A Milestone

I decided to look up the name Phoenix and see what Google came up with. It is amazing to see how many different meanings there are for Phoenix. Here are a few I’d like to share.

Phoenix is the state capital and largest city in south central Arizona. It was formerly a desert, but with the help of irrigation has become a thriving agricultural area.

A mythical sacred firebird that was thought to burn itself to death and rise from the ashes as a new Phoenix. According to many legends there was only one Phoenix living at one time and it was reborn about every 500 years.

A minor constellation in the southern hemosphere. It is named after the mythical bird and is very faint with only two stars within the constellation that are brighter than magnitude 5.0.

There are several other not so interesting meanings of Phoenix, but seeing the above definitions has made me even more aware of how special my floppy-faced yellow Labrador retriever is.

Now it’s my turn to give my definition of “Phoenix”. Phoenix is an intelligent, independent-minded, devious yellow lab who is full of love and will forever be a part of me. Our 12 years together have created many memories that will be forever etched in my mind. From the second week of being together Phoenix showed me a friendship and loyalty that I could only dream of finding in a human. He has always made sure to let me know when I am being unreasonable or selfish and to this day continues to give me his unconditional love.

In a week Phoenix will turn 14 years old!! This is a milestone I want to celebrate as best I can. To start off the day we will give him a little extra food with some roast beef drippings. Then we’ll make pumpkin spice cookies for him to share with his friends – Cessna, Aspen & Canyon. I’m sure he would rather eat them all on his own, but I will explain to him that he has to share, since they give him some on their birthdays. Huib has to work nights so we’ll have an early dinner with my sister and step-dad coming to help celebrate Phoenix’s birthday. We’re going to make pizza, Phoenix’s absolute favourite. One will be gluten-free with various veggies, apple and pepperoni – this one of course is for the dogs  The second will be for us, so won’t include the apple and will probably have more toppings. We’ll finish our early dinner with some cupcakes, the dog ones being gluten-free with peanut butter icing. I think Phoenix will thoroughly enjoy his birthday and I know for sure the others will too.

Thank you Phoenix for allowing me to share the last 12 years with you. You have taught me the true meaning of friendship and how important it is to live life to the fullest. I hope we get to spend at least another great year together, but just in case you need to leave me sooner, I’ll make sure to cherish every minute we have left.

“Whatever you are, be a good one.” – Abraham Lincoln

4 Months Away


I have had a pretty busy few months so haven’t had the time to blog. Now that things have slowed some I’m going to try and post more often.

Canyon turned a year old on the 3rd of June and got some new toys to share with everyone. He is 23 inches tall, 22 inches long and just 70lbs. We had him to the vet for his heartworm test and the vet said we could continue feeding him puppy food and add in fats that might entice him to eat more. She says he should be closer to 80lbs by now and will get up to 90lbs by the time he has fully filled out. His coat has grown in nicely and he seems a bit darker than he was before his coat fell out. His obedience is well on it’s way and he has already started being able to play fetch with the girls in the yard. He still isn’t the greatest at heeling, but we got an easy walk harness in June and it seems to help redirect him easier than the newtrix, gentle leader or martin gale. We took him to Toronto for Woofstock with Cessna and he was fantastic! He was quite interested in all the different dogs and smells, but listened pretty well. We were with a bunch of puppies in training, so Canyon fit right in.

Aspen turned 7 on the 18th of June and was given the special task of cleaning out the lasagna pan. We also made some banana cinnamon cookies for her and Canyon to share with the others. She’s been swimming tons and playing fetch in the yard every chance she gets. Her and Canyon are obsessed with the game and will grab a toy as they walk out if you’re not watching.

Cessna and I celebrated our 5th year as a team on May 27th. She has really made a mark on my heart and I get sad thinking about the fact that she will be turning 7 in October. She has matured tons and become such an amazing companion. She spends almost all her day watching out for me and the other dogs. She will defend Aspen against Canyon when he’s being a bully and not allowing her to bring the toy to Huib or I, she will run to me and make sure I am okay when walking down the steps in front of our house and just always seems to be watching over everyone. I’m really not sure I’ll ever be able to find a dog good enough to fill her shoes. It’s been a long road, but we’ve gotten here and I hope she’ll work another couple years for me.

Phoenix is still the same old, happy go lucky, boy we’ve loved forever. He can’t hear or run, but he still makes sure to keep the younger ones in line. We started him on a new anti-inflammatory supplement a month ago and it really seems to be making a difference in his ability to get around. He doesn’t seem as stiff after lying in one spot for too long and he doesn’t seem to hesitate at the top of the stairs before going down to the grass. He’ll be 14 in October and I think he is doing amazing!

As you can see, lots has changed and been happening for us all. Canyon is becoming a man, Cessna is becoming a wise middle aged woman, Aspen is finally able to play, and Phoenix is moving smoothly through his golden years. I look forward to getting back into the whole blogging thing and sharing our lives with you all.

A Wonderful Week Away

On Monday morning we set off for Waterloo. We picked up my sister in Kirkland Lake and then dropped her off in Huntsville before continuing on our way south. We arrived in Guelph around 7:00pm and did a bit of running around before we met up with a friend for coffee at William’s Coffee Pub. I sure do miss my latés living up north. We arrived in Waterloo around 10:00pm and headed straight to bed.

On Tuesday we took Jasper (an ADS foster who’s almost ready for training) and Cessna to Costco for a bit of shopping and then went to meet up with a friend for lunch. Lunch was great. My friend and I decided to share two dishes we both enjoy, a wonderful decision seeing as we both couldn’t decide between the two and would not have been able to eat two full meals ourselves. After lunch we ran a few errands and then went into Cambridge to visit with Jess and Glacier. Glacier was excited to see us and was happy to have Jasper to play with. Before taking Jess to horseback riding we went for dinner at a little Mexican restaurant near her house. It was pretty yummy, but not completely worth the money in my opinion. When we got back to Waterloo, Jasper and Cessna were exhausted so slept while we played Dog-opoly with Karen. My sister bought me the game as an early Christmas present.

On Wednesday we went to a couple of appointments in Guelph and then met up with Kelly and Ace another foster puppy from ADS. The dogs had fun playing with Ace and were all ready for a nap by the time we returned to Karen’s. In the evening we went to a puppy outing at Fairview Mall where there were 5 other ADS families with their puppies(Chester, Finnley, Cooper, Urban and Ace), not including us with Cessna and Karen with Jasper. We had a good outing and ended it all at Crabby Joe’s for a drink and appetizer. It was great to see how much some of the puppies have matured over the past month since we saw them last. Ace was still as well-behaved as usual and Cooper continued to outshine many of his older puppy buddies.

On Thursday Huib finally got his hair cut and we ran a few more errands in Guelph before heading to Etobicoke to visit with Phoenix’s puppy raisers. Alice (his foster mom) is improving everyday and is now walking a bit with the use of a walker. It has been neat to see how determination can overcome negative odds. She had a stroke in January of 2009 which left her in a wheelchair, unable to use her left side or eat solid foods. Now she is eating and drinking anything she wants and moving her left hand/arm more each time we visit. She is able to lift herself into a stand position and walk a bit with the walker. If her determination to go home continues to be this strong then it may be very possible that it could happen  We took Phoenix in to visit and then brought each of the other three (Cessna, Jasper & Aspen) one by one in order not to take up too much space in the small sun room. Thursday evening was pretty laid back with a bit of moving furniture and then playing a bit more Dog-opoly.

Friday was Cessna’s 6th birthday. We got her a couple new toys over the week – a fox wubba and a toy called a Flappy (a long rubber stick shape covered in colourful canvas that has tail like pieces sticking out from either side). Her auntie Jess bought her a stuffed squirrel toy and liver treats which she loves. We packed everyone into the car after a run in the baseball diamonds near Karen’s house and headed to Lindsay. In Lindsay we met up with Aiden’s new mom and followed her to their house which is about 25km from town. Aiden took about 20 seconds to realize it was us, but then the wiggles started and he almost couldn’t control himself. He looks fantastic and seems so happy. We gave him his new toy, a fox wubba and he ran around squeaking it and throwing it to us for another toss. Aiden’s new mom told us about how he has been doing and how much he has changed her son’s life. Aiden passed his public access test just over a week ago and will soon be attending school with Kamaran. We were there for about 3 hours and enjoyed every minute of it. Aiden has not changed at all. He is still full of beans and loves to give kisses and play fetch. For the last half hour we played fetch with Aiden and our dogs. Before leaving we gave Aiden a rawhide ball and he has it broken open and the middle eaten before we were in the car. It was nice to see that he didn’t mind us leaving – something I also see with Cessna and Phoenix when they visit with their raisers.

We met up with a fellow puppy raiser for dinner along with my uncle before heading home. It was great to see both of them. Our drive home was uneventful. We saw a wolf crossing the road just outside New Liskeard, but nothing else too exciting. Now that we are home, we have begun to unpack the car and will probably do a bit of cleaning before Huib returns to work on Monday.

Just a short update on Reece. He has been diagnosed with ununited coronoid process and has been released from the ADS program. He requires a very expensive surgery to correct the problem, but in the end will most likely develop arthritis by 5 or 6 years of age. We are not able to afford this surgery so have had to pass on adopting him, but hopefully soon the program will find a permanent home and family willing to cover the cost. In the meantime he is staying with the other foster mom and will go for a few x-rays to determine the true extent of his condition and a decision will then be made as to what exactly needs to be done and when it will take place. We will keep you all updated as we find out more about him.

First Birthday Already!


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

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

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

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

She’s Five!

A week ago today (October 30th) Cessna turned 5. It is hard to believe we’ve been together for three and a half years now. She has matured so much in the past year, I guess females matured later than males because I remember the “light bulb” turning on a lot earlier for Phoenix. Cessna has been a wonderful companion for me and I know our next few years of working will only bring us closer.

Cessna has been doing advanced obedience classes and has been excelling in her lessons. Her work has improved tons and she seems to be enjoying the lessons. She is doing so well that the dog trainer I am working with asked me to inquire about getting a copy of her Canadian Kennel Club registration papers. I wrote her program head and today was given the green light to begin competing when I feel ready to do so. I was quite nervous about asking, but am absolutely thrilled with the answer. I think Cessna will like the challenge and that she will not only get better in her primary job, but also excel in her competitions.

I don’t know many dogs who have this continuous desire to learn, but no matter what I ask of her, Cessna continues to step up to the challenge with her usual excitement.

“… it takes a strong-minded human to appreciate a strong-minded dog!”

A Chaotic Weekend

Our weekend began with a trip to Amber’s place for a puppy play date. Cessna and Aiden loved the time they got to run and play and chase the Frisbee around the field near Amber’s house. Amber had a good time romping around with Aiden and they tired each other out quite nicely. Gunner, our visitor for the weekend, didn’t have as much fun on the play date because he was stuck on a long leash because we weren’t sure about his recall. Gunner is a 105lbs (slightly overweight) male chocolate Labrador. He was donated to the Autism Dog Services program and is currently under assessment, but being already 14 months old and not overly obedient things are a little more challenging. I wish the director of training luck in the training process, if he decides to accept the challenge.

On Saturday we held a birthday party for our golden, Aspen, and our little 6 month old foster, Aiden. We had a total of 8 dogs in our 2-bedroom condo apartment, it was nuts! Aspen and Aiden had a wonderful party and Aspen was thoroughly spoiled by her friend Thor (10 year old 115lbs golden) and his mom Sharon. She got: a package of snausages, a package of dentasticks, and a bone that has minty flavoured stuff in it from them; fresh beef bones from her friend Harley (the balcony jumper) and his mom Darlene; a squeaky beaver from her friend Jetta and her mom Jess and then a knuckle bone from us in addition to her pink teddy and pool she already got. Aiden was also spoiled with a nylabone ring and a squeaky/crinkly stuffed turtle from us and a Frisbee from his friend Jetta and her mom Jess. In addition to having all of the dogs come over for the party we also made cake for them all to share (even though I am sure Aspen would have loved to have it all to herself). The cake was half rice and half coconut flour with peanut butter mixed into the batter and then some as icing as well. They all enjoyed it thoroughly!

Later on though Cessna began to develop hives and become quite itchy. We noticed the problem when she was running around like a mad dog and rubbing her paws on the carpet…not normal for her at all, even though she is quite an energetic girl! She was covered in red lumps and even her face, ears and legs were swollen. We gave her 2 Benedryl, an Aspirin and a fresh marrow bone to keep her mind off her discomfort. About an hour or so later the swelling and hives began to go down and happily this morning all the redness had disappeared as well. We are guessing she had an allergic reaction to the coconut flour or peanut butter, she has had peanut butter before but only in small doses since the first time she had too much and got the runs for a couple of days. I think we’ll avoid both because we aren’t sure if her sensitivity to the peanut butter has gotten worse or if it was just the coconut flour…better to be safe than sorry. I’m not sure why I keep getting blessed with these dogs with strange problems, but then I guess someone thinks I can handle it.

Today has been a little less eventful, but still tiring. Gunner has a great deal of energy, but being so large can’t be just left to his own desires. I never thought all four of our dogs could be nervous around one dog at the same time. Poor Aiden almost climbed our bedroom door trying to get in and get away from him. And Phoenix got slammed around the living room like a ball in one of those old arcade games. Only one and a half more days before his trainer returns…he really isn’t a bad dog, but he just doesn’t understand his size and isn’t used to being cooped up in a house all day. Our cat learned that he doesn’t understand his size when he had her pinned between his paws, not wanting to hurt her, but he’s 105lbs and she is only 13lbs maybe…luckily she’s a good sport about it all.