Catching Up

A lot has happened over the past couple of weeks. I was unwell last week, so unable to update the blog.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend Piper came to visit. She has a bit of a shoulder injury, so we weren’t able to play any fetch, but we did go for long walks. To make things less busy, Huib took the goldens for bike rides, then him and I took Piper and Rogue for a walk. Neither Piper or Rogue enjoy the bike, so the arrangement worked well.

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On the 15th, Rogue attempted to earn her UTD (urban tracking dog) title. Unfortunately, she got caught up in a cross-track, and was unsuccessful. Our judge, Sharon Smith, was great!! She gave us tons of room to work and fail. After talking to her later on, I felt better knowing there was really nothing I could have done differently to save us.

We are going to do more work on cross-tracks and tracking on soft surfaces. I felt her hard surface tracking was a lot stronger than her soft surface tracking. I think it might be because we worked a lot on hard surface when my ankle was healing.

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On the 18th, D came over and we went for a walk/run. I wasn’t feeling perfectly well, so we didn’t do a lot of running, but it felt good to get back into it. We did our 4 kilometre route, running for 20 seconds. four different times, on quieter streets.

My leg muscles were a bit sore the following day, but my ankle felt good.

I still want to get back to the pool, and do some work at the gym on the bike and elliptical, but it was nice to start running again.

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Arizona’s test results came back from Paw Print Genetics. She is clear of everything, except PRA 2, which she is a carrier of. This means we cannot use the stud we had hoped to use, so we’re looking at other options.

Now we have to get her heart, hips and elbows cleared.

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On Saturday, we met up with Laura and some others to track at Guelph Lake. I had hoped to have all three of the dogs track, but the Grand River Conservation Authority has closed park access to cars, so we weren’t able to find space for many tracks. As a result, only Arizona got a chance to work.

Ari did a fabulous job!!! Even though the track conditions were poor, she worked hard and did not do much ‘crittering.’

Huib has decided to try and enter Arizona into the November 12th TD test.

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On Sunday, it was really nice weather, so Susie put on a field session.

Arizona was hesitant about entering the water, so I called her back to set her up again and resend her. She jumped in and went straight for the duck, brought it back and gave it to me. I almost dropped it, but caught it by the foot, lol!! Her second retrieve was perfect.

On land, Susie had us set up things, so the dogs would have to go through a variety of covers.

Canyon joined us, wearing his Ruffwear Swamp Cooler vest to stay cool in the sun.

Huib had him do the first two land retrieves, before I sent Arizona. He was great!!! Even though he ran a bit short of the bird, he searched and located it without any assistance – Good Boy!!

Arizona did two beautiful land retrieves.

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Before I sign off, a quick update on Canyon’s seizures.

After seven months and ten days without a seizure, Canyon had a very mild one on Friday evening. I say “very mild” because it really never progressed past the initial tensing of the body. It might have been that Huib got Rescue Remedy into him within a minute of Canyon telling us there’s a problem, or maybe it’s something else, but we were happy with the improvement.

Now we’re hoping for at least month before his next.

Happy Birthday Cessna

Cessna is now 11 years old!!

We didn’t do too much on the actual day of her birthday because I had school and Huib had work.

The dogs each got fresh beef bones for breakfast, and a ground beef Kong for dinner.

Since Cessna’s birthday is so close to Halloween, we decided to have a mini-Halloween costume party for her.

Arizona wears a green frog costume. It has a stuffed frog head that is on her head, and stuffed frog legs.

Canyon wears a Tigger costume. The costume has a stuffed Tigger head that is sitting on his head.

Both Rogue, the lion, and Cessna, the monarch butterfly, weren’t into being photographed, so we just took pictures of the goldens.

Arizona in her frog costume with a big smile on her face

Arizona really didn’t seem to mind her costume.

Canyon Looking for Trick or Treaters. He's looking out the screen door in his tigger costume, so the picture is taken from behind.

We had about 60 kids come, so Canyon thought it was great.

Arizona passed out on the floor in her costume

It was a pretty exhausting day, and then night for the little frog.

During the day Huib and I took the dogs to visit residents at the long-term care home where he works. We took the goldens together and then in the afternoon we took the labs. The dogs were a big hit with the residents.

Cessna even had her friends Ace and Piper come for a visit in their super hero costumes.

Happy Birthday Cessnaroo! We all love you!

10 Weeks Old

The past week has been full of ups and downs. Maybe it’s primarily due to the fact that I have had migraines almost every moment of the week, so my patience is a bit thin, but it’s definitely been a trying one.

Arizona with her head sticking out the front screen door.

Arizona is learning tons and settling in amazingly well with our gang, but she’s also becoming more determined and opinionated.

rogue continues to play with her and has even started explaining the rules and boundaries – I am SO proud of the Rogue Monster!

Cessna doesn’t know what to do with the puppy and has decided to just keep ignoring her existence.

Canyon tolerates her efforts to play and has even started doing his tug game he used to play with Rogue. He lies on the ground holding a toy in his mouth and Arizona tugs on the toy with all her might. Rogue and Canyon still play this game, so as Rogue became bigger she started pulling him around the house.

Arizona sleeps well some nights, but sleeps horribly the following night, it’s SO frustrating!! I am hoping this pattern will stop sooner than later because the getting up every hour is quite exhausting.

She is sleeping in her crate without the blood-curdling screams though and even takes naps for a couple hours each morning in it, so that’s progress.

On Friday our friend Karen came with her 7 month old puppy, Spark, and our friend kelly came with her two dogs, Piper and Ace. It was a really good experience for Arizona to have the three dogs to interact with.

A view from above of Arizona sleeping under a chair while on a coffee date with a friend.

Spark played with her the most and got a bit rough at times, so Karen would grab his collar and have him relax for a minute before being allowed to return.

Piper took a bit to get used to Arizona’s size. I think a lot of dogs wonder if it’s safe or appropriate to be playing with such a small puppy. After she realized that Arizona wasn’t breakable, they had a blast wrestling and chasing one another. Ace wanted nothing to do with the puppy, but that isn’t too abnormal for the big guy, he is more into wandering the yard or mourning Rogue.

On Saturday, Kelly took Arizona for a few hours. She had a coffee date with a friend, so took Arizona to sit on the patio.

On the learning front, Arizona is doing amazingly well at learning to come when we whistle, so now we need to decide if it is worthwhile teaching her the word ‘come’ or if whistling is good enough for recall. Her work with zen (or ‘leave it’) is coming along. I am starting to say ‘leave it’ as she goes to back off from the treat I have in my palm. Arizona is also doing really well at learning to sit. Our little friend, Kira, has been helping me out with this. I really want to teach Arizona to sit using the capturing method, so I have had Kira clicking whenever she sees Arizona sit. Arizona began to quickly figure out what she was getting the clicks and treats for, so now Kira is starting to say the word ‘sit’ as Arizona’s bum is moving to the floor. I think she’ll be ready to learn a hand signal for sit by the end of the week.

I am going to continue working on zen, sit and come, but I also think I may start trying to capture the ‘down’ and try teaching Arizona to give paw or maybe even paw target. I am eager to teach her to nose target, but my friend Robin has suggested I avoid teaching the nose target until Arizona is understanding ‘leave it’ because she is extremely food motivated and needs to learn a bit of self-control.

Arizona has started to switch over to eating raw. We switched her over to Orijen puppy just over a week ago from Pro Plan, but now it’s time to switch her to eating raw like the others. So far she is just getting a tiny ground beef ball with her breakfast, but probably by the weekend she’ll be eating almost purely raw. Maybe the diet change will also help with the house training.

The house training is a challenge, but I think it’s improving. Arizona is now 10 weeks, so her ability to wait should be increasing. We have reintroduced the box with wood stove pellets, like her breeder used, so I am hoping this will speed up the house training process. The only real issue I am having, that is perplexing, is that Arizona has now decided pooping in her exercise pen is acceptable, but seems to know that she shouldn’t be relieving in her crate.

Puppy rearing can be such an adventure, stay tuned for more updates on Taygold’s Kindred Spirit, who should have really been named Trouble not Arizona.

Adventures In Dogsitting

On Thursday morning, Kelly dropped Ace and Piper off for a couple of days. We’ve never taken care of an Australian Shepherd, so I thought this was going to be an adventure.

It ended up being no big deal.

Piper, an almost one year old Australian Shepherd. She is a red merrel, which means she has red-ish brown fur, with a lot of white and tan fur as well.

piper was awesome. She was really well behaved and as long as we played fetch every couple of hours, she was quite relaxed.

Piper and Cessna stand together in our yard waiting for the frisbee to fall.

Piper catches an orange plastic frisbee. You can see Rogue and Cessna in the picture as well, since they had also tried to catch it.

Piper has caught the orange plastic frisbee and you can see both Cessna and Rogue beside her.

I wasn’t sure how Canyon would take to having another dog compete for the ball or frisbee, but he didn’t seem to care. Sometimes I’d hold his collar so that piper could catch the toy first before he was released to bring it back, and sometimes I just let them work it out on their own. there wasn’t any arguments, and Piper seemed to quickly learn that she was welcome to run after and catch the toy, but Canyon had to bring it back or he’d pester her until she gave it up.

Rogue has an orange plastic frisbee, and is being chased by both Piper and Canyon.

When kelly returned, Piper was really excited to see her, but Ace was a big goof and pretended he was busy playing with something, lol!

In July, Piper will be coming to visit for 5 days, so that should be a lot of fun.

Two Weeks In guelph

I had meant to write an update on Wednesday, but time got away from me. We’ve now been in our new home for two and a half weeks.

The past week and a half have been busy. We’ve unpacked more boxes and moved some furniture around. We’ve taken the labs on training trips. We’ve gotten together with Kelly and her pack twice. And we’ve taken all three dogs for hikes and a swim.

Last Sunday, we drove to Aurora to plant some flowers at my Mom’s grave. Mother’s Day has always been a tough day for me since Mom’s passing, but this year seemed easier. dad came with us, and I think seeing how happy he was helping Huib plant the flowers at Mom’s grave, really helped. After we were done, we drove to Sutton to see if my Aunt Dawn was around. her house was unlocked, so Huib called her cell phone and found out she was visiting her friend nearby. We drove over there and had a great time visiting. Aunt Dawn’s friend has several foster children, as well as, two male golden retrievers, two love birds and a 9 month old male pot belly pig. she told us to bring the dogs in with us, so we brought them in slowly. Canyon was initially interested in the pig, but quickly lost interest and settled at my feet, but Ruben, one of the goldens (Jack was away with her daughter tree planting) was a little too interested in him. Ruben kept licking Canyon’s face and ears, so just before we left, Huib took him and Rogue back to the car, so he could have a rest. The labs had to stay on leash because they were really interested in the birds and wouldn’t stop trying to sniff Poomba it was a good experience for Rogue though, she had never met a pig, let alone one that lives in a house.

Rogue and I have started doing some sidewalk guiding. She’s still hating the guide handle, but once she has it on for a while, she stops moping. I’ve been getting Cessna dressed and then her dressed, then walking around the house with Cessna, talking to her and giving her treats for being such a good girl, in an effort to make rogue jealous. It actually seems to be working. Rogue is taking less and less time to break free of the “roots” holding her in place when she first gets her vest and guide handle on. We’ve done some forward walking on the sidewalk, and other than her pull being excessive and her wanting to stay close to the grass on her side, she’s doing well. she is keeping me well away from the sidewalk edge and is quite responsive to my cues. this week, I hope to start her curb work, but it all depends upon her mood and the weather.

On Wednesday, Kelly, her boyfriend Josh, and their two Australian Shepherds, Piper and Baron, came to visit. the four of us, along with rogue and the Aussies, went over to the park across the road to do some group obedience. Josh was having a bit of a rough day, so he worked on keeping Baron’s attention and keeping him under threshold, while Kelly and I worked on getting the girls (Rogue and Piper) to perform their various obedience cues. Rogue was a little distracted by the smells and scenery, but overall, I think she did pretty well. I had her wear her new teal Kong harness, since I felt it was a good opportunity to work on her “pet” manners.

I bought Rogue the Kong harness so that she can wear it on leisure walks. I don’t want her to pull on her collar, and the Easy Walk harness seems to have caused some unforeseen issues. the Kong harness has a ring on the back that the leash attaches to and padding on the chest area, so Rogue finds it a bit too comfortable to pull. I’m going to work on her Level 1 behaviours, and start teaching her loose leash walking with it. I wanted to get her another front attach harness, but the only one I can find is the Easy Walk and I think the way it fit and the way it worked, may have caused Rogue discomfort and long-lasting issues with it. We’ve worked hard on getting her to feel okay with putting pressure into the chest strap of her Har-Vest, so I don’t want to go back to the beginning there.

On Thursday, Huib and I took the three dogs over to the park across the road to play frisbee. Canyon really likes frisbee, so we thought he’d enjoy running for it on the soccer field. He ran for it a few times, and then got distracted by another dog and ran over to check it out, ignoring our calls. Huib ran after him and noticed that it wasn’t actually the dog he was running to, it was a swampy pond he had seen. Canyon saw Huib coming, but totally ignored him and laid down in the muddy water – bad boy! Rogue had followed him, but did not get into the water – both youngsters were put back on leash and had to watch Cessna play frisbee on her own. Cessna thought it was awesome to be playing frisbee while the others were stuck on leash. After Cessna had had enough, we put her back on leash and then started walking along the gravel path that leads around the swampy pond (the water from the rain gutters collects there). I think that once Cessna and I do the route a few more times with Huib, we’ll be able to walk it on our own.

On Friday, we met up with a friend for lunch at Eastside Mario’s. I met Evelyn during my time at the University of Guelph. I had been a volunteer and then Co-ordinator for their Safe Walk Program, and Evelyn was a dispatcher for the University of Guelph Police. I’m not sure how we got talking, but when I used to live in Guelph, evelyn and I would get together for lunch once a month, so now that I’m back, we’re going to try doing that again.

When we had arrived at Eastside’s Huib went to park and the orlando stalled on him twice. we have had this happen a couple of times before, but they were never this frequent, so Huib became concerned. When we were done lunch, I asked evelyn if she’d mind following us over to the GM dealership, and of course, she said no problem. When we got back into the car, Huib saw that the engine light had come on, so we knew something was up. At the dealership, the woman at the counter told us they had no appointments, but Huib asked if they could at least run a diagnostics to see if it was safe for him to continue driving (since it was Friday), she said it might just take a bit. We took the labs into the waiting room and I did some obedience with Rogue – I try to do this in all places, so she learns to follow my cues everywhere. About 30 minutes later, we heard our names over the intercom and were told that the orlando was ready. They had replaced a valve.

While we had been waiting, I received a text from kelly asking if we wanted to meet her and Ace (her 4 year old male black lab) for a hike and swim. We met them at an old quarry near our former condo building. the dogs ran ahead, while we chatted. At the end of the long path, there’s a river that used to have a bridge over it, but the city must have taken the bridge down, so we let the dogs play there. A woman and her young male italian Mastiff were there as well, so we were a bit more cautious with allowing Canyon to roam. the other dog was intact, and seemed to be paying a little too much attention to Canyon, so Huib called Canyon over for some treats and waited until the woman and her dog were gone, before releasing him again. After about half an hour of swimming, we started walking back towards the vehicles. Kelly and Ace had to get back home to let the Aussies out, but we stayed behind and let our three swim in the quarry. Canyon was hilarious. He kept running along the shore to find the shortest route to the toy, while Cessna swam out to retrieve it. Once she made her way back to the shore, Canyon would meet her and bring the toy back to us as though he had been the one to do all the work. Just before we left, a woman and her female golden retriever showed up. the golden was really interested in our toy, so Huib threw it a few times for her to retrieve – the other woman hadn’t brought any toys for her.

this weekend we haven’t done too much. the weather is warm and starting to get a hint of humidity, so I play short games of fetch with Canyon in the backyard, but try to stay cool indoors otherwise. My migraines seem to be better living here. Maybe it’s because I am able to stay cooler, dad doesn’t have access to a wood stove, or maybe the weather is just more stable right now – either way, it’s nice not having to take extra meds.

Three Days In Guelph

Now that we are back home I thought I’d do a longer entry about what we did on our three days in Guelph.

As I mentioned in the Halloween post, Aspen had her surgery to remove her broken canine tooth on Wednesday morning. Since Huib worked a twelve hour day shift on Tuesday, we had to wake up at midnight and leave the house by 1:30am in order to get Aspen to the vet clinic for 9:00am. The dogs thought we had lost our marbles when we woke them up a few hours after going to sleep, but they were good sports and slept the entire drive. When we arrived at the clinic, I had a bit of a discussion with a rude receptionist about not leaving Aspen until they were ready for her – she seemed to believe that because it was “their routine” and because “no other owners seemed to have an issue with it” that I was going to just hand Aspen’s leash over and let them put her into a kennel until they got around to her surgery – but I told her that it wasn’t going to happen. We waited with our golden girl in the waiting room until the vet came out to talk to us, and a nicer woman came and took Aspen back for sedation. The vet explained what would happen before, during and after the surgery and said that it would probably take longer than most tooth extractions because the canine tooth is one of the more difficult to remove. I found this link that gives a pretty good explanation of what the vet had told us.

after leaving the clinic, we met up with our friend, Kelly, to go to Pet Smart and do some training with her four and a half month old Australian Shepherd, Piper, and to let Cessna pick out a birthday present. Kelly also has our friend, Ace, but he stayed home so that Kelly could focus on exposing Piper to new things. At Pet Smart, we walked through the different aisles looking for the perfect Cessna toy. On the way, we picked up Canyon’s wolf hat, Rogue’s lion costume, a Halloween stuffy ball that squeaks, a plush purple monkey that holds a small sized water bottle, a cute tiger stuffy that squeaks for Aspen and then finally, found a toy for Cessna’s birthday – a plush dog with thick legs that hold long rubber squeakers. After paying for our items, we headed back to Kelly’s house and let the dogs play with one another before heading to a Chinese food buffet for lunch with Kelly and the labs.

Lunch was awesome. We had several items from the buffet itself, and then ordered a few plates with various pieces of sushi. The labs were quite well-behaved, quietly sleeping under the table while we ate. After lunch, I called Dr B’s office to see if she had received any updates on Aspen, and was told that she was out of surgery and slowly waking up. I was also told that they would be sending someone to pick her up and that we could come to Dr B’s office in a couple of hours. Kelly needed to get something replaced on her vehicle in the afternoon, so we put our gang back into the Orlando and drove over to the mall to do a bit of guide training with Rogue. Cessna stayed in the vehicle with Canyon, and we took Rogue into the mall. We practiced finding doors, turning left and right, staying on my left side and not curving in front of my feet, and then finding/stopping at curbs. Rogue is starting to find doors really well and her curb work is coming along, but she is still struggling with directions and needs more work on keeping her nose to herself.

Around four o’clock, I called Dr B’s office and was told that Aspen had still not arrived at the clinic, but the woman who had gone to pick her up had also not yet returned. I was a little annoyed with the lack of organization, but was reassured by the receptionist that Aspen had indeed been picked up and was doing well and that they should be back at the clinic within minutes. I asked when we could come pick up our golden girl, and was told to come at 5:45pm. It was a long wait, but we arrived at Dr B’s clinic right at 5:45pm and talked to Dr B about the surgery, about her concerns regarding the size of Aspen’s lymph node and then about what we would be doing about her Hypothyroidism. For the post surgery care, we were given Arnica and told to give her some Medicam (an anti-inflammatory) and to only feed her soft food for the next couple of weeks. As for her lymph node, we reassured Dr B that it is shrinking and she gave us another 10 days of antibiotics (a different one this time) and asked to keep her informed on its progress. For Aspen’s Hypothyroidism, we decided to go with a glandular made by a company called Standard Process (the same company that made Phoenix’s herbal anti-inflammatory). We will get her thyroid values reassessed in 4-6 months, but since she really isn’t symptomatic, we decided to go with the glandular over the medication. When Dr B brought Aspen out of the back area, she was very excited to see us and ready to go home. For the first 24 hours she was a bit growly with the other dogs, but sucky with us, so we knew she’d be okay.

On Thursday, I had an appointment with my family doctor to discuss how my migraine medications are working. We went over which of the medications she prescribed had worked, which worked a bit, which ones didn’t work at all, and then what dose of each I was taking. Dr Thomas was happy to hear that the current medications I am taking, Gabapentin and Candesartan, were working. She then told me about a new study she’d read about and suggested I start taking 150mg of Coenzyme Q10 and then try to decrease the amount of Candesartan to see if I need it. Coenzyme Q10 is a supplement like B12, so if I could eliminate Candesartan from my migraine regiment and only take Gabapentin on a daily basis, then I’d be really happy. My step dad is a bit of a pill popper, so I have this constant worry about taking too many medications and not really needing them. Dr Thomas increased my dose of Gabapentin from 300mg three times a day, to 400mg and said to continue taking Zomig or Codeine and Toradol when needed. I really don’t like the number of medications I am having to be prescribed for my migraines, but I am hoping that once we figure out what will work as a daily preventative, then we will be able to eliminate the “when needed” ones. While at the appointment, both Cessna and Rogue laid quietly under our chairs, and Dr Thomas was impressed by their calmness. I didn’t realize, but Dr Thomas is nervous of dogs, and has just given her children and husband the go-ahead to purchase a dog – they are picking up a golden retriever puppy in a week or so 🙂

After the appointment, we went to Quiznos for lunch and then took the labs to Second Cup to use the internet. Rogue has a tough time just sitting around in public places, so this will be one area of training where we’ll be focusing. Kelly met up with us at Second Cup after her class finished and we got some pictures of Rogue and Cessna on the University of Guelph campus.

In the evening, we met up with our friend, Karen, and had some more sushi. Kelly had to take Piper to a class at 8:30pm, so Huib, Karen and I took Rogue to Home Depot and Walmart for some curb and distraction training. I asked Karen to pretend she was a random customer and stop at different shelves in different positions so I could practice having Rogue pass by without sniffing. It always took Rogue a couple of passes before she’d keep her nose to herself, but I think with time, she’ll get the idea. At Walmart we practiced more “leave its” with Karen holding kibble at different levels while I walked past and told Rogue to “leave it”. She did well when the kibble was held six inches above her head, but had more trouble as it got closer to her level. We also practiced “leave it” by having Karen put kibble at different points along an aisle on the floor. We found that Rogue failed this test miserably if we started walking and the kibble was too close to our end of the aisle, but that if we had the kibble closer to the other end of the aisle, then she seemed to find it easier to control her nose. As we walked back to the vehicles, we had an opportunity to do tons of “find the curb” work. As Rogue became accustomed to when the click and treat would appear, she started to anticipate the reward and would turn her head towards us within a couple feet of the curb. I think that this reaction is a good sign of her brain making the right connections.

On Friday it was time to go home. We packed the Orlando and began our long drive north. On the way, we stopped to get some chicken hearts for Laya, my maine coon cross, and then at Costco to get supplements for the dogs and to do some more public exposure work with Rogue. When I don’t have Cessna with me, Rogue wears her maroon Active Dogs vest that says “Service Dog” on her back and has a black guide harness attached. Rogue is learning to accept the movement and feel of the guide handle, but she is not yet ready for me to pick it up. Nevertheless, at Costco, people continually commented on how eel-behaved my guide dog was and at how attentive she seemed to be.

I really think my little Hurricane is growing up!!

Overall, I think our trip to Guelph was a great experience for everyone. Aspen had her tooth removed and is on her way to a full recovery. I had some medication changes, but am on my way to being a little more migraine free. And, Rogue got a chance to meet an Australian Shepherd and to work on her guide skills. The only thing that has concerned me with my little caramel girl, is that if her collar is grabbed or she puts any pressure on her throat, she begins gagging and coughing. I have thought it before, but I think I am now convinced, that Rogue might have a soft trachea. I have a couple of friends whose dogs have similar issues, but if anyone has suggestions on how to deal with this issue, I’m all ears. In the meantime, I’ve decided to change her collar from a regular flat to a soft martingale one, since there will be times when someone will need to grab her collar and I am hoping that the martingale will help spread out the pressure instead of it being only focused on her throat area. For walks, she already wears the Premier Easy Walk Harness, so she’ll continue to wear that until I can get her walking with a perfectly loose leash.

***For those who are interested, Cessna’s birthday dog with the squeaker legs lost his head within minutes of being given to her. Rogue and Cessna had decided that tug was a good game to play with him lol! And, the purple monkey bottle toy lost his face, but Huib (the plastic surgeon for toys) has reassured me that he is fixable.***