So Much Randomness

Grab a coffee or your favourite beverage because this one may be long…

Are you ready for some randomness?

here we go…

I just finished reading “11/22/63” by Stephen King. I’ve read some of his books before, but this one is so different from “Carrie” and “Pet Cemetery”.

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I finished my current online course. It was a very intense class. Not only was there a ton of reading, but the instructor was not very good at explaining herself in the assignment guidelines so I found the course frustrating. I did quite well in the class. I received one really poor mark, due to the vague assignment instructions, but I was able to make up for this in the other course components.

For the winter semester, I have signed up to take “environment and History”. I’ll be learning about: “the causes and impact of human-induced modification of the natural world in selected areas of the globe, the evolution of attitudes and ideas about the natural world over time and the growth of conservation/environmental issues and movements” (University of Guelph, 2012).

Sounds interesting eh?

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I’m sure I’ve written about it here before, Rogue has an issue with putting her head into things. It doesn’t matter what it is; a collar, the neck hole of her winter coat, the chest strap of her training vest, she hates it all!

I’ve been trying to work with her on this for over a year now. She still gets all weird about it…

So, Huib and I have decided to just deal with it and work on finding collars, working gear and winter coats that she doesn’t have to put her head into. It’s going to be a bit of a struggle at times, but so far we’ve found martingales that fully open with a plastic buckle, we’re making sure to completely undo her winter coat to put it on and take it off, and we’re turning an Outward Hound back pack into a guide harness.

On Wednesday, rogue wore the back pack for the first time. She didn’t try to duck, when I reached for her. She just patiently stood and waited while I placed the back pack onto her back and then did up each of the three plastic buckles.

For now, Rogue is going to wear the back pack without the guide handle attached. I want her to get used to the feel of the pack before I add another element.

It took a couple days of Google searches, but we’ve located a company in canada that supplies service dog patches and other equipment. We’ve ordered three different patches for Rogue’s pack – “Guide Dog”, “Service Dog, Please Ask To Pet” and “In Training”. I’m going to sew the guide dog patches onto the side pockets and place the “Service Dog, Please Ask To Pet” onto the back panel. The “in Training” patch will also be placed onto the side pocket, but we’re going to make it removable, since she won’t always be in training 🙂

While we wait for the patches to arrive, Huib is going to clip Rogue’s old training vest to his belt while we’re in public, so that strangers don’t think we’re bringing our pet dog into stores and restaurants.

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We’re pretty certain Rogue has at least a mildly soft trachea. If she puts any pressure at all on her neck, she begins coughing and gagging. After a bit of trial and error, we’ve found that using a martingale collar with her works well. In addition to working on keeping a loose leash, it seems as though the equalized pressure of the martingale prevents the coughing and gagging.

We’ve also stopped using kibble during her training because it was causing some coughing, and instead, use some homemade apple and cinnamon treats. Some dogs with soft tracheas cannot eat hard treats at all, but so far with Rogue it seems as though using slightly larger treats is going to work out.

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My little sister is engaged! She’s been talking about this for a couple of weeks now, but it finally happened.

Her fiance’s name is Mark. They dated a while back, but broke up because of personal differences. Brandi has always wondered if things could have been different, but she tried to move on. In June though, they reconnected and have never looked back.

I’m not totally sure how I feel about this right now. Mark is a really nice guy, but there are a few unknowns in my mind. I’m glad to know they’ve reunited after some time apart, so know what they are getting into and know what they missed, but I am not totally certain they are truly ready for the commitment of marriage.

As of right now, they are talking about a small ceremony in Niagara Falls in June, but my sister is always changing her mind, so I guess we’ll see what happens.

I think that’s everything for now. Sorry for the long-winded and random post, but I had a lot of news.

12 Years

On Sunday, Huib and I celebrated our 12th anniversary. Twelve years ago, Huib and I began dating.

I remember the day.

Huib had gone to Toronto to see The Barenaked Ladies in concert with his roommate and said he’d come over to watch a movie when they had returned. Around 10pm he arrived and we began watching the movie Far And Away. It stars Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. We were watching the movie on my little 13 inch television, in my residence room at the University of Guelph. As the movie was ending, Huib leaned over and kissed me. He quickly backed up and just looked at me, worried I might smack him. Well, the only response I could muster, was “Wow” lol!

Since that day, we’ve been inseparable. We hang out with friends together. We shop together. We go hiking and on long walks together. We don’t really do too much without one another really.

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On Sunday, we took the labs to a buffet that has about five different stations to pick food from. When we arrived, there was a live band playing, something new for Rogue. We settled at a table near the back of the restaurant so the dogs weren’t right up close, and Huib began bringing small portions of different items from the buffet for me to try. There was creamy caesar salad, a greek style pasta salad, pork snitzel, roast beef, chicken drumsticks, potatoes done in various ways, gravies of different varieties, a stewy thing, muscles, a cabbage casserole, and tons of desserts and other items we didn’t try. I loved the caesar salad, mashed potatoes with beef gravy, roast beef and white chocolate cheesecake. By the time we had finished eating, I was so stuffed it hurt to breathe! I have never eaten so much in my life and can honestly say it will never happen again.

Rogue wasn’t too sure of the music at first. She kept getting up and trying to get from under the table. Since she loves food, we started giving her treats, along with a bit of cheese from the buffet for extra motivation to stay down. I wouldn’t say she was totally comfortable with the music by the end, but she was at least tolerating it and I think with more practice, she’ll be able to fully tolerate it like Cessna does. I don’t often take my dogs to loud music venues, but sometimes I do and they need to learn to at least tolerate the experience.

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It’s hard to believe 12 years have already passed since the day you asked me out Huib, but they have been the happiest twelve years of my life and I cannot wait to see what the next twelve have in store for us.

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.

The Working Beauties

Cessna lies in front of limestone columns.  She is wearing her black leather CVC guide harness, a baby blue martingale collar with various coloured bugs and a black leather leash that is partially braided.

Rogue stands in front of limestone columns.  She is wearing her teal Active Dogs vest with her Silverfoot collar and leash that are different shades of blue.

Food For Thought

As mentioned earlier, I am taking an online course through the University of Guelph, called The economics Of Food Usage.

We are entering week six of the course, and I am finding there to be a lot of repetition in what people are writing in their discussion posts.

The most popular answers are:

* Food contamination;
* environmental Degradation;
* Social Inequalities; and
* Genetically Modified Organisms.

I’m not sure why, but it seems as though the above are the only possible responses to questions being posed in this class.

this week is my group’s opportunity to lead the online discussion, so I was doing some web searches to find some interesting resources I might offer on supply chain management – I know, so boring, but that is what we were assigned!

here’s an interesting link I came across that discusses the recent debates on GMOs and Monsanto:

I Learned I am the Problem

An interesting viewpoint, isn’t it?

Book #8 Of 2012

On the weekend, I finished reading “Persuader” by Lee Child.

Let me start out by saying, it was awesome! Even though I have tons of reading to do for school this semester, I couldn’t put the book down, so finished it as quickly as possible.

Jack Reacher is a retired military cop. he is approached by two federal agents, Duffy and eliot. they had been told that he was looking into the license plate number of a person they suspected of illegal activities. They want to know why he is interested in this person and what he knows about him. Reacher joins Duffy and eliot, in their investigation and in the process, hopes to finally avenge the death of a former military underling.

I’m sorry for the vague description, but I really don’t want to give too much away. It was an action-packed book from start to finish. I can’t wait to read another book from this series.

Since I have a lot of reading for school, I don’t know if I will get much more leisure reading done until early November.

General News

Again, sorry for the lack of blogging everyone. Hopefully this phase will pass soon.

Tomorrow, I will be starting another online course through the University of Guelph.

This will be the third course I have taken with them since moving to Northeastern Ontario.

This semester I have chosen to take Economics of Food Usage, through the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

I’ve never taken a course through this department, but from the course description and list of assignments, I think it should be a good one.

Next…

In just over a week, Rogue will be 17 months old.

Over the past couple of months, we have been trying to proof Rogue’s obedience outside the house, but have run into some difficulties. After some discussion, we’ve decided to try working on basic obedience in the house wearing a leash and her vest. We are beginning to wonder if maybe Rogue is having trouble associating the various obedience commands she knows so well at home with also being able to be done while wearing a leash and her vest. It sounds silly, but from what I’ve learned, dogs are really horrible at generalizing.

Another area which we have been having some troubles, is with Rogue putting on her collar, Easy Walk Harness and vest. Rogue seems to have a big issue with things going over her head, so we have decided to start making everyone wear their collars all the time. I used to have collars on my dogs at all times, but started leaving them off when Canyon was little and would use the collars to drag the other dogs around the house. Then, Rogue almost snapped her neck from falling off the bed when she was around six months of age. It didn’t happen, obviously, but if Huib had not been there when her collar looped itself around our bed post and she lost her balance, I really don’t know what would have become of our little Hurricane.

Now that she is older, and to try and combat the problems with having things go over her head, we have started leaving the collars on everyone. It has been about a month now, and I think it may be helping, but we’ll wait a bit longer to see if she’s really gotten over the problem.

Lately, we have been noticing our little Hurricane maturing. People are starting to see her less as a cute little puppy, and more as a service dog who should not be bothered. We are still encouraging people to approach her and pet, but we have also started truly teaching rogue to stop and wait at curbs, steps and any other sort of surface change I may need to be warned of. Huib and I seem to be on different pages with consistency in this portion of her training, but I am hoping that maybe I can start taking a little more of a role in her public access training – which will in turn, increase consistency.

In addition to learning to stop at surface changes, Rogue is starting to hear some of the directional commands she will need to know for guiding and in time, I hope to start teaching her their meanings in harness.

It’s honestly hard to believe that Cessna was almost fully trained at this age, and would begin working with me in just a month’s time.

I hope to sit down, and start really putting together a solid training plan for Rogue, so that Cessna can retire from service in the spring/summer. I’m just so nervous and worried about doing things wrong, that I guess I’ve really delayed things I probably didn’t have to.

Hmmm, what else have we been up to…

Just over six weeks ago, we went down to Guelph for a few days and took Aspen to see a doggie chiropractor. I honestly never thought I’d ever be taking my dog to a chiropractor, but after seeing how much of a difference the adjustments have made for Aspen, I am definitely a fan.

On Monday, Aspen will go for another treatment and we’ll get to see if the adjustments are sticking long-term or if we will need to continue going on a semi-regular basis (which, if they are helping, then I will do for her lifetime if needed).

I think I’ll stop here, but please come back tomorrow for some Canyon news 🙂

A new Semester

On Monday, I started another online course through the University of Guelph. There weren’t too many options for winter semester, so I chose Business & Consumer Law, through the Department of Marketing and Commerce Studies.

From reading the course outline, it looks as though this course will be a little tougher than I had hoped. In addition to my online participation, there will be an assignment, a midterm and final examination. I’m not too worried about the online participation or assignment portions of the course, but am not too excited about the midterm or final because both will be multiple choice.

I’m hoping that as long as I study hard, that maybe I can defy the odds and for once, actually do well on a multiple choice exam.

Please wish me luck!

Independent Woman

I’ve never taken part in the Disability Blog Carnival, but after reading this round’s topic, I was inspired.

I lost my sight in the summer of 1993. I had just finished grade 8 and was excited to begin grade 9 at a new school. It was a total shock. My parents weren’t sure where to turn. I spent my summer indoors, trying to adapt to a life without 20/20 vision.

September arrived and students returned to school. My mom didn’t know what to do with me. She kept me home the first day, and called our region’s Board of Education. She talked to a woman in charge of organizing special services and was relieved to learn that there was a department of sorts designed to help visually impaired and blind students.

That afternoon, I met a woman who would forever change my life.

Stephanie Sommer arrived around noon. She sat with my mom and I, at the kitchen table and asked questions. She had come to assess whether I truly required her assistance. The phone rang at some point during our meeting and after watching me reach past the phone, she took my hand and placed it onto the receiver with a smile.

After mom was finished with the call, Stephanie told us she would start working with me the following day.

Over the next five years, Stephanie would teach me not only the usual lessons of Braille and getting around safely with a cane, but she would inspire me to be an independent woman.

Stephanie never once treated me like I had a disability.

She expected me to act appropriately and study just as hard as every other student in my high school.

She always expected me to give eye contact.

She wouldn’t help me unless I said please or thank you.

And if I got frustrated and attempted to give up, she’d walk away and wait for me to get over it.

Stephanie and I developed more than just a student-teacher bond, we became friends. She told me about her own vision problems and told me how she embarked on an educational journey that led her to working with students like me.

I remember the feeling of comfort that would come over me each time I smelled her perfume, and the smile that would sprout on my face, no matter how bad the day, when I heard her voice. Stephanie was my navigator, guiding me through a world I now found scary and full of unknowns.

She taught me how to read Braille and how to fully utilize the vision I still had.

She showed me how to travel safely throughout my community with a cane, and then when I told her I wanted to apply for a guide dog, she challenged me to first move outside of my comfort zone. I learned how to take the bus to a neighbouring town to attend movies and shop alone in their mall. Then, she gave me the biggest test of all, she asked me to learn how to take the bus to Toronto and then learn to take the subway to the largest mall of all (at the time) – the Eatons Centre.

Once I entered my final year of high school, Stephanie was there to help me reach my goal of attending university. She read through university brochures and program descriptions. Then she helped me fill out application, after application because I couldn’t decide on which one to attend. She was there when I received each of my letters of acceptance and then took it upon herself to arrange campus tours so that I could better decide upon the school for me.

After I began university, Stephanie and I talked a couple times a year, but after she attended my wedding in 2006, we sadly lost touch.

I still think about the lessons she taught me. She inspired me how to be the woman I am today, because when no one else did, she believed I could be better.

Beautiful Girl

This picture was taken on Johnston Green, at the University of Guelph. I like it because it shows one of the most historic buildings on the campus – Johnston Hall.