Sunday, January 23, 2011

Inga on the job: an update

Kiss the sky

As volunteer puppy raisers for Canine Companions for Independence, we are well aware of the high standards the organization has for the dogs they place. For many of us, it's the very reason we choose CCI over other service dog organization. And while we do everything we can to ensure these fuzzies know all their basic commands and are solid in public, we know there is a chance that the dog may be released from the program.

And it may be that the dog has exhibited the most minor of behaviors, such as a hesitation around unfamiliar objects. Something we would tend to overlook in a pet, but is not acceptable for a service dog. A sobering fact is that less than 50% of the pups in training will graduate the program.

The rest?  Well, they may find another career, such as search and rescue, or change someone's life as a loving family pet. A highly-trained, intelligent, healthy pet that is.

We hear, So that pup you're raising, do you think he/she will make it? That's a hard one. My answer?  I sure hope so.

When Inga, our first CCI pup, graduated as a skilled companion dog, we were jazzed beyond description. That she was placed with a young boy, her favorite kind of person, was perfect. Divine, in the purest sense of the word.

Also, as puppy raisers, we understand when it's time to say good-bye. When we hand the leash over at graduation, our journey with this dog is done. Our dog, who is not our dog, has moved on to where they belong.

Working girl

On a very personal note, we are especially blessed that Inga's family keeps us updated on their new life with her. We hear magic words like, she brings so much joy to our family.  It's been a few months now that Joseph and Inga have been a team and they're now hitting some milestones with her; birthday celebrations, family vacations and such.

Inga went on her first airplane ride, rode in taxis and stayed in hotels. Each experience was new to her as we didn't expose her to these as her puppy raisers. But this dog is a professional now and she handled everything as a skilled companion dog should. A nod to her solid nature and the stellar training she received at CCI, as well as credit to her young handler, Joseph. He knows the dos and don'ts of traveling with his companion - how to work as a team.

Time for some R and R

Not a first for Inga, though, was a trip to the beach. We had traveled by RV to Myrtle Beach for her first experience snorting sand when she was a pup. We hear she is still true to her water dog nature. Inga enjoyed the seashore and ocean vacation time with her family.

For a fuzzy memory, here's a couple of puppy photos from our beach trip during the summer of '09. 

Thanks to Inga's handler, Joseph, and his family for permitting me to share this update on her working life.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Dog hair in the scotch tape

"Who's this gift from?" asks a voice of innocence. "Oh, that's from Aunt Donna. See, there's dog hair stuck in the scotch tape."

It's true. I was pulling dog hair off the gifts as I was wrapping them this past Christmas season. For the first few, anyway. Then I kinda gave up. Oh heck, there was probably dog hair in the spinach dip I brought, too. But don't tell anyone that one. We breathe, eat and sleep canine fur around here. I suppose we're used so used to it that we forget not everyone is a dog owner. 

What a nice shot of the kids. Wish the dog was conscious.
Micron was able to join in the holiday festivities at my mom's place again this year. He tried to get her two older dogs involved in some puppy playtime, but that didn't work out for him.  These gals are so over the puppy phase, they were happier just pretending he didn't exist within their plane of existence.  They would turn away their mature snouts to say, "No, go away, you bothersome thing. We don't want to play with you now." 

His response reminded of Donkey in the Shrek movies.  "OK," he says, with his tongue lolling out the side, "how about now?  No?  OK, now?  No?  Um, OK.  How about now?"  Poor guy.

Otherwise, the dogs came out pretty good with their holiday gifts. Once again, Jager asked for the same thing as he did last year - his own water bowl. Instead, he got a harness that fits his middle-aged figure. I'm trying, I am, to cut his calories back.  But he still looks like a snausage on four toothpicks. His old harness was giving him a serious armpit wedgie, so time for a new one.  We need a harness for this dog, as his head is actually smaller than his neck; he slips right out of his collar.  Reminds me of a mouse, in a way.

Hope you got more eggnog for Santa Mouse.

Micron opened up some new chew toys. New stuff for home and a couple to take into the office. He had kids to hang with and got to lick a little baby (that darn tongue!).  He was a happy boy all around. 

And where is your Santa hat?

Well, mostly. He had a little trouble with the hat.


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