Monday, February 17, 2014

6 months

Recently I counted on my fingers that we have 6 months remaining with our Mister and now we are down to 5 months (one hand) and some weeks because another seven days have passed since the last count. The feeling of "there are so many more things I want to accomplish before he leaves" is settling in at an alarming rate and expedited nature. For those that do not Puppy Raise, you may be thinking ... "Uhhh, drama ... five months is a long time!" Let me reassure you, no. it. is. not.
My goodness, it felt like Kolby just arrived and we are already nearing his one year anniversary in our house. As with children, the more you have the more life travels at a quicker pace, and puppy raising #2 went much faster than puppy raising #1. I know what to expect and how this all works now, I think that is why the wheels are set at mach speed. Not fair. 

But I will tell you what is fair ~ days like today when we are cuddled together with Kolby on the floor and he is completely content. He too knows the routine and expectations and we are kinda sailing on the same page now. Or, also like today, when my son decided that the rain storm outside meant play time inside and enjoyed an exhausting game of Hide and Seek with Kolby. The laughter was addictive for the humans in the house witnessing the fiasco, and the sideways, hanging out tongue was proof that Kolby was enjoying it too.

Side note: I always thought Kolby's nose was very good at locating things, things I hadn't even noticed are scouted out by Kolby. I have figured in the back of my mind that if he is not suited for Canine Companions, then maybe a transfer to the Police Academy for Bomb Sniffing would be up his alley. That dream building has come to a complete stop per today's Hide and Seek episodes. The silly dog could not find my son any of the time. Oh please, Oh please, Oh please just stick with Canine Companions, Mister!!

So while bomb sniffing may never be in his future, one thing is for sure - Kolby is the most patient and loveablist dog I have ever raised. He is genuinely a people person, as I have said many times, and his people skills are what will win over the hearts of his trainers. No matter his chosen Career ... with or without Canine Companions ... he will make his people proud. He will brighten someones day by just being with them. 

Right now he is curled up - by choice - at my feet as I type. Completely relaxed and content. What a good friend. 

So 6 months and counting will be filled with continued socialization, solid command work, and plenty of lovable time with our Mister. 

Friday, February 14, 2014


Dear Monica,

Who would have put money on us? Ya' know ... meeting you for the first time in person after the Matriculation Ceremony with Haddie was not my finest moment. With tears cutting into my eyes, and a lump suffocating my throat, you walked up to me with your enthusiastic smile and a very, very fluffy puppy in your arms. What I couldn't choke out was said in body language as I passed you headed back to Campus to say Goodbye to our first Puppy in Program.

But you didn't give up on me, thank goodness. You recognized the moment for what it was and instead sent me a "friends request" over Facebook. The rest is literally written among the 13,479 private messages we've encountered with one another, and that doesn't even include the random, useless, but so important, daily photos on text messaging.

Ohh, what a year makes! We have been through Haddie's Turn In (albeit separately - ha!), through Halo's Turn In, Haddie's stall to a 9-month wait in Advanced Training which put us faced with the real possibility of Halo and Haddie graduating together, only to hear that Halo opted for the Advanced Degree too and a dual graduation was not going to happen. You were the bonus gift at Haddie's Graduation - the light that made the day even more perfect with your enthusiasm, smiles, photography skills, and contagious laughter. You made the day a true celebration.

And now that day is here for you. Graduation. A year and one day short of the day we met. A year of hopes and dreams and talks and texts and photos that circled our friendship to the pure heart of what this day is really all about.  I pray that you enjoy every moment and that every minute actually feels like 90 rather than 60.
Graduation Day from Canine Companions now has two meanings for you. You are one of the lucky few who get to have that; sharing the joy in watching one of your amazing family members receive her Service Dog just a few short years ago. And now today, you celebrate the puppy you have raised, loved, cared for, trained, cried over, stressed about, worried about, and proudly cheered, Graduate and travel to her new home to share with her Forever Person.

There are times in leading up to today that I have relived the moments when Haddie Graduated. The moment of packing up the car to travel three states to land in a hotel just a few exits away from campus; that excitement of the long road trip could not be surpassed even by a trip to Disneyland. Reading your messages to me this week as you packed your belongings brought back the memory of pure bliss. I am so thankful you are experiencing the same.

Watching the video you made for Halo's Person of the countless photographs of her life - adequately synced to the music Halo by Beyonce - brought goosebumps and tears for I know the hard work and dedication you brought to Halo's life to ensure the greatest chance of success. You dressed her up, took her to Disneyland, cuddled her in the sweetest embrace, and taught her her first 30-commands with such ease and confidence, and so much more throughout all 547 days you were together those 18 months. Your hard work, dedication, and joy come to completion today.

Now it is about the love of bringing a little girl into your life, surrounding her in happiness through Halo, and keeping in touch to let her know that you care about her. Her independence will shine through your selfless act of giving, of embracing Halo with a life of Service just for her. While you don't know just yet the why's to her journey to Halo, you know that she is so loved and very deserving of your heart which you left on Santa Rosa Campus in May 2013 when you said your Goodbye to Halo. For the puppy time you had with Halo was nearing a close,  but Halo's and her person's story were just beginning. And I know you would do it all over again for this exact moment.

You woke before your alarm this morning. You have been literally walking on air since the phone call last week that Halo had found her person. A little girl. You have chased the dreams in your mind wondering what her story will be and through it all you have fallen in love. What used to be "I can't wait to see Halo again" has quickly changed to "I can't wait to meet Caroline". The transformation to the big picture has been beautiful to witness, for you have been taken over by the simple act of Giving. Your heart has been changed forever. The true essence of "How can you give up this puppy you have raised?" has been answered.

You can.

You did.

For her.

I love you.
~ Your 206 Mom

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Now I know the fuss

... over the store Hobby Lobby.
Kolby and I ventured today to this relatively new store in our neck of the woods. I didn't really know what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised at the expansive selection of e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. I was especially taken aback by the cute children's room decors. Made me almost think about having another child!! (kidding)
Kolby was my model as we traveled around the store. My Mister always looks like he is having the worst time possible, but I promise you that he is so very willing to pose for the camera. It may take him a few tries to look at me, but setting up the shot is easy-breezy.
I think the best part about Kolby is that he is really reliable. While we have done many store outings in different cities (I hear that sights/smells vary to a dog among zip codes), it is always fun to try a new store for change in scenery, if nothing else, because Kolby is the same dog no matter the store. Let's Go. Sit. Down. and all the other commands on the list ~ he doesn't get distracted by screaming babies or running toddlers, store intercom systems of people talking or loud stereo music, or litter, food, and sweet smelling perfume of passerby's.
In fact, while I was setting up this scene below, there were three very loud and active children just across the aisle-way. They were so busy with each other, they did not see Kolby for a very long time. I paused in my picture taking to observe Kolby. He didn't move, he just stared at the kids and looked at me to check in that he was being a good boy before returning his eyes back to the rowdy kiddos. Good Boy, Mister!! His look of, "Now why do they get to run in the store, Mom, and I can't?!" makes me laugh.
I Love U Too, Kolby!! Thank you for always being such a GREAT Puppy in Program. Smooches!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

75.2# at 13 months

Our sweet Mister continues to grow and I am so curious if and when he will stop. Certainly, one day, he will stop. Right?!

Haddie was in and out of the Vet probably just about as many times as Kolby has been. She was for different reasons that spanned the course of our 18 months together. Kolby's visits have all been at the beginning of his life with us, ending with a fixed-operation. Let's keep it that way, I love being vet-free.

But considering the extensive surgery he had to get the job accomplished (which was out of the normal procedure of a puppy to be fixed), you would think that he would dislike the vet, or at least have no reaction to the building.

Nope, not Kolby. I have never seen his tail wag so fast and with so much power and emphasis than he does when he visits the vet. I will need to bring one of my Teens along to video tape the next time he visits; it really is fascinating and so darn cute!! Not sure what that means about his personality ... ha!

Today's weight check clocked Mister in at 75.2 pounds and he continues to be all legs. I just love his solidness and his height. It suits him well to uphold his weight of love and wisdom.
After the weigh-in we ran errands at a few stores before the rain settled in for the evening. I love having my buddy accompany me. Whether we are working commands only, or practicing just being with me as a Service Dog would, he is nice to be around.

One of my favorite parts is getting "hugs" by Kolby when we are standing still. He will lean his head gently into my leg, I will fluff his ear for a few seconds, and then he will detach. Nothing obnoxious or intrusive, just a friendly - Hi Mom - type of gesture.

Gone are the days of hoping Kolby could just last long enough to go in for five minutes before heading out the door, gone are the days of distractions, gone are the days of carrying him in, around, and out of buildings, gone are the days of treat rewards like Pez dispensers to keep his behavior on que.

Here are the days of hours worth of outings, here are the days of solid behavior with treat rewards when we exit the store, here are the days of focus, here are the days of a confident teen puppy walking by my side matching eye contact throughout our journey.

Kolby. 75.2 pounds at 13 months.