Canine Memory

So, I know I just posted one yesterday, but after getting a comment on Facebook from Aiden’s boy’s mom, I began thinking the one memory I’d love to forget, from we were fostering him – please don’t choke on your coffee Joanne!

Aiden – The Pulling Machine

Aiden was one of the smartest puppies I’d ever encountered. He seemed to come knowing he had to relieve outside and almost had the “sit” command down within 24 hours of arriving. It took us very little effort to teach him the rest of his basic commands and by the time he was four months, he already knew several tricks and would do them for anyone who asked. Well there was one behavior we were unable to teach him and it actually almost got him washed from the program. No matter how much we worked with him, Aiden just couldn’t understand the concept of heeling.

When he was about eight months of age we were in the mall and he had been overly distracted so I decided it was time to break out the Halti. I got him to sit and then let him sniff it before putting it on. It worked right away. Aiden and I were no longer struggling against one another and he was calmly walking at my side. I was so impressed and thought we had found the cure for the constant sore shoulders we were experiencing. Well, we turned a corner and there, standing in the distance was Amber (his sister) and her foster mom. The second Aiden saw her, he began to pull towards them and I pulled back, first mistake, so he pulled harder. Well, being the dumb ass I am, I did a quick flick of my wrist, trying to get his attention. Instead of accomplishing what I had hoped, the flick caused the Halti to come off his face (he had turned his head) which then caused the leash to follow through with the backward motion of my arm. Well, the Halti, still attached to the leash, flew over my shoulder and just narrowly missed hitting a woman in the face who had been walking by at that exact moment. I didn’t know what to say, and Huib was horrified! Aiden took this moment of confusion to take off running down the hall, where he was caught by Amber’s foster mom. My second mistake of the day, as I’m sure you’ve already figured out, was forgetting to clip the leash to both the collar and Halti. From that day on, we never used the Halti again with Aiden and just worked on trying to convince him not to dislocate our shoulders.

Here’s a picture of the siblings from our trip to St. Jacob’s Market in October of 2008.

I’m sure there are other duh moments from my puppy raising days, but you’ll have to wait, because at the moment I can’t think of another.

“turn your wounds into wisdom.” – Oprah Winfrey

Canine Memory

As usual, I haven’t posted a memory in a while so here comes one now!!

Sometimes You Just Gotta Go…

I’m sure you all know where this post is going, but just in case you’re still in need of your morning coffee, I’ll give you a little clue…POO!!

Phoenix is the pooping king. He will poop more times in a day than any other being in our home. He does not care where he is, if he has to go and he can’t get your attention, then he’ll just drop his load. Luckily with the raw diet though, his stools are quite dry and easy to pick up. But, I do remember his working days and wanting to die, because he decided it was a good idea to drop a load in front of a crowd of unsuspecting mall goers. I used to dread going into malls with Phoenix. It did not matter how many times he pooped before we arrived or if he had eaten before we left home – it would happen!! We’d be walking along, doing well I thought, and then….he’d begin to slow a little…and before I could react….he’d do it!! I don’t know how many times I’d look around to see if anyone noticed, only to find out we were standing right beside a table of people eating their lunch in the food court. He didn’t keep these little surprises for just the mall either! I also hated taking him to visit friends and family because I knew they would end up convincing me to let him off leash, only to later find out he had left a present in their basement or once in a little girl’s bedroom!! Phoenix’s pooping in public got to be so frustrating near the end of his working career, that I was actually sort of relieved when he decided it was time to throw in the towel and spend his days relaxing on the couch.

Phoenix is not the only one in our household who has left a family member an unexpected surprise – Cessna is just as guilty. Cessna is a little more finicky about where she deposits her treasures, but for some unknown reason, she has left my aunt’s guy friend more than just one present in the only room of the house he does not allow his own dogs to enter. I have never worried about allowing Cessna off leash when visiting or wondered if she would squat in the middle of a public place – she is a reliable reliever. But, after Dean entered his living room to grab a coaster and found a neat little pile of Cessna logs, I’ve been a little more cautious.

We’ve been really lucky with Canyon thus far. He has not once had an accident that I can remember in someone’s home, but with Aspen….luck hasn’t really been on our side. Jess from At A Glacial Pace will remember this one!

When Aiden was about 8 months of age, Jess and her roommates invited us to come with the dogs for Jetta’s retirement party (I think). Well, my sister was living with us at this point in time so we decided to leave Phoenix at home and bring our other three; Cessna, Aspen and Aiden. Well, Aspen had been having some stomach issues that day, so we probably should have left her home, but thought the Immodium we had given her would keep her belly happy enough – we were wrong!! We arrived before most of the other guests, so Aspen took this time to get in as many Auntie Jess snuggles as possible. Well, I guess her belly began to bother her so she got into Jess’s lap in an effort to get Huib’s attention, he was sitting in a chair to her right, but before anyone knew what she was doing….her bowels let go! Huib grabbed Aspen and ran her outside, while I caught the other two, so Jess and her roommates could get everything cleaned up. I couldn’t stop apologizing and so desperately wanted to crawl under a rock and die! I know it wasn’t Aspen’s fault, but how many people can actually say their dog has pooped in a friend’s lap? Aspen has had bowel issues since a very young age so, we should have known something like this could happen.

Here’s a final Aspen story to further spoil your breakfast. When Aspen was a year old, we were still working on the whole house training because of her overly sensitive bowels. Well, my aunt bought me a huge bag of Jelly Belly’s for a graduation present and stupidly, I left them on our coffee table while we ran out the door for the ceremony. Aspen had been doing quite well with staying alone, so I didn’t think twice about crating her. When we arrived home in the afternoon, my sister immediately saw the empty jelly Belly package on the living room floor and brought it outside for me to see – I had been letting Aspen out. Well, she didn’t seem to be having any issues and her breath smelled absolutely delicious, so we weren’t too worried. That night, I woke up to the smell of poop. I got out of bed slowly and tried to find the source, but was unsuccessful so woke Huib. He looked around for a good five minutes and just before giving up, found it! It wasn’t on the floor, but on top of Phoenix’s crate!! Now, I’m guessing you’re thinking the same thing we did, “how the heck did she get up there?” Well, we had a pretty small bedroom back then so had a Rubbermaid container sitting between the end of our bed and his crate. I guess she had to go, so thought she’d climb up there and poop while looking outside lol! We had been working so hard on teaching her not to poop indoors, that I guess she decided this was the best option since she couldn’t wake us. Well, she didn’t get in trouble that day because first of all, we couldn’t stop laughing, and second, we thought it was pretty smart.

I hope you enjoyed reading about our messy adventures and hope we didn’t ruin your breakfast!

Canine Memories

I haven’t posted one in a bit so here we go…!!

Cessna – the Crazy Nut!!

During the first few months of having Cessna I experienced several moments of wondering “what have I gotten myself into?” Cessna was only 18 months when we were matched so she had a lot of maturing to do…

During class atLions Foundation I was given permission to have Huib bring Phoenix on his Sunday visits. Cessna and I were matched on a Friday so had only been together for a couple days, but I wanted Phoenix to get a chance to meet her at least a couple of times in a semi-neutral environment. When Huib and Phoenix arrived, Cessna and I took them to our room so the other dogs in the class would not be distracted by a new dog in the building. When the door was closed and I had Cessna calm, I took the leash off and told her to “go visit” – she immediately mounted him!! Luckily Phoenix is not a dominant dog so didn’t mind this greeting.

At our graduation Huib brought my friend Kaitlyn because she wanted to meet my new dog and to experience a dog guide grad. Cessna was pretty excited about the whole event and had a lot of trouble settling – there were tons of people, the other dogs were excited and to top it all off her puppy raisers were there! Well Kaitlyn and Huib walked in and as they approached us Cessna began to go nuts because she knew Huib already. Kaitlynn was so caught off guard by her behavior that all she could say was “what did they give you?”

In September of 2005, just a couple months after we were matched, Cessna and I headed to McMaster University where I began my Bachelor of social Work. A big part of my mark in many of my classes was based on group participation so often we’d have to meet in the library or at someone’s place. On one such occasion my group decided we’d meet at my residence since Cessna and I had a fairly large suite – consisting of a kitchen, living area, bedroom and bathroom. My friend came over early to help me collect stray socks and underwear that Cessna enjoyed stealing from my laundry basket and spreading throughout the suite. While helping me find something I’d dropped behind my dresser we heard the girls begin laughing uncontrollably. My friend walked over to the bedroom doorway and asked what was happening. Well, she began to laugh as well because she saw Cessna with her paws on a girl’s chest while making a humping motion – I was so embarrassed!!!

As you can see Cessna always had a way of making things interesting. From day one, her work was always 100%, but she had a lust for life that needed to be tamed.

A golden angel Passes

Yesterday Aries, a thirteen and a half year old female golden retriever took her last breath on earth to make her final journey across the “rainbow bridge” and join her canine friends. Aries had been losing weight over the past few months and had begun to refuse her food just after Christmas. On Friday night, just before her family rang in the new year, she began to tremble, seemed confused, and couldn’t get up or down without help. Her family worried, but couldn’t get her into the vet until Tuesday when they were told she probably had a tumor in her spleen which caused it to rupture – she was dying of internal bleeding.

I met Aries in 2000 when she was working as a dog guide for Lynette (handler of Endora & now DeeDee). They were living in Oakville at the time and I took Phoenix to visit for the weekend, so we could attend Midnight Madness. The Lions Foundation had asked clients to come with their dogs and I thought it was a good opportunity to meet Lynette, whom I had been chatting with online for over a year – we met on a client chat forum the LFC used to run on their website. Aries was a beautiful 3 year old and I instantly fell in love. Now looking back I think she is part of the reason I still have my love affair with goldens. I remember the visit well because it was quite the eventful first day. I had offered to brush Aries for Lynette and was sitting on the floor combing her when Lynette’s former fiance’s dog came over and began to pee in my lap. I’m not sure what got into him, but during the commotion of getting up and trying to clean up the mess, Phoenix went over and peed on his toy creating another mess. It’s funny to look back now at that moment, but I remember being horrified and wanting to take Phoenix directly home because I was so embarrassed. Aries was fine with the whole situation and just sat there waiting for me to return to combing her. The funniest part about the whole thing though, was that Aries was the one who tended to have accidents inside and that day she didn’t have even one.

Aries was never the greatest guide for Lynette, she had too many fears and stressed out easily, so after only 3 years of working she was retired and went to live with her parents in Cape Breton. I sadly never got to see Aries again, but Lynette made sure to keep me up to date on how she was doing over the years. She developed arthritis when she was about 10 and went deaf around the same time Phoenix did, but overall she was doing well in her older years – even her Inflammatory bowel Disease seemed to disappear in retirement. Even though she was never the dog guide Lynette found in Endora, Aries still remained a big part of Lynette’s life and I know she will be truly missed.

Rest in peace our little golden friend, even though you may not have been cut out to be a working companion, you were still a companion and have left your mark on many who knew you. I hope you find your new home to be even more special than the one you left behind.

Canine Memories

It’s been a couple of months since I last posted a memory, so I thought I’d do one now.

Phoenix – The Class Clown

I got Phoenix about a month before starting my final year of high school. I had worked with a dog guide named Gryphon for a year before him, but due to some unfortunate circumstances, he was retired and became a Special Skills Dog Guide.

Phoenix has always been a friendly dog and attracted people from all around us as we traveled the world together. In my high school he was the only dog and therefore everyone wanted to be our friend. The secretaries had Milkbones at their desks and even some of my teachers had their own stashes. I met a lot of people with him that I wouldn’t have on my own and Phoenix made sure to soak up the attention.

No matter how much attention he got though, Phoenix was always a loyal companion and wonderful guide – but, his stomach ruled his mind. Whenever we passed the administration office I had to go in for him to get his cookie or he’d lie down and refuse to move. Other times I’d be able to convince him to move on, but any time we even went close, he’d start pulling towards the office doors. One day my friend and I went in to sign out for the afternoon and Phoenix was so excited to get his daily cookie that he jumped onto the attendance secretary’s desk. He had all four paws on the desk before anyone knew what was happening!

In addition to his love of food, he had a love of people – not just any people, but the people he knew, my friends. We had free periods of time during our schedule where we had a chance to catch-up on homework, but often we just used them as a time for playing cards or grabbing a snack. Phoenix and I had tons of friends we hung out with on weekends or after school, but during our spares we’d sometimes get together with them and chat or maybe go for a short run in the field. One day when I was walking down to the “meeting” place near the cafeteria Phoenix saw a couple of my friend’s at one of the picnic tables and wanted to say hi. I told him no and asked him to continue on into the lunch room so we could grab some hot chocolate before meeting with another for a run in the yard. Phoenix wasn’t happy with this, so walked me straight into a garbage can to show me how he felt – my friends almost died laughing. Another time we were meeting with a bunch of them to play cards and as we approached the table Phoenix got so excited he leaped right onto it to see one of them who was sitting in the very back corner – she almost fell backwards in surprise!

As you can see, Phoenix made my high school days quite entertaining because you never knew what he had in store.

Canine Memories


Some of my friend’s have been doing something similar on their own blogs, but instead of talking about me, I thought it might be interesting to post my favourite canine memories.

Aspen: The Drama Queen

Since I always seem to focus more on my other four-legged family members I thought it might be cool to begin this segment of my blog with a memory I have of Aspen.

We got Aspen when she was 7 weeks old. She was an adoreable little golden girl – looking more like a lab than a golden back then. We picked her up on a Friday and brought her directly home. Phoenix wasn’t much into getting to know her at first, but once we got her home and he saw that she was staying, he was eager to get her playing. He would run and she would be hot on his heels, but then he’d turn and begin to chase her which was fine until she would stop and sit… Phoenix wouldn’t be able to stop as easily, so would plough over her, sending her yelping and crying to us. He never actually hurt her, but from her cries you’d think she was dying.

On the Sunday after we picked her up Phoenix and I went to camp. My aunt came along for the drive and promised to help Huib with our new little golden bundle. She carried Aspen all over the camp while Huib helped Phoenix and I with our luggage. Once we were all unpacked, Phoenix and I walked Huib and Auntie back to the car. Aspen was in Auntie’s arms and loving all the attention as they walked down some steep stairs. As they neared the bottom though, Auntie tripped. As she fell she worried about little Aspen so made sure to have her roll from her arms as they went down. Aspen rolled a couple feet away from where Auntie dropped and wouldn’t move even a whisker… She laid there for over 3 minutes while we panicked. My Aunt was so worried that she had injured our little puppy, but all of a sudden Aspen jumped up and began running around our feet, so proud of herself.

From that day on we knew we had a little drama queen on our hands 

Twelve Years Together


Phoenix and I celebrated our 12th year together on Friday (July 23). We didn’t do anything special, but I made sure to give him a little more love and attention whenever he was in reach. Now that he is almost 14, he tends to sleep a lot and isn’t as likely to come for attention. He no longer brings me toys to play tug with or throw, but he will play with canyon if he tries to pass with a toy. Phoenix’s favourite thing is still food and he’ll sometimes find his treat ball and give it to us to fill. It’s funny to see his reaction when you take the ball and throw it back into the toy bin – “what did you do that for? I wanted you to fill it stupid!”

I know I’m not guaranteed to have Phoenix next year, but we’ll take it a year at a time and enjoy every minute we still have together.

My Old Boy Is Now 13

Phoenix turned 13 today. It is hard to believe another year has passed. I remember when he was 21 months old and full of life and energy. Now he is 13 years old and still full of life, but not as much energy. He is a little lighter in colour now and his muscle tone has gone, but other than that he still looks like the same Phoenix who entered my life so many years ago. Being my first real pet, he has taught me some of the signs of old age and taught me that not every dog ages the same either. He has well surpassed my expectations and has far outlived many of his fellow trainees, but still I see him slowing down. He now hears nothing, sleeps a lot more and has stiffness in his hind legs when getting up after a long nap.

I know we won’t have many more years together, but every day I thank him for spending another one with me. Tonight we will make him one of his favourite foods – macaroni and cheese. When I was in university and didn’t know he had a gluten allergy, I used to share my kraft dinner with him. I had to stop this once I knew what was causing his ear infections, but last month I decided to spend a little more and buy a box of rice pasta. I know he probably has no idea why he is being given this special treat, but at least I know he’ll enjoy it.

Thank you Phoenix for coming into my life and being my constant companion – it means more to me than you will ever know. I hope we can celebrate another year together, but for now let’s just take it one day at a time and enjoy every minute we have left.

Eleven Years of Memories

As of today at 10:00am Phoenix and I have been together for 11 years and 3 weeks. It has been such a journey full of happiness and sadness, but a wonderful journey through and through. A journey I would never change for anything. Phoenix and I were matched just two months before my mom passed away and just under 7 years before my grandma passed away. He has done more than most dog guides, except of course my friend jess’s dog Jetta who went all over the world for swim meets and to the Paralympics in Athens, Greece.

Over the years we have had a few scares, but overall his health has been good. He has had more ear infections than I can count, but once we figured out he had a gluten allergy then things seemed to settle a bit. Phoenix is beginning to get a little stiffer in his walking and finds it hard at times when he first gets up to get going, but he just wags his tail and keeps walking until the kinks work themselves out. He cannot always hold his urine as long as the others – with the exception of Reece who seems to have a bladder the size of a pea – but we have worked out a schedule along with a cranberry supplement each day and this seems to work well for him. He went through a period of time between the ages of 10 and 12 where he would have accidents semi-regularly, but now he seems to have his bladder under control and hasn’t had an accident in over a year.

But, recently we have begun to notice that he isn’t hearing us at times. We thought it might be a mixture of deafness and selective hearing, but in the past month we’ve realized that he no longer hears. This is hard for me to accept because I loved it when I would just say his name and he would look up at me while his tail wagged excitedly. Even though we have been together for over 11 years, his tail has never stopped wagging at the sound of my voice. He would regularly ignore commands from others and look over at me for support, but now not even my commands can be heard. If I get his eye contact then his tail will sometimes wag, but this only makes me sadder because I know he must be wondering what I am saying.

Just writing these words makes tears come to my eyes because I know that it is official – my baby boy is getting older and we might not have too many years left…

10 Years Together

Wednesday was Phoenix and my 10 year anniversary together. I can’t believe it has been 10 years already since I had the trainer knock at my door and hand me Phoenix’s leash. He was the second smallest in the class, a female black lab named Chelsey was a bit smaller, but he was sure the one with the most personality. I remember how he would walk me into things when I didn’t let him do something he wanted to do, and then when I would correct him for it he would just look up with a big smile and wag his tail. He has always had a deviant personality, but he has also been the most loyal of all my dogs. I remember how attached he was to his trainer, but then by the end of the second week in class he was following me everywhere. Phoenix was my protector all through my time at the University of Guelph and is still my protector now, I guess he doesn’t feel Cessna can do as good a job. The only time he will let his guard down is when Huib is home to take over watching me. I don’t know if I would have had the courage to move away from home and attend school alone, but with Phoenix I had the feeling I could do anything because I knew no matter what happened that I would never be alone.

Phoenix, we have reached our 10th anniversary, let’s try for another one!