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.

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.***

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!

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.

Whirlwind Travelers

Last week, as you all may have guessed, we packed up the dogs and headed to Southwestern Ontario.

Our first stop was Huntsville where we stayed Thursday night and spent some time with my step-dad. My sister had to work, so Huib and I took her a coffee and visited for a few minutes with her, but otherwise we didn’t really get a chance to see her much.

Friday morning we packed up the Expedition once more, and headed towards Windsor, making stops in Etobicoke to see Phoenix’s foster family and Guelph to drop off Aspen with Kelly and pick up Canyon’s new show leash. Phoenix’s foster family are doing well. Ray is still getting the occasional chemo treatment for the bladder cancer the doctors found over a year ago, but otherwise they are healthy and happy. In Guelph we did a little shopping at Ren’s because we had forgotten to get some smelly treats for Huib to use with Canyon in the ring and the dogs always need a new toy, right? The treats we chose this time were wild rabbit flavor ones by Zuke’s. Canyon absolutely loved them and we were able to get a larger bag, so have enough leftover for the Chatham show. After picking up the treats and a little stuffed bunny that squeaks, we drove to Kelly’s house and had some pizza and garlic bread.

Canyon’s show leash is beautiful! It has black, tan and reddish colour kangaroo leather braided together with beads in three different spots. Huib ordered it from a woman in Victoria British Columbia (Hitide Creations) who makes only show leashes.

After dinner, and once we knew Aspen was settled, we piled the other three dogs into the truck and headed to Windsor. It was a long day of driving, so we were relieved to finally reach our hotel room and crash.

Saturday morning we woke up around 5:30am and began our pre-show routine. First Huib took Canyon and Rogue for a walk. Then he put Canyon into the tub and began scrubbing and rinsing with lavender scented baby shampoo. On the first day, we usually always use baby shampoo since it’s cheap and does an awesome job at getting rid of all the dirt and odours from Canyon’s coat while still keeping it shiny and silky smooth. After the bath, Huib began to blow dry Canyon, which was totally not a happy time for the golden boy. First he tried jumping onto the bed beside me and hoped that I wouldn’t make him get off and return to Huib – but of course I did lol! Then he tried moving around, so that Huib would run out of cord length and stop, but that also did not work. We have to blow dry him so that we can comb his fur flat while it dries, or it tends to be a little wavy. Once his fur was three quarters of the way dry and his ears, tail and feet were trimmed, Huib gave him some banana bread the hotel had provided with their continental breakfast and took some time to get dressed himself. About an hour before the show began we piled everyone back into the Expedition and headed to St. Clair College’s gymnasium where the event took place.

Saturday afternoon we did some shopping at the Columbia outlet store and then met up with my friend Kris, his wife Tania and their daughter Olivia. I have not seen Kris in over six years so it was really nice to see him again. We used to go to the University of Guelph together and had regular movie dates until he moved to Windsor about ten years ago. We had left Cessna and Canyon at the hotel and just taken Rogue out shopping and for dinner, so it was a good opportunity for her to work around a young child. Olivia wasn’t totally sure about Rogue, but after a bit started to play with her and Rogue really enjoyed the attention.

Sunday morning we woke up a little later because Canyon’s ears, feet and tail had already been trimmed so he only needed the bath and blow dry. This time we bathed him with NuHemp’s moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, so that his coat didn’t get too dried out from the frequent bathing. We also decided to show up at the college half an hour before the start of the show since it was pretty busy and there really wasn’t a lot of room for us to move around. After his dismal showing, we began making our way back to Guelph – making stops in Cambridge to pick up some stuff at the Pet Smart and Kitchener to look for a black tie for Huib.

Kelly had dinner plans, so Huib and I got pizza and then treated ourselves to ice cream at Marble Slab Creamery. I had never been to this particular ice cream shop so had a tough time picking out which ice cream and topping I really wanted. Huib got white chocolate ice cream with bits of coffee crisp mixed into it, while I got cheesecake ice cream with Reese peanut butter pieces mixed in – it was delicious!

On Monday I had my appointment in London with the pain clinic. I was really hoping that they would be able to suggest something to resolve my constant migraine issues, but it ended up being a total waste of my time. First they had us fill out a 20 or more page questionnaire that asked questions about the types of headaches I was having, what sorts of symptoms each had, how long they lasted, how often they occurred, whether I lived my life around the ability to take pain medications, what medications I had or are taking, and a bunch of other questions I cannot remember. I’m thinking the questionnaire was meant to weed out people who are addicted to pain medications and that could be dealing with withdrawal symptoms. After the clinic nurse had taken my blood pressure and oxygen level, we were escorted into an examination room, where I was instructed to remove all of my clothing and put on a hospital gown. A medical student then came in to do a neurological exam.

He had me:
• Follow his finger with my eyes;
• Look straight ahead while he looked into the back of my eyes with a light;
• Touch his finger and then my nose;
• Raise my shoulders and not allow him to push them downwards;
• Tell him if I felt the same sensation on both sides of my feet, face and hands when he touched them with a semi-sharp object;
• Move my chin to my chest and then towards each shoulder; and
• Tell him if it hurt when he put pressure on various parts of my head.

I’m sure I missed some of the things he asked me to do, but I’m sure you get the point. After the neurological examination, he left the room to get the doctor while I got dressed. The doctor came in and pretty much just said he would send my family doctor a list of three different preventative medications he thinks I should try and that he doesn’t see any other reason for my headaches. He also eluded to the fact that some of my headaches could be withdrawal symptoms, so I decided to go a week without any medications at all and see where I got pain wise. I am now on day five and nothing really seems to have changed, except that I am tired and the pain is still the same as usual.

After the appointment, we left the building and walked over to the CNIB, which just happened to be across the road. I got my CNIB card renewed and then toured the gift shop, but found nothing that really interested me.

When we got back to Guelph we were so happy to see Rogue again. I had decided to give her to my friend Kelly for the day so that she could experience university life, and work a bit with someone else. Kelly said that her leash manners were horrible, which we already knew, and that she settled well in her classes, but that she seemed nervous of random people (no barking though) and of different spots in her classroom building. We weren’t completely surprised about her nervousness around random people, but we didn’t really understand her reactions to different spots in kelly’s classroom building. She said she had trouble walking through doorways and this shocked us because it was not something she had ever shown nervousness around before.

Since Kelly had to do some school work, Huib and I decided to take Rogue out to dinner with some friends at Eastside Marios. She was awesome. She fell asleep beside my chair without an issue, and when we first arrived she thought my friend’s boyfriend’s feet needed to be cleaned. After dinner we asked my friend’s boyfriend to greet Rogue and she showed absolutely no fear of him – good girl! We then all decided to walk over to the mall across the road to do a bit of shopping and grab a tea from a specialty tea shop. At the mall Huib got Rogue to approach a manikin and she showed no fear, but checked its hand to see if there might be a treat – silly girl! My friend also approached a couple of guys and asked if they would come and greet Rogue, which they did and Rogue thought this was great! Before leaving the mall we each picked out a tea and then drank them as we walked back to our vehicles – I got a chocolate mint one.

On Tuesday we packed up our Expedition and then left the goldens at Kelly’s house while Huib, Rogue, Cessna and I went to meet up with Carin, Steve and Trixie for lunch. It was great to see them because it had been such a long time. We talked about old times, we updated one another on people we both knew, and we laughed every time Rogue decided to lick Steve’s feet. After lunch Huib and I went back to Kelly’s house to pick up the goldens and then made the three hour drive back to Huntsville. We decided to stop in Huntsville again to stay overnight because it seemed to break up the long drive nicely. The only issue was that my sister was in a horrible mood so it was a bit tense and unpleasant, but my step-dad tried his best to be a good host.

On Wednesday morning we (with the addition of my step-dad) started our long journey back to the north and have been relaxing ever since.

Sorry for the long post, but I thought I’d share our journey with you all.

P.S. While we were driving to Huntsville the first day, I got a really unexpected call… An adoption worker from Child and Family Services called to set up a meeting to get to know us! I am really excited about this development and will keep you all posted.

A Snowy Walk

Today I had a migraine so Huib decided to take the dogs for a four kilometre walk in the snow.

Fun With Dad

On Monday, Huib took Cessna and the goldens for a swim and hike. I had a migraine and Phoenix had already done a lot so I felt the trip would be too much for both of us.

Here’s what we missed

Canyon found a giant stick in the lake and of course, couldn’t leave it…

Aspen thinks Canyon should share.

Huib finally gets one of the dogs to pose on the rocks for a photo.

Here’s a cool action shot of Canyon shaking water off his coat.

Canyon is such a photogenic boy!

It’s Been A Crappy Friday!

Do you ever wake up and wish you could climb under a rock until the day is over?

Well, today is that day for me…

Yesterday Huib and I decided to pick up some fresh beef bones from the butcher to keep the dogs busy. They loved it! But I don’t think Canyon’s tummy did, because he woke us up at 6:30am panting and pacing. After some explosive release though, he slept soundly until about 11:00am. We fed him some rice this morning instead of his regular kibble and thought this had settled well, until we came home from an hour in town, to find two neat little piles of rice and a couple pieces of bone. Since then, we’ve given him some Pepto Bismal and opted to skip dinner and he seems to be feeling a little better. I think the pieces of bone irritated his stomach and now that they are out, it’s begun to settle because he hasn’t had any more explosions in the long grass and we haven’t found any more neat little piles.

And, if that wasn’t enough fun and excitement for a day, it looks as though Canyon is getting another eye infection. He had an infection in both eyes about two weeks ago, but after seven days of Polysporin, it went away. Today it looks as though the infection in the right eye is back, so we have begun the Polysporin again and will do it for ten days this time. It’s so sad to see his eye all gunky!

Then, if that wasn’t enough to worry about, Huib noticed that Phoenix’s right ear flap has become engorged with blood. This happened to his left in November, so we know what needs to be done, but I had hoped that his ears were finally going to give us a rest. Since changing him over to the raw diet on January 25th, we’ve started him on a homeopathic remedy and his ears have finally begun to move in a positive direction. We’ve been cleaning them every other day and trying to keep him from shaking his head too much, so we actually thought things could be looking up for the old guy. Well, we were wrong, because now it looks as though he will have the crinkled look on both sides, instead of just on his left. I’m glad the hematoma doesn’t bother him, but feel bad that he has to wear his ear on the top of his head in a vet wrap – at least it’s a nice teal colour though…

I’ve also been dealing with a lot of migraines this week because of the unstable weather, so having to worry about the boys really isn’t helping.

Hopefully next week will be a little better for us all.

Canadian

On Monday, Huib and I were in Kirkland Lake so I could get blood taken in preparation for my lumbar puncture that is scheduled for a week today. The doctors still don’t know why my vision deteriorated so suddenly and then came back after a few weeks, so as a last ditch effort to figure it all out I’ve been scheduled for an LP. I haven’t had one since I was a teenager, they were terrible and the thought of having to endure one makes me cringe. But, we’ll leave that for another day and move on because I’m just not ready to talk about that. So, Huib and I were in town and decided to get a coffee at one of they’re two Tim Horton’s locations – yes, Kirkland Lake only has about 8,000 people, but has two Timmy’s! After ordering our coffees at the speaker, Huib moved up to the window and saw a sign for “Roll-Up The Rim”. “Roll-Up The Rim” is an approximately two week promotion Timmy’s runs, where people can win things just by buying a coffee, hot chocolate or tea. The promotional television ads last year for “Roll-Up the Rim” had a guy call his friend to inform them that it was time and instructed him to grab his toque (for those non-Canadians, it’s a winter hat) and jump on their moose so they could go grab their timmy’s double double. I used to laugh each time I heard the commercial and thought it was funny how they were able to incorporate several “Canadian things” without making it sound dumb.

This got me thinking about what other things are “Canadian things” and wondering why we take such pride in them. Last year Vancouver hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics and I remember Huib and I watching the closing ceremonies and laughing. The organizers had decided to showcase some of our Canadian talent and began everything by presenting a little skit of sorts to make fun of the various Canadian images – the beaver, the RCMP, and the maple leaf, among other things. I’m not sure if other countries are like this, but for some reason it seems as though Canadians find it necessary to make fun of themselves and be sure others don’t mistake us for Americans.

I think it’s wonderful to have such pride in your own country, but I’m also not sure I believe we are better than other countries. Yes, we have a wonderful public health care system where no one ends up in debt because of illness or dies because they couldn’t afford care, but what about the seniors who are struggling to survive on a less than adequate income or the Canadians suffering from mental illness who can’t afford help and end up in prison or living on the street?
I’m thankful to live in a peaceful country and know that when I wake up in the morning my neighbour’s house won’t be replaced by a bomb crater, but how can we take pride in a country that allows their veterans to live below the poverty line and when someone tries to speak up, information on his financial, medical and psychological condition is given to a cabinet minister? I’m not sure about you, but these facts sure don’t make me feel pride in my country… I will always be thankful for living in Canada and will wear the Canadian flag on my dog’s harness or my backpack with pride, but I will never see myself as better than Americans or any other country’s citizens because no matter what, they all have their “skeletons in the closet”. So, instead of trying so hard to be “un-American” maybe we should take a better look at Canada and focus on trying to solve our own shameful social problems.

And…to think, this was all started by ordering an extra large one and a half Splenda, two cream and a large black I wonder if Terri Clark was onto something when she released her song “I Think the World Needs A Drink”…

Vision returning

Over the past week my vision has begun returning to it’s original state, at least the state it was after the age of 13. It’s been a long, slow process, but I’m not complaining because it’s coming back!!

When I woke up to seeing barely nothing on January 5th, it wasn’t terrifying, but when it didn’t resolve itself within a couple days I began to worry. The doctors had no clue as to what was going on and they couldn’t tell me if my vision would ever return, so after a week of no changes, reality started to sink in. I didn’t know what the future held, I didn’t know what to look forward to and I worried about the possibility of having to retire Cessna because I wasn’t sure she could adapt to my new requirements. But, all of these worries are now dissolving because my vision is improving and Cessna has already begun to help me a little more. when I dropped a bottle of body spray, she immediately went over picked it up and After a few tries put it into my hand. This is not a skill her program taught her or even teaches dog guides for the blind, but it’s a skill her puppy raisers taught her in case she might have become a special skills dog.

I’m thankful to have my vision back, but know that unless the doctors figure out why it left in the first place, it could and more than likely will leave again in the future. I just hope next time I remember how well I coped and that it will just take time and patience for things to return to normal.

“If we all threw our problems into a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.”