Archives for December 2010

Decisions, decisions

This year I’ve decided to take part in the Assistance Dog blog Carnival and the topic is decisions. Over the past 15 years I’ve had to make many decisions in regards to applying for, working with, retiring, and then raising an assistance dog. Not many people can actually say they’ve been involved in all areas of the service dog experience, but here’s my story.

In the summer of 1993 my shunt (a tube which runs from my brain into my abdomen) blocked. This caused the cerebral fluid around my brain to build up and create pressure which damaged my optic nerves. In a matter of a couple weeks, I went from seeing 20/20 to seeing nothing out of my left eye and only through 3 pin holes in the very centre of my right. It was tough at first, but I had the support of an amazing vision teacher who re-taught me everything from completing daily tasks to getting around the world with a white cane, in addition to a mother who refused to see me any different from the daughter she had given birth to 13 years prior. Now that I’ve laid out some background information to my story, let’s move on to the day I decided to apply for my first guide.

From the first day I was introduced to the white cane I knew I had to get rid of it. I hated the way it felt in my hand, the way people looked at me, the ways it limited me, and well….it was just plain ugly! I made a point of telling my vision teacher this almost every time we had a lesson until the day she told me about guide dogs. I had always wanted a pet dog and to know there was a way of both getting rid of my cane and having a dog of my own, I told her I’d do anything she wanted. She told me that if I worked hard over the next couple of years she’d help me convince my parents to let me get a dog and that she’d help me with the application. It was a long 3 years, but finally in January of 1997 my vision teacher and I began researching programs and decided on the Lions foundation of Canada Dog Guides because it was close to my hometown (Aurora, Ontario) and because the classes were small. I received my first guide, Gryphon, in August of that year and put my white cane on the shelf forever.

Gryphon was a 21 month old tall, slim, male black labrador retriever who weighed about 81lbs. We were matched around August 1st of 1997 and worked together for only a year. Gryphon was not the right dog for me, but he worked well and the trainers felt he was a good fit for a young first time handler, who just happened to be the youngest they’d ever accepted into the program. Gryphon was a great dog and he taught me tons, but we never bonded the way a working team should so, when he was career changed after only a year I wasn’t too upset. Gryphon had become traffic shy after an altercation with a car in Toronto and both the trainers at LFC and myself were unable to get him past his fears. He was later retrained as a special Skills Dog and worked for a while before being retired for health reasons.

Phoenix and I were matched in July of 1998 and worked together for almost 7 years. I remember our time in class together, he was only 20 months and full of personality. From day one he has always had his opinions on how things should be done and has never been afraid to let me know what he’s thinking. We attended my final year of high school together and then completed an entire honors degree at the University of Guelph. Phoenix had severe separation anxiety until he retired so accompanied me on excursions I’d never dream of taking Cessna to – a packed Montreal night club, the outdoor Walkerton Country Music Festival or full day visits to Canada’s Wonderland, just to name a few. Phoenix was always faithful and willing to work at any hour and in any environment, but at the age of 8 and a half he began slowing down and wanting to just chill at home rather than work, so I knew it was time for retirement. It was a hard decision because we had developed such a bond and I worried about hurting his feelings by getting a new guide to replace him. But, most of all I worried about the training process and the hardships involved in bonding with a new working companion.

Cessna and I were matched on May 27th, 2005. She was not truly ready to be responsible for a blind person but the trainers had confidence in my abilities and saw the chemistry between us. Cessna was only 18 months so had tons of maturing left to do. She barked at other dogs out of excitement, jumped around like a kangaroo when she saw squirrels or birds and couldn’t settle in my social work classes without a long run beforehand. This crazy, immature puppy is long gone and has been replaced by a mature, sensitive companion who desires to learn more everyday. Over the past 5 years Cessna and I have worked hard to understand what each other needs and have become a dream team.

With all the skills and experience I obtained “training” Cessna, I began looking for other learning opportunities and learned about Autism Dog Services. Huib and I had talked about what it would be like to raise an assistance puppy and had even gone as far as asking the LFC for a puppy to foster. We were told that instead of having to explain to some clients why they couldn’t raise a puppy when others could, that they had made it their policy to refuse everyone, but they said nothing was stopping us from fostering for another organization. Autism Dog Services was started by a former LFC trainer whom I knew from training with Gryphon and Phoenix. A couple LFC foster families we knew began raising puppies for ADS and suggested we contact them to see if we could also be of help. After a few e-mails back and forth we made the decision to welcome a 10 week old caramel coloured Labrador retriever into our home on March 1st, 2008.

We fostered Aiden until he was 13 months of age and began raising Reece in February of 2009. Our experience with autism Dog Services was both gratifying and heart aching. We loved having Aiden and Reece in our home and are thankful to have been given the opportunity to help ADS in providing independence and safety to children with autism, but this experience has also left us with some lessons. We don’t regret our decision to help raise Aiden and Reece for Autism Dog Services, but wish this experience didn’t have to be another hat placed on the shelf of tough lessons learned.

Since cutting our ties with autism Dog Services we made the decision to purchase a male golden retriever in December of 2009 and raise him as our future stud dog and obedience champion. Canyon is not a service dog, but he has taught me further lessons about loyalty and thinking outside the box. He will go for his health clearances in June and hopefully begin producing offspring who will carry on his temperament and lust for life and who knows, maybe one of them will become an assistance dog in the future.

Christmas 2010

This year my friend and her son came to visit for the holidays. Caleb came on the 17th and is staying until after new Years, but his mom arrived on the 23rd and left on Monday. It was an eventful few days, full of memories and first time experiences.

Here are some pictures of Caleb posing in different kid’s rides during our visit to the North Bay mall for some last minute gifts.

Taz isn’t much into the whole Christmas thing so instead of buying her a gift we took her and Caleb dog sledding near Timmins. Dog Sledding Adventures is run by a man named Shane who has about 21 greyhound like huskies. I cannot totally remember the breed or if they are actually husky greyhound crosses, but if anyone knows from the pictures please let me know. Shane started his dog sledding career in Whistler as a guide and instantly fell in love with the sport. When he decided to move from Whistler back to the Timmins area where he grew up, he made an agreement with the company owner and brought about 6-10 dogs back. The snow conditions on Friday were on the faster side so Shane only hooked up 7 dogs to our sled. We had – coconut (leader), Shooter, Mr. Penguin, Dora, Doughnut, Madison, and Mr. Deeds – most of our team were from his Adam Sandler crew. The dogs were extremely excited about the upcoming run so barked and whined constantly until they were hooked up and told to go. It was amazing to see how focused they get and then as the run goes on how tired they become from the concentration. Each of us got a chance to ride in the sled while Shane directed the dogs and taught us all the necessary commands and features of the sled itself. Then Shane stood off to the side and let us take one another for rides during the next 45 minutes. In total we spent 2 hours with the dogs and it was amazing! Shane told me that the next time I came to bring Cessna and Canyon and he would hook them up with his dogs to the sled and I’d see how well they took to the exercise. It wasn’t overly expensive and I had so much fun that I will for sure be returning later in the winter.

My sister and step-dad came over that evening and we had dinner and opened presents. Brandi had to work all weekend so we had our Christmas get together a little early. At first Brandi wasn’t in a great mood, but as the evening progressed her mood improved. Dinner was delicious and dessert was even better – Caleb and I made both a plain and a toffee chip cheesecake.

This year for Christmas from Brandi I got a Tassimo coffee maker, season four of Dexter, a Glee calendar, Starbucks coffee, and an I.O.U. for pajamas. I absolutely love my coffee maker and can’t wait until we get some cappuccino, hot chocolate, and latte pods for it. Dad gave both Huib and I a hundred dollars and Taz bought us the game Rock Star Life. Huib and I decided not to buy one another gifts since there tends to be more sales during the weeks after Christmas and it’s more fun to go on shopping sprees.

We didn’t do too much during the weekend, but enjoyed one another’s company and exercised the dogs. On Saturday we took everyone for an hour and fifteen minute walk and then yesterday went for a two mile walk in the opposite direction. Taz really enjoyed seeing our home and the areas around where we live. Right now it’s beautiful up here – tons of snow and animal tracks everywhere.

We really enjoyed having Taz and Caleb here for Christmas and hope they’ll join us again next year.

We Were Spoiled!

Hi there everyone…it’s Cessna here. Mommy said I could use her laptop for a bit to tell you all about what her and Santa brought us. We had a very good Christmas this year and in my opinion were quite spoiled!

I got –
• a purple bowling pin shaped Kong Genius
• a red Kong wubba
• a large orange Zanie’s Ripstop training dummy (for retrieving while swimming)
• an eggplant from the Zanies Giggling Veggies group of toys
• a purple Jolly ball (which Daddy is going to attach a rope to, so I can swing it around)
• a package of rollover training treats
• a Skinneez bear that holds a plastic water bottle
• a package of Bison treats and
• a little tennis ball on a red rope

Picture of Cessna’s presents in a pile.

Phoenix got –
• a red tube shaped Kong Genius (the vet told Mommy he can eat hard treats now)
• a red Kong dental stick (so Mommy can put peanut butter or Kong stuffing on it)
• 2 pig skin rolls
• A package of Northern Biscuit treats (wild trout flavor)
• A package of Performatin treats (salmon and rice flavor)
• A fuzzy fleece blanket that has a horse on it and
• A medium roll of chicken and veggie flavor deli Fresh

Canyon got –
• A blue bee hive shape toy with holes in either end for filling with peanut butter or cookies
• An Air Kong spinner
• An Air Kong dumbbell
• A green Tough By Nature Chompion (looks like a rubber dumbbell that you can put kibble sized treats into the ends and has knubs for massaging the gums)
• A Nylabone wishbone
• A Nylabone Durachews Plus
• A green pepper from the Zanies Giggling Veggies group of toys
• A stuffed bone that has different coloured rings to remove
• a red stuffed soccer ball that squeaks
• two tennis balls on a blue rope
• a bull’s winky and
• a package of Rollover training treats

Picture of Canyon’s presents in a pile.

Aspen got –
• a brown stuffed bear that makes a honking sound
• a stuffed turtle that squeaks
• a blue stuffed rhinoceros that squeaks
• a purple stuffed elephant that squeaks
• a tomato from the Zanies Giggling Veggies group of toys
• a brown stuffed lion that squeaks
• a red rubber ball that squeaks
• an Air Kong football and
• a bull’s winky

Picture of Zanies Giggling Veggies – a red tomato, a green pepper and a purple eggplant all with smiling faces & limbs.

As you can see we were pretty lucky dogs! Our cousin Dawsen is visiting for the weekend so we haven’t gotten a chance to play with too many of our toys, but he leaves tomorrow morning and that’s when the fun will begin. By the way, he was also pretty spoiled by Mommy, santa and Auntie.

Almost Back

It has been about 3 weeks since Phoenix began showing signs of Idiopathic Vestibular Disease. We had our post-treatment phone consult a week ago and Dr B was quite happy with his recovery. She told us that if we notice him regressing that we should contact her and she’ll give him another homeopathic remedy. She also had us speak with one of her vet techs about a homemade food for him and he will soon begin a homeopathic regiment.

Phoenix still has a slight head tilt and wears his bright orange life jacket so we can help him up and down the stairs at the front of the house, but he no longer requires assistance walking around the house or outside. He can jump onto the couch and find a comfortable spot on his own, but we still have him sleep between us at night, just in case.

The past couple of weeks have been both stressful and exciting. Stressful because we’ve had to watch Phoenix’s every move and the more he recovered the more stubborn he became. But, it’s been exciting because we’ve had the opportunity to watch him progress from not being able to do much on his own to seeming healthier than he was even 6 months ago. To help him even further we bought some carpet to help give him traction when walking around the house.

We’re so lucky to still have Phoenix around and will be sure to make the best of every moment we have left.

Raising Reece

Today (December 20th) Reece turns 2. It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year and a couple of months since we gave him up. As everyone knows, Reece was washed from the Autism dog Services program in October of 2010 because of his elbow. It was a really hard decision to forgo adopting him, but with the diagnosis of an ununited coronoid process we knew that it would be unfair to take him and not be able to afford the surgery he would almost certainly require. In addition to this Reece had given us a run for our money and caused a bit of a rift between Huib and himself – he will be forever known as our $5,000 puppy! Huib did not have the opportunity to really get to know Reece, so did not have the bond I had with him. I spent many hours working on skills with him while Huib was at school or work and when Huib left to begin working in Kirkland Lake Reece and I developed an even stronger bond. But, there was still that underlying distrust of whether he might decide to chew something while confined and the fact that Cessna just couldn’t bond with him, so we made the decision to let ADS place him and hope that we would get a chance to keep in touch with his new family.

Reece was adopted around the end of November by an ADS family and shares the house with their foster puppy who had also been washed from the program. Urban is also a chocolate lab, but was disqualified for digestive issues and over activeness. At first Reece’s new family wasn’t sure they could handle the two boys, but within just a short period of time they noticed Reece was a positive influence on urban, teaching him to calm down and relax. Reece and Urban have become the best of friends and will often be found napping together.

We have been lucky to see Reece on a semi-regular basis. He lives in Kitchener and we see him almost every time we visit Waterloo. Reece has not had any real elbow issues since becoming a pet and the orthopedic surgeon told his family that at this point he wouldn’t benefit much from the corrective surgery. During our last visit to Waterloo we got together with Reece. It was so wonderful to see him, he looks great and was super excited to see us. I wanted to post some updated pictures of him, but Huib was distracted and forgot to take some. Hopefully in January or February we’ll see them and get some pictures to share.

Happy 2nd birthday Reece’s Pieces! You were a little terror at times, but you have left a paw print on my heart that will never be forgotten. You have grown up to be such a handsome and wonderful boy and I look forward to keeping in touch with your family for years to come.

“Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.”

Has It Really been a Year Already?

On December 18th, 2009 Huib, Cessna and I drove to a small Mennonite farm about 20 minutes from Hanover to pick up a 6.5 month old male golden retriever. It had been just over a month and a half since we decided not to adopt Reece and I was really finding the house a little quiet, so I decided to check out a golden breeder’s website. After a couple e-mails back and forth we set up a pick-up time and date for our new bundle of gold.

When we first met Canyon (formerly Sparky) he was wet, dirty, smelled like a barn and was pulling his breeder’s 6 year old son across the yard to greet us. I remember thinking, “what are we getting ourselves into?”

Over the past year Canyon has:
• Learned all of his basic obedience commands & is working on loose leash walking
• Learned to swim, dive off the dock & retrieve a toy or stick
• Learned to give 5 & is working on give 10
• Visited residents in long-term care homes
• Visited a friend’s daughter in Toronto’s Sick Children’s Hospital
• Been to Toronto numerous times
• Stayed at a hotel in Sudbury
• Attended both Summer and Winter Woofstocks

This year has been one of learning important skills, experiencing new environments and preparing for the future. Our smelly, disobedient puppy has been replaced with a well-mannered, good looking stud and future obedience champion.

“An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.” – Martin Buber

The Monkey Man’s 3!!

On December 23rd Aiden (our first foster puppy) will turn 3. It’s crazy to think it was almost 3 years ago since we began fostering him for Autism Dog Services. I’m so glad we were given the opportunity to raise him and am so happy he was placed with such a remarkable family.

Picture of a 10 week old Carmel coloured lab.

Picture of puppy Aiden looking down at little pieces of shredded toilet paper.

Aiden lives in Lindsay, Ontario with a middle-age couple and their two sons with autism – Kamaran and Matt. aiden is Kamaran’s autism service dog and attends school each day with him, along with other outings in the sometimes overwhelming world. We have had the chance to visit with them a couple of times since he was placed back in June of 2009 and are overjoyed with how well he is doing.

Picture of Aiden watching Kamaran on the slide.

Picture of Aiden at the top of a blue slide.

Picture of Aiden as he slides down.

In September we took Canyon and Cessna to meet with them for lunch at a park in Lindsay. Aiden was beside himself with excitement as he realized it was us who pulled up in the truck beside them. As he was getting out of the van he ran directly to the back and put his paws on the tailgate to see who was with us. We had a quick McDonald’s lunch (Kam’s favourite) and played a short game of fetch. Kam thought it was great to watch the dogs wrestling and told us about his future plans of being the next Dr. Phil. It was funny to hear about what he planned to wear and how Aiden would be his side kick. His mom told us they had really begun to bond over the past few months and that Kam had actually started to call aiden when he wanted his attention. Near the end of our visit canyon decided it was a good idea to lay in a stinky mud puddle. Kamaran thought it was so funny and wanted Aiden to also join in, but he wouldn’t – I think Kam wanted Aiden to join Canyon so they wouldn’t have to return to school for the afternoon.

Picture of Aiden from our visit in September.

We get almost daily updates on how Aiden is doing through Kamaran’s mom and pictures on a pretty regular basis. Seeing the pictures make us miss him, but we know he’s doing what he needs to do and are so proud to have been his puppy raisers.

I hope you have a wonderful birthday our little carmel friend and Look forward to seeing what the future brings for you and Kamaran.

Our Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,
Since I am the more intelligent of the crew – at least that’s what I think – I offered to write our Christmas wish list.

I’ve been a very good girl, guiding Mommy wherever she wants, taking care of the others – Canyon can be such a bully to Aspen sometimes! – and trying to listen when Mommy asks me to help with special tasks like putting our toys away or standing with her while she lets the others out at night. There isn’t a lot of things I’d like – unlike some dogs in this house, Canyon should really stop being such a greedy boy! – so I’m really hoping you’ll be able to help me out. I’m really a big fan of playing tug, swinging toys around so they hit the others in the head, fun treats and trying to figure out how to get things out of a toy, so here are just a few things I’d love this year.

• A Kong Genius toy – as I said I’m pretty smart, so think this toy would be fun for me
• A Jolly Ball for playing tug & retrieving when swimming in the summer
• A large size Kong so Mommy can fill it with peanut butter or wet food
• A stuffed toy that I can shake around & tease Canyon – I really do enjoy teasing that guy!
• Busy Bones – these are my favourite to get when the others get their stupid rawhide rolls, don’t know why they like those things…
As you can see Santa I don’t really have a very long list, but if you aren’t able to get some of these then I won’t be upset. Mommy told me there are dogs out there who don’t have homes or families who love them so I don’t mind if you put a little more effort into helping them this year, rather than getting me all I ask for.

Guess I’d better move onto the others so they’ll stop breathing down my back – this typing thing is really hard, not sure how Mommy does it for so long.

Phoenix has also been a very good boy. He is a lot older than me so can’t help Mommy as much as I can, but he really does try and watch her for me so I can get a little rest without worrying. Phoenix was Mommy’s guide before I came and she says he was a really great friend – he taught me how to guide Mommy without my harness, which I guess is pretty cool. Phoenix got sick a couple weeks ago and doesn’t seem to be eating the same kind of food as we do anymore – he gets the really good stuff that comes out of a can, I’m so jealous! – so I guess I’ll suggest some more suitable gifts for him – since he really doesn’t seem to realize he has to be careful, that’s what I hear Mommy telling Daddy. Phoenix also can’t run around or play as much as I can so some of the toys I like wouldn’t be good for him, but he does like food. Here are a few things I think he’d like you to bring him Santa, if you can manage it.

• Wellness soft treats – Mommy can break them up so he won’t get them stuck in his lungs, that’s what I heard Mommy tell someone the vet is worried about
• A really soft fleece blanket for him to use when he is in the truck or visiting people with Mommy – as I said he got sick a couple of weeks ago so things are really kinda different around here
• Deli Fresh treats – they are soft & Mommy seems to give them to him when we get other ones
• A large size Kong for Mommy to fill with peanut butter or wet food

Phoenix also likes it when he gets new collars or bandannas so if you think there’s one he might like Santa, then please get him that as well.

Now it’s time to write Aspen’s list for her. Aspen is a little boring if you ask me, but she’s really good about taking care of Phoenix when Mommy needs me to work for her so I guess she’s okay. Aspen doesn’t really play much like Canyon and I do, but she seems to like food, swimming, playing fetch and rolling around on Mommy and Daddy’s bed with a stuffed toy in her mouth. Here are some things she asked me to write for her.

• An air Kong toy – she says she isn’t picky, but loves chasing & squeaking them when Mommy or Daddy throws it
• Any really soft stuffed toy that squeaks – she’s really gentle with her toys, unlike Canyon and I, so ones that are meant for puppies would be okay
• Anything edible – Mommy says she is a lab in a golden’s clothing, not sure what that means…
• A large size Kong for Mommy to fill with peanut butter or wet food – as I said before, she loves food

Aspen is a really girly dog – unlike me – so if you see anything a girly dog would like then it’s perfect for her.

In my opinion Canyon’s been a naughty boy! He always picks on Aspen and doesn’t seem to always listen to Mommy like I do, but I guess I’ll give you his list and let you decide. He isn’t a picky dog – unless it comes to food – but he absolutely loves balls, toys that squeak and to play fetch. Here is his list – personally I think he’s being a bit greedy, but here it is anyways.

• A treat ball – Phoenix doesn’t like it when he plays with his
• A Kong Genius toy – he claims he’s just as smart as me, but we’ll see who’s smarter…
• An Air Kong toy – like Aspen, he enjoys squeaking and chasing toys that Mommy & Daddy throw for him
• A Nylabone – not sure why, but he seems to like those
• A stuffed toy – I told him to ask for this so he would stop stealing Aspen’s toys
• Squeaky tennis balls – as I said he loves balls!
• Rollover treats – Mommy seems to use these & other yummy treats when she teaches him new things

I refuse to write anything further for him because I just can’t stand him!! He doesn’t seem to care that there are dogs out there without families like ours. Wonder where he thinks Auntie Brandi’s new golden retriever, Dawsen, came from…. Just so you know Santa, Dawsen was adopted through Golden Rescue and I’m sure he’d also love some new toys and treats if you can manage the additional weight in your sleigh. Dawsen doesn’t have a lot yet, so anything you bring him would be great!

Well that’s all for now Santa, but we do have two cats named Logan and Laya who share our home so if you see any good cat treats or toys they might like then please add them to our wish list.

Many sloppy kisses and tail wags from a very good girl


Winter Is Here!

It’s been snowing pretty much the entire week and the dogs are absolutely loving it. I have fun going out with them and watching their games of chase around the snow piles and well, which is also covered in snow too. I think they look forward to this time of year because they can run around like crazy nuts and if they fall in the process, it doesn’t hurt.

Aspen and Cessna like digging in the snow, seeing if they can find something – a toy or maybe a little critter. Canyon likes wrestling with them, but he’s usually the one who ends up on his back. Even though he’s not neutered and a bit of a pushy dog, he seems to accept Cessna’s authority and will submit to her without any real effort on her part. His favourite game though is to play fetch. No matter how cold it is or how much snow is falling, he just has to go outside for even a 10 minute game before he can truly relax. It’s nice not having to keep him on a lunge line or flexi leash because I can throw the toy as far as possible and usually tire him out within 15-20 throws. Aspen will try and get to the toy before him, but she really only has a chance when he’s nearing the end of his energy burst or when I decide to practice stays with him. Phoenix isn’t into playing anymore, but likes to walk around the yard and check out the various smells and poop piles (I know he’s disgusting!). Since his diagnosis of Idiopathic Vestibular Disease though, he hasn’t really been given much of a chance to walk around the yard on his own, but over the past few days we’ve let him roam since the snow will cushion any fall he might have. We just follow behind and make sure the others don’t knock him over – they don’t really seem to notice a difference in him, which seems strange to me.

Picture of canyon resting his head on the back seat of the truck.

I can’t believe Santa Paws will be here in just over 12 days!

Until the next time we write, be safe and have some fun in the snow!!

“Snowflakes are one of nature’s most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together.” – Vesta M. Kelly

Introducing Dawsen

About a month or so ago my sister sent an application into Golden Rescue to adopt one of their special needs or older dogs. She originally applied to adopt an 8 year old male who was blind, but his foster family was hoping to place him with a dogless family (guessing to keep him safe) and there was already a possible match. Over the past few weeks we’ve continually checked the website for new possibilities and saw Dawsen (aka Clancy). Dawsen is a 20 month old rusty coloured male golden with mild epilepsy. He is loving and highly food motivated, but needs to be taught everything about being a proper family pet. Dawsen wasn’t taught much by his original family, except for how to sit and wait for meals and to behave in the crate. These are useful skills, but he wasn’t really given the chance to be a puppy so is now grasping the opportunity with both paws.

Picture of my sister standing with her new buddy, Dawsen, wearing his dark green collar, walking harness and red flexi-leash.

We first met Dawsen about a week ago when his foster dad brought him and his own goldens (Truman & Julie( to meet us at a park in aurora. He was well-behaved at the visit, walking on his flexi without pulling and interacting with Canyon and Cessna appropriately. He didn’t pay much attention to us, but you could see his desire to be friends and to get to know our dogs better. Brandi called the volunteer responsible for her case and began the adoption process. On Monday she got the call that she was approved and we set up a pick-up date for the following evening in Huntsville. After about half an hour of filling out paperwork and learning Dawsen’s routines we put him and his stuff into the truck for the 4 hour drive home. He was an amazing traveler, just settling by Brandi’s feet in the front and then easily settling in back when we decided to transfer him for more space. He didn’t once try to jump on or bother Phoenix who was lying in the back seat – we can no longer leave him home alone with his IVD diagnosis – and he even gave Brandi several licks on her hand that wasn’t holding the kibble.

We arrived at our house around 1:00am and made Brandi a bed on the couch with a dog bed beside her. Before going to sleep though, we let Dawsen and Canyon play while the other 3 of my gang were in the bedroom with Huib. They got along well, sharing toys and playfully chewing on one another’s face. During the night Dawsen settled well and slept with Brandi’s hand on his back – guess he liked the human contact. In the morning we all woke up and fed our respective dogs and then gave them a chance to play a bit before heading back to sleep – again Dawsen slept well beside Brandi. Around noon we woke up and I got out the grooming tools and brushed Dawsen well before spraying him with some vanilla coat freshener. He lost a lot of hair and had several knots in his tail, but I think the next time we brush him he’ll feel a little less stressed about it and maybe stop mouthing. A bit later we let the dogs play outside before Brandi packed Dawsen and her stuff into the car and they headed home.

Dawsen has now been with Brandi for 72 hours and they are doing well. He is so calm and easy going for his age and as long as she takes him for a short walk in the morning and at night he just lays by her feet and plays with his toys or sleeps. He has eaten some Kleenex, gotten into an ashtray on the coffee table (left by Dad) and eaten Branden’s (her cat) food a few times, but otherwise he’s been quite a nice house guest. This afternoon Brandi took Dawsen for a drive to get a baby gate from Canadian Tire and then to do a little grocery shopping – he settled easily in the back of her truck and didn’t once move into the front to investigate. So far I think they are enjoying one another’s company and with time they will figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Picture of Dawsen, a rusty coloured golden retriever with dark brown eyes.

Stay tuned for further updates on Dawsen as he learns his basic obedience commands and becomes a forever member of our extended family.