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?

Santa Paws Has Come & Gone


Our house was full of excitement on Christmas morning, not with the excited screaming of children, but with the happy curiosity of five dogs waiting patiently to see what was in their stockings. Over the past month Huib and I have done a lot of shopping for them all, filling their stockings with toys, treats and other things we knew they would enjoy. With this being our first and only Christmas with Aiden we made sure to spoil him and to make it a memorable day for us all.

We got each dog to lie on a red blanket with their full stocking in front of them for a picture and then emptied it in front of them for another. Each dog was very interested in what their stocking contained and each dog found at least one thing inside that they wanted to check out immediately.

Aiden’s stocking contained: 2 stuffed toys that squeak (a person wearing a santa hat that said naughty on one side & nice on the other; an organge monkey with a santa hat), 3 ginger snap cookies, a bone filled with beef rollover, and a new Frisbee for the summer. He was of course interested in the treats, but after having one he took the orange moneky and ran down the hall squeaking it as he went.

Cessna’s stocking contained: a naughty or nice person (same as Aiden), a small orca whale that she can play with in the water, a treat dispenser called a chill pill, a small football, 2 cinnamon bun cookies, a package of snausages, and a stuffed frog that squeaks and has rope arms and legs. She was most interested in the cinnamon bun cookie and ran off to the bedroom to eat one when she was done.

Phoenix’s stocking wasn’t as full as the others, but he was given a new bed for Christmas and absolutely loves stealing the toys from the other dogs so we weren’t as concerned. This year his stocking contained a new treat ball (he now has 4 different ones) and a stuffed turtle that squeaks and wears a santa hat. Of course being his usual food motivated self he was eager to have us fill his ball and was off pushing it up and down the hallway with the others not far behind.

Libertie’s stocking contained: a stuffed bear wearing a santa hat, 3 ginger snap cookies, a brown leather collar, a rope toy, a squeaky tennis ball, and a bone filled with turkey rollover. She quickly ate a ginger snap cookie and then took her teddy to show her brother. Sadly teddy lost his nose within only five minutes, but she still loves to play with him just as much.

Aspen’s stocking contained: a brown leather collar, a knuckle bone, a rubber toy called a Little Devil that you can put treats into, a blue stuffed penguin that squeaks and wears a santa hat, a stuffed duck that also squeaks, and 3 ginger snap cookies. She swallowed 2 of the ginger snaps whole and then went off with her Little Devil.

All in all our dogs were spoiled. Some were given a little more than others, but in the end it all seems to even itself out as they all share and all get a variety of things throughout the year. Just looking at the money I spend each year on my dogs for Christmas makes me wonder what I will be like when I have children to spoil as well.

First Birthday Already!


Today is Aiden and Libertie’s 1st birthday, where did the time go? I remember when we got little wrinkly faced Aiden at 10 weeks of age and now looking at him I wonder where those days went. He has grown up to be such a handsome young dog, with such a patient and loving personality. With this milestone though comes the knowledge that soon he will go for training and we will no longer wake up to his nose and tongue in our faces – eager to get the day started. He is so much like my old boy Phoenix that it makes me sad every day to think about his upcoming departure from our home.

Libertie has now been with us for a month and a couple of weeks. She has learned so much and has pretty much settled into the routine of living in our home. She has mastered: sit, down, come, and is wonderful about waiting for the “ok” command before going to eat her meals. She has learned to take treats gently and is well on her way to learning how to stay and settle down (with the use of a tie down or crate, but soon she will no longer need these either).

I am not sure why our personalities seem to clash, but I find myself often wondering whether she really likes being here. I will give her a command and she will keep walking and when I make her obey she will stare at me with her sad eyes because I guess in her mind I am a mean person not allowing her to do what she desires. When her sister Amber was with us for a short time she would often give me that same look. I wish I could allow her to do what she wants, but I also cannot stand having a dog who ignores authority. Maybe in a little while she will begin to understand that I am not being cruel, but only trying to teach her what I know will help her become the dog I know she can be. My sister and her seem to have a wonderful bond with one another, maybe it is because Brandi does not force her to obey all of the time, but seeing this relationship helps me to see that she will have a great home for life if she does not stay with us.

Aiden and Libby had a great day playing with their buddies and with their new presents. Aiden absolutely loves his stuffed monkey with rope arms and legs that squeaks and Libby loves her new cow hoof filled with rollover. Soon they will have even more new toys to play with as Christmas is not far away.