Rogue Goes To Toronto

Huib had to go to Toronto for a meeting, so Rogue and I tagged along.

We dropped the Orlando off in Oakville and took the GO Train to Union Station. At Union we took the subway to king Street and walked a couple blocks. Since we were in a bit of a rush, I decided not to work Rogue, but had her heel beside me.

After Huib’s meeting we continued down King to Mountain Equipment Co-op, a hiking and outdoorsy store. I had rogue work the entire route. she never once brushed me up against anyone and only overstepped one up-curb. at one point Huib was busy trying to figure out where we were in relation to where we were going and forgot to warn me that there were two random steps down, rogue was perfect! She stopped with her paws an inch from the stair’s edge and waited for me to give her the okay to continue on. As soon as she stopped, Huib said “GOOD GIRL!!” in an excited voice, so I think the immediate praise helped her to understand that is what I’m looking for from her when approaching stairs. This weekend we will probably be getting together with my friend Karen and her Belgian puppy, spark, so hopefully Rogue will show me some further progress with her understanding of stairs.

At MEC, we walked around the entire store and then bought a dark purple with black rock climbing chalk bag that I will use as a treat bag. I have been looking for a new treat bag since my lime green Columbia one is starting to show some wear, but I haven’t been able to locate one I like. the rock climbing chalk bag is perfect though. It is deep, the draw-string closes at the very top and it is made of a very durable material, so I am hoping it will last a long time.

After we finished shopping at MEC, we walked back to the King Street subway station and went to St. Patrck’s station. I needed to go to Sick Children’s Hospital and ask them to send my surgical notes to my new neurosurgeon. I had rogue work the entire route from the subway station to the hospital and again she didn’t brush me up against anyone and other than wanting to avoid all grates, she was perfect.

I am going to need to do some work with grates because rogue’s reaction to them is a little too extreme.

After the hospital we went back to the subway and went to Bloor station. We were going to meet up with a friend I made over Twitter.

When shane and Yager arrived at tim Hortons, rogue decided to bark a few times. I’m not sure why she does this, but she seems to do it a lot. She wasn’t trying to get to Yager, she was sitting beside me and barking – what a weirdo!!

Shane sits with his guide dog Yager, an English type black Labrador Retriever, at Tim Hortons.

After a couple hours of chatting with Shane it was time to head back to Union to catch the GO train back to Oakville. I had Rogue work to the Bloor subway station and she overstepped a down curb and up-curb, but otherwise she worked well around Yager. While waiting for the subway train to arrive, I practiced staying away from the yellow line with her. I haven’t really needed to show her what I want, she just seems to know that she needs to stay away from the yellow line unless the train is in the station. I ask my dogs to turn right into me when we approach the yellow line and walk with the line to their left, so I stay away from the gap.

Our trip back to Oakville and then Guelph was uneventful. When we got home rogue rolled around and then went outside with Cessna and Canyon.

It is neat to see how excited Cessna gets when I come home. She doesn’t seem to want to join me these days, but when I get home, she is just as excited as Canyon.

Rogue and Cessna Take on New York: Part II

On Monday (the 25th), we woke up pretty late. We had had such a busy first day that we all didn’t want to get out of bed, the humans included.

Once we had all eaten breakfast, Mommy and Cyndy packed their bags for the day and we set off for the subway. Cessna was kind of achy and the humans had sore feet, so we decided that it would be best to take the subway as much as possible.

our first stop was to see the Egyptian exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum. The exhibit was cool because Mommy and Cyndy got to feel all of the different statues and carvings on the sarcophaguses.

Brooke touching a statue. I'm wearing blue denim jeans, a burgundy hooded sweatshirt that says GAP in gray and an off-white Roots baseball cap.

Plaque that explains the statue Brooke is touching

Brooke checking out a Sphynx statue.

Egyptian statue of a man reading a scroll

while Cyndy and Mommy were checking out one of the sarcophaguses a museum worker came over, pulled Cyndy’s hand off, pointed and told her not to touch. Mommy was standing beside Cyndy feeling the different carvings and Uschi was standing right beside Cyndy, so it was as though the guy thought she wasn’t blind enough. The humans had wanted to see some of the other exhibits, but after that, they decided that we would move on to the Guggenheim.

Vulture on the Temple of Dendur

Huib with Cessna and Brooke with Rogue checking out a sarcophagus. Huib is wearing a navy blue jacket with white running shoes, blue denim jeans and carrying Brooke's white backpack. Cessna is wearing her black leather harness and Rogue's reddish-brown leather leash. Rogue is wearing a camo green harness that has Service Dog written in white on the pocket and has black strapping that has little white reflective paw prints all over it.

Monkey engravings on the side of a sarcophagus

Brooke and Rogue at the Met. Rogue is sitting beside Brooke.

Since Cessna was kind of tired, Mommy decided to give her to Daddy and asked me to help her out. I did pretty well. I overstepped a couple of curbs, but Mommy backed up quickly and we did them again. After a bit, I caught on and kept Mommy safe while Cessna took a break. At the Guggenheim I continued to help Mommy and we walked all over the building together. Mommy thinks I’m finally ready to do more of Cessna’s job which makes me really happy!

Walking toward the Guggenheim

Brooke and Cyndy sitting on the steps of the Guggenheim having a drink with Cessna, Rogue and Uschi. Cyndy is wearing a purple winter coat and Brooke is wearing a white with navy blue winter coat.

Brooke and Rogue standing together on the main floor of the Guggenheim.

Rogue with her paws up, looking down from the top of the Guggenheim

Roof of the Guggenheim

levels of the Guggenheim

After we had finished taking pictures and looking around, we walked across Central Park and headed back to the subway that would take us to our hotel. We were all tired from walking around, so the humans ordered pizza and canollis, and we watched television for the rest of the night.

Brooke with Cessna and Cyndy with Uschi walking through Central Park.

Rogue sitting in Central Park looking toward the camera

Oh, Cessna went on strike by the end of our second day, so Mommy had to ask Daddy for help. Mommy says Cessna is getting ready to retire and that she won’t be asking her to do anymore marathon trips. She’s only going to ask her to work when she feels like it.

Cessna

Come back tomorrow for the final entry on our trip.

Before I really sign off though, I’d like to wish Mommy and Daddy a VERY Happy 13th Anniversary! Thirteen years ago Daddy asked Mommy to go out with him 🙂

More From Niagara Falls

Rogue giving me a kiss at the top of the falls. I'm standing with my body toward the falls, but I'm looking to my right. Rogue has her paws up on the rock portion of the railing, giving me a kiss. I'm wearing a black tank top, blue denim jeans, black sandals, a lime green treat pouch and light pink baseball cap with a horse embroidered on the side in white. Rogue is wearing her dark purple Har-Vest with a black guide handle attached and on the side is Guide Dog embroidered in yellow.

Rogue did an awesome job at guiding me in Niagara Falls. She followed her line perfectly well, not veering onto the grass at all and keeping us away from other people walking along the sidewalks. It was a really good opportunity for me to see how far Rogue has progressed in her learning. She had a bit of trouble staying in a straight line when crossing the road, but I was able to easily redirect her with the help of Huib, who was walking behind us. the only issue we ran into, was when Rogue forgot to stop at an up-curb. Thankfully, Huib was watching and grabbed my shoulder before I could trip.

A Night At The Races

Rogue and I. I'm standing to her right and she's looking toward the camera. I'm wearing denim jeans, black sandals, a dark purple tank top and light pink with white baseball cap. Rogue is wearing her purple Har-Vest, but you can only see the front chest strap. Behind us, you can see the score board and the railing that blocks us from the horse race track.

Rogue and I. I'm squatting down to her right and she's looking toward the camera. I'm wearing denim jeans, black sandals, a dark purple tank top and light pink with white baseball cap. Rogue is wearing her purple Har-Vest, but you can only see the front chest strap. Behind us, you can see the railing that blocks us from the horse race track.

This was rogue’s first time at the horse races. she was interested in the smells, but was very focused on me throughout the night. She kept targeting my leg with her nose (our form of eye contact), so went through her treat bag within just over an hour, lol!

We also started working on pairing “leave it” with “look” (nose targeting my leg), so that she’ll someday automatically nose target my leg when I ask her to leave something alone. She did really well at this pairing, so I’ll probably have to raise my criteria sooner than I expected. her absolute favourite behaviour to do is nose target, so I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised.

At the end, we took her into the casino for a bit and she just settled at my feet while I played the slots.

Oh The Places We Will Go

sometimes you just need a glimpse to realize you’re on the right track.

As everyone knows, Rogue and I have been on a journey filled with ups and downs, left turns, right turns and U-turns. raising and training your own guide dog is not easy.

But, this week has given me the slightest glimpse of the possibilities.

Over the past year, I have been working hard to find gear that rogue will tolerate.

I’ve found martingales that open like regular collars, so she doesn’t have to put her head through the opening. she no longer ducks my efforts to put her collar on.

I’ve found working vests/backpacks that don’t require her to do more than stand still while I put it on. She’s getting better. to help her along, I’ve begun getting Cessna dressed in her harness, and then getting Rogue dressed. I then walk around the house getting myself dressed, and giving Cessna treats for being so awesome. rogue is taking less and less time to break free of the “roots” holding her in place when the vest goes on. the only thing I have to remember, is to get her to come to me before I reach for the vest – sneaky, I know 🙂

Our next challenge has been the guide handle. Huib made one for us to use and Rogue hates it. I’ve gotten some material to make her a soft guide handle, but I am also getting Rogue dressed shortly before we leave the house, so that she can work on breaking free of the “roots”. The past two days have been really good, but we’ve still got a long way to go in this area.

Yesterday we went to the mall to do a bit of work. I had Rogue walk from one end of Stone Road Mall to the other. She tried to go into a couple of stores, Huib said she must be a girl because they were all shoe stores, lol!

When she began veering into the stores, I had her stop and then we fixed our direction and continued to walk.

On our way back to where we had started, rogue did amazing! She only tried to go into one store, but I was able to tell her no and she fixed her own direction. She walked me around an older person using a walker and around a couple of teenagers. I was worried she’d brush me against the person with the walker, but Huib warned me we were approaching and said Rogue left a good amount of room between us.

We need to work on staying a little straighter, but I felt really good with Rogue’s progress.

Later, I did some curb and sidewalk work with Rogue. Huib followed behind, giving me an idea of when we were getting close to the curbs and when Rogue was beginning to veer. She has a bit of an issue with keeping too close to the left side of the sidewalk, and with wanting to check out things as we walk, but those are simple problems to fix.

When we came to the curb, she blew it twice before she figured out exactly what I wanted. Each time she stepped off the curb, I dropped the guide handle and dramatically said “Whoops! too bad, let’s try that again”. When we came to the next down curb, she only blew it the first time, and nailed it dead on the next two tries. the final curb was the same, she blew it the first time, but nailed it the second. I will do more work with her in this area, but I don’t foresee it taking her too long to figure out that all down curbs must be stopped at.

In order to give her a bit of variety and some work on just sidewalks, we walked for about 45 minutes. At one point, we came upon a truck that was parked completely across the sidewalk. Huib explained it all to me and then we set off, wanting to see what rogue would do. she walked me up to the truck, I felt out with my right hand, then said “Rogue, forward”. She immediately turned toward the road, stopped at the down curb, walked me along the back of the truck, and then walked me back up onto the sidewalk. We had a PARTY!!! I tripped on the up curb, but I didn’t care, she had just done a major obstacle perfectly!

I had a bit of trouble with her pull and sometimes with her pace, but I think a longer guide handle is needed, in addition to some working out on my part.

Whenever you get comfortable with a guide dog, you don’t always realize their pace slowing down, so wen you go to work with another dog, you end up with shin splints. when I got Cessna, I had the most painful shin splints, but after a couple of months, they went away and it was amazing to fly like the wind with her.

Cessna hasn’t really slowed down, but with three years of not really working, the shin splints are back with a vengeance!

The work rogue and I did today really showed me that we’ve progressed and that with some more time and patience, we might just actually make it as a team.

Rogue sits on top of a bale of hay. She's wearing her Silverfoot collar and leash that are a mixture of different blues.

Barn Hunt

Saturday, Huib, rogue and I went to a Barn Hunt workshop. Rogue’s breeder had mentioned the workshop on her Facebook page and asked if anyone wanted to join. Three families, including us, came out. In total, there were eight dogs from Red Labrador Retrievers present.

Karen and Chris (Rogue’s breeders) brought three females, including Rogue’s dam, cheyenne. It was so cool to see Rogue and Cheyenne together. they are quite similar in size, Cheyenne is just a bit heavier and has a little different face. their personalities are also quite similar, cheyenne was very excited to be around the other dogs, and barked at random times – just like her daughter. Huib tried to get a good picture of the two together, but neither one wanted to cooperate, lol!

Side views of Rogue with her dam, Cheyenne. To the left is Rogue and to the right and behind is Cheyenne.

Our day started with a short introduction to Barn Hunt, including a discussion of the rules and regulations. We were then split into groups of 5, and sent through the various stations.

at station one, the dogs were shown an aquarium with a couple of rats inside. We were told to tell our dogs to “find the rats” or whatever words we wanted to use. We were asked to encourage our dogs and show them where the rats were located.

Athena, a one year old female from Red Labrador Retrievers sees the rat in the aquarium. she's very interested in them.

Similar to her dam, rogue was interested in the aquarium, but more into the smells, than the actual rats.

Chris, Rogue's breeder, and Cheyenne, Rogue's dam, checking out a rat. Cheyenne isn't overly interested, so the woman has taken a rat out of the aquarium to get her attention.

At the next station, the dogs were introduced to a plastic tube containing a rat.

Chris, Rogue's breeder, with Sedona, a 6 month old puppy from Red Labrador Retrievers. Chris is pointing to the tube holding the rat, while Sedona looks at him curiously.

We were again instructed to tell our dogs to “find the rat”, and encourage them to get excited about the tube.

rogue was pretty excited about the tube, she nosed the tube and rolled it around.

at station three, the dogs were shown two tubes, one containing a rat and the other containing soiled litter from a rat’s cage.

rogue checked both tubes out very thoroughly, but seemed a bit more interested in the one containing the rat.

Rogue finding the tube containing the rat, and leaving the other one alone.

at station four, two tubes were hidden beside a bale of hay, one containing the rat and the other containing soiled litter. We were instructed to encourage our dogs to search and to let the “judge” know which we felt our dog was saying the rat was in.

rogue checked out both tubes thoroughly and seemed to indicate one over the other, but maybe Huib read her wrong, because he said it was the tube containing soiled litter. the “judge” then picked up the one containing the rat and had us show it to her, so she could check it out more.

Rogue is sniffing a tube containing a rat with her paw on top of the tube.

the final station gave us a chance to work on our own with having our dogs go through a tunnel made of hay and a tube containing a rat. we were instructed to have our dogs run through the tunnel and “find the rat”.

Rogue had a lot of fun running through the tunnel to the rat.

After lunch, we each had an opportunity to do the Barn Hunt instinct test.

each dog was asked to find the tube containing the rat in under a minute.

Chris and Sedona at the mock instinct test. Chris is about to release Sedona, so she can search for the tube containing the rat.

Of the eight dogs from Red Labrador Retrievers, only three passed the instinct test. Athena did the test in 32 seconds, Cheyenne did it in 59, and rogue did it in just 25!

The woman who ran the Barn Hunt workshop said she would be setting up a Barn Hunt trial in the summer, so I think we’ll watch for the date and see how rogue does.

Canyon Makes His Debut

The Elora Gorge kennel Club held a Conformation Dog Show this week. Since we have friends in the area and Canyon’s co-breeder does not live too far away, Huib and I thought it was the perfect place for Canyon to make his debut.

There were not many golden retrievers entered in this show, which means Canyon did not have much of an opportunity to compete. We entered him into the Canadian Bred Dog class, since we did not know what the Open Class was all about, there was only one other dog entered along with him. Canyon’s co-breeder said it was unusual for there to be so few goldens being entered, but she felt it also gave Huib and Canyon a chance to get used to showing.

In all three of the All-Breed competitions, Canyon ended up receiving a second place ribbon. Since there was only one other dog entered with him, this means he just got last place. If there had not been another dog entered into his class, Canyon could have ended up with a first place ribbon (which seems silly to me). Each day of the competition, Huib and Canyon seemed to become more comfortable with the ring and Huib started to find ways of keeping Canyon’s attention on him and away from the other dog and its handler.

Our first day was a little rough, Canyon was the second dog to show so kept trying to run after the dog in front. He never once tried to sit though and self-stacked almost perfectly. Our judge is a breeder of English style golden retrievers, so receiving a second place was completely expected, since Canyon was slightly darker than his counterpart. I also don’t think it helped that he wanted to play with the other dog lol!

On the second day, Canyon was a little less interested in the other dog, but kept wanting to sit and was distracted by the other handler who was constantly squeaking a toy while the judge was examining Canyon. I think he had a chance of winning on the second day, but it just wasn’t in the cards.

On the final day, Canyon had two competitions since there was the regular All-Breed and then a Retriever Specialty. Similar to the first day, the All-Breed judge really seemed to like his lighter goldens over the darker ones, so we again received a second place.

Then the tables turned in our favour…

The judge for the Retriever Specialty, the husband of the second day’s judge, absolutely loved him! Huib and I had decided to allow a professional handler to do some touch-ups and I think that, as well as the fact that Huib had figured out a way to keep Canyon’s attention, did the trick.

When we saw that Canyon would be competing against the same dog as in the regular shows, we figured we’d be getting yet another second place ribbon – we were wrong!

Huib said he was shocked when the judge pointed to him first to come over.

Canyon’s co-breeder was beside herself with excitement, and the women sitting in front of us were cheering.

Huib had no idea what he was supposed to do next, this was uncharted territory!

They next competed with the winner from the Open Class (there had only been one dog entered so it automatically got first) and they won again!

Canyon’s co-breeder was so excited, and was wonderful at describing the judge’s every move and telling me about how Huib’s face was getting redder each time he received another first lol!

After getting Winner’s Dog, Huib and Canyon moved on to compete for Best of Breed.

In the Best of Breed category, there were five goldens in total – Canyon (Winner’s Dog), a young female (Winner’s Bitch) and then three Champions (goldens who already had their titles). The judge had each handler move around the ring with their dogs, watching closely. He then thoroughly examined each one, even making various noises to see what sorts of reactions he would get. I think it was at this point when Canyon decided to lean forward and give the judge a kiss lol! The judge asked the handlers with the champions to leave the ring and then re-examined Canyon and the young female. When Canyon’s co-breeder saw the champions leaving, she was amazed because it was uncommon for judges to choose younger dogs over champions, especially in a Specialty situation.

The young female received Best of Breed and Canyon got Best of Opposite Sex.

Canyon was done at this point, he had had enough of the show ring and Huib was relieved to be done because he felt Canyon’s exhaustion would have for sure caused problems. As they walked back to where I was sitting, Huib was stopped by a breeder, who asked how long Huib had been showing. He told her it was just his third day and she was shocked. She said congrats and told him that she had been showing for 10 years and had never won at a specialty. I think this made Huib’s year!

With these wins, we think Canyon has accumulated two points towards his Canadian championship title. As mentioned here, Canyon needs to earn ten points in total, so we’re already a fifth of the way there!

Cessna “Push”

Cessna wanted to show you all how she helps out in the bathroom.

Closing Doors

Cessna will be turning 8 on Sunday. It’s hard to believe how quick time is passing with her, but we’ll talk more about that in a few days.

The reason I wanted to write today, was to tell everyone about the new skill Cessna is learning.

Cessna is learning to close cupboard doors.

I was practicing “touch” with Rogue in the washroom on Tuesday, and Cessna wandered in. She started to try and “touch” my hand as well, so I decided to take a moment with her. I put Rogue into a down and then opened the cupboard door under the sink. I then got Cessna to sit a couple of feet from the door and then pointed to it and said “touch”. She wasn’t sure at first, so I I pointed to the cupboard door and said “touch” again. She walked over and nudged it lightly with her nose. I immediately said “YES!”, and gave her a treat. I then put her back into a sit a couple of feet away, made sure I had her attention and then pointed to the door and said “touch” once more. She walked over a little quicker and nudged it harder, it almost banged close, but not quite, so I decided to ask her to “touch” again. She nudged it a little harder and the door closed with a bang, and we partied!

After finishing her treat and getting tons of praise, Cessna looked at the door, so I put her back into a sit and opened it. I pointed, and said “touch”. Cessna walked over and nudged it almost closed, so I said “harder” and she pushed again and it banged closed. She looked at me, swished her tail, and we had another party!

Since Tuesday, she has practiced with the washroom cupboard a few more times and does it with just one cue! We have also started to practice with the big door of our pantry, our freezer’s door (we have a fridge that has the freezer on the bottom as opposed to the top), and the doors under the kitchen counter. She can close the pantry almost perfectly now, still needs a couple extra cues for the freezer, and has a bit of trouble with some of the cupboard doors in the kitchen. Cessna has no real issue with the doors that open on the left, but when I ask her to close the ones that open to the right, she’ll often start trying to grab things to bring me from inside the cupboard lol!

I think that with a couple more days of practice though, she’ll be doing all cupboards without a second thought.

Cessna never ceases to amaze me with her eagerness to learn new skills.

Uninspired

Sorry for the lack of posting this week, but I just haven’t had anything to write about.

Everyone is doing well.

Rogue continues to grow and mature into a wonderful little girl. She is still learning to control herself around food, but we have now started to feed her with everyone else in the kitchen. We have Aspen and Canyon eat together using the bowl table, she used to share with Phoenix, and Cessna eats with Rogue on the other side of the kitchen. Rogue can get really jumpy and overexcited when she sees the food being prepared, so we have started to attach her to a leash that is around one of the couch legs. She seems to calm right down once she has the leash connected to her collar, so I’m hoping that she will learn with time, to just chill out and wait for the bowls to be put down. Other than that, we have been working on loose leash walking and are really hoping to have her ready for a Rally-O competition in November. Of course it will depend upon how much we practice and on whether her CKC paperwork comes in, but we can hope right?

Other than that, I’ve been busy with school reading and assignments. I actually got my first assignment back today and received a stellar grade, so I’m happy about that. The group discussion portion of the course still frustrates me, but the professor is supposed to be reorganizing the groups after she has marked the assignments we handed in today. Today’s assignment was to discuss and reflect on the group discussions and on how we felt our participation could be better. I’m not really sure this one went as well as the first assignment, but there are three other reflection papers to improve upon.

Nothing else is really new here. It has gotten really cold all of a sudden, so I’m sure we’ll have some snow pictures to share in the real near future. I was really hoping to have some more recent pictures of rogue to share with everyone, but it looks as though we have lost our camera. Maybe I’ll see if Huib can take some good ones with my IPhone.

For now, I’ll leave you with a couple pictures Huib took in June of Aspen and Canyon.