An Eventful Visit

Off to Kirkland Lake again…

Stopped on the way for a forest fire…

Moose just minutes from town…

Swimming & playing at the Quarry with our friends Jess & Glacier.

An end to a wonderful week (Guelph Penitentiary grounds).

Another Month Older


Reece and Aiden are both another month older – Reece is now 4 months and Aiden is 16. It has now been over a year since we began to raise puppies for Autism Dog Services. It has been a great experience, it has had it’s ups and downs, but we have enjoyed our time overall.

Reece has come a long way in the past two weeks. He now weighs 41lbs and if you look quickly in his direction you can actually mistake him for Cessna. His coat has gotten a little more wavy and his eyes are now more of a yellowish grey than bluish grey. He now understands the meaning of “stay” (sit), “down”, “come”, “leave it” and is beginning to “heel” – walking with a loose leash about 50% of the time. It is hard to believe that we have only had him 10 weeks, but looking back at his pictures we can see that he has grown a lot. His accidents are now only about once every couple of days and he has not had a poo poo accident inside in almost a month. I think it is harder for him to control his bladder compared to his bowels.

Aiden is still progressing well in his training and has now stayed with a family for a few days – as a tester for compatibility. I am not sure how it went, but from reading the Facebook messages of the family, it looks as though it went fairly well. This weekend he will be staying with another family, will keep you all posted on how that goes. Aiden is a real sweet boy, full of energy and personality – he will be thoroughly missed by our household (particularly by Cessna, who is still resisting Reece’s attempts to befriend her). I think her negative experiences with chocolate labs has made it hard for her to trust him, hopefully this will change with time.

Puppy Session At The Beaches


Yesterday we had an ADS puppy session at the Beaches in Toronto. Huib, Aiden, Reece and I went along with Stanley (a friend’s foster puppy from another program) as well as two other ADS moms. There were so many puppies and dogs at the session – probably about 20, with Reece being the second youngest and the oldest being a 3 year old golden named Spencer who is already in service. Aiden, Stanley and Reece were all pretty well behaved around the other dogs, but Aiden, for some reason, was not into doing his obedience or heeling.

We spent the first half hour split into two groups – 6 months and younger puppies in one & the older puppies/dogs in the other – doing some basic obedience and distraction exercises. Reece went with Huib and did surprisingly well, he is actually beginning to heel. Stanley worked with another family and performed pretty well, but Aiden stayed with me and had a pretty terrible session. He had been so good over the week and a bit we had him, so when we had this terrible training session I was left shaking my head. I am not sure if he was distracted by the sights and smells of the beaches or if he was just really excited to see Wade again, but one thing I do know is that he was horrible!

After the group sessions, we got back into a larger group and began to walk down the boardwalk towards the off leash dog area. The puppies and dogs all loved the opportunity they were given to run and swim. Stanley tried to swim out to the middle of the lake, but someone called him back…silly boy! Aiden played with the other dogs and made sure to swim as much as he could – he sure does love the water! Reece on the other hand wanted nothing to do with the water, he decided instead to follow another foster mom around the shore – soon enough little man, you will be swimming like a fish! After half an hour of play, we put the dogs back on leash and into jacket to head back down the boardwalk to the cars. It was a beautiful day for a walk and the dogs all got tons of exposure to crowds, bikes, water fowl, and other dogs.

Aiden returned to formal training after the session and we headed home with a sleepy Reece and Stanley. Aiden has not yet been matched with a family, but soon I am sure his trainer will find that perfect one for him. We will hopefully get our little Monkey Man back for a visit in May, but only time will tell.

A Wonderful Week


This week has been a busy one. Huib and I picked Aiden up in King City on Tuesday and headed off to Kirkland Lake. We looked at several houses while there and both Aiden and Cessna got a good run Wednesday morning. I think Aiden is going to start refusing to come visit us soon, as every time he comes we end up going on a long drive…lol! On Thursday Aiden went to school with Huib, it was his final day of school and Aiden was very well behaved – I think it helped that he didn’t get much sleep the night before…lol! On Friday we went to see Phoenix’s foster mom and then headed to the “All About Pets Show” in Mississauga afterwords. We met up with another foster mom and her daughter who were watching our little chocolate man. We thought the drive to Kirkland Lake would be too much for him so decided to see if a friend would take him. He got lots of different experiences and was a very good little house guest – at least that’s what I was told…hahaha!

The show was great, we saw lots of different cats, dogs, and birds. The boys (Aiden & Reece) and Cessna were really good. They got lots of treats and we even bought our cats a new litter box that looks like a doll house. Reece seems to really like bigger dogs, he tried to curl up with every one at booths where we stopped to talk to the exhibitor. On Saturday we went to Ren’s Pet Depot to buy the dogs each an Easter present – Aiden & Cessna got a squeaky tennis ball with a colourful canvas swirly tail (sort of looks like a comet), Aspen got a squeaky tennis ball with colourful little canvas ribbons, Phoenix got a toy that has two squeaky tennis balls connected with a canvas strip and Reece got a toy that looks like a fox skin with squeakers at the head and tail (called a Skinneez). They were all spoiled and have been playing with their new toys all weekend – except Cessna’s got killed in a game of tug so we put Aiden’s away before it met the same fate…lol!

Aiden will be staying with us until Friday or Saturday, so lots of time left for snuggles and long walks. He is such a bouncy guy, so full of personality and affection. His heeling seems to have improved a lot, but his energy level seems to have gone through the roof  He never needed as much exercise as he does now, hopefully he goes to a family with a lot of property or who loves to be outdoors or it might be an interesting placement. No matter what though, he will always be welcome to come home, whether it be for a visit or forever.

The upside to our long trip to Kirkland Lake is that we found a great house (lots of space inside & a large yard). We made an offer on it and after a bit of back and forth we settled on a purchasing price. As long as we are able to sell our current place within a month’s time then we will be moving in around June 18th! I think the dogs will love their new home and the cats will not know what to do with all the space they have to run.

Update From Here

Time sure does fly, Reece turns 15 weeks on Saturday and is weighing in at 31lbs! It is strange to think that he has already been with us for almost 2 months. He has grown a ton, now fits into his ADS puppy cape and can stand beside Cessna and no longer look tiny. His coat is beginning to become adult feeling and he is developing tons of waves on his back. His eyes no longer have blue in them, but are more of the typical chocolate lab colour.

We stopped our puppy classes with Dogs In The Park for personal reasons and have been continuing his training on our own using their techniques. Reece is doing so well for his age, he is already at a comparable level in skills to a 16 month old black lab who was donated almost a month and a half ago – way to go buddy! He knows all of his basic obedience commands – still isn’t a fan of lying down – and is slowly learning to walk with a loose leash. He knows the command “leave it” extremely well and is learning to take treats gently – he is a bit of an alligator when it comes to taking treats… He is curious about absolutely everything and rarely shows fear towards anything. I think he really has the potential to be an amazing autism service dog. We just need to work on his pushiness with the other dogs in the house and tame his exuberance just a bit. He behaves fabulously (for the most part) when his puppy coat is on, but when he is in the house he can still be a bit of a terror at times. Seeing the improvements he has made over the past few weeks in his obedience and behaviour in coat, I think it will only be a matter of time and patience before he transfers these manners into the home environment.

On another note, Aiden comes home for Easter in a week! He is doing great with his training and is learning to heel better. I still do not know if his trainer has decided upon a potential match, but seeing as he is taking his time to get to know Aiden and to know the possible families better I know Aiden will go to a wonderful home. My hope is that he will go to a child who will grow up with him and be able to benefit from all of his special abilities and skills. Good luck buddy and see you soon!

Training At Square One

Today we had a puppy training session at Square One. I have only ever been to this particular mall once or twice before, so was amazed by it’s size and variety of stores. We arrived about an hour into the session as we went to visit Phoenix’s foster mom before – she had a stroke in early January and is currently living in long-term care. After walking around a bit we found the rest of the group and the trainer asked if we wanted to go and get Aiden – of course we did! As usual Aiden was excited to see us and we made sure to cherish the short time we had. I am not sure how many more of these times we will have, so gotta make the best of the ones we do.

Both Reece and Aiden were well-behaved in the mall. They weren’t overly excited around the other puppies at the session, but they were quite interested in all of the smells when we decided to take them to PJ Pets for some treat shopping. I am not a huge fan of stores who sell animals in their stores, but I know that this practice will not stop until people stop buying them. Aiden, Reece and Cessna were quite interested in the puppies that were behind the glass, but when the puppies began to make tons of noise we made sure to leave the aisle in a hurry. After the pet store we went back to the group and did some down stays and proper greeting with the boys – as usual they were fantastic! I think Reece is going to be a wonderful little guy to raise, as was his predecessor. I am not sure if it is the puppies themselves who are born amazing or if the older ones in our house teach them great manners, but one thing I do know is that I am spoiled!

Reece had his second set of vaccinations yesterday and was given a pretty much clear bill of health. He has a minor ear infection, but otherwise he is doing well. He weighed in at 24lbs and we were told he is going to be another big one. He was so tolerant of the vet and her assistants checking him over and didn’t even care about the vaccinations themselves or with the thermometer being shoved up his bum – he was more interested in the treats! After the check up was all over and we headed over to the desk to pick up the ear ointment, Reece decided to settle back onto the scale for a quick nap – crazy boy! He will go for his final set of vaccines on the 14th of April along with Aiden who will be getting his yearly’s – oh what fun!

Back To Training


Aiden left this afternoon around 3:00pm to continue his formal training. It is so quiet around here without him. Reece and him spent hours playing together, now the poor little guy is curled up asleep. I am not sure if it is to catch up on all the sleep he missed while Aiden was here or if it is because he misses him. Aiden will be back for Easter though so it won’t be too long until our house is full of play once more.

On another note, Reece turns 3 months this Friday. He turned 12 weeks on Saturday and has grown so much since we got him 4 weeks ago. He now fits his puppy coat better and has pretty much grown out of his puppy collar. I think he will be a similar size to Aiden because he really seems to be following his growth pattern. He goes to the vet on Friday for his second set of shots so we will know then how much he weighs now.

Reece had his third puppy class with Dogs In The Park on Sunday and did very well. He knows how to sit with very little convincing and he comes as soon as you call him. On Sunday he began to learn the “touch” command and also began learning doggie zen– when the dog won’t take a treat in front of them until the “take it” command is given. He did pretty well with the doggie zen when we did it, but when someone else tried it he was happy to take the treat…lol! He still has 5 more classes to go though, so lots of time for more practice.

Road Trip


Aiden arrived home last Friday around 1:30pm and immediately settled back into his normal routine. We never really realized how much we actually missed having him around until we spent a few hours alone. He is such a wonderful little guy, so full of personality and love. He follows me everywhere and has such focus when we are out. The first evening was spent on a puppy outing to Conestoga Mall where him and Reece met up with Amber and Honey. All of the puppies were well behaved and Aiden showed off his maturity and improved heeling abilities. The following day we hosted a puppy social. We had about ten dogs in attendance and all got along except this little black lab (Jasper) who decided it was a good idea to mount everyone!! He had a huge crush on my friend Jess’s guide dog Glacier, poor guy took it well though.

Sunday morning we got everyone packed into the rental and set off for Lindsay where we picked up my uncle. Cessna and Aiden slept in the back of the SUV while we chatted about the scenery and how excited we were to be looking at houses soon. Our first stop was in Bracebridge for some snacks and coffee. While at the Walmart my sister and Aiden got a picture done with Sponge Bob who had stopped there on his across Canada tour. Aiden did well, just sat beside him and allowed us to get a good picture. Our next stop was in North Bay for a pee break and some more coffee. I never realized North Bay was as big as it is. Aiden and Cessna loved the treats and pepperoni sticks they got throughout the drive, but weren’t overly happy being stuck in the back while we sat up front. Whenever we stopped somewhere Cessna would jump into the seats or Aiden would bat my sister in the head because he was bored. When we finally arrived in Kirkland Lake the dogs were excited to finally get out and be able to release some energy in the hotel room. Aiden had fun jumping from bed to bed while Cessna rolled around on the floor excited to be able to move around and get some belly rubs.

The house we looked at in town was nice. It needs a little more work than the sellers tried to say, but overall it was exactly what we wanted. The dogs did not come in with us as the woman who was still there at the time had a little dog so we didn’t feel it was right to bring ours into its territory. After the viewing we went to dinner at a restaurant not far from the house. The dogs had some water and then settled under the table for a bit of a nap. It was so nice having the two of them with us. Our other three are also great dogs, but often need more care or require special attention. I think they will like their new home though – it has lots of space and a fully fenced back and front yard. After dinner we returned to the hotel and played a bit of fetch with the dogs before getting ready to watch a movie. Both Cessna and Aiden curled up on the bed with my sister and I while Huib and my uncle had the entire bed to themselves. The following day my uncle and I packed up the room while Huib and my sister went to their perspective appointments. We had some lunch at the same restaurant and then set off to look at a house in the country about 30 minutes drive from town. The house was a 5-bedroom log home on 40 acres of land. The property was absolutely gorgeous, but the house needs tons more work than we can afford at the moment. In order to even live in it a great deal of work would need to be done so we just asked the real estate woman to keep us informed about any changes in price. It would be a great place to buy for the land and as a pet project for Huib to fix up over an extended amount of time. We let Aiden and Cessna run around a bit on the property before we put them back into the vehicle to begin the long journey to Deerhurst Resort.

The drive was beautiful, except for a bit of rain. The scenery along the roads are so nice to look at and the traffic was pretty light the entire drive. We saw a spot in the road where there had been a rock slide, another spot where a truck had lost its load of logs, and then about 10 deer in two different fields. When we were about 30 minutes or so from Huntsville there was a large truck which decided it was a good idea to hug the bumper of our car. Huib tried to speed up a bit and get the truck away, but the driver was persistent until my sister and Huib began taking pictures. We arrived at the resort around 8:00pm and immediately upon arrival the dogs began to run and play together in our suite. We had reserved a 2-bedrom suite for the night so the dogs had tons of room to play with one another. It was funny to see that Aiden still had his love for the tub because as soon as I entered the bathroom he followed and jumped right into the Jacuzzi tub to check it out. We got some good pictures of him in it and even got one of my sister sitting with both Aiden and Cessna.

The following morning Huib and I took the dogs for a bit of a walk around the resort and got some good pictures. Around 1:00pm we packed everything back into the car and headed off to Lindsay to drop off my uncle. The drive was quiet and we only stopped once to get some coffee and have a pee break. After dropping my uncle off we started the drive back home. We stopped at my aunt’s place to see if she was home, but no one was there so we continued on to Toronto. In the city we picked up Reece from another foster family and then went home. It was so great to finally get home and see Phoenix. He had stayed with our neighbour and was absolutely beside himself with excitement when we arrived.

We picked Aspen up at her breeder’s place Wednesday evening and were happy to see her again. It had been almost a week since we had dropped her off, but we knew she was happy there so weren’t too worried about the length of time. She was not overly happy at first when we arrived, but then after a few minutes began jumping up and making her whining noises. We let the other dogs out of the car to greet her and then everyone (Aspen being the second) jumped back into the car to head home. I think Aspen was really excited to see them all, her breeder has two dogs (Aspen’s dad & another retired stud) but they are older so not as into playing with her. She did get a chance though to play with her half sister Moose, who came to visit for a bit while her family was at work.

Aiden will be staying with us until Tuesday. We got an e-mail from his trainer when we arrived home to see if we wanted to keep him longer – of course we said yes!

Training Session In London


Last Saturday Reece (10 weeks – 16lbs) and I went to London with another foster mom and her puppy for a puppy training session. We arrived at White Oaks Mall around 10:00am (who decides on these insane times?) and met several new foster families, as well as, some I hadn’t seen in a while. Reece was good overall, especially considering his age and considering there were over 10 puppies he didn’t know. He walked well on the leash, still bounces like a bunny, but is no longer refusing to walk. He did his “sit” well and settled for a nap under the table after the session while we ate lunch.

My aunt and cousin came to the mall to see us, they just live 5 minutes or so away. It was nice to see them, but the best part of the whole trip was that I got to see Aiden!! He is maturing so much and listened amazingly well. He has always been a good boy, but I just saw the maturity shining through which made me smile. I passed Reece on to another foster mom and spent the entire 3 hours with Aiden. He was so excited to see me, I was squatting to teach Reece to lie down when he arrived and I was completely knocked on my ass. He gave me tons of kisses and I was just as excited, giving him all the hugs I could possibly give him before asking for a“down”. He was so focused on me the entire session and so willing to do whatever I asked of him. When our visit was over though he was happy to get back into his trainer’s van. This made me sad at first, but later it made me smile because I knew I had done well and that he was enjoying his time in training. I think what made it easiest though was knowing that he would be coming home in less than a week and that we would get to spend a few days together again.

Aiden will arrive tomorrow around noon and we will get to keep him until our return from Kirkland Lake on Tuesday. We have tons of exciting things planned while he is here. On Saturday we are hosting a puppy social for raisers and families of service dogs, then on Sunday morning we are heading to Kirkland Lake for a day to look at houses and get a tour of their hospital. Then we will head to Deerhurst Resort on Monday afternoon and spend the night there, as well as, part of the following day. I think it will be nice to just have Aiden and Cessna with us, it will be such a break not having to worry about the other three. Aspen left for her breeder’s house this morning and Reece will be going to stay with a fellow puppy raiser on Saturday after the social. Phoenix will stay with our neighbour and our cats will stay home as they aren’t the traveling types.

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” – Josh Billings –

Reece Update


This Saturday Reece turned 9 weeks. He is settling in well and becoming quite confident with himself and his surroundings. He no longer walks around the house whining and will bark at the other dogs if they do not want to play with him. We have taken him to a couple of restaurants, grocery stores and the farmers market in St. Jacob’s. He did pretty well, but was a little nervous of the crowds at the market and of a little girl who was running down the aisle at the grocery store screaming. When he is nervous, he will just sit and look at us so we pick him up and move on.

This week we have focused mostly on building his confidence, teaching him his name, and on learning to walk on the leash. He has begun to understand the concept of following his leash and has even begun to learn the command “sit”. I am not sure he knows exactly what “sit” means, but when I ask him he will often sit and then he gets a treat. By the end of this week I think he will have a good understanding of “sit” and hopefully will have begun to learn “down”.

Reece is nothing like Aiden was. He has quite the little personality and determination to do what he wants. When we tell him “no” he will stop and look at us and then return to what he was doing. He makes sure to let us know that he isn’t happy with something and will make a huge fuss when one of the other dogs tell him off. I think Reece is going to be a bit of a challenge, but also be a lot of fun to raise. Aiden was the perfect puppy for us to raise as our first, but Reece will make sure to keep us on our toes.

No real updates as of today on how Aidy is doing, but then sometimes no news is good news. Hopefully we will get to see him in just under two weeks and if we are lucky, we might even get to have him for a few days.