We’re Back!

Sorry for the long time away, but we’re now moved in and back online!! Thanks to Bell Mobility and their Turbo Hub, that works on the 4G cellular network, we’ve got even better internet than before!!

On June 28th, we packed all our belongings into a U-Haul trailer and drove to our new home. It’s only half an hour from our other place, but it sure took a while to get everything settled and all the utilities reinstalled.

Here’s what you missed while we were offline.

Rogue had her first three swimming adventures. We visited friends “down south”. And, we attended Red Labrador Retrievers’ Annual Reunion.

Since we no longer have direct lake access in our backyard, we had to find other swimming locations for the dogs. Huib did a bit of searching and found the perfect place, Larter river Provincial Park. There are a few different swimming opportunities there and best of all, it costs nothing to enter!

The first time we went, the dogs had a blast retrieving their new water toys from Christmas – a bright orange water dummy and a purple Jolly Ball. Phoenix just walked in the water, while Rogue would only get her paws wet before running onto shore for some exploring. We brought our cooler with drinks and snacks so I could read and Caleb could swim and collect rocks for his sword. It was a bit breezy though, so we didn’t end up staying much more than a couple of hours.

The next time we went, we brought the canoe. The water was still pretty choppy, so I refused to go with Huib and Caleb. I stayed on the shore with the dogs and read, while the boys attempted some fishing. Aspen didn’t really like the idea of Huib being out in the canoe without her, so she insisted on swimming along beside them until they pulled her in. Canyon and Cessna swam out once in a while to check in, but spent most of the afternoon with me on the shore, so I could throw their toy. Rogue was put on leash attached to the cooler so that I knew where she was and Phoenix just walked around, coming with me when I entered the water with the toy. He didn’t think I could handle being out there without him I guess. The neatest part of the whole trip was when Phoenix actually swam out to the canoe on his own. Huib and Caleb were paddling towards the shore and just happened to look out and see Phoenix swimming towards them. Once they said hi, he turned around and returned to me on the shore. Huib thinks he felt they had been out too long lol!

In Waterloo, we stayed with Karen and Wizard. Karen still has her foster from Lab Rescue so we weren’t able to do too much in the house, so we stayed out as much as possible. When we arrived on Friday, we first stopped in Guelph so Rogue could see Dr B. She was given a clean bill of health, but was a little wimpy when Dr B had her staff restrain her for some blood to be taken. Dr B. wants to follow a limited vaccine protocol to reduce the chances of Rogue becoming incontinent after spaying when she’s 6 months old. Therefore, she will not get her rabies vaccine until she’s older and instead of having her second set of puppy vaccines, we had titers done. She has sure grown a lot in a month, now weighing in at 19.4lbs or 8.8kg!

After the vet, we met up with another service dog handler for coffee. It was so great to see how well Patina had matured and settled into her work. I had gotten a chance to watch Patina learn the various skills she’d need to successfully work as a psychiatric service dog and grow from a tiny 14 week old puppy, to a beautiful (soon to be) two year old. Rogue had a bit of trouble settling during our outing. She wanted to play with Patina and found the patio environment to be a little too distracting. After coffee, we headed to Waterloo, where we met up with Karen and Wizard for a romp in the NCR baseball diamonds and later a dinner of sushi.

The following day, we woke up early and took Canyon, Cessna and Rogue to the St. Jacob’s Market. Karen and Wizard also joined us. At the Market Canyon showed off his newly acquired leash manners and behaved amazingly well for me. Huib focused on walking with Rogue while I got Cessna to work and had Canyon walk on my right. We really haven’t focused much on heeling with Canyon, but it seems as though he’s figured it out himself. He led out a bit like Cessna, but never put any tension on the leash. As long as Karen or Huib warned me of dogs coming our way, I had no issues redirecting either dog and found the trip to be quite exciting. We didn’t really buy much, just a taupe colour harness for Canyon (I would like to start teaching him scent work) and some turkey pepperoni sticks for Cessna and us to share. Rogue was a bit pully, but for the most part Huib was impressed. Around the end of our trip, Karen suggested we take everyone over to a set of open metal stairs for practice. The stairs are like metal grates with open backs and sides so we weren’t too sure how Rogue would do – she showed us!!! She bounced along with Huib and didn’t once consider the fact she was walking on something most dogs would find terrifying. Canyon even wanted to give it a try so I held Rogue’s leash and Huib took him up. He walked up with confidence until the third last step, paused a moment to assess what he had just done, and then continued walking up and then back down. Canyon never ceases to amaze me with his eagerness to try new things…

After the Market, we headed to Maidstone for Red Labrador Retrievers’ Annual Reunion. It wasn’t a great event, but given the circumstances surrounding Chris’ fall and then recovery shortly before, it wasn’t too bad. I think we’ll go next year, but if it’s similar, then we’ll probably forgo the rest. At the reunion, we got to see several dogs from other litters, such as a one year old female from Cheyenne. Rogue got to play with her brother Coal, who’s still with his breeder, and we saw Snickers (aka Sunny) from a distance. I wish we had gotten a chance to see some of her sisters, maybe next year they’ll come. After a couple of hours, we said our farewells and took a leisurely drive back to Waterloo. On the drive we picked up tons of fresh veggies and Huib showed me what wheat and barley looked like when still in the field. We really didn’t do much of anything after we got back to waterloo because it was late and Karen’s foster from Lab Rescue really isn’t great with other dogs.

On Sunday, we started our trip home. First we stopped in Toronto to pick up Caleb, Phoenix and Aspen. Caleb has been staying with us since June 15th, but has decided to come stay until the second or third week of August. Our next stop was the Bass pro Shop where we picked up a dehydrator and jerky maker, along with some fun travel mugs and a slingshot for Caleb. Then we stopped at Costco in Newmarket before heading to Bobcaygeon.

In bobcaygeon, we visited Amy at her cottage. She had two friends staying with her and Dave, so we made it a pretty short visit. While there, we met her new puppy, Waverley, and gave the dogs a chance to swim. Waverley is a female Dalmatian and seems to be a lot more timid than Rogue. Amy isn’t sure if it is the breed or breeder, but says Waverley seems to take a lot longer than her other dogs at getting used to new people and dogs. Waverley is just under a week younger than Rogue, but seems to be a little smaller and finds Rogue to be overwhelming lol! Monroe, Amy’s current LFC foster, really liked Rogue, but couldn’t play since she had just been spayed a few days before our visit. After dinner, we headed home.

This past week has been pretty uneventful, since Huib has had to work mostly night shifts. He’s had the entire weekend off though so on Friday, we went into New Liskeard with Cessna and Rogue to do some grocery shopping, as well as, to pick up some fencing supplies. Rogue has now started to walk on all outings so, we’ve had to really think about her relieving schedule and how to teach her about walking on a leash and leaving things alone on the floor. This was really our first official indoor outing where she’s walked the entire time, so we were able to see where exactly we’ll need to focus our attention. I think we’re going to pick up a walking harness to teach her leash manners so that she does not get used to pulling on the collar and so that she doesn’t sound as though she’s choking to death. Both her collar and first puppy coat are getting to the end of their ability to adjust, so we’ll have to get new ones ready for her soon.

Yesterday we did some rearranging and started to put up the fence for the dogs. Their fenced in area will be quite large with a ramp that goes from the deck into the area for Phoenix and a large gate for bringing in the riding lawn mower and any other supplies. Caleb and I helped Huib measure out, and hammer in the posts. Then, Caleb helped Huib attach the fencing to the posts, while I went inside with the labs (they also don’t enjoy the mosquitoes!). I’m really going to like having a designated area for the dogs to run, especially when Caleb goes home and I’m alone with them all. When the fence is all complete, we’re going to purchase some plastic stuff that goes along it to make it seem as though we have a wood fence (I’ll try to post pictures).

I will get Huib to help me load pictures from our last two weeks on to my laptop this evening and post them as soon as possible. Rogue has begun to darken a bit, so updated photos are needed here.

My Scorpios

We’re still not back online at home so I’ve come to one of the local Mcdonalds to use their Wi-Fi, but here is my submission for the 4th round of the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival.

I’ve been tossing around the topic of “the difference” for over a month, trying to figure out what I should write. Do I write about how different my life would be, if I’d actually enjoyed exploring the world with a lifeless, hollow, metal stick, painted a reflective white? Do I explore the differences between the various service dogs that exist? Do I talk about the differences I’ve observed, regarding the ways people view service dogs? Or do I play it safe, and talk about the differences between Phoenix and Cessna.

Decisions…decisions…

Since I’ve had the pleasure of first working seven years with Phoenix, and now six with Cessna. I think I’ll go the safe route, and write about something close to my heart.

I know people always tell you not to compare service dogs, but do you really think they even take their own advice? I don’t…

It’s part of human nature.

We are just programmed to compare.

How often do you look at something or meet someone, and think, now that person reminds me of “so and so”. Or, I had a really cool hat once, I sure wish that one on the shelf was a little more similar.

I’ll start off by saying that Cessna is not Phoenix. And, Phoenix is not Cessna. See? I’m totally aware of the diversities between them. And, to be honest, I actually celebrate their uniqueness.

Now to start the real “meat” of my submission…(Just a side note, I’m going to write this comparison, as though Phoenix is still the younger, working boy, I got over a decade ago.)

Phoenix and Cessna are very different dogs. If you just look at their physical features, you’ll already notice dissimilarities. Phoenix is yellow, whereas Cessna is black. Phoenix is male…Cessna is female. Cessna is about two inches shorter than Phoenix. Phoenix is about 5lbs heavier than Cessna.

If I move away from the physical traits and look at their personalities, you’ll find even more variations. Cessna is highly emotional, whereas Phoenix is very much “go with the flow”. Phoenix is laid back and just wants to be with me at all times, but Cessna is spunky and finds dogs and other animals intriguing. Cessna will sit back and think through a problem, whereas Phoenix will just try and figure out how to get what he wants out of the situation. Finally, Phoenix could care less about how I’m feeling (he’ll actually hide when I’m crying), but Cessna will stick to me like glue, trying to get between me and the pillow to lick away my tears.

My final comparison between Phoenix and Cessna will come from examining their working relationship with me. Phoenix and I bonded within two weeks of being matched, but Cessna and I took close to 18 months to truly mesh. Cessna forced me to learn alternative training methods because of her sensitivity to corrections, whereas Phoenix would literally turn and laugh at me when I corrected him. Phoenix never became distracted by anything other than cats, but to this day, Cessna cannot control herself around other dogs or small animals. Phoenix worked because he didn’t want to stay home alone and because he knew there were treats involved…we still don’t know what motivates Cessna to do what she does. Finally, Cessna needs to be challenged regularly, whereas Phoenix was fine with the status quo.

As you can see, Phoenix and Cessna are very different dogs. From the way they look, to the ways we worked together. There is no one perfect formula to make up a service dog, it’s all in the chemistry and work ethic of both handler and canine.

Phoenix and I would never have worked out, if I was not willing to accept his frequent accidents in malls, or had the ability to laugh at his devious nature – he was always trying to stay one step ahead. I honestly never got the mutual respect from Phoenix, Cessna and I base our relationship upon.

Then, it took a lot of hard work and patience to create a rock solid partnership with Cessna. We both had to earn each other’s respect, and I needed to think outside the box when teaching her new things, or trying to work through problem areas. I’ve had to accept her never ending love for small animals, and she has had to learn to accept my faults as well. Cessna and I, have a relationship that truly overshadows the one I had with Phoenix. I’ve been able to teach her so many new skills, and she’s shown me that it’s possible to have a service dog work because they just love the job and not because it’s what they were bred to do.

I will always love both Phoenix and Cessna for being who they are. Each one came into my life at a time when I needed them most. Phoenix entered just before Mom passed away and just before I started my journey towards adulthood. Cessna came to me just before Granny passed away, and at a time when I needed to be tested and shown that the status quo, just isn’t enough.

I hope you enjoyed reading my submission for the 4th Assistance Dog Blog Carnival, as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Rogue Pictures

Huib finally had some time off work, so labelled some of the many pictures we took of our little Rogue puppy. Instead of presenting all of the ones we have
(there are over 50), I’ll just pick some of the better ones.

As you can see, we’ve been quite busy with our little girl.

Right now, we’re taking a bit of a break though because she developed some red ring-like spots on her underside. We think it might be ringworm, but cannot get into a vet here in Northeastern Ontario until Tuesday afternoon. In the meantime, we’ve been giving her daily baths with a herbal shampoo (found the recipe online) we made from 8oz of Castile soap, 15 drops of oregano oil, 15 drops of tea tree oil and 15 drops of clove oil, and apply an anti-fungal cream we got from the pharmacy that treats Athlete’s Foot, Ringworm and something else that I can’t remember. When we started, the spots were about the size of a quarter, but since Wednesday evening, they’ve shrunk to the size of mosquito bites. I’m going to call our vet in Guelph and see what dr B says since the spots will most likely be gone completely by the time we get to Tuesday.

Rogue Update

Rogue is now 10 weeks old! She’s been with us almost 2 weeks now and has settled into our lives so easily, that its like she has always been a part of the family.

Here’s what we’ve been up to since day nine.

Day Ten

• slept between Huib & I, as well as on pillows until 6:00am
• sat immediately when Huib asked before putting down her bowl
• chased Canyon & Aspen while I played fetch with them
• climbed the 5 steps outside to reach the water bowl I’d brought out
• no accidents until just after lunch when she missed the puppy pad & peed on the carpet
• sat when I asked for a “sit” before giving her lunch & then dinner
• came immediately 3 out of the 5 times I called her while outside (the other 2 times, she came after a minute, but not directly to my hand)

Day Eleven

• slept until 7:00am before needing out, then slept another 2 hours
• still being asked to “sit” before getting her meals
• slept while we ate lunch at Pizza Hut (people must think we eat out a lot lol!)
• rode in cart at Food Basics (new people, strange sounds, strange smells)
• ate dinner in her new crate (made sure to watch & let her out as soon as she was done)

Day Twelve

• cried off & on while in crate overnight, but stopped when I said “Rogue, enough” & slept until about 5:30am (had 2 accidents in crate overnight)
• ate breakfast in crate, barked/cried after done, so we waited until she was quiet for a few minutes
• had a 2 hour nap with Huib (he worked nights)
• played a bit of tug with Canyon
• played with Canyon in the yard at the new house
• watched Huib & Caleb paint (wanted to help so went on tie down)
• fell asleep while Huib finished sanding & plastering the kitchen
• peed at the door of new house, couldn’t get there fast enough to get her outside
• played with the rest of the pack while Huib mowed the lawn

Day Thirteen

• slept in crate until 5:30am, whimpered just a few times before falling asleep, slept another 4 hours with us in bed (no accidents)
• ate breakfast in crate, before coming out we started working on “wait” (I’d begin opening crate & close it if she moved, called her out when she stayed in one spot)
• jumped on to couch without assistance
• hid under couch for a few minutes after Phoenix barked at her
• watched Huib use the power saw to cut baseboards for our bedroom
• chased Cessna while Caleb threw the toy for her
• napped while Huib hammered nails into the baseboards
• ate dinner in crate & sat quietly until Huib let her out
• still not coming when I call her & jetting off when I come towards her (think it’s because she knows I cannot see to grab her)
• responding well to “Rogue, enough” when we don’t like something she’s doing (chasing cats, barking/growling at others to play, scratching/pulling at carpet, etc)
• independently walked up steps again without too much coaxing (not allowing her to do down)

As you can see, Rogue is experiencing tons and doing quite well. I’m beginning to think this whole reporting her daily adventures is kinda boring for everyone, so I think I might switch to just reporting the more interesting things or doing a weekly recap – what do you think?

Introducing Rogue

It’s been almost a week since we picked up our little girl. I haven’t had much time to go on the computer for more than a few minutes, so I’ll start this entry by writing a little description of our visit to the breeder.

We woke up at 5:30am to feed and relieve everyone before leaving to get puppy. We decided to bring everyone along because at 2:00pm, we had to be in Guelph for their annual check-ups. We thought it would take about three hours to drive from London to Maidstone, but ended up an hour ahead of schedule so, stopped for some breakfast and then pulled in about twenty minutes early. When we arrived, the puppies were in an outdoor pen so we went over and looked at them all. Karen came out in her pajamas a few minutes later and told us we had arrived during feeding time. She ran inside to get dressed and let her husband, Chris, know we’d arrived. When she was dressed, we helped her carry three puppies into the house.

We put the puppies on the living room floor and observed. Karen had brought in “Pinkie”, “Coal” and “Violet”. We quickly removed “Violet” from the mix because she was more interested in exploring the house, than in interacting with us or the other puppies. Karen wasn’t totally sure which puppy was “Pinkie” so brought “Flower” in as well to double check that she had the correct puppy. The puppies had all chewed each other’s collars off and Chris and Karen hadn’t had a chance to microchip them yet, since they had just returned from a trip to California. “Flower” was cute, but also didn’t seem overly interested in us, so she returned to the outdoor pen for breakfast and play. Once we had it narrowed down to “Pinkie” and “Coal”, we just sat and observed, calling them over once in a while to see how they reacted. Both puppies came running when we called “Puppy, Puppy” and when we were paying attention to one, the other would be licking our arm trying to get some love too. We had a lot of trouble making a decision, but after 45 minutes of observing and interacting, we decided on “Pinkie”. We both really liked “Coal” as well, but Huib left it up to me and I really wanted a girl, so chose “Pinkie” and named her Rogue.

Rogue is the lightest in colour of the seven puppies and already weighs 10.6lbs. She is the colour of butterscotch pudding and has grayish colour eyes that will someday be either a medium or dark brown. She has a very cute face and shows lots of expression. For an eight week old puppy, Rogue is extremely brave and confident.

Once the decision was made. Karen got us to fill out some forms and Chris took Rogue to be micro chipped. Karen will be sending the CKC paperwork in for the puppies when they are sixteen weeks so that everyone has a chance to decide on a name for their fur baby. Before leaving, we met her dam and sire, and let Phoenix, Cessna, Aspen and Canyon meet Rogue. They sniffed her a bit, but only canyon really showed much interest. The girls were a little disgruntled with the whole situation and Phoenix just saw her as another puppy, so no big deal lol!

During our three hour drive to Guelph, Rogue laid in my lap. Some of the time she was looking out the window or watching Huib drive, while other times she was napping. Never once during the drive did she whimper or whine, but looked around when a sound caught her ear. Our first stop was to see Dr B for the older dogs to get their annual check-ups and vaccinations. Rogue hung out with the vet staff, while we were in the examination room with the others. It was a pretty long appointment, so around the one hour mark, Rogue fell asleep under Huib’s chair. We will be bringing Rogue for her first visit with Dr B in a month’s time, but for now we just weighed her and discussed feeding options – she’ll be starting on raw when her kibble from the breeder finishes up.

First Dr B checked over Phoenix. She decided against giving him any further vaccinations and said the heartworm test isn’t really necessary. She still isn’t happy with his ears, so cleaned them out and gave us a new medication to try. She seems happy with him overall, saying that one thing she knows he won’t die of, is heart failure, because his heart is extremely healthy for his age.

She then looked over Canyon. We discussed neutering and she said that her only advice is to get it done by the age of five since that is when most of the cancer issues seem to begin. He had his titers done for Distemper, Parvo and the other diseases that are vaccinated against, other than Rabies – the Rabies titer is extremely expensive so we’ll probably just continue to vaccinate for that. She said he looks great, but might be developing an ear infection, so has asked us to clean it for a week and see where that goes.

Aspen was also pretty straight forward and cooperative. She had her titers done, along with a Heartworm test. We discussed options for treating her incontinence and have decided to try “No More Leaks”, a mixture of different homeopaths that you can buy in a pet store. If that doesn’t seem to help, then we’ll look at other options.

Cessna got a clean bill of health as well, but was a little less cooperative. She really doesn’t like when people touch her paws or tail, so was quite rigid when Dr B went to try taking her blood for the titer and heartworm test. We will be starting her and Aspen on a daily Glucosamine supplement, since they will be eight this year.

After paying our $1,300 vet bill, we headed to the Kitchener Ren’s Pets Depot to visit with Kelly, pick up some toys and a collar for Rogue. Since she doesn’t have her final set of vaccinations, Kelly and her manager carried her around the pet store while we shopped. We picked out an orange, yellow and black collar along with a black leash that we will start using once she learns not to chew it – for now, we’re using two rope style leashes from the dollar store. In addition, we got her a little pink puppy kong, a puppy-sized kong treat bone and a light blue monkey that’s a ball with really long fleece arms and legs. Since it was Canyon’s birthday the week before, we got him two new JW Arachnoid Balls and a hedgehog that has a ball for a torso and canvas limbs that have squeakers in them. We finished off our shopping trip, by picking up some food for my sister’s cat, Branden, and Logan, our calico.

I’ll now do a little bit of point form notes, to start Rogue’s training journal. If you have any suggestions on things I should not have been doing or on things I should be adding to the journal, please let me know. I’m new to this, so am still in the trial and error phase.

Day One
• rode in the truck for almost 6 hours along Highway 401 (air brakes, squealing trucks, strange smells)
• visited the vet office (printer, strange smells, 4 staff members)
• briefly met my former long-term care resident (sounds & smells of the building)
• met four people at the pet store (tons of food & animal smells)
• had an accident on the floor mat of the truck, became wiggly so I put her down
• met two friends we were staying with
• ran to hide after being told off by Phoenix for jumping around his face
• saw a Great Dane & Shih Tzu while out for relief (no direct contact)
• had an accident while sleeping beside Huib on the couch
• used her nails to climb up mesh of play pen we were using as her bed, barked to let us know she was stuck between the play pen & air mattress
• slept 2 hours before needing out
• bounced half way out of play pen so we brought her onto the air mattress, where she slept another 4 hours

Day Two
• ate half a cup of kibble & did both outside 20 minutes later
• hid behind a table when Aspen barked at her
• met 2 teenage girls while being carried through Dollarama
• met manager & waitress & took about 10 minutes on a really short leash to settle under the table at Montana’s
• my cousin carried her around White Oaks Mall & we took a picture of her laying in front of some clothing at The Bay
• discovered my friend’s five bunnies & taunted them for about 15 minutes (play bowing in front of their cages & jumping back when they moved, briefly hiding when she bumped into a table leg)
• climbed on & slid off couch on to Phoenix & he just looked at her
• at last relief, Huib put her on the ground to walk into the elevator & 2 of her legs fell into the gap, Huib helped her out & she approached it curiously

Day Three
• truck broke down (alternator died) & we had to wait for a tow truck & then a stranger drove us back to my friend’s house
• played more with the bunnies, putting her paws against the sides & barking excitedly (Rue actually started playing back)
• rode in the child seat of a cart while we picked up snacks at Food Basics (first on bare wire & then on slippery cardboard)
• met a friend with the 2 Smooth Collies of ADS (hid behind Huib’s chair at first because the collies were excited)
• accompanied us at Dollarama, Giant tiger & Zellers
• rolled around trying to get Cessna’s tags off her collar (I’d put them on to find her easier)
• climbed over a baby gate we had used to block her in the kitchen with a bit of peanut butter in her Kong (we’d decided to leave her for 30 minutes while we got ice cream & came back to find her in the living room with the others)

Day Four
• slept 4 hours before going out for relief & then slept another 4
• met several people while Huib carried her around masonville Mall
• walked down 1 aisle at Costco before settling on a soft/squishy mat in the cart (met several people & had items piled around her)
• carried her around Pet Smart to find some bells for her collar (she’s learned I can’t see & will come just out of my reach & run when I move closer)
• fell asleep in front of a shelf at Chapters
• started keeping her on leash until she goes out because she’s begun relieving inside, even after going out

Day Five
• rode in truck from London to Guelph
• met a friend who has an SSD standard poodle (Kelly is hard of hearing & uses an electric wheelchair part-time)
• met my orthotics guy & his daughter
• went into the University of Guelph to hand in my application (walked up some short steps, rode in an older elevator & met a staff member who uses a scooter)
• stopped to pick up some chicken at Maple Lodge Farms (smells of slaughter house & processing plant)
• met Taz, Caleb & their landlord with her infant son
• Caleb showed her Sage (his Bengal) she barked a bit & wanted to play
• fell asleep under the table at the Lakeview while we ate some lunch
• rode in truck for 7 hours, had a little dribble on the seat after drinking too much water the stop before
• explored the house & chased the cats
• had 2 accidents in the house
• checked out the toys & played with bone that was bigger than her

Day Six
• slept between us, used a leash to keep her from jumping off
• slept about 5 hours before needing out, then slept another 3-4
• got her first taste of raw chicken breast, ate it before the kibble
• explored the house some more, had 2 more accidents
• tried to steal something off a shelf while we walked by at Value Mart
• hung out in the kitchen of the new house while Huib painted & we began taking apart the closet
• started introducing the clicker while feeding lunch (clicked & treated for half) around the 5th click, she started bumping my hand with her nose as if to ask for the noise lol!
• Sat while we trained & then wandered off when she was full, leaving about a hand full
• Attached her to a cupboard while I started pulling apart the closet with a crowbar, whined & barked because she couldn’t come near (didn’t return to her side until she was quiet for a few minutes)
• Laid in a semi-sleep position while Huib finished taking down the closet, banging down drywall & pulling out nails
• Introduced the canvas crate, she barked & cried the whole time she was in it (didn’t let her out until she was quiet for a minute)
• Cornered Laya & Logan because she wanted to play
• Got her head stuck under the china cabinet while exploring, cried until Caleb showed her how to get out
• Played under couch & chair with toys

Sorry for the really, really long entry, but I wanted to get everything down so I’ll remember. I’ll try and update the journal as frequently as possible (we’ll try daily, but no promises).

So far, I think Rogue is absolutely amazing! She’s a lot of fun to have around and extremely smart, so we’ll need to keep a close eye on her. We’ve already taken over sixty pictures, so I’ll begin posting them here.

Our Silverfoot Order

Today, the new collars, leashes and watch band I ordered from Silverfoot arrived.

In addition to the collars, I bought leashes to match the top and bottom collar, along with a watch band for me with the same pattern as the bottom one.

It’s Been Six Years

Today, Phoenix celebrates six wonderful years of retirement.

On Friday, May 13th, 2005, a trainer from Dog Guides came to assess Phoenix. He had begun to slow down and showed very little desire to work. It only took five minutes of walking with us for the trainer to tell me I was right and it was time. She told me that he didn’t seem ill or anything, but that she felt he would completely stop working by the fall. I knew this is what Phoenix wanted, so asked when the next class would take place. Phoenix started staying home more often than coming with us from that day and I left just over a week later to get Cessna.

I’m glad Phoenix was able to tell me he wanted to retire.

I’m glad we’ve had a chance to enjoy one another without the demands of a working relationship.

I’m glad he’s been able to get to know Cessna and teach her some of his unofficial skills.

But, most of all, I’m glad he’s given me six fabulous years as a stellar friend.

I’m not sure we’ll be able to celebrate another full year of retirement, but I hope Phoenix knows how much I appreciate the work he did for me and the unconditional love he continues to share.

“The gift of true friendship is that it takes us by the hand and reminds us we are not alone in the journey.”

Thanking The Moms

Since it’s Mother’s Day and I don’t really have anyone special to thank, I began thinking of my canine family, and decided that I’d like to take a moment and thank their moms for bringing each of them into the world.

Phoenix’s foster family was unsure of who his dam was, but thought they remembered the name Willy. As I’ve written over and over on this blog, Phoenix has been an important part of my life and every day I’m thankful to have him.

I’m not sure if Willy was her name, but whoever the wonderful mom was who brought Phoenix into the world, thank you!

Next I’d like to thank Ivy for blessing us with Aspen. I met Ivy when I went to pick out our little girl at 5 weeks of age. She’s a small, light colour golden, with a soft feathery coat like her daughter. She had a rough time with Aspen’s litter, so was spayed after her puppies were in their new homes and adopted by a loving family, not far from her breeder. I haven’t had a chance to see Ivy since picking Aspen up, but from our brief interactions and through talking to Doris (breeder), Aspen inherited many of her looks and personality from her mom.

Thank you Ivy for bringing Aspen into the world, she has provided us with memories that will last a lifetime.

Cessna’s dam is Belle. I got to meet Belle a few years after Cessna and I were matched. We spent a couple of hours with her and her foster mom, so were amazed to see how similar her and Cessna really are. Belle is a little bigger than Cessna, but the differences end there. They chased squirrels together, barked at the neighbour’s dog in unison and exhibited many of the same manor isms. Cessna has taught us more than we could have ever imagined and continues to bring joy to our lives.

Thank you Belle for blessing us with Cessna, I owe you the world.

Finally, I’d like to thank Goldie for entrusting us with Canyon. Sadly, Goldie passed away a few months after we picked him up. We never really got a chance to meet Goldie, but are sure that she passed on many traits to her son. I’m not sure if it’s his puppy looks, his cuddly personality or his sunny disposition, but I can’t get enough of this boy!!

Thank you Goldie for bringing Canyon into the world. He continues to bring a smile to our faces every moment of the day.

I don’t think many people think about the moms who give life to our furry friends, but without them, our lives would be much different.

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.

Did You correct Him?

“When you like someone, you like them in spite of their faults. When you love someone, you love them with their faults.” – Hermann Hesse

Today, a friend and I were talking on MSN about how long we have had our dog guides and about our feelings leading up to the “big” day. We talked about some of the emotions we experienced and then began discussing the moment we put down our white canes. For me, it’s almost been fourteen years since I picked one up, but for him the white cane still comes out from time to time. I thought this was interesting and told him about Phoenix’s reaction to people who use a white cane.

It was at this point, he asked the question which inspired today’s post.
Friend – “Did you correct him?”
Me – “the first few times, but it did nothing so I just asked friends to fold up their canes and take my arm.”
Friend – “Well, my school teaches us…”

Are there others out there like me, who choose to just manage a “quirk”? or is it strange that I choose to accept these imperfections rather than punish my dogs?

As I mentioned in an earlier post
and then again in this post,
my dogs are not good for everyone, but they are perfect for me.

Ever since I received Phoenix in July of 1998, he has had an obsession with grabbing or bumping the white canes of people who walk past. The first few times I wasn’t sure what he was doing, but after I understood, I tried correcting him for it. He was not deterred by my corrections though, so after a couple months or maybe a year of trying to get him to stop, I just started managing the behaviour. I know this probably isn’t what other programs would want me to do, but this is how I’ve chosen to react and it seems to work for us. In most cases people usually just laugh when I explain why their cane just fell out of their hands or did a funky jolt. It can be a little embarrassing at times, but usually if I know someone is coming towards us with a cane, I’ll just stop and ask Phoenix to sit or try and stay between him and the person walking by. Phoenix isn’t trying to hurt anyone, he just seems to get a kick out of people’s reactions I guess!

I think Cessna’s most notable “flaw” is her never ending desire to chase small animals. No matter how much I corrected her or tried to discourage the behaviour, she still continues to jump around like a kangaroo in harness when a squirrel, bird or chipmunk scurries by. I remember the first few walks with her in training. We’d be walking along at jet speed and then all of a sudden my left arm would quickly shoot further to the left or right with an almost bouncing motion. I’d stop, tell her that was enough (while pulling back hard on the leash) and ask the trainer what the heck had just happened. He’d tell me that a squirrel had just run by and explain that she was excited because in Quebec (but, she was raised in Ontario) they don’t really have many – yeah, right! Well, after six years of working, Cessna’s still just as excited by those elusive little critters. Instead of yanking her back and getting upset by her reactions though, I’ve learned to just go with the flow. When I feel her getting excited, I’ll stop, ask for a sit and continue walking when she’s calmer. If we’re walking through a park though, I know she’ll be on high alert so I often just resort to putting on her newtrix and avoid the possibility of having my shoulder dislocated – she may be small, but she’s pure muscle!

These little eccentricities are part of what makes me love my dogs.

How many people can say their guide dog dislikes white canes?

Or that they have a guide kangaroo?

What are some of the “unprofessional” behaviours your service dog exhibits, that you’ve decided to celebrate instead of punish?