Monday, March 28, 2011

Blogosphere dogoschmere

I'm excited to share with y'all that I am the humble recipient of the Stylish Blogger Award this past week as awarded by fellow blogger and CCI puppy raiser Elijah.

Elijah joined the blogosphere about a year ago to share his experiences while raising his first CCI pup, Dembre, on his website Miraculous Journey.  It's always wonderful to receive recognition and I do so appreciate receiving this award.  Be sure to check out Miraculous Journey to get the latest acts of derring-do by the amazing Dembre.

Recipients of the Stylish Blogger Award are tasked with two important requirements. First, to pay it forward and recognize a fellow blogger that deserves the honor.  I'm passing this award on to Vickie at LovesTailWags, who is a kindred spirit in this puppy raising stuff. Her website is a colorful photo journal that takes you into the life of a puppy raiser. Just check out how she tells her story.
The second requirement is to list seven things about the subject of your blog. I'm thinking instead of talking about the dogs this time around, let's bullet-point a few things I've discovered about the puppy raising experience over these past couple of years.

7 things about being a volunteer puppy raiser for Canine Companions for Independence
  1. I smell like dog biscuits. All the time.
  2. Once I called the kid by one of the dogs' names.
  3. Maybe it was more than once.
  4. Never take the pup into the grocery with you if you're short on time.
  5. The folk at the library still ask about Inga, the first CCI pup we raised. But they don't remember my name.
  6. People ask us all the time for dog behavior advice like we know what we're doing or something. These CCI pups are just that good.
  7. I love this job so much, I'd do it for free. Which, of course, is how this volunteer stuff works, you know.

Gotcher back, kid

And more news to share . . .

We hit a rather cool milestone this week with the dog blog. An incredible 5,000 page hits since I started writing this a few months ago. Wow and thanks to everyone who takes the time to read about our puppy raising experiences. I'd like to think that I've met our purpose of  helping to raise awareness of Canine Companions for Independence and that we have this job of volunteer puppy raising looking like the party that it is. (Sure, most of those web hits are my mom, but I'm willing to take what I can get.)
You ever get the feeling you're being watched?

Raising a Super Dog is linked to other service dog related websites, which is what we refer to in the corporate world as networking. We might also call it synergy or a win-win or some other over-used buzzy word. But it's through this family of shared interests that our blog has found regular readers across the US, as well as Australia, India, Canada, and even the Netherlands. And here's a special shout out to that reader in Bangor, Maine that I like to fantasize in Stephen King.

Micron's littermate, Mars, has a dog blog as well. He writes his in the first person on the Denver Channel  Mars' Dogblog.  Some very entertaining thoughts as they come from this four legged furball.  As an example of this networking stuff, Mars recently shared a posting I put out last December about how the comparison of puppy raising to Rambam's Ladder of Charity. Yeah, so it's more of a thousand word essay than a succinct blog posting, so you'll want to grab a Diet Coke before you sit down to read it.

Ya think you could tone it down just a notch?

I'm taking an educated guess that if you're here, you're a dog lover of sorts. An appreciator of all things canine and perhaps especially impressed by the incredible ways that an assistance dog can impact a life. In the blog roll in the right hand panel are other folk, just like us, sharing their unique points of view. Some as puppy raisers, others as service dog teams. There's even one written by a mom who is on the waiting list for an assistance dog for her son. Every time I check out a new post on these sites, my world gets a little bigger. Just amazing stuff all around.

Struttin' da stuff

Um, a little help here?

Don't you have any plum sauce for this?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I has a stick. It's gonna be a good day.

March 19, 2011 was a day of celebration. Well, for me and the dogs it sure was. According to our Gregorian calendar, this is the last day of winter. Glorious news indeed. And we had a gorgeous day to usher out those winter memories.

Now this is Ohio weather, so we've had an Easter Sunday once when I've slushed through fresh snow into church sporting open toe high heels. And plenty of Halloweens when the kid had to wear his winter coat over his costume. And then there's been times in February when the temperate weather has you thinking about firing up the charcoal grill.  It's befitting, I think, that winter's long awaited exit brought us a truly warm spring day. And as a double bonus, it's not raining for once.

The dogs are restless; we haven't had much running around time in the backyard due to the mushy ground.  Some days I honestly just don't have the energy it takes to wipe off twelve dog paws and three dripping furry bellies. But today we're gonna celebrate, we are.

Hey Micron, wanna play Frisbee? HEY LOOK A STICK!

I admit, a tree branch is not an approved dog toy and never my first choice for playtime. I must have a hundred dollars worth of dog toys in various states of disrepair about the house and yard. But darn it, a stick on the ground is more attractive to these guys. The smell of the thing, the mouth feel - nothing can compete.

Yup, it's shaping up to be a good day.
MICRON!  Gimme da stick!

Remember the previous post with the mud photos (The dark side of snow)? Well, that little geographical wonder of an Ohio LaBrea tar pit still lurks in the northwest corner of the yard.  And Micron was drawn to it like a moth to flame (it's so beautiful!). But to my good fortune, he reacted every time I squealed like a loose fan belt. So woo hoo and all that. Big yellow dog did not submerge himself or even try digging for wooly mammoth bones.
He did, however, run through it at the speed of doggy sound a couple o'times. Silly water dog.

Psst, hey Micron, let's bury the Frisbee in the tar pit

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Wake up, little guy. It's time for your nap.

Aw, come on! What's a guy gotta do to get a nap around here?
What's more adorable than a little yellow puppy?  A little yellow puppy taking a nap, that's what. As if I actually have to say it.

Yaxley has been handling office time so well these past couple of weeks that we've promoted him to full-time work. His mornings at home start with doing his important business duties outside, grabbing some kibble for breakfast and then a few minutes for a quick chew on the family dog's leg.

After I pack up everyone's lunches for the day, I toss the little guy in the car for the ride to the office.  

Well, that sounds harsh. I don't actually toss him, of course. It's more like he gets lifted onto the backseat so he can walk into his crate. Oh, this is magical - I open the crate door and Yaxley walks in and lays down.  He does it his own self. (Thank you, thank you to Susie Nash, this litter's breeder/caretaker, for crate training these pups for us!)

Once in the office door, it's a few minutes of manic glee. Holy Cow, we haven't seen this place since yesterday! To be capped off by some serious nap time.

Yaxley's primary focus these last few days has been to grow. And being a growing pup is a job that takes intense concentration. You can't afford to lose focus or you might turn into a chihuahua or something. If he's going to grow up to be as majestic as his buddy, Micron, then well, he needs his beauty sleep.

Wearing Micron's hand-me-down training cape.

So sleep, he does. What a cutie, too.  

Dreaming of wearing the big dog cape

Doggie spooning

A mirror image.
I found them both sleeping under my desk like this.

Your feet smell like Fritos.

And speaking of needing some beauty sleep

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Snow Day Redux

It's a beautiful spring-like day this afternoon. Temps in the upper 50's, blue skies and white fluffy clouds. Rather uplifting and much needed. I don't know if it's really fair to say this winter has been worse than any of recent, but there were days the gray skies seemed to be endless.

Not completely a dark abyss over the past few months, however. During the times we had snow, it was absolutely gorgeous. When we brought the little lord Yaxley home from CCI, it was a typical chilly day. Taking first day photos outside gave us bleak landscape backgrounds of brown and gray. So I was pleased to hear we would get another snowfall yet in February. 

Yaxley is a natural California blonde; from the land of sea and sky. California may have beaches, warm climates and green grass, but out here in the midwest (OHIO, the Heart of America!) we can offer snow and ice and thunderstorms and mud and tornados. And can even dish this all up on the same day. 'Tis true. Don't like the weather? Just give it a few hours, it'll change. Not the Ohio state motto. But it could be.

So we got some snow for Yaxley. Nine weeks old for his first romp in the frosty stuff. And like any red blooded CCI pup, he loved it. No hesitation, no what the heck is this stuff, just a full throttle whee session.

Now that we can check this photo op off the list, I'm ready for springtime. Now would be nice, doncha think?

For another puppy in the snow experience, Micron's first snow day is at this link: Snow Day

Saturday, March 5, 2011

What's a big brother for, anyway?

There are differing opinions among CCI puppy raisers on overlapping the pups in training. Some say that it's too much work, and can be distracting, to have two puppies in the house at a time. Others will tell you that it can be easier to work with a young pup when an older dog is there to show them the ways of proper behavior.

I have a long, sad history of not taking advice from others. I prefer to screw up all by myself and learn from my mistakes the hard way. It's a serious character flaw and just one of the things that makes me charming, I suppose. 

We've yet to see how this is going to work out in the long run, having two CCI pups in my house. But I gotta say, these past two weeks since we welcomed the little lord Yaxley, I'm feeling pretty good about it.

Oh, as a quick aside about Yaxley's name.  There is a character in the P.G. Wodehouse Jeeves novels named Lord Yaxley. In yet another vain, yet valiant, attempt to be clever I have tagged this new little fuzzy as little Lord Yaxley. Unfortunately, it is impossible to say little Lord Yaxley out loud.  Go on - try it.  If you find yourself successful in your first attempt, I challenge you to try three times in a row. What a train wreck of a nickname.

So, Micron is now a big brother and mentor for Yaxley. How's that working out for you, you ask? Well, check this out.

This is Micron as a young pup, being coached on the subtleties of shoe fetching by his mentor Jager.

And here is Yaxley, mastering the technique after being taught by his big brother. So far, so good.

At dinnertime, nobody eats until the OK command by the Food Lady. Some very good dogs here; two are house guests for the evening. 

Micron is the all-time master at napping; this dog know how to relax.  Here he is showing the little one the Yoga position of "sleeping dog."

But to keep me humble, there's a downside to having a fresh new perspective of life. There are the things that have Micron saying, "Well hey!  I never thought of doing that!"

What is this one?  Oh. that's my camera strap. Firmly attached my beloved Canon.  I don't know which one started this, but I can tell you who ended it.

Looks like I'm gonna have to keep on my toes with this clever little guy. And poor Micron does too. I know this is not what he meant by telling the pup he's gonna show him the ropes around here.

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