Thursday, April 17, 2014

Tiptoe Through The Tulips

Even though our awesome friend is all about puppy raising, I made some time when we had human-only time during our visit. Kolby has been to our favorite vacation destination which is only two hours from our driveway on many occasions over the last twelve months, so I opted to leave him with a Puppy Sitter while we ventured for the day to this wonderland with our out-of-town friend. 
In return, Kolby got to experience life with other dogs his size at our close friend's house. They have raised five Canine Companions with a great success rate, so I knew he was in great hands for his two night stay. I received a glowing report upon pickup. Yay, Kolby!!
The other hot spot in our area, and also two hours away but in the opposite direction, are countrysides covered in Tulip and Daffodil fields during the month of April. There is an annual festival that takes in the tourist who want that perfect photo op with the flowers. 
We took Kolby last year when he was just three months. The photos are in this blog under April 2013 for readers who want to go down memory lane. This year my sweet daughter, our dear friend, and Kolby spent the day driving, laughing, talking, and enjoying the fields. The highlight was meeting up with another amazing Canine Companions Puppy Raiser and best friend - the one who raises Kolby's girlfriend; Helaine. 
We first met for lunch, because I can't seem to be too far from food at any given time, and the dogs were so adorable under our table. Without question it took time for them to settle in and stop kissing and nuzzling each other, but they never broke their Down Stay in the process. After a few moments of greeting one another, they eventually just flopped their cute faces on top of each other and on our feet and snoozed while the two-legged girls chatted away. 
The fields seemed to be endless. The brilliance of color was amazing. And the kicker was that the pups were just adorable. I am so thankful for these photos. 
We encountered a very enduring and once in a lifetime moment while in the fields. A mother of a young boy who was being pushed in a wheelchair-stroller type of transportation came over to peak at the vests of Kolby and Helaine. "Yeah, that's what I thought, Canine Companions!! My son has been invited to attend Team Training at the beginning of May in Santa Rosa." Melt. 
What are the odds that we were standing in the middle of the country side, tiptoeing through the tulips, and we got to witness the following: in the mom's excitement she forgot that she had not yet shared with her son that he will be getting his very own Skilled Companion Dog in May. Because of his age, sharing this life changing adventure with her son too far in advance just wouldn't make sense. Three weeks is even too much time to wait in the big picture for this little one. So she had kept it a secret, waiting until it got much closer. 
Well, that didn't work so well on this day, because the mom was so excited and was sharing with us in front of her son who caught on rather quickly. It was adorable, he was so thrilled - and then he wanted to choose between Kolby and Helaine to take home!! So cute. 
What a very cool memory for all of us to carry forever - that we saw the delight and the change in this boy light up when he heard the news, and when he was loving our puppies in program. No doubt these dogs are made for a higher purpose than being pets. No doubt that Canine Companions has a true gift to give to others. No doubt that I am convinced that these dogs do make an incredible life changing difference to others. No doubt, I am blessed to be a volunteer with Canine Companions. 
Tiptoe Through The Tulips was a mighty perfect day!


We enjoyed a warm Spring Break last week by just staying home and enjoying the sites of our area. Our sweet and close friend from Canine Companions' and fellow Puppy Raiser (Graduate Skilled Companion Halo and current Puppy in Program Spunky) from California came for a visit. It was nice that she got to meet Kolby in person, and we all enjoyed our first day together visiting the big city.
Kolby has adventured to the city more extensively than Haddie ever did, so I really feel like he can check that social outing off his list. You kinda know when he feels like "been here, done that" when he acts like he's been there and done that. It is nice to reach that point with a Puppy in Program.
However, the newest addition to Kolby's city adventure was the gum wall, which is a thoroughly disgusting, yet unique, tradition of our city. Kolby looked just as disgusted as we were by the sweet, musty smell of the alley where it is located. Notice how he is not too impressed, nor interested in sitting down on the parts of gum that never made it to the wall. Fine choice, Mister!! Keep standing and we'll make this quick.
I love how Kolby is just so easy-going. I am not predicting one way or the other in terms of a College Degree or College Drop-Out, but it is just nice to have had such an enjoyable and memorable time with him.
I will be sad to let him go, but really - I think that he will thrive under the direction of professional trainers. And should he decide he doesn't want to finish College, then I will really know that he just doesn't want to work for a living. I feel he is highly capable, but that doesn't mean he will want to do that. And Canine Companions knows how to read dogs to see which ones are asking for their exit papers, and which ones want their degree. And that will all be just fine.
Taking a dog in the city for an all day adventure is not an easy task, but it becomes much easier when the dog you are escorting is very wise and confident. I am so proud of Mister Kolby.
Thanks for such a great day, Kolby!! You made it easy to host our sweet friend.  And I have heard, she totally digs you (wink wink). 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Tub Time

My lack of constant blogging does not accurately reflect my lack of activities. Kolby and I have certainly been busy in 2014 thus far. The most recent adventure was Tub Time with his best friend and fellow Canine Companions puppy, Helaine.
We have an amazing ranch and feed store not far from our house. I know nothing about ranching or other animals outside of dogs, and even that is kinda limited to Labradors and Golden Retrievers, and even that still is shrunk to just service dogs in the making. But if I had a chance, I think it would be fun to work at this location; either in customer service, or a little more physically intensified as a barn yard worker dog trainer.

Kolby's buddy Helaine drove the two house to visit us.  The pups played in the backyard and it was so nice to see Kolby's maturity. The last time they played together was during "free play" back in the Fall during class time.
I know I have mentioned before that Kolby likes his paws; and he uses them frequently, almost like a Boxer Dog status. However, this weekend's play date proved that Kolby can keep his four paws on the ground. There was no over-exuberant pawing with his front paws and jumping on his best friend to show her his love. It was awesome.
They took turns playing with this ball, even though there was an identical one on the ground waiting for a puppy to play with. They played tug-of-war, and "walked" the other around while both gripping the ball. They took a walk through all the parts of the yard, and enjoyed their tongues hanging sideways with exhaustion.
We eventually took Kolby and Helaine, and her sweet puppy raiser, for a spin around our small town, and then over to the store. We looked at the baby chicks that were for sale before heading over to the Self Serve Dog Wash.
Talk about a fun outing!! I am hooked on this genius of an idea. I recently wrote an Editorial for our Chapter newsletter - I did a copy/paste here.
While I have running water, a tub, shampoo, and dog towels at home, there is something to be said for paying for your dog to get a bath at a business that will provide everything; including the clean up crew. Recently I took our Puppy in Program, KOLBY, to our local Self Serve Dog Wash. 

While I am not here to solicit free advertising for this local favorite of mine, if you want to know the name and location, drop me a question during puppy class. But there are a good handful of Self Serve Dog Washes in our area - so check out one close to you and get to know this beauty of an idea.

The room was empty when we walked in, usually there is a staff member on duty to assist, but since I had already gone through a test run with my pet Beagle in recent weeks, I knew the ropes. The entire experience proved to be great training for Kolby. Starting with the slide-out ramp and stairs to enter the tub.

Kolby immediately put his paws up on the ramp, but error number one on Puppy Raiser's part, was that I didn't secure the movement of the slide out, which caused it to shift just a bit when his weight was upon it. Kolby was not impressed. Once I got that figured out, we went for try number two, and Kolby walked smoothly up the ramp, onto the step, and into the tub. Securing the wall shut, adding the collar that was connected to the tub wall to Kolby, we were ready for action.

The hose is preset to a comfortable water temp and pressure, and with the quick flick of buttons, I had the option to choose between water, soap, or conditioner. Without the hassle of juggling turning on and off the water with half empty soap bottles falling every which way and adjusting the chemistry to create the perfect lather ratio as one does while bathing a puppy at home, a Self Serve Dog Wash creates instant success every time. Not to mention there are no awkward bending movements over a tub, or into a free standing shower. The tubs at a Serve Serve Dog Wash are of perfect standing height. 

Once my Mister was smelling squeaky clean and the suds had disappeared, the dryer hose became the next opportunity for great training. This particular place had a hose that reached into the tub, so I did not have to get my soaked puppy out of the tub and over to the drying table. Having him contained dripping wet was fine by me.

I found that the high powered noise of the dryer was bothersome for Kolby. It was definitely something he was not used to, but it didn't take long before he settled into acceptance. I found that securing his ear closed with a gentle, yet firm grip on the side I was working on helped him tremendously. Soon he became the fluffy quarter Golden that he has in him.

A swift exit back through the open wall of the tub, down the one step, and onto the ramp, Kolby was strutting his good looks out of the Self Serve Dog Wash just like a Prince crowned Homecoming King during half time at a high school football game. And I got to walk away from the drips of water on the floor, and the dog hair in the tub (which could have been made into its own small animal).

I am sold. Kolby will be enjoying his monthly bath experience at the doggie spa until he returns to Canine Companions in August. And then ~ he will be ready for their professional tubs and dryers that are set very similar to the Self Serve Dog Wash.

Happy April!