Sunday, September 30, 2012

Introducing Puppy #4 Euka II

[screen shot from livestream]

(Social media disclaimer. As I talk about Eukanuba, it is as an employee of P&G Pet Care. However, anything I say in praise of Eukanuba supports my personal belief that we make some great pet food now. 'Tis totally true.)
Not a creature was stirring, not even a . . . ah, hold it right there, missy. There is indeed a tiny critter moving about. See the little polar bear pup up and about on her new legs? Two weeks old and already full of awesome stuff.

That's our little neon pink pup, Euka II.  CCI puppy #4 for this dog fur besotted household. While her littermates are sleeping off their last binge at the milk buffet, Euka II is exploring her new world. She's not even here in Ohio yet and I'm already obnoxiously proud of her. I mean, just look at her!  She's obviously advanced, right?

We still have a few weeks (augh!) until she shows up to shed on my clothes. There's so much for Euka to do before she's eight weeks old, from opening her eyes to learning appropriate play with her sibs.

So I'm afraid I'm left with voyeurism, puppy style.

At the Eukanuba Puppy Channel Mom Taya and her extraordinary E litter are livestreamed. I can stalk this precious package online until I get a sugar buzz. Or until I get caught at work, heh.  Oh well, it's impossible to be stealthy anyway. Because every time I open the livefeed, these puppies are doing something so stinkin' adorable that I'm pulling co-workers from their chairs to Come Look at This!  And I may or may not have done this very thing to the company VP the other day. Right, it may not have been those exact words.

So if you're viewing the livestream, keep an eye our for our little tater. Euka II is fifth in the birth order of the eight pups, so she is sporting the neon pink collar. Each pup is assigned a color according to their birth order.  CCI explains identifying pups in more detail on their blog. From CCI's blog post Color-coded Pups:

Once the pups are cleaned and dry, colored yarn is placed around their neck. When the puppies grow older, the yarn is replaced by a color-coded collar.
The following color scheme is followed, indicating first to last born: red, blue, purple, neon green, neon pink, brown, light pink, turquoise, orange, dark green, black, yellow, gray, burgundy, and nude (yes, the fifteenth born gets no color!).
First born, Emma.
Eukanuba's Facebook page offered up a naming contest for some of the E puppies. So red puppy, the first born, is democratically named Emma (photo on right).

Eukanuba fans also had the chance to vote on blue puppy (boy), and purple and brown puppies (both girls).  Winning names will be assigned later this week, just keep an eye on Eukanauba's page for the results.

Now, there was plenty of discussion held on Euka II's name, but not a fan vote for this tiny beauty. There is a back story to her moniker, besides the obvious. We'll cover that in an upcoming post.

But I have to go now. It's time for the puppy cam to be on. If you happen to see me on the Livestream chat, do say hello. My Livestream handle is Donna_puppyraiser.

[screen shot from livestream] Not sure which color-coded pup was the one on her back with
feet twitching in the air. But really, does it matter?
Good grief that's just sugar cookie sweetness. [sigh]

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Yaxley changes his career path

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Alrighty ladies . . . who played with Barbie dolls when you were a kid.? A show of hands, now. No, it's ok, nobody can actually see your admission here. Oh hey, remember those GI Joe's we had in the 70's? They were the same scale as Barbies and were all manly in their fatigues. These guys sported a fuzzy low fro and absolutely wicked facial scar. Ok, now who had a GI Joe instead of a foppish Ken to marry your Barbie? Oh yeah, it's this kind of stuff that made us the women we are today.

Hubba, says Barbie.  
Yeah, I'd have his baby.
I actually recall that life changing moment when I realized Barbie's ridiculous proportions. Stubby tween fingers are fumbling with the tiny snap on her mod pink and orange paisley miniskirt, when it occurs to me that I've never met a women who looks like this. With her big perky girls casting a shadow over that wasp waist, she had us believing in something that would never develop.

Not my mom, her friends, my teachers. Not even those cute girls on Hee-Haw.  No woman alive looks like this.  And that means I won't have a body like this either. Curse you and your sweater-stretching bosom, Barbie. You betrayed us all. 

I don't remember crying over this coming of age knowledge; this loss of innocence. But I did realize that there would have to be some rework on that trophy wife career plan. Yep, better crack open that pre-algebra text book after all

I still think about what I want to be when I grow up.  I no longer wish for Barbie's impossible proportions as much as I just want clothes that don't hurt when I sit down. Oh, and I want to be taller. And thinner, too. Definitely thinner. Ah, if wishes were horses . . . oh yeah, and I want a horse.  A friesian. [sigh]

We can plan all we want and maybe even try to get a preview of our destiny. At ten years old, it never occurred to me that I wouldn't someday be shaped like my statuesque Barbie doll. At fifteen years old, it became clear I would never reach more than a couple inches over five feet tall. Married at twenty, survival was the word of the day, not college. Those romantic dreams of an exotic career turned into an office job in finance. Yet today, as I slip into what is likely the second half of my life (yikes!), I feel like destiny has been kind to me.

I'm not exactly where I thought I would be. But right here? It's good. And you know, I rather like it right here.

Yaxley changes his career path

On matriculation day
So our little Lord Yaxley decided after a month at Advanced Training at Canine Companions for Independence that this career as an assistance dog is just not for him.  He said his passion is to be a family dog.  I'm really good at cuddling, he says. And I'm pretty handy with little kids, too. I think maybe I could be a nanny like that dog in Peter Pan.

A dear friend and co-worker has adopted Yaxley. A young family with a little boy that Yaxley can have for his very own. It's a beautiful arrangement that seems to fit together so very naturally. He's moving in pre-loved as she has been close to Yaxley as he grew up in the office.

When Luke cries in his crib, she says, Yaxley goes into his room and lies next to the bed. He gets there before we do.

So he doesn't try to avoid the crying and all the noise? I ask.

No, she says. Yax is by the crib with a concerned look on his face. Like, what took me to long to get there?

But, she adds, he does steal the binkies that Luke drops. Sometimes I find one in the backyard.

The little stinker. Well, that's just Dog Rules, right? If it's on the floor, it's mine. I know, I know. A service dog would retrieve the binkie and give it back with only a hint of dog slobber. But now he's a beloved pet. We're back to fundamental Dog Rules.

Micron and I are happy to see Yax on the days he comes into the office. The two fellas started right back up where they left off. Hogging attention and stealing chew toys from each other, the stuff of best friends.

So today Yaxley isn't exactly where I thought he would be. This wasn't the destiny I had envisioned. But now that this is where he is? It is perfection. It is peace of mind. It is right.

Yaxley is indeed right where he belongs.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Well, they look like tennis balls

Did you know that dogs aren't completely color-blind, in spite of whatever childhood wisdom you've been carrying in the back of your noggin all this time?  Study of their eyeball rods and cones and things that I don't even pretend to understand have suggested that dogs have a bit of color blindness rather similar to what some humans experience.

Simply put, because I am indeed a simple girl, our canine friends don't see reds and greens the way we non-color blind human beans do. These two festive colors are perceived as a sort of gray instead. So when you toss that red ball into the lawn for a hearty game of fetch, your dog is looking at you with an expression of thanks a lot there, dude. I'll be relying on that superior sense of smell to find my toy.

And that may explain why apples remind Micron of tennis balls so much. And maybe why taking him to our local Apple Fest last weekend may not have been the best of my brain children.

Let's see some self-control there, big guy.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Mighty Micron Matures

I saw your pup today when I was at the center, Donna, said a fellow puppy raiser.  He's a moose!

And that was nearly my first impression of the mighty Micron. My first inkling that this yeller feller was gonna be a big guy?  Well, there's his baby photo from the breeeder caretaker. Micron is six weeks old here.

You'll be relieved to know he did
actually grow a neck.

The moosiest puppy in his litter of nine. The biggest fluffball of all was tagged with the moniker of Micron.  Irony, anyone?

So anyway, the big guy is three years old today. In this short time, Micron has gone from ridiculously adorable to ruggedly handsome. From assistance dog in training to beloved pet to certified therapy dog. 

Micron's birthday cookie for his office party
His side job is to offer his therapy services as post meeting detoxifier dog.  Folk come from all around the office complex to bask in his calm presence for a few.

He's building a rep, too.  If you crave canine interaction, it's best to catch him before lunchtime. If you just want to pet on a sleeping dog, that would be after 1:00 or so. The dog only has so much work ethic, now.

And sure, he still reminds me every day why he didn't make it as a service dog. And yet, he's developing a bit of maturity as he starts his third year.  Micron doesn't always pull me across the office when he sees a favorite friend bearing dog treats. There are times now when he holds back on his impulsive behavior and considers some self-control. If your friend jumped off a cliff, would you too?, is not really the question to ask of Micron. Because you realize, don't you, that he's the theoretical friend in the question.

So yeah, he's maturing nicely. And making me proud. When a team of VIP's showed up for his office birthday, he didn't jump on even one of them. Or trip them or wrap his leash around some ankles or bark or anything.

It was a good idea to have the party in the afternoon, I guess.

And that maturity?  It may actually be laziness, I suppose. But either way, he's a great office dog.

Happy birthday, big guy.  I love you dearly, Micron.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: That ain't a nose print

I've seen those romantic comments about Nose Print Art on windows and such. Those little dots that your adorable pooch has left while surveying the great outdoors from your picture window.

Here's Jager to suck the romance out of it by French kissing the storm door. Mmmwah schluuurp, he says.

Yep, that's full contact happening there. Off to find the Windex.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

5 things I stopped doing after becoming a volunteer puppy raiser

It was four years ago that I began this journey as a volunteer puppy raiser for Canine Companions for Independence. On September 5, 2008, we welcomed the lovely Inga into our lives as an eight week old cotton ball. In these mere few years there's certainly been no shortage of opportunities to learn something new. Always those helpful life lessons on how to do things right.

But you know, there's the other side of the leash as well.

And today I share with y'all . . .

Five Things I Stopped Doing After Becoming a Volunteer Puppy Raiser


1. Wishing I had three arms

We human beans been granted the brain power to multitask, but frustratingly enough, we're a little short-handed, so to speak, on the body parts. This was especially apparent to me as a young mom carrying a fussy toddler in one arm and rummaging across the bottom of the purse for enough change to buy Tylenol because anything stronger needed a prescription. How many times did I wish for a third arm those days.

Kid munching on Cheerios in the highchair, dog strategically positioned with maw open like a moat gator catching the crumbs, dinner on the stove, pots soaking in the sink. You know the rest, the phone's ringing, the man wants your attention for some such thing, and the washer buzzes that the load's done. Those days it would have been nice to have one hand on a magazine, the other in a delicate grasp of a glass of chilled white. Instead my greatest wish was to have an extra appendage to just expedite the evening.

Um, speaking of needing a hand here
It's different now, my mindset on this. Puppy raisers learn to do it all with only one hand free. Oh! Don't even try to make that dirty, now. Honestly, people. I'm trying to be all serious here.

When folk ask me, would you like me to hold the dog while you do that, I politely decline.

You see, I wonder what it would be like if I actually had limited mobility. With this pup in training, how much can I trust him to hold a command, to stay still by my side until it's time to move along again?  Can distractions be ignored? The best way for me, a fully physically able person, to determine this is to limit my own range of motion in some way.

So, I'm learning. Do you want to leave the pup with me while you go through the buffet line?, asks the Husband. Naw, I say. I'm good. I'd like to walk her near the food and reinforce her self-control.

With the leash in my left hand, I balance the plate and its mounded deep-fried buffet goodness in my dominant right. The pup is at Heel and totally solid. In tune with my movements, she answers every Let's Go and stops to sit when I pause. We're like dance partners. It's beautiful.

Oh ugh, the sour cream is stuck to the spoon. My attempt to give the spoon a sharp shake to dislodge the clotted mass goes terribly awry.  The dairy glob takes a right turn at Albuquerque and bypasses my baked potato. Instead it smacks squarely on the pup's cape. She looks up at me to ask what she should do about this.

Well, I say. Shit. Which I know is totally unacceptable at a buffet.  Even Golden Corral, the Wal-Mart of buffets. But in my defense, I kinda forgot myself, not having the previous life experience of slapping sour cream on a dog in a buffet line. How does one react to such things, anyway?

2. Asking my dogs to follow commands

Say it like you mean it, I tell co-workers. He'll sit the first time. We dog lovers want to be gentle and caring with our furry family members. We want to be kind, we do.

What do the dogs want? Well, consistency is a good start. Ok, we say, you can lie on the sofa next to me, but not if you're muddy. Yeah, that kind of thinking doesn't chug well through a dog noggin.  And if you want them to sit, you tell them Sit with that tone that makes clear there's not really an alternative option here. If you ask them kindly to sit and they just stand and look at you, you going to have to ask a second time. Or even a third. By the fourth SIT! with your hand pushing on their butt they will finally plant it. So now your dog knows that he doesn't have to do anything until you ask four times. And that's consistency.

So I don't ask my dogs to do things. I let them know what behavior is expected and what will get them praise and possibly score them a cookie.

An assistance dog must be responsive. These dogs love having a job to do and want to do it well. And we want them to feel good about themselves, after all.

3. Leaving offerings to the food fairy

Did you catch that gaping maw moat alligator mentioned in Number One above? Ah, there was a magical time in my life that I didn't really clean the kitchen floor all that much. I had a dog.

A friend with small children was lamenting about how her otherwise adorable kids had taken a carton of eggs out to the living room and cracked each one open on the carpet. A dozen eggs!, she cried. How do you even begin to get that out of the carpet?

You know what I'd do? I said, calmly sipping my coffee. I'd just let the dog out there. Better than a wet vac, in my experience. A Labrador would suck every trace of that egg slime out of the fiber, now wouldn't he?

Oh, but it's not the same with an assistance pup in training. An assistance dog cannot walk into a restaurant with his handler and be hoovering the carpet all the way to the table. And this starts with the puppy raiser.

With three dogs in the kitchen as I work at the cutting board, food flying everywhere like it has super powers or something. A potato morsel lands next to a dog nose, but no matter. These furries are being trained to ignore food on the ground.  Their goodies come from their food bowl or a dog cookie from my hand.

Why didn't I do this before I was a puppy raiser? Never again will I have a begging dog at the dinner table.

So, whatcha eatin'?

4. Panic over a torn dewclaw

Or other such small things. Just like kids, the more dogs you have come through your house the more relaxed you get about minor emergencies.

I was a Cub Scout leader for a few years. I'd hear things like, Mrs. Sword! Bobby poked me in the eye with a stick! And I'd ask, Is it bleeding? Still got the marble in your head? You can still see? Then get back out there and play capture the flag, kiddo. Come back if you've cracked a rib or something.

Before puppy raising, we just had Jager as an Only Dog in the house. My sister went on a long deserved vacation and I'm keeping the kids for a couple of weeks.  The two kids are playing fetch with Jager in the backyard when he gets so excited he somehow rips a dewclaw. Holy cow, but do those things bleed.  I try some basic first aid, but the dog has ripped the thing at the root and there's tissue damage as well.  Fine, no prob. Ok, maybe a little bit of a prob. I'm just a bit rattled.  I pack the kids and the bleeder in the car (Direct pressure, kids. Elevate that leg). and we head off to the vet for a stitch or two.

Jager can get a wee bit intense when playing
Problem is, I left all the bloody gauze and smeared blood all over the kitchen floor without nary a note of explanation. The Husband comes home from work to this CSI crime scene. Which one was it, he wonders. The wife, the niece or the nephew? Well, at least I answered my cell phone to What the hell is going on! to keep the police out of it all.

Since then, I've taken a Red Cross first aid course for pets. I've not had the opportunity to put a dog snout in my mouth to give CPR respirations, but I'm ready for it should the need arise.

With this gig of raising valuable dogs that aren't even mine, well, I want to do the right thing to keep the furries safe, sound and healthy. I do feel more confident about handling certain canine emergencies. But still hoping to avoid the CPR dog snout thing.

5. Forgetting the camera. Again.

You just can't plan for this kind of adorable
A pup in training is a 24/7 photo op. After about a hundred and two times of wishing I had a camera to capture the moment, I finally starting carrying a permanent purse camera. I was thwarted in the attempt to save money by buying an inexpensive model and had to replace the cheap little piece of electronic waste with another purse camera. And for serious stuff, I have my beloved Canon to capture the pretty portrait shots. It's entirely possible I might have more cameras stashed about the house, too. Theoretically and all.

So, how many cameras do you have, asks the Husband as he observes me pulling equipment out of the camera bag like it's a circus clown car. Oh, I don't know, I admit. Isn't that like asking how many pairs of shoes I have? [sigh] says the Husband.

Raising a puppy is a 24 hour gig. I want a camera to be there for all the adventures.

Awesome isn't something that you can plan. It just happens.

That's it, Micron!  Work it!

And in volunteer puppy raising, awesomeness happens a lot.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Eukanuba Puppy Channel

Watch live streaming video from eukanubapuppychannel at

Introducing the Extraordinary E Litter

Taya and her Extraordinary E's make their debut

On behalf of Canine Companions for Independence and Eukanuba we are completely jazzed to introduce you to Taya and her Extraordinary E's.

Eight little yellow cottonballs, five girls and three boys. All ridiculously precious little packages in downy puppy fur.

Mom and pups are healthy and doing well.

Starting today September 15 this new family will be livestreamed on the Eukanuba Puppy Channel. Click for link or enter  into your browser.

So grab your favorite beverage and get comfy. It's a wonderful time to sit back and watch the awesomeness of new life.

Watch live 7 days a week during these hours 8am – 9pm PST, 9am – 10pm MDT, 10am-11pm CDT and 11am-12am EST

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How many buns in the oven?

Photo courtesy Canine Companions for Independence and Eukanuba

Puppies, they are a'cookin.  Taya shows us her upcoming E litter for Canine Companions for Independence. How many do you see in there?

However many, each of these tiny images will be born in the world with the destiny of being someone's miracle. Assistance dogs in the making, rather literally.

Does anyone else think this is completely and totally awesome?

Wordless Wednesday: Micron's golden essence

What a sugar cookie, this charming dog of mine. Micron does his stuff at a meet & greet booth for the Miami Valley Pet Therapy Association. It was a beautiful weekend to work the crowds for our neighborhood's annual Fine Arts Festival.

Fine Art, indeed.  The dog has a gift.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Why does Twitter Noob sound naughty when you say it out loud?

Vote for your favorite puppy name

I have to admit, I tell my Favorite Kid.  I hate feeling like such a noob. I'm just not getting this Twitter thing.

It's where you type in status updates that can only be 140 characters . . ., he begins to explain.

Yeah, I guess I know that. But I don't get why. I mean, what do people talk about with such urgent need? Honestly, what could I be doing that needs to be announced like, right now?  My imagination is cranking as I think about something clever that would net me some followers, though.

Well, there's those thoughtful quotes that I could borrow from another puppy raiser's Facebook statuses (thanks D.N.!), like . . .
Every time I read ROFL, I hear Scooby Doo trying to say waffle.

or maybe

I just watched my dog chase his tail for ten minutes and thought "Wow, dogs are easily entertained." Then I realized I just watched my dog chase his tail for ten minutes.

Well, you could do that, says the kid. Or you might tweet when you've updated the dog blog and add a link to the site. Post some cute photos of the dogs doing something funny. Stuff like that. Sometimes,  Ma, it's fun just to follow others to see what they're doing. 

Why does that sound like stalking? I wonder. Oh, because it kinda is. 

I created my PuppySword Twitter account earlier in the year, but just could not get myself inspired to use it much. While I'm trying to build up some street cred, I've started following some folk who share such profundities as to make it all worth my while.  Celebs like Jim Gaffigan ("so suddenly wearing a sombrero while I jog makes me a wierdo?") and Simon Pegg ("Minnie won't sit still. Think it's because she had her bum shaved today. She usual experiences a little discomfort post groom. I know I do") are great for making me snort when I laugh. Extra special when I imagine the words in their voices.

And the other dog bloggers out there keep me motivated. PupFan and Pamela at S_Wagging are always a good source of dog-related info and  Elizabeth at the Chronicles of Cardigan is just a genius writer. (When I grow up, I want to be like them. And have long legs. I want that too.)  I've added NPR and CNN updates because I wanna be all smart that way. My Twitter newsfeed is on a constant roll providing all the trivia an information voyeur like me wants to see in 140 characters or less.
Ah, but just this past week I'm starting to see why instant news at your fingertips can be useful to the information hungry masses.  

E litter puppy name voting closes on Sept 14.

With the upcoming CCI E litter showing up so soon, there's some rather important stuff that's gotta get out there all timely like. Taya's E litter is due this week, possibly on September 15. There's the important task of voting for the name of the first born pup.  Whether the first pup will be a girl or boy is a secret that Taya's keeping for now. So we get to vote on two names.

CCI's Y litter (Yaxley in green collar).
Photo courtesy S. Nash
Hey, choose whatever name is meaningful to you, of course. But I have to just get out there that I don't think there are nearly enough assistance dogs named Elvis. We need at least one more.

And I voted for Emma for a little girly girl pup that is destined to grow up to be a miracle for someone. 

Click on the caption under the CCI photo on top or click here to vote for your favorite puppy name.

Live stream of the puppies coming up

And once the fun buns are out of the oven, Eukanuba has arranged for a live stream of their fuzzy goodness. Teeth-gritting meetings at work? No problem, hook your laptop into the feed and feel the stress melt away as you watch the live action.  Slipping out of your chair during another boring presentation? No matter, you know where to turn now, don't you?

Over the next eight weeks, never will you lament there's nothing good to watch on cable.  Instead, you'll just wave your hand dismissively at the TV and crank up the laptop to watch bouncy retriever pups at play. 

When the pups are named, you can pick your favorite cotton ball or two to follow. After eight weeks, the pups will go out to their puppy raisers. And many of these folk will be online in the various social media forums to share their pup's derring-do over the next sixteen months.

Sounds like you just yourself got a full calendar of puppy goodness.

Try to keep up now

Ok, so here's where to get the latest scoop on this Eukanuba sponsored CCI E litter.

CCI on Twitter and CCI on Facebook.

Eukanuba on Twitter and Eukanuba on Facebook

Donna, the future puppy raiser of an E puppy (woot woot!) on Twitter:

Oh, and of course right here on the dog blog. I'll give you a heads up now to add memory to your laptops.  I'm gonna be sharing puppy photos soon. Lots and lots of 'em. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: It's a trap

I am one lucky duck that my job allows me to work from home on occasion. With the natural light to uplift my mood and some good old-fashioned classic rock softly thumping in the background (smoke on the waaaahta, fire in the sky . . .), it lends to a productive environment.

Until the cat shows up.

After he's leapt onto the table to tip my coffee mug, Bodine settles his furry mass comfortably on my documents. Rather absent-mindedly, he bats about my pen with a lazy paw and asks, so whatcha doin'?

Please don't think less of me when I tell you that I had to set up a trap. The cat left me no choice, you see.

It's the only thing that will contain him effectively.

The Cardboard Box Cat Trap.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Yaxley's Progress Report #1

Yeah, ok. But they feed you here, right?
For those of us that have sent our favorite kids off to college to grow their wings, well, you know how that feels? With a kiss and a long hug, you give them the nudge as they move on to grasp the responsibilities of adulthood.  Make good choices now, we say holding back a tear.

And now are they making friends, but paying attention to their studies?  Remembering to eat right? Oh, I hope he's getting the sleep he needs.

For some of us puppy raisers, it takes a while to relax and let go of these same worries about our former furry charges in Advanced Training. That first phone call from CCI helps the mental process move along.  We talked with Yaxley's trainer this week.

She tells me that he is adjusting just fine to his new digs and playing nicely with his roommate. He's met more dogs in group play and building his confidence. They're moving through the initial health checks now with Yaxley, but only worked with assessing training skills briefly.

Over the next month Yaxley will be introduced to the more complex commands he'll need to know as an assistance dog. So, we hang loose until the end of September when we'll get the next update.

Do well, our awesome yellow dog. You'll be in our thoughts every day.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

GIMME AN E! Please?

Gimme an E!
Sharing space with two cats in our modest ranch-style starter home had its challenges, the most impactful being the olfactory offense. The cat boxes reeked.  All the time.  Even though we were generous to give the cats an ersatz bathroom of their very own, the mixed aroma of perfumed cat litter and fresh litter snickers wafted throughout the house like a vengeful ghost.

Hey, my food . . .HEY LADY! 
My food bowl is empty! 
Charlie Cat requesting more, please.
Just the cost of doing business with cats, I thought, as I would scoop the boxes with head tipped away to avoid a direct nasal hit. Then one rainy day, I'm impressively multi-tasking by relaxing with a magazine while actively avoiding heavy housework. Was it (ironically) Good Housekeeping?  No, actually I don't recall the fateful periodical, but I do remember one particular full page ad. It was a collection of colored pencil drawings showing a healthy cat, a litter box and . . .whats this?  Holy Cow, could it be true? An ad for Iams Cat Food claiming smaller and less smelly stool!  With high quality ingredients that metabolize more efficiently . . . what does that even mean? But I don't care. I'm headin' for the feed store to get me some of this amazing stuff.

So that was the day I stopped feeding the colorful kibbles that I always had a coupon for and instead paid the extra buck for the plain brown niblets in the bright orange bag. In a short time, the cats looked healthier, smelled better and stopped vomiting hairballs that stained the carpet in fruit loopy colors. And yes, as advertised, their poop was indeed presented in tidy little brown packages nestled atop the sand.

Dang, y'all. Truth in advertising, go fig.

Impressed with this discovery, I look over at Jack the Wonder Dog and we share a hmmm moment. Our huge Labrador-based mutt had the cats trumped in the poop department. The only saving grace was that his recycled dog food was deposited in the fresh suburban air of the backyard. Right, most of the time. This is the same sweet dog that we were told to just take him home and enjoy him by an obedience school. Ok, maybe two obedience schools. His brain got full, bless his little golden heart.

Jack the Wonder Dog. Not a CCI dog.
Picture a thought balloon over his head with a
question mark in it. And yep, that's him all over.
But switching the big guy over to that green bag of Iams Chunks made such a remarkable difference in the quality of his coat. And his poo? Indeed smaller and firmer. If ya gotta scoop up the stuff, this is the best you could hope for, I think.

And so began my love affair with The Iams Company, a family owned local business in 1993 when I applied for a job in the plant office. But tragically, I was rejected. The interview feedback was something about thinking I might be too "thin-skinned" (and just what did they mean by THAT!?!) for this rough and tumble plant manager. But no matter, my resume was forwarded to another manager in the R&D facility. And I found my home there.

And here we are, nearly twenty years later. I'm still in love with my job and absolutely passionate about the products we make. I don't want to get all commercial-like on you, but I feed my beloved furry friends Eukanuba. I'd rather fight than switch, as they say.

Is is possible to be passionate about dog food? I say yes. Yes, it is. Does it make me a great conversationalist? So, how 'bout them nice brown kibbles? Liking that poop?  Ok, maybe not so much. 

So anyway, P&G Pet Care and the Eukanuba brand have been very supportive of Canine Companions for Independence over these past few years. And I'm so proud to have a connection as well. So I'm particularly jazzed about this deal with Eukanuba sponsoring a CCI puppy litter. The upcoming soon-to-be-famous E litter.

I'm especially giddy excited to be chosen to raise one of these little furry canine masterpieces.  The gorgeous Taya will be introducing the E litter to the world on September 15. Well, on or around that date. You know how these things go.  But in the meantime, there's work to be done y'all.

Taya enjoys a special kinda tummy rub during her ultrasound.
From the Eukanuba Facebook page . . .
The Journey to Extraordinary Starts – Meet Taya! A Canine Companions for Independence Breeder Dog pregnant and due approximately September 15th - Taya will have the “E” Litter and Eukanuba is sponsoring this litter hoping to donate $100,000 to CCI to help provide assistance dogs to those in need of one. You can help us donate by clicking daily on this tab:

Oh sure, that's the easy part, clicking a button to assist Eukanuba's donation to CCI. Please do that. But there's some really serious business, too.  Submitting a name suggestion for the pups presents a whole nuther challenge.

Ok, think of a name that starts with the letter E. Now say it out loud a couple of times. Sound ok? Right, now go to your back door and shout it real loud. No, loud. So the neighbors can hear you. Feeling pretty good about it? Is this still a name that a puppy raiser wouldn't curse you for? Keep in mind we'll be saying the pup's name about a gadzillion times over sixteen months. No pressure though.

I would suggest two or three syllable names are lovely. Four syllables are to be avoided. A dirty deed is done before you can finish saying Enceladus.

Smart, beautiful and doesn't even look pregnant.
If she were a person, this would irritate me terribly.

Instructions, including suggestions from CCI, are on Euk's Facebook. Check 'er out. And on behalf of fellow puppy raisers, please be kind with the suggestions, of course. You may want to hold back on Eurythmic and Estheticia and such. It's not becoming to spit when we call the pups.

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