Friday, December 31, 2010

Playing Catch Up!

I finally got all the Florida blog entries up and running!  Now it is time to play catch up with everything that has happened since then.  Jack has settled in nicely and is slowly but surely catching up with all his service dog skills.  I don't think I have properly introduced Jack yet... he will get his own blog entry when I can upload pictures. 

Serena is learning at warp speed.  We are now up to, I think, around 60 commands (I will tally them up soon!).  Being in Florida I learned so much on how to train dogs and I love applying it to Serena and Jack. If you know of anyone who wants to help out or raise a puppy please let me know!  Hannah, Humphrey, Heidi and Homer are all still looking for homes. 

Wow this entry is turning out to be completely pointless but I promise I will share more very soon!  Happy New Year everyone.

Drive Home...

Bright and early on Thursday we woke up and drove over to MAWP to load the 5 dogs into the car.  Serena was not happy she had to share her car with 5 other dogs.  Hannah and Humphrey were in a crate because they are super scared and feel more secure closed in.  Heidi was tied in the back because she was just rescued out of someone's yard where she had spent a year being tied and we didn't know what she would do if we opened the doors.  Jack, Homer and Serena all shared the back seat.  We also managed to fit a crate, walkers and an x-pen in the car.  We put all our luggage on the car top carrier.

Poor Homer had an upset stomach.  He was so good though and would whine when he was about to have an accident so we would pull over and he would do it outside. 

Getting 6 dogs out at rest stops was challenging!  No one had any training except for Serena since they were all rescues.  Homer and Jack did know how to be polite on leash.  Our routine was as follows;
1. Put leashes on Homer, Jack and Serena
2. Get them out of the car and get one person situated with the 3 labs
3. Get another leash on Heidi and get her out of the car. 
4. Depending how calm everyone was either one person would hold 4 labs while the other person got Hannah and Humphrey out or we would take Serena with us to get Hannah and Humphrey out.  Poor Serena got the short end of the stick because she was the best trained.  She would go out and go pee and we would have to put her back in the car while getting the other situated.  She was not a happy camper being a princess and all.  She was a trooper though and listened in all of the chaos.
5. Put Hannah and Humphrey back in their crate
6. Clip Heidi back into the back
7. Load Jack, Homer and Serena. 

By the end of the 2 days everyone was used to the routine and were so very good.  We could get Homer, Jack and Serena to all walk together. 

The drive back was super pretty.  Florida scenary is so different than the corn fields of Illinois!

Jack, Homer and Serena would alternate putting their heads on our shoulders.  They are such love bugs.

This is Serena's "Are we there yet?" face.

Homer is looking for someone to raise him if you know of anyone who wants to do it!  You won't be able to resist this face:

Serena and Sarah:

The sunset the first night in TN.  It was freaking amazing!

The night in the hotel was interesting.  We would take the dogs out to go pee in pairs.  Hannah and Humphrey spent the night in one crate while Heidi was in the other.  Homer, Jack and Serena got to share the beds.  We only had to get up once when poor Homer had an accident by the door.  This of course woke everyone up so we had a pee party at 2 am.  Then it was back to bed until around 6 when we just decided to load up and get going.  The second day went by a lot better.  Everyone (dogs and people) were much more used to the routine and ready to get home.

I dropped Sarah off in Bloomington then had an hour or so drive to get to Mokena to drop the dogs off.  Serena decided that since Sarah was gone she was going to be my co-pilot.  Normally I don't let her ride in the front seat but I didn't have the energy to argue with her and she had curled up in a tight little ball on the passenger seat floor.  This is where she stayed for an hour. 

I got to Linda's and Mike, her husband, helped me get Hannah, Humphrey, Homer and Heidi all out and situated in the house.  Then back on the road Serena, Jack and I went!  It was so nice to finally get home though the house felt strangley empty with only 2 dogs after being surrounded by a pack of dogs for a week.  Sarah and I had a great time in Florida and can't wait to go back and visit everyone again!!

Day 6 in Florida

This was our last full day in Florida.  We spent most of the day getting all the dogs that we were taking home clean and ready to go.  We were taking home along with Serena; Jack (year old Black Lab), Homer (Year old yellow lab), Heidi (year old yellow lab), Hannah and Humphrey (6 month old golden retriever/ Australian shepherd crosses).  The weather was so nice Sarah and I were bathing dogs in shorts and t-shirts.  Everyone was so well behaved and looked oh so cute after they dried off.  While we were doing this Serena had fun running around with all her new friends.

We also helped Chris trim all the puppies' nails.  For the most part they were delightful!

This was also our last chance to say goodbye to all the dogs at the house.  This is Tink, a 4 pound 4 toothed Maltese.  She was thrown over the fence at MAWP a couple years ago bleeding and about to die.  They rescued her and nursed her back to health and now she rules the house.  No joke.  Serena was petrified of her!

This is Max.  A German Shepherd/ Golden cross.  He is Fred's dog.  We just loved played with him :-)

In between bathing dogs, Sarah, Chris and I went out to lunch with Serena, Jack and Tabs.  This only Jack's second outing where he had to stay under the table.  We put him in between Tabs and Serena because they are used to just sleeping while we eat.  He did so very good!  And really how can you resist this:

3 full grown labs under one booth.  Gotta love service dogs...

After we got back from lunch it was more bathing dogs and play time!  Here is Jack being more interested in me than the other dogs.

The puppies, as always, were super cute and were doing super cute things.  This one wanted some Coke:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Day 5 in Florida

Day 5 Sarah, Serena and I went to Universal Studio's Island of Adventure.  We went to see the Harry Potter theme park and had no idea that our ticket got us into the entire Island of Adventure! We had no problem entering the park with Serena.  Everyone was super polite and awesome about service dogs.   We made our way over to Harry Potter and were in absolute awe.  This place was crazy!  It had so many little details all the way down to crooked chimneys!

When you first enter there is the Hogwarts Express with a conductor taking pictures.  Serena and I waited in line and went to get our photo. The conductor was so nice and was all excited to see and pet Serena.  

We made our way around the park trying to take it all in.  Everyone kept asking if Serena was from Gryfindor because she was wearing their colors (Maroon and Gold).  Of course we said yes. What other house would she be from? haha!  We went to the first ride (the Dragon one) and asked what to do with Serena.  They didn't have any kennels set up at this one so they asked if we would mind just taking turns holding the dog and riding the ride.  We had no problem with this.  The ride was only like 30 seconds long.  Plus we got to go up the exit line and get right on the ride!  We thought it was great... little did we know it would get better.  We went to the next ride (Flight of the Hippogriff) and asked what to do with Serena and they said we could do the dog swap again or they would set up a kennel for her.  We asked for the kennel since we wanted to see what that was all about.  They brought out this GIANT crate (literally big enough for a mini pony) and set it up right by the ride.  Serena had the head of customer service stay with her while we went up the exit line (skipping the 45 min wait) and got to ride in the first row!  This is Serena waiting for us while we ride the ride:

We got off the ride and came to get Serena.  The staff member was so nice!  She said people thought Serena was Sirius Black (a black dog from Harry Potter) and kept taking photos of her.  She said she kept having to say that Serena was a service dog for one of the patrons. She was all worried I would be upset that people were taking pictures of Serena.  I told her it was totally okay and if they wanted to take pictures I don't mind!  Then we asked what would be best for us if we wanted to ride the last ride in the castle.  She called up to her supervisor and got the clearance to take us through the express lane skipping the 75 min line!  We then got a private tour through the Hogwarts castle and had a great time talking to the woman all because of Serena!  She took us to the handicap entrance and Sarah and I had our own ride car to ourselves while Serena waited in another crate they had set up for her!

The ride was crazy cool and the staff waiting with Serena was so nice.  We excited the castle and went shopping.  Remember when I could actually hold Serena without it looking awkward?

We, of course, had to take a picture of Serena with the Gryfindor flag:

Serena and I with the castle in the background:

Some nice person took our picture in front of the Sirius Black sign:

Serena had to get her own picture in front of the sign too because of how many people called her Sirius Black:

We also got our photo with some Harry Potter Characters.  Unfortunately Serena moved at the last minute:

Serena waiting in line with my empty Butterbeer glass:

The candy store! oh boy!  Serena handled the crowds in all these little shops like an old pro.  Most of the time we were packed liked sardines and people don't always see little Serena walking next to me.  She stayed glued to my side and navigated herself all over.  She even ignored kids running up and trying to pet her from behind.  I was ever so impressed!

How big the castle was:

After Harry Potter we explored the rest of the Island of Adventure.  We also found the special potty place they have for service dogs.  It is behind the scenes in a quiet corner with grass.  It was super neat seeing behind universal and how nice people were with helping us find the potty spot!   

They had a toon land so of course we had to get Serena's picture with Marmaduke!

We went on a few rides in Dr. Seuss land so that Serena could have that experience.  They were so nice about letting Serena on the rides.  In the Cat and the Hat ride they had a special handicap car with more room for Serena to sit at my feet.  At another ride they let Serena on the ride only if she would lay down the whole time.  She at first was like "why? I want to watch!"  But she was tired and went down and watched from there.

While leaving the park Serena learned to surf!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Day 4 in Florida

Day 4 started out with us going to get Serena's hip x-rayed.  Unfortunately her left hip failed the test.  She already has arthritis starting in it.  This means she can't be a breeder because she needed excellent hips.  It also means she can't be a service dog because she would need at least a fair hip.  Serena was released from MAWP and she is now officially mine!  This was a weird thing to wrap my head around because I have spent the past year preparing myself to give Serena away.  Now I get to keep her forever and ever!  She gets to keep her service dog vest and be the demo dog for MAWP.  She will go to outings and got with us to meet clients.  She now has to know every single command so that she can show them all.  We have some work to do! 

After going to the vet we spent the afternoon working dogs at MAWP. It was awesome!!!!!  It was super fun getting to work with different dogs and puppies.

Before we went to MAWP we took out Deb's dogs to get a pict ure of them for a thank you present for letting us stay with her.  They are such good dogs!  First we took pics of the  goldens.  

Bianca, Gabriel and Ivy:

Then we brought out the Dachshunds for a group photo.  They were all so well behaved.  

Gabriel, JJ, Bianca, Ivy and Killarney:

After the long day of playing with dogs and training Serena was exhausted.  She decided that Sarah's side of the bed was hers: