Random News

I’ve got a lot of random news to share with everyone.

First, last week I wrote about our trip to Guelph and the Toronto area. While there, I had a chance to see my family doctor and was given several different migraine medications to try out. She gave me a few different daily preventatives, a daily nerve blocker and one to take when I feel a migraine coming. A lot of these medications were suggested by a pain clinic doctor I saw back in March, but she also added a couple that she feels might help. Back in the early 2000’s I tried out a bunch of different preventative medications without much success, but I’m hoping that these new medications might have a better outcome.

On Monday night, I took my first Gavapentin (just a low dose right now) and woke up tuesday with barely any signs of a migraine that I’m sure I should have had (the weather is quite rainy and humid right now, which is a huge trigger for me). I took my first Atenolol (again a very low dose right now) Tuesday morning and my migraine really didn’t move much past a pain level of 1-3 out of 10, so a big win for me. It could just be a fluke, but I did the same last night and this morning, and so far my migraine isn’t getting any worse than the 1-3 out of 10 pain range. In a week, I will increase the Atenolol to a full tablet and leave the Gavapentin at just one 300mg capsule and reassess in a month’s time. If my migraine does begin increasing then I will try the medication my doctor gave me for break threw pain, but I’m not sure what it is called at the moment and I’m hoping that I won’t have to resort to it. In a month’s time, if we feel the Atenolol is not working well enough, then I will stop it and try one of the other two preventatives my family doctor and the pain clinic doctor suggested.

Next, Rogue and I have begun to use her “touch” cue to press a button. About a year ago, I bought a button that when pressed, plays various types of laughs. It is like the Staples Easy Button, but when I saw this one on sale for less than $10 at Halllmark, I snatched it up for training. rogue has an amazingly firm “touch”, and my visual impairment has made it tough to teach her to “touch” a stick or a spot on a wall or the floor, so I decided to put some navy blue electrical tape onto the laughing button and then start teaching Rogue to press it when I point and say “touch”.

I first had Rogue do some practice touches with the palm of my hand. then, I held the button, so it was facing her and waited. I wanted to see what she would do without giving her any hints as to what I wanted. She had an idea of what I wanted, so started moving towards the button, I clicked and gave her a treat for each movement towards the button. Then, I upped my requirements for a click and waited for her to even lightly touch the button with her nose. each time, I’d click and give her either one treat for just a light touch, or a jackpot of treats and a party for actually making the button laugh. She quickly caught on to how she could get more treats and began bumping the button as hard as she could – I then named the behaviour “touch”.

Once we had the pressing the button while I held it at her nose level perfect, I decided to start moving my hand around. I held it low, she pressed. I held it so she had to take a few steps, she pressed it again. Then I started holding it up so she had to jump up a bit to press and of course, she did it flawlessly.

I then put the button onto the floor and pointed and said “touch”. she bumped my hand with her nose. I waited, she bumped my hand with her nose several more times and then started to get frustrated. I couldn’t see where we were misunderstanding one another, so we stopped the lesson and both slept on it.

The following morning I figured it out, I had been lumping (or moving too fast). I got out the button and started practising what we had done the day before. Since we were doing it in a new place, I began by just holding the button and not saying a word. She knew exactly what we were doing and hit the button hard, making it laugh every single time, so we named it again – “touch”.

I then placed the button on the floor, but instead of just pointing I kept holding it and waited. It only took her a second before she was moving towards the button and I clicked and gave her a bunch of treats. After several perfect “touches”, I named the behaviour again “touch” and then started saying “Rogue, touch” and she came over and pressed the button.

Instead of completely removing my hand from the button at this point, I began holding the button with less and less of my hand. even when I was just touching the side of it with my index finger, rogue came over and pressed it when I said “touch”.

By the end, she was pressing the button when I pointed and said “Rogue, touch”. She is such a smart and forgiving puppy. Even when I make a mistake, she tells me what she needs and we start learning again together. I’m not sure what we’ll do next, but for now we’ll keep practicing our palm touches and button pressing. Rogue’s favourite behaviour is “touch”, so even though we are not further in the new levels books, I decided it was okay to move further with her “touch” cue because unlike other behaviours we’re learning, “touch” is fun to her and gets her brain moving.

Yesterday we got a call from the adoption worker. her case load is quite busy right now, so she has decided to move the adoption training to late fall. This is okay with us because right now it looks as though my step-dad will need to come stay for a bit, but it’s also frustrating because it seems as though each time we get somewhere with the adoption process, we’re left waiting again without any sight of the finish line. Hopefully in the fall things will begin moving full steam ahead.

Finally, today is our calico, Logan’s 10th birthday. Here on ruled by paws, the cats don’t tend to get much written about them, but I thought it was a milestone worth mentioning. We got Logan from the Guelph Humane Society when she was just 10 weeks old. She had been part of a family, but was surrendered to the shelter just hours before Huib and I went to see the cats. Huib lived in a bachelor apartment and for his birthday, I decided to buy him a cat, since I thought he needed a friend while he studied. We had planned to pick out an adult cat, but when we saw Logan, it was almost love at first sight. She was so cuddly and purred so loud that we thought for sure there was a little boat motor inside her. We told the shelter staff that she was the one, and after filling out some paperwork, we were told that we could come back in a week for our new kitten. She needed to be spayed and given her vaccines before we could bring her home. even though Huib likes to joke about giving Logan away to anyone who will take her, I know he loves her and that she’s going to continue providing us with years of entertainment.

Happy 10th Birthday Logie, you are one comical little calico!

It’s Our Choice

Last week I was telling a friend about what I’ve recently taught Cessna and Canyon. Instead of the usual questions though, he asked about whether our landlords would care that we had been putting tape on the walls and then finished off by saying he doesn’t get why I do all this with them because they are just dogs. The fact that he seemed disinterested in what I was telling him was frustrating, but what really stuck in my mind was his “they’re just dogs” comment.

I’m sure all other dog owners out there get similar questions and comments, but doesn’t it get tiring to here the same ones over and over again? The ones that really bug me are; “Don’t you think you guys have enough dogs?”, “I don’t know how you guys put up with all the hair…”, “you’ve got your hands busy there…”, Or “why do you bother? They’re just dogs…”. The first one and last one are the ones we get the most from family and friends and are the ones this entry will focus on.

As everyone knows, Huib and I are the proud guardians of four dogs and two cats. Each one has entered our lives at different points and each one has made a difference in their own way. Phoenix was already with me when I first began dating Huib so, when he retired there was no other possible choice than to keep him as our pet. I write a lot about Phoenix and how important he is and has been to making me who I am today, so I will not bore you with more on that. Next came Logan and Laya. Huib was living in a bachelor apartment during our second year of dating and was finding it lonely when Phoenix and I couldn’t come visit. He had only ever had a pet when he was really young, but had become accustomed to our presence so found it hard being alone at times. When his birthday came around, I decided to take him to the Guelph Humane Society and we’d pick out a kitten. We looked at several different options, but settled on a 10 week old female calico who had just been surrendered that morning. She was extremely friendly and just wanted to curl up in our arms and purr. A couple of months later, Huib decided that Logan needed a friend and that I should also have a kitten. We returned to the Guelph Humane Society around my birthday and we picked out a very fluffy little 10 week old female maine coon cross who had been hiding in the back corner of her cage. Laya has continued to be shy, but after a tense couple weeks of her fending off Phoenix’s attention, she began settling into our growing family. In the spring of 2003, Huib and I began talking about how we’d really like to get a golden retriever puppy. Huib really wanted me to wait until graduation, but when the settlement money finally came in from Mom’s malpractice suit she had started before her death, I decided it was the perfect time to get our new golden family member. We called a few different breeders who were listed in the Dogs Annual Magazine and settled on one from Hanover, Ontario. We had left a message on her answering machine inquiring about her prices and whether she had any puppies or was expecting a litter in the summer, so she called us back. She told us about: her dam and stud, where the puppies were born and whelped, what was included in her fees and then asked us to come out and meet everyone in a couple of weeks. Aspen and her litter had been about a week old at this point, so we ended up waiting about a month before we ventured out to pick out our little bundle. I’ve already explained the story of getting Aspen and how she has become Phoenix’s best friend, so I’ll end my discussion about her here. Cessna joined our family when Phoenix retired, so no real exciting background there, but if it weren’t for her I don’t think we would have fostered Aiden and Reece or decided to get Canyon. Phoenix and Aspen are both really laid back dogs, so we never really had to put much effort into keeping them happy or out of trouble. Cessna on the other hand has loads of energy and works best when regularly challenged. I know it’s not necessary to explain to you all why we have brought each one of our four-legged family members into our home, but it helps to give a little background to my explanation I often give to friends and family who ask if we think we have reached our limit.

Each one of our fur babies have come into our lives for a different reason and we don’t regret bringing any of them into our home. We do not actively search for new additions, but would never say we have reached our limit. We started out with Phoenix and didn’t think we would have the cats, let alone three additional dogs, but they are here. We may want to welcome an addition in the future, but that is for us to decide and is not something other people’s opinions will have any weight upon.

��As for the second most annoying question or comment, “Why bother? They’re just dogs.” To you they might “just” be dogs, but to us they are our family and if they enjoy learning new things, then why shouldn’t we take the opportunity to teach them and learn something new ourselves? Cessna loves to try new things and our working relationship improves when she’s happy, so why wouldn’t I try and teach her new skills or introduce her to something as fun as agility? Canyon is not even two years old so has a pretty empty slate on which I can create an all around talented companion, so why wouldn’t I want to do some training lessons now and competing in the future?

Does anyone else get bothered by friends and family who find it necessary to make comments about their choices in life?

Where Did our Names Come From?

Our friends over at A Glacial Pace
inspired me to write an entry that explains where all of us – yes, me too – got our names.

When my mom was pregnant with me she had decided that my name would be Ashley if I was a girl or Jay if I was a boy. Well the day before the doctors decided I was coming out early, her hospital roommate gave birth to a boy and named him Ashley. I was born via c-section the following morning during the first snowstorm of 1979 and was rushed off to Toronto’s Sick Children’s Hospital for treatment. Just before the neonatal team took me away, my mom was asked what she wanted to name me and without too much thought she decided on Brooke, a character in a soap opera she enjoyed watching.

I’ll do Phoenix and Cessna together since they both came from the LFC and have a similar naming story. As Jess mentioned in her post
the Lions Foundation of Canada and many other guide dog programs name their dogs according to a letter of the alphabet. Phoenix is from the 1996 “P” litter and Cessna is from the 2003 “C” litter. I don’t know much about Phoenix’s siblings, but do know he had a brother named Piper who began training with him, but was eventually disqualified for being over active. Cessna on the other hand had 8 other siblings and actually graduated with three of them; china, Cole and Cicely. Another brother and sister, Chauncy and Cricket, graduated just a week before her in the Special Skills and Hearing Ear programs. The last three, Cheney, Cowan and Cooper were disqualified for unknown reasons. Even though Phoenix and Cessna were both named for the letter their births came to in their respective year, they both fit their names perfectly. Phoenix has always lived his life the way he chooses and seems to be the dog who will live forever. Cessna on the other hand is small and speedy like the airplane she was named after. Looking at both of them and knowing their personalities I don’t think I could think of more suitable names. Similar to other programs, the LFC does not reuse names (unless they are sponsored ones) until the dog is retired from duty or breeding. Since Phoenix’s retirement his name has been available for use, but so far I am happy to report that no other Phoenix has been able to fill his shoes.

We got Aspen when Phoenix was six and a half years old. He had begun to slow down and seemed disinterested in working, so a trainer suggested we get him a friend. When trying to decide on a name for our new golden princess we tossed around a few, options but could only really agree upon Autumn. Up until the day before I went to see her for the first time we had settled on this name, but during a late night shopping excursion overheard two teenagers discussing the names one of them had chosen for her unborn baby – Aspen. Both of us thought this was a pretty neat name and began to do a little research. The first thing we learned is that Aspen is the name of a tree commonly found in Colorado whose leaves turns a golden colour before they drop – suiting for a golden retriever right? Then we learned that Aspen is also the name of a city in Colorado where people go to ski. This information helped to make our decision because not only is Aspen a city in the US, but Phoenix (our only other dog at the time) is also the name of an american city and she was going to be his new best friend.

Even though I don’t mention them too much on the blog, we share our home with not only four dogs, but two cats as well; Logan and Laya. We adopted the girls from the Guelph Humane Society at the age of 10 weeks. Logan is a short haired female calico and Laya is a small, medium haired maine coon cross. Logan was named after a male black lab who I had met during my training with Gryphon. I had really wanted to be matched with Logan, but this did not happen and his name forever stuck in my mind as one I would someday name a pet of my own. We got Laya about two months after getting Logan and wanted to name her something girly because she was petite and so fluffy. Well, an older Star Wars movie was playing in the background while we worked on homework the night before we picked her up and we decided on the name Laya because of the Princess.

Logan sitting up tall and proud.

Laya sitting on the windowsill of our first apartment together, peaking out from behind the curtains.

Finally, there’s canyon. When we originally got him his name was Sparky – a terrible name!! Luckily he had no name recognition though, so changing it to a more suitable one was easy. When we had given Reece back and thought we were getting a new puppy to raise we had begun thinking of different names and were told that ADS had started using the alphabet to keep track of which puppies were donated when so our next puppy would be a “C”. We had thought of names like cobalt, Cloud, Charm and Coda, but just before we got the dreaded e-mail saying we were no longer needed, we thought of Canyon. This name stuck with us and after some research became our new golden boy’s name. canyon is the last name of one of Huib’s favourite country singers (George Canyon) and is also the name of a city in Texas. I know it’s silly, but we seem to enjoy naming our dogs for cities in the US because of our faithful, old yellow boy!!

So, there you have it! The naming stories behind all of the ruled by paws gang. What’s your story?

Our Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,
Since I am the more intelligent of the crew – at least that’s what I think – I offered to write our Christmas wish list.

I’ve been a very good girl, guiding Mommy wherever she wants, taking care of the others – Canyon can be such a bully to Aspen sometimes! – and trying to listen when Mommy asks me to help with special tasks like putting our toys away or standing with her while she lets the others out at night. There isn’t a lot of things I’d like – unlike some dogs in this house, Canyon should really stop being such a greedy boy! – so I’m really hoping you’ll be able to help me out. I’m really a big fan of playing tug, swinging toys around so they hit the others in the head, fun treats and trying to figure out how to get things out of a toy, so here are just a few things I’d love this year.

• A Kong Genius toy – as I said I’m pretty smart, so think this toy would be fun for me
• A Jolly Ball for playing tug & retrieving when swimming in the summer
• A large size Kong so Mommy can fill it with peanut butter or wet food
• A stuffed toy that I can shake around & tease Canyon – I really do enjoy teasing that guy!
• Busy Bones – these are my favourite to get when the others get their stupid rawhide rolls, don’t know why they like those things…
As you can see Santa I don’t really have a very long list, but if you aren’t able to get some of these then I won’t be upset. Mommy told me there are dogs out there who don’t have homes or families who love them so I don’t mind if you put a little more effort into helping them this year, rather than getting me all I ask for.

Guess I’d better move onto the others so they’ll stop breathing down my back – this typing thing is really hard, not sure how Mommy does it for so long.

Phoenix has also been a very good boy. He is a lot older than me so can’t help Mommy as much as I can, but he really does try and watch her for me so I can get a little rest without worrying. Phoenix was Mommy’s guide before I came and she says he was a really great friend – he taught me how to guide Mommy without my harness, which I guess is pretty cool. Phoenix got sick a couple weeks ago and doesn’t seem to be eating the same kind of food as we do anymore – he gets the really good stuff that comes out of a can, I’m so jealous! – so I guess I’ll suggest some more suitable gifts for him – since he really doesn’t seem to realize he has to be careful, that’s what I hear Mommy telling Daddy. Phoenix also can’t run around or play as much as I can so some of the toys I like wouldn’t be good for him, but he does like food. Here are a few things I think he’d like you to bring him Santa, if you can manage it.

• Wellness soft treats – Mommy can break them up so he won’t get them stuck in his lungs, that’s what I heard Mommy tell someone the vet is worried about
• A really soft fleece blanket for him to use when he is in the truck or visiting people with Mommy – as I said he got sick a couple of weeks ago so things are really kinda different around here
• Deli Fresh treats – they are soft & Mommy seems to give them to him when we get other ones
• A large size Kong for Mommy to fill with peanut butter or wet food

Phoenix also likes it when he gets new collars or bandannas so if you think there’s one he might like Santa, then please get him that as well.

Now it’s time to write Aspen’s list for her. Aspen is a little boring if you ask me, but she’s really good about taking care of Phoenix when Mommy needs me to work for her so I guess she’s okay. Aspen doesn’t really play much like Canyon and I do, but she seems to like food, swimming, playing fetch and rolling around on Mommy and Daddy’s bed with a stuffed toy in her mouth. Here are some things she asked me to write for her.

• An air Kong toy – she says she isn’t picky, but loves chasing & squeaking them when Mommy or Daddy throws it
• Any really soft stuffed toy that squeaks – she’s really gentle with her toys, unlike Canyon and I, so ones that are meant for puppies would be okay
• Anything edible – Mommy says she is a lab in a golden’s clothing, not sure what that means…
• A large size Kong for Mommy to fill with peanut butter or wet food – as I said before, she loves food

Aspen is a really girly dog – unlike me – so if you see anything a girly dog would like then it’s perfect for her.

In my opinion Canyon’s been a naughty boy! He always picks on Aspen and doesn’t seem to always listen to Mommy like I do, but I guess I’ll give you his list and let you decide. He isn’t a picky dog – unless it comes to food – but he absolutely loves balls, toys that squeak and to play fetch. Here is his list – personally I think he’s being a bit greedy, but here it is anyways.

• A treat ball – Phoenix doesn’t like it when he plays with his
• A Kong Genius toy – he claims he’s just as smart as me, but we’ll see who’s smarter…
• An Air Kong toy – like Aspen, he enjoys squeaking and chasing toys that Mommy & Daddy throw for him
• A Nylabone – not sure why, but he seems to like those
• A stuffed toy – I told him to ask for this so he would stop stealing Aspen’s toys
• Squeaky tennis balls – as I said he loves balls!
• Rollover treats – Mommy seems to use these & other yummy treats when she teaches him new things

I refuse to write anything further for him because I just can’t stand him!! He doesn’t seem to care that there are dogs out there without families like ours. Wonder where he thinks Auntie Brandi’s new golden retriever, Dawsen, came from…. Just so you know Santa, Dawsen was adopted through Golden Rescue and I’m sure he’d also love some new toys and treats if you can manage the additional weight in your sleigh. Dawsen doesn’t have a lot yet, so anything you bring him would be great!

Well that’s all for now Santa, but we do have two cats named Logan and Laya who share our home so if you see any good cat treats or toys they might like then please add them to our wish list.

Many sloppy kisses and tail wags from a very good girl

Cessna

My 31st Birthday

On Monday, (the 29th) I turned 31. A lot of my friends and even my sister complain about getting older, but I don’t see a problem with it. I’ve had an interesting life so far and am excited to see what the future holds.

A week before my birthday Huib and I went shopping in timmins and he bought me a new white winter vest along with four long-sleeved shirts – poppy red, dark brown, plum & teal. My sister knew I needed a new watch so when we went to Toronto during our trip to take Phoenix to the vet she bought me one from the cnib – where we had stopped to look around and buy some Braille playing cards & a slate with stylus. This year for Christmas I want to Braille a message in our cards along with the print above it (which will of course be done by Huib).

On Friday, (the 26th) we piled Cessna, Canyon and our stuff into the truck for a trip “down south” as my sister likes to say. Phoenix and Aspen stayed home with my step-dad and the cats. We did tons of shopping and visiting with friends. On my birthday we attended a puppy potluck – a bunch of friends got together with each of our respective dogs for a play & social gathering. We were responsible for bringing dessert so Huib agreed on a chocolate chip cookie dough blizzard cake from Dairy Queen. I don’t think anyone actually knew until just before that it was my birthday so it kinda just worked out that we were able to bring a cake of my choice to celebrate. When we arrived everyone acted as though nothing was special, but when it was dessert time they gave me a cool homemade sailor’s hat to wear and sang Happy Birthday to me – it was so unexpected! I absolutely loved the blizzard cake and am delighted to share that this year I actually didn’t have to pretend to like a cake I didn’t!!

Overall my 31st birthday was a great one and now I can’t wait for Christmas to come!