ENGAGE 2015

On the 14th, I was invited to present at a student conference at the University of Guelph.

The theme of this year’s conference was “Making the Familiar Strange in the Social World.” The keynote speaker was Dr. Thomas McIlwrath.

The various presentations were broken down into sessions of four or five presenters. The morning and afternoon had two sessions of three choices.

I was the fourth presenter in my session and had another student follow me. When it was my turn, Huib set up my computer for the powerpoint and Rogue came with me to the podium.

I was SO freaking nervous!!! I was honestly on the verge of tears, so thankfully no one told me to speak louder or I would have probably started blubbering. I’ve never been so nervous and I didn’t even know you could be nervous enough to cry.

the talk went well. I spoke clearly and didn’t miss anything. Huib said he could hear the quiver in my voice, but that he felt I did really well. I had to keep repositioning Rogue throughout, so Huib suggested I stop next time and fix her so that I’m not having to do it over and over. In Rogue’s defence, I think she sensed my nervousness and wanted to take me back to where Huib was sitting. The only other thing that went wrong was that I got disoriented in where I was supposed to look and even though my body faced the group, I was looking towards the wall, lol!!

My powerpoint consisted of pictures of my dogs as puppies and in their working gear. I had pictures of Cessna, Aiden, Reece, Rogue and Arizona. I also had various screen shots of recent media coverage of service dog issues.

I memorized my entire presentation – it was just over 12 minutes long. I introduced myself and explained why I was interested in the topic. I gave a brief introduction of animal-assisted intervention and eased people into the world of service dogs. Then discussed my research questions and methods.

Once the presentation was over, I was asked questions from two different people. One person asked me about the methods I have chosen and how I planned to get participants for my interviews and focus groups. The other person asked me about the theory I planned to use as a guide for my research. I answered the first question pretty easily, but the second was tougher. I am planning to use critical disability theory. I understand the theory itself, but I didn’t know how to expand that knowledge to answer the person’s question regarding why I chose that theory.

Even though I was really stressed out about this conference and about presenting, I’m glad I did it.

For anyone who is interested, here is a copy of the long program for the conference. It gives you the abstracts of the various presentations. Mine is in the session titled Grab Bag.

Engage Program 2015_Long

Hard at Work

Or at least Arizona thinks she’s working hard…

Arizona chewing pieces off the handle of a huge pink and black Jolly Ball. She has her paw through the handle so the ball doesn't get away.

Citizen Canine

For my masters thesis, I am doing a lot of research into service dogs and therapy dogs. I want to know where the line should be drawn between a pet, therapy and service dog. So when I heard about this book I had to read it.

Citizen Canine by David Grimm gives us an easy to follow history of the rights of dogs and cats. He takes us from a time when dogs and cats were wild animals to present day where they are considered family members.

I think the most compelling point he made in his book was that we need dogs and they need us. With the advancements in technology, society is becoming less and less social. We no longer have to go out of our houses to socialize, to shop or even work. In Grimm’s mind, dogs are saving society. They are forcing people out of their homes and as a result creating opportunities for one-on-one interaction with other people. Dogs are giving people a chance to delve new friendships and experience new things.

this was an amazing book! I definitely see myself reading it over and over again.

Animals in Translation

Anyone who knows anything about autism or dog training has heard of Temple Grandin.

When I started learning about clicker training and positive reinforcement, I heard about her book Animals in Translation and knew I needed to read it.

Fast forward 8 years and I have finally read it.

Grandin writes about how animals and individuals with autism think and behave similarly. She talks a lot about her work with cows and slaughter houses. She describes her achievements in making the process less stressful and more humane for the cows. She explains how squeeze shoots work and talks about making one for herself and how it influences her emotions. When Grandin isn’t talking about cows, she talks about dogs. She helps her readers understand that they need to look at things from the level and point of view of the dog. When a dog balks at something, we need to get down to their level and think like they do. They could be concerned about something as simple as a reflection of sunlight they never noticed before.

This book wasn’t brilliant, but it was an easy read. If I learned anything, it was that I need to remember to think like a dog, get down to their level and see things from their perspective.

the Case of the Mysterious Tapping

Ready for a story?

Last night I was exhausted, so fell asleep the instant my head hit the pillow. I woke up at 2:30am for some unknown reason..

As I laid there trying to fall back asleep, I heard a tap, tap, tap coming from somewhere in the house. I wasn’t sure where it was coming from, so I listened intently. Once I had figured out that it wasn’t coming from my bedroom, I decided to try and ignore it.

Tap, tap, tap…

Short pause.

Tap, tap, tap…

It wasn’t going to stop, so I got out of bed and walked to the top of our stairs down to the kitchen. I was wondering if maybe one of the dogs or cats were doing something. I didn’t want to go downstairs though because I really didn’t know where the noise was coming from.

At the stairs, I stood for several minutes listening intently.

Tap, tap, tap…

Short pause.

Tap, tap, tap…

It was coming from one of the cupboards in the kitchen. I quickly went back to bed.

Tap, tap, tap…

Short pause.

tap, tap, tap…

The noise was not letting me sleep. I didn’t want to wake Huib up though, he was snoring away, so I thought he was having a good sleep. The dogs were also fast asleep.

So, I got out my earbuds and decided to listen to a book on my iPhone.

After about an hour or so, I was getting sleepy, so turned everything off.

Tap, tap, tap…

A bit longer pause.

Tap, tap, tap…

I went back to the stairs to listen some more. I wanted to know what was making the noise.

I knew we had put a couple of mouse traps in one of the upper cupboards, but this was a really loud tapping noise. No mouse should be able to make that much noise.

I was totally convinced a mouse had got their tail caught in the trap and was running around the cupboard. I wondered if it could push it’s way out. I wondered if it would jump out at Dad or Huib the second they opened the cupboard door. I knew for sure I wasn’t going to be the one to open that cupboard and find out what was making the noise.

Tap, tap, tap…

A bit longer pause.

tap, tap, tap…

As I turned to go back to bed, I heard one of the cat’s jump up onto the table where their food is kept. I stopped to listen and see if they would notice the tapping noise. Nope, Logan just munched away, oblivious to the commotion in the cupboard above.

I went back to bed – it was now 4:00am, and I was very sleepy.

I thankfully fell asleep.

At just before 7:00am, I woke up again. I felt Huib moving around beside me, so asked him if he heard the noise.

Tap, tap…

Long pause.

Tap, tap…

I told him about my night and about my thoughts regarding what was making the noise and what might happen if he opened the cupboard. He laughed and laughed.

After a bit, he sat up and decided to go see what was making the tapping noise. As he stood up, there was a loud SQUEAK!!! We both roared with laughter. One of the dogs had stepped on a squeaky ball.

First Huib let the dogs outside.

Then he put his shoes on and went over to the cupboard.

Inside, he found one tiny dead mouse in a trap and in the other trap, there was a partially living, medium sized mouse.

He said the trap had caught it like normal, but that for some reason the mouse was still living.

He said the partially living mouse had moved the trap close to the metal vent cover, so that is where the noise was coming from and why it was so loud.

Mystery solved and case closed.

A Forgotten Photo

Huib was looking at the pictures I have on my iPhone and came across this one.

Canyon, Ace and Arizona sitting on our stairs with me

Tug of War

Even though the dogs have tons of toys to play tug with, their favourite tug item seems to be socks.

Canyon and Arizona playing tug with a white sock. They are both a bit blurry. You can see their purple, brown and white tug rope clearly nearby and Rogue in the background.

Laundry Time?

Arizona peaking out of a rectangle cedar box while I stand to the side. I'm wearing a light blue hooded sweatshirt with a navy blue turtleneck.

It’s fun having a puppy who completely trusts you. Arizona has absolutely no fear, so we can usually convince her to try out something at least once.

Labradorable Cessna

I’m such a bad dog mom, I haven’t had a picture of Cessna up here in a while. It’s really difficult to get good pictures of her in the summer time because her black coat reflects the sun, so we’re going to try and take more now that we can use the natural lighting of winter.

Cessna with snow on her face

Canyon’s Seizures

Back in May I blogged about Canyon’s partial seizures. I talked about the difficulty we had diagnosing the problem, about the details of the seizures themselves and about what Bianca (our vet) wanted to do about them.

Since May, Canyon has had five more seizures.

they are still the same length and the symptoms are all the same, but unlike other years they are happening more frequently.

One thing I am noticing, maybe it’s just a fluke, but whenever I have my major migraines – the ones that last more than a couple of days – he has a seizure. Twice now that I can think of, Canyon has had a seizure the evening of the second or third day I am dealing with a migraine. Maybe it’s a fluke, as I mentioned, but I’m keeping track of it anyway because it may help us find a preventive medication if one becomes necessary.

On Wednesday we took Canyon to see Bianca. We had already decided that we were okay if she suggested keeping him off medication, but we wanted her to check him over and to do some blood work if she thought it might tell us something.

Bianca looked Canyon over and couldn’t find anything physically or neurologically wrong. She has taken some blood to run a variety of different tests, including a number of different thyroid related ones. Hypothyroidism is common in labs and golden retrievers, so Bianca wants to see what his values are like, just in case his thyroid could be a potential cause for the seizure increase.

I brought her a seizure journal to look over, where I recorded a variety of different things from the time it started, what he was doing before to what happens during and after the seizure. I have also joined a canine Epilepsy group on Yahoo, so I told her about the recommendation of Coenzyme Q10. She said it couldn’t hurt anything and said he can take 100mg a day. We went to Costco on Thursday and picked up some Coenzyme Q10.

We are also filling out a homeopathic intake form and canyon will most likely start some sort of homeopathic regiment following the analysis.

I will keep everyone posted.