Archives for January 2012

Another Month Older

Rogue is now 9 months old!

It’s hard to believe that in just three more months, we’ll be celebrating her first birthday.

As of today, Rogue is 21 and a half inches tall, 19 inches long, and weighs 56lbs. She is now the same height as Cessna, but an inch longer and weighs just seven pounds less.

I’m not sure she will grow any taller or longer, but Huib is guessing she’ll end up a bit heavier than Cessna because she seems to have more of a compact build. Cessna is dainty, whereas Rogue is small, but not so small-boned.

I’m glad she has ended up at least as tall as Cessna because if she had been any shorter, I’m not sure she’d work out for guiding since I’m quite tall for a woman. Right now, I use a 19 inch long harness handle with Cessna and do not think I’d get enough information from a longer one.

For Rogue’s nine month birthday, I thought I’d share nine Rogue-isms.

1. When Rogue is nervous, she finds comfort in climbing onto the back of the couch to hide behind me. She will lay her head on my shoulder and watch the world around her.

2. If Huib, my sister or I say hi to Rogue in an excited voice, no matter what Rogue is doing, she’ll run full-force towards us and give us tons of kisses, while wagging her tail wildly.

3. If Rogue gets cold at night, she’ll burrow her way under the blankets and sleep there for hours.

4. When it’s mealtime, Rogue knows that she must be in either a sit or down before we will put her bowl down, so she’ll immediately get into position and quiver, trying to control herself.

5. If Rogue wants to play, even when the others are fast asleep, she will silently stalk them and then pounce! – Huib loves watching her do this.

6. When it is night time and we’re all settled down in the living room, Rogue must always be able to lay next to me, or she will pace and make moaning and groaning noises until I make room.

7. When playing with a toy, Rogue will shake it wildly and make little growling noises.

8. Rogue absolutely hates being dressed up. She has no issue with wearing her winter coat, collar, puppy in training jacket or vest, but if we try to put a Halloween costume, booties or the Newtrix on her, she’ll hide and sulk for hours afterwards.

9. Even though Canyon growls when she climbs into his crate with him, or Cessna growls when she tries to snuggle up beside her, Rogue is not deterred, she’ll just give them a look and settle in for a nap. She doesn’t understand why canyon cares whether or not she uses his bed when he’s not, or Cessna dislikes her attempts to cuddle.

As you can see, Rogue provides us with hours of entertainment.

Life just wouldn’t be the same without our little Hurricane.

A new Semester

On Monday, I started another online course through the University of Guelph. There weren’t too many options for winter semester, so I chose Business & Consumer Law, through the Department of Marketing and Commerce Studies.

From reading the course outline, it looks as though this course will be a little tougher than I had hoped. In addition to my online participation, there will be an assignment, a midterm and final examination. I’m not too worried about the online participation or assignment portions of the course, but am not too excited about the midterm or final because both will be multiple choice.

I’m hoping that as long as I study hard, that maybe I can defy the odds and for once, actually do well on a multiple choice exam.

Please wish me luck!

Just Listen

This week Dave, over at Rolling Around In My Head, wrote an insightful post. While reading his words, I thought about the times, where I felt pushed aside while trying to share an experience.

I haven’t really had much to write about here over the past couple of weeks, so I thought I’d take some time to express my feelings and discuss my own experiences.

There are times when all we should do is listen.

There are times when words of encouragement, or sympathy, are not welcome.

There are times when relaying your own experiences is not appropriate.

We have all been guilty of overlooking these simple rules, at sometime or another.

It’s just part of human nature to want to comfort.

To want to help others see that they are not alone.

To share our own experiences.

But, we need to learn how to just listen.

I’ll give you an example…

Before Christmas, Huib and I had a disagreement. I was upset about a broken promise. I had tried, unsuccessfully, to explain my frustrations. When he left for work, I wouldn’t give him a hug or say goodbye. Later that morning, he e-mailed me to apologize and validated my feelings.

In the afternoon, I was talking to a friend via MSN. I told him about the disagreement and how I was shocked to have received an apology. Huib has never been one to say sorry, so when I received the e-mail, I forgave him immediately. My friend asked for details surrounding the argument, I told him everything. I wanted someone to listen. I wanted someone to be happy for me. I wanted to share the fact that I had finally heard (well via print) the word ‘sorry’ from Huib.

I had chosen the wrong person.

Instead of just listening, my friend proceeded to tell me about how I shouldn’t have gotten upset with Huib. He told me that I was being unreasonable to expect that any of the promises could have come true. He didn’t understand why Huib had to say ‘sorry’.

Maybe it’s because my friend is a guy. Or maybe it’s just the way he views relationships. But, his response is not what I needed.

Here’s a more serious example…

When Phoenix began refusing to eat, I again chose to talk to my friend from the above example. I told him how I was trying to do anything possible to get Phoenix eating. I told him that I worried this was a sign of things to come.

My friend wasn’t supportive. My friend wasn’t helpful.

He told me that his guide dog trainers had said, a dog won’t starve itself. He told me they had instructed him to only give the dog one choice, and if the dog chose not to eat, then to wait until the next mealtime to try again.

He neglected to take into consideration, the fact that Phoenix was almost 15 years old. He neglected the fact that I was sharing my fears with him. He just thought about the fact that Phoenix was a dog, and that he wasn’t eating.

Never once did he think about me. Not once did he think about Phoenix.

When Phoenix passed away, and I told my friend…

He simply told me that Phoenix was old, and had lived a long life..

This was not helpful. This was not supportive.

I needed a friend.

I needed a shoulder to cry on.

I didn’t need someone to point out the obvious.

I didn’t need someone to push aside my experiences.

When someone comes to you and shares their story, stop and think. Does this person need advice? Does this person need to hear my thoughts? How can I best meet their needs?

Often, the answer to these questions, is to just listen.

It’s Carnival Time!

It’s time for another Assistance dog Blog Carnival!

Since I’ve participated in the past three, I guess I had better get working on my entry.

This round is being hosted by Cait of Dogstar Academy, and the theme she has chosen is “obstacles”. You can read more about it here.

I hope you will take the time to read through the various entries when it’s up or even better, join me.

Resolutions vs Goals

As soon as Christmas is over and New Years Eve approaches, people start talking about the resolutions they are making. Rarely do these New Years resolutions continue much past the first few weeks of the new year, but people still find it necessary to create them.

I can’t think of a time when I actually sat down to plan New Years resolutions. Maybe I realized the futility from a young age. Or maybe I just had no interest in planning out the changes I wanted to do in the new year.

This year, I still won’t make New Years resolutions, but would like to set out some goals for me and the rest of the ruled by paws gang for 2012.

Our 2012 Goals:
I, the primary human of ruled by paws, would like to work towards leading a more healthy life. Last year, during Lent, I completely eliminated pop/soda from my diet. This year, I would like to work towards eliminating processed foods. This does not mean I will no longer eat junk food and things that are considered unhealthy, but it means that if I am not willing to take the time to prepare something like macaroni and cheese from scratch, then I will not grab a box of Kraft Dinner from the pantry.

Since the canine members of ruled by paws cannot really set out goals for themselves, I will plan a 2012 goal for each of them.

Aspen really hasn’t been expected to learn and behave like the other three canines of the family. She is not a poorly behaved dog at all, but her and I do not really see eye to eye when it comes to her obedience and training. Therefore, my goal for Aspen this year is to start working through Sue Ailsby’s Levels with her from the beginning and by the end of the year, I would like us to be approaching the point of passing either the Old Levels three or if I get an opportunity to purchase the New Levels books, then I want us to be done or ready to pass the New Level two.

Cessna will be 9 this coming October and close to retirement, so I would like to continue teaching her new tasks that she can do around the house. This past year, I taught her to close cupboard doors and have been working on teaching her to close drawers. I would like to continue expanding the use of this task, so that she will be reliably doing it for me at other people’s houses as well. By the end of 2012, I would like to have taught Cessna to also open cupboards and drawers, as well as, being able to turn on and off light switches she can reach. In our current home this means we will need to create switches at more of her head level. I do not require her help in any of these areas, but Cessna really shows pride in her work and loves feeling helpful, so I think these new tasks will give her some satisfaction during retirement.

As everyone knows, Huib and Canyon entered their first conformation dog show this past week. My goal for Canyon is to enter more shows and work on achieving his Canadian Championship title. I would love to say my goal is to have him obtain his title by the end of 2012, but the show ring is political so who knows how we’ll do each time we walk in front of a judge. In addition to working on Canyon’s title, I would like to have him earn his Canine Good Neighbour certification. Other than these two achievements, I would like to continue working through Sue Ailsby’s Levels with him and hopefully be well on our way to having him doing a proper formal retrieve by the end of 2012.

Finally, we come to Rogue. Rogue will be a year old in April, so we will have her eyes tested to make sure her sight is good enough for guide work. I would love to say my goal for her is to be ready to take over, at least part-time, for Cessna by the end of 2012, but we all know how things can change in an instant. Therefore, my goals for Rogue this year, are to first obtain her Canine Good Neighbour certification. Then, I would like to continue working through Sue Ailsby’s Old Levels (unless I end up purchasing the new books) and have her at least doing some of the non-tension related guiding tasks. This means that I am not expecting her to be guiding in harness, but that she is well on her way to being able to confidently leash guide me in familiar areas that do not require intelligent disobedience, busy road crossing or complex obstacle work. I would like to be able to say whether or not Rogue will be able to fulfill my needs by the end of 2012, so that I have some time to decide on another plan of action, if she cannot take over for Cessna.

As you can see, the goals I have set for 2012 are broad, but achievable. I have tried to stay realistic so that I will hopefully look back and feel a sense of accomplishment instead of failure.

2012 is going to be our year, I can feel it!