The wild Child

Today we went to our friend, Sam’s place to help her move.

In the morning i just brought Arizona, so we wouldn’t need to worry about leaving her too long. She was awesome! She played out in the yard and then slept most of the afternoon.

Later on, Huib needed to go into work for a bit, so he brought over Rogue and Cessna and then took Canyon with him to work. the girls were all very well-behaved. They played together and then relaxed while Sam and I put together Kira’s room and helped Mikayla put up some pictures on her wall.

After Huib and Canyon returned, we all needed a break so sat on the deck while the dogs played.

Arizona is such a good sport. We thought it would be fun to see how she liked the swing and slide in the yard.

She LOVED it!

Arizona sits in a red baby swing with a yellow table.

We had to help her up the ladder on the slide, but she did the rest herself.

Arizona zooms down a yellow slide. She's kind of blurry because she's going so fast. She even has her front legs down flat in front of her and her hind end up as if she's going down a ski jump, lol!

Arizona is one CRAZY 3.5 year old puppy!!

RIM Park

Every Friday we get together with our friend karen and her dog, Spark, in either Guelph or Waterloo.

this week we chose to travel to RIM Park with Arizona and Cessna.

I had never been to RIM Park, so it was a pretty neat experience. There were tons of different things to do with Arizona and Spark.

We took them on various bleachers, over a number of different surfaces and even had them walking on the playground equipment.

Spark wasn’t too sure about some of the surfaces and playground stuff, but Arizona continues to wow us with her fearlessness.

Brooke, Cessna and Arizona sit in the middle of an artificial turf soccer field. Brooke is wearing a long sleeved teal shirt with a navy blue vest, jeans, a white roots baseball cap and white running shoes. Cessna is lying beside her wearing her black leather CVC harness, purple Silverfoot martingale collar that has brown Haida whales on it and a black nylon leash that goes across Brooke's body. Arizona is wearing her Mickey Mouse collar and harness with a thin black nylon leash. Arizona is all fuzzy because she's trying to jet away.

same picture as before, but this time Arizona is laying down in front of Brooke and Cessna.

rogue & Cessna take On Marineland

Guess what everyone!!

Mommy took me and Cessna to Marineland!!

It was SO much fun!!

We had to get up a bit earlier than normal, but it was okay with Cessna and I because our friends Sam, Mikayla and Kira came, so we knew it was going to be something exciting we were doing.

When we arrived at the park, Mommy made me and Cessna wear our respective head halters because she said she didn’t want her arm pulled off. I personally think I didn’t need it, but Cessna was CRAZY!!

Once we were all suited up and the humans had their backpacks on, we walked to the front gates and met up with 9 puppies in training from Cessna’s school with their human companions.

I didn’t catch many of their names, but I did get to talk to a flat coat named Martha and 2 labs named Okra and Posy – Mommy says she is glad she isn’t going back to Cessna’s school right now because the names they are coming up with for the dogs are WAY too weird!!

Once we all got through the gates, we walked to a big stadium like place where there were tons of benches and a big pool where I saw dolphins swimming around. I had never seen a dolphin before, but Mommy says they are one of her favourite animals (with dogs and horses being the other two).

Mommy held on to Sam’s arm while we walked to our seats because there were tons of people and she wanted to make sure I didn’t take her on a detour.

At our seats Cessna and I had a perfect view of the pool. Cessna was making some crazy screeching and high pitch whining noises, while I watched intently and quivered with excitement.

When the show started, Cessna got even louder and Kira had trouble calming her down. Mommy tried to help Kira, but Cessna wanted so badly to go swim with the sea lions, dolphins, beluga whales and walruses.

We watched the sea lions catch big rings, collect stuff from the bottom of the pool and swim around. The dolphins jumped, swam and also did some ring catching, while the belugas carried their trainers and did some neat performing. the walruses, in my opinion, were boring, they really didn’t do anything.

after the show we got to meet a dolphin trainer and Mommy and the other humans got to go touch a dolphin. Mommy wasn’t too sure she wanted to do it, but Mikayla asked her to go with her and together they got to feel the dolphin’s tail. the dolphin’s name was Tsunami and Mommy said she felt like a thick, rubbery sort of foam material.

when everyone had gotten their pictures taken, the group began to disperse. We went to the car to get some food for the humans and Mommy asked Kira to come help her let me and Cessna go to the washroom.

After the humans stuffed their faces, we head back into the park and walked to Friendship cove. Cessna absolutely loves the orcas, so Mommy wanted to take us there first.

the first mammals we came to were the beluga whales. there were about 6 or more in the tank and we got to watch them from above and below. After that we went over to the orca and watched Niska swim from below before going up and watching her swim and splash everyone from above. Niska is the only orca at Marineland right now. Mommy isn’t sure if orcas like to live alone or if Marineland has just not had a chance to get another one since the passing of the previous one. She thinks she remembers there being more than one orca when she visited a few years ago, but she isn’t totally sure.

After the orcas, we went to the deer park and waited outside while Kira went in with our friend Elizabeth to feed and pet the deer.

Then we walked over to the ride area and Kira went on a couple with her sister while we watched. Cessna jumped around and whined as if she wanted to rescue Kira, but Mommy held on tight and asked Cessna to sit calmly. I found the rides interesting to watch, but I knew I wasn’t going anywhere near it, so Kira was on her own there 😉

On our way to the bigger roller coaster we stopped and saw the black bears. It was sad to see the older ones in the small pool, but it was cool to watch one of them tell off a youngster. Mommy said it sort of sounded like how Cessna tells off Arizona when she tries to steal something she has. the younger bear wanted to sit on a rock that the older one was on so started making noises at him. the older bear refused to move and made even louder noises back.

When we got to the bigger roller coaster, Kira was too scared to go on it, so Mommy offered to go with Mikayla. Mommy gave my leash to Sam and Kira held on to Cessna. I was SO worried about Mommy leaving us, so I whined a lot and tried to follow her. Sam wouldn’t let me, so after a bit I gave up and waited. Mommy got back 20 minutes later – I was SO excited to see her!!

Mikayla needed to get to work for 6pm, so we left Marineland at 4:30pm.

Oh yeah! Before we left, as we were getting ready to get into the car, Sam dropped a can of Coke and it exploded all over her, also spraying me, Cessna, Mommy and Kira. So when we got home, Mommy put my gear into the washer, wiped Cessna’s down with cleaner and then made us both have baths. Neither of us like baths, but we also didn’t like feeling all sticky, so tolerated it.

I had a lot of fun at Marineland and I hope to go again some day. I think Cessna had the best time though and I am glad she got to go before she retires fully.

10 Weeks Old

The past week has been full of ups and downs. Maybe it’s primarily due to the fact that I have had migraines almost every moment of the week, so my patience is a bit thin, but it’s definitely been a trying one.

Arizona with her head sticking out the front screen door.

Arizona is learning tons and settling in amazingly well with our gang, but she’s also becoming more determined and opinionated.

rogue continues to play with her and has even started explaining the rules and boundaries – I am SO proud of the Rogue Monster!

Cessna doesn’t know what to do with the puppy and has decided to just keep ignoring her existence.

Canyon tolerates her efforts to play and has even started doing his tug game he used to play with Rogue. He lies on the ground holding a toy in his mouth and Arizona tugs on the toy with all her might. Rogue and Canyon still play this game, so as Rogue became bigger she started pulling him around the house.

Arizona sleeps well some nights, but sleeps horribly the following night, it’s SO frustrating!! I am hoping this pattern will stop sooner than later because the getting up every hour is quite exhausting.

She is sleeping in her crate without the blood-curdling screams though and even takes naps for a couple hours each morning in it, so that’s progress.

On Friday our friend Karen came with her 7 month old puppy, Spark, and our friend kelly came with her two dogs, Piper and Ace. It was a really good experience for Arizona to have the three dogs to interact with.

A view from above of Arizona sleeping under a chair while on a coffee date with a friend.

Spark played with her the most and got a bit rough at times, so Karen would grab his collar and have him relax for a minute before being allowed to return.

Piper took a bit to get used to Arizona’s size. I think a lot of dogs wonder if it’s safe or appropriate to be playing with such a small puppy. After she realized that Arizona wasn’t breakable, they had a blast wrestling and chasing one another. Ace wanted nothing to do with the puppy, but that isn’t too abnormal for the big guy, he is more into wandering the yard or mourning Rogue.

On Saturday, Kelly took Arizona for a few hours. She had a coffee date with a friend, so took Arizona to sit on the patio.

On the learning front, Arizona is doing amazingly well at learning to come when we whistle, so now we need to decide if it is worthwhile teaching her the word ‘come’ or if whistling is good enough for recall. Her work with zen (or ‘leave it’) is coming along. I am starting to say ‘leave it’ as she goes to back off from the treat I have in my palm. Arizona is also doing really well at learning to sit. Our little friend, Kira, has been helping me out with this. I really want to teach Arizona to sit using the capturing method, so I have had Kira clicking whenever she sees Arizona sit. Arizona began to quickly figure out what she was getting the clicks and treats for, so now Kira is starting to say the word ‘sit’ as Arizona’s bum is moving to the floor. I think she’ll be ready to learn a hand signal for sit by the end of the week.

I am going to continue working on zen, sit and come, but I also think I may start trying to capture the ‘down’ and try teaching Arizona to give paw or maybe even paw target. I am eager to teach her to nose target, but my friend Robin has suggested I avoid teaching the nose target until Arizona is understanding ‘leave it’ because she is extremely food motivated and needs to learn a bit of self-control.

Arizona has started to switch over to eating raw. We switched her over to Orijen puppy just over a week ago from Pro Plan, but now it’s time to switch her to eating raw like the others. So far she is just getting a tiny ground beef ball with her breakfast, but probably by the weekend she’ll be eating almost purely raw. Maybe the diet change will also help with the house training.

The house training is a challenge, but I think it’s improving. Arizona is now 10 weeks, so her ability to wait should be increasing. We have reintroduced the box with wood stove pellets, like her breeder used, so I am hoping this will speed up the house training process. The only real issue I am having, that is perplexing, is that Arizona has now decided pooping in her exercise pen is acceptable, but seems to know that she shouldn’t be relieving in her crate.

Puppy rearing can be such an adventure, stay tuned for more updates on Taygold’s Kindred Spirit, who should have really been named Trouble not Arizona.

Week One: An Overview

It’s been exactly a week since Arizona joined our family.

Arizona lies on a bed with a cream colour blanket.

She is probably one of the most fearless and entertaining puppies I’ve raised so far.

I think she missed the memo on how baby puppies are supposed to behave because she is definitely not eager to please or a follower, unless of course there’s something in it for her.

Arizona stands with her head between the rails. She's looking down into the living room from the kitchen.

Let’s see, what have we done this week…

On the training front, I’ve started to teach Arizona zen (leave it) and sit, while continuing to proof her recall.

As mentioned earlier, Arizona’s breeder teaches the entire litter recall using a whistle, so Huib and I have been continuing to do this and her response is getting faster and more reliable every day.

Arizona is starting to understand the concept of zen, but I’m not quite at the point where I feel comfortable enough to name it.

As for sit, I am still in the process of capturing it (clicking/treating when she offers it on her own). I taught both Rogue and Canyon to sit by capturing the behaviour and their sits are extremely reliable and well done, so I’d like to do the same with Arizona.

On the hilarious front, Arizona is the youngest daredevil I’ve ever met.

Most puppies won’t even attempt jumping off something high or walking down stairs until they are closer to 16 weeks, but as of the very first day Arizona came home, she’s been running up and down the stairs and launching herself off the couch and bed – which is always a heart-stopper for me!!

Arizona lies on the bed with her head up.

Also, Arizona is a talker. She barks and growls at everything!! She has arguments with the grass and bushes in the yard. She wrestles with the toilet brush and it’s holder. And, she has full out battles with the springy door stops in the house. I really need to try and get some of these on video to show everyone because it’s SO funny!!

The other dogs are slowly warming up to her, but I hope they learn to teach her the rules and boundaries quickly.

Cessna pretty much ignores her completely.

Canyon plays with her a bit. Her favourite game with him right now is to chase him while he plays fetch and then grab his chest hair or ear and tug while making growly noises. Canyon doesn’t seem to be bothered by this game, but does not like it when she tries to take his toy away or cuddle up with him.

Arizona investigates the container that holds all of the extra dog toys while Canyon supervises. Arizona is in a big black storage container that is about half full of dog toys that aren't always out.

Rogue makes me VERY proud. She’s my shy and timid girl, but she’s actually begun to initiate play with Arizona. They bounce around the living room, grabbing one another’s necks and bark and growl at one another. this probably sounds bad, but it’s really not, they are both just really loud players. the only thing I wish Rogue would tell Arizona off for is her constant need to try and nurse from her. Rogue just stands there while Arizona pokes her and begins trying to suck on a nipple…hopefully this stops sooner than later because I feel horrible for the Rogie Monster.

The cats aren’t too sure of the bouncy, barking fur ball. They try and avoid her because if she notices them then she immediately runs over and tries to get them to play.

A few days ago Huib saw Arizona bowing and wagging her tail excitedly while barking at Logan, trying to get her to play, but not understanding that she had absolutely no interest in associating with her. After a while, Arizona gave up and walked away. But, last night, Logan wasn’t so lucky, instead of walking away, Arizona decided to pounce on her and then chase her under the bed, trying really hard to get Logan to play.

On the not so wonderful front, Arizona hates the crate, unless we aren’t in the room then she settles quickly enough and naps until you’re ready to bring her back out. The first night, Arizona screamed for close to an hour, but then settled for a few before waking up to pee and then screamed some more when I put her back in. The second night wasn’t so bad, maybe Arizona was exhausted or something, because she didn’t fuss as long and slept a bit longer than the night before. The next night was worse though, maybe she was gathering up the energy to really give us a taste of how bad she can be…

On Thursday, I talked to my friend and she suggested putting Arizona’s crate up on top of Canyon’s, so she could see us better. We did this and she slept really well. Maybe it also had something to do with the fact that we had taken her to watch Kira’s soccer game and then our friend Karen came to visit with her 7 month old Belgian Shepherd, Spark. Who knows, but we got some of the sleep we desperately needed.

But, then Friday was horrible and so was Saturday, so for now I’ve sort of given up on the crate at night. I’ve just been sleeping down in the living room with Arizona attached to me by a leash. She seems to sleep well and doesn’t really wake me up as often. I think we’ll probably try doing some crate work tonight, but who knows.

It’s been a week of learning, laughing and frustration.

hopefully this coming week will see improvements to her sleeping patterns. If we can get that on track, then the rest should be a little easier to deal with since we won’t be so exhausted.

Are We There Yet?

Huib, Kira, Rogue and I left Ottawa early this morning to go pick up Arizona from her breeder. We decided to grab her and then return to ottawa and pick up Kira’s mom and older sister when we were done.

At about 8:15am we arrived at the breeder’s home and visited with Abba while Anne went to collect Arizona. All, but Arizona and two other puppies are gone to their new homes. Arizona came home with us, a sister is off to Alberta this week sometime and then a brother is off to Northern ontario in a couple of weeks.

Abba was SO adorable! She kept rolling onto her back whenever one of us started to pet her, which really reminded Huib of Aspen.

When Anne came back with Arizona, she put her onto the floor and then Abba began to play with her. Arizona kept wanting to try nursing, so Abba gently pinned her with her mouth and chased her around the living room while we asked some last minute questions.

On our way back to Ottawa, Kira wanted to hold Arizona, so they hung out in the backseat together. Even though Kira tried to comfort her, Arizona whimpered a lot at first and ended up having a small pee on a blanket, but then fell asleep until we reached the hotel, so it’s very possible she was trying to tell us she needed to do something outside of the vehicle.

At the hotel we grabbed a luggage carrying thing and then went upstairs to collect everyone and everything, so we could start the long drive home.

The drive was pretty uneventful. We stopped a few times to let Arizona pee and to relieve ourselves and grab some coffee.

One stop we made had a small petting zoo, so Kira took Arizona near it to let her experience the animals.

Arizona, an 8 week old female golden retriever, looks intently at a brown chicken through the fence.

Once we got home and emptied out the car, we took everyone into the backyard and let them tire one another out. rogue isn’t too sure of the puppy, Cessna wants nothing to do with another puppy and Canyon could care less, he just wants to play, lol! Arizona thinks Canyon is the best though, so I really hope he takes her under his wing and becomes her buddy.

At dinner time I started teaching her about the clicker and she got so excited about food that I think she’s going to be a blast to train.

this evening two really funny things happened. The first was when Arizona did a log roll down our slope in the backyard. Huib said she rolled all the way down and then jumped up at the bottom and ran back to him as if she was ready to try it again. Later she tried running up the stairs with the other dogs and ran into the steps, so had to try several times before getting the hang of it. Now she races Huib up and down them, lol!

Arizona has been a lot of fun so far, so I think it’s going to be great having her, especially once Rogue warms up to her because they are both very similar in energy level.

Time For Annual Check-Ups

On Saturday the dogs had their annual check-ups with Dr. b.

Canyon was first. He had two years of good titers, so Bianca said we could skip them this year along with the Heartworm testing. She then asked us if we have any concerns and we told her about the episodes Canyon has been having. we told her that we’ve finally figured it out after 3 years, it is not a leg cramp like we had originally thought. It took us (Bianca included) 3 years to figure out what was happening because it is not a typical kind of seizure.

The episodes started in October of 2011. We had recently come in from a long game of fetch and while Canyon was chilled out on the kitchen floor, he started to flip out, as if he was in pain. After struggling to restrain him, we finally figured out that something was up with his left hind leg. he was able to move everything else, and he was totally aware of what was going on, but he couldn’t seem to extend his hip. It lasted only minutes and didn’t occur again until the following october, when they happened twice, about three weeks apart.

Bianca couldn’t make a definitive diagnosis because the symptoms, the frequency and after effects are odd. Other than some increased clinginess beforehand, a slight increase in drooling, some muscle twitching and a release of his anal glands, Canyon is completely normal during and after the seizure. It lasts about 5 minutes from start to when he gets up and grabs his toy to parade around again. he doesn’t loose consciousness, he isn’t incontinent and the muscle twitches only seem to impact his back end, so it took a while for us to figure it out.

This past September Canyon had another seizure, and then at the end of February, end of march and then about a week ago, he had them. Since they seem to be happening more often, we’ve finally figured out what they are. we did some research on seizures and it looks as though Canyon is having Partial Seizures.

Bianca feels as though we are doing everything we can at the moment. She is going to retest his thyroid levels in November because she said the results were on the low side of normal and that Hypothyroidism can cause seizures, but that for now we’ll just monitor things. Since we did note that he had had fish within 24 hours before having at least two of the seizures, Bianca has instructed us to eliminate all fish, except his Omega 3 supplement, from his diet. the only other thing we can also pinpoint as a possible trigger is anxiety and/or stress, so we’re going to try to limit that, but of course it will be impossible to totally avoid.

We are a bit worried about this diagnosis because from our research, it looks as though it is common for Partial Seizures to worsen and become Grand Mal Seizures. Bianca doesn’t want to start Canyon on medication yet, and we agree, because the medications cause liver damage, he’s not quite 5 and the seizures aren’t too severe, so it’s better to wait.

Other than Canyon’s Atypical Seizure Disorder (Bianca’s name for them) we were also a bit concerned about the scar on his eye lid from the surgery back in October. It seems to have grown a bit and it looks as though something is trying to come out. Bianca gave us a homeopathic remedy, Silica, to give him for 7 days and she hopes it will promote the rejection of whatever is bothering the area. Both Huib and Bianca think that it is possible Canyon’s body is rejecting the internal stitches that should have dissolved on their own months ago. She said that if it gets any worse or doesn’t go away soon, that we should bring him back and she’ll probably lance it.

Next it was Rogue’s turn to be examined. Bianca said that we could also skip the titers and heartworm test for her because of previous results. She said that Rogue looks amazing and began asking us questions about where we got her.

after Rogue had finished giving Bianca tons of kisses, it was Cessna’s turn to be checked. She needed her thyroid checked, since she’s already got Hypothyroidism and is taking Levo-thyroxine, but Bianca gave her a pass on the titers and heartworm test.

Bianca was surprised to find out that Cessna is already 10.5. She said that she is in wonderful shape, but that she thinks we should increase her Glucosamine because her elbows seem a bit stiff and her knees are a little crunchy. She said that Cessna doesn’t seem to be in any pain though, so she isn’t really concerned.

this year’s vet visit was pretty successful. all of the dogs are healthy and at good weights: Canyon is 73lbs and both Rogue and Cessna are about 61lbs.

Wyoming Trip: Time To Go Home

As Robin liked to say: “Bootcamp is over and your release papers are in”.

Around 8am, all of us woke up, had our coffee, fed the dogs and then got ready for our final breakfast together.

Once breakfast was over, I went to finish packing the rest of my clothes and then Bill came into the room to make sure I didn’t miss anything obvious. I was shocked, but all of our stuff fit back into the suitcase without the need of the expansion portion either. Huib told me the suitcase is stronger without the expansion part being used, so I tried to make sure I could close it without the need of more room.

Around noon we piled the dogs, my suitcase and backpack into the vehicle and set off for Denver.

Other than a quick stop for lunch in Longmont, we didn’t make any other stops and arrived at Denver International Airport around 2pm, two and a half hours before my flight – which is a good thing because I didn’t make it to the gate until 3:40.

When we finally found the check-in counter, the clerk told me that she would order a wheelchair. When I explained that I did not require one, I just needed someone’s arm, she said that my request was not possible, that they only had people with wheelchairs available. I asked to see her supervisor. I don’t like being difficult, but the clerk was being rude and stupid. There is no reason why an airport shouldn’t have people to escort me to the gate without me needing to sit in a wheelchair to get there. After about 10 minutes of waiting, I moved back to the counter and asked her again to speak to her supervisor. She said her supervisor was busy, but that she would check me in and take my suitcase while I waited. She also said that she could give Bill a boarding pass and he could escort me to the gate. I asked that both Bill and Robin be able to do it if that was needed, but Robin didn’t have her ID, so I told the woman that an escort was going to be needed – I didn’t want Robin to have to sit and wait for Bill to return. the supervisor finally came out after 20 minutes and apologized for being so long. She said they had some trouble with an Ice Air flight and she also apologized about her employee. She said the woman was newer and had not assisted a person with a disability before. She said that it was her who had told the clerk to order a wheelchair, but that once the clerk learned I was visually impaired, that she should have found me an escort to walk down with, not expected me to sit in a wheelchair – I had decided that if I was going to have to have someone take me down with a wheelchair, that I was going to put Rogue into it and hold the back handle, lol! The supervisor said that it was going to take about 30 minutes for an escort to come help me, which I was okay with, but Robin told bill to take rogue and I to the gate.

After getting his boarding pass, Bill, Rogue and I set off for our gate. After going down a couple of escalators we finally made it to security where Bill’s boarding pass refused to work. After about 5 minutes of waiting, the guy gave bill another one. At security, I took off my shoes and belt and took my laptop out of my backpack, then proceeded through the metal detectors and, of course, I beeped. The guard asked if Rogue’s harness had any metal on it and I said yes, but offered to take everything off and have Bill call her back through. I did this. I stripped rogue completely down and wearing nothing, she ran through the detectors back to Bill – I was SO proud of her! I then walked back through the detector and beeped, so they asked for a female screener to come do a pat-down. the screener was really nervous, she worried about hurting me and also worried that Rogue would mind her touching me. Once I reassured her, she did her thing. while we were with the screener, another woman with a service dog was in a couple slots down. Rogue alerted me to the other dog, but when I asked her to stay, she stopped paying attention to the dog and just stayed standing where I asked with her leash loosely between us. Bill said he saw all of this and was very impressed. Once the pat-down was done, Bill came over with my stuff and I got everything back in its place.

At the gate, Rogue and I said goodbye to bill and then settled between two guys that were really friendly. One guy was travelling with another man and the other guy was travelling with a woman and a man. After a bit of waiting, the one guy asked me if I was going to be pre-boarded and when I said yes, he said that someone would probably come soon because they were taking some people in wheelchairs over to the ramp onto the plane. When I said that I hoped they didn’t forget I was there, both men said that I didn’t need to worry because they wouldn’t allow the plane to forget us – Canadians are SO friendly!!

Once on the plane, Rogue settled at my feet and since no one was in the seat beside me, I put my backpack under the seat in front and waited for takeoff.

The flight was relatively smooth. A flight attendant offered everyone beverages, so I had a Coca-cola while I read. When we got closer to Toronto, a flight attendant came over and gave me a customs form. I explained that I was visually impaired and would need assistance filling it out. She said that no one had told the attendants I was blind, so she felt bad that I had not been shown the safety features personally. I told her I was okay.

When we landed, I immediately sent Huib a message to say we had touched down. He said they were waiting just past baggage. The plane had to taxi for a bit so a spot would clear for the pilot to park, so I didn’t end up getting to Huib, Dad and Cessna until about 20 minutes or more after I had initially messaged him. Rogue was SO happy to see Huib and Cessna was SO happy to see me. I gave Rogue’s leash to Huib and he gave me Cessna’s.

It was an awesome trip and experience for both Rogue and I. Hopefully someday we’ll get a chance to return and show Robin how much we’ve grown as a team.

Wyoming Trip: Getting The Feel

As a result of our late night discussion Monday, all of us were tired and slept in until about 9:00am.

After breakfast, I harnessed up Rogue and Robin and I set off for a walk around the neighbourhood. Robin wanted to work on helping me to feel the sutler movements of Rogue. She had me walk around her block several times, telling her when I felt Rogue beginning to turn and then stopping when I felt her straighten out. We had no streets to cross, we were just walking around in a rectangle pattern. robin used her cane to avoid confusion and Bill walked nearby to let us know when I had mastered it.

At the first turn, I felt rogue begin to turn too late and then over-stepped her straightening out by 5 steps. Robin had me take her arm and redo the turn, I did better that time. On the second turn, I was spot on with the turn, but missed the straightening out by a couple of steps. The second and third turns went well. On my next go-around, I did a lot better, catching each turn and straightening out perfectly. On our third go-around, I missed one turn because Rogue began walking slower, so Bill said we did the turn so gradually that I probably didn’t even feel it. Robin had me take her arm again and then redo the turn. We finished off and decided to do the other direction tomorrow.

after a bit of a rest, we set off for Walmart. Robin wanted to pick up some fruit and I wanted to get some souvenirs for Huib, Dad, Brandi and Mark (my brother-in-law). At Walmart, I had a bit of trouble hearing bill’s directions once we entered the first door, so I got a bit disoriented until Bill came back and re-explained the layout. In the store, we did a lot of zigging and zagging, so the dogs had a good opportunity to practice their ‘follow’ cue. Rogue has gotten really good at the ‘follow’ cue, so we only lost Robin and bill twice. Once because someone walked in front of Rogue, blocking her view of them, and then once because she saw a “shiny butterfly”, which is my way of saying she got distracted.

Walmart had several Duck Dynasty t-shirts on sale, so all of us got some. I got one for each Dad, Uncle Daryl and Mark. I also bought myself a Kermit the Frog t-shirt to wear as pyjamas.

After Walmart we headed to the State Museum because Robin thought they would have more souvenirs. She was right, they had some pretty neat stuff. I bought Dad a coaster that is made of some sort of rock and has some pretty neat colours in it. I bought Brandi a pair of really neat blue glass earrings that were made by an artist in Casper. I bought Mark a really cool whistle that is made out of a deer antler and can be worn as a necklace. i thought he’d like wearing it when he went hunting, just in case he got lost or something. I bought myself a fun Wyoming keychain and little stuffed Jackalope, which is an animal that is part rabbit and antelope, lol! I guess it’s a Wyoming thing. I bought Huib a couple of really cool things, but I can’t write it here in case he reads the blog 😉

In the evening, Robin’s son and daughter-in-law took us all out for dinner at a local restaurant. I ordered rosemary chicken and dumplings, but it wasn’t what I thought it would be. It was good though. It was biscuits and chicken covered in a gravy. dinner was pretty funny. We talked about the different foods they eat in the southern states and Robin and fun asking if I had heard of this or that – of course, I hadn’t.

As an aside, it’s quite sad to know that they have never had a poutine – they are awesome! They had also never heard of Nanaimo bars. I know they originated in Nanaimo, British Columbia, but I totally fought everyone knew about them. Thankfully for them, I brought two large packages, so they are no longer missing out on something delicious!

After we got home from dinner, we all chilled. The dogs played chase and tug, while I went on my computer and Robin relaxed.

It’s hard to believe that we will be going home in less than 72 hours. Even though I have loved the trip, i really miss home. Huib has also said that Cessna seems to be slightly depressed, which makes me sad. he is going to bring her to the airport to meet us, so I’m really looking forward to that.

Rogue Is Freedom

This is my submission for the 15th Assistance Dog Blog Carnival.

According to the free online dictionary, freedom is:
“1. the state of being free, or
2. exemption from external control.”

Therefore, Rogue is FREEDOM.

Rogue joined our family on June 10th, 2011 but even before her arrival she had begun to set me free.

Five months before picking up Rogue I lost most of my usable vision, and in the process, lost myself. I had always been a confident person. Even after being with Huib for over a decade, I still found it difficult to ask for help…I never wanted him to see me as dependent. When my vision changed and I no longer saw the same way, my world fell apart. I was scared. I didn’t know how I would ever learn to get around on my own again. It was easier to just go places with Huib or other people.

When we learned that Cessna was developing cataracts I knew I was going to need to seriously think about a successor. I had tossed around the idea of owner-training, but it wasn’t until this diagnosis that I really thought about it. I had less vision now than when I got Cessna, so I thought it would be better to return to Dog Guides for a successor, but Huib said he was confident in my abilities, so he convinced me to take the plunge.

This decision marked the beginning of rogue’s journey with me towards freedom.

Huib and I had raised two puppies for Autism dog Services, so knew we needed to expose our new puppy to as many people and experiences as possible from the start. We knew some of the more basic commands we needed to teach, and had an idea of the guiding skills our trainee would need to learn. We had no clue how we were going to accomplish this though. We knew lots of people who were blind and had a guide dog, but we didn’t know anyone who had raised and trained their dog themselves. So I got on the computer and started to look for service dog blogs and service dog handlers who had owner-trained. I found several people in the United States and began asking them questions.

if it weren’t for Rogue, I’m not sure I would have ever had the desire or courage to reach out to so many strangers, many of whom have now become very good friends.

Through my research and discussions, I was able to develop a preliminary training plan. I say preliminary because over the past three years I have had to make changes in order to fit our needs.

Rogue and I have had our ups and our downs. owner-training is like an addiction, even when are hitting rock-bottom, you keep pressing on because you remember the high you got when things were at their best. Unlike an addiction though, owner-training often ends on a positive note.

Rogue turned three on the 13th and is working pretty much full-time with me. Cessna comes out when she wants, but I think she’ll retire fully really soon.

Rogue has not only enriched my life by being a friend, but she has also set me free. She forces me to go outside of my comfort zone and work hard at regaining my independence. In the process, I have found myself again. I am not completely comfortable with going everywhere on my own yet, but Rogue has shown me that it’s possible because she’s by my side.