Time for Classes

For the past year Rogue has been taking part in the monthly tracking sessions hosted by Search and Rescue Dogs, Ontario.

While working with Susie in field work with Arizona, she mentioned that she takes tracking lessons with a woman named Laura, who also does field with her labs, Tenner and Cassie. Rogue seems to be stuck in the beginning parts of learning corners, so Huib and I decided it’s time to look into doing more regular sessions. While at field one night, I asked Laura about tracking and after learning that she is a tracking judge, we set up a lesson.

On Friday evening around 6:00pm, we met up with Laura at Susie’s place and did some tracking with Rogue. Since it was her first time seeing Rogue track, Laura set up two different types of tracks and asked us to show her what we have done so far.

Rogue was amazing!! She tracked like a pro. She was a bit excited, so she wasn’t perfect, but Laura thought she could have totally earned her first tracking title with what she showed her.

Laura draws maps and makes comments along the track on the map, so once we are done she is able to show Huib where things need to be improved. She even gave us the map afterwards so that we can keep track of Rogue’s progress.

As long as it doesn’t rain, and we’re all free, we’ll be tracking with Laura Fridays at 6:00pm.

Saratoga Springs: Conference Time

The dinner gathering on Tuesday night was a wash. The organizers really didn’t offer any food, just a few appetizers with drinks. People seemed to know one another, so it was a bit awkward for Huib and I. We stayed for a couple of drinks and then left to order pizza in our hotel room with Rogue and Canyon.

Brooke and Rogue standing in front of a metal statue. The statue is a memorial for people lost in the 9/11 attacks. Brooke is wearing a fancy white tank top that has silver trim with blue jeans, a white hat, black Oakley sunglasses and black leather sandals. Rogue is wearing her red guide harness.

Wednesday morning we had a bit of breakfast and then I went to the keynote by John Bradshaw, while Huib returned to the room to watch Dirty Jobs with Canyon.

The keynote was good. Bradshaw talked about anthropomorphism and how it can be both good and bad. I didn’t really agree with his belief that dogs lack higher levels of intelligence and the ability to feel some of the complex emotions, but overall I really enjoyed his talk. After he had finished, the floor was opened for questions. The most interesting question asked was by a woman who used to be a nurse in a hospice. She wanted to know how Bradshaw can explain the reaction dogs have to dying patients if he believes they do not possess higher levels of intelligence and feeling. I totally see what she was saying and I didn’t feel Bradshaw answered her question. I wish I had taken good notes, so I could actually explain what he was saying and how her question related, but of course I am a horrible notetaker.

When the keynote was over, Huib came back to go with Rogue and I into the ball room where the posters were set up. The people who had posters were asked to stay by their poster for an hour each day of the conference to answer any questions.

I had a number of people come by. I’m not really sure why, but people really seemed interested in my project. I had a couple of people comment that my poster had too much writing, but otherwise I had a lot of compliments and questions regarding my research findings. Even though I am still in the beginning stages of my project, I was able to answer most questions and I don’t really think anyone noticed that I haven’t really started my research, lol!

The morning sessions weren’t overly interesting to me, but I did like the presentation on veterans and service dogs. The research seemed to tie in well with the research paper my thesis supervisor wrote last year for Veterans Affairs on the benefit of service dogs for veterans.

Lunch was good, not only did I get some pizza, but they also had some good salads.

In the afternoon there were several different presentations relating to service dogs. A woman from the UK did a research project looking at the psychological benefits of guide dogs to their blind handlers. It was interesting to listen to her findings because one of the conclusions I made in my short literature review was that there is a lot of research looking at the benefits of therapy dogs and companion dogs, but no real studies looking at the psychological benefits of service dogs. There was also an interesting study looking at the activity level of blind people with service dogs compared to blind people without dogs. She found that guide dog users tend to be more active than blind individuals without a dog.

Canyon lying in front of a black horse statue that is decorated in beverage containers.

I can’t really remember what the second afternoon session was about, so it probably wasn’t overly interesting.

Dinner was at a local restaurant. It was pretty fancy stuff. We had steak with mashed potatoes and grilled veggies. They also served some good salad and tasty bread. We could have also had dessert, but we wanted to get back to Canyon and we both weren’t overly hungry anymore, so we passed on the desserts.

On the final day of the conference we had to leave the room by noon, so I only went to the morning sessions. There was a keynote on zoos that was quite interesting. Did you know that giraffes are quickly nearing endangered species status? Did you know that there is no real value in conserving the Giant Panda? I didn’t know either.

There were a variety of presentations in the morning session. There was an interesting presentation by Hal Herzog, on the problems with studies looking at the value of animal-assisted therapies. He argues that most studies do not actually prove anything because often they are too small sample-wise and lack controls.

The next couple presentations were on activity dog programs at a couple of different universities and a rehabilitation centre in Switzerland. I really liked the prevention by Sandra Barker, evaluating the program her university runs. Not only do they have dogs, but they also have cats, rabbits and a chicken. Could you imagine? A therapy chicken?

Other than finding it hard to stay in a down during the afternoon sessions on Wednesday, Rogue did quite well. I got a lot of compliments on her work and about how quiet she is. I do need to work on her staying in a down for longer periods of time, but in her defence, Wednesday was a pretty long day and she did well until the last few presentations.

Once Huib and Canyon had loaded the car, Huib came to get Rogue and I. We then set off to visit Cyndy and Uschi from the blog, Gentle Wit.

It was a pretty short visit, but a good one. Such really liked playing with Canyon. We spent most of the time just hanging out at their house, letting Uschi and Canyon play with the tennis balls Cyndy brought out and spread around the living room. Rogue isn’t an overly social dog with other dogs, so she spent most of the visit hiding on the couch or trying to walk along the back of the couch to see where Huib had gone. Other than watching the dogs play and talking, we went to pick up food at the Cheesecake Factory and had breakfast at a yummy little diner before leaving for home.

I have been sending packages to Cyndy’s place for months, so we also picked a lot of stuff up during our visit. We got Swamp Cooler vests for the goldens from Ruffwear, a bright pink front attach harness and pacific blue front attach harness from Ruffwear for Arizona and rogue, some JW chew toys for Ari, some new black leather leashes for a couple of friends and for the labs along with matching black leather martingales for Rogue and Cessna. I also finally got my new purple iPhone case and Huib got a black one for his phone. Oh, and I also got Cessna’s new supplement I’m trying out with her that is made from the shell membrane of eggs. This new supplement is supposed to be better than Glucosamine, so even though Cessna isn’t showing any arthritis yet, she is making some clicking noises when she walks up stairs, so I’m hoping this new supplement will help her out.

When we got back to my friend’s place to pick up Cessna and Arizona, Ari told Huib how much she disliked the fact that we had left her for so long. She was extremely vocal about it and held onto Huib’s arm for along time, taking him from place to place in the yard, lol! My friend said both girls were great and Ari had a good time playing with her daughter’s foster puppy, Sully. When she dropped Sully off at her daughter’s place, he didn’t even greet Kelsey, he just went over and laid on his bed, lol!

Saratoga Springs: Arrival

The International Society for Anthrozoology’s
conference has arrived.

We dropped Cessna and Arizona off in Oakville to stay with a friend last night, and set out early this morning.

Canyon and Rogue were great travelling buddies. Other than wanting to pee, some water and a few treats when we stopped for a quick lunch, they slept the entire drive.

When we arrived at the hotel, we left Canyon in the vehicle and took Rogue to checkin. After we got our keys we walked down to the room and I stayed with Rogue while Huib went out to park and grab the stuff with Canyon.

While Huib was gone, Rogue thought she had better test the sleeping accommodations.

Rogue stretched out on a king-sized bed with a white comforter

Once we were settled and unpacked some, Huib, Rogue and I went down to register for the conference.

We brought a canvas crate for Canyon to hang out in while we are at the conference, but he isn’t happy about the decision, so let us know by barking while we walked down the hall. Huib ran back to the room and let him out, which seemed to settle him. He was happily waiting for us in the room when we returned a few minutes after registering.

So that he’ll hopefully be happier while we are at dinner, Huib took Canyon for a short walk around the neighbourhood.

Here’s a picture of Canyon at High Rock Park.

Canyon standing under an old wooden shelter that covers a spring

While I write this the dogs are napping and Huib is checking his work email. Hopefully the rest of this evening goes as smoothly.

Looking Back

The topic for this round of the assistance Dog Blog Carnival is “regrets.” I chose this topic because in exactly one month it will be 17 years since I was partnered with Phoenix. For new blog readers, Phoenix was officially my second dog guide from Dog Guides Canada, but to me he was my first, and the dog who started it all.

On July 23rd, 1998, I was matched with Phoenix, a 21 month old male yellow lab. He wanted nothing to do with me at first, he just wanted to be with his trainer. Around the two week mark of class, a switch turned and he was mine forever. From that moment in time, Phoenix and I ruled the world together. Even when he retired 7 years later, he was still my constant shadow. No matter how much Huib tried to win his affection, Phoenix would have none of it. When I was home, Phoenix was stuck to me like glue.

We finished my final year of high school together. We completed five years at the University of Guelph and walked across the graduation stage side by side. Along the way Phoenix taught me about unconditional love and the value of true friendship.

It’s true, I’ve had several dogs since getting Phoenix (not all guides of course), but no matter who has passed through my life since July 23rd, Phoenix had and will always have a big piece of my heart.

You’re probably wondering how this all relates to the topic of “regrets.” Well, looking back I have many regrets.

Looking back, I wish I had known about clicker training and that I had not used the choke chain and the harsh corrections that went along with it. It’s true that I stopped using all of this a year or so after getting Cessna, but I still have regrets.

Looking back, I wish I had known about feeding a raw diet sooner. Yes, Phoenix ate raw his final eight months with me, but it took me over 12 years to finally figure out how to end his constant fight with ear infections. It’s true that I figured out his allergies by the time he was seven, but he still got painful ear infections off and on, so I have regrets.

Looking back, I wish I had known the end was near. It’s true he was just two months shy of his 15th birthday when he passed. It’s true that I was not in school or working, so I spent every hour of the day at home with the dogs. It’s true that I fed him all of his favourite human foods, such as pizza, french fries, Kraft Dinner and beef jerky, when he’d eat for me. It’s true that he progressively ate less and less, while sleeping more and more the last month of his life, so I should have known the end was near. But, I have regrets.

I wonder if he would have stayed longer if I had not gotten Rogue. I wonder if he wouldn’t have started to give up if I hadn’t left him with friends for a few days while I took Canyon, Cessna and Rogue to Rogue’s breeder’s reunion. I will probably never know the answer for certain, and he probably would have still passed away, but I have regrets.

According to dictionary.com, regret means to: “feel sorrow or remorse for an act, fault, or disappointment.”

This definition seems fitting. I feel sorrow for the training methods I chose, which caused me to act poorly towards Phoenix. I feel remorse for not acting sooner to stop his ear infections. And, I feel sorrow for possibly causing him to pass away sooner than he might have if I had not chosen to get a puppy.

It’s true that I shouldn’t feel bad for these things, but I still have regrets.

Posing

Brooke and Rogue posed in front of a blue spruce tree. Brooke is kneeling beside Rogue who is standing in her red and black guide harness.

Our friend, Cyndy, is designing me a business card to give people at conferences and as we travel the world. Huib took this picture of us in our front yard and I thought it was pretty good, so decided to also share it here. This picture will go on the front panel of a three-fold business card and a picture of just Rogue will go on one of the inside panels. I think it’s going to look pretty awesome, and provide people with information from both my educational and personal interests.

Fast Asleep

Rogue stretched out on a dark brown leather couch

We went to the mall this afternoon, but she didn’t even have to work that hard.

What a lazy girl!!

Back to Track

It’s been a while, but on Saturday we returned to tracking with Search and Rescue Dogs, Ontario.

Brooke squatting down while Rogue lays beside her

We are still working on corners, but Rogue’s enthusiasm got in the way of her search, making her zig-zag more than the instructor would like, so she asked us to do some long straight tracks before trying another corner.

Brooke holds the tracking line while Rogue has her nose down following the track

Over the next month we need to continue working on her corners, starting with a couple of really long straight tracks before attempting an actual corner. The instructor loves her excitement level, but we need to rein it in a bit.

When you watch her track it’s hard to believe she’s actually a guide dog, lol!

Happy Anniversary!!

Can you believe it?

Rogue and I have now been working together full-time for a year!!

We did it! We made it! We are truly a working team Little Monster.

I can’t believe it’s already been a year since we did the Public Access Test with Sherman and Soleil.

I am so proud of the progress you have made over the past year. Now when we go out, I never worry about getting injured because I know I have my little red girl with me.

Thank you for teaching me so much over the past four years. I never could have done any of this without you Rogie.

Happy Anniversary to Us!!

Vet Check

Last week the dogs had their yearly check up with Bianca. Since we always bring the four in together, she set aside an hour and a half for them.

Cessna was checked over first. Bianca was a bit concerned about her coat condition and that she’s gained a couple of pounds since November, but otherwise she said Cess looks good. We already knew something was up with her thyroid levels, so Huib suggested having her dose raised and then do the blood draw two weeks later. Bianca agreed with his suggestion and gave us some new meds to try.

Next it was Arizona’s turn. Bianca hadn’t seen Ari since the fall, so she was quite impressed at how much she’s grown and matured. Ari had no problem letting Bianca check her over, but wanted to see everything and sniff anything Bianca put near her, lol! She also cleaned Bianca’s ears and face, so it was a good exam for her. Bianca had no concerns, so gave Arizona her first rabies vaccine and drew blood for a Heartworm and Lyme test.

Rogue was also due for her rabies vaccine, so after getting checked over she got it and had some blood drawn for titres and the Heartworm and Lyme testing. Bianca had no concerns at all with Rogue.

Finally, it was Canyon’s turn. She wanted to do another CBC as well as titres and the Heartworm and Lyme test, so we let her do them. Canyon had a CBC done in January and his red blood cell count and haemoglobin values were off, so Bianca wanted to check them to make sure they were better. With golden retrievers you have to worry about mass cell tumours, so that was mainly why Bianca wanted the blood test redone. We also talked about Canyon’s seizures and since they seem to be happening every 4-5 weeks she said she is comfortable with leaving him off meds for a bit longer. She isn’t sure if the Coenzyme Q10 is doing anything, but it also can’t hurt, so she wants him to continue taking that. Otherwise she just asked me to keep writing things down and to let her know if things change. We asked her about giving him fish again since his seizures don’t seem to be related. She agreed and said that she would like us to wait until after his next seizure and then try fish to see what happens.

It was nice to know everyone is healthy.

Somebody is 4!!

RLR’s Babe In Total Control is 4 years old.

Rogue lying on a purple fleece blanket

HAPPY 4TH BIRTHDAY Roga Monster!!

Time sure flies.

Gone is the little baby puppy.

An 8 week old Rogue attempts to climb over a baby gate

Better Picture of Rogue Climbing Over The Gate - June 12, 2011

Now you are a beautiful working girl.

Brooke and Rogue walking up concrete stairs on their way to school.

I hope you have enjoyed your first four years of life. We have sure loved having you here with us.

I hope you really liked your cupcake cookie and cardinal stuffy. I’m sorry Arizona thought you should share some and didn’t ask before grabbing half – silly puppies!!

Again, HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY 4TH BIRTHDAY ROGUE!!