Busy Busy

What a week!!

Around 3:00am Wednesday morning, Huib, Rogue, the goldens and I took off for Gatineau. I had to attend a three day meeting that would be starting at 9:0am. We had originally planned to leave Tuesday evening, but Ottawa got a lot of snow, so instead of worrying about the road conditions, we decided to delay our departure and do an early morning drive. Our drive was smooth and uneventful – it only took us five hours, compared to the usual six.

After dropping Rogue and I off at the meeting, Huib and the goldens drove to our friend Jess’ place. They spent the day relaxing and helping Jess run a few errands.

Rogue and I had a pretty boring day. She slept under my chair most of the time, while I tried to pay attention and control my facial expressions. When you are in a room with a group of people who have very different life experiences and opinions, it can be difficult at times not to scowl or roll your eyes, but it’s important to try not to do so, just in case you might insult someone.

I’m not sure how many other service dogs were in the room, but Rogue was fabulous!! We had another dog sitting right beside us, but she never paid any attention to him. Other than getting up a bit more often starting around 3:00pm, an hour before the meeting’s end, Rogue remained relaxed throughout.

With the early start, we were all pretty exhausted Wednesday evening, so other than ordering some pizza and salad for dinner, we did nothing and went to bed by 9:00pm.

On Thursday, Huib fed and relieved the dogs while I got ready. Rogue and I had to go to another full day of meetings, so Huib tried to ensure she had a good amount of time to relieve herself. Rogue can be a bit of a finicky reliever when not at home, but I think it helped that she had been to Jess’ place before because she had no problems.

We were a little late getting to the meeting, so we had to rush into the building. We got stuck in traffic between Ottawa and Gatineau. With the rush, I let Huib get Rogue ready while I got my backpack on. He passed me her leash and we were off. As we were walking/running to the room, Rogue tried to sniff some things, so I told her to “leave it!” It isn’t normal for her to try sniffing in harness, so I was a bit firmer the second time it happened. When I settled at my chair, the woman beside me asked me if I meant to have Rogue work without her harness. The woman knows I am visually impaired, so told me about the missing harness because she was surprised I would choose not to have her wearing it. I laughed and immediately messaged Huib, who came running back inside with it. The mistake totally explained why Rogue was so interested in smelling things as we were walking through the building.

The rest of our day was completely uneventful.

At 4:30pm, Huib came to get us. Jess was also with him because her and I were going to her running group.

Before Christmas, I started walking a few times a week on my treadmill. Jess has been helping me increase my speed and endurance over the past month. Our treadmill measures things in miles, so I have gone from doing my workouts at 3.0 to 3.5 miles.

Jess has asked me to do a 10 kilometre race with her the last weekend in May. As long as I do not have a presentation that weekend, I said I would do it.

Walking/running outside is a lot different than doing it on a treadmill, so Jess asked one of her guides to guide me Thursday evening. I didn’t realize we weren’t going back to her place before the running group, so I forgot to pack my running clothes in the car. I had okay shoes for the run, but my clothes were a bit of a poor choice. I was wearing jeans and a knitted sweater, lol!! Jess asked one of the guys if they had a shirt I could borrow, which they did, so I changed out of my sweater and was ready enough to go.

The walk/run went well. The roads and sidewalks were a bit icy, so we only ran when the path was clear. I think we ended up doing a total of four or five short running sessions. While we walked, I learned about getting into a stretching routine, the importance of breathing and not heel-striking when running.

Jess, and our friend Jason, are going to see if they can find guides for me in Guelph, so i can continue working outdoors.

Every time I think about the fact I am actually considering a 10 kilometre run, I laugh. I have never been interested in running, but Jess has really motivated me to try.

Stay tuned for more updates!!

Friday was another full day of meetings. It is tough not being able to talk about the meetings, but I can say Friday was pretty serious and intense. It is sometimes rough going when you’ve got a large group of people coming from different walks of life. everyone has their own opinion on how the work needs to be done and has their own agenda. As a non-voting member of the committee, it can be frustrating at times not feeling as though you’ve really got a voice in the discussion.

On Friday evening we went to dinner with Jess, our friend Jason and some others. We met at a pub that had a nice atmosphere and good food. I had a nut burger with fries, while Huib had some sort of potato and veggie thing with fries. Jess and two others had fish in a coconut sauce with fries and I can’t remember what the other two people had. It was nice to catch up with Jason and to hear about the trip him and his wife had taken to Barbados. Jason is pretty excited about me running, so we took some time to chat about that as well. He has a lot of connections here in Guelph with the running community, so I hope he’ll be able to find some guides for me.

On Saturday, Jess had a triathlon camp to attend, so we got together with a friend to track. We have met Michelle at a couple of tracking tests, so when I knew we were going to be in Ottawa for a few days, I sent her a message on Facebook to see if she might want to do some tracking.

We got together at one of the National Research Council sites – a great place to track!! Huib laid a track for her dog, Cameron, while she laid tracks for Rogue and Arizona. Huib also laid a track for Canyon, so the poor guy wouldn’t be left out. After all of the tracks were laid, I had to pee, so we went to a little coffee shop nearby. They have tasty cinnamon buns and some good coffee.

Since Canyon is still learning, Huib had him run his track first. Michelle said he did a fabulous job!! This is Canyon’s second time formally tracking, so she was impressed. Huib says he thinks I can start handling Canyon now. Huib usually starts with them, so he can point out where the track is if the dogs need help, but Canyon seems to be a natural.

Next it was Arizona’s turn. I’m not sure where our crazy girl went, but Ari seems to have found her work ethic. She did a great job on her track. I walked along behind with Michelle, so got a play-by-play.

Cameron’s track was closest, so we did his next. Michelle did a really good job of handling him and he followed his track well. It was interesting to see the differences between his work and the way our retrievers work. Cameron checked out each of the cross tracks we passed, but never really went far off his actual track. I also liked how he picked up the article – I hope Rogue will do this some day!!

Rogue’s track was next. She was a bit excited at the beginning, so she had a bit of a messy start. She never got off track, but she was portering a lot. Michelle suggested I rein her in, not giving her so much line, so I brought her closer. She wasn’t as exact on her corners, but she followed her track well and found every single article!! Afterwards, I asked for Michelle’s opinion and she recommends I talk to her a bit less and also stop giving her so much line. I am going to work on this.

I liked having someone different lay her track because then she had an opportunity to follow another person’s scent and also work someone else’s track idea. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think we sometimes lay tracks in our own ways, so it can become a routine that the dog can predict.

For fun Michelle laid a quick track for me to run with Cameron. I have never worked with any other breeds than my own, so it was fun. Cameron is an English Springer Spaniel, so a lot lighter and different from my retrievers. Maybe it’s just that Cameron is more experienced, but I found him a lot less frantic or crazed than my guys can be. He checked out the scent pad, then followed the short track to the glove, picking it up and bringing it over to me. Michelle told me not to talk too much and I could see how the quiet really helped him concentrate.

Nothing too exciting happened while I ran Cameron, but funny stuff did occur before and after. As we were walking over to the scent pad, Huib had to take me over and through a difficult path of snow and ice. My guys are used to my balance being off, so they sometimes get pulled in different directions, so I felt bad for Cameron, but he was a good sport about it all. After the track, Michelle gave me a container and asked me to open it and give it to him. I had heard her mention bringing cheese curds with us, so I thought that was what was in the container. After I took the lid off, I reached in to get the curds and found wet food!! I quickly removed my hand and both Huib and Michelle laughed…lol! SO gross!!

I am glad we had a chance to meet up with Michelle and Cameron. I hope we can do it again.

In the evening, we were all pretty tired, so Huib made some yummy salad and pasta for dinner. We then chatted about our days and went to bed around 10:00pm.

On Sunday Jess had a 10 kilometre run in the morning, so we slept in and then started packing up. I had two hard boiled eggs and a bowl of Smarties ice cream for breakfast with some coffee – I love being an adult!!

When Jess came back, she brought Jason. It was nice chatting with them before we left.

On our way home we planned to stop in at Arizona’s breeder, so we left around 10:00am. The drive to Anne’s place was quiet and pretty. Anne and Jeff live outside Perth in Tay County. They have a beautiful house beside a lake.

When we arrived, we let Arizona out to pee and then went up to knock at the door. Anne came and let Sitka and Teal out to greet Ari before we all went inside.

Sitka has the same dam, but different sire than Arizona. I have always loved Sitka, she is very loving and adorable. In August she had a litter of seven puppies sired by Teak, Ari’s sire. I wish we had known about the breeding because we would love to have another Teak puppy.

Teal is six months old and one of Denali’s puppies. Denali has the same sire as Ari, but a different dam. Teal is a very cute girl!! She kept climbing into our laps and giving us kisses while we were there.

Anne brought Denali and Abba out after putting Sitka and Teal away. She wanted the girls to get a chance to greet Ari separately.

Abba came over and checked out Arizona, letting her do the same. Abba is now ten or eleven years old, so has some old lady lumps, but looks pretty good. After she was satisfied with Ari, she came over to cuddle with me – I loved it!!

Denali was a bit more enthusiastic about greeting Arizona. She is just a year older than Ari, so definitely has more energy than Abba.

Arizona was a good sport about being checked out by everyone, but she did get a bit grumbly after a while. teal had her head inside Ari’s mouth a few times, so I can’t really fault Ari for grumbling. She never went any further than that, so I didn’t say anything. Huib just had her come over and sit with him and lie down by his feet so he could control things a bit.

The only girl Arizona didn’t grumble with was Abba. I think Abba is a lot calmer and more respectful when greeting, so she didn’t annoy Ari.

I think this was probably the longest we’ve ever spent just chatting with Anne and Jeff. It was great!! I didn’t come right out and ask Anne about breeding rights for Ari, but from some of the things she said, we think she knows we want them. We are going to start getting Ari’s health clearances done, starting with her eyes and thyroid.

After a bit, Anne let Sitka and Teal back out and for the rest of the visit, we had all five girls together in the living room.

It was really interesting to learn about the personalities of each. Sitka and Ari seem to have the same independent-mindedness, which we think comes from Abba. Denali and Ari have the same crazy nature, but willingness to learn, so we think that must come from Teak. Anne says she never really knows what to expect at a test or trial with Sitka, and that Denali always makes life interesting – we all know who that reminds us of…lol!

Anne showed us her training room and had Sitka and Teal demonstrate some of the things they can do. It was fun to watch little Teal work, she’s such a smart girl!! One thing Anne uses, that we don’t feel comfortable doing ourselves, is use a prong collar when teaching the heel. She said her trainer suggested it and that she finds it works well.

Anne told us that she is hoping to start training for utility with Denali, but that she is done with obedience with Sitka because she really doesn’t seem to enjoy it. I asked her if she had any suggestions on how to get Ari in the game with obedience and she suggested using a puppy sized bumper as a reward, since it works really well with Sitka. Huib and I are going to find one and try it out.

Sitka will be trying for her senior hunt title this summer, but I’m not sure what Denali is working towards.

Before we left, Anne gave us a couple of goose wings and a few ducks for training. I am looking forward to seeing what Ari thinks of the goose wings.

Our drive home was nice. Huib decided to take the long way, since we weren’t in a hurry and we needed to make a stop in Aurora anyway. When we got home, Cessna was SO excited to see us!! She loves staying with Dad, but I think she also likes when we all return.

It was a great trip, but an exhausting one. Now I must get back to work, preparing my PhD application and a mini presentation for Friday.

Determined

I am determined to get back into blogging.

It has been an extremely busy summer for all of us.

Here are some highlights:
In June, Rogue tried for her UTD (urban tracking dog) title, but wasn’t successful. We learned some important things at the test and we met some new people.

In July, Arizona entered the Maple Leaf Kennel Club’s UKC conformation show and got a group 4th on the Saturday. There were eight different breeds, so it was quite an exciting win for us.

Every week we have field and tracking classes. Arizona is progressing well with field, but she’s still hesitant to pick up any smelly or floppy ducks, so that’s been a bit frustrating. Rogue is doing well with tracking, working on both urban and field stuff. Arizona has also started tracking and is very slowly progressing. She has the ability to do it, but we never know what she’s going to give us at any given moment.

August 8th was a pretty sad day around here. Our long-time feline friend, Logan, unexpectedly passed away. We saw her Saturday, but weren’t too surprised when we didn’t see her or Laya on Sunday because we were moving stuff around, but on Monday morning Huib searched for her because only Laya came out for wet food. Logan loves canned food, so when we couldn’t find her, we were concerned. Huib found her behind a couch. He said she looked really peaceful, as though she had passed away in her sleep. Since her body was still stiff, our vet believes she probably had a heart attack in her sleep and we most likely discovered her within 8 hours of her passing. It was such a shocker!! We had no idea she was unwell 🙁

September was a pretty busy and exciting month for us all.

On the 9th, Arizona tried to earn her WC (working certificate), but instead of performing the drills, she decided to be the class clown – we’ll try again next year. In the land retrieves, she ‘marked’ perfectly, ran straight up to the duck, sniffed a couple of times, and then ran back to me. The judges asked me to resend her, and she ran two perfect land retrieves. When we attempted the water retrieve, she ‘marked’ beautifully, took a couple of steps into the pond, and ran right back. Huib thinks she didn’t like the smooshy bottom. We did finally get her to do a water retrieve, but we didn’t end up earning the title. We had a good time at the test though, meeting a lot of interesting people, so it was worth it.

On the 10th and 11th, we helped out at the Oakville & District Kennel Club’s conformation show. It took place at the International Centre, so it was a pretty big deal. I ran the Meet the Breeds Booth, getting to check out a number of breeds I had never heard of. Rogue worked, while Canyon and Arizona hung out in a crate when it wasn’t their turn to volunteer. Even with the long days, everyone seemed to have a good time.

On the 20th, I successfully defended my thesis. I now have a Master of Arts in Health and Aging degree. My convocation is on November 17th, so that should be fun.

What’s coming up for us?
On the 16th, Rogue will try again for her UTD title. We have tried to practice every couple of days, working in as many challenges as possible, so I’m hopeful we’ll succeed.

On the 30th Cessna will turn 13. It’s hard to believe my spunky little black lab is really a senior citizen. She still goes for 2 or 3 30 minute walks a day with my step Dad and wants to play with the others in the house from time-to-time. She has some health conditions, Hypothyroidism, mild incontinence, some tiny cataracts, mild arthritis, and some lumps, but overall Cessna’s a pretty happy and healthy old gal.

I will sign off for now, but hopefully I will be back sooner than later.

The wild Child

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

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

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

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

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

She LOVED it!

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

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

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

Arizona is one CRAZY 3.5 year old puppy!!

Arizona The Dare Devil

I really need to start making notes on what Arizona does each week for these posts.

Hmmm…

Arizona is really beginning to grow. For a while I thought she wasn’t growing, but this week she seems to be slightly longer, a bit heavier and I’ve had to make her puppy collar bigger. I’m not sure how much she weighs, but when we got her she was 10.2lbs and I’m pretty sure she’s over 15 now.

I’ve continued to work on her name recognition, recall, sit and zen (or leave it). She’s doing well in all areas, so I think it’s definitely time to add something new, such as ‘down’ and maybe ‘stand’.

Arizona is already an escape artist, dare devil and incredibly smart at just shy of 12 weeks.

She’s earned the nicknames of Trouble, Little Devil and wild Child.

We have put a fence up and thought we closed off every single puppy escape route, but yesterday Arizona found the only spot we had missed. I didn’t realize she had left the yard until our neighbour came over to warm me. She said that Arizona had slipped through the fence, but had made it back in on her own. Huib reinforced the spot and hopefully it will keep our little escape artist out of trouble.

We are currently using Canyon’s grooming table as a cat dish holder. Arizona is highly food motivated, so decided to try jumping up onto the table. Huib watched her and she got her back feet onto the edge of the table, then as she tried to push herself up further, she fell backwards, lol!

Thankfully puppies are bouncy because it didn’t even seem to phase her. Once she got over the shock of falling, she was even more determined to figure out a way of getting up onto the table.

I’m continuing to work on her ‘leave it’ cue, so hopefully sooner than later I’ll get to a point where I can use it to stop the attempts at getting the cat food.

Last night when I was putting away some garbage I heard Arizona’s bell jingle from the direction of the dining table. I walked toward the sound and found her walking along the table trying to find any food we’d missed. I quickly picked her up off the table, put her onto the floor and pushed all of the chairs in, so hopefully she won’t do it again.

We’re using a canvas crate to block access to the upstairs for now. Huib is going to install a gate to block access to the cat litter box, but for now we’re using the crate since it’s light and works pretty well.

Logan, our calico, seems to enjoy taunting Arizona, so the other day she took off running and jumped over the crate to get upstairs. Arizona took off after her, pushed the crate out of the way and then ran up the stairs. Huib quickly went to the treat container and whistled. Arizona came racing back, flew down the stairs and landed on top of the canvas crate.

This little girl is one of the most curious and brave puppies we have ever had. if she keeps up with these demonstrations, we’re going to have a heart attack before she turns 6 months old.

what else have we done…

Huib and I took her for a short visit to his work. He is the Assistant Director of Care at one of the local long-term care homes, so when he had to go in for a quick check of something, I decided to bring Arizona. She was really curious about the smells in his office and greeted one of the nurses. We’ll probably bring her again during the day sometime, so she can meet some of the residents.

On Saturday my friend was making balloons at City Hall for John Galt Day. Since it was outdoors I thought it would be a good opportunity to bring both Rogue and Arizona out. I had Rogue work and Huib carried Arizona since she doesn’t have her vaccines yet. there were kids playing in the splash pad, tons of people checking out the various vendors and then my friend making balloon animals for a constant line of kids.

rogue was AMAZING. She was very focused on working and she wasn’t even phased by the shrieking and popping balloons. I got a lot of comments on how well behaved she is and when I told people I trained her myself, they were even more impressed. I don’t really like when people tell me I’m inspiring, but I do like it when I get compliments on rogue. With her being my first owner-trained dog, it’s always nice to hear compliments from the public.

Arizona hadn’t had her morning nap, so she was pretty sleepy by the time we arrived at the festivities. Huib parked the car in a lot 10 minutes away and had Arizona walk there and then back. She pretty much slept in his arms the entire time we were at City Hall and when she wasn’t, she was lying in the shade, lol!

Today is Arizona’s first full day of eating just raw. We had switched her to orijen puppy formula from the Pro Plan her breeder was feeding, but we thought it was time to begin feeding her raw like the others, so began the switch a week or so ago. for the next couple of weeks we will probably only feed her ground or chunks of meat with ground up egg shells for calcium. then we’ll start adding in softer bones, like turkey or chicken neck bones or wings before we try her on the tougher pork, lamb and beef bones.

tonight we’ll be registering her for the oakville and District Kennel Club’s conformation dog show September 12th to the 14th. She’ll be in the baby puppy class, so won’t earn any points toward her championship, but it will be a good time to start getting her used to the environment. She’ll show again in October as a baby puppy at the Purina National in London and then in November the real serious stuff begins 🙂

This week has been a lot better than previous weeks. Arizona seems to be settling in more and we’re learning her schedule. She doesn’t like to sleep past 7:30am, but must have a nap from 9:20am until 12:30pm or she’s a very cranky puppy. she’s started sleeping four to five hours straight every night and she’s beginning to show signs of possibly knowing where she needs to relieve. Now we just need to work on the curiosity because it’s going to get her into trouble soon.

Are We There Yet?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wyoming Trip: Blind Man’s Chicken

Friday was a good day.

Soleil came down and woke me up around 6:30 by jumping on the bed and giving me tons of kisses. It is so funny to see how excited she is about life.

after breakfast we got ready to do some solo work.

Robin explained the route and then I offered to go first. We were going to set off at 5 minute intervals, so the dogs would have a chance to work without help.

Rogue and I did really well. we found our curbs, we made our turns when they came and we figured out any confusing spots. at the second crossing, we accidentally went up someone’s driveway instead of the sidewalk, so once I felt the brick wall in front of me, I asked Rogue to turn around and then we made our way back to the curb, so we could try again. The next area we had some trouble was when we walked down a road that has a number of really defined driveways, it felt as though we were stopping at curbs each time we crossed one, so when we stopped at the first down-curb of the driveway, I was confused, so I had Rogue turn around and then we walked back to the last crossing to figure out what went wrong. When I got close to the crossing, I heard roxy and Soleil, so I had Rogue move over and we let them pass us and then I waited a couple of minutes before proceeding on. We had actually been doing okay, I just didn’t realize how defined the driveways were going to be. Once we passed all four, I began asking Rogue to “find the chair”. she walked right to the curb at the next road, so I had her turn around and then decided to try asking her to “find the bus” and she did. It was a really cool experience to be working solo with Rogue and succeeding in our mission to find the meeting spot.

Once we got back to Robin’s driveway, we all decided to trade dogs and see how it feels to walk a short block. I tried walking with Sherman, the male standard poodle, first. Sherman walks a lot slower than Rogue and is a lot taller and longer, so it was a really interesting experience. I think Sherman would be an awesome dog to go window shopping with.

After I got back to the driveway, I took soleil for a spin. walking with her was similar to walking with Rogue, but she is a bit shorter and Roxy is shorter than me, so the guide handle is short. I had a bit of trouble finding my groove with her and we missed the down-curb, but we survived and I think Roxy and I are going to try switching dogs tomorrow.

Both Roxy and Robin say Rogue is a really good dog and that her work is superb. robin says that once I refine my precision, Rogue’s work will shine. they say Rogue is stubborn and manipulative, so I need to wait her out and be more firm in my requests. This is something Huib has also been trying to work on with me, so hopefully with practice, I’ll finally master it.

Robin wants me to try talking less and to stop fidgeting when we’re stopped because she didn’t find Rogue as bad as I told her she was about standing straight and not moving at curb edges.

I’ve got some work to do. It’s really nice though to hear that my dog will work amazingly well with someone who has more precise movements and requests. It makes me even more motivated to work on being still and quiet.

In the afternoon we did some traffic checks, or “blind man’s chicken” as Roxy likes to call it.

Robin and Sherman went out first. Bill was driving their van and their daughter-in-law was driving her car. We had to walk around their cal neighbourhood while bill and april tried to block our path and run us down. Sherman did amazingly well, which wasn’t a surprise.

When it was our turn, I asked Rogue to take me to the curb at the end of the driveway and then to turn right. When we were walking down the block, we came upon a car parked across the sidewalk in their driveway, so after rogue showed me, I asked her to ‘forward’ and she…turned left…stopped at the curb and then proceeded to walk along the back of the car…and then went back up onto the sidewalk and continued our route. Shortly after that, we had another vehicle parked too close to the sidewalk, so Rogue took me as close to the road as needed and walked around it before returning to the path. At the next street, we crossed over diagonally, which was not supposed to happen. they live in an oddly shaped neighbourhood, so when Rogue showed me the curb, we were at a curve in the sidewalk and not quite at the actual crossing spot. So, even though we didn’t do the crossing correctly, we did go curb to curb the way we were lined up, so maybe that’s a sort of win??

After bill came over and directed me back to where robin and Sherman were waiting, I proceeded along the route and came across a car that turned in front of us, a few more vehicles blocking sidewalk access and a car honking it’s horn as it raced behind us. I probably missed describing some of the tests we went through, but in all cases rogue was an absolute super hero!! She did everything smoothly and when we were cut off or whatever, I often didn’t even notice, I either wondered if I was imagining things or it was done so easily that we didn’t even break stride. I really think we’re going to be okay with anything we encounter at home.

Last to go was Roxy and Soleil. roxy encounters a lot of aggressive driving and people using their horns a lot, so she asked bill and April to be a little more scary looking and sounding.

I am happy to report that we have all lived to see another day.

In the evening we returned to the capital building and met up with robin’s friend who has a one and a half year old blood hound named boo. I have never seen a blood hound before, so I asked Becky and she let me feel boo. he is really neat, I love his ears! they are SO big! rogue was a bit excited to see him, so before we got out of the van I put her Halti on and then took it back off a few minutes later because she calmed down. After the greetings were done, we walked back towards the big staircase at the capital building because Roxy wanted to practice them now that she had a proper stability handle. rogue did really well on the stairs. When she showed me the first step up, I moved over to the railing and asked her to show me it. she got really excited about that and even jumped up to put her paws on the top, lol! Once we reached the top, I turned around and asked her to show me the railing, which she did by jumping up again, lol! I am going to work on this cue because I am thinking it might make stairs a bit less scary because I will know Rogue is focused on showing me the railing first and not just on showing me the edge of the staircase.

after we finished with the stairs, the wind began to pick up, so we decided to do a really quick loop along the sidewalks in the area. rogue did well at avoiding all of the planters and at showing me the various grates along the way, lol! She really hates grates, it doesn’t matter how easy it is to step over, she just stops dead in her tracks. At one point along our walk, Rogue stopped and Bill came up and said he thought it was really cool to see her showing me that there was a sidewalk to my left, even though the intersection itself was a few metres further ahead. I asked him how he thought I could teach her to make more of a signal for me to understand what she’s showing me, he suggested I ask Robin about it. Once everyone had caught up, we turned and walked back towards the intersection that would take us to the van. rogue stopped to show me exactly where we had entered the capital building, which Bill also thought was neat, so we used the spot to wait for the others.

Oh, I forgot. Rogue saw a SQUIRREL along our route and was SO excited about it, but I got her to sit, target my hand, target my hip and lie down, so she quickly reigned her head.

robin came down to talk to me before bed about how Rogue and I are doing. she thinks Rogue is amazing and that Huib and I did a really good job with her training. she says that I need to work on being more black and white with her for a while before I start asking her to learn new skills like showing me places we’d already visited or paths that are branching off the sidewalk. She said that the problems we’re having seem to stem from the fact that I am not as confident since losing more sight 3 years ago and more hearing along with it. She said that we’re going to do some cane work (blah!) next week and she’ll give me some tips for recognizing useful landmarks when walking since before, I used my sight to follow the grass and pavement lines. She said that our issues are very minor and when I asked her “If I were to give you Rogue right now forever, would you feel safe working with her?”, she said absolutely! I am SO proud of my Rogie Monster, she’s been such an amazing teacher and friend.

I am going to close this entry by making a public promise to Rogue. Rogue, I promise to work hard at improving my orientation skills and I promise to work even harder at regaining my confidence. It’s the least I can do to repay you for all you’ve given me since you came into my life.

Case of the Screaming Rabbit

My labs are SO bad!!

Last night, around midnight, I let the dogs out for their final relief. I asked everyone to sit, stuck my head out the sliding door to make sure there were no skunks, and then released everyone to go outside.

Rogue barked once. I told her to be quiet. she barked once more. I told her that was enough.

And then the screaming started.

It wasn’t the dogs. It wasn’t a person. It was like a high pitched screeching.

I immediately opened the sliding door and said “LEAVE IT!”

Huib ran over to the door and went toward the girls. As he left, he told me Canyon was hiding behind me – he’s too cute!

He said that once he was close, he saw a rabbit quickly hop away.

I guess Rogue had seen the rabbit and ran over. When she barked, she must have scared it so it froze in place. that gave Cessna enough time to join rogue and together they pinned the poor thing, probably scaring it, so it screamed. thankfully the rabbit didn’t injure the labs and they didn’t seem to injure it. when Huib got the girls back inside, he checked them over for injuries and then took a flashlight outside to see if he saw any blood. all he found was some fur, so hopefully the rabbit lived and didn’t end up having a heart attack somewhere.

Rogue is from a hunting line and I’m pretty sure Cessna is as well, so I can’t really blame the girls for their reaction, but I definitely feel bad for the rabbit. If Huib hadn’t run over, I’m not sure it would have survived, and I guess the girls would have had breakfast.

Rogue and Cessna Take on New York: Part I

From November 22nd until the 28th Mommy, Daddy, Cessna and I were in New York.

On the 22nd, Daddy and I picked Cessna and Mommy up from school, and we began our trip to the Canada/US border. The wait at the border wasn’t too long or eventful. After passing through, we headed to the Niagara Fashion Outlet to do some shopping.

Daddy spoiled Mommy for her upcoming birthday!

First she got a new pair of black Oakley sunglasses. She really wanted a white pair with pink lenses, but Daddy put his foot down and said “No Way!”, Cessna and I think he made a good decision on not letting her get them.

then Daddy took her into the Tommy store and bought her a white with navy blue 3-in-1 winter coat. I’m not sure why he let her get white since she ended up dirtying it with muddy paw prints three days after she got it (WHOOPSIE!), but he did, and it looks nice on her.

Finally, he took her into GAP and got her a burgundy sweatshirt and a bottle of their Dream body spray (because she loves it!).

After he was done spoiling Mommy, Daddy had to think about himself and bought some new white running shoes from Nike for work.

after the shopping spree, we headed to a hotel in rochester. the hotel was nice. It was simple, but the room we were assigned happened to be an accessible one so it was kind of neat. Cessna and I quickly claimed our spots on the small love seat and bed, and we settled in for the night.

early the following day Mommy called Cyndy and Uschi through FaceTime and told them we were on our way.

We didn’t stop too much on the drive to Cyndy’s place. Cessna and I slept, but We passed by a Salt Museum that Mommy said sounded kind of interesting (*yawn*), but we didn’t stop. Other than that we didn’t see much of anything else, just the Boxing Hall of Fame and some rest stops. We stopped at the halfway point so Daddy could get a coffee and Mommy could get a peppermint mocha latte at Starbucks, and then just before cyndy’s place we stopped at a McDonalds for some lunch.

I’m going to let Mommy take over for a bit now…

It was so cool to finally meet cyndy and Uschi in person. cyndy is really cool and Uschi is absolutely adorable!

After about an hour, I’m not so sure Cessna and rogue thought Uschi was adorable, but I thought she did a pretty good job at trying to get them playing with her. Unfortunately for Uschi, Cessna is 10 and not really interested in playing rough games, and rogue is a bit anti-social with dogs that aren’t ours or dogs owned by really close friends.

we didn’t really do too much that night. We walked around her local mall and let Rogue work a bit, had some pizza for dinner, checked out the various packages we had sent to her place and chatted A LOT!!

Early Sunday morning, we all packed our stuff into our car and headed to the train station in Albany, where we took the train to New York City.

the train ride was pretty uneventful, except for at the beginning when Cyndy was told to quiet down by the conductor, lol!

When we arrived at Penn Station, we piled off the train and began walking toward our hotel, which was about a 14 minute walk away. On the walk, Cessna was kind of weird and I couldn’t figure it out, but I guess she really needed to poop, because at som point during the walk she started to squat in harness. there wasn’t any grass we could find, so I guess she decided she couldn’t hold it any further. She’s only ever pooped in harness one other time during her long working career so I wasn’t too upset.

the Hampton Inn was nice. We had a pretty basic room with two queen-sized beds, a television, a washroom and a small wardrobe where we could put our coats. the nicest part of the hotel was that they offered coffee and snacks all day long and in the morning they offered a really nice continental breakfast.

Once we had put away our bags and I emptied out my backpack that we would be carrying around the city, we began walking toward Broadway because we were going to see Wicked at 7:00pm.

Cessna, Uschi and Rogue Sitting In Front of The Wicked Display

the sidewalks were SO busy! Cessna did an awesome job at keeping me safe and away from other people. Rogue walked with Huib because I didn’t feel comfortable asking her to work in such a busy environment, at least not the first day.

On our way to Broadway we saw people dressed up as: elmo, Hello Kitty, Minions and some other characters that I cannot think of. Cessna, Uschi and rogue didn’t seem to notice the characters at all, which I thought was pretty cool.

When we got close to Broadway, we were all hungry so decided to go to Olive Garden for some lunch/dinner. I had a really yummy angel hair pasta dish with a garlic cream sauce that contained mushrooms, onions and some chicken. cyndy had another chicken dish and Huib had something else that I can’t remember. After dinner we walked over to the hershey Store and of course, spent some money, lol! I got some big peanut butter cups for my sister and Step-Dad, as well as some mini Rolos, Mini Eggs and big Cookies and Cream chocolate bars. I also wanted to get a big hershey mug, but we weren’t going back to the hotel anytime soon, so I decided to forgo it.

we had an hour or so to kill before we had to go over to the Gershwin Theatre, so we each got a hot drink at a little cafe across the road from the theatre. Huib went to get the drinks and Cyndy and I sat with the girls. When Huib got to our table he forgot which drink was which, so we had a hilarious time trying to decide who had whose drink. In the end, we had each gotten the correct mug, but it wasn’t decided until we had all finished them. I had ordered a chocolate mocha latte and Cyndy had ordered a hot chocolate, so both drinks smelled extremely similar and both tasted the same, so it was impossible to decide which was which from just looking at them.

When we got to the theatre, we thought we had half an hour before the musical began, so we all headed to the washroom. In the ladies room, I had both Cyndy and the washroom attendant in stitches. I don’t really know what I did, but for some reason, I had the water spraying out in a full force spray all over the counter instead of at a normal spray into the sink. Huib thinks there was some sort of air thing that I was probably touching.

Metal Dragon Face Above The Stage

Once we were finished, Cyndy and I walked toward the theatre to meet up with Huib and Rogue. It ended up that we were a couple of minutes late for the musical’s start, so we had to stand at the back of the theatre and wait until there was a set chafe. It was no big deal. Cyndy and I stood together and she described what was happening on stage since she had already seen the musical before. she wasn’t talking too loudly, but an usher came up and smacked her in the shoulder and told her to be quiet. I didn’t notice that this had happened, but she explained later on. She said she would have said something to the usher, but she was kind of in shock, so let it go.

Big Map of OZ On The Stage

Wicked was, well, wicked! If you ever get a chance to see it, GO!

Afterwards, we were going to take the subway to our hotel, but Huib couldn’t figure out which one we needed to take, so we ended up walking back. On the way we were stopped by a guy dressed up as Spiderman and then saw a naked guy wearing a cowboy hat and playing a guitar (supposedly this guy is the Naked Cowboy and is pretty famous, Dad seemed to know about him).

When we were close to the Hampton Inn, we all decided that we weren’t quite tired enough, so went up to the top of the empire State Building. I really wish I could have seen the view.

Night view of New York City from the observation deck of the Empire State Building

when we got back to the hotel, we were all SO tired!

We had probably walked 80 blocks, so even the dogs were exhausted.

I think I’ll stop here and let Rogue continue describing our adventure tomorrow.

Partnership Differences

I know the chances are extremely slim that it would have happened, but if Phoenix was still with us, he would have turned 17 this week.

Knowing this has gotten me thinking about the differences in the partnerships I have with Cessna and Rogue, and had with Phoenix.

Each dog has their own unique personality and working style.

Cessna is an amazing worker, but if there’s a squirrel nearby, she’s also a serious critter chaser. but, no matter how distracted she gets, her work is always spot on.

Phoenix was too serious about his work. If he thought something wasn’t safe, then he’d flat out refuse to move. One day it took me 15 minutes to convince him to climb over a snow bank that was blocking our path. Phoenix knew his job was to keep me safe, so he felt it was necessary to keep following the sidewalk until he found an opening he could get me through to cross the road. the only problem was, there were no openings, it had just snow ed and the snow removal people hadn’t gotten around to clearing pedestrian walkways.

Rogue is still in the training process, but already I am seeing similarities between the way she works and Phoenix’s work ethic. If Rogue isn’t sure something is safe, or certain that she is doing what I want, she’ll stop walking and sit down until I explain the request again.

Cessna is a solid worker, but Phoenix and Rogue seem much more serious about their job.

At home, Cessna rarely cuddles with me or follows me around the house. She’d much rather spread out on the couch for a nap or chase squirrels in the backyard.

Phoenix was my yellow shadow. Wherever I was, he was not far behind. If I was sitting on the couch, Phoenix was lying beside me with his head in my lap. if I was doing dishes, he was lying by my feet or a few feet behind.

Rogue is almost an extension of me. the second I move, she’s up and ready to follow. if I’m working on my laptop, Rogue is lying right against me. if it were possible, I think Rogue would climb inside my body.

Other then her bad habit of counter surfing while we’re gone, Cessna could care less about being left behind.

Phoenix went nuts when I left him. it didn’t matter who was with him, he did not like being away from me.

Rogue is not even close to as bad as Phoenix, but she still does not like being left behind. She’ll frequently look out the window to see if I’m coming back, and she’ll whine if she sees me and cannot get there.

Thinking about the differences between my partnerships with Cessna, Phoenix and rogue, I really wonder if maybe a good working dog needs a certain level of separation anxiety…

My Sister’s Wedding

Saturday was my sister’s wedding. I think I mentioned her getting engaged in an earlier post, but I really wasn’t too involved in the planning, so I haven’t talked about it much here on the blog.

On the Friday afternoon, Huib, Dad, Rogue and I packed up the Orlando and headed to Niagara Falls. We arrived around 4:30pm, checked in at the hotel we were staying at and then began bringing our stuff inside. I called my sister to find out what the plan was for dinner, but learned she was not yet in Niagara Falls, so we went to Shoeless Joe’s on our own.

I ordered chicken breast with goat cheese on it, along with a garden salad and some french fries. Dad ordered a baked chicken penne pasta and Huib got a club sandwich with fries. the food was good, but the portions were on the small side and quite expensive.

After dinner, we walked over to the Falls View Casino and went our separate ways. Huib and I took Rogue for a walk down by the falls, while Dad went into the casino to try and win some money – good thing we don’t live too close to any casinos, lol! On our way back to the hotel, I got a call from my sister. They had arrived in town and had met up with Dad. We had planned to all meet back at our hotel room, but somehow the plans were changed without our knowledge, so we went to visit my aunt and her guy friend at another hotel. Each of us were in a different hotel, but none was more than a five minute walk away, so it worked out perfectly.

Rogue trying to get a closer look at the falls. I'm standing to the left looking toward the camera. Rogue has her head underneath the bottom rail.

On Saturday morning, Huib, Dad, Mark (my new brother-in-law) and I met up with my aunt and her guy friend for breakfast. Mark had stayed the night with us, and wasn’t allowed to see Brandi until the ceremony, so he hung out with us for most of the day. For breakfast, I had eggs Benedict, it was delicious! After breakfast, Dean (my aunt’s guy friend) joined Huib, Dad, mark and I on a walk down to the falls. We had planned to do a tour behind the falls, but the next available spot wasn’t until 1pm and the wedding was supposed to start at 4pm, so we thought we had better not chance it. Dad and Mark headed back to the hotel, while we went back to the Hilton with Dean. My sister was staying at the Hilton with two of my other aunts, so Huib and I went up to make sure she was doing okay. Huib also brought our camera and took tons of pictures while Brandi was getting ready.

At 3pm, Huib, Rogue and I headed back to our hotel to get ready. I wore black dress pants and black shoes, with a white button down blouse that had some black accents. Huib wore black dress pants, a black tie, black shoes and a dark long-sleeved purple dress shirt. Dad wore a black pinstriped suit with a white shirt, black shoes and tie that had a wolf on it. Dad was giving Brandi away, so he had to look good 🙂

When we arrived at the room where the ceremony was to take place, Huib and I went into the bridal room to wish Brandi good luck. We weren’t able to stay in there too long because her maid of honour and one of my aunts was busy altering her dress and Brandi was crying, so I had to quickly leave – I didn’t want to start crying as well. Even though she had tried her dress on the week before and the seamstress said she had made all of the necessary alterations, the dress ended up being too long and didn’t quite fit properly around her chest area.

When the ceremony began, Dad and Brandi came down the aisle to “When You Kiss Me” by Shania Twain. It was kind of an odd song to play when you are walking down the aisle with your Dad, but I understood the meaning behind her selection. Brandi was beautiful. She said she was concentrating hard on not tripping as she walked and tried not to look at everyone, in case she began crying again, lol! It was probably a good decision, because almost everyone in the audience was in tears, even Mark’s Dad, which got Mark in tears, lol! The exchanging of vows was pretty standard and the minister was pretty interesting. Brandi had wanted the same minister to do their ceremony as Mom, Dad and us had, but with the whole wedding package, the minister was included, so she decided to just go with the one provided. When they signed their marriage license, they had the song “From This Moment” by Shania Twain played, and then when they walked back down the aisle, the rest of “When You Kiss Me” was played.

In between the ceremony and dinner, we had some pictures taken with the photographer and then we had some coffee while catching up with old friends. It was really cool to see the girls we had grown up with, it had been so long since we’d all been together.

At dinner, Mark’s brother said a short speech and then Dad did his. I was supposed to write it for him, but I had gotten stuck, so Dad just did it on the spot. For dinner we were able to choose between chicken and steak, I think almost everyone picked the steak – it was awesome! Along with the steak, they served baby bokchoy and a baked potato, with a salad to start.

Rogue and I sitting at a table covered with a white table cloth. Rogue has her paws up on a chair that is covered with a white material looking toward the camera. I'm sitting behind her. You can see my white blouse with black accents. Rogue is only wearing her purple Haida whale martingale and Cessna's black leather braided leash. You can see the falls through the window behind me.

Brandi and Mark chose Savage Garden’s song “Truly, Madly, Deeply” for their first dance as a couple. brandi has always loved that song, so I think it was an awesome choice. After a bit, Dad and Brandi danced together to some song that I don’t know the name of, but that totally made me teary. It was about a Dad talking about his little girl growing up and how she reminded him of her mother – it was just so fitting. Finally, it was time to cut the cake. Instead of getting a normal cake that no one was going to eat, Brandi and Mark decided upon a strawberry cheesecake. I’m not a fruit fan in my food, but after Huib took off the strawberry topping, I ate the rest of the cheesecake.

After the cheesecake was served, several guests left, so the rest of us started getting ready to go as well. Brandi and Mark only invited twenty people to their wedding, so once most of the guests were gone, it wasn’t much of a party.

we all went back to our respective hotels and then everyone, but Huib and I, met up at a local night club. It was so funny to see Dad and my aunts getting ready to go to a night club. Huib and I didn’t feel it was a good place for rogue to be going, and didn’t think she’d remain quiet in our hotel room, so we stayed in and watched TV. Dad and the aunts returned shortly after leaving though, they had all forgotten their ID and were told that they weren’t allowed to enter, lol! Dad is 64 and my aunts range from 49 to 55, so it was pretty funny to hear their story. We were able to get a hold of Brandi and the others though, so everyone decided to meet at another place. dad didn’t come back to the hotel until the wee hours of the morning, lol!

On Sunday, we met up with Brandi and Mark for breakfast and then headed back here. Canyon and Cessna had stayed with Kelly, Josh and their dogs, so we wanted to get back and relieve them of their dogsitting duties.