Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Fun in the Snow

A morning pack walk with some of the Innsbruck dogs. We are having a pretty good storm move through the area, so some of the pictures are a little fuzzy due to all the snow!
Hugo a black lab/border collie mix lays in a pile of snow while chewing on his red frisbee
Rafferty, a black lab puppy runs through snow carrying a piece of grass
Rafferty follows Marley through deep snow towards a white fence in the background
Hugo a black dog runs through snow carrying his red frisbee.  HIs back is dusted in snow
Marley looks over a snow bank, his head just peaking out.  There are aspen trees in the background and snow falling
Vala, a black and tan German shepherd with snow dusting her face and coat looks across the snow
Hugo catches his red frisbee right before it hits the ground covered in snow
Marley, a brindle dog, sticks his face and paws into a bank of snow creating a spray of snow and dusting the front of his body
Sterling, a black lab, trots through the snow.  The only color other than black and white are his gold eyes which glimmer with excitment
A pack of dogs, a black and tan german shepherd and a couple black labs all run through the snow playing and jumping

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Flying Through

Who needs phase 4 anyway? Millie is flying through training and is already to phase 5 this week! I am sure she just wanted to get all her studying done so she could have a blast over the holidays.

Here are the things she has worked on this week:

Phase #4

  • Progression of guidework training: more difficult sidewalks in busier sections of downtown areas
  • Training on more complex street crossings and curbs
  • Obstacle clearance initiated by the dogs; they begin to guide their mobility instructors through the campus obstacle course
  • Preliminary obedience testing and evaluation of the dogs' reactions to head collars

Phase #5

  • Preliminary guidework testing with the mobility instructor under blindfold
  • Complete veterinary history review
  • More challenging guidework training environments (pedestrian traffic, stairs, different flooring surfaces, etc.)
I am off today and plan on taking some christmas pictures of the pups, so stay tuned for a holiday update. Wishing a very happy holiday to all the pups and their people!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Phase 3!!

Well I have gotten off-track on posting every day, but of course I had to update about my Millie girl. She is in phase 3 this week, moving right along with her training. Two of her littermates are in phase 7 already, and one brother has been dropped for medical reasons. I am loving watching her go!

Phase #3
Guidework training in quiet residential areas
Frequent rides in the training vans
Introduction to more advanced guidework commands and responses ("Right," "Left," and "Over Here,"); continued training on commands learned in Phase #2
Introduction of curbs and street crossings
Progressive obstacle course training on campus
Continued obedience training
Mall exposure walks
Dog social sessions
Neutering/spaying for those dogs dropped from the breeder-watch list

Friday, December 11, 2009

Week of dogs and cats comes to an end.

Well tomorrow morning my parents return and I am back to just my three puppies! It has been a little exhausting running the house and caring for all the animals, but it has been fun. The last of the cleaning is done and I have set my alarm to pick them up early in the morning at the airport. I will be there, coats in hand, to welcome them back to land of the frozen.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Phase 2

Millie is phase 2 this week!

From the Guide Dogs Website:
  • Preliminary obedience training
  • Exposure to distractions (toys, food, other dogs, cats, etc.)
  • First on-campus workouts with a harness
  • Introduction to the BEST program training techniques (including treadmill sessions)
  • Sessions to teach guidework-specific commands (such as "Forward," "Halt," "Hopp Up" and "Steady") and the desired responses to the commands
  • On leash introduction to the campus obstacle course

The Cat Who Opens Doors

Milo, one of the cats, is finding different ways to amuse himself now that it is much too cold to go outside. Instead of just playing with a toy or hunting mice in the garage, Milo has decided to make it his mission to open any closed door in the house. Taking a shower, why not have the cat come too? Sleeping peacefully at 3am? Not once weird banging sounds and a slowly opening door wake you up. Wanting to keep the cold air OUT of the house? Milo will help (read not) by leaving the garage door open.

So far the only doors he has not been able to open have been the front door and the door where I put masking tap on the handle to keep it from moving. He is one clever boy, and Marley has taken to following him around. Once Milo gets the handle to move and the latch to release Marley will shove his face into the crack and push open the door. This would be how Marley was able to help himself to many treats out in the garage.

They make one naughty duo. Anyone else have pets that work together as partners in crime?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Too Cute Tuesday

Marley a brindle striped fluffy dog looks straight into the camera with snow all over his nose, partway up his face, and dusting his ears.  He is looking over the top of a snowbank Marley has to be one of my favorite subjects for photography. I am always taking pictures of him. He is just so different and unique in every picture (though I could say that about all my dogs): his coloring just works in so many different light/background settings. This is a picture from our morning romp. It was short since it is so cold even Marley was ready to go back inside after 20 min.

Also, are my alt tags still working? Are there ever ones that don't? The way that I put them in is different for PCs and Macs. Just want to make sure everything is up to speed. Thanks!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Cold day

Today was sooo cold! With my parents out of town it falls on me to shovel the driveway. So around 11 am today I went out to clear the snow. I had hoped it would warm up, but no such luck. I spent 45min shoveling snow while Marley and Hugo did their very best to knock the walls of snow back into the area I had just cleared. They ran and dug and jumped and wiggled their way through all of the fresh snow.

I had thought about walking Rafferty around the PCMR base area....but in the end I chickened out because of the cold. Instead my sister and I went to see New Moon. I took Rafferty along since he did so well at The Invention of Lying (sorry about that Mimi!) yesterday. We got there a little bit late and had to go into the theater right as the movie started. Since I have been having such trouble with my night vision I had to feel my way along...making the going a little rough for Rafferty. But once we sat down everything went smoothly. I had to laugh watching him...once the wolves came into the movie he perked up and actually watched through the space between the seats! It was so cute. He didn't make any noise, but rather just watched the big dogs on screen (he was actually tracking, so he had to have been seeing them run!). We left the theater and he was a great pup ignoring all the spilled popcorn.

I love this pup and can't wait to see the fun things we will do!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Rafferty's 1st Movie

Rafferty did FANTASTIC at his first movie today. I can't wait to see what he can do as he grows up: this pup is amazing!!!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Skiing Tomorrow!

Really, the title says it all. And more snow is on the way, with a big storm due to hit tomorrow night (sadly after I have already skied). Can't wait for snow and skiing, and some epic powder days. Even the dogs are ready for some fresh snow.

Hugo a black lab border collie mix stands on the porch with the middle of his face covered in white snow while holding his red frisbee also covered in fresh snow.

Friday, December 4, 2009

A House Full...

So I am house sitting for my parents this week while they enjoy lovely warm weather and I am stuck here enjoying super cold temps with no snow. This also puts me in the chief role of dog wrangler and cat tamer at the house. With my dogs it makes for 6 dogs and 3 cats enjoying the high life this week. We have everything ranging from Missy and Sparky, (a pair of 14.5 year old Dachshunds) to Gizmo the half Persian cat (his mom looked normal, have to say dad was a Persian) to Rafferty the rambunctious lab puppy. Milo the exploring cat (who still wants to go outside even though it is approaching zero, and Elise the recluse make up the rest of the feline pard.

Marley and Hugo are the resident 'big-dog' contingent. And Dante brings up the rear in size, but not in fight (he steals the big dogs toys).

And while some would love to party when mom and dad are away it just doesn't happen when 9 wonderful animals are looking to you for their every single need. Here is to playing dog (and cat) mom for the next week!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Phase 1

Millie is in Phase 1! I am so excited to finally see one of my pups make it to the phase report. Since Sterling was cc'd while still with me, Millie is the first to go back to campus. I can't wait to watch her progress. Here is a description of Phase 1 from the Guide Dogs website. Some of these things she may have already done since she has been on campus for 6 weeks already.

Phase #1
Pre-training physical exam
Neutering/spaying (with the exception of potential breeding stock dogs who are under evaluation at this time)
Eye checks
Relaxing walks on campus and play sessions
Introduction to the kennel environment and schedule
General daily care and grooming

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Here is hoping Millie is on the phase report tomorrow. I am really missing my little girl. I just got back some pictures taken of us together her last day with me. I hope she is having lots of fun still in doggie college, and that it is not all play and no work! Does anyone know if they start getting any workouts before they show up on the phase reports? There are some other dogs that went back the same time as her (including littermates) who have now shown up on the reports. I really want to know how she is doing....I miss this girl so much!

Millie a female black lab wears a GDB puppy coat sits on an old wood table next to me. We are sitting next in front of trees with leaves in full fall colors of red, yellow, and orange

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Keep on Rolling

I have decided to try for a post everyday until the end of the year. I have loved blogging everyday, and it is such a fun way to look back on the past month! With that in mind, here are some pictures from a recent outing with ALL the dogs. Enjoy!

dante a black and tan chihuahua wearing a red and blue sweater stands in a snow covered field of sage brush
dante a small black and tan chihuahua wearing a red and blue knit sweater stands on a field of snow
a landscape shot looking out at a hill of aspens and then beyond to smokey mountains in the distance
Marley a brindle golden mix looks off into the distance with the hair on his ears ruffled by the wind
hugo a black mix dog stand by Tom with his frisbee hanging out of his mouth wanting for it to be thrown
hugo a black mix dog hands off a red frisbee to Tom
the back legs of hugo a black lab border collie mix disappear out of the picture while marley gathers himself for a big run and makes small flakes of snow fly into the air and sparkle
Hugo a black lab and border collie mix runs into a field or snow and sagebrush with Marley a brindle golden mix running after him
Rafferty a black lab puppy looks off camera while standing against a field of snow
A stand of aspen trees blanketed in snow cast shadows on the snowy ground

Monday, November 30, 2009

Final November Post

I made it! Posted all month. Thanks for following along. I'll post a bunch of pictures and whatnot on Thursday after Rafferty's 4 month shots.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thank You!

I just wanted to thank everyone for their comments on my last post! Different perspectives always helps when looking back on decisions made.

Thank you!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Second Guessing...

I have a long history of second guessing some of the decisions I make. One of the ones on my mind lately has been not to keep Sterling. I didn't because I could not have another dog and still raise, but at the same time I so wish there had been a way to keep him in my life. At the time the placement seemed just about perfect, but after many months I wonder if it would not have been better to have GDB place him so that I would not feel so responsible for his continued care. Now that is not to say he is not cared for and loved: of course he is. But my level of ownership seems to differ from others. I want my dog to have a job, some structure, eat great food, and be an integral part of my life. I want a partner, a friend, a confident companion. I understand many people just do not view dogs in that respect, but it is something I am having a hard time accepting. Maybe it is just the holidays....the last two holidays I spent with Sterling: first as a baby puppy, last as a wonderful adult. I know that not every situation is perfect. I am so happy that he is loved and thankful that I get to see him still.
Sterling a black lab with a blocky head and amber eyes looks slightly off in the distance while standing on a bright field of snow the only color other than black is his bright amber eyes and green ID tag holder.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing everyone and their pups a VERY happy Thanksgiving! Now I am off to bed to enjoy my food-induced coma. Good luck if you decide to brave the crowds tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I am going to buy my pass tomorrow. So excited!!! A total of 4 runs are going to be open...but it is skiing!!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009


For Tom's first day back at work he will have some fresh pow'! Lucky guy, since I don't have my pass yet and can't ski. Can't wait for the first day of the year...maybe on Thursday....

Saturday, November 21, 2009

First Day of the Season

Park City Mountain Resort opened today. Many people descended and payed $50 a ticket to ski one run of man made snow with everyone else. A great success was declared.

I worked. Hopefully some backcountry skiing tomorrow!

marley a brindle longhair dog looks up at the camera with snow on his nose while standing in a field of snow

Friday, November 20, 2009

Millie Agility

Had to do the title since it rhymed!

My baby girl has still not shown up on the phase reports. I guess she is too busy partying her first semester to worry about study time. Keep on rockin' Millie! Maybe next week....
Millie a black lab jumps through a agility tire jump with her ears flying up.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Happy 9 Months

Wishing a Happy 9 month day to Paris (well officially it will start at midnight). Keep having fun!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Two years and two days

Since I brought Sterling home. Love you little man.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Changing Lives

One of my really awesome volunteers returned from a trip today. She was so excited to tel me about a young man they had met during their trip. He was a soldier stationed in Iraq. There was an IED that was used on the vehicle he was driving, and resulted in the loss of both of his legs. He had to be in a hospital for many months and then had a slow adjustment to life in a wheelchair. One of the things he learned about during his rehabilitation were service dogs.

Once ready he applied for a dog from CCI. They have been together 6 months and he said that the dog has completely changed his life. Going out again, meeting people again, being independent: all these things he credited his service dog with helping him.

What amazing dogs: what an amazing difference they can make in our lives.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Dog Walking

Now that winter is here, there are some things that have to happen before the dogs and I can go on a walk. First, I am down to just two dogs who will walk with me: Marley (who will go anywhere) and Rafferty (who will go anywhere Marley goes). Next, there are several preparations I undertake before snapping on the leashes and walking out the door.

It is COLD! That means warm shoes that have waterproofing. Walking along with two energetic dogs and having wet feet is NOT fun. My personal choice are Keens or Merles. I love them, they have good traction, and both brands have boots with good insulation! Perfect for when you are standing in snow at the dog park for 30 min.

Puppies! Since I usually have a puppy to deal with on my walks, I need gloves that have traction and warmth. Puppies pull, try to eat things off the ground, and will randomly spaz out doing labby loops. Without good gloves you either have no traction, and hence no control, or you have very cold fingers that can't feel anything (and then have no control).

Pants! For warmer days I wear insulated track pants. For cold days I bring out the Carharts with a base-layer underneath. For insane, why-am-I-out-in-this weather, bring on the ski pants!

Jacket! For really cold days I wear a down-jacket. Otherwise a soft-shell or fleece is sufficient. If it is a blizzard outside, then out comes the hard-shell with hood. Usually I don't need goggles as well (unless I have to blow the snow out of the driveway at 4 am.).

And of course...a hat. Really any hat will do. They keep all that hot air from escaping from your head. But then you have hat hair. And so I usually have two braids that make me look like I am twelve, but is anyone else even out in this crazy weather anyway?

Of course, I am not the only one who has things to wear for walks. Marley has an orange vest for visibility, and a flashing beacon for late night walks. Rafferty has a really sweet leash (read one I try to get him not to chew on).

Rafferty walks next to me and we practice not eating things, not pulling, no please-drop-that-right-now, don't pull, really-I-meant-it-last-time, don't walk under my feet, really-don't-eat-that, and not pulling. Marley runs along without a leash. We practice lots of recalls. I actually had someone say they were "impressed" by my dog's training. Well I would hope after 14 months of continuous training there would be some results!

We walk for as long as Rafferty can go, and then head home. I then take off Marley's vest, Rafferty's leash, my boots, gloves, coat, and hat. We relax and then repeat next time!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Snuggled up.

When the weather gets cold it is time to snuggle under the covers.

 dante a black and tan chihuauha sleeps under a black blanket on a blue pillow

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Big Boy

Rafferty is now 27.2 lbs at 13 weeks. Luckily he has now figured out the stairs, both up and down, because my back was not going to take much more of that. He is doing fantastic with his house training and is such a fun puppy to have around. He has started going on VERY short outings. He went in while I got a smoothie, and also joined me at Starbucks while I picked up a coffee. Both times he was very good, and made me realize he has almost out-grown the small vest!

He loved the snow this morning. On our walk he would take in a big snort of snow, pause for a moment, and then bolt to the end of his leash trying to do labby scoots. Now that it is cold he has taken to snuggling up next to Marley (much to his annoyance :) and sleeping by his side. He continues to be a quiet puppy and has learned 'kennel' and 'come'. Can't wait to see how much he gains next week. He was 21lbs when I brought him home, 24 last week, and 27.2 this week.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Sophie was a sweet, sassy, and so cute Dachshund I had for two months in the spring of 2007. Dante was just one year old, Hugo was still a pup, and we were still "fostering" Marley trying to decide what we were going to do. Sophie was a puppy I had found who needed a home as her military family was being re-located. She was 10 weeks when she came home, and she and Dante were inseperable. The plan was for her to hang with me for about 2 months, and then fly out to California to live with my Aunt and Uncle, who had just lost one of their dogs.

sophie a red dachshund puppy and dante a black and tan chihuahua exploring the great outdoors
dante and sophie snuggled up on a plush red velvet dog bed
dante and sophie sleeping together on a dog bed
She enjoyed many adventures with them and was a regular running buddy. She loved going for car rides, hikes, and riding in her special basket on the mountain bikes.

Last night she died in a tragic and freak accident. Her spirit will live on in the hearts of those who love her. Sophie, you will be missed.

sophie a red dachshund puppy looks straight at the camera with big eyes

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Old Dogs

Dogs remind us of our own mortality. We see them go from baby puppy, running, playing, and learning about life to old dogs loving nothing more than a soft place to sleep and to be by our sides in just over a decade. It is so hard to watch them age, and yet I don't know that I would miss it for the world. Sure, they may start to look a little different, maybe not be able to go on long walks anymore, but they continue to look to us for love and affection.

When the end comes, we owe it to them to be there, by their side. Letting them die when it is their time, not prolonging pain and suffering because we cannot bear to let go. It is so hard to say goodbye and yet it teaches us so much. Below is a picture of Sparky, one of our 14 year dachshunds. I have grown up with them and hope to have many more years with Missy and Sparky, but when their time comes I will try to remember the happy times and focus on how blessed I was to have them in my life. Each new companion, whether it is a dog or cat or other animal, leaves a special mark in our hearts. If we are too afraid of loosing them to take that first step, then we miss out on the wonderful moments that make each companion unique.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Rafferty came from a nice big litter. There were 4 black pups, and 5 yellow pups. He has 5 brothers and 3 sisters. Here are some pictures of two of his brothers!

This is Rivet, who was a whole 2.5 lbs bigger at 11 weeks than Rafferty. And I thought he was big!
Riley appears to be one of the smaller pups, and is a black lab like Rafferty.
So far I have found the names for two of his sisters, Roxanne, a yellow lab (who is being raised by Sarita's raisers), and Reva, also a yellow lab. Rockford and Rivet are yellow lab brothers. Riley is a black lab.
So I am missing information on one sister and two brothers. If you have any info on their whereabouts please let me know!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Millie News!

Millie is now going into training. She went back for breeder evals, but they have decided to not have her as part of the breeding program and will spay her before she joins the next training string. No reason yet as for why: they did say they really liked her! I know two other siblings are also under consideration for breeding, so maybe they thought she would be better as a guide. Now I will be able to follow her progress on the phase report! She should show up in the next week or two (though she will be Millicent on the don't look for Millie!).

Go Millie Go!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Dog Books

There is nothing better (in my mind anyway) that reading a great book that has a dog as a character. There are several I have read over the years, but here are a few that really stand out.

1. Watchers by Dean Koontz. GREAT book, features a golden retriever. One of my all time favorites.
2. Merle's Door by Ted Kerasote. I love this book!
3. Marley and Me by John Grogan
4. Bones would Rain from the Sky by Suzanne Clothier
5. Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's Soul
6. Old Yeller - Thanks Cabana!
7. Where the Red Fern Grows- my favorite childhood book!
8. My Dog Skip

These are all the ones that come to mind at the moment. Check them out, they are great books!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Procrastination and Puppies

Procrastination and puppies seem to be the common theme for all my blog posts this month. I find myself always posting late at night, just sneaking in under that midnight deadline. I am not sure why I do this...I always mean to post sooner. But then I get caught up playing with the dogs, or watching House, or talking with my family...and I just wait until the last minute.

Anyone else a procrastinator? I think it really makes things more exciting. The panic that sets in when you have a 20 page research paper due the next day has makes roller coaster rides seem tame by comparison. I think maybe it is that some people work better under pressure? I seem to, though I do not really enjoy it. Things come together in a way that they just don't during non stress times. I think I am just rambling and trying to justify my procrastination.

Something I can't procrastinate on though is raising puppies. If you procrastinate on house training sooner or later you have a 6 month old dog who messes really are a BIG problem now. Can't train sit, down, stay, come, and loose leash walking in a day. Really not even in a month. not for commands that can be followed reliably in all sorts of situations. No, we have to start day by day to build up to those wonderful dogs we send back. I guess that is one of the really cool things raising has taught me: the wonderful feeling you get from small triumphs built up each day. The little things like learning to sit before dinner. Walking down the stairs. Or simply knowing what their name is. All the little things that hopefully will build to a tearful but oh-so wonderful passing of the leash at graduation. Something I cannot wait to experience.

Ok, now my battery is about to die, so that is my ramble for the night. What is something that raising meant to you?

Friday, November 6, 2009

A little bit of the wild...

Sometimes when looking at different dogs, I have a really hard time believing they were once descended from wolves. Especially with my little dog, Dante. He is a chihuahua, and doesn't really make it on the blog much. It is not because I don't love him...its more because he is just so easy and good there is really never much to say. But he is my first dog, and one of my heart dogs. Marley is my other heart dog for a different reason: anyone meeting Marley would never describe him as an "easy" dog. But I think that is part of why I love him so much: he has taught me so much about dog training, dog body language, and dogs in general. He is the one who introduced me to big dogs (and Guide Dogs after that), so I owe alot to him.

But I digress. Back to dogs and wolf ancestry. Dante is about as far from wild as you can get: always has a soft bed to sleep in, inside most of the day, and just a pampered pooch. Last night as I was reading in bed, he displayed a very "wild" type of behavior. He buried his food! Now let me explain...since Dante and Marley love to sleep on my bed, I have some blankets there for them to snuggle in. When Dante got his treat last night, he started to bury the treat in the blankets. He would dig the blankets up, put the treat under them, and then use his muzzle to push the the blankets back over his stash. Then he would look at me, find his treat, dig it back up, and repeat the process.

Dante a black and tan chihuahua
Such a funny sight to watch a little Chihuahua bury his "kill" in soft blankets on a big bed.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Puppy Pictures...the process.

Well, Rafferty did not actually get to trick or treat this year, or really participate at all. But he did get to have some cute pictures taken in his halloween costume (and yes, it is the same one Uncle Sterling wore last year). I also got some pictures of him in his puppy coat. He is so funny about having his picture taken. At first he wants to get up, and I have him sit, and then he pops up again, I have him sit, and so on, until finally he sits and looks pathetic while i take his picture. I think it is the big ears and puppy dog eyes that makes him look so bored with the whole thing. Anyone have any tips for taking pictures with baby puppies?