Archives for September 2011


Sorry for the lack of posting this week, but I just haven’t had anything to write about.

Everyone is doing well.

Rogue continues to grow and mature into a wonderful little girl. She is still learning to control herself around food, but we have now started to feed her with everyone else in the kitchen. We have Aspen and Canyon eat together using the bowl table, she used to share with Phoenix, and Cessna eats with Rogue on the other side of the kitchen. Rogue can get really jumpy and overexcited when she sees the food being prepared, so we have started to attach her to a leash that is around one of the couch legs. She seems to calm right down once she has the leash connected to her collar, so I’m hoping that she will learn with time, to just chill out and wait for the bowls to be put down. Other than that, we have been working on loose leash walking and are really hoping to have her ready for a Rally-O competition in November. Of course it will depend upon how much we practice and on whether her CKC paperwork comes in, but we can hope right?

Other than that, I’ve been busy with school reading and assignments. I actually got my first assignment back today and received a stellar grade, so I’m happy about that. The group discussion portion of the course still frustrates me, but the professor is supposed to be reorganizing the groups after she has marked the assignments we handed in today. Today’s assignment was to discuss and reflect on the group discussions and on how we felt our participation could be better. I’m not really sure this one went as well as the first assignment, but there are three other reflection papers to improve upon.

Nothing else is really new here. It has gotten really cold all of a sudden, so I’m sure we’ll have some snow pictures to share in the real near future. I was really hoping to have some more recent pictures of rogue to share with everyone, but it looks as though we have lost our camera. Maybe I’ll see if Huib can take some good ones with my IPhone.

For now, I’ll leave you with a couple pictures Huib took in June of Aspen and Canyon.

Gone 13 Years

It’s hard to believe, that just thirteen years ago, my mom was still a part of my life.

I know I’ve written about the death of my mom before, but I don’t think I’ve ever told the story of who she was.

Denise was just 39 when Juvenile Diabetes took her away. She was the mom of two teenage daughters, and the wife of a man who to this day, has never stopped loving her.

During her short life, Denise was a devoted, caring RPN (Registered Practical Nurse or Registered Nurse’s Assistant) at the York Central Hospital in Richmond Hill, Ontario. She worked on the geriatrics unit, and provided smiles and laughter for all patients and staff she encountered. To this day, her best friend, a fellow RPN, still misses her dearly.

In 1988, Denise injured her left foot while assisting a co-worker with transferring a patient from one bed to another.

It’s hard to think, that just ten years later my mom would leave us forever.

She was such an inspiration.

Such a loving person.

Even though my friends did not get a chance to know her as well as I did, her death still really effected them.

She loved to laugh.

Loved to tell jokes.

Loved to be surrounded by friends.

But, most of all, she loved her daughters.

It is for this reason, that Brandi and I still strive to keep her memory going.

And every day we hope, that we are still living up to her hopes and expectations.

Coincidental Timing

On Sunday, it will be 13 years since my mother passed away. This anniversary has gotten me thinking about how each time I’ve gotten a new dog guide, someone special has left my life.

Mom passed away two months and two days after I was matched with Phoenix. She had a chance to get to know Phoenix, and thought he was the perfect dog for me. She enjoyed sharing her banana Popsicles with him, and would even offer to babysit if I had to go somewhere alone. She did not share this sort of relationship with Gryphon.

Granny passed away a month and fifteen days after I was matched with Cessna. She also got a chance to meet and sort of get to know her. She thought Cessna was a little rambunctious, but saw potential for a great worker.

Then recently, Phoenix passed away two months and a day after I picked up Rogue. He showed her a patience I had not seen him ever offer another puppy. He let her lick his face. He let her nap on top of him. He let her clean up crumbs he had dropped. And, I’m convinced he left her with a level of wisdom and maturity, I’ve never seen another five month old puppy possess.

Maybe it’s a coincidence, but it’s really got me wondering if I should stop getting new dog guides.

Please let’s hope I’m wrong.

Still Hurting

It’s hard to believe Phoenix has already been gone for five weeks and five days.

I still find myself thinking about him each and every day.

Wondering where he is. Wondering what he’s doing.

Wondering if he misses me, as much as I miss him.

I’ve had people message me to say how much they are also missing Phoenix. He touched so many lives, that I know the pain of his absence is effecting not just our family.

I just don’t think people truly understand how empty I feel.

I’ve had people say they know how I’m feeling. But, I’m not sure they do.

I’m not sure how anyone can truly know how much I miss Phoenix. He was my partner for thirteen years. Even before Huib entered my life Phoenix was by my side.

He taught me the meaning of true loyalty.

He taught me the value of unconditional love.

He was with me through the toughest moments in life. He laid at my feet in the ICU, while I talked to my mom during her final hours. He gave me support when I watched my Granny leave this life.

Phoenix was also there during some of my major milestones. He walked me across the stage in high school. He walked me across the stage at the University of Guelph. He was there while I planned my wedding. And he helped Cessna become the companion I needed her to be.

With all the memories and all the love we shared, I really don’t understand how anyone can say they know how I am feeling.

Maybe you had a dog before that you loved, but they were not Phoenix and you are not me.

Maybe you were/are privileged to have shared your life with a service dog, but they were not Phoenix and you are not me.

Maybe you lost a friend who meant the world to you, but they were not Phoenix and you are not me.

Maybe you had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know Phoenix, but you are not me and it was not the relationship we shared.

I talked to Huib a little while ago about my feelings surrounding how people keep telling me they know how I feel. I told him that only he could even close to understand the thoughts and emotions which plague me. He said that he could imagine how I was feeling, but that Phoenix and I shared a bond that not even he could explain. He said that even though he lived with Phoenix and watched him age, he could only wish for the relationship him and I developed. Phoenix refused to be anything other than a “Mommy’s boy”. Huib tried to be his buddy when Phoenix retired, but no matter how hard he tried, Phoenix constantly reminded him that he was not me.

Phoenix, Mommy misses you dearly. Even though I know you felt it was time to leave, it’s still hard to believe you’re gone. The house is so quiet and empty without your smile and wagging tail.

The others really miss you too.

Aspen still lies in the kitchen by the sink watching for you to come through the side door, or to appear in your favourite sleeping place.

Canyon has taken on the role of protector over the girls. He knows you’d want him to keep them safe, since that is what you did when you were here.

Cessna is quieter. She checks in with me constantly, making sure I’m okay. And she hates leaving me when we’re outside, worried I might need her help.

Rogue is so different. It’s like you’ve left your imprint upon her. She’s so much older and wiser for her age. And, she has taken over your job of being my constant shadow.

I hope we meet again. It may be a long time before I can be with you, but I know you’ve got people to keep you safe.

So, until then, rest in peace my faithful companion.

Student Woes

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have returned to school. I am taking an online course and am so far finding it interesting. I’m having a bit of trouble getting back into the swing of student life, since I graduated from McMaster in June of 2007, but overall it’s going well.

I forgot how frustrating it can be to work within a group though…

With this course, we do not officially work together, but we do have discussion sections on the course website where we must post our thoughts on each unit’s subject and then reply to others at least twice within that week.

You’d think this was an easy task.

But, it’s not…

The group I have been assigned to, seems to be comprised of worse slackers than myself.

The first unit officially started on the 8th, but no one, including myself, posted their “original” post until late on the 15th. Only one other person posted something along with me, and then nothing else other than my response the following day to that individual, was done until the evening hours of the 18th, and the unit ended at 11:00pm. I had checked the website each day and checked in the afternoon of the 18th, but there was nothing, so I was left without the ability to post my second response.

I went on the site yesterday to see what the topic was for the second unit, and what should I see? Two more people had posted their “original” post around 10:00pm on the 18th, and one of them had posted responses to two people!!!

So frustrating!

I really, really want to do well in this course, but am not sure it will be possible if I don’t have the ability to fulfill my discussion obligations.

I know it is only the first week, but it’s still frustrating because I’m wondering if this week’s performance (or lack of) will be a pattern.

Rant is over.

Carnival Announcement

It’s that time again.

The 5th Assistance Dog Blog Carnival has been announced!

This round is being hosted by Cyndy and Uschi of Gentle Wit.

And, the topic is “achievement”.

You can find more information here.

I hope you will join me. You don’t have to have a service dog or foster puppy, but can submit a post regarding these special canines. If you’d like to see some of my earlier Carnival entries, you can click here.

Five Months Old!

Sorry for the late post, but we had some internet issues until late last night…one of the cell towers nearby had been damaged by lightening – aww…country life lol!

Rogue is now 5 months old!

She hasn’t really learned anything new because we’re trying to get her current commands to a point where she’ll do them anywhere, and under any circumstance.

The only new thing we’ve started to teach, is LLW or loose leash walking. So far she has had three lessons, and is doing quite well. We’re not yet at a point where we are naming the behaviour, but I’m sure that by the time she is 6 months, it’ll be second nature.

Since I don’t have five new behaviours she knows, or places she’s been, I thought I’d share the nicknames she’s acquired:

• Pupparoo (or Pupper for short)
• Roagie
• Baby Girl
• Little Monster
• Roagalini Boacachini (not sure where that came from lol!)

It’s amazing to see how much she’s grown over the past few months.

Rogue (Pinky) at 6 weeks

When we got her, she was just over 11lbs and could fit comfortably in the space between my elbow and wrist.

Rogue at 10 weeks

Now, she is 35.9lbs and 18 inches tall. Her orange, black and yellow puppy collar no longer fits, so she has graduated to a red and black one with large and small fire hydrants on it. Her coat is also getting to be snug, so Huib will need to start making her new one quickly.

Rogue at 4 months (this is the newest picture we have because I think we’ve lost our camera with the past few weeks of pictures on it…)

I also had a chance to get some updated pictures of one of her sisters.

Josie (Violet) at 6 weeks

Josie at 5 months (33.1lbs and 20 inches tall)

I’m hoping to get some updated pictures to share of her other siblings, but no one else has yet had a chance to send them to me.

National Guide Dog Month – Should You Pet?

Sorry for slacking on these posts, but this weekend was pretty busy so I thought we’d just make it something that will happen each weekend this month – no “National Guide Dog Month” posts on weekends.

Today, Huib and I took Cessna and Rogue into town for a little sidewalk and intersection work. While walking the streets of Englehart, I heard a few people saying to their companions that they must not distract the working dogs. As I mentioned earlier in this post, we would actually like people to come up and ask to pet Rogue.

This got me thinking about all the service dog handlers who have a “absolutely no petting” policy, or who wish people would just stop asking.

Instead of taking the time to write a post about everything that has already been said by some other bloggers, I thought I’d just give links to their wonderful posts.

Teach Them Well by L^ & Jack

Don’t Pet by Nati & the Dogs

To Pet Or Not Pet A Guide Dog by Lynette & DeeDee

I am in the “ask, and I might let you pet my guide dog” camp.

I understand why some people have an “absolutely don’t pet my guide dog” policy.

And I understand why some get really annoyed by people constantly asking.

But, I have been blessed to have been matched with dogs who could care less about other people and their attempts at distracting them from their job.

I guess the bottom line is…to always ask someone before petting their dog, whether it’s a guide dog or pet. It’s just safer that way for everyone.

Where Were You?

Over the past few weeks leading up to the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, the same question has been posed all over the radio, television and internet –

“Where were you?”

I’ve thought about this question for weeks. Where was I? What was I doing? Who was I with?

On September 11th, 2001:

• I was starting my 3rd year at the University of Guelph.
• I was living with Phoenix in residence.
• I had been dating Huib for ten months.
• I was looking forward to a bright future.

I remember that morning. I remember walking down the hall from my residence room. I remember hearing a lot of people crying and talking in the lounge. I remember hearing the television. I remember stopping at the door of the lounge to listen. And, I remember the feeling of shock that came over me.

I had not lost anyone that day. I had no real ties to America. But, I knew this day would change my life forever.

September 11th, 2001 is a day that should never be forgotten.

It is a day when we all learned that no one was safe. A day when the world stopped, and cried together. A day when thousands of people and special dogs were lost.

Please take a moment, to remember and thank all who were lost.

Happy Birthday!!

Today is my husband’s 32nd birthday.

Huib never wants anything for his birthday and would much rather I not even acknowledge it. It is not because he is worried about aging, but because to him, it’s no fun getting gifts or being put into the spotlight.

Last year I surprised him, by having a half dozen roses delivered to his work. My sister went to the flower shop with me and we picked out a blue vase to hold a single blue rose with five white ones.

This year he is not working on his birthday and my sister is living four hours away, so I have decided to just take him for lunch and will have him pick out some new scrubs for work, when we go down to Guelph in October.

I would have loved to do more, but we live so far away from family and friends, so I guess this will have to due for now.

Happy 32nd Birthday Huib!

I love you lots and look forward to spending many more birthdays with you.