Written by Amie Chapman
Back when we were raising Ricki and filming our very first season of Growing Up Guide Pup, the term “web series” wasn’t very well known and there were only a handful of events showcasing them. In 2011, we were an official selection at the 2nd Annual LAWebfest—the first web series festival ever created—with our first season. We brought home an award for Outstanding Reality Series.
We screened our second season the following year, and came home with five awards: Outstanding Host in a Reality Series, Outstanding Editing in a Reality Series, Outstanding Directing in a Reality Series, and overall Outstanding Reality Series. We have also have been official selections at the Atlanta Web Fest and New Media Film Festival with our past seasons.
This year we entered our third season into several festivals. So far we were official selections at the Vancouver Web Fest (we were also nominated for Best Family Series) and the LAWebfest (we were nominated for Outstanding Reality Series and Outstanding Host in Reality Series). Just recently we traveled south to Warner Brothers Studios to attend the festival and of course Patrick came along.
Patrick is now a seasoned pro at traveling. He has been to the LA area once already, on a road trip to Montana, flown to Florida, and a road trip to Vancouver to attend that web series festival. Needless to say, I was a little more relaxed about traveling this time. I had a good idea of what to expect when flying this time with Patrick and how he might behave away from home. We had lots of things planned to do on this trip and I felt that he was ready for just about everything planned.
Patrick was almost perfect on the trip down, the only issue coming at our gate before we boarded our flight. There were two other service dogs in training sitting by our gate waiting to board the flight that was scheduled to leave after our flight, and in trademark Patrick fashion he barked at them when he saw them. I quickly moved him away from the gate while Matt went over to chat with the handlers. They were both Boxers training to be diabetic alert dogs. One of their dogs was also a little dog reactive like Patrick so they were more than understanding and moved away from the gate so we could board our flight without any further outbursts. Once they moved we boarded our flight and Patrick quickly settled in and was an angel the entire trip.
The next day we had plans to meet up with Colby from Puppy In Training at the America’s Family Pet Expo. We knew that this was going to be a big challenge for Patrick because of his dog reactivity problem, but we thought that we would give it a try. Our first challenge was getting there. We didn’t rent a car on this trip and we gave Uber a try for the first time with a service dog. We have seen so many stories about service dog users getting denied rides from Uber that we wanted to see what would happen when we tried. Our experience was great. Our driver had no issues with Patrick getting in her car and even talked to us about the training she got as a driver and the rules regarding service dogs. Uber drivers are required to take them.
Once we got to the expo, Patrick was super excited by the energy of all the animals there. He let out a few barks but calmed down really quickly. There were so many stimulating things there for him. We met up with Colby and walked around for a bit before his wife and their current puppy that they are raising to be a service dog, Archer, arrived. Patrick did really well. He barked at a few dogs here and there (he really doesn’t like dogs that stare at him) but was otherwise really great. He even saw horses and a pony for the first time (he wasn’t quite sure about them). After the expo we had a nice dinner with Colby, his wife Ali, and Archer. Patrick did pretty well with being in close quarters with a new dog, until an ice cube was dropped and Patrick barked at Archer under the table. Needless to say, that was very embarrassing. Almost the entire restaurant went from really loud with conversation to super quiet. At this point I just apologized and hoped that no one got too annoyed with him.
The next day was screening day. We took Patrick to a local park and put him on his long line and gave him a good romp. Even with long outings with lots of walking, Patrick still needs a good run to get some of his intensity out. We also met up with our friend and the secretary of our board, Colt, her service dog Kaline, and her dad at the park. This gave Patrick a good opportunity to get more comfortable being around Kaline in hopes that there would be no barking outbursts, because heaven forbid Kaline look at him funny (this happened the night before when we got the boys together). After a good play session, we headed back to our hotel and met up with fellow Guide Dogs of the Desert puppy raiser Jennifer and her puppy in training Jaime, along with Jennifer’s sister Stephanie. And then we were off to Warner Brothers Studios where the festival was being held.
It was surreal walking onto the Warner Brothers lot. All the previous festivals we have attended were either held at small theaters or hotels conference centers, so this was a pretty big deal for us. Unfortunately we were not allowed to film or really take pictures once we got past security, although we did sneak a couple of photos. We had no problems getting all three dogs on the lot and seated for our screening. Everyone settled nicely and enjoyed the show. I was super pleased that Patrick remained quiet through the entire thing. As we sat in the theater where the shows were being screened, we couldn’t help but think about all the tv shows and movies that were probably seen for the first time there. When we screened at the Vancouver Web Fest, Patrick saw himself, Ricki, and Ozzy on the big screen and barked at the show. Yeah! He is maturing.
After our screening we got to meet one of our fans, Amanda, who came out to support us. We love meeting people who follow us, we have made some pretty good friends this way, including Colt. We had plans to hit Universal City Walk for lunch and then head into Universal Studios. Amanda decided to join us and we had a blast.
A theme park can be very overwhelming for a puppy, so we did consider the pros and cons of taking Patrick with us. He has always done well with crowds and loud noises don’t seem to bother him much. This experience was no different. Patrick handled everything like a pro, even the studio tram tour after dark. We did, however, skip the Animal Actors live show. I didn’t think it would be fair to expect Patrick to sit calm and quietly with different animals performing tricks. But with that said, even Patrick needs a break from so much stimulation so we decided to take two days to enjoy the park and not stay for too long of a period each time.
I do have to say that Universal was really great about accommodating service dogs. We were required to check in with security to let them know that the dogs were in the park. They logged what breed each dog was and what color vest or harness they were wearing. They asked the only two questions that the ADA allows a business to ask: Is this a service dog?” and “What task is it trained to do.” They have a couple of designated relieving areas inside the park, which Patrick was happy to use. He was perfect about going when he was given the opportunity.
They have kennels available to keep your dog safe if you wish to go on a ride; if you are a group they will allow you to do a rider swap. This is where part of your group can ride while one or more of the others can stay with the dog and then swap. We did do one ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. We chose to do the rider swap and Patrick did great waiting for everyone to ride. We did have to wait in a darkish hallway with music playing and it did echo any type of noise made. There were a few times that Patrick seemed a little unsettled but he did fine with a little reassurance.
Probably the thing I was most surprised about was how he handled the people dressed in costumes. They can sometimes really frighten or be unsettling for a dog, especially for a shepherd. Patrick absolutely loved the characters. He first met Sponge Bob who was very excited about Patrick’s name—after all one of Sponge Bob’s best friends is named Patrick. (We did have to buy our Patrick a stuffed version of the cartoon character Patrick.) He also met some Minions. But his absolute favorite was Scooby Doo, go figure. Patrick even got a little upset when it was time for Scooby to leave to say hi to other guests. And of course you can’t take pictures of your puppy with Scooby without drawing a big crowd of onlookers.
The last event of the trip was the festival awards ceremony. This was held at the Steven J Ross Theater on the Warner Brothers lot. We were nominated for two awards, Outstanding Host in a Reality Series and Outstanding Reality Series. It really is an honor being accepted into a festivals, especially now that there are so many web series being made. Being nominated is a big accomplishment. I was nervous and excited about the event. We were nominated for an award at the Vancouver Web Fest but didn’t win, so I was trying not to get my hopes up for this festival.
Needless to say when they announced the Outstanding Host award and I heard my name called I was excited, then really nervous. I had to go on stage in front of all those people. I did dress up for the event, something I rarely do. I’m more of a jeans and t-shirt kind of gal, not dress and high heels. As I was walking down the stairs from my seat to the stage all I could think and focus on was “Patrick please don’t get excited and pull, and don’t make me trip and fall.” Neither happened and we graciously accepted our award and of course Patrick stole the show.
We had a great trip and Patrick did fabulous. Once again he wasn’t perfect all the time, but we are seeing maturity and improvement. He is growing so fast and doing the best he can. Most of the time. Barking is his nemesis, but the fact that we did multiple outings with three different dogs that he isn’t used to being around is really big progress in the right direction for him. I am constantly amazed at what our puppies are capable of doing at such a young age. The fact that we get so many compliments on how well Patrick behaves from complete strangers makes me feel like we are doing something right. I still have very high hopes for this guy and can’t wait to see what his future holds.