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!

Three Years of Adventure

This past Tuesday (May 27) was mine and Cessna’s 3rd year anniversary. I can’t believe it was 3 years ago at 10:00am the trainer came to my door (we were sent to our rooms to await our dogs) and said “guess who this is.” I had tried several different dogs without much success, all were wonderful dogs just too slow. I am a quick walker most of the time, that among other reasons is why I agreed with Phoenix that he should retire. Cessna had been the final dog they brought out for me and she had been the only one fast enough, sometimes too fast, to walk with me. I remember when they brought Cessna out of the kennels, she was so excited and just a bundle of energy rearing to go and be released.

During training Cessna and I had a lot of rough times, she was the first female dog I’d ever walked with so it took a lot of getting used to, as well she really loves to take off and go and loves her squirrels. The first eight months were stressful and overly emotional for both of us, my grandma passed away about a month after I came home with Cessna, then I had the wonderful task of planning a wedding, and I started my bachelors of social work as well at McMaster. There were a few times I considered sending Cessna back, she insisted on pulling like she was a 100lbs dog and would jump around like a kangaroo whenever she saw another dog or small creature like a squirrel. It was not until Febuary 4, the day of my wedding, that I truly realized Cessna could be the dog for me. She was so good, listened amazingly well and never once made a noise or protested going off with friends for a break.

The next eight months were still tough, but I saw that glimmer so worked hard towards becoming a great team. The Cessna everyone knows today, is not the Cessna I first received, her work is always 100% no matter whether she has been off for a few days or working constantly. Here’s to you, Cessna, you chaned my life for the better with your energy and your spirit for life and I hope we have many more years together.

“where ever life may take us…we will never walk alone.”