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.

Reece Has Arrived!


Our new foster puppy has arrived. Reece is an 8 week old male chocolate lab who was born on December 20th. He is a dark chocolate with a white spot on his chest and white flecks on his chin and paws. He has grayish blue eyes and weighs almost 12lbs. We picked him up on Saturday from his breeder and he has been settling in well. We had a rough first couple of days with his constant whining and screaming in the crate, but today he seems to be much less anxious. He now walks around the place with confidence and has decided that our golden, Aspen, is his surrogate mother. He climbs all over her and pulls at her fur, but she doesn’t care unless he uses his little puppy teeth too much. I think she likes having him around because he is small and plays a lot more gently than Phoenix and Cessna. Phoenix tolerates him unless he is in his face too much, but Cessna stays away, letting out little growls when he comes near. I think she worries about hurting him so keeps him away, but once he gets bigger I know she will become his primary playmate as Aspen will back off.

Aiden has now been gone for just over a week and his trainer says he is settling in well. We had hoped to see him this coming weekend, but will have to wait another week or so because his trainer is out of town and won’t be at the training session this weekend.

Aiden Is Gone


So I did it, I sent Aiden off to begin his formal training. It is weird how at ease I am with doing so. I was more concerned about his trainer’s visit than I was with Aiden leaving. I know that must sound so weird, but with the disagreement we had back in the summer I was so worried that he would no longer allow us to foster. Well, the verdict is in and our new little bundle of fur, as long as all goes well, should arrive within the next week and a half or so.

This morning I took Aiden with me to my volunteering job and let him say good-bye to all of the people there. We then came home and cleaned up the house, we are doing some renovations so it was a little cluttered in areas. We packed up Aiden’s bag – his squeaky Cookie Monster toy, a smoked bone, and some food – then gave everyone a rawhide chip and relaxed. His trainer arrived and we chatted for about half an hour. Aiden was excited to see him and then fell asleep until he got up to go. I gave him Aiden’s bag and then Huib carried the bag of food to the van. Aiden didn’t even seem to care, he just followed the bag of food and jumped into the van.

We will not see him this coming weekend at the usual puppy training session as we have no reason for going and I have another commitment, but once we have our new bundle of fur we will make sure to attend and get a chance to watch our little man progress in his training. As well we have been told that if we ever want him for a weekend to let his trainer know and he will bring him our way. It is great not having to say good-bye forever and to know he will not be put into a kennel to wait for 4-6 months for his new partner. Aiden will live with his trainer along with other puppies who have also begun their training.

Good luck in your training Monkey Man! I will miss you, but I know you are now off to fulfill your destiny.

The Time Has Come

We got the dreaded message last Wednesday night to let us know that our little caramel bundle of silliness would be off to begin his formal training. We were so happy to be given just over a week longer to spend with him and to really get used to the idea of him leaving. He has matured so much over the past couple of months and we have really begun to see glimpses of what he can be. This knowledge has helped us to feel a little more at ease in saying good-bye. He gets so excited when we take his puppy coat down from the leash rack and has such love for people and for helping me out – even though he has never been taught or expected to do so. Even though I would love to keep him, seeing his love for the job and his passion for helping, I know that it would be selfish to make him mine and stay home as a regular dog. He is destined to become a service dog and has always showed us this side of him. Other dogs will play for hours, but Aiden will just sit back and observe or go and play, but make sure to check in every so often.

I wish Aiden the best of luck in his training and will be so proud to see him in his working jacket standing beside his new family and partner in crime. I will keep everyone posted on how he does, but for now I will close this post by sharing a poem that has been circulated for years amongst puppy raisers.

Ode to My Puppy Raiser
by Melanie S. Meenen

So when you remember me. . .

Goofy grins
Dancing eyes
Flopping ears
Spiked teeth leave
Fuzz changes to fur
Puppy breath vanishes
Hindquarters follow front
All obedience basics practiced
Socialization continues day by day
Trainers nod heads in agreement
We all knew it was coming
My time has come to go
Their grins disappear
Eyes tear quickly
Heads shake
Hearts torn
Return
Train

Know I was born to set someone free!

PETA Does It Again!

Today I was reading through some of my e-mails from a list I am on and noticed this story about PETA. After reading the article at http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/unleashed/2009/01/when-we-first-r.html, I decided that it was time to post my feelings about this organization. I have posted some of my thoughts in an earlier post, but seeing as the above refers specifically to assistance dogs, particularly “seeing eye” dogs, I thought I would post my thoughts here.

PETA seems to think they are the “know-it-alls” when it comes to how we service dog users treat our canine companions. They are constantly writing articles and posts about how some of us mistreat our dogs, how our dogs are made to work all hours of the day, and how we throw them to the curb when they become too old to work or when the various training programs decide that they are not suited for the job. Well, as a “seeing eye” dog user I can tell you that they obviously don’t have their facts straight and obviously don’t know an assistance dog user. Yes, I will admit, that there are some out there who work their dogs a little too much, don’t give their dogs enough time to just be a dog, and don’t pamper them the way they should, but these people are very few and far between.

I have two “seeing eye” dogs in my house; Phoenix who is 12 and has been retired for 3 and a half years and Cessna who is 5 and works less than she sleeps. I also have a foster puppy who will soon become an autism assistance dog and who I know will be treated with as much caring and love as he has with us.

PETA seems to think, according to the link above, that it is okay for someone to use a hearing ear dog who has been rescued from a shelter and trained, but they don’t feel it is right for a dog to be a “seeing eye” dog. I can see their point about how training programs should stop breeding dogs for “perfection” when there are tons of dogs out there in need of a good home, but I take offense to their comment about the blind not being able to care for their dogs the way that a deaf person can. Yes, we cannot see and therefore it may take us a bit longer to figure out our dogs have something like a bladder infection, but we aren’t stupid, we know when our dogs aren’t feeling well and we know that it is important to take our dogs for regular vet checks or ask our friends if they notice anything different. I cannot see well, but I always know, even before my husband who is fully sighted, that something is wrong with one of my dogs. It is usually me who asks him to check them over or asks him whether he notices anything weird about their behaviour.

I agree that there are probably people out there who cannot take care of themselves let alone take care of a dog, but I don’t think all “seeing eye” dog users out there should be placed into the same category. As with pet owners there are good service dog users and poor ones. There are people out there who should not own a pet and people out there who should not be using a service dog. But, if someone notices something fishy about a person’s use of their service dog then they should not hesitate to call the appropriate authorities for assistance, but for those of us who are doing nothing wrong I think people like PETA should just back off and let us keep living the way we want. We aren’t doing anything wrong and we aren’t causing our dogs any harm – contrary to many people’s belief our dogs actually enjoy what they do and would be bored just staying home.

Take what you want from reading my comments, but before judging me think about where your dog is while you are away. Is he or she with you? Or is he or she at home alone?