Friday, May 14, 2010

#118 Kristy Thomas, Dog Trainer


The Brewers and Thomases have decided to raise a guide dog puppy for the Guide Dog Foundation. Kristy's really excited at the idea of having another dog in the house, especially since it means they'll be helping someone out by raising it. The family passes their interview with no trouble, and before they know it, little Scout has taken up residence in their house. She's a four month old chocolate Lab, so she's already had some training with her former puppy raiser family (they moved out of the country and had to give her up). The work is really just beginning for the Brewer-Thomas family, though. They have to introduce Scout to the other family pets, teach her what she can and can't chew, train her not to jump up on people, and how NOT to beg for food. She's a smart, calm puppy, though, and training (including obedience classes) are more or less a breeze.

Another part of Scout's training involves taking her out in public so she learns how to behave in any situation. Watson and Elizabeth take her to work, Nannie takes her bowling, and Kristy takes her to BSC meetings. Most people are really interested in Scout and curious about guide dogs, but Kristy DOES run into some problems at the grocery store one time; a lady freaks out over seeing a dog in there and complains to the manager. He defends Kristy and Scout's right to be there, putting the rude lady in her place. The only other real problem they have with training is when Karen gives Scout one of Jackie R.'s broken shoes to chew on; a no-no for any dog.

Meanwhile, the BSC has started sitting for the Cooper family. Mrs. Cooper works with Watson, and she's got three kids: Mark, 8; Jed (yes, Jed), 4; and Deb, 12. Deb came down with a form of glaucoma not long before this, and she's now blind. In fact, the Coopers were what inspired Watson to get involved with the Guide Dog Foundation. Mary Anne is the first to sit for the family, but only the two boys are home, She does get enough of a glimpse of Deb, though, to see that she's very angry about her situation. Kristy is up next, and that time, Deb is the one that's home. Since she's 12, Kristy isn't there as a baby-sitter; she's just there to keep Deb company and to be on hand in case of emergency. She also gets to experience the full force of Deb's rudeness, anger, and bitterness over her situation. Kristy doesn't quite know what to say to Deb, so she gest the idea to have Claudia and Mary Anne bring over some of their sitting charges, so Deb could get used to being around people again. That idea went over as well as you'd expect it to. The next time Kristy is at the Coopers', though, things really come to a head. She's there with all three kids, and Deb wants to go to the video store to get some new movies to listen to. The boys are busy in the backyard, playing with their new slide, and don't want to leave quite yet. So, Deb takes it upon herself to walk to the store. She doesn't make it very far before she gets disoriented, and Kristy manages to get her back to the house before anything bad happens. The whole BSC want to help Deb feel better about her situation, so Kristy decides to invite her Puppy Walker Fun Day at the Guide Dog Foundation. Deb seems to loosen up a little, and she even seems to enjoy herself. She also likes the idea of getting a guide dog of her own someday.

Rating: 2

Thoughts and Things
  • Thanks goodness this one was so short...I would have rated it lower, but I like dogs, and raising a guide dog puppy is something I really want to do someday.
  • Speaking of snarking on the "special" books and not liking the "special" characters, Sadako...I CAN'T STAND DEB COOPER! She's obviously been through something really traumatic, but if she'd been as rude to me as she was to EVERYONE else in this book, I'd have punched her in the face. Why in the world did her parents let her get away with that behavior? It's almost like they were scared of her! She isn't Sean Addison, people!
  • Someone is BSC land likes the name Gillian. The person that interviewed the Brewers and Thomases before they got Scout was Gillian, there's one in the next book I'm going to recap, and Mal's cousin in SS#15 is also Gillian. There are more Gillians than Maras in this series!
  • *sigh* I want a puppy....


  1. Oh yeah...I remember this one. I didn't like her all that much either but I did feel genuinely bad for her. The idea of going blind terrifies me so much.

    I liked the cute puppy parts of the book but it did feel a little too very special for me in general.

  2. can't help but feel sorry for deb cooper, although for a blind person, she can be such a bitch for it.

    the book was just plain boring. total snoozefest.period.

  3. Imagine losing your sight suddenly at 12 years old, you would be really upset about it too. Twelve is a hard age regardless, and having to deal with a permanent disability like that is beyond difficult. Becoming disabled is something that you can't really understand unless you've gone through it yourself, or been close to someone who has (and even then you can't really know what it's like). I don't blame the kid at all for being angry. Good for her parents for not making her suppress her emotions about it -- it's completely natural for her to feel that way, and pushing it all down would just make it worse.
    Also, I didn't read this book, but all the descriptions in your summary about training the dog sound stupid. Training a guide dog is not like training a pet dog. My best friend trains guide dogs on a regular basis, and so one of my coworkers. One of the hardest parts of the process is the fact that people come up and bother your dog all the time, wanting to pet him and fawn all over him. A guide dog is a working dog, and needs to be able to pay attention to what's going on so he can take care of his human. So when you're training one, you have to constantly ask people to leave him alone, and then they act like you're mean for not wanting your dog to get attention. The things you describe from the book just sound like regular old dog fostering. Would it have hurt the ghost writer to do a little research first?

  4. I got a puppy last week!!!

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  6. Anonymous didn't read the book description very closely, or talk to her trainer friends very much, because, yes, guide dog puppies are trained very much like pet dogs, albeit a little stricter (no table scraps, no chasing after other animals, no dog parks). Basic obedience and lots of appropriate socialization. It's after the dog returns to guide dog school that the real service training begins.