Saturday, February 27, 2010

What A Day *Edited*

Today was one of the longest days in recent memory. I slept like a rock, thankfully, thanks to not sleeping well for the past week (thanks to the oh so lovely flu) and a melatonin pill but the day drug on soo long.

I started work at 6 a.m. today and because Tabatha and I had arranged for me to get Eclipse after I got off work I took all the things I would need with me, including my camera. I had some fun with the macro setting to pass the time because I was going so crazy.
Thankfully I got off work an hour and a half early and headed up to Coreena's. From there we headed out to meet Tabatha an hour north of us. We took care of some necessary things outside (like signing another contract and agreeing to have the furr-ever friends tag on Eclipse's collar, I also gave her the tag shown above as a keepsake) then we went up to Tabatha's hotel room and I was reunited with Eclipse. As I had expected he wasn't  overly excited to see me. He definitely seemed to recognize me but it was more of a "Cool! Three people to pet me!" typical Eclipse reaction than anything. He certainly wiggled and moofed though and it was very sweet. We talked for a little bit and let Eclipse get comfortable and after Tab said goodbye we headed out.
He was very nervous in the car to begin with but after we stopped and let him potty he got a little more comfortable. He really got excited when I called him "Ciperooni", he even grabbed his baby bear and wiggling, tried to jump in my lap. We made it back to town at 4:30 and met Alex and Max at the dog park with Eva.
Their reunion was sweet, but more about that later on their blog. Suffice it to say, it was obvious they remembered each other. 
Then we went to Coreena's for a bit where we attempted to upload the photos and update the blog but I got frustrated with her internet so we decided to head to my house to let Eclipse chill. Unfortunately... I left the keys with Alex so he could get home, with the house key on it. So we headed over to Mom's where Eclipse really got excited and remembered where he was. He was looking for Teddy and Kira but of course, they weren't there.
Now I'm at home with the three dogs laying on the floor around me. I do, of course, have many more photos to edit and go through but I'm exausted and have to work at 6 a.m. again. Eclipse is comfortable here and seems very happy and we're ecstatic to have him here. Tomorrow after work and meeting we'll just chill out, maybe go on a short walk but it'll just be a bonding day and I think that tomorrow when I wake up to him here and when he's here when I get home, it will really set in that he's home to stay. No one can take him from me again, and that's a nice feeling.
*Edit* Just a fun fact, it was exactly 14 months ago that Eclipse and Eva originally arrive to our homes a puppies-in-training, now they're both our loving pets. Heather, you're right, he does look good! He's going to be going on a much higher quality food and getting supplements daily to help him out and hopefully get some much needed extra calories in him :-D It's been a rough ride for everyone involved but now, hopefully, everyone will be able to breath a sigh of relief that it's finally over and do know, I feel awful for Tabatha and her family and they will get very regular visits with him. In just over a month he'll be spending the weekend with them :-D

Sorry for the quality of the photos, I know they're not all that great, thus the new camera in a couple weeks ;-) And no photos of our initial reunion, it was a private and emotional time for all involved.

Ally, Eclipse, Teddy & Kira (That feels good to write again!)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Camera Love

With a new puppy slated to arrive in early May I figure it's way past time to get my hands on a good camera. I don't claim to be a good photographer, although I do find angles and lighting fun to play with, I know my photos are usually less than stellar. I like to blame it on my very slow, very frustrating camera which is a little GE point and shoot. While I'm very thankful to have it (it was a gift from Coreena and Max) since I got it just before losing my amazing Sony point and shoot when I rolled a quad at the dunes, it's run it's course and now takes worse pictures than I want to have my name on.

So, with taxes being filed and some other money we have coming from Alex's stock from being Alaska-born we'll have enough to pay off our debts, buy a camera and other miscellanious items we're in need of (like slip-covers for the hideous couches we own and a kitchen table we like!).

In my research of cameras I know that I'm not ready for a DSLR, I tend to be quite forgetful and don't want to deal with not having the lens I need at the time I need it and spending all the money on them, etc. I've grown a bit beyond a typical point and shoot... they bore me now. Thankfully there is a happy medium :-D

I fell in love with this camera when it was first released. I love that it has a 3 inch screen and 20x zoom and I can easily get a zoom extender for less than $50 that will give it 40x optical zoom! We all know with puppies playing at the dog park and beach the more zoom you have the better! Even better than the zoom is the ability to shoot 10 frames per second, no more missing out on the goofy looks as the pup runs towards me! Okay, so it will take some getting used to, but I believe when we get our taxes back I'm gonna order me this puppy. I'll probably order it off Ebay in a package deal with a memory card and such but soon I'll be able to post better photos again! I loved my mom's little camera, it enabled me to take some great photos of Eclipse and the kids, but now we're moving on up!


Anyone want to share any suggestions? I know many use DSLRs but I'm a clutz and forgetful and simply not ready to go that big just yet!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Mish-Mash

A dog photo update! It's been awhile since we've had one of those. This one should make up for the lack! There are photo descriptions, they're just embedded. Hover your mouse over the photo to see the description
Charlie laying down with the rear of a stuffed duck coming from between his front legs. He's looking to the left of the frame, it's a profile shot and he has on his maroon CST collar
Teddy and Kira laying on their elaborate dog bed, it's a toddler bed with blankets, Teddy's fleece on it. Now there are also teddy bears on it
Teddy lounging on the bed, one eye is half open and he looks mighty comfortable
Eva laying on our brown overstuffed chair a couple months ago
Charlie sitting in the sun looking at the camera. He's wearing his CST jacket, maroon collar, black Halti and leather leash. Behind him is a parking lot
Charlie laying down looking stately. Still in Halti and jacket at obedience class. A blue mesh x-pen is the backdrop
Sarra, a shaved two year old Pomeranian. She's white with some cream and is very stressed in this photo. She's one of the dogs in Charlie's classBuddy, a four month old Shih-tzu/Maltese. He's also in Charlie's class and is white with gray/brown splotches
Charlie walking by Buddy and Sarra after class. He's only got his collar on and it shows the major size difference. The little dogs are not even as tall as his elbow
Buddy is laying down with Sarra on a mat next to him. Sarra is visibly stressed by panting heavily
Kira laying down looking at me excitedly with her front feet on my crossed legs. We were doing some clicker training
Charlie walking in the dark with a dark blue backpack on. It had water bottles in it. Our newest tool to help control his energy levels thanks to another raiser's suggestion

Saturday, February 20, 2010

IWYPRSD!

My shirt and I had a great day yesterday, although it doesn't come anywhere near to comparing with Mimi and Cabana's day!

We spent the morning chilling out at home then we went to help Crystal get her new furniture to her house and set up. We ended up eating a chocolate covered strawberry, which my shirt thankfully survived, and then went to a salad bar. We played with the kids, moved a ton of heavy furniture, laughed at the things at the wood place and had a good time. I dreamed about my future puppy and received darling photos of Eclipse with the kids when he was with me. We had KFC for dinner but ordered the grilled chicken so Aiden and I could enjoy it too... too bad they gave us fried, Breaded chicken instead. Oh well, such is life I guess.
And yes, I was supposed to work today but I woke up sick, and yes, I look a tad sick in my photo too, but oh well! :-D It was great to support service dogs and puppy raisers everywhere, even if my puppy raising shirts and sweater are my normal attire!

Friday, February 19, 2010

On The Road Again

Okay, so I'm not Actually driving anywhere, but whatever ;-)

Yesterday was Charlie's first obedience class and while the instructor says some things that I don't agree with being behaviour that I would want my dogs doing, I think it will be a good experience. Even though there's only Charlie between us at this point Coreena and I both attend the obedience classes, I'm officially the tag along, but yesterday I handled the boy *wink*. There are only two other dogs in class, a four-month-old Shi-tzu/Maltese named Buddy and a 2.5-year-old Pomeranian with confidence issues named Sarra. We were hoping for some larger dogs, but it'll work out and there will be bigger dogs in the CGC class he'll be in next.

While the class is, of course, helping Charlie, it's also helping Coreena and I. I can already see this class will be great for helping me truly understand "shaping" which is something I've struggled with. I've always had a hard time thinking of the behaviour I eventually want and figuring out how to get it there. It will also greatly help me learn that tossing a treat for Charlie is OK and not going to ruin him. Plus, it gives me a headstart for when my puppy gets here (which I keep thinking of as being a Male Black Lab, btw).

Something else very helpful is that the trainer sees that we're dog people and asks us for our input on the self-train "service dog" candidates that she's working with. She knows we've had 7 pups between us (which isn't all that many, other than to someone that doesn't know the local guide dog raisers) and worked with many more and have a better basis than she does. In turn she helped us see that Charlie's issues that we can see keeping him from graduating are all almost exclusively due to immaturity. It's hard to remember he's only 10 months old! Teaching him through the course of this obedience class will give us more tools to deal with his issues and will hopefully help him grow into a mature, well-rounded dog that will then be able to make the decision on what he would like to do, with us knowing we did our best with him.

Don't forget! Today is Internation Wear Your Puppy Raising Shirt Day! Everyone join in! Although, my shirt is set to have a boring day, we'll still share our adventures tomorrow!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Oh, G-Free, How I Love Thee!

I LOVE that the girls in my family are all on the same boat when it comes to gluten-sensitivity. We've tried so many gluten-free things in the past couple weeks! Most of them were okay, some of them even delicious!

We've had gluten-free bread, noodles and soup. This past week we had gluten-free pizza, gluten-free homemade soup, cornbread, cheesecake! (YUM) and a ton of other things that are naturally gluten-free.

Alex and I have been eating pretty healthily, in fact we didn't buy any junk food on our weekly shopping trip. We eat a lot of salads, steak salad, chef salad, chicken salad, taco salad, regular ole' salad, whatever else we can think of. We have steak and salads, steak quesadillas, fun, new stuff, new combinations.

Food is interesting again. It's strange, my diet is restricted yet food is more interesting than it ever has been before. Gone are the days where if I'm hungry I go to the freezer and nuke a corndog or burrito or drive to get fastfood. If I'm starving I grab fruit, cottage cheese, a quesadilla, or some salad. It's a very different mentallity, I eat to stay healthy and functional, I no longer eat because of the sugar. I'm doing much better about not craving sugar and salt, instead I grab some starchy potatoes ;-) It'll take a a few weeks for the cravings to go away, but we'll make it.

Interestingly enough, despite the fact that gluten-free food is more expensive, we actually spend Less money on food every month. Celiac disease has forced me to be a better wife and take my health more seriously. I hope to lose some weight now that I've layed off the salt and sugar but that probably won't happen. I haven't gotten to enjoy the full effects of being gluten-free due to my untreated hypothyroidism but I've noticed enough to keep at it. Hopefully when I go on medication in the next month or so for my hypothyroidism I'll need less sleep (still need 12 hours of sleep of night to feel OK) and be able to lose some weight!

No news on puppy yet, won't be any that will be shared publically anytime soon. The private blog is being updated, so check it out if you'd like :-D

I'll try to keep up on updating more regularly, we'll see how that works out though.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Half A Decade

Today Iverson turns 5! I can't believe it, our little baby is already five years old! I'm sure he's doing fantastic with his handler, they've been together three years Wednesday. Hard to believe he went from this
a baby Iverson looking at the camera with a blue plastic crate behind him and a bowl of food in front of him
To this
A very regal Iverson in harness from the graduation photo. He's sitting up straight and looking at the camera. All you can see besides him is Coreen's leg and hand and his handler's leg
We love our Ive, he'll always be our first! We know he's enjoying life and working though, he always was a work-aholic!

In other news, I'm sure you've all figured this out by now, but I will be getting a new puppy in the coming months from an organization we know and are familiar with. My new little one should be arriving at the end of April or beginning of May. He (or she, but I prefer males) will be in training with Canine Support Teams. I wasn't going to share until I got a puppy assignment but I figure this organization won't be sabotaged for us like a few others because it's already been attempted and ignored. I hope I get a lab! It'll be nice to get back into the swing of things and *attempt* to live without Eclipse with something as familiar to us as labs ;-)
A very pretty yellow lab puppy approx 6 months old sitting with her side facing the camera. She has a black halti, a pink flowery collar cover and a burgundy CST jacket
Photo courtesy of CST

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Great Timing

Tomorrow it's been two years since Baby Koen succumbed to SIDS. He wasn't even 8 weeks old.

Today one of the main articles on Yahoo! is about SIDS and how they believe it's caused in part, by a lack of serotonin. Koen wasn't sleeping face down when he died, he was sleeping in his mother's arms. Hopefully they get a more conclussive answer soon, to help prevent other families from having to go through this.

Here's the link to the article:
http://health.yahoo.com/news/reuters/us_infant_deaths.html

In Memory of Koen Michael Hanson. Photo by his mother, Amanda.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Finally!

Diego is doing very well on potty training today! We've been out twice since I got off work (4 hours ago) and he's gone potty outside twice with me out there! You can not believe how much progress that is for the little guy!

In other news, Diego is leaving us today. I must say, I'm not at all upset about that. He is the first dog to chew up any cables of mine... let's just say my cell phone is out of commision for the next week *sigh* He's definitely a small dog with a small dog personality. I am thankful for the opportunity to realize that I don't want a small dog, big dogs are my style, even if Teddy and Kira are only 20 lbs each!

Once Diego leaves this evening it's time to get down on a puppy level and truly puppy-proof this house! Charlie's the only pup that's been here so it needs some help. Soon we'll buy a rug and slip-covers for the couches in the living room and we'll be almost ready for a new little one. When that little one will be arriving is still up in the air though. Stay tuned for that information! 

Monday, February 1, 2010

Back To The Basics

Diego's been here for a week today and we're stepping up our game plan a little bit. Today we started going outside with him. He's doing pretty well, we went almost 3 full days with no accidents. Progress is great but not where we want it to be yet, at least when you interupt him in the process now he doesn't just keep going... Yes, I'm serious.

Today it's back to the basics. I have a timer with me at all times. This morning he went out before Alex left for work and I woke up a few (okay, four) hours later. I took Diego out first thing and stood in the rain for a couple minutes. He didn't go, he was too interested in eating grass and jumping on me to go. Back into his crate he went for 20 minutes and then out we went again. Once again he was too distracted to go so back into his crate he went for another 20 minutes. The third trip out he finally went just as I was about to bring him back and put him in his crate. I stood out there for five minutes before the novelty of being outside wore off. Now the timer was set for an hour and we'll go back out. In the meantime he's having supervised playtime (yes, supervised despite me being on the computer, he's easy to keep track of!) and is enjoying playing with nylabones that are, for the most part, meant for dogs at least 10x his size. Of course there are periods of tormenting Kira thrown in though.
You may be curious as to why I've had him for a week and have just started going outside with him. The explanation is quite simple actually. Outside is a novelty to him, you could stand out there with him for an hour and he'd still just be looking around, going potty outside was beyond his ability to comprehend. I didn't want to subject him to the crate routine right off the bat so we started with just putting him outside regularly and leaving him out there for a bit by himself to get used to the sounds and the smells and such. Now he's more comfortable though so we're upping the ante. He's not a good fit for our home so we kind of want him back to his home as soon as he can be. Tormenting Kira and Teddy and being a general nuisance (not behaviourally really, just the small dog personality that I'm not fond of) is driving us all a little batty. Time to kick it in high gear ;-)

Other things are also back to the basics though. I have been seriously considering not raising again. Due to the heartache, pain, betrayal and overall bad experience with JLAD and the situation with Eclipse (who is career changed, btw, just in case anyone was wondering. No, he's not in my home, unfortunately) I was doubting if it would be a good idea to put myself and my husband in a situation to possibly experience that again. Honestly, I still do. We've talked about it, we've (err... I have) cried about it, I've talked to others about it and we've come to a conclusion. We did not purposefully fall in love with Eclipse, we were prepared for the puppy we received to move on and become a service dog and never return home again, until we met him that is. Eclipse's soul, his spirit, his energy, his personality, his essence caught us off guard. It was immediately evident that he was likely not going to make it to be a working service dog and we fell in love. From his third day with us we said he would come home if he were career changed. His third week with us it appeared that that would, in fact, be the case due to health issues. The third week it was confirmed that indeed, the first raiser does get first option in the case of a career change, when we learned of the dreaded swap. When he left it felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest and replaced a hundred times. It still does. Eclipse is a part of me, he's not just a dog, nor would he be just a pet, or another creature in my home. I know many of you think I'm crazy, but I assure you, I'm not. (I know what crazy is from experience) I'm simply deeply in love with and deeply heartbroken over a little golden soul. There are very few that would understand and even fewer who will care to try, but that's the truth and the only truth. I love Eclipse beyond belief and it was not done on purpose.

The likelihood of another dog, another soul, coming through our home as a service dog in training that touches us that much, that we bond with that much, that is so integrally a piece of us to that extent is unimaginable. Eclipse is a once-in-a-lifetime dog and while I pray I meet another one like him and get to him in my home (or even better, Eclipse himself *sigh*) I doubt it will be another service dog in training. Through many many tears I've come to the conclusion that despite the pain, despite the torment and despite the wickedness puppy raising has exposed me to, I'm not ready to give up just yet. We're going to try once more. If it goes well, we'll continue raising, if not, I don't think I can take anymore. The first year of our marriage was hard enough, the pain of losing Eclipse in such a horrible fashion made it nearly unbearable. I don't want to put myself in a position like that again so we've chosen our new organization with much care. An organization with set protocols and processes. An organization where if a raiser falls deeply in love with a dog the organization doesn't do everything within their power to keep that dog from being career changed and returning to their loving raiser. I'm still not sure when I'll be getting a puppy, but a puppy I will be getting. It could be a few months from now, or it could be a year from now. That will all be determined at a later date. The new puppy will in no way take the place of Eclipse, no dog ever will, but it's back to the basics for us. Basics of potty training and standing out in the rain. Basics of teaching a pup his name and play nice with Teddy and Kira. Basics of loving a person in need enough to let a dog you love go. Basics of filling out monthly reports and puppy shots. The basics that bring joy to my dog-loving heart. We'll see, though, if there is enough of it left to continue to love.

I guess that's my dilemna right now. My heart is so broken, in so many pieces, that I don't know how much there is left to give. Eclipse has most of it with him, the other pieces are with the others I have lost in the recent years. Is there enough to give to a puppy, to send with him when he continues on his way? I think so, but we shall see. Right now, it's back to the basics of showing my husband how much I love him, versus how much I truly, deeply, honestly Need Eclipse.
Back to the basics with a salad of iceburg lettuce, romaine and red-leaf lettuce topped with carrots, cheese, ham, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs and peas. Back to the basics of life... trying to get through life without my Eclipse. At least I named him fittingly, he truly surpasses and outshines anything I have ever found in a dog.