Introducing Rogue

It’s been almost a week since we picked up our little girl. I haven’t had much time to go on the computer for more than a few minutes, so I’ll start this entry by writing a little description of our visit to the breeder.

We woke up at 5:30am to feed and relieve everyone before leaving to get puppy. We decided to bring everyone along because at 2:00pm, we had to be in Guelph for their annual check-ups. We thought it would take about three hours to drive from London to Maidstone, but ended up an hour ahead of schedule so, stopped for some breakfast and then pulled in about twenty minutes early. When we arrived, the puppies were in an outdoor pen so we went over and looked at them all. Karen came out in her pajamas a few minutes later and told us we had arrived during feeding time. She ran inside to get dressed and let her husband, Chris, know we’d arrived. When she was dressed, we helped her carry three puppies into the house.

We put the puppies on the living room floor and observed. Karen had brought in “Pinkie”, “Coal” and “Violet”. We quickly removed “Violet” from the mix because she was more interested in exploring the house, than in interacting with us or the other puppies. Karen wasn’t totally sure which puppy was “Pinkie” so brought “Flower” in as well to double check that she had the correct puppy. The puppies had all chewed each other’s collars off and Chris and Karen hadn’t had a chance to microchip them yet, since they had just returned from a trip to California. “Flower” was cute, but also didn’t seem overly interested in us, so she returned to the outdoor pen for breakfast and play. Once we had it narrowed down to “Pinkie” and “Coal”, we just sat and observed, calling them over once in a while to see how they reacted. Both puppies came running when we called “Puppy, Puppy” and when we were paying attention to one, the other would be licking our arm trying to get some love too. We had a lot of trouble making a decision, but after 45 minutes of observing and interacting, we decided on “Pinkie”. We both really liked “Coal” as well, but Huib left it up to me and I really wanted a girl, so chose “Pinkie” and named her Rogue.

Rogue is the lightest in colour of the seven puppies and already weighs 10.6lbs. She is the colour of butterscotch pudding and has grayish colour eyes that will someday be either a medium or dark brown. She has a very cute face and shows lots of expression. For an eight week old puppy, Rogue is extremely brave and confident.

Once the decision was made. Karen got us to fill out some forms and Chris took Rogue to be micro chipped. Karen will be sending the CKC paperwork in for the puppies when they are sixteen weeks so that everyone has a chance to decide on a name for their fur baby. Before leaving, we met her dam and sire, and let Phoenix, Cessna, Aspen and Canyon meet Rogue. They sniffed her a bit, but only canyon really showed much interest. The girls were a little disgruntled with the whole situation and Phoenix just saw her as another puppy, so no big deal lol!

During our three hour drive to Guelph, Rogue laid in my lap. Some of the time she was looking out the window or watching Huib drive, while other times she was napping. Never once during the drive did she whimper or whine, but looked around when a sound caught her ear. Our first stop was to see Dr B for the older dogs to get their annual check-ups and vaccinations. Rogue hung out with the vet staff, while we were in the examination room with the others. It was a pretty long appointment, so around the one hour mark, Rogue fell asleep under Huib’s chair. We will be bringing Rogue for her first visit with Dr B in a month’s time, but for now we just weighed her and discussed feeding options – she’ll be starting on raw when her kibble from the breeder finishes up.

First Dr B checked over Phoenix. She decided against giving him any further vaccinations and said the heartworm test isn’t really necessary. She still isn’t happy with his ears, so cleaned them out and gave us a new medication to try. She seems happy with him overall, saying that one thing she knows he won’t die of, is heart failure, because his heart is extremely healthy for his age.

She then looked over Canyon. We discussed neutering and she said that her only advice is to get it done by the age of five since that is when most of the cancer issues seem to begin. He had his titers done for Distemper, Parvo and the other diseases that are vaccinated against, other than Rabies – the Rabies titer is extremely expensive so we’ll probably just continue to vaccinate for that. She said he looks great, but might be developing an ear infection, so has asked us to clean it for a week and see where that goes.

Aspen was also pretty straight forward and cooperative. She had her titers done, along with a Heartworm test. We discussed options for treating her incontinence and have decided to try “No More Leaks”, a mixture of different homeopaths that you can buy in a pet store. If that doesn’t seem to help, then we’ll look at other options.

Cessna got a clean bill of health as well, but was a little less cooperative. She really doesn’t like when people touch her paws or tail, so was quite rigid when Dr B went to try taking her blood for the titer and heartworm test. We will be starting her and Aspen on a daily Glucosamine supplement, since they will be eight this year.

After paying our $1,300 vet bill, we headed to the Kitchener Ren’s Pets Depot to visit with Kelly, pick up some toys and a collar for Rogue. Since she doesn’t have her final set of vaccinations, Kelly and her manager carried her around the pet store while we shopped. We picked out an orange, yellow and black collar along with a black leash that we will start using once she learns not to chew it – for now, we’re using two rope style leashes from the dollar store. In addition, we got her a little pink puppy kong, a puppy-sized kong treat bone and a light blue monkey that’s a ball with really long fleece arms and legs. Since it was Canyon’s birthday the week before, we got him two new JW Arachnoid Balls and a hedgehog that has a ball for a torso and canvas limbs that have squeakers in them. We finished off our shopping trip, by picking up some food for my sister’s cat, Branden, and Logan, our calico.

I’ll now do a little bit of point form notes, to start Rogue’s training journal. If you have any suggestions on things I should not have been doing or on things I should be adding to the journal, please let me know. I’m new to this, so am still in the trial and error phase.

Day One
• rode in the truck for almost 6 hours along Highway 401 (air brakes, squealing trucks, strange smells)
• visited the vet office (printer, strange smells, 4 staff members)
• briefly met my former long-term care resident (sounds & smells of the building)
• met four people at the pet store (tons of food & animal smells)
• had an accident on the floor mat of the truck, became wiggly so I put her down
• met two friends we were staying with
• ran to hide after being told off by Phoenix for jumping around his face
• saw a Great Dane & Shih Tzu while out for relief (no direct contact)
• had an accident while sleeping beside Huib on the couch
• used her nails to climb up mesh of play pen we were using as her bed, barked to let us know she was stuck between the play pen & air mattress
• slept 2 hours before needing out
• bounced half way out of play pen so we brought her onto the air mattress, where she slept another 4 hours

Day Two
• ate half a cup of kibble & did both outside 20 minutes later
• hid behind a table when Aspen barked at her
• met 2 teenage girls while being carried through Dollarama
• met manager & waitress & took about 10 minutes on a really short leash to settle under the table at Montana’s
• my cousin carried her around White Oaks Mall & we took a picture of her laying in front of some clothing at The Bay
• discovered my friend’s five bunnies & taunted them for about 15 minutes (play bowing in front of their cages & jumping back when they moved, briefly hiding when she bumped into a table leg)
• climbed on & slid off couch on to Phoenix & he just looked at her
• at last relief, Huib put her on the ground to walk into the elevator & 2 of her legs fell into the gap, Huib helped her out & she approached it curiously

Day Three
• truck broke down (alternator died) & we had to wait for a tow truck & then a stranger drove us back to my friend’s house
• played more with the bunnies, putting her paws against the sides & barking excitedly (Rue actually started playing back)
• rode in the child seat of a cart while we picked up snacks at Food Basics (first on bare wire & then on slippery cardboard)
• met a friend with the 2 Smooth Collies of ADS (hid behind Huib’s chair at first because the collies were excited)
• accompanied us at Dollarama, Giant tiger & Zellers
• rolled around trying to get Cessna’s tags off her collar (I’d put them on to find her easier)
• climbed over a baby gate we had used to block her in the kitchen with a bit of peanut butter in her Kong (we’d decided to leave her for 30 minutes while we got ice cream & came back to find her in the living room with the others)

Day Four
• slept 4 hours before going out for relief & then slept another 4
• met several people while Huib carried her around masonville Mall
• walked down 1 aisle at Costco before settling on a soft/squishy mat in the cart (met several people & had items piled around her)
• carried her around Pet Smart to find some bells for her collar (she’s learned I can’t see & will come just out of my reach & run when I move closer)
• fell asleep in front of a shelf at Chapters
• started keeping her on leash until she goes out because she’s begun relieving inside, even after going out

Day Five
• rode in truck from London to Guelph
• met a friend who has an SSD standard poodle (Kelly is hard of hearing & uses an electric wheelchair part-time)
• met my orthotics guy & his daughter
• went into the University of Guelph to hand in my application (walked up some short steps, rode in an older elevator & met a staff member who uses a scooter)
• stopped to pick up some chicken at Maple Lodge Farms (smells of slaughter house & processing plant)
• met Taz, Caleb & their landlord with her infant son
• Caleb showed her Sage (his Bengal) she barked a bit & wanted to play
• fell asleep under the table at the Lakeview while we ate some lunch
• rode in truck for 7 hours, had a little dribble on the seat after drinking too much water the stop before
• explored the house & chased the cats
• had 2 accidents in the house
• checked out the toys & played with bone that was bigger than her

Day Six
• slept between us, used a leash to keep her from jumping off
• slept about 5 hours before needing out, then slept another 3-4
• got her first taste of raw chicken breast, ate it before the kibble
• explored the house some more, had 2 more accidents
• tried to steal something off a shelf while we walked by at Value Mart
• hung out in the kitchen of the new house while Huib painted & we began taking apart the closet
• started introducing the clicker while feeding lunch (clicked & treated for half) around the 5th click, she started bumping my hand with her nose as if to ask for the noise lol!
• Sat while we trained & then wandered off when she was full, leaving about a hand full
• Attached her to a cupboard while I started pulling apart the closet with a crowbar, whined & barked because she couldn’t come near (didn’t return to her side until she was quiet for a few minutes)
• Laid in a semi-sleep position while Huib finished taking down the closet, banging down drywall & pulling out nails
• Introduced the canvas crate, she barked & cried the whole time she was in it (didn’t let her out until she was quiet for a minute)
• Cornered Laya & Logan because she wanted to play
• Got her head stuck under the china cabinet while exploring, cried until Caleb showed her how to get out
• Played under couch & chair with toys

Sorry for the really, really long entry, but I wanted to get everything down so I’ll remember. I’ll try and update the journal as frequently as possible (we’ll try daily, but no promises).

So far, I think Rogue is absolutely amazing! She’s a lot of fun to have around and extremely smart, so we’ll need to keep a close eye on her. We’ve already taken over sixty pictures, so I’ll begin posting them here.

Test Scores

*** this entry has been revised, after learning that I had misread the scores of “Coal” ***.

This evening, we got the results for the puppy aptitude test from Karen, of Red Labrador Retrievers.

Four of the seven puppies, scored mostly 3’s, with “Coal” and “Pinkie” scoring highest of the four.

“Pinkie” scored all 3’s, except in the restraint test, where she received a 4 (struggled, then settled).

“Coal” received all 3’s, except in the touch sensitivity test (tester locates the webbing on one of the puppy’s front paws and gently applies pressure. Pressure is gradually increased as the tester counts to 10 and releases when the puppy shows discomfort), where he received a 1 (8-10 count before response).

I originally wanted a female, so we may go with “Pinkie”, but I will keep an open mind though and make my final decision on pick-up day – just over a week to go!!

Puppy news & Other Randomness

We got an e-mail from Karen of Red Labrador Retrievers to let us know that she thinks there are two females who might fit our needs. She said that she could be wrong, but from observing the litter, she thinks “ruby” and “pinky” will be a good fit – they name the puppies according to their collar tags. She describes “ruby” and “pinky” as being “very social, happy-go-lucky’s…middle of the road in the hierarchy, brave without being aggressive…they are all (entire litter) quick learners like both their mom and dad…all (entire litter) are happy to please, of course some more than others and they (“rudy” and “pinky”) are middle of the road their also…” We’ll have to wait for the test scores, but at least we know that there is most likely a puppy or two for us to choose from.

Sadly, Karen hasn’t had time to post updated pictures though…

In other news…

We got some very sad news from our friends, the pawpower pack. Mr. Pawpower’s golden companion passed away unexpectedly. Here’s some more details. I haven’t had the experience of losing a beloved companion, but know from losing both my mother and grandmother, that it can be heartbreaking and the wounds will take time to heal. Our thoughts go out to Mr. Pawpower and the rest of the Pawpower Pack. Rest in peace Rudy, you will be sadly missed.

I’ve been doing some research on courses I might want to take through the University of Guelph or McMaster University. I haven’t been able to find work and am tired of sitting around doing nothing, but training with the dogs and housework. I’m thinking that I’ll take a course or two each semester via distance education through one of the above universities and then hopefully re-apply for masters or occupational therapy when we move closer to London (Ontario) in a couple of years. Huib’s contract with the Kirkland & District Hospital is over in a year and if we can get rid of a couple more debts between now and next fall, I think we might look at moving back to southern Ontario, closer to friends and family. It’s been a wonderful experience living here, but it’s just not home.

My sister found out that the woman who owns the house she is renting wants to sell this summer. She doesn’t really like living here and thinks she will try and find work around Orillia or Gravenhurst. She’s going to visit some friends next weekend in Aurora, so has asked me to help her re-design her resume so she can hand some out on her way down. I’m excited to know she will be moving closer to her friends and a place she loves, but am secretly sad that she will be leaving. I know she can be frustrating, but I will really kind of miss having her so close.

I got an e-mail from Judi of Ramblin Goldens this weekend. I had sent her an update on Canyon since she owns his sire and brother. She told me they got their new female golden retriever puppy, Emmie, a couple of weeks ago and are really enjoying her. She hasn’t yet found a new home for Phoenix, Canyon’s brother, but has also not been looking too hard. She wants to work on some of his obedience before sending him off. I really love having Canyon and wish we could invite Phoenix to live with us, but I’m really not sure Huib will go for that lol! He is quite patient with my love of dogs, but has told me that he thinks five is a good number 

Finally, I have been in contact with a woman who runs a program that helps people train their pets to be service dogs. She used to work for the Lions Foundation of Canada as a Special Skills trainer, but has been working on her own program for about five or more years. The program is called Encouraging Paws Service Dogs and their website can be found here. The Director has informed me that her fees are $12,000 for assistance from puppy hood through to certification and follow-up help. This is a little out of our price range, so we have asked her how much she would charge for just help with certification. She said that her price is $5,000 for certification which is ten hours of assessment. To pass, she says that the dog must meet the standards of “the Blind Dog Act Federation” but I think she means the International Guide Dog Federation. She also informed me that her fee for advice and/or consultation is $500 an hour or $8.33 a minute. I’m not sure if we’ll end up going with Encouraging Paws, but at least we know there is someone willing to certify and/or provide consultation during the training process. I have some other contacts who have offered to give me advice and information when needed, so I think we’re finally ready to officially raise and train Cessna’s successor!!

Seminar & Other Stuff

This weekend, Huib, Cessna and I attended a breeding seminar with Amy from Me And My Pups. the seminar was being hosted by The Labrador Owners Club so of course their were several lab breeders in attendance, as well as, a table of West Highland White Terrier breeders, a Duck Toller breeder, a couple Wheaten breeders, a man who breeds Old English Sheepdogs, a woman who breeds golden retrievers and some others that I can’t remember.

Dr. Carmen Battaglia, a breeder, lecturer, researcher and author of “Breeding Dogs To Win”, was the presenter for the two day seminar. He taught us an easier way of understanding the pedigree of dogs through the introduction of “stick dog” figures, and a “symbols” pedigree. By using these two methods, breeders are better able to visualize the strengths and weaknesses of their females in order to find a stud that will help alleviate some of their weak traits or compliment their strengths. I found the seminar to be a bit on the more visual side, but also found it educational. Huib and I are not looking at getting a breeding female until Phoenix crosses the rainbow bridge, so have tons of time to collect pedigrees and learn all we can about the “missing” pieces of a traditional pedigree – such as the health concerns and structural traits of the ancestors.

On Sunday we began our journey home and experienced some problems with the truck around Oshawa. Luckily Amy was still with us, so we called CAA and had the truck towed to a dealership near her parent’s place. We stayed the night and had the truck examined the following morning. I was pretty frustrated by the lack of attention the dealership gave us, but was happy when they finally called to say we could pick it up around 5:30pm and head north. Phoenix, Aspen and Canyon had stayed with my step-dad and sister while we were away so I was eager to get home and pick them up. My Dad and sister are great with the dogs, but for some reason Aspen was stressed and having issues with her incontinence so I was pretty worried about her and annoyed that we would be delayed in returning. Aspen has had issues with incontinence since she was young, but for the most part it doesn’t happen often – just when she’s had too much water or when she is feeling stressed. While with my sister, she had about two or three incidents a day, which is unusual, so I really wanted to get back to her. Since we picked them up Monday night, she has not had an issue…

On Sunday I also sent an e-mail to the breeder who owns Canyon’s sire and brother to see how Phoenix’s (brother) clearances had gone. Judi was taking Phoenix to have his clearances done that morning, so I was eager to learn about his eyes. Well, it turns out that Phoenix also has scarring on the retina of his right eye in addition to folds. As far as I know, retinal folds are an issue common in the collie breeds (not so much in golden retrievers), but in Phoenix’s case, Huib is wondering if it might not be related to whatever caused the scarring in the two brothers. He is thinking that maybe Phoenix had the infection or whatever slightly worse in his right eye, causing inflammation that left the folds. I think it would be interesting to find out if their sisters also have the scarring, but since they are most likely just pet dogs, I don’t think we’ll ever know. With this news, Judi has begun the process of finding Phoenix a new home because it is not possible for her to keep a dog who cannot be in her program. I really wish we had known this a few months ago because I know Brandi would have adopted him for sure, but she now has Dawsen and doesn’t think she could handle another dog at this point.

Here’s a picture of Dawsen from one of our many walks in the winter.

Yesterday Canyon and I had our fifth training session with the Border Collie lady and again it went well. Brandi came along to watch so she could see what we were learning and if she would like to do something similar with Dawsen. We did some “lefts” and “rights”, practiced the “heel” position a bit more and worked on his “fronts”. Then, we started teaching him to “go around” so that in the summer he will be ready for Flyball lessons. I thought he would be too big for Flyball, but the Border Collie lady thinks that his obsession with balls will work well in this sport.

As an aside, I’m sort of getting the impression that she isn’t sure I will be able to be successful in agility with my dogs since I won’t be able to run the course with them. I’ve tried to explain that I could stand in the middle and direct them, but I’m not sure she sees how it is possible to be successful…so I guess I’ll just have to show her how it’s done. Does anyone else know of a blind or visually impaired person who has done agility with their dogs?

After the session was over, we talked a bit about the seminar I had attended on the weekend and she really thinks that we should show Canyon even once for the experience. So, Huib has said that if the Temiskaming Kennel Club has their show in new Liskeard this summer, that he would be willing to show Canyon for me – could I be rubbing off on him? Then, just before we were leaving the Border Collie lady asked my sister if she had a dog and Brandi told her about Dawsen. After listening to the concerns Brandi had, she asked if she would be interested in attending some obedience classes and Brandi said she’d love to. So, Dawsen will be starting his classes next Thursday!! Brandi wants me to come along, but Huib and I both told her that we think it would be better for her to do this on her own with Dawsen because part of the issue is that she worries about what others think and relies on us to help her, so it’s time they did some real work together and develop a more respectful relationship. I’ll keep you all posted on how their classes go…

Before I end this post, I thought I’d let you all know that our potential puppy is due on Monday (April 18th). Cheyenne is the dam of this litter and her breeder feels that one of her girls might be a good fit for us. They tend to be a little more independent minded and she finds them a little harder to place in homes because they need more experienced handlers and more stimulation. Our ideal puppy is exactly what she has described, so we’re quite eager to hear about the litter and to find out how well they score on the aptitude test. We’re still waiting for the pedigrees and clearances the breeder was supposed to send us, but are hoping that this delay isn’t a sign that we should be looking elsewhere. I think I’ll e-mail her again and give her my sister’s address in addition to the hospital’s fax number and my e-mail address in the hopes that it’s just our mail service that is the issue.

I Think We’ve got a Winner!

After e-mailing two more lab breeders and briefly looking at the flat-coated retriever as a possible guide dog option, I think we’ve settled on Red Labrador Retrievers. It seems as though most breeders are having litters arrive this spring or are taking a year off breeding completely, so we decided to go with RLR. They have two litters coming up between now and October and they are willing to work with us in finding the perfect guide dog candidate.

Both Huib and I really liked the flat-coated retriever and thought this breed would offer a new challenge, but after learning some more about them from Katrin over at By My Side we went back to the Labrador Retriever. Flat-coated retrievers are a wonderful breed, full of eternal youth and intelligence, but rarely will you ever find one who makes it past eight years of age because they all end up with cancer. The short lifespan of this breed is the same reason why I’m less than thrilled about Huib wanting to someday get a Bernese Mountain Dog. I just couldn’t imagine having to say good-bye at such a young age. Cessna turned 7 in October and I feel as though I have just started to scratch the surface of learning who she really is.

RLR will have a litter born in April and then another born in August, so we will soon meet our new family member and future guide dog hopeful. I didn’t really want to start the process of raising and training Cessna’s successor before the fall, but Huib and I think it’s best to have the option of a puppy from two rather than just one litter. I’ve asked for a small female who is energetic and willing to learn, but not necessarily one who’s eager to please. RLr has Anne MacDonald, an Animal Behaviour
Specialist come and assess their puppies before placing them with potential families. We’re supposed to get a copy of their aptitude test and the pedigrees of Cheyenne, Lizzy and Boomer in the mail, so I’ll do an update when they arrive.

I’m really not sure how to feel about these developments because things just seem to be moving so quickly. I feel guilty for looking forward to the new addition and the challenge of training Cessna’s successor. I worry that she’ll feel left out and kicked to the curb. I know I felt this way when Phoenix retired and I know he easily settled into his new position, but I still worry and feel terrible. I sometimes wonder if it would be better to wait until Cessna is ready to retire and then return to the LFC, but then I also think she could teach my new guide so many things and that I’d really like to see if I have the ability to train my own dog. I know these are probably emotions everyone goes through when deciding whether to retire their current guide and/or whether to start looking for a successor, but it still doesn’t make things any easier…