Archives for October 2013

Happy Birthday Cessna!

HAPPY 10TH BIRTHDAY CESSNA!!

Cessna stands in some colourful leaves.

Cessna lies amongst colourful leaves and twigs.

Cessna lies amongst colourful leaves and twigs.

Cessna sitting amongst the colourful leaves and twigs with her mouth open. It looks as though she's about to say something. You can see her missing lower incisors.

Cessna sits in the grass.

It’s hard to believe you’re already into the double digits. time really does fly way too quickly…

I hope you’ve enjoyed the past eight and a half years with us, we’ve certainly enjoyed our time with you.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Cessnaroo!

Canyon’s Surgery

Canyon lies half on the tile and half on the carpet. he has a clear plastic cone on and a red bandage on his right front paw.

Today Canyon had the inflamed gland on the lower lid of his left eye surgically removed. the incision is completely invisible and Huib says it looks as though nothing was ever there or taken off. canyon cannot play fetch and has to wear the plastic cone for 10 days. He’s on 5 days of antibiotic eye drops and 4 days of Metacam.

The Rogue Lesson

No matter what we think, our dogs are always watching and learning.

This is the most important lesson rogue has taught me.

Let me explain.

As most of my blog readers already know, Rogue is my Guide Dog In Training.

Cessna will be 10 years old tomorrow, so I would like to begin retiring her after Christmas. She could still work another year or so, but I would like to have her enjoy at least a couple years of care-free pet life before she becomes too old to do so.

I began Rogue’s formal guide work training last fall, starting with basic forward guiding in hallways. Over the past year, Rogue has learned how to:

Follow directional cues;
Take me around various obstacles;
Manoeuvre through crowds;
Find doors, curbs and stairways;
Stop at curbs; and more recently,
She has gone on short trips with me.

The past twelve months have not been smooth sailing. It seems as though, for every success, there have been double the obstacles.

First we had the gear issue. rogue has always had a problem with how certain gear feels and it takes her a really long time to get used to wearing something as simple as a new collar.

Then we had the confidence issue. It’s probably pretty normal, but to me, it seems as though rogue takes a lot longer to feel comfortable with a new concept or route. when we begin working on a new route, for example, she will often stop every few steps to check in with me, or if she’s feeling really uncertain, she’ll sit and refuse to move. Even if i can get her moving, it honestly feels as though she is walking with a pickle between her bum cheeks. but, once she feels good about the new route, she picks up speed and walks faster than Cessna’s usual pace.

Our most recent problems though have been my fault. I have forgotten something important. I forgot how easy it is to “teach” a dog something you didn’t mean to “teach” them.

Rogue is very close to being able to take over, at least part-time, from Cessna. We just have one little problem.

Somehow, I taught Rogue that it is important for her to stop three feet back from a down curb and at least a foot back from the up curb – Whoopsie!

How did I teach her such a thing you ask?

It was a little easier than you’d think…

While we were working on learning to stop at curbs, I would dramatically tell Rogue that she had overstepped the curb edge and then immediately turn back and re-do it. the problem came from the distance I tended to walk back to before approaching the curb again. for some reason, I kept walking three feet back from a down curb and about a foot back from an up curb – Double whoopsie!

Now Rogue thinks she needs to stop exactly where we used to stop when re-working the curb…

Here i thought Rogue was having trouble learning what I wanted, when in fact, she was giving me exactly what I had taught her to do – Silly Human!

In order to fix the mistake, I have asked Huib to help me re-teach rogue proper curb approaches. he takes her out, in harness, to practice five up curbs and five down curbs each day. It’s taken her about two weeks, but she’s begun to have a 90% success rate, so we’ve begun going out together and Huib stops me the second Rogue is about to overstep a curb or tells me to keep going if she’s beginning to slow down too soon. when rogue does it correctly, Huib clicks and I give her a treat.

It’s amazing to look back at all rogue and I have accomplished in twelve months, but it’s more amazing, to look back at all of the lessons she’s taught me.

She’s taught me that not every dog learns the same way. They all have their strengths and weaknesses.

She taught me that sometimes you need to step back and appreciate what you’ve already learned.

She’s taught me that no matter how well-behaved she can be, she is and always will be a dog.

She’s taught me that I’m not perfect.

and, most importantly, she’s taught me that it may not look like it, but she’s always watching and learning.

Partnership Differences

I know the chances are extremely slim that it would have happened, but if Phoenix was still with us, he would have turned 17 this week.

Knowing this has gotten me thinking about the differences in the partnerships I have with Cessna and Rogue, and had with Phoenix.

Each dog has their own unique personality and working style.

Cessna is an amazing worker, but if there’s a squirrel nearby, she’s also a serious critter chaser. but, no matter how distracted she gets, her work is always spot on.

Phoenix was too serious about his work. If he thought something wasn’t safe, then he’d flat out refuse to move. One day it took me 15 minutes to convince him to climb over a snow bank that was blocking our path. Phoenix knew his job was to keep me safe, so he felt it was necessary to keep following the sidewalk until he found an opening he could get me through to cross the road. the only problem was, there were no openings, it had just snow ed and the snow removal people hadn’t gotten around to clearing pedestrian walkways.

Rogue is still in the training process, but already I am seeing similarities between the way she works and Phoenix’s work ethic. If Rogue isn’t sure something is safe, or certain that she is doing what I want, she’ll stop walking and sit down until I explain the request again.

Cessna is a solid worker, but Phoenix and Rogue seem much more serious about their job.

At home, Cessna rarely cuddles with me or follows me around the house. She’d much rather spread out on the couch for a nap or chase squirrels in the backyard.

Phoenix was my yellow shadow. Wherever I was, he was not far behind. If I was sitting on the couch, Phoenix was lying beside me with his head in my lap. if I was doing dishes, he was lying by my feet or a few feet behind.

Rogue is almost an extension of me. the second I move, she’s up and ready to follow. if I’m working on my laptop, Rogue is lying right against me. if it were possible, I think Rogue would climb inside my body.

Other then her bad habit of counter surfing while we’re gone, Cessna could care less about being left behind.

Phoenix went nuts when I left him. it didn’t matter who was with him, he did not like being away from me.

Rogue is not even close to as bad as Phoenix, but she still does not like being left behind. She’ll frequently look out the window to see if I’m coming back, and she’ll whine if she sees me and cannot get there.

Thinking about the differences between my partnerships with Cessna, Phoenix and rogue, I really wonder if maybe a good working dog needs a certain level of separation anxiety…

Lots Of Reading

Since the last books I wrote about, I’ve completed a lot more.

I’m not sure I’ll remember everything, but I think I read:

B Is For Burglary by Sue Grafton

Monday Morning by Kathy Reichs

Defending Jacob by William Landay (I linked this book to a review written by a friend)

Thankless In Death by JD Robb (Just released in September)

Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell

Body of Evidence by Patricia Cornwell

Cruel and Unusual by Patricia Cornwell

The Body Farm by Patricia Cornwell

From Potter’s Field by Patricia Cornwell

Cause of Death by Patricia Cornwell

Unnatural Exposure by Patricia Cornwell

Point of Origin by Patricia Cornwell

I may have forgotten a couple, but those are the ones that come to mind. I’m not really sure I’ll be writing about the books I’m reading next year, unless there’s something that makes me think, but I’ll finish off my 2013 book list anyway. I’m just not sure anyone who reads this blog is really interested in hearing about what I’ve read, especially when most of the time I don’t write the greatest book reviews.

So, for 2013, I think I’m up to 59 completed books…not too bad…

Wine Country Kennel Club

Sorry it took me so long to write about the Wine Country Kennel Club conformation dog show, but it was kind of a horrible weekend.

Judi (canyon’s co-breeder) picked us up early Saturday (October 12) morning and we headed to Welland. Canyon and Emmie were two of just six golden retrievers at the show, so right off the bat we knew it wasn’t going to be amazing. When we arrived, we set up the x-pens, camping chairs and shelter, then Huib started getting both goldens ready for the ring. Canyon’s coat was awesome and for some reason, his tail has gotten fuller, so we were really hoping he’d do well. Emmie’s coat, on the other hand, was not cooperating. It was overly wavy and has gotten thinner since she started to show. Once they were all groomed, Huib took each of them out for a quick tour around the fair grounds to practice walking and give them a chance to take in all of the sights and sounds. Then, at 10:30am it was show time.

Huib and Canyon were perfect! Canyon seems to know what he’s doing and barely needs Huib at all. Unfortunately, he wasn’t the judge’s type and ended up getting nothing, except for 1st place in the Canadian Bred Dog class because he was the only one entered. When it was time for Huib and emmie to enter, I took Canyon and they did their thing. emmie was absolutely horrible! Huib nicknamed her the bucking bronco and couldn’t do anything to get her to stop galloping and jumping around like a horse.

And, sadly, the next two days went the same for both dogs.

Judi thinks showing is just not emmie’s thing and will most likely stop trying to get her Canadian Championship.

canyon still loves the show ring, so we’ve scheduled him to have the inflamed gland on the lower lid of his left eye removed on October 30th. In addition to the worry that he might end up getting a major eye infection from injuring the spot, we think that having the spot removed will help his chances in the show ring and hopefully he’ll get an opportunity to finally get his title.

I’m not sure how much I’ve said about the spot on the lower lid of his left eye, but we took him for a surgical consult on the 15th, and were told that it’s not actually a cyst, but an inflamed gland. the vet told us that dogs and humans have glands in their eye lids and that sometimes they become inflamed, but usually return to normal. She said that sometimes this doesn’t happen, so the gland needs to be completely removed. canyon’s inflamed gland is right next to his tear duct, so she said that it’s even more important that we have it done.

This will be Canyon’s first time having surgery, so hopefully nothing eventful happens. He’ll have his blood drawn before the surgery in order to make sure all of his values are normal and we’ve also asked them to run his thyroid since Hypothyroidism is really common in golden retrievers. The surgery will last about 20 to 30 minutes and then we’ll pick him up sometime after 1:00pm. We’ll stay with him in the waiting room before the surgery while he is given the mild sedation and then the vet will take him into the surgical suite to have the rest done. He’ll have to wear the “cone of shame” for about a week and then she said he should be totally fine to return to his normal activities.

I’ll let everyone know how the surgery goes, but I don’t suspect it will be anything major.

Canyon The Cutie

I’m not sure why, but ever since Emmie left on Sunday, Canyon has been really clingy and protective with me. Usually, when Huib goes to work, I go upstairs with the dogs and read in bed. Once everyone has had their treat for following, the dogs settle in their spots; Cessna on her love seat, rogue on the bed with me and Canyon in his crate, but lately Canyon has come over to the bed and asked to be invited up. On Monday night when he did this for the first time, I thought he maybe had a stomach ache and needed to go outside. He’d put his paws up on the edge of the bed and then I’d get out and take him downstairs. When it kept happening, even minutes after we’d just returned from outside, I decided to try inviting him up. As soon as I called him up, he jumped up and settled beside me for half an hour. After the half hour was up, he got off the bed and settled beside me, but on the floor.

I was pretty worried about Canyon, so kept texting Huib. Canyon isn’t a snuggly dog, unless it’s on his own terms, so having him want to sleep with me was a really strange change. In the morning when Huib got home, he checked Canyon over and couldn’t find anything wrong.

We then went up to bed, Canyon went directly into his crate and fell asleep. Huib told me that Canyon has been going over to where Emmie slept on the Saturday and Sunday to sniff and that he has also seen him sleep in those spots, so he is wondering if maybe he is missing her or missing having a golden in the house.

I’m not sure what has caused this change, but it seems as though Canyon only wants to sleep with me when Huib isn’t home. I asked Huib if maybe we need to consider going to golden rescue for a friend for Canyon, but Huib thinks he’ll be okay to wait until we get our puppy in the spring.

Canyon sitting with a wooded trail behind him.

On Fridays when I go to class Huib brings Canyon to wait for me at the bus stop. He took this picture while they waited.

Conformation In Rockton

Last weekend was the Burlington Kennel & Obedience Club conformation dog show.

Both Canyon and Emmie were entered on Saturday and Sunday.

It was a very poorly attended show, so in addition to canyon and Emmie, there were only three other golden retrievers.

Canyon did his absolute best, but did not end up earning any points toward his Canadian Championship title. Huib feels he couldn’t have asked anything more from Canyon and that he just wasn’t the judge’s type.

Emmie on the other hand, was a bit of a bum. She could have done much better, but no matter what Huib did, she insisted on galloping around the ring and was less than cooperative when he asked her to stack.

I had hoped to post pictures along with this entry, but Judi hasn’t sent me any, so maybe I’ll add them later.

We have entered them both in the Wine Country Kennel Club show next weekend, so our fingers are crossed for better results.

Call For Submissions

***ATTENTION PLEASE! ruled by paws was down for a bit this afternoon/evening, so I have decided to extend the submission deadline to October 31st at midnight***

Welcome to the 13th round of the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival!

The topic for this round is “lessons”.

Rogue and I are nearing the end of her initial guide training, of course training will continue, and I’ve had to work through a lot of minor problems that ended up being my fault. I had unintentionally taught Rogue to do things in a way that I am now trying to stop.

* Are there things you’ve taught your service dog that make you really proud?
* Have you unintentionally taught your service dog something?
* Is there something you’ve learned from your service dog?
* Is there something you’ve learned from another service dog or their person?

The sky’s the limit with this topic, so please share some “lessons” – We’re all ready to learn!

The deadline for submissions is October 30th at 7:47pm. You’re probably wondering why I’ve chosen this date and time, it’s because it’s Cessna’s birthday!!

Once your submission is ready, please comment on this post with:
1. Your name;
2. the name of your blog;
3. The name of your submission; and
4. the URL relating to your submission.

If for any reason you require a bit longer to write your entry, just let me know.

Ready…set…type!!!