Archives for May 2011

Monday Is For Music – The Beautiful People

It’s Monday again, so you all know what that means!

Today I decided to go with one of my favourite songs, and chose the song “The Beautiful People” by Marilyn Manson. This song was released in 1996 as part of Manson’s “Antichrist Superstar” album. According to the website, Song Facts, “The beautiful People” only reached #18 on the UK music charts.

Marilyn Manson is one of those misunderstood artists. He’s created a lot of controversy with his music because several groups think he’s to blame for the problems teens are facing. In fact, he was forced to cancel his Rock Is Dead tour after the April 1999 Columbine High School massacre. Here are some interesting facts about the real Marilyn Manson. His real name is Brian Warner. His mom still calls him Brian, but his father refers to him as Manson. He calls himself a “Mama’s Boy”. At the age of 5, he was sent to a Christian school to learn about religion and the proper music to listen to, but he fell in love with the “forbidden”. Manson was a music journalist until 1989 when he formed the band Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids. All of the band members get their first names from famous people and then their last’s from notorious serial killers. Manson is highly educated and writes music that will speak to his fans and create discussion.

There are a couple meanings people have come up for the lyrics of “The Beautiful People”. Some think Manson was writing about his struggle with transforming from a “middle-class loser” to a “famous superstar”. Others believe he’s writing about how the media makes people feel as though they must conform to this idealistic image and that if you can’t reach this unattainable beauty then you’re considered ugly and unworthy. But, most people think the song was written about the hypocritical nature of Christianity. I think this point is most valid when you hear this portion of the lyrics:

“The Beautiful People, The Beautiful People,
It’s all relative to the size of your steeple;
You can’t see the forest for the trees,
And you can’t smell your own shit on your knees.”

Click here to see the music video.

I think this song Fits well with today’s society and the issues we’re dealing with. Whether you think Manson was writing about the media’s portrayal of beauty or Christianity, it’s all there in the news.

Just recently, we had former roman catholic Bishop, Raymond Lahey
plead guilty to child porn charges.

Child Abuse Tests How The Church Relates To The Secular World, is a great article which looks at the long-held belief that priests are separate and different from the general public.

I’m not against religion or trying to judge others for their beliefs, but isn’t it a little hypocritical to be telling others they’re living their lives sinfully, when you’ve got sexually explicit pictures of children in your carry-on? or when you’re choosing to ignore reports of wrong-doing and just sweep it all under the rug?

Then there’s People Magazine’s 2011 Most Beautiful People.

Do these people really look this way in the morning when they first get out of bed?

Will the average “Joe” or “Jane” ever live up to these images of beauty?

Music can really be such a great starting point for discussion.

We’ve Made It Six years!

As of 10:00am today, Cessna and I have been together for six years!!

I will always remember her class. I was one of eleven students, ranging in age from sixteen to sixty-eight. I was 25 at the time, but just happened to be the second youngest. I’m not sure why, but I really didn’t seem to socialize much with the other students. Maybe it was because I had to go away for longer than a day without Phoenix for the very first time. Or maybe it was because the other students just weren’t overly interesting to me.
Here’s our first team picture

It seemed as though the students had their groups and I just didn’t fit into their
neat little clicks.

I don’t ever remember my experiences with the students in Gryphon and Phoenix’s classes being this way. I actually still keep in touch with one of the women I met during Phoenix’s class. Darwin was her first dog and we were the same age, so got along amazingly well. Sadly, Darwin passed away around the age of 10, which just happened to be a couple of weeks before Phoenix retired. Janell ended up waiting a year and a bit before receiving her next dog, a medium sized female black lab named Cyder – who just happens to have been fostered by K9 Crazy small world eh?

I remember the first time I met Cessna. I had already tried out various dogs, all were too slow for me, so when they finally brought out Cessna, I just knew she was the one. She was eager to meet me. Wanted to check out the other dogs and peple. Wouldn’t settle right away or even acknowledge my requests for a sit and/or down.

Cessna just had this air of self-confidence and love for life that I couldn’t help wanting to know more about this little ball of energy.

Over the years, Cessna and I have had our ups and downs. She had some fears that we had to work through as a team. She had a lust for life that needed to be tamed. She had trouble controlling herself around other dogs and small animals.

Here’s a picture from Cessna’s days as a therapy dog for St. John’s Ambulance

And, I had to learn that Cessna is Cessna, not Phoenix.

Our six years together have gone by quickly. We work amazingly well together. I no longer have to give her every little cue and if I screw up she seems to know what I really want. Looking back, I never would have thought we’d get to this point. She’s so different from Phoenix and I think it took time for me to embrace the change.

Cessna, you’ve made such a deep impression on my life that I don’t think I can ever forget you.

this is our most recent picture together, sorry for the repost

I look forward to spending another year or two working with my stellar partner and fellow adventure seeker!

Tears Of Gold

Hi Everyone, it’s Aspen here. I’ve never been given the chance to take over the blog, but Mommy said I can let you all know about the e-mail we got from Grandma Doris last night.

It wasn’t a very nice message…

Grandma Doris told Mommy and I that Daddy (Kantung’s Nugget of Gold) and Uncle Nugget (Allen Parks Echo), passed away this winter…

I’m really sad about this.

I loved going to visit Grandma Doris in the summer and running with Daddy in the field behind their house.

Uncle Nuggy wasn’t as into running, he turned 15 this past year, but I still liked visiting with him.

I’m not sure I’ll like going to visit as much anymore, because now I’ll just have my pesky half-sister Moose stealing my Grandma.

Uncle Nugget was born in 1995 (Mommy couldn’t find his exact date of birth). He sired several litters, before retiring the year I was born (2003). He was a wonderful boy, full of happiness and personality. He passed away just after new Years from natural causes – he was 15.

We’re really going to miss you Uncle Nuggy!

Daddy, Max, was born on May 5th, 2001. From what Mommy could find, he sired over thirty different litters and has tons of daughters, sons and grandpuppies who are now breeding.

The last time we saw Daddy, was about two years ago, when I stayed with Grandma Doris for a week or two. Grandma Doris wrote Mommy to tell her about the adventures I was having with Daddy. We ran in the forest together on walks with Grandma Doris, and I liked running circles around him.

He had a cancerous tumor removed from his neck last fall, but the vet thought they had gotten it all. When Uncle Nuggy died, Grandma Doris says Daddy got really sad and stopped eating. They changed his food several times and after clearing up some tummy issues, they thought he was on his way back to health. Grandpa Larry’s Mommy passed away around the end of January and then Daddy also crossed the rainbow bridge a week later. They aren’t sure if the cancer returned or if he just died of a broken heart.

Mommy and Grandma Doris say I am a lot like Daddy, max. We both have a sunny disposition, but aren’t very smart. I just think we both know how to get away with things we don’t want to do…but, I didn’t tell you all that – shhh! Daddy’s favourite thing to do in the summer was to catch frogs in the creek behind Grandma Doris and Grandpa Larry’s house. Like me, Daddy Max never killed the frogs, but like to jump in the water to catch them and then let them go before they got too scared.

I’m really going to miss Daddy…

Rest in peace Uncle Nuggy and Daddy Max, we’re all going to miss you guys, but know you’re in a better place together…

Before I sign off, Mommy found this poem for me to share with you all…

My Forever Friend

I know that it must be different,
now that I am no longer here.
I realize how much I was loved
and how all of you did care.

I know it will be hard at first
when you look around for me.
Expecting to find me in my bed
or beside my favorite tree.

Someday you will begin to see,
although it’ll take some time,
the happy times you shared with me,
the memories are yours and mine.

I’ll remember you, my family,
and how much you meant to me.
So please don’t grieve and don’t be sad,
it was just my time to leave.

– Author Unknown –

Our Silverfoot Order

Today, the new collars, leashes and watch band I ordered from Silverfoot arrived.

In addition to the collars, I bought leashes to match the top and bottom collar, along with a watch band for me with the same pattern as the bottom one.

We’ve got Puppy Pictures!

Karen of Red Labrador Retrievers was finally able to send out individual puppy pictures! First I’ll present the girls, since one of them will hopefully be ours. then I’ll present the boys, since the animal behaviourist who does the testing thinks that males tend to work out better – we’ll keep an open mind!

Cheyenne’s Girls
(Each picture is named according to the puppy’s collar)

Ruby

Pinky

Violet

Flower

Cheyenne’s Boys

Sargent

Coal

Sunny

Karen feels Ruby and Pinky will be the best fit for us, but we’ll know more after the testing is done June 1st.

Just over a week to go!!

Monday Is For Music – Everybody Hurts

It’s Monday again, which means we’ve got another music post!

Seeing as there have been a lot of natural disasters happening around the world lately, I thought I’d choose the song “Everybody Hurts” by R.e.M. I also chose this song because last night while trying to fall asleep, my mind wandered back to my first grade six dance and this song was the first song I’d ever danced to with a guy.

Click here to see the music video.

The song “Everybody Hurts” was released in 1992 as part of the “Automatic For The People” album. It sadly didn’t do overly great in the charts, reaching just twenty-nine in the United States, but doing a bit better with a number seven showing in the UK. According to the website Song Facts, most of the song was written by R.E.M.’s drummer, Bill Berry, who left the band in 1997 to become a farmer. After the release of their album “UP”, R.E.M. considered disbanding, but decided to continue as a trio. Some fans thought the song “Everybody Hurts” was written in memory of child actor, River Phoenix, who died at the age of 23 from “acute multiple drug ingestion”. In reality, the song was written to give teenagers the message “you’re not alone” in your daily struggles.

I’m sure everyone is aware of some of the natural disasters which have been happening around the world, but here are just a few of the recent ones.

Tornado Devastates Joplin, Missouri

Iceland’s Grimsvot Volcano erupts

Slave Lake, Alberta Wild Fires

Now to tell everyone about my first dance.

I was about 11 or 12 and my parents let me go to a local club for teens to socialize. It was called “The Hot Spot” and was run by a woman and her husband every Friday night at the community centre. I think it was just after Christmas and I remember being so excited to attend because I got to wear my new black denim jeans, Chicago Bulls jacket and matching baseball cap. I’m sure you all know where this is leading…

The song came on and a guy named AJ asked me to dance, I was giddy with excitement. No one had ever asked me to dance and he was pretty cute as well – I had full sight at this point in my life. If anyone knows the song, it’s pretty long, so it was breathtaking to be so close to a guy who wasn’t a relative or family friend. He had one hand on my butt and the other around my shoulders and we swayed back and forth. When the song was over, he said thank you and asked if I might wanna dance a little later – I almost fainted with excitement, I couldn’t wait to tell my mom what had happened. Well, the final song of the night came on and AJ asked me to dance again. We were doing the usual teenager sway back and forth, when a girl came over and laughingly asked “so who’s the girl here?” and took both our caps off. AJ was also wearing denim jeans, a Los Angeles Lakers jacket and matching baseball cap. We stopped dancing at this point and went our separate ways. I was so embarrassed and knew I’d never see him again.

Whenever I hear “Everybody Hurts”, I think of AJ and wonder what was going through his mind the first time he had asked me to dance. I also can’t help wondering what he was thinking after that embarrassing last moment with me in his arms.

The teenage years can be a tough time for us all…

Puppy news & Other Randomness

We got an e-mail from Karen of Red Labrador Retrievers to let us know that she thinks there are two females who might fit our needs. She said that she could be wrong, but from observing the litter, she thinks “ruby” and “pinky” will be a good fit – they name the puppies according to their collar tags. She describes “ruby” and “pinky” as being “very social, happy-go-lucky’s…middle of the road in the hierarchy, brave without being aggressive…they are all (entire litter) quick learners like both their mom and dad…all (entire litter) are happy to please, of course some more than others and they (“rudy” and “pinky”) are middle of the road their also…” We’ll have to wait for the test scores, but at least we know that there is most likely a puppy or two for us to choose from.

Sadly, Karen hasn’t had time to post updated pictures though…

In other news…

We got some very sad news from our friends, the pawpower pack. Mr. Pawpower’s golden companion passed away unexpectedly. Here’s some more details. I haven’t had the experience of losing a beloved companion, but know from losing both my mother and grandmother, that it can be heartbreaking and the wounds will take time to heal. Our thoughts go out to Mr. Pawpower and the rest of the Pawpower Pack. Rest in peace Rudy, you will be sadly missed.

I’ve been doing some research on courses I might want to take through the University of Guelph or McMaster University. I haven’t been able to find work and am tired of sitting around doing nothing, but training with the dogs and housework. I’m thinking that I’ll take a course or two each semester via distance education through one of the above universities and then hopefully re-apply for masters or occupational therapy when we move closer to London (Ontario) in a couple of years. Huib’s contract with the Kirkland & District Hospital is over in a year and if we can get rid of a couple more debts between now and next fall, I think we might look at moving back to southern Ontario, closer to friends and family. It’s been a wonderful experience living here, but it’s just not home.

My sister found out that the woman who owns the house she is renting wants to sell this summer. She doesn’t really like living here and thinks she will try and find work around Orillia or Gravenhurst. She’s going to visit some friends next weekend in Aurora, so has asked me to help her re-design her resume so she can hand some out on her way down. I’m excited to know she will be moving closer to her friends and a place she loves, but am secretly sad that she will be leaving. I know she can be frustrating, but I will really kind of miss having her so close.

I got an e-mail from Judi of Ramblin Goldens this weekend. I had sent her an update on Canyon since she owns his sire and brother. She told me they got their new female golden retriever puppy, Emmie, a couple of weeks ago and are really enjoying her. She hasn’t yet found a new home for Phoenix, Canyon’s brother, but has also not been looking too hard. She wants to work on some of his obedience before sending him off. I really love having Canyon and wish we could invite Phoenix to live with us, but I’m really not sure Huib will go for that lol! He is quite patient with my love of dogs, but has told me that he thinks five is a good number 

Finally, I have been in contact with a woman who runs a program that helps people train their pets to be service dogs. She used to work for the Lions Foundation of Canada as a Special Skills trainer, but has been working on her own program for about five or more years. The program is called Encouraging Paws Service Dogs and their website can be found here. The Director has informed me that her fees are $12,000 for assistance from puppy hood through to certification and follow-up help. This is a little out of our price range, so we have asked her how much she would charge for just help with certification. She said that her price is $5,000 for certification which is ten hours of assessment. To pass, she says that the dog must meet the standards of “the Blind Dog Act Federation” but I think she means the International Guide Dog Federation. She also informed me that her fee for advice and/or consultation is $500 an hour or $8.33 a minute. I’m not sure if we’ll end up going with Encouraging Paws, but at least we know there is someone willing to certify and/or provide consultation during the training process. I have some other contacts who have offered to give me advice and information when needed, so I think we’re finally ready to officially raise and train Cessna’s successor!!

Thirty Seven Days Old

We finally received a copy of the aptitude test Red Labrador Retrievers does with the puppies. The Animal Behaviourist they have perform the testing uses Wendy Volhard’s Puppy Aptitude Test and then an assessment of the puppy’s structure is completed.

The test will be done on June 1st, when the puppies are 7 weeks (or 49 days) old. We will hopefully find out the results shortly after that. As long as one of the females scores mostly 3’s, we’ll pick up our new family member around 9:00am, Friday, June 10th!!

I just looked at the Red Labrador Retrievers’ Facebook group and it looks as though Karen still has not had a chance to post updated pictures of the litter, but has uploaded a video. I’m still not sure how to post it here, but as usual, you’re welcome to go check it out!

Agility

Cessna and Canyon had their second agility lesson on Tuesday. It was pretty sunny, so both were a little slower.

Cessna seemed to remember almost everything she’d learned on the weekend, so we started teaching her jumps and weaves, as well as, starting to ask her to do two jumps before being sent through a tunnel or shoot. Cessna and I learned jumps while taking lessons with Dogs In the Park, so it was nothing for her to start jumping 18 inches right away. We’ll raise the bar a bit further during her next lesson, but the Border Collie lady (Dawn) thought we’d start lower while we were teaching her what’s needed.

I didn’t need Huib’s help as much this time, so he took some pictures.

Cessna loves the Dog Walk and A-Frame, so even before I asked her to “walk on” or “climb” she was running towards the other end.

Cessna was a little warm by the end of her half hour, so she lazily walked through the tire.

Huib had to help me with the weaves, so didn’t get any pictures. For now, Cessna is just being asked to walk through a channel of poles that are about three or so feet apart. As she gets used to the poles, they’ll be brought in closer to one another. Dawn told me that her two year old female (Ruby) is just now starting to perfect her weaves after an entire summer of working on them four days a week, so she said we’ll take it slow. I think the weaves and teeter will be the main areas where Cessna and Canyon will need time and tons of practice before competing. They were both quite nervous walking along the teeter – I held their collars while they walked along and Dawn and Huib held the other end and slowly lowered it as we reached the other side. Cessna was the only one who didn’t try jumping off at the middle, she decided it was best to just get it over with and walk quickly lol!

Canyon didn’t have as great a session, he was really distracted!

He walked confidently along the A-Frame and Dog Walk. Loved running through the tunnels and shoots. And had no issues going through the tire and weaves, but he refused to go over the jumps and continually got off the teeter around the centre.

I really think I need to start using a leash with him when we’re in the arena though, he would do the piece of equipment I asked him to attempt and then run over to this place or that to “mark” or sniff.

Here are a couple of pictures Huib took of Canyon during his lesson.

Dawn is away for the next two weeks – attending a show in Sudbury with her younger dogs (Ruby and Tay) this weekend and then the agility regionals in Sault Ste Marie next weekend with two of her older ones (Gracie and Echo) – so we won’t have another lesson until the beginning of June. I think I’m going to try and build a makeshift jump for Canyon and Cessna to practice.

Before I go though, Dawn has asked me to come and participate in a demo she is hosting Canada Day weekend!! She thinks it is important for others to see how my disability isn’t deterring me from doing agility with my dogs. I know this could be seen as bad (you can insert whatever word you want here) to others, but I don’t mind being used for education – just weeks ago she didn’t think we could do it and now she wants us to show others we can, so this opportunity means a lot to me. I also found out that her sister is blind (or visually impaired) so I’m wondering if this is where a lot of her understanding and/or beliefs have come from. Maybe her sister isn’t as able or willing to participate in traditionally sight-oriented activities. I’m glad I’ve been given this opportunity to teach her that not all blind/visually impaired people are the same.

Fun With Dad

On Monday, Huib took Cessna and the goldens for a swim and hike. I had a migraine and Phoenix had already done a lot so I felt the trip would be too much for both of us.

Here’s what we missed

Canyon found a giant stick in the lake and of course, couldn’t leave it…

Aspen thinks Canyon should share.

Huib finally gets one of the dogs to pose on the rocks for a photo.

Here’s a cool action shot of Canyon shaking water off his coat.

Canyon is such a photogenic boy!