Thursday, April 30, 2015

Final Report Card?

Maybe the report card I received today will be Kolby's last? Maybe? There isn't much to say as the report card was strong in all the right boxes and had this comment to share: 

Kolby went on several field trips this last month, including to the outlet mall and the farmers market. He has continued to progress and generalize his command in new ways. He can now push the dishwasher closed. Kolby rotated through the side placement this month. Although he did very well, he did not make a match. I am looking forward to seeing him go through the May team training. 

I found this picture in my Kolby file and thought it was appropriate. I think it says what I'm thinking and feeling going on month 9 of Kolby being on campus. 
I want so badly for his Forever Person to show on campus, to look at him and melt, and say, "This is my dog." I want them to fall in love with everything we know about Kolby and everything we don't know about Kolby that only they will know. I want his person to take lots of photos and beam with pride that Kolby was chosen specifically for them. I want to know their name and story and say, "Of course, the wait was all for this, and this is perfect." 

Team Training begins on Monday. Kolby will once again begin another session and I hope that his person is in the class and falls in love quickly. 

Love you, Kolby. The wait has been long, but the excitement of Team Training never fades. Keep being yourself. xxoo

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Groundhog Day

Waiting for Kolby to decide to Graduate is like waiting for Punxsatawney Phil to see his shadow on Groundhog Day. This was the answer to the question, "Did Kolby make an April Side Placement Match?"
Since the answer is No, we have three more weeks of college learning before we spring into the next Team Training Session. In the meantime, his Graduate Gift is waiting on my dinning room table, our nice clothes have been chosen, and we are keeping busy while we continue to wait for the call that says we can hop in the car and make a road trek to Santa Rosa.
The good news of this past week was that Kolby's sister, Kashi, did find her perfect match. She Graduated last night as a Service Dog to a  young gentleman who is over the moon excited to have Kashi in his life. Seeing the videos and photos from my sweet friend (Kashi's Puppy Raiser) last night and this morning reminds me that the perfect match always finds itself in the wait. And Kashi looks stunning in Blue.
Left Kolby, Right Kashi

We had the privilege of meeting Kashi and her Puppy Raiser when the siblings were only 5 weeks old at the Breeder Caretakers house in February 2013. It was such an amazing morning and we continued to keep in touch daily, weekly, monthly throughout their Puppy Raising adventure; even though we raised them two states away. We spent our last evening together back at their Breeder Caretaker's house before we sent them off to college in August 2014.
Mom Kanga (yellow), Kashi (left), Kolby (right)
Kashi and Kolby worked hard together in college, and while it was our plan to have them Graduate and leave college on the same day, I am ecstatic that Kashi found her Forever. It just spreads out the love into different weeks and that makes it feel just right.
L to R: Kolby, Kanga (mom), Luca (dad), Kashi

Kolby - you may be the only one left from the August Turn In, but you have certainly not been forgotten. Everyone says that you know who your perfect person is, and you are just waiting so patiently for that someone to come to campus. I often think what that person is thinking; is he/she wondering about you, wondering if you are male or female, black or yellow, what personality you will have, what special thing he/she will fall in love with first about you ... I can't wait to see who this person is. I can't wait to see you with that person, and know that it is the final answer. 

Stay true, stay strong, and I'll see you soon. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Dear Phantom

We are so thankful that you were able to spend the week with us. You have no idea how much that helped all of us as we continue the wait for Kolby's decision. I really didn't know if I would find any resemblance between you and Kolby (having the same dad), but I was happy that I did. The bond seemed immediate as a result, which made the week so fantastic.
There is something about your eyes that I feel the connection with Kolby. I know you are a different color, a different build, but your actual eye and eyebrows are so deep with expression, drawing your Handler to your soul. It is magnetic. Your Puppy Raiser, I am sure, knows what I am referring to. Unexplainable, but real - something both you and Kolby have. 

My biggest happy take-away is your ability to light up a room when you are given a stuffed toy. Your Puppy Raiser said she calls it "Chewy Chewy" and so we did (and if we didn't understand that correctly - we still found it to work) ... and when you carry it SO PROUDLY around the perimeter of the room, showing all in sight, you vocalize in that perfect Golden way. It is not a growl, but a true bliss, deep voice that says, "I am proud of me!!" It is adorable and my favorite. Oh, how you adore your stuffed toys and care for them so gently. 
I also like how you can give out the loudest Sigh. You are such a mellow fellow that your Sigh just adds to the drama. I can't help but smile. For example, during our sleepless night in the hotel, you were perfectly lightly snoring away and then you'd SIGH. The deepest sigh ever. And I would laugh - like, really?? You are out, I'm the one awake, but you are the one sighing as if this is the hardest night of your life. 

Or you'd be asked to Down while I was busy doing this or that, and eventually you would Sigh as if to say, "Helllloooo, are we done yet!?" .. but Hellloooo, right back at 'ya, Phantom ... you are sooooo mellow, where are you off to in a hurry anyway!?! HA!! 
Your sweet side is contagious. I am sure you are deserving of every single spoiling that you receive with your big brown eyes that melt all who meet you, the way you sit with a slight lean against your Handler for love, and the way you walk at the same pace with not even an inch in the lead. You are the perfect example of a puppy who is not phased by any environment and is there to be your Handler's top dog. 

I loved how you chose to follow me, step by step no matter where I went in our house - you were right there. The house could be crowded like Easter, or in a small hotel room, and you continued to follow me everywhere, right by my side, not pushy, not clingy, just there.  I loved the attention just as much as you loved the attention. 
Phantom - I wish you all the best that your next adventure has to offer you. There will be lots of new things to explore and learn, and if you hang tight to your solid confidence and ability to work hard, you will thrive. I pray that you find your niche and that you are so happy on campus. You will make your match, whether a Graduate or COC, very happy and they will be the luckiest person to call you their own. I will always remember you as the puppy that was the perfect fit to bring us joy, smiles, and fun as we worked adventures with you, and cuddled and loved you for nine days. You are truly the best of the best. 
All our love and wishes, 

One of Your Puppy Sitters

Friday, April 10, 2015

Mini Break

A tiny, mini-Spring Break vacation took us to a campus tour of a potential university that is on the "maybe" list for my daughter's future. It was a beautiful day; full of sunshine and blue sky. Phantom was a great road trek'er hanging out in the back with our luggage and waiting to get out when we arrived at our destination.
I didn't tell the campus that we were coming with a Puppy in Program, and it all worked out. It is always amazing when the puppies blend into a crowd as if they were not even there. Many spied him with a smile, but only about three the entire day asked to pet him. It made for great training as he weaved in and out without having to stop to socialize. He was really working.
The evening brought us to a hotel where he apparently had had a long day because within five minutes he was crashed on the floor in this chosen location. I love how he used his stuffed toy as his chin's pillow. And then that slowly fell away and he rested his lips on his feet. So adorable.
We had dinner out and then took a drive on a beautiful road high along the waterfront. I could have stayed much longer but we were all tired and just wanted to return to the hotel to do nothing. We have had a few busy months stacked and it felt good to simply relax.
We didn't bring a kennel for Phantom knowing that we would invite him to sleep on a bed with us. My son prefers his own space, so he was kind enough to agree that Phantom could bunk with me and my girl. That was fun. We hardly slept all night - and not so much because of Phantom (although he did have his rounds of chasing something in his dream; that was entertaining. HA!), but more because the hotel was rather noisy. Phantom, typical boy, slept right through all of it just like our two-footed boys. But the puppy snuggles made the loudness more tolerable, because who can really get bugged by anything when an adorable, snugly puppy is by your side?
Morning took us back home by way of Tulip Fields. It was so windy and very cold, but we mustered through with lots of laughs and we had a good time. At least it wasn't raining, that came later in the day.
Phantom is leaving us in the morning to return home. So my son and I took him to the U-Wash Dog Spa this evening. There is no sense returning a puppy that smells of a weeks-worth of adventures with Tulip Dirt mixed in, when I have a son who loves the U-Wash Dog Spa. He does a great job and all I have to do is drive, and take the photos.
Thanks for hanging with us, Phantom!! You were an exceptional puppy guest.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


My daughter had a chance to do a photo shoot of a new puppy in our Chapter. She jumped at the chance before we took Phantom to our Chapter puppy class. This is Mushu with her roommate, Change of Career Tillman, who was medically released from the program two summers ago. Tillman would have made a fabulous Assistance Dog, but he is living the life of a fabulous Puppy Raiser's Helper and as a well-loved Therapy Dog.
It was so fun to see Phantom interact with a tiny puppy. He did a good job and found that puppy teeth are sharp. He could have stuck up for himself a few times, but he was a guest and gentleman and let Mushu carry on. But in all fairness, she was really good too and only had her rambunctious moments occasionally, which is expected for a puppy of only 12 weeks old.
What Phantom is unaware of is that his Puppy Raisers picked up their next puppy today from the airport. So when he goes back home, he will meet the newest pup on the block. His name is Alex and he's so adorable!!
Puppy Class was great. We worked on appropriate play as demonstrated by our Puppy Program Manager at our Region's Workshop a few weeks ago. The good news was that Phantom was one of the Senior Dogs in class, and because he is just an amazing rock star, he was able to handle every step we took to build up the success of the assignment. Phantom was called out numerous times by our Contract Trainer for being able to stay focused on his Handler even while he was busy doing something else. In addition, he rarely even found something else to do as he opted to hang close to me even though he was off leash and free to wander like all the other dogs in class who were also off leash.

Phantom has been so much fun. I am so proud of all the hard work, attention, and dedication that his Raisers have given him. I am so excited to see where he decides to take his next journey.

Tomorrow - we are going on a two day adventure. So come back Friday evening to see where we have been. I promise it is 1) not out of the country, and 2) not to California. Phantom is ready for the adventure, he has packed his bone and chewy-chewy and is ready to check out in the morning.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Flying Adventure

We took Phantom to the Toyota Dealership to have my car get it's regular service checkup. We spent about thirty minutes in the customer service waiting area where Phantom was stared at by a gentleman who decided he needed to sit right. next. to. us. no matter that there were 25 other seats to choose from around the room.

I honestly wouldn't have minded it so much if the gentleman didn't make it so obvious to his lack of personal space. He never talked to me, didn't even look at me, he was fixated on Phantom. And well, Phantom felt the strangeness of it all too, and chose to turn his head the opposite direction and fell asleep.
Once that new experience was over, we left for the city to enjoy one of our favorite Museums and our favorite park. When we first arrived we parked next to the airport landing and we were lucky enough to have a plane land right when we were getting out of the car. Phantom saw it, heard it, and thought it was pretty neat too. Although his version of "pretty neat" is perking his ears and then looking at his Handler, rather than jumping up and down and getting excited.

One of the neat things about Puppy Sitting is that you don't really know what is new to the puppy and what is not. So you just consider everything is new to the puppy and you spy the pup's reaction to get a clue. From the reactions of Phantom today, I'd say he's been around the world a few times to every location possible. Everything seemed like he had experienced it before.
The trucks and cars passing under him were no-big deal, so we kept going to the Space Center where we decided to leave this planet and take a spin into Space.
That last picture I had to chop off much of Phantom in order to show the darkness of Space ... pretty amazing how talented we are to fight gravity and all that without a space suit.
Upon our return back to reality - we decided to hop on a plane and hit the sky to Santa Rosa, although his Puppy Raiser wasn't too thrilled with that text message and picture. We assured her it was all pretend and that we really were just in the same town and didn't go anywhere. 
So Phantom opted to sit in the Control Tower and listen for incoming and outgoing flights that were really happening on that runway that we parked next to. It was really interesting. If there had been a flight to Canada, I bet I could have gotten Phantom's Puppy Raiser to meet us and the two would have caught the flight and been outta here in less than an hour. But no planes were flying North. Phantom was dreaming ...
We took the glass elevator back to the first floor to our car to take on our next adventure.  
The Big City was calling our name. There is a favorite park that overlooks the water and the city. We were the only ones there and we enjoyed the quiet. My daughter is a hobby photographer and she enjoyed taking photos of Phantom. There are too many to post, but over time I am sure the good ones will make it on the blog. I am saving most of them first to show Phantom's Puppy Raiser. But here is a sneak peak. 
We had such a great day with this Prince. He is perfect to work, fun to be around, and makes us smile as he wags his tail and leans in for some loves.

Happy Easter and Monday

We started our Easter off at Church where Phantom promptly laid at our feet and fell asleep. He didn't move for the entire Service.
After church we hosted our family of 17 for Easter and while I thought about taking photos of Phantom roaming the house, I was pulled in different directions hosting and never got around to actually snapping a picture. But I have 17 witnesses that would say he was a pure gentleman who quietly slipped in and out of the crowd as he weaved his way through our house following me.

It was actually kind of surprising how quickly he stuck to me as his leader. I was really expecting him to enjoy the loads of new faces and the attention. But rather he sincerely followed me, passing people up to keep at my side. I will admit, it was kinda cool that he trusted me and wanted to be with me. He was the perfect house guest for our large crowd.
Monday arrived bright and early with a dentist appointment, and then spread throughout the day, each kiddo had an orthodontist appointment. Phantom is the most chill-dog I have ever met. This blog is going to get real boring because there is nothing to report. He just does this ...
And people stare and think he is adorable. And I smile back and the conversation starts about Puppy Raising, about the prison program, about Canine Companions, about Phantom, about us, etc, etc, etc.

The rest of Monday was spent relaxing as a family with Phantom. We didn't do a whole bunch but it felt awesome to just talk and watch movies and hang out at the house between quick trips to our three appointments.

Phantom enjoyed the lazy day too. He didn't move much in his day ... except from the hardwood to the carpet to someone's lap to the carpet to the hardwood.
We are going to miss him when he returns to his home and Puppy Raisers. 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Bunny Phantom

Today was our 12th annual Easter Egg Hunt on our one street neighborhood, and while my kiddos have grown away from actually hunting, we always enjoy the social time with neighbor friends as Winter thaws and Spring arrives. It is a good time to regroup after being inside for months, and watching the next generation of neighbor kids have so much fun!!!
Phantom's Parole Officer knew he was going to an Egg Hunt this morning, so she packed his Bunny Ears for the occasion. It was a huge hit!! The kids enjoyed having their own Bunny join their party. 
Phantom was his typical mellow self and just went from yard to yard watching the kids hunt for their eggs and then he enjoyed gathering next to these sweet girls to watch them open their treats. Phantom received a lot of attention today, and he took it like it was no big deal. He held his Stands and Sits and didn't sneak a lick to anyone. 
A shopping trip also took place together with Phantom by our side. My girl is always the eager one to take the puppies into public places - she loves it. So she came along just to work Phantom while I managed the shopping cart and my list. We are a good team that way. The store was crowded (!!) as I expected, but Phantom weaved in and out and worked the crowd with his superb skills. 
I didn't have much to purchase, just the fresh stuff that needed to be last minute, so it was perfect to split the cargo area with Mr. Cool. The challenge was not taken...he could have chosen to eat everything on the ride home that was yummy inside those bags, but he wasn't even curious.

Our Sweet Beagle went to the spa today to get Diva'd and then met Phantom. Cora has been through a combo of living with and hosting 7 dogs in the last three years and so the routine is pretty common for her. First day, the dogs rotate through their own kennels with only one out at a time to give all a chance for all the newness for the Guest to settle in, and a chance for Cora to sniff without feeling threatened. It seems to work well.
And then day two forward is all about getting along and working things out when they are free to wander the house together. Cora was out for thirty minutes wandering before Phantom even cared to follow her around. He would pass her, and she would come over to sniff him, but he didn't follow her or care that she was there. It made me smile because he is the FIRST dog to not want to play right from the start, to not get a little excited where she would take a leap into a safety zone (the couch).

This picture shows Cora leaning into Phantom - a sign that she approves - and the photo is a little fuzzy because I was laughing as Phantom kept wanting to Army Crawl away from her. Maybe she was too perfume scented from her Spa Date ... maybe it needs to wear off a little before he will pay attention to her. Or maaaaybe Phantom just likes me better (wink).

As I type, both are conked out in the family room with the family. Cora is on her bed, and Phantom is by the couch. They are a great team.

Another successful day with Phantom!!

Friday, April 3, 2015


Look who I got to pick up this morning!! Meet Phantom!
He is a handsome boy who is completing his Puppy Raising experience at the prison program of Canine Companions before heading off to Santa Rosa in May. I know his Handlers and his amazing Parole Officers are going to really miss him. This is Phantom's last Puppy Sitting Adventure and I am honored to have him with us. 

I can't rave enough about the prison program that we have in our Chapter. Yes, the puppies live a prisoner's life in the sense that they are secured in living in one (large) room, however, they also have access with the prisoner's to various places in the prison that the prisoner's are expected to go ... and ... they get many, many adventures outside of prison by taking turns going home with Parole Officers, and to Puppy Sitters like us. 

I know for a fact that the puppies are socialized and have the best of both worlds (the dedication and uninterrupted attention from their prisoner, and the happenings of the outside world with their Officers), because Phantom is totally confident and collected when out in public. 
Granted, we only had one outing today, but an outing to the mall is nothing to snuff about. Phantom walked right alongside me with a loose leash, and turned when I turned, and stopped when I stopped. When we first started walking I felt his nose bounce into the side of my leg, but I couldn't catch him in the act to see if he was turning his head and hitting my leg on accident, or if he was checking in with me, or if it was just coincidence and it meant nothing. Regardless, it was so cute because it felt like he was saying, "Hey, new friend, just checking in." 

We shopped and were stopped to talk with the public. One lady noticed immediately the military ranking on Phantom's vest and called it out to her husband. We chatted about Phantom and the prison program and Canine Companions. The next person we were stopped by was a Grandma with her tiny toddler grandson. Phantom was so cute when the boy came up to tap his head and then quickly turn to run back to his Grandma. The boy continued this routine for a few more times and Phantom just sat there watching the tiny toddler's antics. 

And then this happened ... 
Why not. The Bunny was right there with no kids to share his bench. But then I learned that neither could Phantom share the Bunny Bench. Sigh. The photographer was so worried about dog hair on the bunny costume that the Bunny could not even touch Phantom. They were highly interested in Canine Companions, however, and totally loved having Phantom create a spotlight on their biz (many stood watching Phantom's cuteness). I figured because Phantom did his part in being so awesome to hold a perfect stay and prove what a legit Puppy in Program is all about, that I decided to purchase a picture to commemorate. 

We are hosting Easter for both sides of our family, so we also did some house prep for Sunday, in which Phantom shared time following me around the house, and time chewing his bone next to the kids who were relaxing together in the family room and getting to know our house guest. Eventually bone chewing turned to stuff toy snuggling and a nap. 
Phantom is simply adorable inside and out. He is one mellow fellow and that makes me smile. I am looking forward to what the week will bring with having Phantom by our side.