Wyoming Trip: Goodbye Swamp Rat

Sunday morning, Roxy and Soleil had to catch a plane back to new Orleans. We woke up at 4:30am, fed, relieved and dressed the dogs before heading to Denver.

the drive was a bit icky because Cheyenne and the surrounding areas got about 3 inches of snow overnight and it was still coming down. As we got closer to Denver the snow turned to rain.

The weather made me feel more at home because snow is totally a Canadian thing…in my opinion anyway.

At the airport, we all walked Roxy and Soleil to the check-in desk, where she was met by a staff person who was able to do some sign language. Once Roxy’s luggage was handed over, we walked with her over to a spot where she was going to be meeting up with the airline person who was taking her to the plane.

After saying goodbye and giving one another hugs, Robin, bill and I left Roxy and began the snowy drive back to Cheyenne.

By the time we got back to Robin and Bill’s house, the snow was coming down heavier. We had received some text messages from Roxy while we were driving and from what she said, the plane needed to be de-iced and she didn’t get home until after 3pm.

Robin and Bill were pretty exhausted, so after having a quick lunch, I went into my room and read a bit, while they took a nap. In the evening, we had a simple dinner of leftovers from the barbecue and then settled in to watch several episodes of Duck Dynasty. I had watched the show a couple of times with Huib and Canyon’s co-breeder, Judi, but it was really funny to watch the episodes with robin and Bill because they were able to give me some insight into the background of the family and the area where they lived.

Around 10pm, Robin and Bill headed to bed and I went into my room to surf the internet.

Wyoming Trip: Blind Man’s Chicken

Friday was a good day.

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

after breakfast we got ready to do some solo work.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’re Getting There…

We’re getting there…

Rogue is doing really well with her guide work training. She is working with me about three quarters of the time now. Her guiding is pretty close to always spot on and her confidence level is rising steadily. Rogue does well with formal turns – stopping and then asking for a left or right. She struggles a bit with moving turns though, so we still need to work a bit on that. We also need to work on her distraction level because I find she misses doors, openings and stuff when I ask her to find it. I know it’s a distraction issue because if we’re in a quiet, less stimulating environment, she has no problems locating things I ask for. She is still very new to the job though, so I know she’s going to be okay.

Rogue and I standing together on the snowy brick walkway at the University of Guelph. I am wearing blue denim jeans, white with grey winter boots, a primarily white winter coat with some navy blue on it, as well as a white roots baseball cap and you can also see the hood of my navy blue Dog Guides sweatshirt and a bit of my white backpack. Rogue is standing slightly in front of me wearing her navy blue harness what has lighter blue strapping. she is also wearing a light blue limited slip collar and a black leather half braided leash.

Our main challenge is still curbs and stairs. I feel as though I’m constantly writing this, but know it will fall into place when it’s meant to.

After talking with a couple of friends, it’s been decided that I will start using Rogue’s paw targeting to teach her exactly where I want her paws to be when we come to a curb or stairway. Right now she is still stoping a bit too far back at down curbs, forgetting to stop at up curbs and often comes to a stairwell at an angle – which is a bit dangerous for me. I’m going to start by doing some paw targeting in the house, using the surface change between the carpeting in our living room and the tile in the front foyer. Then I will take the yogurt container lids I have put some coloured electrical tape on, to the university campus and practice the stairways in the University Centre and in the primary building I have classes in, McKinnon Hall. With the snow, it’s a bit difficult to do curb work, but I’ll have to figure something out for that.

My friend Karen has just gotten a puppy, a male Belgian Shepherd who is now 10 weeks, so her and I have decided to try getting together every weekend for a couple of hours to work on stuff with her puppy (he’s not yet names) and Rogue or sometimes Canyon.

Cessna is deciding more often these days to stay home and not go places with me, so I know it’s just a matter of time before I need to call Dog Guides and inform them that she’s retiring. For now, I let her choose when she wants to work and her work is still 100%, so I think this arrangement is okay.

A Good Weekend Of Showing

This weekend was the Oakville & District Kennel Club’s conformation dog show. We entered both Canyon and Emmie for the Saturday and Sunday and rogue in the altered class on the Sunday.

Huib and Canyon waiting for the judge to come examine Canyon. Huib has Canyon stacked and is holding his tail so that his top line is straight and his tail feathers are visible. Huib is wearing a light purple long sleeved shirt with a black tie, black pants and black shoes. You can see the other handler and dog behind them also in a stacked position.

Canyon got 1st place both days in the Canadian Bred Dog class.

Huib and Canyon doing the diagonal, down and back. You can see a side profile of both Huib and Canyon. Huib is wearing a light purple shirt with a black tie, black pants and black shoes.

Huib and Canyon waiting for the judge to come do his examination. Huib has Canyon stacked. Huib is wearing a light purple shirt with a black tie, black shoes and black pants. there are dogs and handlers on either side of them.

canyon didn’t end up getting Winner’s dog, but I was still very proud of him. he was really hyped up by emmie being in heat, so I thought it was awesome to see how well he controlled himself in the ring.

Huib and Emmie waiting for the judge to come do her examination. Huib has Emmie stacked. Huib is wearing a dark purple shirt with a black tie, black shoes and black pants. You can see the other females and their handlers behind Huib and emmie.

Saturday was emmie’s first day of ever showing. She won 1st place in the Open Bitch class and then went on to win Reserve Winner’s Bitch.

Huib and Emmie standing with the other females and their handlers, facing the judge. Huib is wearing a light purple shirt with a black tie, black shoes and black pants. Huib has Emmie stacked.

On sunday, Emmie was the only female entered in the Open class, so she won 1st place by default and didn’t end up doing as well in the ring for Winner’s Bitch.

Huib and Rogue running along the outside of the ring. Huib and rogue are running toward the camera. Huib is wearing a light purple shirt, blak shoes, a black tie and black pants.

This weekend was the first time we’d ever shown rogue. She was the only altered dog entered in the sporting group, so by she won a green ribbon for Winner’s Male or Female, Altered and a teal rosette with a stuffed cow for Best In Group, Altered. She didn’t end up winning Best In Show, Altered, but we were really proud of her. Rogue stacked herself almost perfectly, and if Huib had to fix one of her feet, she kept it in the spot he placed it. she had no issues with letting the judge check her over and she walked nicely on the leash. there aren’t too many shows that offer the altered class, but we think we’ll enter her again if we end up attending a show that offers it.

It’s honestly amazing to see how easily Canyon and rogue settled into showing their first times. I think it has a lot to do with the type of training we have chosen to do with them. I’m a huge proponent of clicker and reward based training. I feel as though I can do anything with them, not only because they have the skills, but also because they trust me.

The next show we’ll be attending is in two weeks, both Canyon and emmie are entered, so we’ll see how they do.

A Golden Visitor

For the past week and a half, we’ve had a visitor.

Emmie, or Fortknox’s Burning Ember, is owned by Canyon’s co-breeder, Judi of Ramblin Goldens.

Judi has wanted to begin showing Emmie, but has been quite busy. We keep in touch with Judi and give her random updates on how Canyon is doing. During one of these updates, I mentioned that we were planning on entering Canyon into the Oakville & district Kennl Club show on September 14th and 15th. Judi emailed back to say she wanted to get Emmie started on her championship title, but hadn’t yet gotten around to it. I wrote back to say that if she wanted, Huib and I wouldn’t mind working with emmie and getting her ready to enter with Canyon.

Judi dropped Emmie off almost two weeks ago and we have been working on teaching emmie to walk nicely on leash and to stack.

It’s been a lot of fun having emmie visit. our dogs aren’t always a fan of visitors who stay without their “humans”, but they have accepted Emmie like one of the pack. she’s very well behaved and interacts well with each of the dogs.

The Oakville show is in just over a week and we have been working hard on getting Emmie ready.

But, we’ve run into a bit of a problem.

Canyon has thrown Emmie into heat a month early – WHOOPSIE!

As a result, Judi will be coming to pick her up on Saturday and will have to cancel her entry into the show. It’s possible to show a female in heat, but Judi doesn’t want to cause any problems for or with the other exhibitors – Huib and I totally agree with her decision. At the last oakville show, there was a female Pointer in heat and Canyon was so interested in her that he snapped his show leash three minutes before him and Huib were due in the ring, lol!

As long as all goes well, Emmie will be bred with Canyon’s sire, Blaze. This means there should be puppies sometime in November, and it’s possible…we may have one of the puppies join the ruled by paws gang…

Canada Day

Rogue and I standing together. Rogue is wearing her red and black guide harness, you only see the black straps that come over her shoulders and a bit of the red canvas lower on her chest. She's also wearing a red limited slip collar with Cessna's black leather braided leash and is pulling toward the camera. I'm standing to her right wearing blue denim jeans, tan running shoes, a red long sleeved shirt and a red baseball cap that says Canada in white stitching.

earlier this evening, Huib, Rogue and I went to Riverside Park here in Guelph to check out the Canada Day festivities. There were some carnival rides and games, as well as, some food and snack vendors. There was even a band playing, followed by some loud music over the radio. rogue was a little too excited, so needed to wear her silver Halti, but she had no issues with all of the people, noise and smells. Whenever we stopped, she focused on me, nose targeting my leg, and when she was distracted, she was easily redirected to us. I think with a little more time to mature, she won’t need the Halti at all.

Fireworks in the sky. there's a yellow one just above the red one.

Fireworks in the sky. There's a white one above the yellow one.

Later, Huib and I went to the fireworks display put on by the rotary Club. for safety reasons they had the park blocked off, so everyone was lined up along the sidewalks. It was really neat to watch the fireworks go up and then explode in the sky. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to see anything, since losing more of my sight about two and a half years ago I’m not able to see a lot of what I used to, but I was delighted to discover that I could see them. I wasn’t able to tell what colours they were, but Huib told me as they lit up the sky.

I hope everyone had a safe Canada Day.

A Night At The Races

Rogue and I. I'm standing to her right and she's looking toward the camera. I'm wearing denim jeans, black sandals, a dark purple tank top and light pink with white baseball cap. Rogue is wearing her purple Har-Vest, but you can only see the front chest strap. Behind us, you can see the score board and the railing that blocks us from the horse race track.

Rogue and I. I'm squatting down to her right and she's looking toward the camera. I'm wearing denim jeans, black sandals, a dark purple tank top and light pink with white baseball cap. Rogue is wearing her purple Har-Vest, but you can only see the front chest strap. Behind us, you can see the railing that blocks us from the horse race track.

This was rogue’s first time at the horse races. she was interested in the smells, but was very focused on me throughout the night. She kept targeting my leg with her nose (our form of eye contact), so went through her treat bag within just over an hour, lol!

We also started working on pairing “leave it” with “look” (nose targeting my leg), so that she’ll someday automatically nose target my leg when I ask her to leave something alone. She did really well at this pairing, so I’ll probably have to raise my criteria sooner than I expected. her absolute favourite behaviour to do is nose target, so I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised.

At the end, we took her into the casino for a bit and she just settled at my feet while I played the slots.

Two Weeks In guelph

I had meant to write an update on Wednesday, but time got away from me. We’ve now been in our new home for two and a half weeks.

The past week and a half have been busy. We’ve unpacked more boxes and moved some furniture around. We’ve taken the labs on training trips. We’ve gotten together with Kelly and her pack twice. And we’ve taken all three dogs for hikes and a swim.

Last Sunday, we drove to Aurora to plant some flowers at my Mom’s grave. Mother’s Day has always been a tough day for me since Mom’s passing, but this year seemed easier. dad came with us, and I think seeing how happy he was helping Huib plant the flowers at Mom’s grave, really helped. After we were done, we drove to Sutton to see if my Aunt Dawn was around. her house was unlocked, so Huib called her cell phone and found out she was visiting her friend nearby. We drove over there and had a great time visiting. Aunt Dawn’s friend has several foster children, as well as, two male golden retrievers, two love birds and a 9 month old male pot belly pig. she told us to bring the dogs in with us, so we brought them in slowly. Canyon was initially interested in the pig, but quickly lost interest and settled at my feet, but Ruben, one of the goldens (Jack was away with her daughter tree planting) was a little too interested in him. Ruben kept licking Canyon’s face and ears, so just before we left, Huib took him and Rogue back to the car, so he could have a rest. The labs had to stay on leash because they were really interested in the birds and wouldn’t stop trying to sniff Poomba it was a good experience for Rogue though, she had never met a pig, let alone one that lives in a house.

Rogue and I have started doing some sidewalk guiding. She’s still hating the guide handle, but once she has it on for a while, she stops moping. I’ve been getting Cessna dressed and then her dressed, then walking around the house with Cessna, talking to her and giving her treats for being such a good girl, in an effort to make rogue jealous. It actually seems to be working. Rogue is taking less and less time to break free of the “roots” holding her in place when she first gets her vest and guide handle on. We’ve done some forward walking on the sidewalk, and other than her pull being excessive and her wanting to stay close to the grass on her side, she’s doing well. she is keeping me well away from the sidewalk edge and is quite responsive to my cues. this week, I hope to start her curb work, but it all depends upon her mood and the weather.

On Wednesday, Kelly, her boyfriend Josh, and their two Australian Shepherds, Piper and Baron, came to visit. the four of us, along with rogue and the Aussies, went over to the park across the road to do some group obedience. Josh was having a bit of a rough day, so he worked on keeping Baron’s attention and keeping him under threshold, while Kelly and I worked on getting the girls (Rogue and Piper) to perform their various obedience cues. Rogue was a little distracted by the smells and scenery, but overall, I think she did pretty well. I had her wear her new teal Kong harness, since I felt it was a good opportunity to work on her “pet” manners.

I bought Rogue the Kong harness so that she can wear it on leisure walks. I don’t want her to pull on her collar, and the Easy Walk harness seems to have caused some unforeseen issues. the Kong harness has a ring on the back that the leash attaches to and padding on the chest area, so Rogue finds it a bit too comfortable to pull. I’m going to work on her Level 1 behaviours, and start teaching her loose leash walking with it. I wanted to get her another front attach harness, but the only one I can find is the Easy Walk and I think the way it fit and the way it worked, may have caused Rogue discomfort and long-lasting issues with it. We’ve worked hard on getting her to feel okay with putting pressure into the chest strap of her Har-Vest, so I don’t want to go back to the beginning there.

On Thursday, Huib and I took the three dogs over to the park across the road to play frisbee. Canyon really likes frisbee, so we thought he’d enjoy running for it on the soccer field. He ran for it a few times, and then got distracted by another dog and ran over to check it out, ignoring our calls. Huib ran after him and noticed that it wasn’t actually the dog he was running to, it was a swampy pond he had seen. Canyon saw Huib coming, but totally ignored him and laid down in the muddy water – bad boy! Rogue had followed him, but did not get into the water – both youngsters were put back on leash and had to watch Cessna play frisbee on her own. Cessna thought it was awesome to be playing frisbee while the others were stuck on leash. After Cessna had had enough, we put her back on leash and then started walking along the gravel path that leads around the swampy pond (the water from the rain gutters collects there). I think that once Cessna and I do the route a few more times with Huib, we’ll be able to walk it on our own.

On Friday, we met up with a friend for lunch at Eastside Mario’s. I met Evelyn during my time at the University of Guelph. I had been a volunteer and then Co-ordinator for their Safe Walk Program, and Evelyn was a dispatcher for the University of Guelph Police. I’m not sure how we got talking, but when I used to live in Guelph, evelyn and I would get together for lunch once a month, so now that I’m back, we’re going to try doing that again.

When we had arrived at Eastside’s Huib went to park and the orlando stalled on him twice. we have had this happen a couple of times before, but they were never this frequent, so Huib became concerned. When we were done lunch, I asked evelyn if she’d mind following us over to the GM dealership, and of course, she said no problem. When we got back into the car, Huib saw that the engine light had come on, so we knew something was up. At the dealership, the woman at the counter told us they had no appointments, but Huib asked if they could at least run a diagnostics to see if it was safe for him to continue driving (since it was Friday), she said it might just take a bit. We took the labs into the waiting room and I did some obedience with Rogue – I try to do this in all places, so she learns to follow my cues everywhere. About 30 minutes later, we heard our names over the intercom and were told that the orlando was ready. They had replaced a valve.

While we had been waiting, I received a text from kelly asking if we wanted to meet her and Ace (her 4 year old male black lab) for a hike and swim. We met them at an old quarry near our former condo building. the dogs ran ahead, while we chatted. At the end of the long path, there’s a river that used to have a bridge over it, but the city must have taken the bridge down, so we let the dogs play there. A woman and her young male italian Mastiff were there as well, so we were a bit more cautious with allowing Canyon to roam. the other dog was intact, and seemed to be paying a little too much attention to Canyon, so Huib called Canyon over for some treats and waited until the woman and her dog were gone, before releasing him again. After about half an hour of swimming, we started walking back towards the vehicles. Kelly and Ace had to get back home to let the Aussies out, but we stayed behind and let our three swim in the quarry. Canyon was hilarious. He kept running along the shore to find the shortest route to the toy, while Cessna swam out to retrieve it. Once she made her way back to the shore, Canyon would meet her and bring the toy back to us as though he had been the one to do all the work. Just before we left, a woman and her female golden retriever showed up. the golden was really interested in our toy, so Huib threw it a few times for her to retrieve – the other woman hadn’t brought any toys for her.

this weekend we haven’t done too much. the weather is warm and starting to get a hint of humidity, so I play short games of fetch with Canyon in the backyard, but try to stay cool indoors otherwise. My migraines seem to be better living here. Maybe it’s because I am able to stay cooler, dad doesn’t have access to a wood stove, or maybe the weather is just more stable right now – either way, it’s nice not having to take extra meds.

Random News

I’ve got a lot of random news to share with everyone.

First, last week I wrote about our trip to Guelph and the Toronto area. While there, I had a chance to see my family doctor and was given several different migraine medications to try out. She gave me a few different daily preventatives, a daily nerve blocker and one to take when I feel a migraine coming. A lot of these medications were suggested by a pain clinic doctor I saw back in March, but she also added a couple that she feels might help. Back in the early 2000’s I tried out a bunch of different preventative medications without much success, but I’m hoping that these new medications might have a better outcome.

On Monday night, I took my first Gavapentin (just a low dose right now) and woke up tuesday with barely any signs of a migraine that I’m sure I should have had (the weather is quite rainy and humid right now, which is a huge trigger for me). I took my first Atenolol (again a very low dose right now) Tuesday morning and my migraine really didn’t move much past a pain level of 1-3 out of 10, so a big win for me. It could just be a fluke, but I did the same last night and this morning, and so far my migraine isn’t getting any worse than the 1-3 out of 10 pain range. In a week, I will increase the Atenolol to a full tablet and leave the Gavapentin at just one 300mg capsule and reassess in a month’s time. If my migraine does begin increasing then I will try the medication my doctor gave me for break threw pain, but I’m not sure what it is called at the moment and I’m hoping that I won’t have to resort to it. In a month’s time, if we feel the Atenolol is not working well enough, then I will stop it and try one of the other two preventatives my family doctor and the pain clinic doctor suggested.

Next, Rogue and I have begun to use her “touch” cue to press a button. About a year ago, I bought a button that when pressed, plays various types of laughs. It is like the Staples Easy Button, but when I saw this one on sale for less than $10 at Halllmark, I snatched it up for training. rogue has an amazingly firm “touch”, and my visual impairment has made it tough to teach her to “touch” a stick or a spot on a wall or the floor, so I decided to put some navy blue electrical tape onto the laughing button and then start teaching Rogue to press it when I point and say “touch”.

I first had Rogue do some practice touches with the palm of my hand. then, I held the button, so it was facing her and waited. I wanted to see what she would do without giving her any hints as to what I wanted. She had an idea of what I wanted, so started moving towards the button, I clicked and gave her a treat for each movement towards the button. Then, I upped my requirements for a click and waited for her to even lightly touch the button with her nose. each time, I’d click and give her either one treat for just a light touch, or a jackpot of treats and a party for actually making the button laugh. She quickly caught on to how she could get more treats and began bumping the button as hard as she could – I then named the behaviour “touch”.

Once we had the pressing the button while I held it at her nose level perfect, I decided to start moving my hand around. I held it low, she pressed. I held it so she had to take a few steps, she pressed it again. Then I started holding it up so she had to jump up a bit to press and of course, she did it flawlessly.

I then put the button onto the floor and pointed and said “touch”. she bumped my hand with her nose. I waited, she bumped my hand with her nose several more times and then started to get frustrated. I couldn’t see where we were misunderstanding one another, so we stopped the lesson and both slept on it.

The following morning I figured it out, I had been lumping (or moving too fast). I got out the button and started practising what we had done the day before. Since we were doing it in a new place, I began by just holding the button and not saying a word. She knew exactly what we were doing and hit the button hard, making it laugh every single time, so we named it again – “touch”.

I then placed the button on the floor, but instead of just pointing I kept holding it and waited. It only took her a second before she was moving towards the button and I clicked and gave her a bunch of treats. After several perfect “touches”, I named the behaviour again “touch” and then started saying “Rogue, touch” and she came over and pressed the button.

Instead of completely removing my hand from the button at this point, I began holding the button with less and less of my hand. even when I was just touching the side of it with my index finger, rogue came over and pressed it when I said “touch”.

By the end, she was pressing the button when I pointed and said “Rogue, touch”. She is such a smart and forgiving puppy. Even when I make a mistake, she tells me what she needs and we start learning again together. I’m not sure what we’ll do next, but for now we’ll keep practicing our palm touches and button pressing. Rogue’s favourite behaviour is “touch”, so even though we are not further in the new levels books, I decided it was okay to move further with her “touch” cue because unlike other behaviours we’re learning, “touch” is fun to her and gets her brain moving.

Yesterday we got a call from the adoption worker. her case load is quite busy right now, so she has decided to move the adoption training to late fall. This is okay with us because right now it looks as though my step-dad will need to come stay for a bit, but it’s also frustrating because it seems as though each time we get somewhere with the adoption process, we’re left waiting again without any sight of the finish line. Hopefully in the fall things will begin moving full steam ahead.

Finally, today is our calico, Logan’s 10th birthday. Here on ruled by paws, the cats don’t tend to get much written about them, but I thought it was a milestone worth mentioning. We got Logan from the Guelph Humane Society when she was just 10 weeks old. She had been part of a family, but was surrendered to the shelter just hours before Huib and I went to see the cats. Huib lived in a bachelor apartment and for his birthday, I decided to buy him a cat, since I thought he needed a friend while he studied. We had planned to pick out an adult cat, but when we saw Logan, it was almost love at first sight. She was so cuddly and purred so loud that we thought for sure there was a little boat motor inside her. We told the shelter staff that she was the one, and after filling out some paperwork, we were told that we could come back in a week for our new kitten. She needed to be spayed and given her vaccines before we could bring her home. even though Huib likes to joke about giving Logan away to anyone who will take her, I know he loves her and that she’s going to continue providing us with years of entertainment.

Happy 10th Birthday Logie, you are one comical little calico!

Levels Progress

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about how I had decided to start seriously working through Sue Ailsby’s Levels with Rogue.

Today, I thought I’d give everyone a progress report, and let everyone know where Canyon is, since we also started Level 1 recently.

Rogue has COMPLETELY passed Level 1!

Since implementing the training suggestions I received from the woman in Wyoming, Rogue quickly learned the “touch” command and her recall is improving daily.

Rogue now not only touches my palm, she literally nose-butts it lol!

We have now moved on to Level 2:
Come (from 40 feet, 2 cues)
Crate (enter, open/close door with 2 cues) – Passed
Distance (goes around a pole 2 feet away with 2 cues)
Down (from sit with 1 cue) – Passed
Down Stay (while I walk 20 feet away/back with extra cues)
Go To Mat (from 5 feet away with 2 cues)
Handling (tail, ears, feet) – Passed
Leash (loose for 1 minute with 1 distraction)
Sit (from stand with 1 cue) – Passed
Sit Stay (while I walk 20 feet away/back with extra cues)
Stand (from sit or down with 2 cues)
Stand Stay (without moving feet for 10 seconds)
Target/Touch (nose to marked end of stick with 1 cue)
Trick (can be a very simple one)
Watch (eye contact for 10 seconds with 2 voice cues)
Zen/Leave It (5 seconds in hand & 10 seconds on chair with 2 cues) – Passed

Rogue and I are still doing the short washroom training sessions to learn new things, in addition to short ones in other places to practice her Level 1 behaviours. Since I do not feel comfortable teaching her the “look” command, I have assigned that one to Huib, but have been working on: stand, sit-stay, down-stay and come.

I haven’t started the touch stick targeting yet because I’m trying to decide on a more accurate, blind-friendly way of teaching this one. I’m thinking I might use the bell we have hanging from the outside door for this because she really likes going outside and it would be useful to have her learn to touch the bell when she wants out.

I have also purchased a cheap lime green yoga mat for teaching her and later Canyon to go on to it when asked. Cessna knows this one pretty well, and has generalized it to mean going onto whatever I point to (bed, mat, chair, etc.).

As I mentioned, Canyon and I have also started to move through Level 1 together. He is really interested in having his “special” time with me, so I decided to re-start teaching him “touch”. We’ve only been working on it for two days so far, and he is already able to “touch” my right palm with one cue. He can still only do it when I have my palm right in front of him, but I think its only a matter of time before he can do it as well (maybe not as hard) as Rogue.

Once he is through Level 1, I’m thinking I might try teaching Aspen, but we’ll see what happens. Aspen is a lot more stubborn and sensitive, than the others, so I find it a little more frustrating to teach her new things.

I’ll write another Levels update when I have more to report.