Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Godspeed, Haddie!

The difference between August and November has been maturity. No longer was I thinking about the vacation to Santa Rosa, the train travel, the luggage to pack, the sunshine outings, the beach, hugging Haddie in the sunshine, and meeting her forever person.

Many shared while consoling me in August when Haddie did not pre-match, that her Forever Person just wasn't ready yet. That something needed to transpire before they could show up on campus. I believed it.

However, as time passed I found that I was the one needing to grow. I was the one that needed something to happen before I was ready to send Haddie off to her Forever Person.

While I find myself occasionally thinking about the road trip to California, it is not all consuming. I find it to be a healthy balance. And in that I have found peace and the understanding that the giving of Haddie is really not about me. It is not about my puppy and all the memories that were made together. It is not about my feelings for that perfect home.

As a Puppy Raiser, I am not doing this for my benefit, I am doing this for another person's Independence. And sometimes that was lost when I was in the mix of puppy raising and having fun watching Haddie grow, and during all the times when the focus was on us; weekly classes, outings, and even during Turn-In and months after with Puppy Reports arriving to tell us about our puppy.

I would like to say that I could point my finger at one occurrence that changed my view and emotions. But I can not. It was truly that something that everyone had shared that needed to happen. Only that something was within me, perhaps not with her Forever Person.

Beyond all understanding, it is really about them. It is about the Team created by the loving outreach of Canine Companions. While I raised the puppy, the story begins now, and what a story it will be and how proud I will always be of Haddie.

It is with great joy that I announce that HADDIE, our first puppy in program, has made a Pre-Match this week. At 10:21 am, as I was carrying my phone from room to room, it happened to ring (loudly) just as I entered my family room. Seeing area code-707, I sat down on my big comfy chair in the room where Haddie first learned to play, sit, roll, and every command she checked off the Puppy Report while under our care. The Puppy Program Manager shared that Haddie had found a Pre-Match and that Canine Companions would be evaluating the team during the week, and that he would call me no later than next Wednesday morning with a final answer.

The Pre-Match Candidate is a woman who needs a Service Dog.

Enter Haddie.

(the one leading the pack and about ready to knock over the photographer in the above photo; she is ready to Go! Godspeed, Haddie).

Friday, October 25, 2013

Finally Friends - at least for a moment.

It is no secret that Cora, our sweet 8.5 year old Beagle, is not very fond of our quest to puppy raise for Canine Companions. And the obvious part is not due to any aggression from sweet lady to the puppies, it is very opposite of that. She is more the passive-aggressive type.
Cora knows the buttons to push to wind-up the puppies to frenzy status - all by just walking very slowly across their path. And then they, being the curious puppies that they are, might disengage from perfect to more challenging. She will hear the commands barking from the two-legged to the puppy, and instead of just continuing to move along at a snails pace. She. will. sit. and. stare. at. puppy. going. wild. and. human. trying. to train. said. chaotic. puppy. And I know she is smirking inside. You can almost see the turned up sides of her mouth.
Really, Cora? Yes, I know - you find it highly amusing and entertaining.
There we have Cora's style for the better part of half of the training period when the cute little squirts are under our care. The slow-motion Beagle who won't go so far as letting the puppy actually touch her, but will highly accept the love of getting a rise from the puppy.
And then somewhere along the travels of Puppy Raising, she will surprise us and show interest in the puppy. One day we will look over to find this - the Beagle snuggled in the bed of the Canine Companions Puppy. Her look continues with the passive aggressive style of, "Whatever, so I laid down beside him. Ya' know I could move at any moment. Slowly, of course."
I love Cora. I love how she is in complete control of the situation and she is so tiny against Kolby's long legs that she easily clears under belly, and him being three times her weight. No worries. Just her terms.
I am glad this series of photos worked, because I am not so sure it will ever happen again before Kolby's return to California in August.

Finally Friends - at least for a moment.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Where is Kolby

Unfortunately, there has been some sadness in our Chapter when our beloved Puppy in Program, Lago, received quick news, after a quick turn of medical happenings, that ultimately shortened his life. Today our chapter is remembering Lago with a proper and full military memorial service at our Chapter's Joint Base.
You see this beautiful puppy named Lago was the first, along with his brother Laredo, to be raised at the Joint Base Military Correctional Facility. Under the watchful and highly capable guidance of our Trainer, this group of men and women Soldiers have cared for, loved much, and shared deeply with Puppies in Program, Lago and Laredo, to create a fantastic training environment. The program is soaring with success within the correctional facility, and ultimately with the Canine Companion Puppies they are in charge of training and returning to Santa Rosa.

While under the direction of the military, both Lago and Laredo received rankings higher than their two-legged counterparts and handlers. They are Private First Class military men and are treated as working soldiers. So today Lago was laid to rest in a full military ceremony fit for any soldier who braved the path of life. Today Lago rests in the hearts of many he changed, touched, and made smile with his adorable puppy face, and wisdom beyond his years.

It was decided within hours of Lago's passing that Kolby would step in to fill the paws of Lago for a short time. To sooth the emotions of those who had worked with Lago daily, to provide new challenges to keep their strength going, and to provide Laredo with a companion after the loss of his brother.

I thought I was ready to say a two-and-a-half week goodbye to my Baby Mister, but as I loaded him into our Trainer's car last night after class, for him to go to the Base today, I was really sad. I might have gotten a few eye rolls from my Teens, but what else is new, right?! The thought of a mini-vacation from Puppy Raising sounds good on email, but in reality it is just hard!

She had me lift him up into the wire crate that was situated in the back of her tall Jeep. She helped lock the crate door, made an appropriate joke to keep the mood light, and shut the vehicle door. But in the instant that that all had transpired, I should have not looked at my puppy-dog's face; his sweet Golden Retriever eyes hung in a look of disbelief. You know the look, the one that says, "Why aren't you coming with me?" 

I know Kolby will be in fantastic, high capable hands. Kolby will thrive. He will get one on one attention 24/7 from men and women that have been accepted into this program because they show leadership, and remorse for their wrongdoings, they are ready to prove they are capable of re-entry into society, they are strong willed, highly motivated. They are perfect for Kolby's current teenage stage.

I will think of Kolby daily - and write more frequently to get caught up on all the things I have neglected to write about Mister. There is much to say. I will stay busy. And I know Kolby will stay busy too.

Today marks a sad day on Base, but I pray that a little love from my playful, mischievous, extremely smart, highly capable, and ultra-loving puppy will heal their heart, but never replace Lago. And if Lago looks similar to Kolby, it is because they share the same dad. Half-brothers teaming to do good in this world.

Friday, October 18, 2013

City Life and Playtime

Note to self - although an all-black attire works great at hiding all-black puppy hair, it is horrible for photographs with said puppy. Live. and. Learn. 

Kolby doesn't venture to the big city very often because I am not a city girl. I realized, however, that city life it not always full of large crowds and sketchiness; the things I am not fond of. There is a moment in the city day when life doesn't feel much different than Suburbia. And that moment is first thing in the morning on a Wednesday.
I met a new sweet friend in the lobby of the California hotel on the day of Haddie's Turn In. It was hard to miss her and her daughter because they had a blond puppy in a yellow and blue vest walking beside them. They were coming towards us as we were walking towards them. They were on their way to the Santa Rosa Campus to turn in their dog, Leslie.
Fast forward to October of the same year, and Leslie is now a Breeder and Haddie is pending a November Graduation. Both of us feel pretty awesome and have maintained contact throughout the months - waiting patiently together for that first training report, all the way to the ups and downs of being a super girl in the Breeding Program and waiting, waiting, waiting for a match.

My friend flew out to see me and others this week; and also for the purpose of attending our Chapter's Auction on Saturday. Kolby and I picked up my friend at the airport after I dropped off my kids at school, and away we went to the big city. We walked the Waterfront and had yummy seafood for an early lunch.

I could tell that Kolby was off his working-mode shortly after we arrived. While he had been to this exact location just a few months prior, the sun was out, it was hot, and he was just ready to hide in the shade and chill out that day. He didn't care much about anything.
This time it was cold and foggy. Although not crowded whatsoever, he just seemed more on edge. It made me realize that we have to go back and return often to get him desensitized to the cold, and eventual rain and wind, and the smells of sea life and the big city. It really is the prime location.
Later that evening, my friend and I went to CCI Class where my friend worked her other friend's Facility Dog, and she got to meet my wonderful, close, adorably sweet, and good-humored Chapter Buddy that is the Puppy Raiser of Helaine. After Kindergarten class was over, and my traveling fun friend left with her other friend, Kolby and I stayed to attend Puppy Class with Helaine. Oh my goodness - the best class ever.
We rarely, like this is the second time in two years, let our dogs off leash to play and interact with the other dogs in class. Kolby was not so sure of this new twist, and he stayed pretty close to me at first. I took that as a great sign that he is Handler Focused.

And then, then he left me to go rip-it-up with the other four-leggeds. He was really good, however, about coming to me when I called him, so we are definitely in a shine moment. I was so glad! Soon, it became all about Helaine and Kolby. Those two have had a love-affair since the day they met back in March. They are so good together, despite the obvious size difference of 20 pounds. Helaine can hold her own against the towering all-legs-male-teenager, and eventually (at the end of class) Kolby laid down in exhaustion, rolled over, and totally submitted to Helaine. She won. Game over (Yay, Girl Power).
Ohh, Mister Kolby - what a fun personality you have. I am very happy to be his Puppy Raiser. Good things are planned for him in the weeks ahead. I am so excited about his upcoming adventure and hopeful that he will continue to shine.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Haddie is ready.

We received our second invitation to Team Training on Monday.

We are hopeful and ready for her Forever Person to walk on campus on October 26th, fall in love with our girl, choose her, and start working with her forever. We are hopeful that we will get the call on the 28th announcing a Pre-Match, and that by the following Wednesday we will have the official invitation to attend Graduation on November 8th.
Photo Credit: CarisaK Photography
There are so many different feelings surrounding the second invitation to Team Training. At least for me. The first time around I was almost in a panic-type mode with the thinking that this is it, my baby puppy is forever gone. Shamefully, yet admittingly, it was all about me and my feelings.
Photo Credit: CarisaK Photography
This time around, I am ready. I am ready to see Haddie more so than in August, because I have matured in knowing that this is about Haddie and her Forever, not about me and saying my Goodbye. It is about the change that Haddie will make for someone, not about the change she has made in me. It is about being strong, confident, and free to say "Go! You have a job to do, and you will do it well!", rather than second guessing with "Are you sure you just don't want to come home?" 
Photo Credit: CarisaK Photography
During the last few weeks there was a post on Facebook about Canine Companions DogFest, I am assuming relatively close to the Santa Rosa Campus. My amazing friend and fellow Puppy Raiser sent me a photo alerting me to what was just posted. The dog working with the Regional Program Manager, in the wheelchair for training purposes, looked very much like Haddie. After some mad sleuthing skills I knew that it was Haddie.
Photo Credit: CarisaK Photography
Seeing her in Blue makes it so real. She is meant to be a working dog. For those that have never met her, and are just taking my word about all the good on this blog about Miss Haddie, you have to admit ... she looks confident, secure, and highly capable ~ does she not?!

One month.


I love you.

October, already

I thought my days with children were going at a rapid pace, but my life with puppies seems to be going even faster. Today marks Kolby's 9 month birthday. Nine months ~ I have made it to the terrible teen weeks, or something like that.
And while Kolby is going through a not-so-stable-naughty-streak, he continues to be very sweet and lovable. I wouldn't trade him in for any other puppy. His eyes melt me, his head tilting gets my heart, and his absolute goofy side of full-on-playfulness cheers up everyone in our house. That says a lot, because when a naughty puppy can make you turn your head to let out a giggle, that is saying he is one cool puppy. 
We have been on adventures, but I wouldn't say that they have been anything to talk much about. The traditional errand buddy, he is my companion through many grocery, warehouse, and department stores. He is my favorite puppy to go on walks with because he simply walks himself. There is no tugging, there is no forging, there is nothing but a steady stream of cuteness by my side. Love! his! walks!
So, all-things-Kolby is going on a steady path and there is hope on the horizon for his difficult, strong-willed-side that he can pull on us at home. More to come at a later date about that. But overall, I say he is close to being at that perfect stage of reinforcement until the end of his stay with us.

Oh, and he weighed in at 62.8 pounds today. Happy 9 Months, Kolby!!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

He can do it

The last week and a few days have been less than spectacular in our household which means that Kolby has had to do a lot of waiting around with barely a spec of an adventure. We had a medical emergency with a very close family member that took us out of the house for very odd shifts, and I am so happy that my parents were able to fill in the gaps with all-thing-children-and-puppy-related.

During that time, Kolby proved that he can do it!! He can hold his own when we are gone. He can allow someone else to come let him out for breaks. He can maintain his puppy-status as if we never were gone. He can jump right back into routine when we are ready. He can remember all of his commands. He can do it!

One of the perks of feeling so sorry for this adorable puppy was the purchase of the largest bag of carrots at Costco, with the thought of some yummy goodness in our recipes, but also for Kolby. I have heard that it is a tradition, thing to do, common for Canine Companions puppies to receive a carrot before bed. I was willing to give it a try.

I had thought that Kolby would devour the carrot. Literally in a moments notice the entire carrot would be gone.
What I got instead was a highly confused puppy that held the carrot for some time like a stick. Once he figured out that maybe it tasted super-duper good, he nibbled like a little rabbit on the carrot, thus making a huge mess on his towel. It was highly entertaining, and I would do it again - but not every night. This Mister is messy and nightly laundry is not my style.
Carrots will be for those long weeks where things just didn't go our way, or for the highly awesome rewards after a day well done. Kolby and Carrots go together - he can do it!!