Happy Birthday Aiden!

Guess what?

It’s Aiden’s birthday!

Today Aiden is 5 years old!

It’s hard to believe five years have already passed.

A 10 week old Aiden sleeps. The picture is taken from close up so Aiden's face fills the shot and you can see all of his puppy wrinkles.

Monkey Man, it’s been a while since we last saw you, but I hope you have an awesome day and continue to make us proud with the work you do for Kam.

Aiden watches Kam come down a blue plastic slide.

So Much Randomness

Grab a coffee or your favourite beverage because this one may be long…

Are you ready for some randomness?

here we go…

I just finished reading “11/22/63” by Stephen King. I’ve read some of his books before, but this one is so different from “Carrie” and “Pet Cemetery”.

*****

I finished my current online course. It was a very intense class. Not only was there a ton of reading, but the instructor was not very good at explaining herself in the assignment guidelines so I found the course frustrating. I did quite well in the class. I received one really poor mark, due to the vague assignment instructions, but I was able to make up for this in the other course components.

For the winter semester, I have signed up to take “environment and History”. I’ll be learning about: “the causes and impact of human-induced modification of the natural world in selected areas of the globe, the evolution of attitudes and ideas about the natural world over time and the growth of conservation/environmental issues and movements” (University of Guelph, 2012).

Sounds interesting eh?

*****

I’m sure I’ve written about it here before, Rogue has an issue with putting her head into things. It doesn’t matter what it is; a collar, the neck hole of her winter coat, the chest strap of her training vest, she hates it all!

I’ve been trying to work with her on this for over a year now. She still gets all weird about it…

So, Huib and I have decided to just deal with it and work on finding collars, working gear and winter coats that she doesn’t have to put her head into. It’s going to be a bit of a struggle at times, but so far we’ve found martingales that fully open with a plastic buckle, we’re making sure to completely undo her winter coat to put it on and take it off, and we’re turning an Outward Hound back pack into a guide harness.

On Wednesday, rogue wore the back pack for the first time. She didn’t try to duck, when I reached for her. She just patiently stood and waited while I placed the back pack onto her back and then did up each of the three plastic buckles.

For now, Rogue is going to wear the back pack without the guide handle attached. I want her to get used to the feel of the pack before I add another element.

It took a couple days of Google searches, but we’ve located a company in canada that supplies service dog patches and other equipment. We’ve ordered three different patches for Rogue’s pack – “Guide Dog”, “Service Dog, Please Ask To Pet” and “In Training”. I’m going to sew the guide dog patches onto the side pockets and place the “Service Dog, Please Ask To Pet” onto the back panel. The “in Training” patch will also be placed onto the side pocket, but we’re going to make it removable, since she won’t always be in training 🙂

While we wait for the patches to arrive, Huib is going to clip Rogue’s old training vest to his belt while we’re in public, so that strangers don’t think we’re bringing our pet dog into stores and restaurants.

*****

We’re pretty certain Rogue has at least a mildly soft trachea. If she puts any pressure at all on her neck, she begins coughing and gagging. After a bit of trial and error, we’ve found that using a martingale collar with her works well. In addition to working on keeping a loose leash, it seems as though the equalized pressure of the martingale prevents the coughing and gagging.

We’ve also stopped using kibble during her training because it was causing some coughing, and instead, use some homemade apple and cinnamon treats. Some dogs with soft tracheas cannot eat hard treats at all, but so far with Rogue it seems as though using slightly larger treats is going to work out.

*****

My little sister is engaged! She’s been talking about this for a couple of weeks now, but it finally happened.

Her fiance’s name is Mark. They dated a while back, but broke up because of personal differences. Brandi has always wondered if things could have been different, but she tried to move on. In June though, they reconnected and have never looked back.

I’m not totally sure how I feel about this right now. Mark is a really nice guy, but there are a few unknowns in my mind. I’m glad to know they’ve reunited after some time apart, so know what they are getting into and know what they missed, but I am not totally certain they are truly ready for the commitment of marriage.

As of right now, they are talking about a small ceremony in Niagara Falls in June, but my sister is always changing her mind, so I guess we’ll see what happens.

I think that’s everything for now. Sorry for the long-winded and random post, but I had a lot of news.

Happy Birthday Reece!

Today our second foster puppy from Autism Dog Services, turns four.

Reece is NOW four!

An 8 week old Reece wears a little grey hooded McMaster sweatshirt

Time sure flies…doesn’t it?

If time allows we’re hoping to get together with Reece and his family next week. If that happens, there will be new pictures!

In the meantime, HAPPY 4th BIRTHDAY REECES PIECES!!!

3 years With Canyon

Three years ago, Canyon joined our family.

So much has changed since that day.

Gone are the days when he didn’t know his name was Canyon (actually it was Sparky lol!).

Gone are the days when he didn’t know how to sit, lie down or come when called.

Gone are the days of putting his paws up on the counter top to see what we are doing.

Gone are the days when he thought grabbing hands, arms and clothes was okay.

Canyon used to be a nervous, immature six month old who knew nothing other than to take treats gently.

today Canyon is a show dog.

Today Canyon is able to confidently pull a cart in a straight line, for drafting.

Today Canyon is able to do more than just sit, lie down or come when called, he can deliver folded clothes to the bedroom, he can carry garbage to the kitchen and he can press buttons with his nose.

Today Canyon is a handsome, mature, three and a half year old, who is willing to try anything he’s asked to do.

You are definitely our diamond in the ruff. Let’s see how bright you can shine.

Happy Birthday Huib!

Today was Huib’s birthday 🙂

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, Huib really isn’t into receiving gifts or having people make a fuss over him.

This year, I decided to ignore his birthday moodiness, and do just that…

since we were away in Oakville, I was able to ask my friend to help me pick up Huib’s birthday present, and get an apple pie (he doesn’t like cake) and some vanilla ice cream.

When my friend came into the living room with the apple pie, I think he was surprised.

But, when she brought the gift bag with gifts and laid it beside him on the couch, I know he was visibly upset. I was so unimpressed and annoyed by his reaction, but tried to make light of his attitude so that my friend and her daughter wouldn’t feel the tension.

My Dad and I bought Huib an iPad, and my friend and her daughter got him a case for it.

He is still a little upset with me, but hopefully he’ll get over it sooner than later.

Happy 33rd Birthday Hyper!

Random News

I’ve got a lot of random news to share with everyone.

First, last week I wrote about our trip to Guelph and the Toronto area. While there, I had a chance to see my family doctor and was given several different migraine medications to try out. She gave me a few different daily preventatives, a daily nerve blocker and one to take when I feel a migraine coming. A lot of these medications were suggested by a pain clinic doctor I saw back in March, but she also added a couple that she feels might help. Back in the early 2000’s I tried out a bunch of different preventative medications without much success, but I’m hoping that these new medications might have a better outcome.

On Monday night, I took my first Gavapentin (just a low dose right now) and woke up tuesday with barely any signs of a migraine that I’m sure I should have had (the weather is quite rainy and humid right now, which is a huge trigger for me). I took my first Atenolol (again a very low dose right now) Tuesday morning and my migraine really didn’t move much past a pain level of 1-3 out of 10, so a big win for me. It could just be a fluke, but I did the same last night and this morning, and so far my migraine isn’t getting any worse than the 1-3 out of 10 pain range. In a week, I will increase the Atenolol to a full tablet and leave the Gavapentin at just one 300mg capsule and reassess in a month’s time. If my migraine does begin increasing then I will try the medication my doctor gave me for break threw pain, but I’m not sure what it is called at the moment and I’m hoping that I won’t have to resort to it. In a month’s time, if we feel the Atenolol is not working well enough, then I will stop it and try one of the other two preventatives my family doctor and the pain clinic doctor suggested.

Next, Rogue and I have begun to use her “touch” cue to press a button. About a year ago, I bought a button that when pressed, plays various types of laughs. It is like the Staples Easy Button, but when I saw this one on sale for less than $10 at Halllmark, I snatched it up for training. rogue has an amazingly firm “touch”, and my visual impairment has made it tough to teach her to “touch” a stick or a spot on a wall or the floor, so I decided to put some navy blue electrical tape onto the laughing button and then start teaching Rogue to press it when I point and say “touch”.

I first had Rogue do some practice touches with the palm of my hand. then, I held the button, so it was facing her and waited. I wanted to see what she would do without giving her any hints as to what I wanted. She had an idea of what I wanted, so started moving towards the button, I clicked and gave her a treat for each movement towards the button. Then, I upped my requirements for a click and waited for her to even lightly touch the button with her nose. each time, I’d click and give her either one treat for just a light touch, or a jackpot of treats and a party for actually making the button laugh. She quickly caught on to how she could get more treats and began bumping the button as hard as she could – I then named the behaviour “touch”.

Once we had the pressing the button while I held it at her nose level perfect, I decided to start moving my hand around. I held it low, she pressed. I held it so she had to take a few steps, she pressed it again. Then I started holding it up so she had to jump up a bit to press and of course, she did it flawlessly.

I then put the button onto the floor and pointed and said “touch”. she bumped my hand with her nose. I waited, she bumped my hand with her nose several more times and then started to get frustrated. I couldn’t see where we were misunderstanding one another, so we stopped the lesson and both slept on it.

The following morning I figured it out, I had been lumping (or moving too fast). I got out the button and started practising what we had done the day before. Since we were doing it in a new place, I began by just holding the button and not saying a word. She knew exactly what we were doing and hit the button hard, making it laugh every single time, so we named it again – “touch”.

I then placed the button on the floor, but instead of just pointing I kept holding it and waited. It only took her a second before she was moving towards the button and I clicked and gave her a bunch of treats. After several perfect “touches”, I named the behaviour again “touch” and then started saying “Rogue, touch” and she came over and pressed the button.

Instead of completely removing my hand from the button at this point, I began holding the button with less and less of my hand. even when I was just touching the side of it with my index finger, rogue came over and pressed it when I said “touch”.

By the end, she was pressing the button when I pointed and said “Rogue, touch”. She is such a smart and forgiving puppy. Even when I make a mistake, she tells me what she needs and we start learning again together. I’m not sure what we’ll do next, but for now we’ll keep practicing our palm touches and button pressing. Rogue’s favourite behaviour is “touch”, so even though we are not further in the new levels books, I decided it was okay to move further with her “touch” cue because unlike other behaviours we’re learning, “touch” is fun to her and gets her brain moving.

Yesterday we got a call from the adoption worker. her case load is quite busy right now, so she has decided to move the adoption training to late fall. This is okay with us because right now it looks as though my step-dad will need to come stay for a bit, but it’s also frustrating because it seems as though each time we get somewhere with the adoption process, we’re left waiting again without any sight of the finish line. Hopefully in the fall things will begin moving full steam ahead.

Finally, today is our calico, Logan’s 10th birthday. Here on ruled by paws, the cats don’t tend to get much written about them, but I thought it was a milestone worth mentioning. We got Logan from the Guelph Humane Society when she was just 10 weeks old. She had been part of a family, but was surrendered to the shelter just hours before Huib and I went to see the cats. Huib lived in a bachelor apartment and for his birthday, I decided to buy him a cat, since I thought he needed a friend while he studied. We had planned to pick out an adult cat, but when we saw Logan, it was almost love at first sight. She was so cuddly and purred so loud that we thought for sure there was a little boat motor inside her. We told the shelter staff that she was the one, and after filling out some paperwork, we were told that we could come back in a week for our new kitten. She needed to be spayed and given her vaccines before we could bring her home. even though Huib likes to joke about giving Logan away to anyone who will take her, I know he loves her and that she’s going to continue providing us with years of entertainment.

Happy 10th Birthday Logie, you are one comical little calico!

Guess What?

Guess what?

Today is Aspen’s birthday!

Guess what?

Today, Aspen is 9 years old!

Guess what?

For her birthday, Aspen is getting some special, homemade doggie ice cream.

Aspen is not really into toys, and it is raining today, so instead of swimming, we are doing the second best thing, making food – Aspen loves food!

I can’t believe that almost 9 years ago we picked out our fluffy little golden retriever puppy.

I was about to begin my final year at the University of Guelph, and Huib was just about to start his masters in Agricultural Economics.

Aspen was 7weeks old and just over 6 or 7 pounds when we picked her up from her breeder in Hanover. She was from a litter of nine puppies, but only eight survived because one of her brothers was too large and got stuck. When we picked her up, I had not yet decided upon which of two girls I really wanted, so let Huib make the final decision.

When we arrived, Huib put his camera and a little red bandana, we’d made for our new puppy, on the ground beside him and just watched the two girls as their breeder released them. As soon as the girls were set down, one ran directly into the garden and the other darted towards Huib, grabbed the little bandana, and took off running while shaking it from side to side – he knew this was our puppy.

Since that moment, Aspen and Huib have had a bond that I could only wish to have with her. She follows him closely, listens to him perfectly, and gives me a dirty look anytime I get in the way.

Aspen might not be as talented or motivated as the others, but she has made a contribution to our lives that only she could.

She makes us smile daily.

She makes us laugh non-stop.

And, no matter what happens in our lives, Aspen is always there waiting to make it all better with a kiss on the hand, and a cuddle.

Happy 9th Birthday My Little Golden Princess.

Please don’t ever stop being you.

Happy Birthday Canyon!

Happy 3rd Birthday Canyon!

Today is the golden boy’s birthday. It’s both hard to believe he’s already 3, and hard to believe he’s only 3. I honestly feel as though he’s always been a part of our family. I think a lot of people feel the same, because I’ve been getting a lot of comments wishing him a happy birthday and saying that they did not realize he was only 3. I think his maturity level also plays a part, because even though he’s only 3, he behaves like he’s much older and wiser.

Yesterday Huib and I took rogue to dinner with one of his co-workers and didn’t get home until after midnight, so we brought Canyon a maple dipped doughnut from Tim Hortons – he loved it!

Woofstock is next weekend, so instead of buying Canyon a present this weekend, we’ve decided to wait and see what he picks out there.

I guess I had better hit publish, so that I can get back to baking Canyon’s carrot birthday cake and banana carob cookies – stay tuned for pictures!

Together Seven Years

Boy, does time fly…

Seven years ago, I was partnered with an 18 month old spunky, little female black lab.

From the first moment I met Cessna, I knew she wasn’t like every other guide dog.

Over the years, we’ve learned to work together and respect one another for our differences.

I no longer try to change Cessna and mold her into the “perfect” working dog.

Cessna no longer worries about upsetting me.

I respect her decisions and together we navigate the ups and downs of life.

It’s hard to believe that seven years have already gone by.

Cessna is still a little firecracker and loves to chase squirrels.

I am still struggling to find my place in the world.

Cessna no longer wakes me up at 5am.

I no longer believe in compulsion based training.

Cessna is a little more silver around the muzzle and chest areas.

I am a little more willing to just sit back and relax.

Time has changed us both, but neither one of us has had to become someone different.

Happy 7th Anniversary My Little Cessnaroo!

Let’s see if we can make it another seven years together.

Pawty Time!

Today is Hurricane Rogue’s 1st birthday!

It is so hard to believe that our little caramel monster is already a year old. Even though we haven’t had her an entire year, it seems as though she’s been a part of our lives forever. She is definitely maturing, but she’s also a little party animal 😉

Since we were heading to Southwestern Ontario for the weekend, Huib and I decided to give Rogue her birthday toy early – a pink bunny that you can put a plastic water bottle into. As soon as I handed her the toy, she ran around the house like a fool, shaking and tossing the bunny around. Unfortunately though, Canyon also felt the bunny should be his, so as soon as she stopped running around, he went over and stole it from her mouth. In addition to the pink bunny, we got Rogue a new collar and leash that is a light grass green and different blue colours in a sort of hawaiian pattern (I think) and a big pillow bed for her kennel – both of which she has had for about a month. Then, because our little caramel monster is a coffee lover, we got some chicory root and made some coffee flavoured treats for her to enjoy. We weren’t sure how the cookies would turn out, but during and after baking, they smelled quite deliciously coffeeish.

Today I have a final examination for my Business & Consumer Law course, so Rogue is gone to Chatham with Canyon and Huib. I’m sure she’ll have a good time with them and I know she’ll be spoiled.

Happy 1st Birthday my little Hurricane, may you have a day to remember. You have brought so much love and laughter into our lives, that I don’t know if I could ever imagine life without you.

Before I sign off, I’d also like to wish Ruby, Snickers, Josie, Cody, “Flower” and “cole” a very, very Happy 1st Birthday!