Archives for April 2009

Another Month Older


Reece and Aiden are both another month older – Reece is now 4 months and Aiden is 16. It has now been over a year since we began to raise puppies for Autism Dog Services. It has been a great experience, it has had it’s ups and downs, but we have enjoyed our time overall.

Reece has come a long way in the past two weeks. He now weighs 41lbs and if you look quickly in his direction you can actually mistake him for Cessna. His coat has gotten a little more wavy and his eyes are now more of a yellowish grey than bluish grey. He now understands the meaning of “stay” (sit), “down”, “come”, “leave it” and is beginning to “heel” – walking with a loose leash about 50% of the time. It is hard to believe that we have only had him 10 weeks, but looking back at his pictures we can see that he has grown a lot. His accidents are now only about once every couple of days and he has not had a poo poo accident inside in almost a month. I think it is harder for him to control his bladder compared to his bowels.

Aiden is still progressing well in his training and has now stayed with a family for a few days – as a tester for compatibility. I am not sure how it went, but from reading the Facebook messages of the family, it looks as though it went fairly well. This weekend he will be staying with another family, will keep you all posted on how that goes. Aiden is a real sweet boy, full of energy and personality – he will be thoroughly missed by our household (particularly by Cessna, who is still resisting Reece’s attempts to befriend her). I think her negative experiences with chocolate labs has made it hard for her to trust him, hopefully this will change with time.

Puppy Session At The Beaches


Yesterday we had an ADS puppy session at the Beaches in Toronto. Huib, Aiden, Reece and I went along with Stanley (a friend’s foster puppy from another program) as well as two other ADS moms. There were so many puppies and dogs at the session – probably about 20, with Reece being the second youngest and the oldest being a 3 year old golden named Spencer who is already in service. Aiden, Stanley and Reece were all pretty well behaved around the other dogs, but Aiden, for some reason, was not into doing his obedience or heeling.

We spent the first half hour split into two groups – 6 months and younger puppies in one & the older puppies/dogs in the other – doing some basic obedience and distraction exercises. Reece went with Huib and did surprisingly well, he is actually beginning to heel. Stanley worked with another family and performed pretty well, but Aiden stayed with me and had a pretty terrible session. He had been so good over the week and a bit we had him, so when we had this terrible training session I was left shaking my head. I am not sure if he was distracted by the sights and smells of the beaches or if he was just really excited to see Wade again, but one thing I do know is that he was horrible!

After the group sessions, we got back into a larger group and began to walk down the boardwalk towards the off leash dog area. The puppies and dogs all loved the opportunity they were given to run and swim. Stanley tried to swim out to the middle of the lake, but someone called him back…silly boy! Aiden played with the other dogs and made sure to swim as much as he could – he sure does love the water! Reece on the other hand wanted nothing to do with the water, he decided instead to follow another foster mom around the shore – soon enough little man, you will be swimming like a fish! After half an hour of play, we put the dogs back on leash and into jacket to head back down the boardwalk to the cars. It was a beautiful day for a walk and the dogs all got tons of exposure to crowds, bikes, water fowl, and other dogs.

Aiden returned to formal training after the session and we headed home with a sleepy Reece and Stanley. Aiden has not yet been matched with a family, but soon I am sure his trainer will find that perfect one for him. We will hopefully get our little Monkey Man back for a visit in May, but only time will tell.

A Wonderful Week


This week has been a busy one. Huib and I picked Aiden up in King City on Tuesday and headed off to Kirkland Lake. We looked at several houses while there and both Aiden and Cessna got a good run Wednesday morning. I think Aiden is going to start refusing to come visit us soon, as every time he comes we end up going on a long drive…lol! On Thursday Aiden went to school with Huib, it was his final day of school and Aiden was very well behaved – I think it helped that he didn’t get much sleep the night before…lol! On Friday we went to see Phoenix’s foster mom and then headed to the “All About Pets Show” in Mississauga afterwords. We met up with another foster mom and her daughter who were watching our little chocolate man. We thought the drive to Kirkland Lake would be too much for him so decided to see if a friend would take him. He got lots of different experiences and was a very good little house guest – at least that’s what I was told…hahaha!

The show was great, we saw lots of different cats, dogs, and birds. The boys (Aiden & Reece) and Cessna were really good. They got lots of treats and we even bought our cats a new litter box that looks like a doll house. Reece seems to really like bigger dogs, he tried to curl up with every one at booths where we stopped to talk to the exhibitor. On Saturday we went to Ren’s Pet Depot to buy the dogs each an Easter present – Aiden & Cessna got a squeaky tennis ball with a colourful canvas swirly tail (sort of looks like a comet), Aspen got a squeaky tennis ball with colourful little canvas ribbons, Phoenix got a toy that has two squeaky tennis balls connected with a canvas strip and Reece got a toy that looks like a fox skin with squeakers at the head and tail (called a Skinneez). They were all spoiled and have been playing with their new toys all weekend – except Cessna’s got killed in a game of tug so we put Aiden’s away before it met the same fate…lol!

Aiden will be staying with us until Friday or Saturday, so lots of time left for snuggles and long walks. He is such a bouncy guy, so full of personality and affection. His heeling seems to have improved a lot, but his energy level seems to have gone through the roof  He never needed as much exercise as he does now, hopefully he goes to a family with a lot of property or who loves to be outdoors or it might be an interesting placement. No matter what though, he will always be welcome to come home, whether it be for a visit or forever.

The upside to our long trip to Kirkland Lake is that we found a great house (lots of space inside & a large yard). We made an offer on it and after a bit of back and forth we settled on a purchasing price. As long as we are able to sell our current place within a month’s time then we will be moving in around June 18th! I think the dogs will love their new home and the cats will not know what to do with all the space they have to run.

Update From Here

Time sure does fly, Reece turns 15 weeks on Saturday and is weighing in at 31lbs! It is strange to think that he has already been with us for almost 2 months. He has grown a ton, now fits into his ADS puppy cape and can stand beside Cessna and no longer look tiny. His coat is beginning to become adult feeling and he is developing tons of waves on his back. His eyes no longer have blue in them, but are more of the typical chocolate lab colour.

We stopped our puppy classes with Dogs In The Park for personal reasons and have been continuing his training on our own using their techniques. Reece is doing so well for his age, he is already at a comparable level in skills to a 16 month old black lab who was donated almost a month and a half ago – way to go buddy! He knows all of his basic obedience commands – still isn’t a fan of lying down – and is slowly learning to walk with a loose leash. He knows the command “leave it” extremely well and is learning to take treats gently – he is a bit of an alligator when it comes to taking treats… He is curious about absolutely everything and rarely shows fear towards anything. I think he really has the potential to be an amazing autism service dog. We just need to work on his pushiness with the other dogs in the house and tame his exuberance just a bit. He behaves fabulously (for the most part) when his puppy coat is on, but when he is in the house he can still be a bit of a terror at times. Seeing the improvements he has made over the past few weeks in his obedience and behaviour in coat, I think it will only be a matter of time and patience before he transfers these manners into the home environment.

On another note, Aiden comes home for Easter in a week! He is doing great with his training and is learning to heel better. I still do not know if his trainer has decided upon a potential match, but seeing as he is taking his time to get to know Aiden and to know the possible families better I know Aiden will go to a wonderful home. My hope is that he will go to a child who will grow up with him and be able to benefit from all of his special abilities and skills. Good luck buddy and see you soon!