Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Vintage Dog #2

Hey kids!  Remember when photos came spitting right out of the camera? Your 'rent would wave the photo in the air a few times, then you'd all stand around and watch as your smiling family developed right before your eyes? 

Naw, I'm just messing with you. Of course you don't. Heck some of you young folk have never held a film camera, never mind a Polaroid Land Camera. This incredible technology of instant gratification so popular in the '70's is now a mere part of our Americana history.

And here my friends, is a glimpse of farm life, circa 1972 or something like that. Straight from the spittin' Polaroid image to my fancy-ass modern scanner. Raw and unedited, no Photoshop fix-up here.  Looks like three sisters and their dogs, right? That's my mom on the far left. My little sister is in the middle getting photo bombed by a dog (snort), and my stylin' self on the right.

Ever the nerd, when I wasn't wearing socks with sandals, I was buttoning my shirt up to the neck. I apparently ditched the obligatory pocket protector and had decided to carry my math flash cards out with me for the photo shoot. And that hair style was simple affair, with the locks flowing down past my non-existent waist. Hair parted on the side because I saw Cher do hers that way once.

The farm dogs are the beloved Willie (left) and Ringo (right). The two never met a leash, but instead took on the role as my companions as we went on adventerous explorations in the woods near our farm. Ringo sported some collie genes and Willie appeared to be part wolverine or badger or something. We had to keep Willie away from the chickens. And my little brother.


This Time article showed up in my newsfeeds this morning. A creepy story made even more dire with the reference to the Dead Uncle.

So I write a story about Polaroid Land Cameras and Time shares a story about lost Polaroid photo. Published in the etherworld on the same day, people. And the photos, mine and the Dead Uncle's, were taken about the same time. Yeah, give or take a couple of years, but that's close, right?

"It's either a modern ghost story or a wild coincidence," says Time. What's the word I'm looking for here? Oh yeah.

Hyperbole. And a big, heaping dose of it, too.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Infographic on dogs in the workplace

An interesting infographic from  I'm lovin' my pet friendly workplace at P&G Petcare, complete with a dog park just steps away from my cubefarm.   

It's a dog's life: Can a pooch increase job satisfaction?
Courtesy of: MBA Programs

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Can I pet your dog?

Why, yes my ears do feel like velvet, sez Yaxley.
Can I pet your dog?

Yes you may, thank you for asking first.

As lovers of all things dog, we puppy raisers do enjoy meeting other appreciators of our furry companions.  My heart gets warmly stoked when I encounter toddlers with a seemingly instinctual affection for dogs. With a smile and a squeal, they reach out to grab a fistful of doggie goodness. I absolutely love this.

We do come across children with a deep fear of our dogs from time to time. More than just a hesitation to be introduced to something new and different that you might see in a two year old kidlet. I'm talking about the eight year old girl who sees a well-behaved Labrador on a leash and shrinks behind their parent for protection, sometimes accompanied by the trill of a B-movie scream. Whether this fear reaction is nature or nurture, only the family knows.  Certainly an early-in-life mishap with a family dog could sour a kid. Or maybe a nasty experience with the pet of a friend. But I'm saddened when I consider that an ugly childhood experience with dog will block the way to all the joys that dogs can bring to life.

Awaiting his audience. That's the 4H tent across
the way. Chicks, ducklings, goats & more.
I'm reminded of this when Yaxley and I are volunteering at the Canine Companions for Independence meet & greet booth last weekend.  We're at the Aullwood Farm Babies Fest and it's just a glorious day, weather-wise. Yaxley is teamed at the booth with fellow CCI pups in training, TJ and Jorja. They greet their young audience while their puppy raisers educate parents on how CCI works with people with disabilities.

Ask first before you pet, the moms say. Hold your hand out so the dog can smell you.  

Our pups are pros at this thing. Sitting calmly, they will allow all manner of handling by the young folk.

Seeing a father encouraging his son to pet Yaxley, it was obvious the little guy was just not sure about this yellow creature larger than he. With Yax in a Down, my pup is now a warm and fuzzy statue of sorts; he is motionless. In this moment, the world melts away as I take on this all important task of showing this gentle kidlet that dogs don't have to be scary and mysterious things. And Yaxley, the consummate professional in kid comforting, performs his magic.  After a few minutes, the yellow pup is receiving full body hugs, the tow headed lad's face pressed against Yaxley's belly.

And that's one kid down. But many more are still out there in need of a positive dog experience.

Your dog is just beautiful. I want to pet him so bad, but I know he's working.

Thanks, he is a handsome fella, isn't he? Actually, we're out today to work on socializing and encouraging calm greetings. You may pet him if you like.

When we give CCI presentations at schools, Service Dog Etiquette is always an important thing to cover with the kids. It's ok to ask if you can pet the dog, we tell the kids. Many people love to talk about their service dogs and what they do. But don't get your feelings hurt if the person says No. It just means that they need their service dog to be focused right now. It's not a good time for any distractions to their work. Remember to be polite and say something nice, like OK, have a good day.

CCI's website has an informational page on How should people behave around an assistance dog?    A good resource for those with questions on can I pet your dog? 

Not a surprise to see Number One on the bullet point list is Don't touch the dog without asking permission first. Many assistance dog teams appreciate that their companion is a social bridge. A conversation starter, so to speak, to meet new people. But other times, it's critical that the dog focus on their handler. So, yeah, always ask first.  It's nothing personal if you get a sorry, not right now.  Oh, and this drive-by petting thing, well I gotta say that it's not the little kids that do it. In my little bubble of experience, I find it's grown men that will pat the dog's rump as you pass each other. It's not that I'm jealous, mind you. But it's distracting for the dog, fellas. What if someone did that to you? Oh. Well, um, on to the next bullet point then.

Never feed the dog.  Ah, the power of a dog cookie. Talk about encouraging a dog to lose his train of thought. But we know better about this one anyway, don't we?  Dunno about you, but I would stop mid-conversation if someone waved a frosted brownie in front of my nose. We all have our weaknesses.

Speak to the person, not the assistance dog.  Hey, eyes up here mister. Again, the distraction factor for the dog, not to mention how 'bout a little respect for a fellow human bean?

Bring 'em on, says Jorga
Don't whistle or make sounds to the dog. Ugh, why would someone do this?  I was in Tim Horton's tucking into one of their amazing breakfast sandwiches when I hear a low whistle from a couple of tables over. And not for me, the wolf whistle ship has sailed away a decade ago. It's for my pup in training under the table. Some hayseed and his grizzly buddy are entertaining themselves by trying to distract the pup. Inga, of course, made me proud by being smarter than the two of them. She turns her pretty head and looks out the window. I give the two of them The Look and properly abashed they go back to their coffee.

Never make assumptions about the individual's intelligence, feelings or capability.  We're quick to judge, aren't we?  Sure, I do it too. Like when I refer to some chowderhead as a hayseed. And I'm ashamed when I catch myself. Not all talents are obvious, some disabilities are invisible.

These pups are pros at being handled.
 Jorja gets a dental exam by a boy scout.
And CCI's final bullet point on this topic, Don't be afraid of the dog.  A CCI dog is bred for temperament, carefully tested and selected for appropriate behavior. These dogs are not mere pets with a passing grade in basic obedience. A CCI assistance dog has been socialized by their puppy raiser in different public venues for a been there done that attitude. Then professionally trained at CCI in the ways of an assistance dog. If you see the blue & yellow CCI cape, you're looking at a well-mannered, confident dog.  Guaranteed.

When I get the question, will that dog protect you if someone attacks you?, it's tempting to respond with wanna give it a try and find out? But that would be wrong in so many ways. First, because if the inquirer did rise to the challenge, I'm pretty much screwed. And second, because it's not becoming to be a smartass when educating people about the pup in training. We do like to keep things on a positive note.

A youngster reaches a comfort level petting away
 from the business end of the pup.

If we cook this all down into a reduction sauce, what's the real message here?  Just the basics of civilization, don't you think?  Be polite and respectful of others.  .

Be sure to check out CCI's page where more information on this topic is available at How should people behave around an assistance dog?

Jorja catches a power nap before the next shift.
It's not a cat nap, she says. Stop calling it that.

Yaxley enjoys a hug. He says boys smell like french fries.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: A time in history

Alrighty my Dayton peeps, who recognizes this
blue clock tower in the background?
One year ago in May 2011, the mighty Micron matriculated into the advanced training program at Canine Companions for Independence.  Or as we refer to it, three months at CCI summer camp.  Micron was released before the second semester due to a high distraction (squirrel!) personality style not suited to an assistance dog career.

The weekend before matriculation, we visited Dayton's historical Carillon Park for a final photo shoot of Micron in his yellow training cape. Here's a never before published photo from the Black-Sword photo archives. Our handsome yeller dog is posing in front of a landmark that may be familiar to many a Gem City native.

Heads up trivia geeks as I share a brief history lesson of the Callahan Building Clock. From Dale Huffman's column in the Dayton Daily News, November 15, 2006:

The clock, which originally topped the Callahan Building at Third and Main in 1892, became the Gem City Clock after Gem City Savings took over the building in 1955. Reynolds and Reynolds saved it and placed it on its Germantown Street building in 1978. 
At the demolition of the Reynolds and Reynolds building in 2006, the 35 foot tall clock was gently moved to its current location at Carillon Park.  And this is the very spot we captured its image in the bokeh of  Micron's historical moment.

And keeping in the spirit of historical events, I've given a warm nostalgic tweak to the photo's tones. But as Micron would tell you, there's no tweaking out the handsome.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Therapy work looks to be exciting

Whaja mean I have a cliffhanger?
I mean it Micron, try not to embarrass me . . . EEP!  Micron spies his friend, Bubba's Mom, from across the parking lot and rushes to greet her. I follow him, mostly because I'm still holding the leash. My goofy, silly, glorious dog never met a person he didn't want to lick, but he does have his favorites. And Bubba's Mom is right there at the top.

This is a evening of celebration for Micron and me as we prepare to graduate as a Therapy Dog Team with Miami Valley Pet Therapy Association.

Not only our friend, but Bubba's Mom was also one of our instructors over the past ten weeks of training.  We cross the parking lot together to walk into the event with all the honor and dignity this occasion warrants.

Just kidding.  As the door is held open for us, Micron throws his furry body mass into the room and declares, All right, hoomans and dogs!  The party starts . . . NOW!

Yep, he's excited to be here tonight.

You know what are the two most ineffective words in the English language are?

Calm down.

Think about that a sec when you've said that to someone in a tizzy fit. Or been the recipient of the ersatz advice. Has it ever worked?  Right, the answer is no.

And it didn't work this time either. So as soon as I can stuff my hand in my pocket, I grab a dog biscuit and wave it in front of Micron's nose like smelling salt.  Whew, he's back.  Oh, Food Lady, he says, I didn't know you were here.

We make it to our seat and Micron flings himself to the floor. Wow, he says suddenly I'm so exhausted. How 'bout you?  I begin to respond in kind, but goober dog sees another friend from class and here we go again.

In class, he was noted as "engaging."  That's such a nice word.  It's so much more becoming of the big guy than when I use the term "the squirrel factor" for his love-of-life behavior.

We are recognized with nineteen other therapy teams. Many of our graduates were rescued from shelters. Even more amazing, one dog has risen above her humble beginnings as puppy abandoned on the side of the road in cardboard box. A couple of rather confident cats in the celebration as well.

Each pet's brief bio was shared with all in attendance. Our task was to write a two to three sentence to describe our partner.  Was this a such a challenge for everyone else, I wonder.  How do I describe Micron in a mere three sentences?  A moment pondering, then came up with this.
The mighty Micron is a lab/golden cross; a lover of life and licker of people. Micron has been the go-to dog at P&G Pet Care for post-meeting de-stressing.  He's completely jazzed to be graduating and is looking forward to expanding his client base outside of the office.
With the help of a semi-colon, we fit within the three sentence threshold. I would remain frustrated with so much more to say, but really, once we walked in the door it was pretty apparent who Micron is.

He's engaging.

Oh, oops.  Covered up my photo badge. No matter, it looks just like me, ugh.

We send off our congratulations as well, to our classmates Harley, Kaylee, Suzy, Tully and their partners.  And a big Way-to-Go to new instructor, Janet, and evaluators Lisa and Angela.  Thanks for being there for us every week to help develop us into Therapy Teams.  And that Micron and I gave you some solid challenges to hone your skills upon. Well, you're welcome.

What's next, you ask.  Ah, that's a good question.  We'll be meeting with our esteemed mentor soon to find out.  New adventures coming up, the stuff of life.

Getting measured for his custom-made cape.

Um. That ain't right, Micron.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Serious about fizzy drinks

Fizzy wine
And I found out a long time ago
What a woman can do to your soul
Ah, but she can't take you anyway
You don't already know how to go*

Ooh, I have got to get me this when we get back home! I say. I'm lovin' this satellite radio in the rental car. This would help pass the miles away on that long drive to work, I think.

Are you serious? the Husband says. He's being punny. Sirius Radio. Get it?  I let that one pass just as I did the last few times and start pushing more buttons.

I find the Click & Clack Brothers on NPR, a story being narrated on another station. New music, classic stuff, and what-the-hell-is-this-noise kinda tunes.  I geek around until we figure out how to filter the choices down to just Rock. And we land on the Classic Vinyl station.

Let's make the best of the situation
Before I finally go insane
Please don't say I'll never find a way
And tell me all my love's in vain*

Which is pretty much the same stuff we listen to back home. Yep, that's how we roll.

After our visit to Canine Companions for Independence in Santa Rosa we hit the road to catch some more of the California scenery.  I want to check off another of my travel itinerary choices and head towards Korbel Champagne Cellars.

Hey, let's get a bottle of fizzy wine and save it for my birthday! is my revelation for this visit.

Fizzy wine? the Husband asks. Is that a connoisseur term?

As an Expert of the Grape, I can say with authority, that yes. Yes, it is. I think it's British or something. Because one of my friends from London says fizzy drink all the time, so I'm pretty sure I'm right on this one.

Although, I admit that during the wine tasting I was involved in a debate of how to pronounce Brut (broot or rhymes with butt?), the word fizzy was not heard.  But there wasn't anyone on the wine cellar tour with a British accent, so there's that.

Korbel has an delightful deli restaurant; a nice stop after the tour and wine tasting. These folk have it down, now.  Soften you up with their fizzy drinks then drop you off in front of the baked goods. I snagged a lavender brownie, which I know sounds a little off.  Unless you've had a bit of the bubbly to change your perspective.

But holy cow, that was decadent. 

That's a lavender brownie, people.
We've done our damage here and head back to the rental car with its are-you-sirius radio. Cool, Elton John's next up.

Say Candy and Ronny have you seen them yet?
But they're so spaced out
Ba ba ba Benny and the Jetssssss*
 Ugh, I thought it would be a good Elton John song. I hate this one, I whineBut do I change the station? No, I survive the next three minutes in the hope they'll play Layla again to make up for it.  Just tooling along some scenic back roads for awhile, when I ask what's next on queue for the afternoon. Back to the hotel for now, I guess, he says.

Um. Look at the compass, love, I tell him, putting my handy scout leader skills to work. We're heading due west. Think about that a sec. What's that big thing west of here?

Oh. he says. So we're heading back for a another visit to the coastline. Which is what I wanted to do anyway, so he must have been picking up my vibes on that. Because otherwise he has a good sense of direction. Just ask him. 

What I intended to be a dreamy garden
shot, turns out to be a lion with
 a dire case of the tummy rumblies.
We twist and turn our way through cow country (California cows are happy cows!) until we get to Route 1.  Heading south, the shore is on my side of the car. I start lamenting, which is different than whining, that there's people walking around down there!  How did they get down there anyway?  I'm not seeing anything like steps or elevators or other such helpful things.  After a few minutes of this not-whining he pulls the car over, spewing a bit of gravel.

Did you want to get out and look? he asks.

Ok, I say. I guess so.

So, here's the view from the overlook.

And here's the view from the beach.  The squiggly pink arrow marks the sign (Miwok Beach) where I took the overlook photo.

You know what's great about California? They don't baby you with sissified things like guardrails at the overlooks or real steps down to the beach.  Oh, did you want down there, Buttercup? says California.  Well, mind your step then.

The trip down was a little sketchy, but I didn't almost die. That kinda happened later in the week and we'll cover that adventure in another blog post.  But I did heartily piss and moan all the way down about nearly busting my butt.

And this is the vulture that kept following me. It was starting to get on my nerves.

Anyway, we made it to the beach fully intact. I'm goofing around with the camera, when I see a couple of older gentlemen walking along.  Wearing khakis and sweaters tied about their shoulders, they look to be natives of this beach. The two of them just climb up and over the huge rocks along the terrain with the same ease you see in mall walkers back home.

Still out of breath from nearly rappelling the way down here, I am in awe of these guys.  Look at them! I say probably too loudly. They're like [bleep]in' mountain goats!  And they're holding lattes!

I try to gather up the tattered strings of my self-esteem and go back beach exploring and taking photos.  

The closest thing to a dog sighting here

When we were down this way the day before, we stopped for lunch in the Bodega Bay area at The Tides Wharf Restaurant. Turns out this was where Hitchcock's The Birds was filmed. Being an avid reader and knower of all things trivial, I go on all intellectual-like about how the short story of The Birds took place on the east coast, Maine or Massachusetts or some such thing. Always in need of a self-esteem boost, I look it up in Wikipedia to I can prove my point to all fellow diners within listening range. Hey, y'all, I read.

Oh. Well, nevermind. Yeah, so the short story is set in a "small Cornish seaside town". There's that British thing again.

But chances are, the hapless victims of the feathered fiends opted for the comfort of fizzy wine to dull the sounds of the seagulls pounding at the windows.  I'm sure of it.

*Peaceful Easy Feeling, The Eagles
*Layla, Derek and the Dominoes
*Benny and the Jets, Elton John


A true story . . . 

After our lunch at the Tides Wharf Restaurant, the Husband makes a confession. I don't want to creep you out or anything, says he. 

Too late now, I tell him.  You probably should used a different opening. But go ahead, shoot.

The Husband, who admits he rarely remembers a dream, tells me that he indeed had a dream about sitting in this restaurant.  A recurring dream.  With the same floor to ceiling windows overlooking the ocean.  The  scenic view and sitting at the same table. 

Well, that’s just a bit unsettling.  

What happened in your dream? I ask

Nothing. I don’t remember anything happening, he says.

But you say it’s a dream you’ve had more than once?  

Several times, for years.

I’m struggling for a link here.  Something profound.  Well, was there anyone with you? I ask him.

I think so. Yeah.

A pause in the conversation as we both think this one through.  My logic path has taken me on the ramp to the Highway of Doom. Attacks by militant seagulls and how driving a convertible would be a pretty bad idea in a town of really pissed off birds.  Could his dreams be a prophesy of things to come? Are we the catalysts for impending disaster by tucking into those crab cakes?  Egads, what if we've opened the door to a zombie apocalypse?

Wait a minute . . . someone was with him?  A quick downshift from seagull zombies to potential competition.

Well, he says before the pause is too long to negate it, it must have been you. Since you were there with me today.

Ah, well played, Husband. Well played.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Happy campers

Camping adventures in chocolatey Hershey, Pennsylvania in Autumn 2011.  There's a new world to discover outside that RV screen door, but Micron is satisfied for now with getting a snootful of fresh cocoa-scented air.

While we're on the topic, Jager the Hyperhound would like to make a public service announcement at this time.  He reminds his canine peers to Just Say No to chocolate goodness. A rather toxic substance for dogs and something to take serious if you find your pooch has, for example, crossed impossible barriers to get to the fancy chocolate box hidden in the kitchen.

Wasn't as tasty coming back, Jager says.
It's no fun getting your stomach pumped, Jager says. Especially when the vet tech strongly encourages you give up your fudgy treasure in the front yard of the clinic in sight of all passersby. Can't a guy mantain a little dignity? he wonders. Maybe if you hold my ears so they don't get sullied, Ms. Vet Tech.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Test anxiety bites

Ah, Test Anxiety, my old college friend, I say.  There you are, big guy. I kinda was expecting you to show up. But really thought I'd run into you on drive over here.  (Or perhaps drive over you, says the inside voice.)

Yeah, I was running late, he says, slipping into the passenger seat. Sorry about that. I know how much that freaks you out.

Yep, you know me well, I say. Hey TA, it's nothing personal, of course, but I've trying to avoid you.  How did you know where to find me this morning?

I'm a savvy fella, he says with a wink. But you told just about everybody and their second cousin at work. And posting it on Facebook kinda cinched it.

Gotcha. That makes sense, I sigh, making a mental note to unfriend this guy. Oh man! You didn't tell the Jinx about this, did you?

Test Anxiety laughs, Of course I did, you silly, quivering thing. What's an event like this without a little Jinx? And you'll love this!  I called Lack O'Grace as well.  We're like a team of super heroes, the lot of us.  Glory cannot be won without a challenge or two, my girl.  Without us at your side, life is just an easy A, now isn't it?

Right, I can always count on you guys to tie my shoelaces together. I say. Hey TA buddy, I'll just be a few minutes here.  How 'bout you sit back and relax in my comfy Toyota. The Car Talk guys should be on NPR now, so I'll turn the radio on for . . .

Oh ho! Not a chance, chickie. TA declares in his booming voice. You'll need me at your elbow the whole way.  And oh, I nearly forgot to remind you that you shouldn't have tanked up on that last cup of coffee. Oops, you didn't notice how much you needed to go until I said that, right? Ha, ha, you should see your face! You always make me laugh.

Micron is in the back seat observing this exchange and is left wondering why I'm talking to myself. People are weird, he thinks. But I like how their toes taste.  

You know, I've always wanted to believe I would do well on the trivia game shows.  My sad little noggin is filled with so much useless knowledge that trying to have a deep thought requires an air hammer to pound through that concrete layer of trivial nonsense.

My brain cells are kicking around chunky detritus like daddy-long-legs are not spiders and the brontosaurus was a case of mistaken identity. You've heard of a murder of crows? How about a conspiracy of ravens?  It's said that Paul McCartney referred to his muse as Martha and named his dog after her. Which led to the song Martha, My Dear.  Oh, this can go on and on. I'm damaged goods, to be sure.

Right, but put me in the hot seat of a trivia contest and then ask my middle name. Cue up Mr. Test Anxiety. I would stammer until the buzzer sounded and then shout out in panic something random like, Abby Normal!  Which would be helpful for Young Frankenstein trivia. By the way, did you know Aeromsith's song Walk this Way was inspired by a line in this classic movie? No? Well, then tell your brain cells to move over and make room for this factoid. It'll likely stick with you for awhile.

So anyway here we are, Micron and me. Walking up the ramp into Gem City Dog Obedience like the pirate's plank over the great murky depths. You're going to do great, I say a little too shrilly. [ahem] You'll be just fine, my handsome fella.

And we're ready for our certification test to be a Pet Therapy Team. Over the past ten weeks, we've trained and practiced and desensitized ourselves to the kryponite of stuffed toys.  Nothing left to do but take a deep breath and . . . ack!  can't breathe . . . can't breathe.

Holy cow, I gotta relax. What is the matter with me anyway?  This is a cake walk. Micron's got it down cold.  Oh great, now I want some cold cake. mmm Chocolate cake with fudgy frosting.  Oh hi there, Miss Stress Eating, you're back already. I thought we took care of our business this morning?

Got me a job!
We follow the directions as given by the evaluators. We demonstrate the walk on lead, sit, stays, downs, handling and then other challenges unique to a successful pet therapy team. A couple of burps along the way mostly involving me holding the leash too tight (relax, chick. . . ) and then that one heart-stopping moment as Micron does what he does best. He does a Micron.

That dog never met a stuffed toy he didn't like.

But a quick verbal correction by me and . . .  we're done.

Talk about the hot seat.  I'm directed to a metal folding chair to await the verdict of the evaluators.  A delightful lady takes the seat next to me and strikes up a conversation.  Micron? That's an unusual name, she says to me. How did he come by that?  Is this part of the test, I wonder? I feel panicky.  Is there a wrong answer?  Relax, chowderhead, and breathe.  She's just being friendly. So we pass the time of day until the decision is announced.

Donna?  Congratulations, you two passed.

We did? We did!  whoooot!  Micron, my love! mmmwah!

Take that,  Mr. Test Anxiety. Go lumber back to your dark cavern in the back of my noggin. I don't want to see you again until, well, never.  But just so you can mark your hellish calendar, take note that we'll need to take the re-certification test in two years.

Micron and I will be graduating at the Miami Valley Pet Therapy Association's ceremony on Friday, May 18 at Delco Park in Kettering, OH.  Free and open to all.  Come celebrate with us if you can.

I hear there will be cake.

Agendas are for sissies

Gee, Brain, what are we going to do tonight? asks Pinky
The same thing we do every night, says the Brain. Try to take over the world.
                          -Pinky and The Brain cartoon series 1995-1998

So, what do you what to do today? asks the Husband.

The same thing we did yesterday, is my reply. I want to see stuff we don't see in Ohio.

Again? he asks. Could you be more specific?

Alrighty then. What do you want to do today? says me.

I don't know, he says.

Well, I say. I kinda win then, don't I?

This Day Two of our California adventures. We don't have a solid itinerary for the week because I enjoy the leisurely pace of just checking things out as we drive about. You know, seeing things not on the brochures and maps. And because I suck at planning.

While the Husband is pulling himself together and wondering if he should wear his good shoes or the tennies, I'm giving Facebook a quick check.  And what's this?

Oh my.

Ah, my love, I say. We got us a change in plans.

We had plans? he asks

Not sure if that was sincere or sarcasm, I wave off the comment and tell him what I found out while in the etherworld.

The focal point of this California trip was to check off a bucket list goal of visiting the Santa Rosa campus of Canine Companions for Independence. Since becoming volunteer puppy raisers in 2008, this organization has become a huge part of our daily lives. I have had a CCI puppy by my side every day for the past four years, at work, home and play. The Santa Rosa campus is the headquarters of CCI. It's also where the breeding program is managed.

We had this visit on the agenda for Tuesday (see, I can too plan.), but I find out that a fellow puppy raiser, who is also a breeder/caretaker, is dropping off her dog's litter at CCI this morning. Ah, serendipity at its finest.

Wendy and Dave raised the lovely Sabina for CCI, who was later selected as one of the "best of the best" for CCI's breeding program. Sabina's "C" litter of pups will be arriving in Santa Rosa for their health check before they go out to their puppy raisers.  I send a quick note to Wendy across the wifi as a heads up that we'll be crashing their puppy party this morning.

As a bonus feature, Wendy is also a dog blogger. She shares her adventures at Aspiring Service Dog Chronicles.  Check it out; she's got some great stuff out there from the view of a Breeder/Caretaker.

Ok, now check your glucose levels before scrolling down, folk.  Sweet puppy photos coming up.

Into the puppy limo with y'all for a ride to the playground.

A refreshment break at the watering hole while Clifford looks on.

More, please?
Working those big brown eyes.

Lovin' that crinkly nose.

And back in the puppy limo to head off for their health check.

I owe a debt of gratitude to Wendy and Dave for allowing us to share their puppy turn-in morning with them. Thanks so much, you two. Not just for making our week a memorable one, but for taking on the Breeder/Caretaker role as well. You guys are amazing.  

CCI's Santa Rosa campus is a gorgeous affair. If you find yourself in the area, they do give tours to the public during the week. We were able to snag the special Puppy Raiser tour and talked with a few of the professional trainers on the work they do with the pups we turn in for advanced training.

And to see stuff like this.

Yep, that's the campus cat turning on a light switch. That's how good these trainers are. Ponder that one for a minute. I've been trying to get Bodine to sit for a treat. Without biting my finger. And it's not going well.

We come across a map of the US just about filled with colorful pushpins. Ooh what's this? I ask.  Well, it represents the dogs that are placed with someone. Each color represents one of the four types of assistance dogs that CCI trains (Service Dog, Skilled Companion Dog, Facility Dog, Hearing Dog).  I snagged a close up shot of the Ohio/Pennsylvania area. The lovely Inga has a pushpin in there as a Skilled Companion Dog; the thought gives us a warm and fuzzy feeling of pride and awe. We helped make that pushpin, I think. And while it doesn't sound weird at all to me, I decide it best to keep it within my inside voice.

And the ridiculously photogenic Micron has a place in Santa Rosa, too. Here he is, in all his furry splendor, on the wall in the great room. Now this was a personal thrill to come across, I gotta say.

So here we are, on Day Two of the Great California Adventure and I've knocked off Number Nine on the Bucket List. More California stuff coming up in the upcoming posts.

MONDAY DOG SIGHTINGS: 8 adorable puppies and gobs of CCI dogs.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: How do you spell Alberkerkee?

How many air holes do you think this needs?, asks Yaxley.

What's that you say, big guy? says Bodine.  "You want some more air holes?  I believe I can help you out on that."

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