Where Were You?

Over the past few weeks leading up to the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, the same question has been posed all over the radio, television and internet –

“Where were you?”

I’ve thought about this question for weeks. Where was I? What was I doing? Who was I with?

On September 11th, 2001:

• I was starting my 3rd year at the University of Guelph.
• I was living with Phoenix in residence.
• I had been dating Huib for ten months.
• I was looking forward to a bright future.

I remember that morning. I remember walking down the hall from my residence room. I remember hearing a lot of people crying and talking in the lounge. I remember hearing the television. I remember stopping at the door of the lounge to listen. And, I remember the feeling of shock that came over me.

I had not lost anyone that day. I had no real ties to America. But, I knew this day would change my life forever.

September 11th, 2001 is a day that should never be forgotten.

It is a day when we all learned that no one was safe. A day when the world stopped, and cried together. A day when thousands of people and special dogs were lost.

Please take a moment, to remember and thank all who were lost.

Cessna’s Raisers

Over the past six months or so, I’ve been debating whether it’s worth continuing to keep in touch with Cessna’s raisers.

During the first four to five years of being a team, her raisers e-mailed regularly and when I wrote, would ask numerous questions about how she was doing.

Over the past year or so though, this has stopped.

About six months ago, I wrote them to give an update since we had not heard anything in a while. And to let them know Cessna had been diagnosed with tiny cataracts in both eyes. I thought they would have written back worried, wondering whether she would be able to continue working. Instead, I got a message which asked questions about other things I’d told them, and that said “Oh, that would not be good to have a blind guide dog”. They did not refer to Cessna by name. They did not ask what the veterinarian had said about the cataracts. They did not even ask about how she was enjoying winter or how she was doing otherwise.

This message had me concerned and sort of put off in regards to wanting any further communication.

I waited four to five months, to see if they wood write…they didn’t.

So, a day or so ago, I wrote with another update and to let them know Phoenix had passed away. I thought I would try giving them another chance to show me they still cared and even tried to put things into the message that would have them ask further questions.

Well, I got a message back and again there was nothing said or asked about Cessna – I was crushed.

I’m not sure if I’m just being silly, but I really am not sure I want to write them anymore.

Maybe it’s just an accidental oversight on their part.

Maybe they’re so busy with her foster mom’s adult daughter that they’ve had to put other interests on the back burner.

Or maybe Cessna just isn’t as important to them anymore.

I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know that this lack of caring is bothering me.

I’m honestly stuck. I don’t know if I should continue writing and just give them the benefit of the doubt. Or if I should just leave things alone and see how long it takes for them to take the initiative to write.

Who Stole My “Get Up And Go”

I have no motivation to do anything.

I have no real desire to play fetch with Canyon.

I have no energy to train with Rogue.

I have no will to get up from the couch and do anything more than surf the internet or read a book.

I’m so blessed to have the dogs I do.

While I write this blog entry…

Rogue is using my hip as a pillow.

Canyon is napping by my feet.

Cessna is sprawled out on the love seat.

And aspen is snoozing by the side door.

I guess we’re all lacking in the motivation department.

Four Months Old

Today Rogue is four months old.

Here are 4 new commands she has learned this month:

1. Down
2. Off (used when she jumps up or to have her get off furniture)
3. Leave It
4. Up (used to have her jump up onto furniture or into the truck)

This past month has been a little stressful with Phoenix, so we really haven’t had a chance to do too much with our little girl.

Other than some training each day at home, we’ve taken Rogue and Cessna to see two movies at a local theatre (Harry Potter & The Deathly Hollows and Pirates of The Caribbean), in addition to the usual shopping adventures, when Huib has had some time off.

Otherwise, Rogue has already gotten four of her very front adult teeth, and has almost grown out of her first collar and puppy coat.

Here are some pictures from our St. Jacob’s Market trip we took last month.

Feeling Helpless

It will soon be a month, since Phoenix started refusing food. It’s been a really tough month.

Especially the past few days.

I feel as though I should be doing something.

But, I’m at a loss for what to do.

We’ve tried feeding him anything he will take. This worked at first, but now he’s refusing everything.

We’ve tried forcing him to eat, but this only works to a point. We put homemade beef jerky or hot dogs onto his tongue near the back and wait until he swallows.

Today, we’ve decided to try creating a puree. Huib got some catheter syringes from work so we can squeeze the puree into his cheek and wait for him to swallow. We’ve been doing this with his glucosamine and anti-inflammatory for the past couple of days, and it really seems to be working out, so we’re hoping the pureed food idea will as well.

I know we’re grasping at straws here, but I can’t just sit back and watch him dwindle away because I didn’t try everything possible to save him.

Tomorrow at 1:00pm, we have an appointment with Dr B. I’m not sure what she will tell us, but I don’t foresee it being good. I think we’ll have some blood drawn, and have her look him over, but I’m not sure what else she will do.

Phoenix still gets up to drink water and go outside. But, he spends the rest of the day, sleeping. I try bringing him over to wherever we’re sitting, but often he’ll just get up and go to his favourite spots to sleep.

I really feel as though I’m about to lose my beloved companion.

This picture was taken around Christmas time, a few weeks after his recovery from his sudden onset of Idiopathic vestibular Disease.

I just hope it’s on his terms, and not through a decision I may be forced to make.

Canyon’s Obsession

Canyon ABSOLUTELY LOVES toys, especially balls.

He’ll do anything to get a toy.

If Canyon sees anything on a walk that resembles a toy, he’ll pull towards it and won’t give up until he gets the okay to go over and check it out – he actually found his red Planet Dog ball, this way.

If another dog or human is playing with a toy, Canyon has to get it. He can’t just ignore it, he must figure out a way of getting it for himself. This is part of why the girls (Cessna & Aspen) refuse to play with him, I think. And why, I cannot have any of my many stuffed animals laid out in plain sight.

When we come home, Canyon will always greet us at the door with some sort of toy in his mouth. If there are no toys available, he’ll grab a couch pillow or sock.

Canyon loves the game fetch.

He’ll continually bring a toy over to you, trying to entice you to play with him. He’ll touch you lightly on the hand with the toy, and if you move, he’ll move it away quickly, hoping you’ll come with him to the door. If you don’t pay attention, he’ll start to pace, until you either take it away and put it out of sight, or give in and play.

If Canyon leaves one of his toys outside, or one of the other dogs leaves one, he’ll stare out the window or pace by the door until someone lets him out to get it. We’ve tried ignoring him, but he won’t stop until the toy is safely back inside.

Canyon’s toy drive is so extreme, that we actually won’t allow the other dogs to play fetch at the same time. When someone throws the toy, Canyon just gets so focused on getting it first, that he doesn’t watch where he’s running, or who is running with him.

He’s sent Cessna flying, when he collided with her back end.

He’s injured Rogue, running over her when she stopped in front of him.

And, worse of all, he gave Aspen a concussion, when he collided with her head.

I know we should be trying to curb his toy drive, but it’s also something that makes Canyon who he is and therefore, we just accepted it as one of the many Canyonisms.

I’m Horrible

I’m an absolutely horrible handler. And and even worse trainer.

Today, I decided to practice jumps with Cessna and Canyon in an effort to be ready for our return to agility tomorrow. I cleared off the coffee table and flipped it upside down. Our coffee table has a piece of wood that goes between each of the legs, so it makes for a good jump. I first put Canyon into a down-stay and then got Cessna to sit about three feet from the first “jump”. As soon as I called her “over”, Canyon broke his stay and got into her way. I firmly told Canyon to go back to his spot, not realizing this action was the start of a rough session with Cessna – she had become unsure because of my tone. I then returned to Cessna and still did not notice her demeanor. I asked her to go “over” and she proceeded to walk around the legs instead of jumping over the wood between them. I immediately said “wrong” and called her to return to the spot where she’d started. I still hadn’t caught on to her nervous behaviour. I again asked her to come “over” and she again proceeded to walk around the “jump”. I’m terrible, I raised my voice. I didn’t realize she was already nervous. I lost sight of my goal and just wanted perfection. When I raised my voice, she walked away. I should have taken the clue and stopped everything for a cuddle session or game of tug, something she enjoys.

Instead, I proceeded to work on the “jumps” with Canyon. After he got the gist of what I wanted, he was a star. I should have checked in with Cessna. I shouldn’t have ignored her feelings. I just didn’t realize she was upset until I called her back for another try.

I finally clued in. I got all excited and did some easy commands for treats. She perked up and seemed eager to try something new. I then took her collar and showed her what I wanted. She did okay.

I should have noticed. I should have thought about how my actions would effect her. I should have remembered that she still has those underlying worries. I shouldn’t have raised my voice. I shouldn’t have been pushing for perfection.

I’m a terrible handler. And an even worse trainer…

Good Luck Dawsen

As of Friday, it’s been two weeks since my sister handed Dawsen’s leash over to a man who fosters for Golden Rescue. Dawsen was with my sister for seven months, but she just found it too tough.

Dawsen is a two year old, rusty colour, golden retriever with moderate epilepsy. He came to Golden Rescue at the age of 22 months, because his family just found his behavior to be too much to handle. According to the family, Dawsen had pretty much spent his life living in a crate, coming out for walks and short wrestling matches with their teenage sons. They said he had only had two seizures with them, but that he’d just gotten to be too much work. His first foster home taught him to sit, lie down and wait before getting his meals, but by the time my sister adopted him, Dawsen was still in the learning phase.

Over the seven months Dawsen lived with my sister, he learned to sit, lie down, wait, give a paw and how to play appropriately with other dogs. It was a bit of a struggle at first, but my sister stuck with it and Dawsen slowly settled into his new life as a beloved pet. As time went on though, there was one thing my sister was not able to break him of – his food obsession. As a result of the medication Dawsen receives for his epilepsy, he cannot control himself around food or anything that appears edible. Therefore, it was really hard for my sister to keep him safe and out of trouble, but for the most part she was successful. When he came to visit us though, he had to stay on leash or where a muzzle because it was impossible for me to feel comfortable enough with his behavior and safety.

Around the beginning of May, my sister learned that her landlord would be selling the home she was living in, so she began the search for a new job and home, in Huntsville, since she was really not happy in Kirkland Lake. She found a job almost immediately and then found a townhouse for our step-dad and her to share.

During the moving process, Brandi took Dawsen on trips to visit family and friends and found it almost impossible to keep Dawsen from stealing food and/or trying to eat anything that looked enticing. She moved in June, and Dawsen’s behavior got even more difficult to tolerate. She was really hoping that she’d be able to accommodate his needs enough to keep him safe, but This was not the case, so after a couple of weeks, she asked me to take Dawsen until Golden Rescue could find him an appropriate foster home. Dawsen stayed with us for over a week, but returned to my sister for a few days when we had to go “down south” for Rogue’s vet visit and the Red Labrador Retrievers’ annual reunion. It was really hard for my sister to be responsible for handing over Dawsen, but I also think it was important for her to meet the man who would be fostering him and see how easily Dawsen took to his pack – 2 golden retrievers, a boxer and toy poodle.

Since leaving my sister, Dawsen has begun to learn off leash recall and has made really good friend’s with the man’s 2 year old male golden retriever, Octane. He has already sent us a couple of updates and has complimented her on the level of care and training she provided. I’m really hoping Dawsen will find his forever home soon, but in the meantime, I know he is having a blast with his new pals.

My sister still cries about the decision she had to make, but I personally think it was the best one for both her and Dawsen because, in order for her to keep him safe, she would have had to either crate or muzzle him when she wasn’t able to be right by his side. I tell her that she isn’t a bad person, that maybe Dawsen needed her to teach him the valuable life skills he’d need to find the family of his dreams, but she still finds it hard to think about.

If we get any further updates on Dawsen, I’ll post them here.

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?