The 17th Round of the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival

so here they are, the submissions for the 17th round of the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival.

First, let’s go visit Briony and Rigby over at Briony Waffling and take a look at their post titled There’s No Use Crying Over Spilled Milk. In her post, Briony reflects upon her relationship with her former guide Lilo, and the things she wishes she could go back and change.

Over at Life Unscripted, Blindbeader writes about her initial expectations of her guide dog, Jenny, and how their relationship never truly worked out until she realized that aiming for perfection wasn’t the way to go. You’ll find all this in her post, I Expected Too Much and Was Let Down…

Now it’s time to check out What Happens if You’re Sick? In this entry, Canadianlynx talks about an issue she’s never really considered with previous guide dogs, how do we ensure our bond with our dog isn’t affected and how do we make sure their work stays intact when we’re ill?

Now it’s time to go visit Carin and Tansy over at vomit Comet. In her post, A Public Apology to Trixie, Carin apologizes to her former guide, Trixie, for not retiring her sooner and for ignoring all of the signs she now knows Trixie was giving her.

Over at The Average Blog By An Average Blogger, Tori and Ushi share their post titled Why Did I Let You Stop. In her post, Tori talks about Ushi’s habit of stopping for no reason and how she wishes she had done something to end the behaviour before it had become a habit.

Let’s go visit Flo over at A Mutt and His Pack. In a post titled I Hate Pink, Flo regrets buying Keeper a pink vest for working. Even though Flo sees the pink gear as a “pebble in the shoe,” Flo doesn’t want to buy another vest until necessary.

In her post, I Will Not Regret the Past Except for the Purpose of This Post, Ro reflects upon her choice to not go on a forest walk with Jayden while still in class.

Finally, we have my submission called Looking Back. In this post, I talk about my former dog guide, Phoenix, and the regrets I carry.

Boy, was this topic intense. Pouring our hearts out, talking about our regrets.

thank you everyone for your submissions, and for helping me promote the carnival itself. The next round will take place over at Gentle Wit in the fall.

sleepy Kitty

Laya laying on the table with her head resting on my hand while I work on my computer

Laya enjoys hanging out on our dining room table while Huib and I work on work and school stuff, but sometimes she gets tired and needs to grab a bit of shut-eye.

Group Training

Arizona in the grass wearing a pink leash paw prints in different shades of pink and brown

This was Arizona’s second group training class for field work.

There was a duck toller named Maverick, a black lab named Hank, a chocolate lab named Butler and two other golden retrievers named Striker and Buck.

Arizona was the youngest dog in the group by at least a couple of years, so she was also the goofiest. The other dogs all seem to have at least their first field title, so they were a lot more serious about following their owner’s direction.

Side view of Arizona lying in the grass wearing a pink bone shaped ID tag on her collar

This was Arizona’s first night seeing real ducks and was not going to pick one up. She had a bit of trouble settling enough to sit and she was overly excited to meet all of the humans when I gave her the cue to retrieve, but Susie didn’t seem worried about her progress, so we’ll just keep working away.

Once Arizona had her turn to attempt retrieving her duck wing attached to a training bumper, we stayed in the background and let her watch the older dogs work. She seemed quite interested and every time someone said “mark,” Arizona immediately stopped whatever she was doing and looked out towards where the duck would fall.

Susie sent two other training bumpers and duck wings home with us to work with. She is thinking that Arizona needs to practice with different equipment and also have a variety of people tossing it for her.

Next week we’ll attend group training again, but then we’ll have to take a couple of weeks off for other engagements.

Looking Back

The topic for this round of the assistance Dog Blog Carnival is “regrets.” I chose this topic because in exactly one month it will be 17 years since I was partnered with Phoenix. For new blog readers, Phoenix was officially my second dog guide from Dog Guides Canada, but to me he was my first, and the dog who started it all.

On July 23rd, 1998, I was matched with Phoenix, a 21 month old male yellow lab. He wanted nothing to do with me at first, he just wanted to be with his trainer. Around the two week mark of class, a switch turned and he was mine forever. From that moment in time, Phoenix and I ruled the world together. Even when he retired 7 years later, he was still my constant shadow. No matter how much Huib tried to win his affection, Phoenix would have none of it. When I was home, Phoenix was stuck to me like glue.

We finished my final year of high school together. We completed five years at the University of Guelph and walked across the graduation stage side by side. Along the way Phoenix taught me about unconditional love and the value of true friendship.

It’s true, I’ve had several dogs since getting Phoenix (not all guides of course), but no matter who has passed through my life since July 23rd, Phoenix had and will always have a big piece of my heart.

You’re probably wondering how this all relates to the topic of “regrets.” Well, looking back I have many regrets.

Looking back, I wish I had known about clicker training and that I had not used the choke chain and the harsh corrections that went along with it. It’s true that I stopped using all of this a year or so after getting Cessna, but I still have regrets.

Looking back, I wish I had known about feeding a raw diet sooner. Yes, Phoenix ate raw his final eight months with me, but it took me over 12 years to finally figure out how to end his constant fight with ear infections. It’s true that I figured out his allergies by the time he was seven, but he still got painful ear infections off and on, so I have regrets.

Looking back, I wish I had known the end was near. It’s true he was just two months shy of his 15th birthday when he passed. It’s true that I was not in school or working, so I spent every hour of the day at home with the dogs. It’s true that I fed him all of his favourite human foods, such as pizza, french fries, Kraft Dinner and beef jerky, when he’d eat for me. It’s true that he progressively ate less and less, while sleeping more and more the last month of his life, so I should have known the end was near. But, I have regrets.

I wonder if he would have stayed longer if I had not gotten Rogue. I wonder if he wouldn’t have started to give up if I hadn’t left him with friends for a few days while I took Canyon, Cessna and Rogue to Rogue’s breeder’s reunion. I will probably never know the answer for certain, and he probably would have still passed away, but I have regrets.

According to dictionary.com, regret means to: “feel sorrow or remorse for an act, fault, or disappointment.”

This definition seems fitting. I feel sorrow for the training methods I chose, which caused me to act poorly towards Phoenix. I feel remorse for not acting sooner to stop his ear infections. And, I feel sorrow for possibly causing him to pass away sooner than he might have if I had not chosen to get a puppy.

It’s true that I shouldn’t feel bad for these things, but I still have regrets.

A Bed Fit for a Princess

Laya, a Maine Coon cross, lays on a pile of bandanas

Posing

Brooke and Rogue posed in front of a blue spruce tree. Brooke is kneeling beside Rogue who is standing in her red and black guide harness.

Our friend, Cyndy, is designing me a business card to give people at conferences and as we travel the world. Huib took this picture of us in our front yard and I thought it was pretty good, so decided to also share it here. This picture will go on the front panel of a three-fold business card and a picture of just Rogue will go on one of the inside panels. I think it’s going to look pretty awesome, and provide people with information from both my educational and personal interests.

Arizona vs. the Cat Ball

Arizona lays along the bottom step of tan carpeted stairs playing with a blue spongy cat ball

Fast Asleep

Rogue stretched out on a dark brown leather couch

We went to the mall this afternoon, but she didn’t even have to work that hard.

What a lazy girl!!

Where’s the Food?

Arizona standing wearing a plastic bib from McDonald's

Cat in the Bag

A Maine Coon cross lays in a blue and black fabric bag

The cats don’t often appear on the blog, but Laya was adorable, so I thought I’d show her off.