Canine Memory

So, I know I just posted one yesterday, but after getting a comment on Facebook from Aiden’s boy’s mom, I began thinking the one memory I’d love to forget, from we were fostering him – please don’t choke on your coffee Joanne!

Aiden – The Pulling Machine

Aiden was one of the smartest puppies I’d ever encountered. He seemed to come knowing he had to relieve outside and almost had the “sit” command down within 24 hours of arriving. It took us very little effort to teach him the rest of his basic commands and by the time he was four months, he already knew several tricks and would do them for anyone who asked. Well there was one behavior we were unable to teach him and it actually almost got him washed from the program. No matter how much we worked with him, Aiden just couldn’t understand the concept of heeling.

When he was about eight months of age we were in the mall and he had been overly distracted so I decided it was time to break out the Halti. I got him to sit and then let him sniff it before putting it on. It worked right away. Aiden and I were no longer struggling against one another and he was calmly walking at my side. I was so impressed and thought we had found the cure for the constant sore shoulders we were experiencing. Well, we turned a corner and there, standing in the distance was Amber (his sister) and her foster mom. The second Aiden saw her, he began to pull towards them and I pulled back, first mistake, so he pulled harder. Well, being the dumb ass I am, I did a quick flick of my wrist, trying to get his attention. Instead of accomplishing what I had hoped, the flick caused the Halti to come off his face (he had turned his head) which then caused the leash to follow through with the backward motion of my arm. Well, the Halti, still attached to the leash, flew over my shoulder and just narrowly missed hitting a woman in the face who had been walking by at that exact moment. I didn’t know what to say, and Huib was horrified! Aiden took this moment of confusion to take off running down the hall, where he was caught by Amber’s foster mom. My second mistake of the day, as I’m sure you’ve already figured out, was forgetting to clip the leash to both the collar and Halti. From that day on, we never used the Halti again with Aiden and just worked on trying to convince him not to dislocate our shoulders.

Here’s a picture of the siblings from our trip to St. Jacob’s Market in October of 2008.

I’m sure there are other duh moments from my puppy raising days, but you’ll have to wait, because at the moment I can’t think of another.

“turn your wounds into wisdom.” – Oprah Winfrey

Advocating For Christina

In an earlier post I briefly mentioned Christina and her former autism service dog, Spencer. I’m now going to share the story of this little angel and her ongoing fight for life.

We first met Spencer (now retired), at an Autism Dog Services puppy training session in Waterloo with a 3 or 4 month old Aiden. At the time, Spencer was staying with the program trainer in order to learn what he needed to do for Christina. I remember being given a chance to walk with Spencer and thinking about how lucky this little girl, I did not yet know, was to have him in her life. He was so attentive, confident and wanting to learn.

Fast forward 9 months or so and I got a chance to meet Monique, Christina’s Mom. From the moment I met her, I knew we’d become friends and stay in touch. Monique is an amazing woman. She wants what’s best for her daughter and isn’t afraid to make things happen. When we first met she asked a lot of questions about how we could raise a puppy knowing it would someday leave us for a new family. She listened to what we said and tried to understand why we were doing this. Throughout the outing she’d come over and comment on how well-behaved Aiden was and how she’d love to trade him for Spencer – he liked to give Monique a hard time. We met Monique a few more times and began keeping in touch.

Christina is 9 years old and has Cardio-Facio-Cutaneous Syndrome, in addition to tonic/clonic epilepsy. She was originally diagnosed with Noonan’s Syndrome, but after a few years of doctors scratching their heads and finally more thorough tests it was discovered that her seizures were the one symptom which separated Noonan’s from her actual diagnosis of CFC. CFC is a rare genetic condition that usually affects the heart, facial features and skin. Children with this diagnosis may possess the following features –
• relatively large head size
• wide-spacing eyes which may cause decreased vision & acuity
• Sparse eyebrows
• Curly hair
• Areas of thickened or scaly skin
• Small stature
• Heart defect
• Varying degrees of learning difficulty & developmental delay
• Feeding/GI problems (failure to thrive)
• Varying severity of neurologic conditions (seizures, cognitive impairment, etc)
(CFC International, 2010)
Several of the above characteristics are also present in the diagnosis of Noonan’s Syndrome, so it is understandable that it took doctors time to figure out Christina’s true diagnosis of CFC.

CFC was a tough diagnosis to accept, but christina’s family is finding it even harder to deal with watching their little angel struggle to survive the numerous seizures that are taking a toll on her little body. Christina has been put on several different medications and is currently on a Ketogenic Diet in an effort to provide some relief, but nothing seems to work. Recently, they were informed of a life-saving alternative, the Vagus Nerve Stimulator, but their excitement was short-lived because they were informed that Toronto’s Sick Children’s Hospital is only able to perform 8-10 procedures a year. This is not because they don’t want to do more, but because OHIP doesn’t cover the units and the money must be taken out of the Hospital’s own surgery budget. This news does not sit well with Christina’s Mom, so she has taken it upon herself to begin writing letters to Ontario’s Minister of Health, hoping something can be done to rectify the situation. It’s hard to understand why a life saving surgery wouldn’t be covered, but something like a Gastro Bipass would be approved without a second thought. I’m not saying the Gastro Bipass isn’t important for some people to live a long and productive life, but the VNS is often the last chance these children have for a life at all.

Christina may not be like other children, but she is just as entitled to living a long and happy life with her friends and family. She has had to climb an uphill battle since a very young age and could teach us so much about what it really means to live. She may not be able to get around on her own. She may not be able to enjoy a home cooked meal like the rest of us. And she may not have any formal method of communication, but she has feelings and she knows what’s going on around her.

I know there’s not much I can do for Christina, but I’m hoping that by sharing her story and letting everyone know about the struggles she must overcome each day, maybe someone will stumble across my little place on the worldwide web and start bringing about change. There are so many children out there like Christina, but as of today they’re no longer alone in their fight for life because they have Monique on their side. Christina’s Mom is a strong woman and I know that she will never give up on her daughter because she believes, just as I do, that everyone deserves a chance at life. If you’d like to join us in writing letters to the Ontario Minister of Health, please leave your e-mail address in the comments section and Monique or I will contact you with the details.

I’ll finish this entry with a poem I found on the following website – http://www.child-autism-parent-cafe.com/index.html – I hope the author doesn’t mind me re-posting it here…

The Misunderstood child
by Chelsea-Louise Perry
(England)
I am the child that looks healthy and fine
I was born with ten fingers and toes
But something is different somewhere in my mind
And what that is nobody knows.

I am the child that struggles at school
Though they tell me I’m perfectly smart
They tell me I’m lazy, can learn if I try
But I don’t seem to know where to start.

I am the child that won’t wear the clothes
Which hurt me or bother me too much
I dread sudden noises,
Can’t handle smells and tastes,
There are few foods that I will eat.

I am the child with a broken heart
Though I act like it don’t hurt inside
For I am the child that needs to be loved
And accepted and valued too.

I am the child that is misunderstood
I am different, and I understand that too
But for me to fit in and be accepted
Is totally up to you.

Please help us advocate for Christina and children like her because if we don’t, no one will.

Decisions, decisions

This year I’ve decided to take part in the Assistance Dog blog Carnival and the topic is decisions. Over the past 15 years I’ve had to make many decisions in regards to applying for, working with, retiring, and then raising an assistance dog. Not many people can actually say they’ve been involved in all areas of the service dog experience, but here’s my story.

In the summer of 1993 my shunt (a tube which runs from my brain into my abdomen) blocked. This caused the cerebral fluid around my brain to build up and create pressure which damaged my optic nerves. In a matter of a couple weeks, I went from seeing 20/20 to seeing nothing out of my left eye and only through 3 pin holes in the very centre of my right. It was tough at first, but I had the support of an amazing vision teacher who re-taught me everything from completing daily tasks to getting around the world with a white cane, in addition to a mother who refused to see me any different from the daughter she had given birth to 13 years prior. Now that I’ve laid out some background information to my story, let’s move on to the day I decided to apply for my first guide.

From the first day I was introduced to the white cane I knew I had to get rid of it. I hated the way it felt in my hand, the way people looked at me, the ways it limited me, and well….it was just plain ugly! I made a point of telling my vision teacher this almost every time we had a lesson until the day she told me about guide dogs. I had always wanted a pet dog and to know there was a way of both getting rid of my cane and having a dog of my own, I told her I’d do anything she wanted. She told me that if I worked hard over the next couple of years she’d help me convince my parents to let me get a dog and that she’d help me with the application. It was a long 3 years, but finally in January of 1997 my vision teacher and I began researching programs and decided on the Lions foundation of Canada Dog Guides because it was close to my hometown (Aurora, Ontario) and because the classes were small. I received my first guide, Gryphon, in August of that year and put my white cane on the shelf forever.

Gryphon was a 21 month old tall, slim, male black labrador retriever who weighed about 81lbs. We were matched around August 1st of 1997 and worked together for only a year. Gryphon was not the right dog for me, but he worked well and the trainers felt he was a good fit for a young first time handler, who just happened to be the youngest they’d ever accepted into the program. Gryphon was a great dog and he taught me tons, but we never bonded the way a working team should so, when he was career changed after only a year I wasn’t too upset. Gryphon had become traffic shy after an altercation with a car in Toronto and both the trainers at LFC and myself were unable to get him past his fears. He was later retrained as a special Skills Dog and worked for a while before being retired for health reasons.

Phoenix and I were matched in July of 1998 and worked together for almost 7 years. I remember our time in class together, he was only 20 months and full of personality. From day one he has always had his opinions on how things should be done and has never been afraid to let me know what he’s thinking. We attended my final year of high school together and then completed an entire honors degree at the University of Guelph. Phoenix had severe separation anxiety until he retired so accompanied me on excursions I’d never dream of taking Cessna to – a packed Montreal night club, the outdoor Walkerton Country Music Festival or full day visits to Canada’s Wonderland, just to name a few. Phoenix was always faithful and willing to work at any hour and in any environment, but at the age of 8 and a half he began slowing down and wanting to just chill at home rather than work, so I knew it was time for retirement. It was a hard decision because we had developed such a bond and I worried about hurting his feelings by getting a new guide to replace him. But, most of all I worried about the training process and the hardships involved in bonding with a new working companion.

Cessna and I were matched on May 27th, 2005. She was not truly ready to be responsible for a blind person but the trainers had confidence in my abilities and saw the chemistry between us. Cessna was only 18 months so had tons of maturing left to do. She barked at other dogs out of excitement, jumped around like a kangaroo when she saw squirrels or birds and couldn’t settle in my social work classes without a long run beforehand. This crazy, immature puppy is long gone and has been replaced by a mature, sensitive companion who desires to learn more everyday. Over the past 5 years Cessna and I have worked hard to understand what each other needs and have become a dream team.

With all the skills and experience I obtained “training” Cessna, I began looking for other learning opportunities and learned about Autism Dog Services. Huib and I had talked about what it would be like to raise an assistance puppy and had even gone as far as asking the LFC for a puppy to foster. We were told that instead of having to explain to some clients why they couldn’t raise a puppy when others could, that they had made it their policy to refuse everyone, but they said nothing was stopping us from fostering for another organization. Autism Dog Services was started by a former LFC trainer whom I knew from training with Gryphon and Phoenix. A couple LFC foster families we knew began raising puppies for ADS and suggested we contact them to see if we could also be of help. After a few e-mails back and forth we made the decision to welcome a 10 week old caramel coloured Labrador retriever into our home on March 1st, 2008.

We fostered Aiden until he was 13 months of age and began raising Reece in February of 2009. Our experience with autism Dog Services was both gratifying and heart aching. We loved having Aiden and Reece in our home and are thankful to have been given the opportunity to help ADS in providing independence and safety to children with autism, but this experience has also left us with some lessons. We don’t regret our decision to help raise Aiden and Reece for Autism Dog Services, but wish this experience didn’t have to be another hat placed on the shelf of tough lessons learned.

Since cutting our ties with autism Dog Services we made the decision to purchase a male golden retriever in December of 2009 and raise him as our future stud dog and obedience champion. Canyon is not a service dog, but he has taught me further lessons about loyalty and thinking outside the box. He will go for his health clearances in June and hopefully begin producing offspring who will carry on his temperament and lust for life and who knows, maybe one of them will become an assistance dog in the future.

The Monkey Man’s 3!!

On December 23rd Aiden (our first foster puppy) will turn 3. It’s crazy to think it was almost 3 years ago since we began fostering him for Autism Dog Services. I’m so glad we were given the opportunity to raise him and am so happy he was placed with such a remarkable family.

Picture of a 10 week old Carmel coloured lab.

Picture of puppy Aiden looking down at little pieces of shredded toilet paper.

Aiden lives in Lindsay, Ontario with a middle-age couple and their two sons with autism – Kamaran and Matt. aiden is Kamaran’s autism service dog and attends school each day with him, along with other outings in the sometimes overwhelming world. We have had the chance to visit with them a couple of times since he was placed back in June of 2009 and are overjoyed with how well he is doing.

Picture of Aiden watching Kamaran on the slide.

Picture of Aiden at the top of a blue slide.

Picture of Aiden as he slides down.

In September we took Canyon and Cessna to meet with them for lunch at a park in Lindsay. Aiden was beside himself with excitement as he realized it was us who pulled up in the truck beside them. As he was getting out of the van he ran directly to the back and put his paws on the tailgate to see who was with us. We had a quick McDonald’s lunch (Kam’s favourite) and played a short game of fetch. Kam thought it was great to watch the dogs wrestling and told us about his future plans of being the next Dr. Phil. It was funny to hear about what he planned to wear and how Aiden would be his side kick. His mom told us they had really begun to bond over the past few months and that Kam had actually started to call aiden when he wanted his attention. Near the end of our visit canyon decided it was a good idea to lay in a stinky mud puddle. Kamaran thought it was so funny and wanted Aiden to also join in, but he wouldn’t – I think Kam wanted Aiden to join Canyon so they wouldn’t have to return to school for the afternoon.

Picture of Aiden from our visit in September.

We get almost daily updates on how Aiden is doing through Kamaran’s mom and pictures on a pretty regular basis. Seeing the pictures make us miss him, but we know he’s doing what he needs to do and are so proud to have been his puppy raisers.

I hope you have a wonderful birthday our little carmel friend and Look forward to seeing what the future brings for you and Kamaran.

A Wonderful Week Away

On Monday morning we set off for Waterloo. We picked up my sister in Kirkland Lake and then dropped her off in Huntsville before continuing on our way south. We arrived in Guelph around 7:00pm and did a bit of running around before we met up with a friend for coffee at William’s Coffee Pub. I sure do miss my latés living up north. We arrived in Waterloo around 10:00pm and headed straight to bed.

On Tuesday we took Jasper (an ADS foster who’s almost ready for training) and Cessna to Costco for a bit of shopping and then went to meet up with a friend for lunch. Lunch was great. My friend and I decided to share two dishes we both enjoy, a wonderful decision seeing as we both couldn’t decide between the two and would not have been able to eat two full meals ourselves. After lunch we ran a few errands and then went into Cambridge to visit with Jess and Glacier. Glacier was excited to see us and was happy to have Jasper to play with. Before taking Jess to horseback riding we went for dinner at a little Mexican restaurant near her house. It was pretty yummy, but not completely worth the money in my opinion. When we got back to Waterloo, Jasper and Cessna were exhausted so slept while we played Dog-opoly with Karen. My sister bought me the game as an early Christmas present.

On Wednesday we went to a couple of appointments in Guelph and then met up with Kelly and Ace another foster puppy from ADS. The dogs had fun playing with Ace and were all ready for a nap by the time we returned to Karen’s. In the evening we went to a puppy outing at Fairview Mall where there were 5 other ADS families with their puppies(Chester, Finnley, Cooper, Urban and Ace), not including us with Cessna and Karen with Jasper. We had a good outing and ended it all at Crabby Joe’s for a drink and appetizer. It was great to see how much some of the puppies have matured over the past month since we saw them last. Ace was still as well-behaved as usual and Cooper continued to outshine many of his older puppy buddies.

On Thursday Huib finally got his hair cut and we ran a few more errands in Guelph before heading to Etobicoke to visit with Phoenix’s puppy raisers. Alice (his foster mom) is improving everyday and is now walking a bit with the use of a walker. It has been neat to see how determination can overcome negative odds. She had a stroke in January of 2009 which left her in a wheelchair, unable to use her left side or eat solid foods. Now she is eating and drinking anything she wants and moving her left hand/arm more each time we visit. She is able to lift herself into a stand position and walk a bit with the walker. If her determination to go home continues to be this strong then it may be very possible that it could happen  We took Phoenix in to visit and then brought each of the other three (Cessna, Jasper & Aspen) one by one in order not to take up too much space in the small sun room. Thursday evening was pretty laid back with a bit of moving furniture and then playing a bit more Dog-opoly.

Friday was Cessna’s 6th birthday. We got her a couple new toys over the week – a fox wubba and a toy called a Flappy (a long rubber stick shape covered in colourful canvas that has tail like pieces sticking out from either side). Her auntie Jess bought her a stuffed squirrel toy and liver treats which she loves. We packed everyone into the car after a run in the baseball diamonds near Karen’s house and headed to Lindsay. In Lindsay we met up with Aiden’s new mom and followed her to their house which is about 25km from town. Aiden took about 20 seconds to realize it was us, but then the wiggles started and he almost couldn’t control himself. He looks fantastic and seems so happy. We gave him his new toy, a fox wubba and he ran around squeaking it and throwing it to us for another toss. Aiden’s new mom told us about how he has been doing and how much he has changed her son’s life. Aiden passed his public access test just over a week ago and will soon be attending school with Kamaran. We were there for about 3 hours and enjoyed every minute of it. Aiden has not changed at all. He is still full of beans and loves to give kisses and play fetch. For the last half hour we played fetch with Aiden and our dogs. Before leaving we gave Aiden a rawhide ball and he has it broken open and the middle eaten before we were in the car. It was nice to see that he didn’t mind us leaving – something I also see with Cessna and Phoenix when they visit with their raisers.

We met up with a fellow puppy raiser for dinner along with my uncle before heading home. It was great to see both of them. Our drive home was uneventful. We saw a wolf crossing the road just outside New Liskeard, but nothing else too exciting. Now that we are home, we have begun to unpack the car and will probably do a bit of cleaning before Huib returns to work on Monday.

Just a short update on Reece. He has been diagnosed with ununited coronoid process and has been released from the ADS program. He requires a very expensive surgery to correct the problem, but in the end will most likely develop arthritis by 5 or 6 years of age. We are not able to afford this surgery so have had to pass on adopting him, but hopefully soon the program will find a permanent home and family willing to cover the cost. In the meantime he is staying with the other foster mom and will go for a few x-rays to determine the true extent of his condition and a decision will then be made as to what exactly needs to be done and when it will take place. We will keep you all updated as we find out more about him.

Where Has The Time Gone?


It has been a while since I last posted so thought it was time to update everyone on both Reece and Aiden. Reece will turn 6 months on Saturday and is pretty much the same size as Cessna and weighs over 55lbs!! Gone are the days when he was a little puppy that I could carry around in my arms. He has progressed well in his obedience training and is now heeling about 60% of the time without reminders – unless of course we come upon another dog. We have begun to work on his extended stays and he is doing well with reminders here and there.

Over the past few weeks we have taken Reece to several events where he has been required to behave for long periods of time. He has really impressed us, for his age he is able to calm down and relax pretty quickly. Even his trainer has commented on how well he is doing.

Aiden will soon turn 18 months (June 23rd) and has now been matched. He will be going to his family permanently within the month. I am so excited for him, they are the perfect family for his energy level and personality. He will be assisting an 8 year old boy from the Lindsay, Ontario area. He will live in the country near a lake and will have unlimited opportunities to play fetch and swim as his little partner in crime and older brother love to play with him. This weekend is the ADS family/raiser picnic so I will get a chance to say good-bye to my little monkey man. I have an album made for his new family and have made up a care package of all his favourite toys – I can’t wait to give them this. I am sure I will get semi-regular updates on him, so will continue to post these when they come.

Good luck Aiden and Kamaran!! May you both share a life full of happiness and memorable experiences.

“Each of us is a vital thread in another person’s tapestry.”

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!