front of the class. The speaker would kindly say that they would answer questions at the END of the talk and the questions could ONLY be about the guide dogs, guide dog school or the puppy raisers. If we didn't say that, then we would only here about the kids pets... and that can take ALL day. 
Some of the kids asked really good questions! Some questions stumped us and we had to think a minute!
After question and answers, the kids got to come pet us! Meagan wanted me to keep my coat on for the younger classes... those are the ages that don't really understand the "no petting" rule. So keeping my coat on helped to enforce that rule. Meagan told me if I kept behaving, she would take my coat off for the last class.

Joey and his glowing eye
Meagan used to teach this little girl in Gymnastics. I really liked her and she loved me!
 The Boyles and I got to go visit a good friend. His name is Mr. Kelly. He used to be our puppy groups Area Coordinator, We haven't seen him, his wife and his beautiful dogs in a couple months. 

The Kelly's have raised several guide dogs. Jennifer (Jenny) is a yellow lab. She is a certified Therapy Dog.
They also have Meg, a black lab who is a breeder. She is currently 4 weeks pregnant with several puppies (we aren't 100% sure how many yet.) Meg is a little touchy right now, but she was very excited to see us!

Mr. Kelly LOVES dogs. He was able to get right down on the floor and cuddle with us dogs!!! 

Our group has decided, for this year's Walk-A-Thon, to raise money together and name a puppy in honor of Dave Kelly. My suggestions are "Sir David Kelly", "Davey", or just plain "Dave" would be a cute name too.

Oh, a side note, my birthday is coming up!!! I will be one year old on the 23rd! Meagan says we will have a little party and ice cream cake to celebrate!

Love,  Ellie May 
(with "typing help" from Meagan -for those of you who asked... you know who you are!! ;-)


I ain't no Indiana Jones...by Meagan

Talk about a weekend overload of exposures!

Thursday, my dad (Todd) had the day off work. So he, Ellie and I went to get the oil changed in the car and also to get the car washed. Unfortunately, we couldn't be in the car while it was getting washed (yes, being in a car during a car wash, is on Ellie's exposure checklist) but Ellie got a front row view of the brushes, water, and blow dryers. Close enough for a first time exposure.

Ellie wasn't a fan of the blow dryers, but by the time our car came out, she was fine!

Saturday was soccer, then Ellie's first parade. The VFW in our area hosts a Veterans Day parade every year. It's not very big, but perfect size for our community. Ellie did beautifully, even with all the motorcycles coming by... until an army type truck rolled in front of us. Ellie then decided it was time to "scamper" (and by that I mean BOLT) back to the sidewalk where the parents were. It was quite funny actually.
Waiting for the parade to start
Police cars were in the very front of the floats, so we ran to see them up close... yes, they had their lights and sirens on!
The police liked Ell... some shouted "beautiful dog"... why yes, yes she is :)
Ellie did wonderfully with the noisy motorcycles!
Just like any good old parade, the "floats" throw candy and beads.
Sunday was a H-U-G-E day for Ellie and my family. We went to Downtown Disney to see the Lego set ups that the Adult Lego club in Tampa had created. (My brother, Collin, is a Lego fanatic. Fanatic being a MAJOR understatement) 

You know, DTD doesn't look that big on the outside... people, the place is huge. Thankfully we planned on an entire day outing.
Ellie wasn't too thrilled about the water fall. Since the water wasn't spewing a consistent distance all the time, Ellie must have thought it was a water monster or something.
We managed to get turned around and snap a quick picture.
See the footing? Ellie didn't care! Woohoo!
You've GOT to admit... this is cool. Yes, it's made entirely out of Legos.
We spotted these totally cool Lego dogs outside of the Lego store. Ellie's reaction was SO funny!
Ellie wasn't quite sure what to think about those dogs that didn't move and smelled a lot like plastic!
While we were walking around, Ellie spotted another working dog. Each of these dogs are service dogs. They were all SO well behaved. Ellie behaved as well! Maybe because she knew these were "official dogs" None of them pulled or tried to get a sniff of the "golden girl". I was extremely impressed. What a great looking group of dogs!
Photo op!
Ellie was needing to busy so Dad, Collin and I went to find some sort of busy patch away from people (which can be harder then you think!). After successfully finding a nice patch of St. Augustine, we headed back to the Christmas store where Diona and Kaitlyn were waiting. But of course, you can NEVER pass up the chance to do the Cupid Shuffle!!

Ellie as you can see, was not as excited as the dance, but she did get pretty happy with the napkin she grabbed! Dad was impressed I didn't break much stride! :)

Note: We do not let Ellie jump up on things, but considering she was scared out of her skin at the first fountain, and she was actually "wanting" to see what all the splashing and commotion was inside of those rocks, I let it go.
The fact that Ellie is a just a head short of me, is a little scary.
We totally forgot that Ellie has never seen fish! Sure we've been to Walmart and let her see their puny little tanks overflowing with Goldfish. But nothing like this! Next stop, the Florida Aquarium!
The Rainforest Cafe has an awesome "Jungle in the Amazon" type feel. The lights even grow dim and thunder sounds... here is Ellie's reaction...

The restaurant also has replicas of animals everywhere... and they move! Ellie noticed the butterflies, the snake and last but certainly not least, the elephant...

As you can see, it was extremely busy. So I'm sure that added to Ellie's anxiety.

Sportin' some shades.

Ellie was very done with all her excitement! Once we got to our car, she had the look of "I can't possibly take one. more. step."

And the reason "I ain't like Indiana Jones"...
After coming home from DTD, my facebook status read "I ain't no Indiana Jones, but seriously, people-over-20-years-old, if I have ANOTHER one of you touch my dog *after* I said "NO petting" I will use the end of Ellie's leather leash as a whip, to pop the back of your hand. Got it? Good." 

Now, I know that's not very nice, but after a *family* has walked up to you and the 4 year old boy asks "May I pet your dog", and I politely say "When you see a dog with a coat on, your not allowed to pet because they are working, thank you very much for asking though" (yes I do add that last part!), DO NOT expect me to be as kind to the MOM of the child who then proceeds to reach out and you guessed it, PETS ELLIE! Seriously? Yes. Seriously.

Yes. I was a little steamy by the end of the day (mainly because several people pulled that stunt). But that's what I'm here for...  making the public aware of service dogs. 

Really, explaining to people what Ellie is for, and my experiences during my puppy raising years, is pretty fun. But in a place like DTD, every ten people want to stop and tell you their life story. That's pretty much why I carry a cell phone... my family and I tend to get separated  ;-)

Well, I hope you have a good weekend... Ellie and I are off for a nap!

    Meagan and Ellie May


The Seafood Festival

Our area hosts several festivals every year. The Tomato Festival, the Manatee Arts Festival and the Seafood Festival (I think I might be forgetting one, but they are pretty much all the same).
One of the puppy raisers in our group always sets up a booth for Southeastern Guide Dogs. The festivals are on the weekend so Saturday and Sunday the raisers in our "South Shore" group take turns manning the booth and exposing the dogs to all the MANY new sights, sounds and smells.

Ellie and I went on Sunday. Near the food court (full of seafood options mind you :) there is a large pavilion with a live band. Either Ellie doesn't care for Jamaican style music or was not impressed by how loud they were playing... I think the latter. She was not very happy about all the noise, music, people yelling and screaming, kids running around, dogs everywhere....talk about an overload.
So, in a less disruptive crowd, we sat in the smack dab middle of everyone. After about 10 minutes of Miss. Ellie "calming down" and soaking all the noise and smells in, Ellie was perfectly fine! We then continued to walk through the crowd like we didn't have to have a "freaking-out, needing to calm down, pep talk" and found our booth.   

Yes, Ellie grabbed the ladies lollypop... I sure hope the lady threw it away after that. I had to watch this couple closely... I'm sure they would have snatched Ellie away in 3 seconds flat!
Yup. Ellie pretty much rocked these girls' day!
She rocked mine too!
Loving on the Collies, Popi and Linny
Mr. Boose wanted to hold Ellie so bad, and I wanted to hold Linny so bad!
There were MANY other dogs that came with their families. Since the festival are held at local parks, dog are always welcome. We met Akitas, Mastiffs, Chows, Chihuahuas, Poodles, Cocker Spaniels, Goldens, Greyhounds, Mutt dogs, etc.One of the cutest puppies we met, was this sweet thing...

Ellie and Kelton had to sniff her all over! She was so tiny.

This sweet girl...

Is going to Georgia tomorrow. She went through her "puppy raising days", went to "College" and was "homeplaced" with a man in Georgia who has had several guide dogs. She was at the festival because the Booses (her puppy raisers) were able to keep her while Linny waited for her ride to Georgia meet her forever person! Go get 'em Linny!

        Meagan and Ellie May