Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ikea Ups and Downs

I love summer. I love summer because it means that my kids join me in socializing Kolby. This also means that I can actually take photos while we go. Alright, perhaps not the best quality photos from my old-version of a smart phone, but it is better than nothing.
Other than the photo opportunities, I love watching my kids work with Kolby. It seems that my daughter enjoys this part of Puppy Raising the most. She usually gets the leash for outings when we are all together. She is a great trainer; never letting our pups get out of line, and always quick on praising all of their good. She is very focused. I am so proud of her.
Kolby was the Rock Star at Ikea. My girl had him work on Ups and Downs throughout the store. We got a lot of customer's Oohs and Aahs when he would do an Up on the kitchen counters, because it wasn't their kitchen and it would never be their counter (for display only). Many didn't know there was a dog waiting for the command on the other side of the counter. It was adorable to see nothing ... and then to see Kolby peaking up over the top. Too Cute!
Kolby did Downs in the bedrooms and throughout the kitchen department. That didn't attract as much attention, but he was still cute nonetheless.
Ikea is a great place to socialize a puppy because the warehouse is just huge, with a maze of winding walkways and loads of opportunities to create good training among many shoppers walking every direction all the time. I will be coming back while the kids are in school many times during the winter months. The parking lot is fully covered with a large covered breezeway to the store. We get a lot of ugly weather here, so that is an important factor.

I did, however, find myself always checking the route signs to the store. I kept looking for the word E.X.I.T. just in case we needed to head that way for a Hurry break. Kolby is still a little young and we are learning together how long he can hold it. I find this to be the biggest mystery in Puppy Raising. That link between - "He has the command down 100% and can hold it forever" vs. "We better give him a chance to Hurry before he breaks." So far so good, but it is always on my mind.
Ikea Ups and Downs ... not bad with this Cutie as our focal.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

An Honest Boy

Per placement of his birth order, Kolby was born into a light pink ribbon for his collar. It did not surprise me then to see him handling this Hannah Montana Chair. He is an honest boy - tough and secure in his boyhood.
I think this is our remaining chair for hanging out on our driveway this summer; the rest of our more appropriately sized and styled ones are in our RV. I grabbed this after our walk to observe the fascinating game of Frisbee and Kickball from our neighborhood school-aged gang.
I would like to say that we had a great training session about leaving bouncing balls and flying frisbees alone as they were hurled to us with an overshot kick or throw. But I must admit that Kolby did not even flinch, lunge, or budge toward any of the kids or equipments movements. It was too easy. No training for Kolby needed.
So then I thought I had to do something in the form of training, and I got off this tiny Hannah Montana chair I had been sitting upon and allowed Kolby to crawl on. He is notorious for getting On Top of things. For example:
Yes, the dryer door. The concept was for him to go Under, but he chose On. And of course, being a Puppy Raiser that has to snap every comical error of puppy, I had him hold that Sit until I grabbed my camera and came back for this shot. I am very thankful the door did not pop off.
Back to the chair - yes, this too was a no-brainer for Kolby. He put his two front paws on followed by his two back paws, figured out the chair was a wee-bit tiny to Sit, and immediately curled up into a Down. He stayed until I told him it was time to get Off.

I love Kolby. He truly is such an adventurous puppy.
He also helped me roll in our garbage cans. Right alongside me - as I was walking  backwards pulling one can, he was walking sideways trying to copy me walking backwards. I wish I had a video for that! He is just stinkin' adorable.

An Honest Boy is born into a light pink collar and can enjoy relaxing on a toddler Hannah Montana chair.

Monday, June 24, 2013

We Have Just Begun, Haddie.

I started today writing my Facebook status with:

Happy 2nd Birthday to Haddie and her H litter siblings from Waverly and Hickman. While she is enjoying sunshine, hard work, and plenty of puppy playtime in College today, I am wishing Haddie a birthday wish that she is placed exactly where she wants to be.  U Haddie Rosa!!!

Haddie with her mom, Waverly, Feb '13
Haddie 12 wks exploring our backyard
Haddie's Dad, Hickman

Then, my daughter took a silly photo with Kolby, because she had taken a similar photo with Haddie, and my next status entry was this:

Who is training who. Ohh, Daughter ....

Haddie - 15 months - Sept '12
Kolby - 5 months - June '13

Finally, after spending some hours on an adventure with Kolby, we returned home to find an email from Canine Companions and my final Facebook status was this:

We just walked in the door to receive Haddie's birthday gift ~ a formal email from Canine Companions announcing she has been chosen to enter Team Training August 5-16th. While there are more dogs in Team Training than placement candidates, the ending to this chapter has yet to be written, but for now - we are wrapping our hearts and minds around her forever happy life as an Assistance Dog. You make us proud, Haddie. 

In full circle, my status when I woke was my birthday wish for Haddie to be placed exactly where she is meant to be, and by the end of the day, I received a glimpse of that answer from Canine Companions.   Thank you, God, for answering prayers (aka: birthday wishes).

I want to remember this day, what it feels like to be on this Roller Coaster of Emotions. From the one side I am filled with pride and can see Haddie working as an Assistance Dog. I have prayed throughout Puppy Raising for this moment, and it is surreal that we are so close to being involved in Graduation. All of our social outings through Training always proved Haddie in an amazing status; she had pose and manners no matter the circumstance. I beamed with pride and happy every time we got back in the car to return home. My heart knew I had a Superstar.

I see Graduation, my family in the audience with our girl by our side, waiting our turn to be called on stage to hand over the leash. I will be staring at Haddie, I will be hugging her, and getting my last whispers into her ear as we sit in the large auditorium.

We will hear our names called from what will seem like a thousand miles away. We will walk onto the stage, and we will hug that forever person, shed some silent tears, and return to our seat. And like that, the next chapter of Haddie will begin. As the Ceremony continues, I will be beaming as I watch Haddie next to her forever person; settled, happy, content, exactly where she is meant to be.

I will walk out of the building with a little piece of my heart attached to that leash we gave to that forever person. Our family will talk over our celebration dinner, and we will say a prayer that Haddie's forever person will always stay in contact with us. And a new life will have started for Haddie, and for us.

The other side of my emotions this evening is one that is very real. It is one of sadness. Knowing that we are nearing our final goodbye, the final chapter of our Puppy Raising, the conclusion that we have been waiting to hear since the day we met Haddie on August 30, 2011.

You see, we had a backup plan for our girl. An amazing family in our town was going to be her forever family should Haddie choose to come home. They would offer a whole lot of happy to Haddie's life with endless possibilities of catching balls, swimming in the lake, vacations, and potential of therapy work at the hospital where the dad of this household works. The perk, of course, would be that we would still be part of Haddie's life by seeing her frequently.

So I am confused. I know we signed up for this volunteer role to make a difference. And the goal has come to pass and our girl has made it far enough to enter Team Training with a potential Graduation being very real. And this is exactly what I want to happen. But I am not one to hide the truth, so I must admit my selfish thoughts - that it is hard to say goodbye. It is hard to love and pour out our emotions - the hard, the easy, the happy, the sad - over this amazing bundle of happy four-legged awesome that we raised from little (where she knew nothing but biting our fingers and running through our house at top speed) to bringing out the good in her through much patience and focus, and now we say "She is yours, forever."

I never claimed Haddie as mine. I always claimed her as someone's. I know Haddie's Change of Career Family. I can play the scenario in my mind of how that would go. I have no vision of her forever Assistance Dog family. I can not play out the scenario in my mind. And that is where the fear, the sadness, the questions come. Simply put ... Will they keep in touch? Will they be interested in Haddie's puppy days? Do they know what occured to raise her from 10 weeks to 20 months? Will they love her unconditionally even if she is tired? Will they play ball with her? Will they just look at her and see her as true joy and love like we do?

Of course. Of course they will do all of these things because I have no doubt they will love her more than I do. Haddie is the connection to their Independence. Haddie is the one Making a Difference for Them. Haddie is their True Pride and Joy. Of course.

As the emotions swirl, I am confident that it is normal. It is normal to know that we can be sad and scared of the unknown, and it is normal to know that we can be happy and joyful of the unknown all within five seconds of one another.

Roller Coaster. I am living it.

While we do not know the outcome of Haddie, on this 2nd birthday of hers, we do know that she has some amazing training adventures ahead that I am confident she will pass to Graduation. She has made us so proud.

I closed my day with this private Facebook message from my sweet friend. It was God-spoken for it was clearly what I needed to hear to get off this Roller Coaster Ride, stand tall, and say with a smile on my face and a swelled heart of happiness, We Have Just Begun, Haddie.

You say it's over...but it's never over.
Her time with you may be, but her story hasn't begun yet. 
Think of puppy raising as a prologue. 
When you read a story, it's never wise to skip the prologue. 
You get a sense of the story, but not the whole story. 
You've written Haddies prologue...but you haven't gotten to the story yet! 
And what a beautiful story it will be. 

~ Cassandra R. - my very dear friend

Monday, June 17, 2013

Genealogy of Kolby

The K Litter siblings have a fun network on Facebook and four of the six puppies keep in daily contact with one another. We are missing two of the boys who landed in the Chicago area, but we are hopeful that sometime within the next eighteen months they will join our connection.

We are fortunate that one of the siblings, Kira, lives with a Puppy Raiser who is an amazing photographer. Every day there is a new picture of something that Kira is doing - whether that is a funny pose, or just her usual adorableness captured - it is nice to see great photos of a black puppy and dream that maybe we could rise to that level of skill on a daily basis.

There are three black puppies in the litter, and they all look identical. Even though Kolby is a boy and the other two are female, they look so much alike! I am curious if the two yellow boys in Chicago look just like their yellow sister. I soooo hope they join our group to find out ...

Not only do the puppy's look alike, but the stories we share are usually followed with, "Sounds just like (insert your puppy's name).", or "Oh, (insert your puppy's name) does the exact same thing!". It really is amazing how much these puppies are matching in looks and personality; especially the personality part since they are being raised "all over" and no one is within Field Trip nor Puppy Play Date distance of one another.

Kira's Puppy Raiser put this awesome Genealogy together and I just love it!! If any readers have a connection to our Special K's group - add a comment to this post. Just pretend the title says KOLBY but the pictures can stay the same; he looks just like Kira. Click on the photo to see an enlarged copy.

Friday, June 7, 2013

It has only just begun

I think possibly the outing that Kolby has done most frequent has been to our Fred Meyer store. It is only a mile away, it is brand spanking new (Haddie enjoyed the Grand Opening Day just last year), and I have received nothing but praise and support from every employee.

Yesterday, I went just because I needed to take Kolby some place. On days where I don't have a real agenda, other than exposure to life, it is fun to see what we come up with. It happened in the Children's Clothing Department.

I noticed that the circle racks were spaced evenly apart, side by side, and in two columns. I started walking each one in a figure 8 all the way down the eight racks, and all the way back. I was focused on teaching Kolby how to turn into me and away from me, depending on if we were turning Left or Right. He did awesome!!
The added bonus for the Children's Clothing Department, versus the adults, is that you get cracker crumbs and spilled juice on the floor as an obstacle to Leave. Kolby didn't even acknowledge the mess the multiple times we passed.

Kolby works the best on a Heal. I am working now on training on the Side position. We worked the figure 8 pattern on a Side too, and it was more challenging for Kolby. He was lagging on his leash, trying to get behind me to his favorite Heal position. Eventually he became more confident and stayed on the Side. We walked the rest of our outing on a Side.

Today, we returned because we are hosting a party on Sunday and I needed to order our photo-cake. Kolby sat patiently in a Heel while I talked to the Baker. That didn't take too long. We then traveled the rest of the store we didn't see yesterday.
a walking dog balloon - creative!
Because it was so early in the morning, there were limited shoppers, but a whole bunch of employees!! I think we passed just about every single one! They were very talkative and wanted to see Kolby. He was very proud of the attention, of course.

The loud speaker announced they were going to have a Team Meeting in ten minutes by the coffee shop. Oh, well how convenient - that is where I must Exit to my car. Of course I milled around until the ten minutes were up and exited as their big crowd was gathering, giving Kolby one more showcase and that we enjoy their interest and support of our training for Canine Companions. I learned that one of the employees had been a Guide Dog Puppy Raiser!! Awesome.

The employees will literally be watching Kolby grow and mature and continue his Rock Star Status for the next fourteen months. It has only just begun ...

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Relaxing around the fire

As I have been scrolling through our camping photos, I noticed that my son didn't debut in our pictures as much as my daughter did. Then it occurred to me that when we go camping, my son never holds still. He is far from being a hyper-active child, rather he is just busy ~ always wanting to do something ~ even if that is classified by others as work. To be active is my son's way of relaxing; letting his brain go from school, and his hands free from texting friends, no routine from home.
I felt I needed to make that clear as to the "why" of my son's disappearance in this series of posts. It is a fact that my son did come with us, and I don't want to forget that in years to come when we are rereading this blog!
When we are at camp there always is a fire going in the pit. To us it would not be camping without the flames and smells of a good outdoor (safe) fire. A mid-day relax after a hike found my girl with dog in lap.
I think the rest is pretty self-explanatory. Mister Kolby is a lap dog. He is perfectly fine snuggling up on a lap, standing on his back legs, for what seems like forever. He is also okay in circling-up his entire body on your lap, when you let him. Lucky dog got both with the girl in the red chair.
The fire was new to Kolby and he paid no attention to it. We did, however, save showing him a night time fire for another camping adventure. Mainly because he was in bed for the night before the complete four of us were ready to sit by fire for late night laughs and chatter. We are a camping family, no worries for Kolby, there will be plenty more experiences in his future.
I love watching the friendship develop between my girl and our Puppy in Training. It started off rocky. My girl has zero tolerance, nor patience, nor confidence in a snappy, biting, out of control tiny puppy. Puppies may be adorable and tiny, but they can be rather squirmy and unpredictable when they come to us at only 8 weeks. She skipped the first month phase of Haddie, and she did the same with Kolby, and now the two are inseparable.
When I command Kolby, "Find (insert my daughter's name)" he will tilt his head to the left ... I will repeat the phrase ... he will tilt his head to the right ... his eyes deep in concentration ... and then it will click and he will stand up and start searching for her. Tail wags a million wiggles a second when the two meet with an excited praise from my girl and lots of prancing from Kolby. I taught this same trick with Haddie, and we are so happy that Kolby caught on so quickly. It is one of my girl's favorite commands for both her puppies.

Love. It.

Relaxing around the fire during camping is one of the bests.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


My daughter is taking her father's lead and dabbling in photography. While we were camping this weekend, my husband made a trade; riding my girl's mauve-colored mountain bike so our girl could use his pro-camera. The boys left the girls in the dust with Kolby as they made their adventure around the lake, and we took our sweet time playing with puppy. 
It is still rather difficult to capture all of his sweetness with him sporting the darker color, but I think my girl did a fabulous job of working with it.
I love his ears. They are long enough for him to put into his mouth and take them for a walk. I know this because he does this. 
I also love his expressions. He is absolutely the cutest when he tilts his head to one side, then the other as you talk to him. You can literally see his mind working as he concentrates deep into your soul to figure out the command of what you want him to do - or just figure out the words of the sweet-talk. 
Kolby is by far the most mellow five month old I have ever met. He has yet to disappoint me in public. But rest assured there are times at home when he is pure-puppy. That is when I remember his age and that he is perfectly normal - a touch of naughty in order to not take his awesomeness too seriously. 
Peaceful. That is Kolby. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Sitting on the dock

Kolby has been on a wooden Marina dock when we was just three months old, but that dock was pretty solid and did not sway much. The opposite was true for this small lake dock. It rocked left and right and was a form of plastic that Kolby found did not allow for solid footing. It was a great experience.

We stopped for a photo shoot; allowing him time to relax in a Sit and Down. Kolby did great! At one time he peered over the edge, but thankfully he did not lunge for the water like I thought he might. I look forward to our August vacation back to this lake, when the weather is hot and warrants a commanded Splash!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Kolby Weekend Adventure

Best Weekend Ever with Mister ~ escaping just an hour away on the other side of the mountains to a hidden campground with lake and mountain range views from every campsite. Ideally, the main thoroughfare through our state would be a further distance from the camping facilities, but the roar of the freeway added a little white noise - we said it was the ocean. Add a little music to our outdoor speakers and the white noise turned into nothing. We had such a fantastic weekend, that we came home to book another stay in August.
Kolby experienced so much in just 48-hours. His puppy report this month has started off with a long list of firsts; the first being a ride in our RV. I debated on whether to let him ride "freestyle" with a tie-out under our table with him in his car seat vest, versus riding in his crate that fit perfectly between our queen size bed and the wall in the back of the RV. Although he would be secluded in the back in the crate, I opted for this choice because it seemed more secure and less overwhelming to Kolby.
Naptime after our hike
It turned out to be a good choice. My daughter had a peek-a-boo view of him while we traveled down the road, and she said that he just slept the entire way. First of the firsts was a success, we were off to a great start!
Once parked, we continued rotating him from his crate, to the tie-out under the table when we all needed our hands-free, or when Kolby needed to take a nap. Sometimes the crate was outside, sometimes it was in the back by my bed. He enjoyed the tie-out under the table when we were inside with him because he could watch every move we made. He is such an observer! And no, he did not have to go to the end of his tie-out, but he chooses to that. It seems so uncomfortable, but apparently it isn't to Kolby. He slept in his crate at night next to my side of the bed, and that was kind of nice to have him so close (he has always slept in his own room at home). Unlike Haddie, who was the Queen of Snoring like a Grandpa, Kolby is a silent sleeper. It made for a peaceful night's rest for all of us.
Kolby's eyes were wide to the world, and I admit that he was slow to get comfortable with his surroundings. He was extremely obedient on everything, but he was very cautious about following through on his Hurry command. This is the perk of taking him out on-leash at our house to Hurry every. single. time. I know his routine. And he was skipping every mark that he would have hit at home. Sigh.
"Do I have to?"
Instead of Hurry, he would stare into the distance, sniffing the air, looking very wise that he is so famous for showing-off. Or, he would sit and give me his best puppy-dog-eyes. When I finally got him to focus back on me, he knew what I wanted him to do. And then - his tail showed every sign that he was not comfortable. Poor guy. I tried hard not to give him the attention of sweet talking him, that just makes a dog more nervous. I had to hold firm, and it was killing me inside - I really wanted to scoop him up and give him a big ol'hug and whisper into his ear, that everything was fine and that he had to really obey me.

Eventually - he did obey!! Celebration Dance right there by the campsite dumpster! I have no shame.

It remained a struggle for the rest of the weekend, but slowly he was getting better obeying that one command. It has always been a struggle for him when we are in public, but he must get passed it if he is going to Graduate. He can't be shy and think he can hold it until we get home, because there will be times when we aren't going home for days. And wouldn't you know - he was back on target as soon as we entered the house this afternoon. Like clockwork.
Kolby obeying a Visit
Kolby's Weekend Adventure - stayed tuned for more "Adventurous" topics other than Hurry - I promise they will be shared. Even though he never had an accident (whew - that would have been worse), the "holding it forever, I don't have ears, I can't hear you" attitude of Mister was a definite struggle in our weekend. But if that is my worst, I think Team Kolby is well on their way to a successful outcome.