Endora Retires

Thursday (May 29) was the big day for Endora, she has now officially retired. Endora is 7 ½ so will hopefully have a long life of being a pampered pet. Over the almost 6 years that she was with Lynette she moved several times, had a period of being overweight, and then had periods of being on a regular routine and then being on no real routine. Now that Lynette has been hired by the Ontario Government and works 9-5pm everyday Endora has decided that this routine is too much for her and she’d rather retire than continue to work.

Endora will always be my American Princess, she is from GDB and has a lot of personality. If she is not your friend or if she is in a mood she will sit as far away from you as she can, for this I nicknamed her the American Snob. Endora was always a faithful dog and would go anywhere and do anything she could for Lynette. When Lynette was having a bad day, Endora always seemed to know and would be extremely snuggley and affectionate, trying to make Lynette feel better. Endora and I became great friends from day one, I met her about 2 weeks after her and Lynette came home. As soon as I sat down on the couch, she got up beside me and put her head on my lap for some love. Over the years her and I have become closer and I always enjoyed her visits…not sure my cats did, but she always had a way of making us all smile.

Lynette arrived at GDB, California campus, yesterday evening after a day of craziness. I talked with her last night and she seems to be settling in and getting excited about her new friend to come. She took Endora to Halifax where she will be living with her aunt and uncle. The first night there Lynette slept downstairs and since they do not have any carpet on them and they are steep Endora wouldn’t go down, but instead slept in her aunt and uncle’s room. In the morning her aunt leaned over to say hi to Endora and with no time to say a word, Endora was up on the bed and snuggling in between her and her husband. Lynette left her alone at her aunt and uncle’s place a few times while she was there over the weekend and Endora quickly made friends with her uncle, not leaving his side. I think Endora has found her forever home, the home she deserves and the home she will live in until she moves onto the next phase of her life. I will keep everyone posted on how Lynette is doing in class and how Endora is settling in to her new home.

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss

Three Years of Adventure

This past Tuesday (May 27) was mine and Cessna’s 3rd year anniversary. I can’t believe it was 3 years ago at 10:00am the trainer came to my door (we were sent to our rooms to await our dogs) and said “guess who this is.” I had tried several different dogs without much success, all were wonderful dogs just too slow. I am a quick walker most of the time, that among other reasons is why I agreed with Phoenix that he should retire. Cessna had been the final dog they brought out for me and she had been the only one fast enough, sometimes too fast, to walk with me. I remember when they brought Cessna out of the kennels, she was so excited and just a bundle of energy rearing to go and be released.

During training Cessna and I had a lot of rough times, she was the first female dog I’d ever walked with so it took a lot of getting used to, as well she really loves to take off and go and loves her squirrels. The first eight months were stressful and overly emotional for both of us, my grandma passed away about a month after I came home with Cessna, then I had the wonderful task of planning a wedding, and I started my bachelors of social work as well at McMaster. There were a few times I considered sending Cessna back, she insisted on pulling like she was a 100lbs dog and would jump around like a kangaroo whenever she saw another dog or small creature like a squirrel. It was not until Febuary 4, the day of my wedding, that I truly realized Cessna could be the dog for me. She was so good, listened amazingly well and never once made a noise or protested going off with friends for a break.

The next eight months were still tough, but I saw that glimmer so worked hard towards becoming a great team. The Cessna everyone knows today, is not the Cessna I first received, her work is always 100% no matter whether she has been off for a few days or working constantly. Here’s to you, Cessna, you chaned my life for the better with your energy and your spirit for life and I hope we have many more years together.

“where ever life may take us…we will never walk alone.”

A Weekend of Change & Fun

Saturday was a pretty lazy day, but Sunday was a little more exciting. A friend’s sister had begun to e-mail me regarding the possibility of fostering Amber. She has never fostered before so mainly wanted to know her responsibilities and whether she was able to take Amber everywhere with her. After a few e-mails back and forth she talked with her parents and they were all for her fostering. Meghan attends the University of Guelph so Amber will get tons of time in classes, as well as, tons of time to be a dog since the student life is not always overly demanding. Sunday afternoon we packed up Amber along with all of her things and headed off to Meghan’s place.

When we first arrived Meghan and her roommate were not home, but a short time after we went back to the car they arrived with bags full of things for Amber. She got her new bowls, a leash, and some toys…what a spoiled little girl! Amber was quite excited to meet Meghan and they seemed to fall in love instantly. Amber almost immediately began to make herself at home, wandering the house and checking out Meghan’s roomate’s dog Jack. After going over some things, we turned to leave, Amber wasn’t so sure about this and ran out the door. We got her back in without too much difficulty and said our good-byes. Meghan’s sister called me that evening to let me know how happy Meghan seemed. She said that she thinks I might have made her year . As I hear more I will update everyone on Amber’s progress.

After leaving we headed out to the University to begin planning our walk route. This coming Sunday morning will be Guelph’s 2nd Annual Purina Walk for Dog Guides so I want to make it as perfect as possible. This year the walk could not take place at the park we had done it at last year because some booking issues had occurred and by the time we had put our request in the space was gone. The University’s V.P. Student Affairs came to our rescue though, offering to pay for the rental fees if we wanted to use their Arboretum Centre. The facility is beautiful, the only problem is no dogs are allowed inside except for working ones and I assume fosters as well. Having no real other option we decided on taking up her offer and began the process of planning the day. The day will begin with a catered sort of breakfast provided by the University’s food services department. Then the walk will commence and afterward there will be raffles and fun dog contests.

In planning the route we decided to first walk down the main driveway and head onto main campus. We walked through various areas of the campus stopping at one spot to take some pictures of Cessna and I. Cessna found the campus to be quite interesting with all the squirrels running about and the fields where she could run. I guess she hasn’t been there enough to get over the excitement yet. Phoenix lived and worked with me on this campus for five years so the novelty of it all sort of wore off after the first year there. After about an hour and a half we were done planning the route. This year the walk will be about an hour and fifteen minutes of walking, a little longer than it is supposed to be, but the walk is pretty scenic in spots so I am sure the community members coming out will enjoy it. I think as a preliminary precaution though we might figure out where the halfway point would be and have volunteers let the walkers know that if they turn around there then once they reach the centre again they will have done half the walk. I don’t want people getting too tired or warm not having the chance to take a shortcut. The route follows the main driveway from the Arboretum Centre and then goes through campus by their new Science Complex and then goes along Gordon Street to College where they will turn and walk by War Memorial Hall (a beautiful building) and by some of the residences such as McDonald Hall, Mills Hall, and Johnston Hall. Once they reach Wineguard Walk they will turn and go past the main cafeteria (Creelman Hall) and then pass by the library and some other older buildings. They will then turn down towards the Athletic Centre and head back towards the Arboretum Centre this time walking along some of the paths rather than the main driveway. I am looking forward to all of this being done, it has been a stressful process, but hopefully it will be all worth it in the end.

Today wasn’t too eventful, we only went out to the school yard near our place to play some fetch. The weather has become quite warm and humid and Aiden is having some trouble adjusting once again.

“Challenges are what makes life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.”
– Joshua J. Marine

A Week Has Passed

It has now been over a week since we picked up Aiden’s siblings, Amber and Teal. Teal seems to be doing well with his foster mom in Leamington. Last I heard she was slowly working on the basic obedience needs of ADS and on his house training. Like Amber, Teal has still not completely learned the importance of not going wherever desired, but telling us they need to go. Teal is not the only dog in the house, his foster mom has a large male golden named Denver. When Teal first arrived a the house he was a little intimidated by Denver, but not long after they were sleeping together while their mom worked on the computer.

Amber is still with us, she has not yet found that perfect home for her. I am sure she will soon enough, she is a real sweet girl, just a little stubborn. Her and I seem to clash every day, she doesn’t like to be forced to do something, so it breaks my heart when she looks up at me as if to say “you are the most terrible person.” I guess her and I were just not meant to be together.

This week has been a week of new experiences for Amber, she has learned lots and seen tons. Last Sunday we went on a puppy outing to Waterloo Park. The dogs enjoyed seeing all of the different animals in their petting zoo. The puppies behaved pretty wel, but Cessna was a complete embarrassment! She barked at this and tried to pull my arm off to see that. She grew up on a farm so her prey drive is quite high, but usually in such situations I don’t use her in harness and I remember to bring her halti or newtrix collar (www.newtrix.ca). Once we had walked around the park a while we decided to allow the dogs to run in one of the fields. Cessna had a great time playing fetch with Boomer, one of the other ADS fosters. Boomer is a bit bigger than Cessna, but still they seemed to be able to keep up with one another. Aiden and Amber ran a bit, but after a while got pretty tired so stayed around us waiting for the older dogs to be done their game. After the run we went for a walk along King Street. Amber didn’t seem to be phased by most of the things around her, but she did not enjoy having to go do stairs a second time without Aiden. I had decided that there was no point in me and Cessna joining on the second walk up, since she knows her stairs and well Aiden does too so we stayed at the bottom while Huib worked with Amber and Karen with Boomer.

We didn’t do too much interesting over the next few days, just the regular walks and stuff in our neighbourhood. Amber was not a huge fan of a bus rushing by while she was on that side of the sidewalk. She seems better now though. Thursday we took Cessna and the pups to visit Velma and Bob, Cessna’s foster family. Cessna was so excited to see them and immediately ran to her bath tub to splash around. Velma and Bob have an old claw foot bath tub at the side of their house for the dogs to play in. Aiden and Amber joined in on the splashing around in the tub and then ran circles in the yard trying to catch up with Cess. After some energy was burnt we headed out on a walk through the bush, the pups did really well with their recall so we allowed them to run up ahead with Cessna. Velma and Bob have a new pet dog anemd Jasmine. Jasmine wasn’t too big a fan of the energy the pups had so stayed out of their way, but later on when Bob took just Cessna for another walk, Jasmine joined and was at Cessna constantly, trying to get her to play. After an exhausting eight hours we piled the dogs back into the car and headed home.

Despite the lack of energy in the house, we decided to go on another puppy outing yesterday evening. We joined Karen and Boomer at Victoria Park. This time I remembered to bring Cessna’s newtrix collar and didn’t put her into harness, this way at least she couldn’t be identified as a dog guide. All the dogs seemed to enjoy the evening walk and behaved quite well. Cessna was still overly pully and interested in the swans and ducks in the water around the park…what am I going to do with you girl? Boomer is pretty attached to his foster mom, so she passed him to Huib during some of the walk in the hopes that he might get used to walking okay with another person while she was around. Amber and Aiden walked well, only getting excited to see the other dogs passing by, but I think the energy radiating off Cessna didn’t help the situation either. After a while of walking through the park we decided to walk around downtown Kitchener. Amber was okay not being with Aiden during most of the outing, but once he was no longer in sight she began to panic. Once the panic had set in she didn’t really settle until we got back into the car and she was able to snuggle up beside him. Amber sadly seems to have an unhealthy attachment to Aiden so I feel she will need to go to a new home sooner than later, because I fear with time it will only get worse.

Puppy Pandimonium

So yesterday we packed up our dogs and headed off on a trip to Parry Sound. We dropped Cessna, Phoenix, and Aspen all off to stay with a friend of mine’s sister since the trip would end with chaos if we didn’t find someone to watch them. Aiden stayed with us because we were heading to visit his breeder and pick up his two siblings, Amber and Teal. The drive was beautiful and the traffic was light. After a three hour trip we arrived at our destination.


Aiden was quite interested in this place and when a lovely woman (his breeder) came out to greet us he was so excited. I am not sure if he remembered her or the place or if it was just her excitement wearing off on him, but there was tons of jumping around and kisses. He is a very affectionate boy and loves to give his kisses, something we will need to work on in the future since not everyone enjoys to be licked all over. Aiden’s mom, Sadie, and Nutella the older dog of the house were in a fenced in area and making tons of noise, not sure what all the excitement was about and who these strange people were at their home. Sadie is a 2 ½ year old black lab. She is slightly tall for a typical female lab and has quite large paws…guess that’s where Aiden gets his feet from. She has a gorgeous thick, shiny coat with tons of waves. Once Sadie and Nutella went into the house, there was silence for a bit. We chatted some and Aiden was looked over by Catherine in awe, she was quite pleased at how well he’s begun to develop and quite happy with his disposition.

After a bit she decided it was time to bring out Amber and Teal for a visit. They have become quite good at escaping the enclosure she had made for them so before retrieving them from the house she repaired the temporary fencing. Amber and Teal came out full of wiggles and energy, I think they must feed off one another because the energy in the yard was insanely high. Amber is not much smaller than Aiden, maybe a bit shorter, but Teal is shorter and more of a stalkier build. Aiden and Amber could be easily mistaken as the same dog, but in reality Amber is slightly darker in colour. Teal on the other hand is lighter than them both and I think also has darker eyes. Both are sweet in their own ways though.

After a bit of puppy playtime Catherine went in to the house to prepare us some lunch. Teal is a mommy’s boy and followed her everywhere. Amber and Aiden would follow at first, but after a few minutes would return, but Amber often went back in to see what was happening. Amber and Teal are like twins, they do everything together and when apart aren’t the happiest. Catherine has to feed them together and crate them together or she will get nothing done. They enjoyed ganging up on Aiden, but he was a good sport and just took it all in stride. When the two of them were playing together or digging a hole, he’d just sit by me and watch. Catherine said he was always the puppy who sat back and observed the rest, that is why she had originally called him Copper.

Once lunch was over, we had a nice chat over coffee while the puppies all played together. Aiden did really well at lunch, just laid by my feet under the table while Amber and Teal walked here and there. I guess all the socializing and obedience work and public trips have really helped him to mature. Even though him, Amber and Teal are all the same age, he just seems so much more mature…way to go buddy!

Just before we left a couple came over to introduce us to Brody, Aiden’s biggest brother, and to see how Aiden looks now that he has grown. Brody is a VERY big boy, weighing in at 51lbs already. His legs are like tree stumps and he already looks like he could be full grown. We all chatted a bit whie the puppies played and Amber got in her last rumble with Brody before we all said good-bye. It was amazing how fast time went, we had arrived around 2:30pm and then all of a sudden it was 6:00pm. We packed everyone up in the car and set out on the 3 ½ hour drive back home. Amber seemed to settle down after a bit, but Teal had a harder time with everything. We had put him into our doggie seat belt before leaving because he was jumping all over the car and that just wasn’t safe. Amber sat by my feet in the front for a while, but once we got onto the 401 I brought Aiden up to sit with me and allowed Amber to go into the back where she quickly fell asleep. About 45 minutes or so from home I took Teal out of the seat belt and he seemed to settle in a bit better. At some point during the drive between Parry Sound and Barrie he had thrown up, guess the stress was too much for his little belly.

Once we were back in Guelph, I put Aiden into the back and brought Teal and Amber to sit by my feet so that my other 3 dogs could get in. We all were exhausted by the time we got in. Aiden pretty much curled up and went to sleep along with my other 3. Amber and Teal refused to go out for relief so were put to bed right away. They barked for a long time, but after some frustration and raised voices they got the point and were quiet most of the night. We moved our crate into the spare bedroom for the night and allowed Aiden to roam free in our bedroom. He was very good about this arrangement, curling up on one of the dog beds in our room and falling asleep right away. It wasn’t him who woke me up at 6:00am, but Amber telling me it was time to take them out.

This afternoon we took Teal to meet his new foster family, I am interested to find out how he did without Amber and will update you all if I learn anything. Amber does not yet have a home, but will spend at least the weekend with us. I think it will do her some good to be around older dogs who won’t allow her to dominate them. I will let you all know how her first night alone goes.

Beautiful Weather

The weather has been wonderful the past few days and we’ve been making sure to get the most out of it as possible, because you never know when the rain or cooler weather might return. Yesterday we took the gang out to one of the local conservation areas to run with my friend’s guide dog Jetta. The conservation area runs along side Highway #6 and also goes east towards Milton. The gang love it there because there are always tons of other dogs to go and check out In spots there is water, mostly mucky grossness, but the gang loves it!

This was Jetta and Aiden’s first time there so they were quite interested in all the sites. Aiden stayed on leash since we weren’t sure how many other dogs might be coming along the paths and our dogs tend to run up ahead. Jetta is not usually much of a dog to go off running and playing, but she seemed to love the freedom and took full grasp of it. To our astonishment she even went and played in the water, which is quite abnormal for her. Jetta’s mom is a paralympic swimmer and is both happy and sad that Jetta does not enjoy the water as she does. Jetta goes to swim meets quite often with her mom, so it is nice that she isn’t a lover of water like my Cessna who will whine and try everything possible to get in and splash around. Instead Jetta just lies on the pool deck or walks along the edge of the pool watching her mom’s every move. Jetta will be retiring at the end of August when her mom heads off to China for the Paralympics because Jetta has begun to tell her mom that she doesn’t want to do this anymore. Jetta has flown across the world and seen many cities and countries, she has attended 2 Paralympics and has attended university with her mom for five years as well. If you ever want to meet a well rounded dog then you should meet Jetta, she is a lot like Cessna, but will be turning 8 in December. Knowing Jetta has shown me that Cessna may always be her spirited self even when she gets older and this makes me smile. Cessna and Jetta are the best of buddies, so I’m not sure how Cessna will take to Jetta retiring and going to live with her mom’s parents, I guess she will adapt and learn to love the new addition.

Today we didn’t do too much, just went for a few walks around the neighbourhood to work on Aiden’s leash manners and to the Brick to see if we could find a new rug for our living room. Cessna stayed home while we were at the Brick and Aiden came with us. We didn’t find much of interest, but did grab a hamburger from their charity barbecue. Tomorrow I think we might go out to the school yard for some fetch or maybe even to the quarry near our place for a swim (not us, but the dogs). Cessna absolutely loves water and will make the most awful noises until I clip off her leash and let her go. She would swim for hours if we let her, but we have to watch the amount she swims at a time because the first summer we got her she ended up with a swollen tail – “Rudder Tail” is what the vet told us. I guess some dogs get it from swimming too much, too fast and turning too quickly. Cessna was named quite accurately, everything she does is fast, she sometimes even wishes she could fly.

Life With Dogs

Wake up at 6:30am, take Aiden and Phoenix (they can’t hold it as long as regular aged dogs) out, go back to bed for another couple of hours if lucky…wake up at 9:00am (on a good day) and the chaos of feeding begins! Scoop out a cup for Aspen, put it into her bowl with some water and move quickly before she knocks you over trying to get to her bowl before the imaginary dog beside her gets all the food…scoop out a cup of a different food for Cessna and put it into her bowl, convince her it is okay to eat and that it isn’t her, but Aiden who you are telling to back off and leave the food alone…start process again with Cessna because Aiden has again decided it is his food and not hers. Go back to the food bins, scoop out just over a cup of a different food for Phoenix and dance around Aiden and Phoenix who are trying to get seated right beside the china cabinet where you will be opening capsules of glucosamine, shark cartiledge, and cranberry supplement for Phoenix…try and walk down the hall to the food table without running into Phoenix who is twirling his way down the hall in excitement. Go back down the hall and dodge Aiden, while he tries to jump around and tell you it’s his turn to eat! Go to the living room where his food is kept, scoop out a cup and tell him to “stay” a few times…walk over to the kitchen, put some water into the dish and tell him again to “stay”…wait for a minute or so and tell him it’s okay. Go to the food table down the hall and put some fresh water into the bowl, go into the bedroom and proceed to get dressed because you know everyone will need to go out now.

Take Aspen out because she won’t go with any other dog around, she’s a golden you know! Try and convince her to “hurry up” without getting too excited or too frantic, be patient while she twirls here and twirls there and finally after twirling in a fifth spot for about 20 figure eights she finally goes! Get all excited for her when she runs back to you and you put the leash back on…of course she won’t go on leash, that just isn’t golden like! Take her in, grab another leash, put Aiden on one and Phoenix on the other while Cessna waits patiently for her turn. Walk up and down the sidewalk trying to convince Phoenix to actually walk onto the grass so he’ll go relieve himself while at the same time trying to keep Aiden calm and out of Phoenix’s way. Finally it is Cessna’s turn, she is so happy to finally be going out for a pee and you get outside and to the sidewalk and she sniffs here, sniffs there, sniffs here, paces a bit and then decides “I don’t need to go yet.” Tell her firmly to “hurry up” because you know it has been almost 10 hours since she last went, she sniffs here and sniffs there and finally to your relief she goes!!! Take out the bag, try to figure out where she started and where she ended…why do dog guides feel it is necessary to walk while pooping and watch while their blind companion tries to find it so people won’t complain. Take Cessna back inside and run to the computer or couch because you know the puppy crazies are soon going to start.

Check your e-mail, go make some breakfast and a coffee because you know it is going to be a long day…sit down at the coffee table to eat and guess what? Aspen needs to go out again! Of course she couldn’t have done both at the same time, that just wouldn’t be golden like. Put your food up on the counter grab your keys, put on your shoes and coat if needed and head out for another golden relief. Walk back and forth along the sidewalk following Aspen while she decides what spot is good for her to squat, finally after about 5 minutes she decides…this process can take double that in the winter because everyone knows that it is important to smoosh down all the snow before squatting and if it touches you then you need to find another spot to begin the smooshing down again. Get all excited with her because she has gone and come back to go on leash again, take her in and return to the kitchen to retrieve your food. Try and convince Aiden that your breakfast is not his, while attempting to finish your food quickly because you know someone will need your attention soon.

Life just wouldn’t be right if I was able to sit back and relax for more than half an hour at a time, what would I do?

It is now afternoon and time for Aiden to eat his lunch, go into the living room while telling him to “stay” and scoop out some food, dance around him while he moves closer and closer to the kitchen while keeping his bum on the floor, well he is “staying” isn’t he? Dodge Aiden while he runs to his bowl before the others can get there, wait for him to finish because he’ll soon need to go out. Grab your keys, put on your shoes, and head out the door for another trip to the sidewalk, only this time you’re with Aiden so there will be no time wasted! Go back inside, head to the computer because maybe, just maybe you’ll get more than a half hour break. Get up from the computer, make some lunch and grab the remote to watch some TV while you eat. Tell Aiden again that this is not his food and firmly tell him to lie down! The puppy crazies begin once again! It is now time to head out to the conservation area for a long walk/run or you’ll surely go insane. Good thing it isn’t raining today because the dogs really do need to burn off a great deal of energy. Grab all the leashes, poop bags and treats, head out the door and try not to lose one in the process of walking to the back. Finally, you’ve reached the conservation area and you let them all off their leashes and it’s chaos once again! Luckily Huib is there or things just wouldn’t go well because it’s hard keeping track of four dogs in all different directions when you can’t see too well. After about half an hour, Phoenix has had enough of sniffing this flower and that blade of grass so to the younger dogs dismay it is time to go home. Round them all up, put them all on their leashes and convince everyone to follow the leash towards home. Unlock the apartment door, head inside and fill up the water bowl for the third time that day. Once everyone has drank to their capacity it is time for a nap, thank God!!!

About an hour later everyone wakes up and guess what? It’s dinner time and the feeding frenzy begins. Scoop food into this bowl, that bowl, tell this one to “sit”, that one to “stay” and then once everyone is full, fill the water bowl once again. Make dinner, sit down and hope to God that no one disturbs you because you just want to eat in peace and watch some TV. Guess what? That is not going to be the case because the food has begun to digest so it is time for relief once again. Grab your keys, some poop bags and put them all on a leash because this time you want to get it done quickly. Ten minutes later you are back inside and everyone settles in for the evening. Ten o’clock comes and you are exhausted so once again you grab your keys, some poop bags and leashes so you can head out for the last relief of the day. You get undressed, put Aiden into his crate, tell Aspen that Phoenix needs his bed, move Cessna so you can get your legs under the covers and pass out only to be woken up at 6:30am again the following morning.

The life of having dogs, there is no true “my time” there is only “their time”, but of course we love them so continue our days at their leisure.

Update Finally

Aiden is now 4 months and a week old, weighing in at 40lbs! Not as big as one of my fellow fostering mom’s puppy, but still a big boy. He is doing extremely well with his learning and makes us smile every moment of the day. He now knows all of the basic commands and we are just working on getting him to do them right away rather than when he feels like doing them. He loves his treats, so we’re using them a lot, but at the same time we’re having to be careful because he sometimes gets so focused on the treat that he’ll do every single command he knows instead of just doing the one we want. I think he might have learned that one from my old boy, Phoenix, he is crazy about food and will do anything for it!

Since Aiden is doing so well on his obedience commands, we have decided to begin teaching him some tricks. So far he knows how to give “five” and is so-so on rolling over. We thought that a child might enjoy an autism assistance dog who could do tricks. Not sure what else we will teach him, but I will keep everyone up-to-date with his trick learning successes.

We haven’t been doing too many exciting things with him these days. My husband has finished school for the summer so is working a lot more. I decided to take Aiden and Cessna for a walk on my own around my neighbourhood, they did so well together! Even though Aiden was being a bit of a butt head at times, Cessna never missed a curb or obstacle, she wasn’t even the littlest bit distracted either…I’m so proud of my baby girl!

I guess the most interesting thing that has happened around here over the past couple of weeks is that my neighbour’s dog has decided it is fun to jump off her balcony. Harley is a 6 ½ year old 92lbs German Shepherd Rottie cross. They live on the 3rd floor in our building and it is about a 30 foot drop from their balcony to the ground. He did it three times and for some reason did not injure himself at all. He was a little stiff last week, but he would totally do it again if he were given the chance. They have lived here for over 6 years and not once has Harley ever tried something like this. He likes to have access to the balcony while our neighbour is away at work, but now that privilege has been removed which has made him a little pissed off. The first day she barricaded him from the balcony he tore apart her place and broke the patio door window, cutting up both sides of his face…guess he is a little claustrophobic. He has been staying with us during the day while she is away at work, but we’re slowly rehabilitating him by not picking him up until about 2 hours after she leaves and then dropping him back off at home about 2 hours before she arrives. She said he was a little pissed off when she got home yesterday, but it is definitely a positive move towards staying home for the entire day on his own again. Harley is a bit of a bad ass at times, so having him around can be frustrating, but he seems to understand that my husband and I don’t put up with much, so he has gotten into the habit of coming over and listening which is a nice change. Hopefully within the month he’ll be back to staying home alone though because having a dog his size in our 2-bedroom condo apartment along with our own dogs can be a little chaotic at times.

I got an e-mail from Aiden’s breeder last week. She still has two of Aiden’s litter mates and sent me a picture of them. Amber is the darker one on the left and Teal is the lighter one on the right. She is still waiting to find that perfect family for them, so for now she has put up a fence to keep them out of the neighbour’s yard and is working on teaching them some of the basic obedience commands. I guess Teal is a bit larger than Aiden, weighing in at 47lbs and Amber seems to be quite similar in looks to Aiden. I really do need a farm…to have other little Aiden’s running around would be so cool!

Spring Is Here!

This week has been pretty uneventful. Cessna and Aiden (16 weeks) went to the vet to get their vaccinations. Cessna got a clean bill of health and happily only had to get one needle and then some blood drawn for her heartworm test…what a brave little girl! Aiden got his final set of puppy vaccinations and also got a clean bill of health, he now weighs 35lbs! After a week of not feeling so hot, his belly is now back to normal, it’s amazing what a few days of just rice and Pepto will do. After going to the vet we headed off to visit a friend who also has a dog guide. Boise is a 4 year old black lab from GDB, a VERY big boy! Cessna and Aiden wasn’t sure what to think of Boise, he had surgery on his eye about two weeks ago and is still needing to wear his cone to protect him from scratching at it. Just imagine what it would be like to see a great dane wearing a cone on it’s head…that’s how big he is and how strange it looked. After a nice visit with my friend and Boise we headed off to dinner with another friend at Frankie Tomatoes…yummy all you can eat Italian! Cessna and Aiden did very well, just lying under the table and watching the other patrons walk by with their plates full of food.

The rest of our week has been spent working on plans for our local Purina Walk for Dog Guides and spending lots of time outside. Aiden was born in December so has never experienced the heat of an Ontario summer, did he ever get a quick lesson. We took everyone to the local school yard to play fetch each day this week so they are really beginning to enjoy the nicer weather. Aspen and Aiden are finding it a bit hard to get used to right now, but I think soon enough Aiden will adjust like Phoenix has who is also a yellow lab. Aspen on the other hand hates the summer months, being a golden she likes it as cold as possible. When Cessna and Phoenix are lifting their paws in the winter, Aspen is laying in the snow eating ice and loving it. Cessna finds it tough when it is really sunny out because her black coat just seems to draw in the heat, but she still loves her free runs no matter what the temperature.

Social Gathering At Fanshawe College

On Wednesday Aiden (15 weeks) and Cessna accompanied us on a trip to London where we attended Fanshawe College’s social gathering. It was a gathering of aboriginal students from the college and surrounding high schools, as well as some of the aboriginal community members. We missed the cultural teaching workshop in the morning, but were able to partake in the afternoon festivities. The afternoon was filled with traditional aboriginal dancing, with some people even wearing their regalia’s.

Cessna has been to several aboriginal gatherings so the noise of the drums and singing was no surprise to her, she just laid in front of me and slept. Aiden was quite curious at first, wanting to check out what was going on in the centre of the gym. After a bit though he just settled down for a nap…nothing seems to phase this little guy! There were people dressed in all sorts of regalia’s, every First Nations group has their own style and every type of regalia has a meaning.

Jingle Dress dancers are easy to spot because of the tin pieces in the shape of cones sewn carefully to their dress, as well as the jingling noise they make when dancing.
The jingle dress itself is a unique work of art. The dress, usually made of traditional buckskin is sewn in a straight fashion from sleeves to hem. Tradition states that the small metal cones, or the “Jingles” attached to the dress represent several different things. The sounds of the jingles ward off bad spirits and welcome good spirit into the dance.

The Grass dancers’ outfits of today consist of a belt, cuffs, headband and harness with a porcupine roach which adorns two eagle feathers or a set of plumes. The dancer moves his hips, arms, head and shoulders in harmony with the movement of his legs and dance steps. Dancers attempt to imitate nature, resembling the gentle swaying of grass on a windy day. Traditionally, the grass dancers were called out to the place where feasts and special events were to take place. The dancers blessed the ground while they danced in time with the beat of the drum. While the grass dancers danced, they flattened the grass with their feet in preparation for the ceremonies to take place.

The Women’s Fancy Shawl dance symbolizes the life of a butterfly. . Women’s Fancy Shawl dancers have beautifully intricate outfits. The dancer will wear a cape which is usually fully beaded. Also, they have matching leggings and moccasins, hairpieces and jewelry. Distinctive to the women’s Fancy Shawl dance is the way in which they use their shawl as adornment, delicately draping it over their bodies. It is in the movement of her body while she dances and the lightness of her dance steps that makes the butterfly come to life.

The Men’s Fancy Dance was meant for entertainment and still is today. The bright colours of the outfits rind the fast moves of the dancers provide an entertaining sight for onlookers. Men’s Fancy dancers wear two brightly coloured bustles on their backs. Some dancers choose to make their bustles out of man-made feathers while others choose eagle feathers. The dancers also wear a cape made of cloth, ribbon or are fully beaded. They also wear matching front and back aprons. In addition to their regalia, the
dancers wear porcupine head roaches, fur- leggings and bells.

There are Northern and Southern ways of dancing Women’s Traditional. Northern style is danced by remaining in one spot, lightly bouncing in rhythm with the drum. Southern style has the women slowly and gracefully walking around the Circle in time with the drum, gently stepping toe-heel, toe-heel with the feet appearing to “walk on clouds”. Both styles carry a fringed shawl folded over their bent left arm, a purse in their left hand, and a feather fan, usually eagle or hawk, in their right hand. The women hold themselves tall and proud, their bodies straight. The fringe on the shawl is to sway naturally with the movements of the women’s feet, not from upper body bending or swinging. The fan is raised in salute when the women hear the drum giving honor beats. At all times, the dancers are to stay in time with the drum and stop precisely when the drumming ends. The ladies wear knee-length beaded moccasins, leggings, and either a bucksin or cloth dress that has long, open sleeves. There are two styles of buckskin dress; once again, Northern and Southern. The Northern style is to completely bead the shoulder or cape part of the dress, whereas, the Southern style uses beadwork mainly as an accent. Also in bucksin regalia, the moccasins are either fully beaded (Northern) or accent-beaded (Southern).

Men’s Traditional dancers were an eagle feather bustle as part of their outfit. This dancer’s regalia is quite beautiful with colourful beadwork and a roach as a headpiece. Through his dance moves and steps the dancer tells a story of heroic battles or successful hunting trips.

Attending aboriginal gatherings such as Pow Wows is one of the highlights of my summer. I grew up knowing very little about my mother’s heritage, but as I grew older and was able to read about everything, I began to involve myself in my Ojibwe culture.