Weekend visitors

dexter, a 7 month old mini chocolate coloured poodle with tan markings sits beside my brother-in-law, Mark.

Dexter has grown a bit and is no longer scared of everything.

Brandi and Mark sit on the love seat on our back patio with Dexter sitting in between them.

My sister and her husband came to visit for the weekend. We did some shopping Saturday morning and then in the evening we all went to Mohawk raceway for the Pepsi North American Cup, it’s the biggest race for harness racing.

We didn’t lose too much, but we also didn’t win too many bets either. For the last three races, we had Rogue pick our horse and she won back our twenty-five dollars. for her winnings, she got a new martingale collar that is red and black with black deer in a hunter green circle and tan background – it looks really nice on her. She also got some liver treats.

We’ll have to take her to the races again sometime and let her pick for every race now, lol!

Since Returning

Rogue and I have now been home for two weeks. It has been a busy two weeks, but most of the time it’s been stress-free.

Rogue had a bit of a lapse in her work the week after we returned. she seemed to think Huib should be guiding me and also it got really warm quickly, so she was a bit iffy on her curb-work and her pace was slower than I feel comfortable with. I took robin’s advice and ignored Rogue’s protests. I began to speak firmer and also made her redo any curb she even slightly messed up. It seemed to work because her work got better the following day and then even better the next.

Now her work is back to what it had been in Wyoming.

I think it was hard for Huib not to step in and help us out, but he did a really good job at restraining himself.

I try to get rogue out working every day, even just for a short trip around the neighbourhood. I ask her to take me directly to the curbs, even if we are planning on not crossing. I think Rogue is beginning to understand the whole “barrier to barrier” activity. I think it will help us both with orientation in the end, I just need to remind myself not to begin relaxing things as we get further into our partnership.

This past Friday I had Rogue’s eyes tested. Our friend Sam had to take her French Bulldog to the eye vet for an appointment, so I joined her. I planned to set up an appointment for Rogue and Cessna to have their eyes tested at a later date, but someone had cancelled and Dr Whalen said he could check without dilating her eyes, so we did it. her eyes are perfect! I assumed they were fine, but I wanted to make sure things were good before I completely retired Cessna. Labs tend to begin having eye issues around 2-3 years of age, so it’s always good to check things out.

other than working, rogue and I have attended a couple of soccer games with our friend Sam. her daughter, Kira, plays soccer every Thursday, so we’ve been going to watch. Rogue is really interested in watching, but she gets cold and bored after a while, so we’ve started bringing a blanket for her to lie on or under, depending on what she wants. there always seems to be other dogs at the games, but Rogue really doesn’t seem phased by them. One of the dogs who attends is a puppy in training from Dog Guides, so it was cool to meet her and her foster family. Norma is about 5 months old.

Hard at Work

Or at least they are trying to seem as though they are hard at work…

Rogue and aiden are lying under a table at Costco. Aiden is wearing his red and black mesh Autism dog Services vest with a black martingale and red leash. rogue is lying behind him in her navy blue harness, light blue collar and black leather braided leash.

I can’t even count the number of times I’ve had people come up to me and ask if the dogs are no longer on duty at times like this.

even though we are obviously still in a public place, where pets are not welcome, people seem to think that because the dogs are lying quietly while we eat or whatever, that they are no longer working and can be loved.

I am always willing to talk to people about the dogs and often allow people to talk to them while they’re chilling, but I also try to inform the public about the fact that even though it may not look as though they are actively working, the dogs are still on alert and ready to move when asked, so as long as their working gear is on, they are on duty.

On an aside, rogue found it really hard to stay hidden with aiden under the table as well. he’s a big boy, so takes up almost all of the room, but she made a good effort at staying out of the way. Maybe it was having aiden there, but Rogue also did really well at staying down when I asked her to.

Fun With Dad

Canyon running through the forest with a wild look on his face, sort of like the smile on the Joker.

Canyon wagging his tail in the forest.

Cessna sitting in the forest with an icy beard.

Rogue making a path through really deep snow.

Rogue running through the forest.

Rogue Goes To Toronto

Huib had to go to Toronto for a meeting, so Rogue and I tagged along.

We dropped the Orlando off in Oakville and took the GO Train to Union Station. At Union we took the subway to king Street and walked a couple blocks. Since we were in a bit of a rush, I decided not to work Rogue, but had her heel beside me.

After Huib’s meeting we continued down King to Mountain Equipment Co-op, a hiking and outdoorsy store. I had rogue work the entire route. she never once brushed me up against anyone and only overstepped one up-curb. at one point Huib was busy trying to figure out where we were in relation to where we were going and forgot to warn me that there were two random steps down, rogue was perfect! She stopped with her paws an inch from the stair’s edge and waited for me to give her the okay to continue on. As soon as she stopped, Huib said “GOOD GIRL!!” in an excited voice, so I think the immediate praise helped her to understand that is what I’m looking for from her when approaching stairs. This weekend we will probably be getting together with my friend Karen and her Belgian puppy, spark, so hopefully Rogue will show me some further progress with her understanding of stairs.

At MEC, we walked around the entire store and then bought a dark purple with black rock climbing chalk bag that I will use as a treat bag. I have been looking for a new treat bag since my lime green Columbia one is starting to show some wear, but I haven’t been able to locate one I like. the rock climbing chalk bag is perfect though. It is deep, the draw-string closes at the very top and it is made of a very durable material, so I am hoping it will last a long time.

After we finished shopping at MEC, we walked back to the King Street subway station and went to St. Patrck’s station. I needed to go to Sick Children’s Hospital and ask them to send my surgical notes to my new neurosurgeon. I had rogue work the entire route from the subway station to the hospital and again she didn’t brush me up against anyone and other than wanting to avoid all grates, she was perfect.

I am going to need to do some work with grates because rogue’s reaction to them is a little too extreme.

After the hospital we went back to the subway and went to Bloor station. We were going to meet up with a friend I made over Twitter.

When shane and Yager arrived at tim Hortons, rogue decided to bark a few times. I’m not sure why she does this, but she seems to do it a lot. She wasn’t trying to get to Yager, she was sitting beside me and barking – what a weirdo!!

Shane sits with his guide dog Yager, an English type black Labrador Retriever, at Tim Hortons.

After a couple hours of chatting with Shane it was time to head back to Union to catch the GO train back to Oakville. I had Rogue work to the Bloor subway station and she overstepped a down curb and up-curb, but otherwise she worked well around Yager. While waiting for the subway train to arrive, I practiced staying away from the yellow line with her. I haven’t really needed to show her what I want, she just seems to know that she needs to stay away from the yellow line unless the train is in the station. I ask my dogs to turn right into me when we approach the yellow line and walk with the line to their left, so I stay away from the gap.

Our trip back to Oakville and then Guelph was uneventful. When we got home rogue rolled around and then went outside with Cessna and Canyon.

It is neat to see how excited Cessna gets when I come home. She doesn’t seem to want to join me these days, but when I get home, she is just as excited as Canyon.

Who’s Smarter Than A Golden?

Rogue lies in front of the kitchen cupboards on a mat that has different shades of brown.

THE FOX RED LABRADOR RETRIEVER IS!!

Back in October, I bought Cessna a puzzle toy made by Toys R Us. With this cold weather I’ve been bringing out the treat balls and the puzzle toy to keep the dogs relaxed.

A round orange plastic plate sized toy with four removable round blue plastic blocks.

rogue will work hard to get the treats out of the puzzle toys, but canyon just lies his head on the toy and waits for me to pick out the blue blocks so he can get to the prize.

Case of the Screaming Rabbit

My labs are SO bad!!

Last night, around midnight, I let the dogs out for their final relief. I asked everyone to sit, stuck my head out the sliding door to make sure there were no skunks, and then released everyone to go outside.

Rogue barked once. I told her to be quiet. she barked once more. I told her that was enough.

And then the screaming started.

It wasn’t the dogs. It wasn’t a person. It was like a high pitched screeching.

I immediately opened the sliding door and said “LEAVE IT!”

Huib ran over to the door and went toward the girls. As he left, he told me Canyon was hiding behind me – he’s too cute!

He said that once he was close, he saw a rabbit quickly hop away.

I guess Rogue had seen the rabbit and ran over. When she barked, she must have scared it so it froze in place. that gave Cessna enough time to join rogue and together they pinned the poor thing, probably scaring it, so it screamed. thankfully the rabbit didn’t injure the labs and they didn’t seem to injure it. when Huib got the girls back inside, he checked them over for injuries and then took a flashlight outside to see if he saw any blood. all he found was some fur, so hopefully the rabbit lived and didn’t end up having a heart attack somewhere.

Rogue is from a hunting line and I’m pretty sure Cessna is as well, so I can’t really blame the girls for their reaction, but I definitely feel bad for the rabbit. If Huib hadn’t run over, I’m not sure it would have survived, and I guess the girls would have had breakfast.

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.

Path of Ice

Southern Ontario has been hit by an ice storm that has left quite a lot of damage in its wake.

Canyon stands in ice covered grass looking to his left

Canyon stands in ice covered grass looking toward the camera

Canyon sits in front of an ice covered shrub looking toward the camera

Canyon stands on a path. You can see ice covered pine needles above him.

Close up of Canyon sitting in front of an icy shrub

The ice storm has also resulted in some nice pictures.

SNOW!!

Canyon sits on a wooden deck covered in a light layer of snow.

Kirkland Lake (where we used to live) already has a few inches of snow and so far Guelph has been spared, but it looks like it’s coming.