The Purina Diet

I received this from a friend via e-mail and find it funny every time I see it, so thought I’d share, in case others have not.

Yesterday I was at my local Pet Smart buying a large bag of Purina dog Chow for my loyal pet, Jake, the Wonder Dog and was in the check-out line when a woman behind me asked if I had a dog.

What did she think I had an elephant?

So because I’m retired and have little to do, on impulse I told her That no, I didn’t have a dog, I was starting the Purina Diet again. I
added that I probably shouldn’t, because I ended up in the hospital last time, but that I’d lost 50 pounds before I awakened in an intensive care ward with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and
IVs in both arms.

I told her that it was essentially a perfect diet and that the way that it works is, to load your pants pockets with Purina Nuggets and simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry. The food is
nutritionally complete so it works well and I was going to try it again. (I have to mention here that practically everyone in line was
now enthralled with my story.)

Horrified, she asked if I ended up in intensive care, because the dog food poisoned me. I told her no, I stopped to pee on a fire hydrant and a car hit me.

I thought the guy behind her was going to have a heart attack he was laughing so hard.

PET SMART won’t let me shop there anymore.

Better watch what you ask retired people. They have all the time in the World to think of crazy Things to say.

Impossible Perfection

This post is for the 10th round of the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival.

Assistance Dog Blog Carnival button

About two years ago, I began researching Labrador Retriever breeders in Ontario. I had learned that Cessna, my current program trained guide dog, had developed tiny cataracts, so had made the decision to “take the plunge” and owner-train her successor. The vet wasn’t sure if Cessna’s cataracts would grow and how long she would be able to work, so I decided then and there that we would need to begin our search for the right “Future Guide Dog Hopeful”.

It took about two months for us to settle upon a breeder, Red Labrador Retrievers, and about a month more before the litter that contained my little caramel firecracker was born.

On June 10th, 2011, RLR’s Babe In Total Control or Rogue for short, entered our family. From the start I just knew I had made the correct selection. Rogue was confident. Rogue was busy. And most important to me, Rogue was independent-minded.

Over the past year and a half rogue and I have had our challenges. I have tried to make sure she obtains all of the exposures, socialization opportunities and challenges needed to give her a proper start on her journey to becoming a guide dog, but the road has not always been smooth. Many people would probably look back at our challenges and suggest that I wash her from training and return to Dog Guides, but we’re not yet ready to quit.

Our first real obstacle came when rogue turned 7 months. It was like someone had turned a switch. rogue was no longer feeling confident in public. She was backing away from people who wanted to greet her. She was hiding behind our legs and peaking out to see if the person had left. She wouldn’t come out when the person squatted and started calling her in an excited voice. She wouldn’t even come out when we had them hold out some treats. Sometimes she’d also begin barking at them when she was backing away, or bark at random people passing our table in coffee shops or walking past us in the grocery store. We were not ready for this sort of reaction, but knew it must be some part of her normal puppy development. I also knew that one of her half siblings had been washed from autism service dog training for shyness, so I knew it was possible she could face the same fate if we weren’t able to work with her through this issue.

We decided the best thing to do initially was to take a few weeks break from training all together. rogue was spayed, so needed a week to heal and I also felt as though she needed some time to just be a dog. After the three weeks were over, we started taking Rogue on short trips into town for lunch or coffee. If she barked at anyone, we said “quiet” and then asked the person, if they hadn’t run off, if they wouldn’t mind offering her a piece of hot dog. Rogue was better with some people than others. We couldn’t figure out a pattern, so just worked with what we had. If she didn’t immediately shy away from the person offering her the treat, we’d push her a little further and see if she would allow them to give her attention. We did this for about three or four months before we noticed she was no longer barking at random people and shying away from their greetings. We didn’t always stick to our short outings of course, taking her to run errands and for totally new exposures, but I think being patient and rewarding her for being quiet and greeting politely was what helped Rogue regain her confidence.

Our next real challenge didn’t show itself until November. Don’t get me wrong, Rogue’s training hasn’t gone completely flawless, but it wasn’t until November that we were confronted with a problem I didn’t see a way around. Since last Christmas, Rogue has been wearing the Active Dogs padded harness vest along with the Premier Easy Walk Harness. I thought she was comfortable with the equipment, but then a friend pointed out issues with her body posture and the way she was holding her head. Huib started to pay more attention to this and said that he felt Rogue may be uncomfortable with either being in public or the equipment she was wearing. I decided it was time to work more seriously on loose leash walking in public (I’d been working on it with rogue in the house for months). Rogue had always been ducking the opening to her vest when I would go to put it on so I didn’t think that was an issue, but felt that maybe she was reacting to the feel of the Easy walk. We stopped using it and were introduced to the fact that Rogue has a soft trachea. Back in May Rogue had made us suspicious of this possibility when she had 48 hours of reverse sneezing episodes, but with the use of the Easy walk, we didn’t really understand how bad the problem was. After speaking to a friend who knows a great deal about the condition, we switched Rogue from a regular nylon flat collar to a martingale. Similar to her ducking of the vest opening, she was ducking my efforts to put her nose through the opening of the martingale. It was the introduction of the martingale that brought us to the realization that Rogue was not only reacting to the feel of the Easy Walk, but that she was also upset about the gear in general.

I was at a loss.

I was convinced that I would now have to wash my girl.

I didn’t see how I could possibly get her comfortable with wearing a martingale and guide harness.

After days of e-mailing back and forth with friends and talking to Huib, it was decided that we should try finding gear that didn’t require Rogue to put her head in to put on. I also decided to take another break from training and just focus on what Rogue already knew. First, we found martingales that opened up like a nylon flat collar on the Silverfoot website. Then I came across a doggie back pack we had purchased in the summer for Canyon. I asked Huib if it would be possible to modify it, so that Rogue could wear it for guiding, he didn’t see why not. I ordered the new martingales and Huib got to work on converting Canyon’s Outward Hound back pack into a guide harness.

It has been about a month since we started using the new martingales and Outward Hound back pack. Rogue’s attitude and body posture in public has changed drastically! She’s happy to be out and even tries to seek out the attention of random strangers – something I’ll need to now work on, but it’s a place to start. the martingales also seem to eliminate the coughing and gagging when we’re not paying close enough attention and rogue happens to get to the end of her leash.

Some people may look at the challenges I’ve faced and suggest it is time to cut my losses and accept the fact that Rogue may never become a guide dog, but we’ve overcome things so far and I’m not ready to throw in the towel.

Some people may look at our challenges and say that Rogue isn’t an acceptable guide dog candidate, but I’m not ready to give up on her. If I had given up on Cessna so easily, I would have missed out on eight amazing years of partnership with an amazing teacher.

Some people may look at my lack of training knowledge and suggest training rogue is too big a job for me to do on my own, but I’m not ready to agree. Rogue and I have gotten this far with my trial and error style of training, so I don’t think it’s time to stop moving forward.

Rogue may never be a “perfect” guide dog, but am I a “perfect” trainer? Were Phoenix and Cessna “perfect” guide dogs? Is anyone “perfect”?

The only answer I can give is that Rogue has been a patient learner and I think she’ll make the “perfect” guide dog for me.

Rogue stands in the snow wearing Muttlucks. She's wearing two different colour boots, royal blue ones on the front and hunter green ones on the back. The cuffs of the boots are full of snow after running through drifts, so it looks as though she has swollen ankles. She has a big smile on her face because she's in the middle of a game of fetch.

13 Reasons I’m Jealous Of Our Dogs

Some days, I sure do wish I could be my dogs…

If they want something, they just have to go over to someone, without feeling guilty, and the person immediately gets up to help them out.

They don’t have to worry about getting the mail and paying the bills.

They can walk around outside barefoot, even when it’s cold and snowy.

They can decide to take a nap at any time and in any place, without someone worrying that something is wrong.

They don’t have to worry about what they are going to wear to a dinner party.

They find an empty water bottle amusing and can entertain themselves for hours with the simplest of objects.

If they need to go to the bathroom, they don’t have to worry about where the closest toilet is located, and whether they will contract a horrible disease using it.

People smile and make comments about how cute they are while we’re walking down the street – Am I not cute?

If one of them is impolite, I am the one who gets blamed.

Dropping a dirty, slobbery sock into someone’s lap is considered not only acceptable, but cute!

They can bark, and tell people how they truly feel about them, but I must smile and keep quiet.

They never have to get bad news.

No one tries to tell them they should act differently or make changes in their life.

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Huib says: They get to spend more time with Brooke than I do.

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Our dogs sure do live a stress-free life!

Can we trade for just one day Guys?

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This entry was inspired by this post.

Books 9, 10, 11 & 12 Of 2012

I have now finished four more books.

For my class, I was assigned to read “Fast Food Nation” by Eric Schlosser. “Fast Food Nation”, as I’m sure you can guess from the title, is a book about the fast food culture. I won’t say too much, but if you love fast food and/or just want to read a well-documented account of the industry, then I completely recommend you read this book.

Upon finishing, I felt both grossed out and intrigued by the rise of fast food and the success of the various key players.

The next three books I read go together: “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”, “The Girl Who Played With Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson. Let me start by saying, I loved these books! I understand that some people find them hard to read and others can’t even stomach the content, but I personally loved the books and wish Larsson had lived longer in order to write more books. His writing style is different, but for some reason, I find such styles attractive. I started the trilogy just over a week ago and whenever I had the chance, I got out Huib’s iPad and read for as long as possible.

Lisbeth Salander is an anti-social, introvert who likes nothing more than to spend hours skimming mathematical textbooks and learning as much as she possibly can about others in order to keep herself safe. As a young girl, she was locked up for two years in a psychiatric institution and then released under guardianship. No one understood this quiet young woman and assumed that she was mentally unstable. Throughout the trilogy you learn more about Lisbeth and her abilities and you watch people try to break through her personal walls of stone. In between all of the drama Lisbeth experiences, she helps a journalist, Michael Blomkvist, with an assignment to investigate the disappearance of a young girl, decades earlier. Then, in the second and third books, it is Blomkvist’s turn to help Salander.

If you’re looking for something different to read, I recommend all four of these books.

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Before I hit publish, I wanted to ask everyone to please take a moment and vote for Canyon in the Modern Dog Holiday Hounds Photo Contest. You just need to click here, and “like” his picture. Then, if you feel up to it, ask your friends and followers on your blog, Facebook and/or Twitter to do the same. Canyon thanks everyone for their help. The contest ends on December 17th, so I’ll be posting reminders here as I post new entries.

Farewell Our Berner Friend

I have some sad news to share.

Our friend Jesse of Berner Tails, has left to cross the Rainbow Bridge.

Jesse had been ill for a while. he had eaten something that his stomach did not agree with and the vet could not figure out how to help him.

Please take a moment and give his blog a visit.

Stop Complaining

**This post has been edited after a problem with wording was brought to my attention**

Sorry for the long stretches of time without entries. Over the past couple of months, I really haven’t had a lot of inspiration to write. I have pictures to share, but I am still learning to use this blogging software, so haven’t had a chance to post any, but hopefully that little problem will be remedied soon.

So, now for the purpose of my post.

Maybe it’s just me. or maybe it’s just the blogs I read and Twitter feeds I follow, but I’ve been noticing a bit of a troubling pattern.

This is going to sound odd coming from someone who, herself, has a disability, but I need to say it, because it is really beginning to get under my skin.

So here’s the problem I’m having.

It seems as though an uncomfortable number of people with disabilities, at least that I’ve noticed, find it necessary to complain about every little thing.

I understand that the world is not made equal, and that people with disabilities face an uphill battle for inclusion, but is it really necessary to turn every little interaction that didn’t go the way you thought it should, into an access challenge, intentional snub of a non-disabled person or violation of basic rights situation?

could the incident have been something as simple as just someone in a rush, not really taking in the people around them, so not seeing that they blocked your pathway?

Could it be possible that not every person has seen a person in a wheelchair, or someone with a guide dog, so genuinely doesn’t understand your access needs, or proper etiquette?

Could it be possible that the restaurant you are trying to enter was built before the needs of disabled patrons was truly understood as being important?

As someone with a disability, who uses a guide dog, I would like to first, make it clear to my non-disabled readers, that not every person with a disability carries a chip on their shoulder, and not every person with a disability sees the world as a place of negativity.

Second, I’d like to ask my disabled readers to listen closely, and to thoroughly consider my next set of statements.

The world does not revolve around any one person. In order to make the world a better place for all, we need to get along. We need to remember that just because someone does not have a visible disability, doesn’t mean they don’t have their own concerns, worries or problems, that are just as important.

I know that it gets tiring to have to explain your needs several times throughout the day, and I know it gets frustrating to have to stop and answer questions and educate the public on things such as guide dogs, using a wheelchair, and why you don’t look like the other disabled person they know or saw last week, but it’s part of life, so deal with it. if you don’t like answering questions about your guide dog, then don’t choose to have one. If you don’t have time or patience to answer questions, then politely explain to the person that you are in a rush. There is absolutely no need to be rude, how else are people supposed to learn?

Finally, the non-disabled people of the world, are not out to get us, or going out of their way to make our lives difficult.

Older buildings were not equipped with ramps or elevators when they were designed because the need for this sort of stuff, wasn’t widely known at the time. If it’s possible for the store or restaurant owner to retrofit their establishment with such equipment, then they will do so, it might just take time for it to happen, or they may need someone to politely bring the need to their attention.

Also, not every individual knows someone with a disability, so not all people know what is required for equal access. Plus, they may know someone in a wheelchair, but not someone who’s blind or uses a communicating device, so wouldn’t be familiar with the difference in needs. Instead of immediately seeing this problem as an intentional attempt at barring participation, try to politely explain your needs, and try working with the other person to best accommodate your needs. There are very few people in the world who set out to intentionally hurt another, so try keeping this in mind.

I apologize for the rant, but feel it was needed. there are way too many negative people out there, so let’s try not to add to the numbers. I too have my bad days, but I try hard not to make myself or other people with a disability look bad by being rude to people who stop me with questions, or block my path, because as I said before, just because it isn’t obvious, doesn’t mean the person beside you isn’t fighting their own battle.

How has Your dog Motivated You?

Welcome to the new site.

With all of the unknowns surrounding Blogger’s possible changes and accessibility concerns, I decided to go outside of my comfort zone, and create my own site.

I hope everyone enjoys our new internet home.

Now for the real purpose of this post.

A few weeks ago on Twitter I saw this question “How has your dog motivated you?”, and thought it was the perfect topic for my first entry on our new site.

As everyone knows, from reading previous entries, my dogs are a huge part of my life.

They go almost everywhere with us, and they provide us with hours of entertainment.

Thinking back to the days when I didn’t have a dog, I can honestly say, life was pretty regular and lacking in the excitement category.

If I wanted to spend the weekend in bed watching movies…then that is what I did.

If I wanted to drop everything and go out with friends…then that is what I did.

Before getting a dog, I never had to think about someone else’s feelings or needs, I just did what I wanted to do.

Now, things are different.

If I want to spend the day in bed, watching movies, I have to take breaks between scenes to take out the dogs…check that there is water…and make sure everyone is fed.

If I want to go out with friends at the last minute…I have to find out where we are going…whether they will allow dogs…and whether it is even advisable that I bring them along.

If I choose to leave my dogs at home, I have to make sure someone is able to come check on them if i am going to be away for longer than a few hours, and I can’t just decide to stay out for the weekend.

Yes, having dogs has made life a little less spontaneous and I can’t be as lazy, but having dogs has also made life more interesting.

For example, if it weren’t for Canyon, I wouldn’t be learning about the various dog sports, and how to teach them to him..

I wouldn’t be stepping outside of my comfort zone to find others with similar interests, willing to help me learn.

I also wouldn’t be spending long weekends away, in cities and towns I have never heard of, in crowded conference centres, waiting for our turn to strut our stuff alongside other people and their dogs.

Having Canyon has not only made my life more interesting, but has also motivated me to get out and learn new things, while meeting new people.

I could go on and on, giving examples of how each of my dogs have individually motivated me, but I think I’ll leave that for future posts.

In the meantime, please take some time and tell me in the comments, how your dog has motivated you.

It Does Exist

For some reason, I haven’t really had the desire to keep up with the various blogs I follow. I regularly read some, but put others off to the side for another day.

Today, I was casually reading through, Rolling Around In My Head, trying to catch up, and saw this entry.

The entry really hit a cord with me because not only have I felt this way, but I remember thinking similar thoughts while in my social work classes.

During my two years in the social work program at McMaster University, I learned about sexism, racism and the importance of child welfare. In total, I took about ten different courses, and even though each one was supposed to prepare us for our future careers in the field of social work, not one looked at disability.

As a person with a visible disability, I tried to voice my feelings and bring forth the fact that people with disabilities also experience discrimination and should be given a voice, like those who experience sexism, racism and homophobia. Unfortunately, my words went unheard, and my voice was drowned out by yet another student bringing up a situation they witnessed where a woman or person of colour was discriminated against.

I’m not saying it doesn’t happen. And, I’m not saying we shouldn’t be concerned. But, I feel that it is time for people to help us, people with disabilities, have a voice.

Maybe Dave is right, and the able bodied people of the world just think we should be quiet, and thankful for the generosity they are bestowing upon us, but like Dave, I don’t agree.

Just because someone holds a door for someone in a wheelchair, or moves something out of the way for me and Cessna to get by more easily, doesn’t give them the right to feel good about themselves. If I saw someone approaching, I would do the exact same thing, does that mean I should feel good about myself?

Just like there is sexism, racism and homophobia in the world, there is also discrimination happening towards people with disabilities.

and, just like sexism, racism and homophobia needs to stop, so does discrimination against people with disabilities.

Do You Agree?

Today Time Magazine released this article, and I thought I would share the link here.

The article looks at the way people view members of the opposite sex when it comes to their choices in dog breed. According to the article, both men and women tend to be more attracted to those who choose the retriever breeds (Labrador & Golden) over those who like breeds like the Chihuahua or Rottweiler.

Personally, I’m a retriever lover, but I found it quite intriguing to read about how someone’s choice of dog could affect their love life.

What do you think?

Message To A Younger Me

Yesterday on Twitter I saw a tweet asking what you’d say in a message to your younger self, and thought this would make an awesome blog post.

Dear 13 Year Old Brooke,
Despite what everyone says, the world is not a perfect place. Even if you follow the “rules”, you will still have to struggle for independence and prosperity. The world is not made for people who are “different”, but instead, caters to those who fit into the mould of “perfection” and “normal”.

You will find out through trial and error, who is worth making an effort to keep in your circle of friends. You will be surprised at the outcome. You will feel guilty for cutting ties with some, but you will quickly learn that it is necessary in order to live a stress-free life.

You will find it difficult to watch your friends date in high school and university, and wonder if you will ever find someone to love you as more than just a friend. It will happen though. You will meet him in your second year at the University of Guelph, and your friends and family will wish they could clone him. He will treat you like a queen, and stand by your side through the good times and bad. He will never make you feel inferior to him, and even though others outside of your relationship will try to come between you, he will stay true to you. Together, you will build a life full of love, compassion and adventure.

Life will not be easy. You will get frustrated by the limitations you encounter, and you will become discouraged by all of the closing doors around you, but you are strong. You will move beyond the disappointments and find a way to make a difference through your love of dogs, and your desire to help others.

No matter how often you are told by family members and friends that you need to change, you won’t. You know who you are, and know you are meant to become more than just another statistic. Your passion and determination for life is what will keep you going. You will never accept the status quo, and you will never stop marching to your own beat.

As Dr Seuss once wrote: “Today you are you. That is truer than true. There is no one alive, who is youer than you”.

No matter what life throws at you, just keep on swimming.

The 32 Year Old Brooke