Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Holy cow, it's been a year.
It was just before the Thanksgiving holiday that we puppy raisers welcomed the Canine Companions for Independence Ohio E's into our homes. Well,I gotta say that went by in a furry blur.
And speaking of blurring by furries, here's our cuties, Euka II, Ella, Emma and Everett, fresh from California and gamboling about for their first time on Ohio fescue.
And did you notice? Who do you think is that pale pup leading the the pack to new adventures? Yeah, take a guess, Euka fans.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Micron! I admonish the then young dog who has moved his head under the partition to look into the next ladies room stall. Quit peeking, you perv.
Because a bit of humor can diffuse an awkward situation. Right, sometimes it can. But humor is not always a horse you can bet on.
I don't know how effective this attempt was either. It's not like I was privy to any resulting gesticulations or facial expressions going on the other side of the TP wall.
|Mistakes are made. |
Lessons are learned.
Yeah, so anyway I was just reading the latest post from one of my favorite bloggers, Alex at Help on Four Legs. Alex has that magic blogging trifecta of being frank, funny and fearless. Where anyone scanning my adventures-in-puppy-raising posts will experience pretty much sunshine and rainbows and puppies riding unicorns, Alex is here to remind y'all that life can be very real sometimes. Her insightful stories of sharing her life with service dog, Bright, brings us into her world for a minute or two.
From my view as a volunteer puppy raiser I count on people like Alex. I do. Those folk who are open about their personal experiences with a service dog at their side? It keeps me grounded in this puppy raising thing.
Alex recently posted Things that are awkward with a service dog. A knock on the head to remind me that my efforts in puppy raising are not all sunshine and rainbows. Maybe it's time to fess up on a couple of ... well, misadventures in puppy raising.
Here I'll share with you just a few examples of how, as a volunteer puppy raiser, I took one for the team. So to speak.
Dogs on airplanes
|Yaxley fits comfortably at my feet in the regular seat |
on the flight back home. My feet had a less
Nobody claiming a clear mind enjoys the airport experience, right? That whole thing with hurry up and wait and messed up connections. Now add in the logistics of toileting a puppy, a face off with an energetic bomb sniffing dog and Hurricane Irene messing up the flight schedules. I was pretty darn proud of Yaxley, who was a rock star right up to, during and after the TSA pat down in DC. I, however, struggled with the kindness of strangers.
I don't usually engage in animated conversation for a full hour with my close friends, nevermind someone I just met. Say, like the flight attendant who bumped the paying customer from the coveted leg-room seat at the front of the small plane to allow the pup and me residence. Yaxley had a safe spot, I had reasonable leg room if I held them suspended straight out, and the FA had a jump seat. Right in front of me. Nose to nose we talked dogs.
For an hour.
Sure, I see you shaking your head. I agree that's not so bad, really. Even a devout introvert like me can survive something so basic as friendly conversation.
So let's move on to an edgier topic, shall we?
The Poop WalkerExcuse me, she said. Did you see what your dog just did?
Here's a quiz question for you. How many times does it take for your pup-in-training to drop a hearty steamer while walking for you to tag him as a Poop Walker?
One. The answer, of course, is one. After that first time, every single outing with your puppy is stalked by those sisterly black clouds of Doubt and Insecurity.
How this puppy, no names mentioned but his initials are Micron, could pop out a well-formed loaf without even breaking stride is a enigma for the ages. A natural skill that's deigned to make lesser dogs jealous.
And this amazing feat marked the first time I considered a rear view mirror for our outings.
Micron has since outgrown such embarrassing outbursts, so to speak. But we do still deal with things like ...
The dog can't hold his lickerOh, it's ok. I don't mind if he licks my [blank].
That fill-in-the-blank answer might be hand or face or even small child. But rarely is this sentence completed with the word toes. Seems that's a boundary not to be crossed.
A boundary that's hard to explain to the mighty Micron.
We puppy raisers go through great, and sometimes frustrating, effort to teach our charges not to lick folk. A challenge brought to a new level when big-hearted dog lovers encourage such behavior. And when we have a pup that considers their destiny directly in line with tasting folk, we're tasked with the near impossible.
Micron, who we once considered less than a problem solver, was able to avoid corrections by sticking his tongue out of the side his snout. The side not facing me.
It's simply not becoming of a service dog to lick people. Actually even more important, it's a behavior that distracting them from their most important job of all.
To pay attention to their handler.
It's that important. And speaking of distractions . . .
Stuffed animals are his kryponiteHe's unpredictable in his unpredictability.
That was the verdict on Micron, the definition of why this otherwise amazing dog was not meant to be a service dog.
I wish I could say this surprised me. After all, I'm certainly no expert in the actual training of a service dog. I leave that important work to the professional trainers at CCI. Instead we puppy raisers are tasked with socialization, proper public behavior, some intermediate level commands and such.
But before Micron went off to Advanced Training at Canine Companions for Independence, I had some indication that he might not have the proper work ethic.
You may not actually need the red arrows to show you the object of Micron's attention, but I stuck them in there for the less attentive readers.
Those of you truly on the ball (get it?) in dog behavior may also notice the tell tale self-defense position of Snoopy's paws. Ok, fine. Snoopy's entire body is one of please don't grab me and carry me around in your mouth.
How does a puppy raiser train out this fixation behavior? I have not a clue. I still have to keep a close eye on Mr. Therapy Dog lest he grab a stuffed teddy bear from the gentle ladies at the assisted living center.
When your well-behaved puppy is the bad guyAfter a while in this puppy raising gig, you learn to let some things just roll off your back like water from a duck.
Taking a pup-in-training into the public venue is a whole nuther kind of animal. Socializing the pup in places where dogs are not expected to be, or worse, not permitted to be, is an experiment in polarization. People either love it or hate it.
Many times the two teams are identified by facial expressions as obvious as colored jerseys.
In our local grocery super store I've seen kids fingering their noses before snatching a free grape in the produce section. One young girl was methodically poking holes in packages of chicken breasts with her index finger. A toddler is making up for a lack of a microphone by screaming full strength while his mom shops from aisle to aisle. Well handled and smooshed items are snatched from a child's desperate grasp and replaced on shelves.
Meanwhile I'm getting skunk eye for having a dog with me. And when I catch these glances, I admit it does irk me a bit that the CCI pup is better behaved than some kids.
You know how the grocery puts the high value items right there in the checkout line? Yikes, it's hard enough for us grown ups to deny ourselves the ubiquitous choices in chocolate goodness. Saying No to our kids is even tougher.
A little girl is denied her chocolately reward by her dad. She throws herself into a neat little tantrum. When this is ignored, she uses toddler logic in her decision to run off at full speed.
And comes to a screeching halt to find herself eye to eye with a puppy the same height as her.
Cue in the total meltdown. Freak out. Fright fest. The screams, the horror in her eyes. The pup stands by my side, exactly as trained. Doesn't even flinch.
What happens next, do you think? Go ahead, give it a guess. Right, the dad swiftly lifts up the little girl, clutching her to his chest like she was just rescued from a rip tide or something. Oh, then the best part comes next. He looks at me, giving me a glare like this was all on me.
How dare I?
Like I said, sometimes it's water off a duck. And then other times? This kind of stuff just raises my hackles. But I smile anyway, closed mouth. No harm done, dude, my eyes say.
Jerk, my inside voice says.
That other critical jobWell, some of that is off my shoulders. It's good to step off the rainbow once in a while and just share some real.
There's more, of course. So much more. We're out there doing stuff with our dogs where other dogs fear to tread. Or something. Anyway, we puppy raisers are doing what we can to knock down some barriers for the future handlers of these dogs. It may not be much. It may not even be enough.
But people, we know it's better than doing nothing. Puppy raising is not for the meek.
It's for those folk who love other people. And of course, we love these dogs.
Yeah, and adventure. That's good, too.
And that other thing that's not in the puppy raiser manual, but we do anyway?
We puppy raisers chronicle that pivotal first year of the dog's life. Whatever the destiny of these amazing creatures, we alone know the whole story of their puppy lives.
Oh, and the side benefit of all this memory making we're collecting ...
We got these dogs photo ready for y'all. These furries are no stranger to a camera.
|Over the shoulder, you say? Like this?|
Yeah, you're welcome. Oh hey, actually ... it's our pleasure.
It really is.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
We interrupt your day with a d'aww puppy photo.
Yeah, we didn't think you'd mind the eye candy break.
This was Miss Euka last year in her first Ohio leaf pile. Holy cow, is this stinkin' adorable or what, people? It's not like the eight week old pup had a kill switch for being ridiculously cute. This was On all the time.
And now? What's that you say? The next photo looks like a Pinterest Fail ? Hey now, I'll have you know that our girl is actually demonstrating a very nice Roll* command while keeping a level of Cute happening, albeit dialed down a notch or two.
Here's our lovely girl at a mature fourteen months.
*The Roll command for Canine Companions for Independence pups is not the Roll Over command. Euka is doing a lovely job of showing us how one maintains a calm posture of resting on one's backside. She practices this in the office as well. Usually by showing off her girly parts.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
|We need to talk|
Hiya, says Jager. So, what are you doing right now? Nothing, right?
Actually, I say. After I make this grocery list, I need to pull the laundry out of the dryer before things get wrinkled and then empty the dishwasher. Stuff like that, because you know. Saturday and all. Why?
Aw, I dunno. says Jager. It's just that my terrier senses are tingling and there's adventures happening out there somewhere. And I'm, well . . . He pauses to look up and turns those big dark eyes to me.
I'm sitting here watching you shuffle through coupons, he says.
Aww, my little spotted dog needs some attention, 'tis true. Before we were puppy raising for Canine Companions for Independence, Jager was an only dog at our place. And from nearly his first Gotcha Day, he enjoyed spending his days at the office, socializing and noshing upon complimentary dog cookies.
Then we started volunteer puppy raising and the attention shifted. After a while folk in the office started to notice as well.
We never see Jager anymore, went the usual lamentations. It's not fair, we miss him. Someone threatens to start a grass roots movement in support of the little guy and get some billboard ads for me to come across on my commute to work.
The fella enjoys a solid fan base. Have I ever mentioned how much I love my teammates at P&G? I really do. It doesn't even bother me when my dogs are greeted first with happy voices, then it's Oh hey, Donna. I love people who love my dogs.
And after seven years of co-habitation with the Jagermeister, we've certainly hit a groove. He's a low maintenance kinda guy, which has the unfortunate side effect of getting less attention than the other dogs.
So today, we'll honor the freaky little spotted dog by allowing him to share his thoughts of profundity.
Which had to be rewritten after explaining to the former street dog that profundity is way different than profanity.
Oh. Well, said Jager. That changes everything.
Jager's Dog Nose Wisdom
- When given a dog cookie, drop it and look miserably sad. You'll get a different cookie. Eat both.
- You don't have to speak Squirrel to know the tree rats are up there mocking you.
- I wonder if squirrels taste like chicken.
- Don't underestimate the importance of alerting when the neighbors get home. My code is ten barks per car door slamming. More if I think everyone's lost count and I have to start over.
- The people who live here can't count.
- My middle name is Quiet! I don't really like it much.
- By the way, it's not attitude, thank you very much. It's Style.
- Always growl when chasing the tennis ball because that will intimidate the stupid thing.
- When around dogs bigger than me I can magically make myself the same size. On good days, I can be even bigger. I'm awesome that way.
- In my world, size does matter.
- Standing on your toes while lifting one leg is an acquired skill. Let's just see you try it, puny hooman.
- When getting on the bed, start off as a tight little ball. Then stretch out until you're the size of a Rottweiler. If you're already a Rottweiler, think livestock. Don't forget to lock your joints.
- I chase the cat because he asked for it.
- I wonder if the cat tastes like chicken.
- I love almost every person I meet. So if I act like I don't like someone, pay attention.
- If you eat a box of the Food Lady's fancy-nancy chocolates and get your stomach pumped at the vet, it's still worth it. Because you know. Car ride.
- Chocolates don't taste like chicken.
- I don't understand this word fixation. I thought you called it a tennis ball.
- Yeah, I realize that I haven't missed a meal in seven years, but before I moved in here I used to be hungry. What you call food aggression is just me being scared.
- A tilted head will make people smile at you. Guaranteed.
|This is like a training wheel for catching squirrels.|
Huh. I guess that pretty much sums up life with the Jagerhund. We could likely go on for a while longer, but the little fella is giving me the laser light show with his eyes. And has the ratty yellow tennis ball at his feet.
Yep, I obviously have better things to do with my time right now, y'all.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Nothing left but memories and photos. And a thick blanket of leaves under yesterday's snowfall. And under those leaves?
Well hidden land mines of the doggie kind.
In remembrance of this all too short season, I wrote y'all a Haiku.
Snow on the pumpkin
I'ts not even Thanksgiving
[bleeep] where are my boots?
Huh, says Euka. Nice one, Food Lady. You're a poet and didn't know it. Yeah, you might want to hang onto your day job for awhile.
Sunday, November 10, 2013
My new neighbor turns to look with interest in my current interaction with Euka. Why are you massaging her ears? she asks, smiling.
'Cuz she just came back in from a play session outside with Jeff's puppy, I said. And her ears are completely besnotted with boxer slobber. I'm just rubbing them to get rid of the spiky moussed look.
I look up at my cube partner and note her expression, the smile now frozen. Oh, she says. You know, I'm sorry I asked.
And she was, really. Yeah, I can tell a cat person when I see one.
|And back to her sassy self, as well.|
Another reminder to me, as I am wont to forget this fact, that not everyone loves All Things Dog as much as I do.
Like the time I was wiping out Micron's ears with a tissue while in deep conversation with a friend. Good gravy, I said, pausing to consider the brown ear wax. Look at how thick this is. It's like apple butter inside there.
[gaaaak], says my friend. Donna, that's setting off my gag reflex.
Yeah, this is pretty bad, I agree. More cinnamon would make it better.
We dog lovers are a hardy bunch, aren't we? We can have a full discussion on poor canine stool quality (I swear it looked like butterscotch pudding) while noshing upon sloppy mushroom swiss burgers for lunch. And we trade personal horror stories about the inconceivable amount of blood that a torn dew claw will spurt (I just about busted my butt slipping in the blood on the kitchen floor). I'll tell everyone how Micron, when wet, smells just like canned mushroom soup. Nothing touches my iron clad appetite.
Unless it's of the non-canine variety, that is. I had a daycare worker tell me one time that she knew which toddler needed a diaper change just by the smell. Did you know each kid produces his or her own personalized aroma? Yeah, I didn't. Something to do with different gut flora, I would guess. Then she leaned over and sniffed into the back of a nearby diapered kid while stuffing an index finger in the biological melee inside. Holy dog, I nearly yacked on that one. I've been trying to store that memory in the brain archives so I can pull out the file on it as needed. But no, this scene just pops back in the frontal lobe at will to give me a rumbly tummy.
So yep, I'm a dog person. All the way through.
Except when I'm not. And that's just been one thing so far, I've found. It was not just the inexperience of dealing with it, but also the reputed smelly mess that had me just a little worried about caring for a dog in estrus You know, the heat cycle. In season. An ill-timed visit from Auntie Flo. Whatever you wanna call it, I prefer less hormonal drama in my house.
|Is she back? Naw, I'm good. Grab the|
camera, will ya?
But three weeks after dropping off a little girl, we picked up a young lady this week. Yep, finally got the girl back at our place to continue her puppy training. We did indeed miss the attitude around here.
You know, Micron and Jager are cruising along on autopilot these days. Pretty much just maintenance mode since there's not much else that can be done with Jager's training. I yam who I yam, says Jager in his best Popeye voice. There's no changing him at this point. And who would want to anyway? And the mighty Micron is in the same boat, which has me mixing my metaphors with auto piloting and boating. But we have the Popeye link, so there's that.
Oh, but I do love the challenges that come with this gig of puppy raising for CCI. I'm so jazzed to be working with Euka on her socialization skills again. And she's back just in time for some autumn photos, sans the Jack O'Lantern, a couple examples of which we've shared above for y'all.
And now with Euka back at our place, we can get the band back together. The Ohio E's are all in town to rock our worlds.
Oh hey, what if these guys were really a rock band? How would that work out, do you think? I see the laid back Everett as the drummer, right? Duuuude, says Everett. Emma could be bass and Ella keyboards. Or maybe with a tambourine.
Our Miss Euka? A natural choice as lead singer. She craves the adrenaline of the spotlight, this one.
Her report card from CCI from her three week spa vacation came back as Excellent, which has bumped up my confidence in her another notch. I don't know the future for Euka, but I can imagine it.
Because when her time with us is finished, Euka will be rocking the world for her person. And not just Miss Euka. This entire E litter is something amazing. I'm thinking all these E's are going to be rock stars.
We have just a mere six months left with these pups, but you know, I can't wait to see what they're going to do next.
|We're getting the band back together.|
The Ohio E's clockwise from top: Ella, Euka, Everett & Emma.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
There's a simple story behind this photo, really. I set the camera on continuous shot and asked Micron to speak.
And I simply missed all the good shots of his open maw.
Instead I have some outtakes that are pretty darn fun in spite of my ill-fated action shot efforts.
Like this one above.
Whatsa matter, Micron? I might ask. You look like you've seen a ghost. Ah, I see. The cat's at it in your food bowl again.
Let's caption this one, shall we? Any ideas, y'all?
Sunday, November 3, 2013
How the Grench stole Halloween
It had started with the snowfall. I didn't realize it at the time, but that short-lived Ohio weather anomaly we experienced in mid-October was a harbinger of doom. Of fearsome events yet to come.
The signs were there and I just didn't see them. Didn't want to. After all, we've had snow in October before and the world continued on as we expected.
|There's a new sheriff in town, ya'll. |
Apparently new sneakers, too. Heh, looks
like this mom spared no expense on
her homemade Halloween costume.
Ok sure, the last October snow was somewhere around twenty years ago as evidenced here in this shot of the Favorite Kid sporting his Trick-or-Treat gear back in the old neighborhood.
But still. The white stuff melted before lunchtime and became just a vague memory by the bustle of the evening commute home. It's still October, we all said. No worries. Halloween will still go on just like it does every year at this time.
Turns out, I had sorely underestimated the power of the Holiday Grench.
What are you talking about now, you ask. The Holiday Grench?
Ah, a good question that. No, it's not a typo. Well, not this time.
A rather upbeat kinda chick, with her starry eyes and silver tinsel hair, we've noticed that the Holiday Grench grows stronger every year. Unlike her more famous third cousin twice removed, instead of a heart two sizes too small, within our Grench's chest beats a sugar plum heart. She just loves the Christmas season, but not necessarily in a healthy way. As is the manner of any maniacal, but misguided, visionary, the Grench wants you to embrace her shopping holiday, too. To drink her cup of wassail, so to speak.
And so to make this vision happen, she must feed on the nostalgic memories of those who yearn to enjoy any type of fall celebration.
Your neighbors put their Christmas lights on their house last weekend, she taunts me. And did you see? Amazon started their Black Friday sales. She playfully bounces an ornament off my head. So, do you have your tree up yet?
But ..., I stammer. but, it's not even Halloween yet.
That's right, she laughs. Time to start your Christmas shopping! All your friends have already bought their first gift.
And just like the weather, everybody complains but nobody does anything about it. We stand by as holiday decorations are displayed right after Thanksgiving, then the next year we see artificial trees in early November to whet our shopping desires. And these days, the frost isn't even on the pumpkin before we're assailed with Jingle Bells on the outdoor speakers at the strip mall.
We don't do anything about it, of course, because we can't. The Grench has grown too powerful. Mere mortals such as us are no match for her subtleties. This holiday spirit is hungry for your fall festivities, because once conquered she can move onto Labor Day and beyond. The world will be her one big Shopping Day.
Every day will be Black Friday! says the Grench, tossing glittery bows in the air above. But only three of you will get the really good sale price! Bwahahahaha.
Maybe I'm just being paranoid, but I really got the feeling she took a personal interest in my Halloween this year. I felt jinxed, like the joy was being sucked right out of my favorite time of year.
Ah, but this chick isn't easily broken. Me, that is. I didn't make it to this [bleeped] decade of life without learning some coping mechanisms, you know.
|Fergo is a dog outstanding in his . . . oh, good grief,|
how old is that joke?
Bent, but spirit not broken, we were blessed with an opportunity to dog-sit a favorite fellow, the sweet Fergo. At twelve years old, our hearty friend remains a lover of life. And road trips.
Another fall festivity favorite, Jager slips into his Warg alter ego to participate in the Howl-O-Ween Woof Walk to support Miami Valley Pet Therapy Association. The dictionary definition of cold and miserable, we got chilled to the bone that morning.
|Just so you know, says Jager. This counts as a bath.|
Oh, but not our little Jagerhund. The Master of the Hunt wore his orc upon his back with a sense of Warg warrior pride. Our little spotted dog soaked up the excitement of the morning like he hadn't been out of the house for a week. Which is kinda true, the poor pooch. It was good to give the fellow a special day of his own, rainy mist notwithstanding.
Back at her Swarovski crystal lair, the Holiday Grench is shaking a glittery fist into the air. Nooooo, she cries out. You will start your Christmas shopping. You will, I say. Don't you dare even try enjoying your autumn festivals. I will not be ignored! By the way, did you see your favorite shopping site has personalized photo gifts fifty percent off this week?
Then the triple-whammy. Out of desperation, this vengeful Spirit of the Holiday Yet to Come strikes back with the trifecta of an overwhelming work load, longer commutes to the office, and then the worst slam of all ... inclement weather.
So no spare time and little energy to carve a pumpkin even if I did have an empty moment. And then what the heck, Grench? A monsoon in land-locked Ohio? On Beggar's Night? What is wrong with you?
Heh, but take this, you spiteful spirit. I stand here and say to all that it is indeed possible to carve a pumpkin in twenty minutes during a lunch period at work. It helps if you're working from home, of course. I mean, all my carving tools are here. And the pumpkin. And while I haven't tested the theory, I'm throwing out the educated guess that neither would be welcome in the office atmosphere.
Here's how things went down then.
I gutted the big orange gourd on Tuesday night, roasted the pepita de calabazas (pumpkin seeds to you non-pretentious people) on Wednesday after work and finally carved a face into the non-sentient being on Friday at lunchtime. Then Friday evening I was able to get some photos of the thing before sundown. No matter that it was November 1 when I completed this task. I got 'er done, I did.
And anyway, because of the weather situation on October 31st, a few communities moved their Beggar's Night to the weekend. (Open letter to our humble burg: You guys should have done that too, you know). So I figure it's like a belated birthday card. It makes it extra special and festive to extend the holiday for another day or two, right?
With a mug of reheated potato soup steaming next to my pumpkin, I create an evil Jack O'Lantern to ward off that creeping winter holiday for another day.
And all is well in my little world. Or at least looking up a little.
Because I got autumnal photos of my handsome Micron. Before Thanksgiving even.
And also because Euka's spa vacation is nearly over. We are looking forward to picking up the sassy girl later this week so she may continue in her quest to rock our world.
And just in time, too. Now we can start planning our Christmas photo ops. Yeah sure, I'll give the Grench that one, I guess.
But I'm still not leaving the sanctuary of my house on Black Friday. That's crazy talk, y'all.
I'll be shopping online instead.
|Oh c'mon, says Micron. It's not like I have an Off switch for the good looks.|
|I do, however, short circuit from time to time, he admits.|
|Zoiks! cries Micron. Don't look behind you! It's ... it's The Holiday Shopping Season!|
I was going to whine on about the unfortunality of no decent Halloween movies on the tube as well. But then Zombieland was on. Oh, and Paranormal Activity 2. The latter of which had me sleeping on the sofa with the lights on because I freaked myself out too much to go upstairs. Now that's a good Halloween, people.