Adventures In Dogsitting

On Thursday morning, Kelly dropped Ace and Piper off for a couple of days. We’ve never taken care of an Australian Shepherd, so I thought this was going to be an adventure.

It ended up being no big deal.

Piper, an almost one year old Australian Shepherd. She is a red merrel, which means she has red-ish brown fur, with a lot of white and tan fur as well.

piper was awesome. She was really well behaved and as long as we played fetch every couple of hours, she was quite relaxed.

Piper and Cessna stand together in our yard waiting for the frisbee to fall.

Piper catches an orange plastic frisbee. You can see Rogue and Cessna in the picture as well, since they had also tried to catch it.

Piper has caught the orange plastic frisbee and you can see both Cessna and Rogue beside her.

I wasn’t sure how Canyon would take to having another dog compete for the ball or frisbee, but he didn’t seem to care. Sometimes I’d hold his collar so that piper could catch the toy first before he was released to bring it back, and sometimes I just let them work it out on their own. there wasn’t any arguments, and Piper seemed to quickly learn that she was welcome to run after and catch the toy, but Canyon had to bring it back or he’d pester her until she gave it up.

Rogue has an orange plastic frisbee, and is being chased by both Piper and Canyon.

When kelly returned, Piper was really excited to see her, but Ace was a big goof and pretended he was busy playing with something, lol!

In July, Piper will be coming to visit for 5 days, so that should be a lot of fun.

Two Weeks In guelph

I had meant to write an update on Wednesday, but time got away from me. We’ve now been in our new home for two and a half weeks.

The past week and a half have been busy. We’ve unpacked more boxes and moved some furniture around. We’ve taken the labs on training trips. We’ve gotten together with Kelly and her pack twice. And we’ve taken all three dogs for hikes and a swim.

Last Sunday, we drove to Aurora to plant some flowers at my Mom’s grave. Mother’s Day has always been a tough day for me since Mom’s passing, but this year seemed easier. dad came with us, and I think seeing how happy he was helping Huib plant the flowers at Mom’s grave, really helped. After we were done, we drove to Sutton to see if my Aunt Dawn was around. her house was unlocked, so Huib called her cell phone and found out she was visiting her friend nearby. We drove over there and had a great time visiting. Aunt Dawn’s friend has several foster children, as well as, two male golden retrievers, two love birds and a 9 month old male pot belly pig. she told us to bring the dogs in with us, so we brought them in slowly. Canyon was initially interested in the pig, but quickly lost interest and settled at my feet, but Ruben, one of the goldens (Jack was away with her daughter tree planting) was a little too interested in him. Ruben kept licking Canyon’s face and ears, so just before we left, Huib took him and Rogue back to the car, so he could have a rest. The labs had to stay on leash because they were really interested in the birds and wouldn’t stop trying to sniff Poomba it was a good experience for Rogue though, she had never met a pig, let alone one that lives in a house.

Rogue and I have started doing some sidewalk guiding. She’s still hating the guide handle, but once she has it on for a while, she stops moping. I’ve been getting Cessna dressed and then her dressed, then walking around the house with Cessna, talking to her and giving her treats for being such a good girl, in an effort to make rogue jealous. It actually seems to be working. Rogue is taking less and less time to break free of the “roots” holding her in place when she first gets her vest and guide handle on. We’ve done some forward walking on the sidewalk, and other than her pull being excessive and her wanting to stay close to the grass on her side, she’s doing well. she is keeping me well away from the sidewalk edge and is quite responsive to my cues. this week, I hope to start her curb work, but it all depends upon her mood and the weather.

On Wednesday, Kelly, her boyfriend Josh, and their two Australian Shepherds, Piper and Baron, came to visit. the four of us, along with rogue and the Aussies, went over to the park across the road to do some group obedience. Josh was having a bit of a rough day, so he worked on keeping Baron’s attention and keeping him under threshold, while Kelly and I worked on getting the girls (Rogue and Piper) to perform their various obedience cues. Rogue was a little distracted by the smells and scenery, but overall, I think she did pretty well. I had her wear her new teal Kong harness, since I felt it was a good opportunity to work on her “pet” manners.

I bought Rogue the Kong harness so that she can wear it on leisure walks. I don’t want her to pull on her collar, and the Easy Walk harness seems to have caused some unforeseen issues. the Kong harness has a ring on the back that the leash attaches to and padding on the chest area, so Rogue finds it a bit too comfortable to pull. I’m going to work on her Level 1 behaviours, and start teaching her loose leash walking with it. I wanted to get her another front attach harness, but the only one I can find is the Easy Walk and I think the way it fit and the way it worked, may have caused Rogue discomfort and long-lasting issues with it. We’ve worked hard on getting her to feel okay with putting pressure into the chest strap of her Har-Vest, so I don’t want to go back to the beginning there.

On Thursday, Huib and I took the three dogs over to the park across the road to play frisbee. Canyon really likes frisbee, so we thought he’d enjoy running for it on the soccer field. He ran for it a few times, and then got distracted by another dog and ran over to check it out, ignoring our calls. Huib ran after him and noticed that it wasn’t actually the dog he was running to, it was a swampy pond he had seen. Canyon saw Huib coming, but totally ignored him and laid down in the muddy water – bad boy! Rogue had followed him, but did not get into the water – both youngsters were put back on leash and had to watch Cessna play frisbee on her own. Cessna thought it was awesome to be playing frisbee while the others were stuck on leash. After Cessna had had enough, we put her back on leash and then started walking along the gravel path that leads around the swampy pond (the water from the rain gutters collects there). I think that once Cessna and I do the route a few more times with Huib, we’ll be able to walk it on our own.

On Friday, we met up with a friend for lunch at Eastside Mario’s. I met Evelyn during my time at the University of Guelph. I had been a volunteer and then Co-ordinator for their Safe Walk Program, and Evelyn was a dispatcher for the University of Guelph Police. I’m not sure how we got talking, but when I used to live in Guelph, evelyn and I would get together for lunch once a month, so now that I’m back, we’re going to try doing that again.

When we had arrived at Eastside’s Huib went to park and the orlando stalled on him twice. we have had this happen a couple of times before, but they were never this frequent, so Huib became concerned. When we were done lunch, I asked evelyn if she’d mind following us over to the GM dealership, and of course, she said no problem. When we got back into the car, Huib saw that the engine light had come on, so we knew something was up. At the dealership, the woman at the counter told us they had no appointments, but Huib asked if they could at least run a diagnostics to see if it was safe for him to continue driving (since it was Friday), she said it might just take a bit. We took the labs into the waiting room and I did some obedience with Rogue – I try to do this in all places, so she learns to follow my cues everywhere. About 30 minutes later, we heard our names over the intercom and were told that the orlando was ready. They had replaced a valve.

While we had been waiting, I received a text from kelly asking if we wanted to meet her and Ace (her 4 year old male black lab) for a hike and swim. We met them at an old quarry near our former condo building. the dogs ran ahead, while we chatted. At the end of the long path, there’s a river that used to have a bridge over it, but the city must have taken the bridge down, so we let the dogs play there. A woman and her young male italian Mastiff were there as well, so we were a bit more cautious with allowing Canyon to roam. the other dog was intact, and seemed to be paying a little too much attention to Canyon, so Huib called Canyon over for some treats and waited until the woman and her dog were gone, before releasing him again. After about half an hour of swimming, we started walking back towards the vehicles. Kelly and Ace had to get back home to let the Aussies out, but we stayed behind and let our three swim in the quarry. Canyon was hilarious. He kept running along the shore to find the shortest route to the toy, while Cessna swam out to retrieve it. Once she made her way back to the shore, Canyon would meet her and bring the toy back to us as though he had been the one to do all the work. Just before we left, a woman and her female golden retriever showed up. the golden was really interested in our toy, so Huib threw it a few times for her to retrieve – the other woman hadn’t brought any toys for her.

this weekend we haven’t done too much. the weather is warm and starting to get a hint of humidity, so I play short games of fetch with Canyon in the backyard, but try to stay cool indoors otherwise. My migraines seem to be better living here. Maybe it’s because I am able to stay cooler, dad doesn’t have access to a wood stove, or maybe the weather is just more stable right now – either way, it’s nice not having to take extra meds.

Update From Guelph

It’s time for an update.

We’ve been in our new home for one whole week!

The move from Englehart back to Guelph was relatively uneventful. The only problem we had was with the size of the moving truck. even though UHAUL claimed the truck was large enough to fit a 3-bedroom house, we ended up having to rent a trailer to go along with it.

Since arriving, we’ve set up most of the rooms and probably unpacked about a third of the boxes.

When we left Englehart, the weather had just begun to warm up and the snow was more slush than anything else. But, in Guelph, the trees and flowers are blooming and the temperatures have been in the low to mid twenties. Huib said it best the other day, when he said that he felt as though we were on vacation – the weather is just so drastically different here.

Almost immediately upon arriving at the house, the dogs seemed to settle in. It was almost as if they were also ready to leave the north.

Our friends Kelly and Josh have come over twice with their dogs for play dates, and their visits have made us really feel as though we are finally back home, where we are meant to be.

Moving north was a good experience for Huib, but for me it was the opposite.. I loved the sounds and smells of nature, but that’s about all I loved about the north. I hated the fact that I could never go anywhere independently and I hated the fact that I felt resentment toward Huib.

Now that we’re back in Guelph, I have already begun the process of relearning how to work with and trust Cessna. We had some opportunities to work together while living in the north, but we really never had a chance to work alone, most of the time we were following Huib through stores. It’s going to take a couple of months to really feel comfortable enough to go out on my own, both because of losing some of my sight since moving away and because we barely worked in the north.

On Monday, Huib, Cessna and I walked to the grocery store together. I worked with Cessna, while Huib walked a few feet behind. It was so awesome to feel the freedom of walking with my little black lab again. even though she will be 10 in October, her work is still amazing and the tension in her harness is perfect. I wasn’t sure for a while if she would want to work anymore, but those worries were soon erased when I felt the pride seeping out of her through the harness handle. She guided me with confidence and only made a couple of very minor mistakes. First, she stopped a few feet shy of the curb edge, then she didn’t quite get us to the correct spot on the curb to cross and finally, she got slightly distracted and started guiding me into the garden centre at the store. these are really minor issues and ones that can be easily remedied.

As a side note, there is a Canada goose who resides on the grass beside the sidewalk on the way to the grocery store. Thankfully, Huib had taken a walk over to the store a few days before, so knew about the goose and warned me to watch and directed me on where to walk in order to avoid any real confrontation. as we approached the goose, I felt Cessna become alert and the tension in her harness increased, I calmly told her “leave it” and directed her to continue walking straight. Huib said the goose was hissing and squawking at us, but that as we walked closer and by him/her, it moved away. I’m not sure I’ll feel comfortable enough to walk by it on my own, but with Huib’s guidance, I was able to keep Cessna focused enough to get by the bird. Cessna has a really high prey drive, so getting her to walk by birds and small animals without getting overly aroused can be difficult, but I did it!

I think that’s about it for now. Sorry for the disorganized ramble.

If It Weren’t For The Internet

This entry is for the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival being hosted by Frida Writes.

Sometimes we need a friend. Someone to bounce ideas off. Someone to talk to when we’re unsure. someone to share our accomplishments with. someone to tell us we’re doing okay.

For me, this support has come from the internet.

If it weren’t for Twitter, blogging and Facebook, I’m not sure Cessna and I would have succeeded, or I would have gotten as far as I have in preparing Rogue for her future job of guide dog.

It is through Twitter and bloging, that I met others who have gone through similar experiences with their guide dogs, and others who have raised and trained their own service dogs. It is through Facebook and instant messaging, that I have been able to keep in close contact with old and new friends to talk about the ups and downs of work with Cessna, and training with Rogue.

When I received Cessna, almost eight years ago, i had no clue what I had gotten myself into. Cessna was not my first guide dog, or even my first guide from her school, she was my third, but she was the youngest and the most difficult. Cessna was an 18 month old, squirrel chaser, who had emotional scars from training and who knew the guide commands, but I’m convince, had no clue what to do with them. we struggled for over a year and a half, trying to understand one another, and getting nowhere fast. But, I had friends who listened to my worries, who listened to my thoughts, and who provided words of encouragement at the right moments in time. some friends were just a city away, but others were a couple provinces away, so Facebook, email and instant messaging were a big reason why Cessna and I succeeded.

A huge turning point for Cessna and I came when I decided to google service dog programs in my area. I had just finished my social work degree, and wanted to see if there was a small service dog program that would appreciate my social work skills on a volunteer basis. this is how I learned about K-9 Helpers, and began learning about clicker training. Cessna and I had been together for about two years, but it wasn’t until I started taking classes with Dogs In The Park, that we truly began to understand one another and Cessna’s emotional scars from training began to really heal. the primary trainer at Dogs In The Park was in charge of training the psychiatric service dogs for K-9 Helpers, so when I began volunteering, she offered to work with us.

the internet played such a vital role in helping Cessna and I become the dream team, and it has not failed me with rogue either. when I began thinking about raising and training Cessna’s successor, I was met with many questions and concerns from family members. through blogging about my issues, and tweeting about my thoughts, I met people who had and who were going through similar experiences. I met people with all sorts of disabilities that had overcome the odds and were successfully working with canine partners, they had raised and trained themselves. Over the past two years, rogue and I have encountered many obstacles, but our internet friends and blogging family have helped us defy expectations.

through the internet, I have met amazing people and made forever friends.

They listen to my thoughts. They listen to my worries. they share in my excitement. They feel for my losses. and they provide words of encouragement and wisdom at just the right moment.

If it weren’t for the internet. If it weren’t for our virtual friends and family. I’m pretty certain, Cessna and I wouldn’t have become a dream team, and Rogue would not be on the path to becoming my future partner in crime.

Orangeville Show: All Stacked

Canyon and Amy wait for the judge to come do his examination. Canyon stands with his hind legs straight, his front legs are straight underneath him and his head slightly out in front of him to show off his neck and top line. Amy kneels beside him trying to position his tail so it shows off his feathering better.

Three Days In Guelph

Now that we are back home I thought I’d do a longer entry about what we did on our three days in Guelph.

As I mentioned in the Halloween post, Aspen had her surgery to remove her broken canine tooth on Wednesday morning. Since Huib worked a twelve hour day shift on Tuesday, we had to wake up at midnight and leave the house by 1:30am in order to get Aspen to the vet clinic for 9:00am. The dogs thought we had lost our marbles when we woke them up a few hours after going to sleep, but they were good sports and slept the entire drive. When we arrived at the clinic, I had a bit of a discussion with a rude receptionist about not leaving Aspen until they were ready for her – she seemed to believe that because it was “their routine” and because “no other owners seemed to have an issue with it” that I was going to just hand Aspen’s leash over and let them put her into a kennel until they got around to her surgery – but I told her that it wasn’t going to happen. We waited with our golden girl in the waiting room until the vet came out to talk to us, and a nicer woman came and took Aspen back for sedation. The vet explained what would happen before, during and after the surgery and said that it would probably take longer than most tooth extractions because the canine tooth is one of the more difficult to remove. I found this link that gives a pretty good explanation of what the vet had told us.

after leaving the clinic, we met up with our friend, Kelly, to go to Pet Smart and do some training with her four and a half month old Australian Shepherd, Piper, and to let Cessna pick out a birthday present. Kelly also has our friend, Ace, but he stayed home so that Kelly could focus on exposing Piper to new things. At Pet Smart, we walked through the different aisles looking for the perfect Cessna toy. On the way, we picked up Canyon’s wolf hat, Rogue’s lion costume, a Halloween stuffy ball that squeaks, a plush purple monkey that holds a small sized water bottle, a cute tiger stuffy that squeaks for Aspen and then finally, found a toy for Cessna’s birthday – a plush dog with thick legs that hold long rubber squeakers. After paying for our items, we headed back to Kelly’s house and let the dogs play with one another before heading to a Chinese food buffet for lunch with Kelly and the labs.

Lunch was awesome. We had several items from the buffet itself, and then ordered a few plates with various pieces of sushi. The labs were quite well-behaved, quietly sleeping under the table while we ate. After lunch, I called Dr B’s office to see if she had received any updates on Aspen, and was told that she was out of surgery and slowly waking up. I was also told that they would be sending someone to pick her up and that we could come to Dr B’s office in a couple of hours. Kelly needed to get something replaced on her vehicle in the afternoon, so we put our gang back into the Orlando and drove over to the mall to do a bit of guide training with Rogue. Cessna stayed in the vehicle with Canyon, and we took Rogue into the mall. We practiced finding doors, turning left and right, staying on my left side and not curving in front of my feet, and then finding/stopping at curbs. Rogue is starting to find doors really well and her curb work is coming along, but she is still struggling with directions and needs more work on keeping her nose to herself.

Around four o’clock, I called Dr B’s office and was told that Aspen had still not arrived at the clinic, but the woman who had gone to pick her up had also not yet returned. I was a little annoyed with the lack of organization, but was reassured by the receptionist that Aspen had indeed been picked up and was doing well and that they should be back at the clinic within minutes. I asked when we could come pick up our golden girl, and was told to come at 5:45pm. It was a long wait, but we arrived at Dr B’s clinic right at 5:45pm and talked to Dr B about the surgery, about her concerns regarding the size of Aspen’s lymph node and then about what we would be doing about her Hypothyroidism. For the post surgery care, we were given Arnica and told to give her some Medicam (an anti-inflammatory) and to only feed her soft food for the next couple of weeks. As for her lymph node, we reassured Dr B that it is shrinking and she gave us another 10 days of antibiotics (a different one this time) and asked to keep her informed on its progress. For Aspen’s Hypothyroidism, we decided to go with a glandular made by a company called Standard Process (the same company that made Phoenix’s herbal anti-inflammatory). We will get her thyroid values reassessed in 4-6 months, but since she really isn’t symptomatic, we decided to go with the glandular over the medication. When Dr B brought Aspen out of the back area, she was very excited to see us and ready to go home. For the first 24 hours she was a bit growly with the other dogs, but sucky with us, so we knew she’d be okay.

On Thursday, I had an appointment with my family doctor to discuss how my migraine medications are working. We went over which of the medications she prescribed had worked, which worked a bit, which ones didn’t work at all, and then what dose of each I was taking. Dr Thomas was happy to hear that the current medications I am taking, Gabapentin and Candesartan, were working. She then told me about a new study she’d read about and suggested I start taking 150mg of Coenzyme Q10 and then try to decrease the amount of Candesartan to see if I need it. Coenzyme Q10 is a supplement like B12, so if I could eliminate Candesartan from my migraine regiment and only take Gabapentin on a daily basis, then I’d be really happy. My step dad is a bit of a pill popper, so I have this constant worry about taking too many medications and not really needing them. Dr Thomas increased my dose of Gabapentin from 300mg three times a day, to 400mg and said to continue taking Zomig or Codeine and Toradol when needed. I really don’t like the number of medications I am having to be prescribed for my migraines, but I am hoping that once we figure out what will work as a daily preventative, then we will be able to eliminate the “when needed” ones. While at the appointment, both Cessna and Rogue laid quietly under our chairs, and Dr Thomas was impressed by their calmness. I didn’t realize, but Dr Thomas is nervous of dogs, and has just given her children and husband the go-ahead to purchase a dog – they are picking up a golden retriever puppy in a week or so 🙂

After the appointment, we went to Quiznos for lunch and then took the labs to Second Cup to use the internet. Rogue has a tough time just sitting around in public places, so this will be one area of training where we’ll be focusing. Kelly met up with us at Second Cup after her class finished and we got some pictures of Rogue and Cessna on the University of Guelph campus.

In the evening, we met up with our friend, Karen, and had some more sushi. Kelly had to take Piper to a class at 8:30pm, so Huib, Karen and I took Rogue to Home Depot and Walmart for some curb and distraction training. I asked Karen to pretend she was a random customer and stop at different shelves in different positions so I could practice having Rogue pass by without sniffing. It always took Rogue a couple of passes before she’d keep her nose to herself, but I think with time, she’ll get the idea. At Walmart we practiced more “leave its” with Karen holding kibble at different levels while I walked past and told Rogue to “leave it”. She did well when the kibble was held six inches above her head, but had more trouble as it got closer to her level. We also practiced “leave it” by having Karen put kibble at different points along an aisle on the floor. We found that Rogue failed this test miserably if we started walking and the kibble was too close to our end of the aisle, but that if we had the kibble closer to the other end of the aisle, then she seemed to find it easier to control her nose. As we walked back to the vehicles, we had an opportunity to do tons of “find the curb” work. As Rogue became accustomed to when the click and treat would appear, she started to anticipate the reward and would turn her head towards us within a couple feet of the curb. I think that this reaction is a good sign of her brain making the right connections.

On Friday it was time to go home. We packed the Orlando and began our long drive north. On the way, we stopped to get some chicken hearts for Laya, my maine coon cross, and then at Costco to get supplements for the dogs and to do some more public exposure work with Rogue. When I don’t have Cessna with me, Rogue wears her maroon Active Dogs vest that says “Service Dog” on her back and has a black guide harness attached. Rogue is learning to accept the movement and feel of the guide handle, but she is not yet ready for me to pick it up. Nevertheless, at Costco, people continually commented on how eel-behaved my guide dog was and at how attentive she seemed to be.

I really think my little Hurricane is growing up!!

Overall, I think our trip to Guelph was a great experience for everyone. Aspen had her tooth removed and is on her way to a full recovery. I had some medication changes, but am on my way to being a little more migraine free. And, Rogue got a chance to meet an Australian Shepherd and to work on her guide skills. The only thing that has concerned me with my little caramel girl, is that if her collar is grabbed or she puts any pressure on her throat, she begins gagging and coughing. I have thought it before, but I think I am now convinced, that Rogue might have a soft trachea. I have a couple of friends whose dogs have similar issues, but if anyone has suggestions on how to deal with this issue, I’m all ears. In the meantime, I’ve decided to change her collar from a regular flat to a soft martingale one, since there will be times when someone will need to grab her collar and I am hoping that the martingale will help spread out the pressure instead of it being only focused on her throat area. For walks, she already wears the Premier Easy Walk Harness, so she’ll continue to wear that until I can get her walking with a perfectly loose leash.

***For those who are interested, Cessna’s birthday dog with the squeaker legs lost his head within minutes of being given to her. Rogue and Cessna had decided that tug was a good game to play with him lol! And, the purple monkey bottle toy lost his face, but Huib (the plastic surgeon for toys) has reassured me that he is fixable.***

Halloween 2012

Since we had to bring Aspen down to guelph for her tooth extraction, we decided to spend some time with friends.

With it being Halloween, we dressed everyone up and walked around the neighbourhood so the dogs could experience the interesting sights and sounds of the night.

Cessna was a monarch butterfly

Cessna lies in front of a black leather couch wearing orange, white and black butterfly wings.

Rogue was a lion

Rogue wears a mostly tan coloured costume.  it covers her torso.  It has a tail that hangs down by hers and a hood-like thing that goes on her head with ears and a mane.  She's standing and looking towards the camera with her mouth open and tongue sticking out.

Canyon was a wolf

Canyon stands looking towards the camera wearing a brown hat that has pointed ears.

Piper was a ballerina

Piper, a 4.5 month old Australian Shepherd wears an orange, green, black and purple tutu.  She's standing, but not really looking at the camera.

Sadly Aspen wasn’t able to join us on our walk because of the surgery, but I’m happy to report that she’s recuperating well and should be back to herself in a a week or so. Dr B gave her some new antibiotics to take because she didn’t feel the lymph node had decreased in size enough, but we told her it was half the size, so hopefully these new antibiotics will finish off the fight against whatever infection caused the inflammation. I’ll keep everyone posted.

Our Oakville Trip

As I’m sure everyone has figured out from my earlier posts, we went away for a few days with the dogs.

Our first stop was in Etobicoke to visit with Phoenix’s foster family. Alice and Ray are in their mid-late eighties, so we really try to see them every trip we make south. This visit was quite good. Alice seems to be getting a bit of memory loss, but overall her health is good and Ray seems to also be well.

We had originally planned to stay in guelph with our friends Kelly and Ace, but recently they had a new addition join their family, so we ended up staying with friends in Oakville.

Della and Kelsey live with two female black labs, Hasia and Betty, and three black cats, Tess, Steel and BK. Hasia is a former breeding dog for The Lions Foundation of Canada dog Guides, and Betty was fully trained and just days from being placed with a blind person, when she decided she’d had enough and wanted to go home.

It was a lot of fun to stay with them. Our dogs got along fabulously with one another, and Hasia made herself comfortable with Huib and I at nighttime. Thankfully Della has a queen sized bed because otherwise it would have been almost impossible to sleep with Hasia, Rogue and Cessna insisting on snuggling for the night.

We didn’t really do much on Saturday and sunday after the shows, but Monday we took the labs to Hamilton to get some new McMaster University gear – a black hooded sweatshirt for me, and a black baseball cap and navy blue and grey rugby shirt for Huib. I was hoping to find some dog related gear, but it looks like this year they didn’t make any. After picking out our new clothing, we walked over to Williams Coffee Pub and I got a vanilla bean latte, while Huib got his signature black coffee.

while walking around the university campus and sitting at Williams, I really started thinking about how amazing Rogue is doing and that I had better get moving on her training, because she is definitely ready to go.

Monday evening we headed into Guelph to run a few errands, and then took Aspen for her second Chiropractic adjustment. Dr Leslie was quite impressed with how well Aspen’s first adjustment had held, and said that she only found a couple new areas and did a bit of maintenance work.

Tuesday morning we packed our bags and loaded everyone back into the Orlando. We stopped in Mississauga to grab a couple cases of chicken backs from the Maple Lodge Farms Factory, and then stopped in Barrie to get supplements and stuff at Costco.

Since it was a beautiful day, and because we had no reason to rush home, we stopped at Arrowhead Provincial Park so the dogs could swim. The dogs had a blast. Canyon, Cessna and Aspen swam for over an hour, fetching their new bright blue Jolly ball, and green neoprene turtle. Rogue wore her red life jacket and swam a bit, but mostly bounced around the shoreline, greeting everyone and their dogs that came to the water’s edge. Her favourite, by far, was a male German short Haired Pointer. they played together so well, but the owners weren’t interested in just staying by the water, they had their dogs follow them along the shoreline while Rogue watched. then When her friend returned, she was ecstatic, but it was short lived, because the owners climbed back onto their bikes and headed back to their camp site – poor Roagie!

The rest of our drive home was quiet and uneventful. The dogs were thoroughly exhausted and, I think, really happy to finally see their beds and toys.

On The Road Again

This past weekend we took the dogs south. I had to see the doctor for some medication refills and to touch base on what the neurologist had suggested for migraine relief, so we also made a vet appointment and planned to visit friends in Toronto.

the vet visit went well. Everyone was checked over thoroughly and then had blood withdrawn for Heartworm and tick borne disease testing. Dr B gave the labs their rabies vaccine and then prepared homeopathic remedies for both of the goldens. Aspen’s remedy is supposed to help her with anxiety and possible pain, since Dr B feels she needs some chiropractic adjustment. Back in the spring last year, Canyon ran full speed into Aspen, sending her flying, so now she seems to be out of alignment and Dr B would like us to take her for adjustments the next time we are in the area. I honestly never thought I’d be taking my dog to a chiropractor but I also couldn’t imagine ignoring Aspen’s possible discomfort.

After the vet appointment, we drove to Ren’s to see our friend Kelly and do a little shopping. We often stay with Kelly during our visits south, but she is currently fostering a dog from Aussie Rescue that is not too dog friendly, so visiting her at home wasn’t really an option. At Ren’s we chatted briefly with Kelly and bought Canyon a new toy – it’s like a cuz, but is all holey and has a water bottle crunched up inside it – as well as some blueberry treats and some kitty Greenies.

We then set off for Toronto and stayed with Taz and Caleb for the weekend.

On Saturday we drove to Newmarket to buy some new running shoes for Huib and then to Aurora to plant some flowers at my Mom’s grave. A few years ago, Huib and I created a little garden in front of her gravestone and try to plant flowers each summer. After we were done, we set off for Etobicoke and took Phoenix’s foster family for dinner at Swiss Chalet. Ray and Alice are doing well. Alice no longer needs a wheelchair and just uses her walker to get around. It’s so amazing to see the progress she has made since her stroke three years ago.

sunday was Woofstock. We drove the Orlando downtown and then parked it in the Metro’s underground parking lot. We thought we’d park there so that the dogs could have a safe place to rest if they became too overheated or tired.

Look who else came…

It’s Rogue’s sister Ruby!

Ruby is a little bigger than Rogue and has slightly longer and darker fur. She is absolutely adorable though, just like her sister. I can’t wait to have the girls meet in a less chaotic environment though because similar to Rogue (at times) Ruby was a bit timid and subdued, so it will be neat to see her in her own environment.

Woofstock was great, there were tons of different vendors and organizations to see. We got various treats and bought life jackets for the girls and winter coats for the labs. the life jackets are red with black and the winter coats are purple and bluish purple. I really wanted to get them each a cooling coat (it feels like a shammy and you cover it in water to keep the dogs cool) but they were over a hundred dollars, so we will need to wait on that.

Time to cool off…

By the end of our trip, the dogs were completely exhausted! they all piled into the Orlando and we didn’t hear from them until we arrived in Huntsville a few hours later.

Remembering Endora

Once upon a time in the sunny state of California, there lived a little female yellow Labrador retriever named Endora. Like other dogs before her, this little lab was preparing to make a difference in the life of a blind individual. She studied tons. She worked hard. She knew there was someone out there who needed her, and she was determined to make her mark on the world.

In September of 2002 Endora waited patiently in the kennels of Guide Dogs for The blind to be given her assignment. She had been pulling all nighters, trying to get the commands firmly implanted in her memory, she knew her time had come. There had to be someone in this class that needed her expertise.

Meanwhile…

In Nova Scotia, a determined young woman named Lynette, was boarding a plane bound for California. Lynette’s first guide dog, Aries, was not cut out for the job, so after years of trying to make the partnership work, she made the tough decision to retire Aries and give her to her parents. She knew it wasn’t going to b easy getting a new dog, but she also knew Aries was happier as a pet, so off she went.

Like Cessna and I, Endora and Lynette were a match made in heaven. They were matched both in size and determination. They had their struggles, and they had their disagreements, but from the beginning it was hard to believe they had not always been a team. Lynette found it hard, at first, to put all of her trust in this little power house, but almost immediately Endora showed her how wonderful it could be to work with a guide dog. She guided Lynette with confidence, and with care. she took her job seriously, and glared at anyone who dared to try and distract her.

Unlike Aries, Endora took her responsibilities to heart – this was what she was meant to do.

I met Endora shortly after Lynette brought her home and almost immediately nicknamed her the little snobby American Princess. She had no qualms about coming up onto the couch and cuddling with me, but if I had something to say, there was no way she was going to listen. Endora made up for her small stature in attitude. If Endora didn’t want to do it, then she wasn’t going to do it.

When Lynette texted me to say that Endora was not well, I was almost in tears. I couldn’t believe it was time for Endora to leave us. She was only 11 years old and still so full of life. But, I guess someone had other plans for our American Princess.

On March 19, 2012, Endora left this world to make her mark on another. From what the vet could determine, she was full of cancer. She had developed a lump around the bottom of her rib cage that was, at first, just a fatty tumour, but at some point it changed. Endora began licking and chewing at the lump, causing it to become severely infected and without immediate vet care, had gotten too out of hand for her poor body to handle. The vet thinks the infection is what caused her rapid decline, but that she had most likely developed the cancer months earlier. We’ll never really know if she could have been given a little bit longer, if it had not been for the infection, but I guess we should just try and be thankful for the time we had to spend with this amazing little yellow lab.

I will always miss her “bear rug imitation”.

When Endora was upset about something, she’d lie on the ground with her head lying flat between her paws, so it looked like she was a rug instead of a dog.

I will miss our games of tug.

Endora was an amazing tug of war player. She’d not only tug with all her might, but start growling and barking like she was about to eat the hand of whoever was on the other end. During one of our many games of tug, I actually had Aspen barking and growling at Endora because she was worried I was in danger lol! Aspen is such a big suck, but she will try her best to defend her family.

I do not normally develop such a strong bond with my friends’ guide dogs, but for some reason, Endora will always be special to me. Maybe it was her attitude that reminded me of myself. or maybe it was her fierce determination that inspired me. I’ll never know for certain why Endora left such a mark on my heart, but I do know that she will never be forgotten.

Rest in peace my little American Princess friend. Take care of Phoenix for me and remember that you guys will always be in my thoughts.