Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ohhhh, K!!

We received a phone call last night just as we were walking out the door to our CCI Class. While we don't have much information, we do know that a four legged little tyke whose name starts with this letter will be pawing his way into our hearts the first week of March.

It feels awesome to know Puppy #2 has been assigned prior to Haddie's Turn In. We are so excited to keep the fun rolling!!

Monday, January 28, 2013

A well trained dog

My son and I ventured to the grocery store for a very short outing yesterday and left Haddie at home with my hubby. We were going to the Coin Star machine to cash in his coins for bills. Upon exiting the car we noticed an older man walking on the sidewalk next to the grocery store with a tall, skinny dog by his side. We have leash laws in our city, but this man was ignoring that part as the dog was politely walking beside him.

We eventually caught up to them and walked behind them. We were both surprised to find that the man did not continue forward, but rather took a left into the store with his dog. 

Curious what was going to transpire next, we slowed our pace to watch. The man, without any verbal cue, motioned with his hand for the dog to lay down on the edge of the lobby carpet. With two fingers pushed together, he pointed at the dog and then pointed at himself, and walked away. 

The dog stayed in his down position. Not moving a muscle on his body, licked his chops a few times, but for the most part even his head held steady. I think everyone in the store passing us thought it was our dog, because the carpet edge stopped where the Coin Star machine began. 

One lady with a puzzled face asked me, "Whose dog is that?" as she slowly walked passed. I found it fascinating, however, that no grocery store employee even batted an eye at the sight of a dog laying on their interior carpet. They kept on moving as if the dog did not even exist. 

We moved slowly in our process as we were so curious when this man would return, and what the dog would do in the process. About five minutes had passed before we finally saw the man in the self-checkout aisle at the opposite side of the front entrance to the store. He had purchased a pastry. That department was in the back corner of the store, also opposite where his dog was put. 

Amazing. The trust. On both sides. 

The man walked toward us, head held high, confident, strong. He was not a burly man, he rather resembled his dog who was a grey hound mix of some sort who was very skinny, built with all legs, course scraggly hair, more gray than black. Yes, I just described both human and canine. 

Without pausing, the man walked up to his dog, gave a signal with his left fingers that pointed to the door, and the dog got up and followed him out. Again, no verbal messages were passed. 

I wanted to run after them - and ask him a bazillion questions. Who was this man? What was this all about? How long did it take to train the dog, and how did he do it? Was there a purpose, an extra motive, did he really want that pastry or was that just something to do while the dog held the down/stay while he was out of sight. 

A well trained dog, no matter the reason, is always a treat to witness. My take-away as a Puppy Raiser? Stay calm, confident, and act like you are ruler of your own little world. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Coffee and Art

Yesterday's adventure for Haddie was a stop at St*rbuck$ for some chat with my dear friend from college before walking down the street to an Art Museum. This friend has been an amazing example of support all-things-Haddie-related. She is always up for a new adventure when we get together, pacing where we go based on Haddie's age. Walk in the park? Sure! Walk through a mall? Sure! Coffee? Sure! No matter where, she is always putting Haddie first in what we can expose her to.

She knows that I know that she would make a fabulous puppy raiser. I won't try to convince her again by typing any more words that this would be a wonderful fit for her family. The timing just has to be right. I really do get that.

Haddie was more fidgety than normal during our hour coffee stay. While she didn't create a scene or cause numerous amounts of head turns (I think she blended fairly well), she just could not accept her place as Down, nor get comfy while there. It was more work and distraction for me than what I am used to. We even moved to a different spot in the coffee shop - that still didn't help.
We then left and took her down the street to the Museum. Haddie must have been craving some culture because she was awesome in the Art Galleries. She walked up flight after flight of stairs; which these sets were new to her because the stairs were very gradual, so it was different spacing for her - and she rocked it.

The no dog sign posted next to the no photography sign, no cell phone sign, no eating sign, no drinking sign, did not deter us from moving forward. I am happy that while Haddie does not qualify under the Law to be out in any public forum, I am so proud that she behaves to splendidly that she "qualified" and every security guard on every floor just left us alone.

After awhile I kinda forgot that Haddie was with us. She stayed in a Heal, and when I stopped she would just stand there - for minutes not moving - waiting for Let's Go. When I asked her to Sit, she would, to Back, she would ... it was just very relaxing.

Until the times when my friend and I just wanted to sit and gab. Back to fidgety-Haddie. For whatever reason she just really wanted to be on the move yesterday.

I can tell when an outing has been stimulating for her, when she's worked hard perhaps mentally to her environment, versus physical activity, because she will sleep the rest of the day. Yesterday was one of those days. Upon Release at home, she was a rag doll on the carpet. Cora was most happy. She loves Haddie this way. Some days, I do too.

I was most pleased that Haddie behaved in her first Museum experience - one of the moments where I am most thankful for a puppy that does not Speak. Curious if our next pup will carry the same trait. It is a great perk!
What a fun "finale" with my dear friend and Haddie.

Thank You, J., for always being a supporter of any adventure that I take on - for always being my cheerleader, for the laughter, the questions, the interest. You are a huge part of Haddie's journey. Thank you for being who you are and being part of my life, and Haddie's life too. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Thank You!

I remember watching our friends from across the church pews with their highly relaxed pup in a CCI vest by their side and thinking, "It would be so cool to be part of that." I think it was almost eighteen months later until our family was on board and ready for the commitment.

We are nearing our final chapter as first time Puppy Raisers. My sister-in-law asked me on Sunday if I was ready to let Haddie go. With a firm tone and security in my voice I replied that I was ready - that I was looking forward to the adventure, that we would see her again regardless, that it was going to be a good trip. I believed it when I said it.

Then, then .... our friend and President of our Chapter sent me a detailed document about Turn In today via email. I printed it for our face to face meeting tonight which we were having with another family; who will also be turning in their first pup.

I sat reading the document on my couch, Haddie by my side, and I lost it. Home alone, thank goodness, and I picked up my phone and texted my sister-in-law. I had lied. This was going to be tough, and no, I was not ready to return Haddie.

As we sat in the small, old fashioned cafe down the street from our CCI meetings this evening with our friend and the other family, I realized how thankful I am to have myself and my family surrounded by such good. people. that have gone before us and who are so willing to support us.

I think one summed it up well tonight after the meeting, we are family. There is a bond and understanding that no other person can support as keenly as a fellow puppy raiser. We are giving our heart to another person. We are giving love. We are giving an incredible act of selflessness that can not be truly understood unless you have walked in our shoes.

And that is not to sound boastful. It is to grasp that this is much bigger than us. This task of Puppy Raising for CCI is an honor. When asked "How can you give the puppy back?", you can easily become speechless because their are such few words that will really explain the answer until you have lived it.

And even I have yet to live it - but I understand it, and I will get it on February 15th, and again at the time of her placement.

So, thank you to all of our friends who have gone before us in this adventure, who take the time to share and support, and who really understand what it is like to give meaning to this volunteer role called Puppy Raising.

Thank you. Thank you.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

No Running!!

The pictures say it all on this post. The young pup ready for her adventure just nine days into her life with us as a CCI Puppy in Training. The later photo taken today on a very cold 33 degree walk on the dock at the same park. My how much she has changed; from her crooked muzzle from the gentle leader, to a very proud and seasoned Pup in Training. She is ready for that warm California sun on her fur and the next journey in her chapter with CCI.

You Go, Girl!!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Red Ball

There are a few things that our family has already decided will be gifted to Haddie's Forever Family. The one that tops the list is her Red Ball.  This has been the best, destructive-proof toy of Haddie's. We will purchase a different color of this identical ball for Puppy #2.

If we take the ball out, hide it, and tell her, "Find Red Ball" she will search the house until found.  Her cute factor goes up even higher during this mission as her ears are pushed forward, her eyes are soft with her brows perked with focus, as she goes into every room, corner to corner, in search of her forever-love.
Games with Red Ball include:

Tag: my son will set the ball on the floor after commanding Haddie in a Sit/Stay. Then he will take off to go hide, and while he is running away, Haddie waits for the "Release" command. As soon as he shouts it, she grabs the ball and treks through the house trying to find her favorite boy. Once found, my son will run away, and Haddie will follow him with Red Ball still in her mouth as she tries to catch him by touching him with her Red Ball. Once touched, my son falls to the ground and praises her for a great game. And then they repeat, and repeat, and repeat.
Catch: one of us will sit completely still on the couch (trying to replicate one who can not move as freely as we can), and we will toss the ball up in the air, and Haddie will catch-it. In order to keep the game going, she has to bring the ball back to us and Drop the ball in our hand - because remember, we can't move so she has to be accurate. This has taken Haddie a long time to learn. First, she was hit and miss on even coming back with the ball. Then, she was hit and miss on getting the ball into our hand, not just dropping it at our feet.
Tug: self-explanatory. One of us has our finger looped through the ball, and Haddie has her teeth looped through the ball, and we tug. When we say, Drop, Haddie has to immediately drop or she looses. Haddie is a rock star at this game. She always has dropped the tug game when we command. Always. So proud of that!  (and happy that we can keep playing because she follows the rules so perfectly).
Hide and Seek: we hide the ball, and then tell her "Find Red Ball" and she searches until found.

I'm curious what she will do upon being reunited with Red Ball after being apart from it while in College. I hope her Forever Family enjoys playing Red Ball as much as we do with Haddie.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

CAN She Do It?

My kiddos are involved with the 4-H side of CCI and last night was another comical night in 4-H'ing. I have never thought of using Tuna Cans as a training tool. You should have seen the puppies and kids working together to stack their cute little paws on the can - lots of smiles.
The purpose? Well, the 4-H club goes to County Fair every August and part of the days' events while there is Showmanship. I have not been to too many AKC Show events to say whether the stacking of the dog in 4-H is identical or similar to AKC, but for the purpose of this post, let's say it is identical.

Having your dog "look pretty" and showcase their perfect stance is key to getting high marks during this one phase of judging. Using Tuna Cans allows the pups to "get" where they need to place their feet, and trains the handler to spot positioning when the cans are eventually withdrawn.

As I sat on the sidelines last night, I thought this would not be a bad exercise for any Puppy in Training. Odd surface - check. Having legs touched and manipulated - check. Stand Command - check. Stay Command - check. Looking silly - check.

Haddie was not a huge fan of the Tuna Can stance, but she humored my son and participated for brief periods of time. I am not so sure they even have the positioning correct in this photo, but I had to take my opportunity when it was presented. Haddie was more interested in playing Dominoes with the cans alongside my son when he became equally disinterested in the exercise. Sigh. Two peas in a pod.

CAN she do it?! Yup!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

30 days

One month from today, at this exact moment of the day, we will be wishing Haddie our final Good Luck hugs and kisses as we hand over the leash to Puppy College.

I mailed in the bundle of final paperwork today, along with nine pages of veterinary files on Haddie's behalf. I am not so sure if nine pages of this and that medical care is an average count of vet records for CCI Puppy's in Training, above average, or below. I am hoping it is above average, and that our next puppy will be smooth sailing in the medical end of life.

I obviously have mixed emotions about a month from today. The good news is that I know it will not be the last, final goodbye between our family and Haddie.

If she decides that College Life and Graduation are not her thing, then she will be returning to our town to live a happy life as a much deserved spoiled pet with an incredible family that we know well.

If she decides that College Life and Graduation are her thing; then it will be the most difficult transition for us when we hand over her leash in August (or further, depending on the program she is selected for) for our truly final goodbye. Our final goodbye. Wow, that will be bittersweet.

So, for now, we are treating February as an adventure and continuing to practice her skills that she has learned in our care. Such as working four commands at one time:

You will notice her Under, her Sit, her Visit, and her Focus in this photo taken while I was doing important tasks on the computer this morning (okay it was Facebook, but it was very exciting as we are anxiously watching our dear friends see their son for the first time in Ethiopia Today!!!)

Haddie is ready for her Turn-In in 30 days.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Preparing to leave

Most vacations that my family plans consist of one main point of travel, and then side-winding our way to other destinations.

Example: we are a family of baseball sports fans. When the idea came to my hubby's mind to venture to the real Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa, it was a no brainer. But we backtracked and started our trip in Kansas City, MO. Why there? Why not?!

We road trekked up the state of Missouri to Iowa, making stops in Amish Country and Bridges of Madison County, stopping at the Field of Dreams that started the whole trip, and finishing with a drive down to Chicago before flying home thirteen days later.

The added point that the kids were Preschool and shy of Kindergarten age is remarkable - life before we had all the electronic gadgets to keep them entertained. Nope, they did those days of road trekking the good old fashioned way - with toys and plenty of looking out the window.

The. best. family. vacation.

From there we have managed to always fly to a destination and road trek about, or just road trek straight from home. Car travel has always been something our kiddos have done; they know how to see the countryside. They don't mind it. It works for us.

If we were in similar state of mind as all-prior vacations, we would be making our Mid-Winter Break excursion to California just like one of these road trekking vacations. You have a "main purpose" and then you branch out from there to create an incredible experience.

But we are not in the same state of mind as all-prior vacations. Our "main focus" will be leaving Amazing Haddie in California. How do you begin to plan a memorable vacation from that stop-dead-in-the-planning-tracks-with-the-reality-she-is-no-longer-with-us?

I started booking hotels for our trip in the Fall, and this morning I went back into my files to get started on making a final itinerary. What was supposed to be a quick fifteen minute look-over turned into a sixty minute ordeal. Apparently, I could not make up my mind in September on where we should stay during our two day travel just to arrive in Santa Rosa. And, once in Santa Rosa I switched hotels at least three times. Apparently, I didn't realize I had so many choices.

Sorting out which cancellation went with which reservation number, and finally determining that yes, i do in fact, have a place to rest our heads for every night of our seven day travel made me realize that this is just a very hard trip to plan. Even back in September, when it felt that I was overly ready to plan - I obviously was still very much scatterbrained.

What will we do once Haddie is on campus and ready to begin her training? Sigh. I have no idea. I know we will be visiting the Napa Valley area and San Fran, but specifics? Not a clue. It doesn't even interest me to think of the fun that could happen post-Haddie.

The thought of just turning the car around and driving home has occurred to me more than once. But I am pretty certain our longevity in successful road trips would end. We just might go completely bonkers if we are trapped in the car back-to-back-four-days-in-a-row, especially when traveling the same roads home.

Putting it off a few more days, weeks, will have to do. I am not ready. But then I glance over at Haddie who is twisted like a pretzel resting in my 12" Beagle's tiny pillow bed and think, "Oh goodness, Dog, you just might not fit in at CCI College." 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

I want to remember

Haddie and I hit the local shopping mall today. I had a gift card that has been burning alongside my desk that was just screaming to be used. Today felt like a good day to do just that.

These are the days I don't want to forget the memories of Haddie. Gone are the days of consistent blogging when I would share all the details of my socializing of Haddie. All the newness, the quirks, the bravo's, all of that. Now, she is consistent except for an occasional story.

But today, I don't want to forget the ordinary. The days that are just Haddie being Haddie.

I want to remember the days when she hops out of the back of our Red Toyota with her blonde furry hair remaining littered on the black rubber floor mat. How the Red from our car works so nicely with her coloring. How the sun streaks across Haddie and she can instantly turn from a light shade of yellow, to a Strawberry blonde.

I want to remember the ordinary where we would shop the clothing aisles and she would look up from her Blue Gentle Leader and stare at me like a Teen that has an opinion. Those brown eyes just starring, willing her way into my blue CCI fanny pack that holds the reward of her successes.

I want to remember how Haddie loves to nuzzle up against my leg - cute - but inappropriate because what she is really trying to do is get that Gentle Leader off her nose. Still. Going on Nineteen months and she still would prefer a way to get that thing off. She doesn't fight it like her baby years, but nonetheless a few nudges right at the sweet spot communicates; o.f.f.

I want to remember Haddie sneaking her way too close to the clothes rack, and getting her head under a few arm lengths of sweaters hanging. Her head popping out with those sweet eyebrows peaked as if to say, "Can you find me?". Yes, Haddie, I still see you, and it'd be best if your sweet yellow fur does not remain on that expensive sweater I have no intention of buying.

I want to remember how quickly her tail wags when anyone mentions anything about her. I know she knows English. She senses the tone of everyone's voice when they talk about her. She knows she is adorable.

I want to remember how she prances when she is proud of her accomplishments, or when it is time to move on to our next adventure. She picks up her pace with a wiggling-behind as her head moves up to look at me, then forward, then back at me, then forward, then back at me, and so forth. Always checking in, always moving forward, always with a swag tempo in her tail.

I want to remember when I stop moving, she stops moving. When I stand in line, she will sit and stare at me. Stare. At. Me. until I give her the okay that we can move forward. So smart. So gentle. Eyes that see deep into my core, and melt me every time.

I pray she brings out all of these good things in California. That she doesn't forget, or isn't nervous to show them all her good stuff. That she just brings it all - and we'll see what they say, and be okay with any result. I just want her to be herself - the self that I have grown to love every day for the past seventeen months.

Love you, Haddie Rosa!!!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Snow Vacation

Haddie was a sweet girl all year, so Santa brought her a super tough, braided ball that was sure to be indestructible. Not. She found a way to make a tear within 10 minutes of play. Sigh. That part I will not miss about our sweet girl. Her toys are so boring as a result, I have yet to find anything other than a Hol-ee Roller Ball that she has yet to destroy.
Shortly after Christmas celebrations with extended family, we packed up our four wheel drive and headed for the mountains for a Snow Vacation. The owners of the condo where we stay annually have a close friend who puppy raises for Guide Dogs. So she is 'in the know' about what raising a Service Dog is all about - how refreshing to have a stranger to Haddie wait-out a perfectly still Haddie before paying attention to her.
And then - our friend got down on the floor of the condo, flipped Haddie into a cradle and loved on her for ten minutes. Haddie was snoring and in heaven. Such a fun welcome to our Little Suite in the Mountains (and to a place where other dogs are not allowed).
While we adventure to this little escape every Christmas Break, last year we opted to leave Haddie with her first Puppy Sitter. And, the snow we received a year ago in our hometown was tiny compared to the amount of snow in this mountain town. So, while Haddie has experienced snow before, it didn't really have a chance compared to this year's vacation.
Haddie travels exceptionally well. She behaved as if she were in our own house in the Condo; she didn't lick the floor, she stayed off the furniture, she found her spot to lay down for naps, and she was so tired from her day playing in the snow, she even put herself to bed in her kennel one night while we watched a movie. That was a bonus-choice by Haddie!
Haddie is a snow-dog, however, I am not so sure that I succeeded as a trainer to get her to calm down while in the snow. I kept reminding myself that first time experiences are not always the most calm, and that having her explore and get used to the new idea is equally as important in the training process. And I also knew we were on limited training time to get any real significant change in behavior out of her.
She was leashed the entire snow-experience because we were in the middle of no boundaries. I would have loved to just let her free and watch her go at full speed through the snow, I know she would have.
We passed a few dogs also on leash, and she paid no attention to them (whew) and she obeyed when I commanded her to return to a Heal position after leaping through the deep snow ahead of me. I guess if the expectation of a puppy in training is to obey commands when commanded, then she would pass. But if a puppy in training is supposed to maintain their manners even when not commanded or reminded, then she didn't do so well. That snow was just. calling. her. name. every. second. of. our. hike. and. that. calling. got. her. every. time.
The deeper the snow, the better for Haddie. None of this walking on the trail, she wanted to go off-track and jump through the deep, fluffy, untouched, 30 inches of pure white bliss parts. I let her do that plenty, because selfishly I also wanted to wear her out. She had traveled in her kennel beautifully in the car to get there, she needed the reward.
My son pretended to be buried in the snow, and then I would walk up with Haddie and say, "Find (insert son's name)" and she went for it - she hurled up to him, tail twirling as if she were about to take flight, and nudged his snow hat and face repeatedly until he rolled over. It was FULL enthusiasm by Haddie, snow flying everywhere - no person would be lost on her watch, that was for sure. Adorable!! And I don't think I have heard my son belly-laugh so hard in a long time.
Other adventures for Haddie included spending time in the kennel in the condo while our family spent a few hours skiing and snowshoeing, a long morning walk before the town woke, car rides in the snow taking landscape pictures, and a dinner out at our favorite restaurant. Live Accordion Music played right next to our booth at dinner, and the restaurant only served authentic German food - so the smells were completely different to Haddie, not to mention it was packed!
We waited for thirty minutes in the skinny aisle entrance way, and Haddie maintained her Under under the hard wooden bench until our name was called. The surprise look of the guests that arrived after us when our Pup crawled out from under my girl's feet was priceless. Yay-Haddie - you were invisible prior!!! She settled under our table and slept the rest of the evening while we enjoyed a leisurely dinner, waking to head back to our condo in this photo. Such a fun companion.
Snow and more snow, pottying in the snow, walking in the snow, playing in the snow, Haddie now knows snow. Check that off our list 1.5 months prior to Turn-In!
This was a Snow Vacation that we will always remember experiencing with Haddie.