Thursday, December 27, 2012

Why I puppy raise

After 3 years of raising service dogs for My Angel With Paws, probably the number one question I get is “Isn’t it hard to let them go?”  I am never quite sure how to answer this.

I actually cried when I found out Serena was not going to be a service dog because her hips are bad.  But now am thankful everyday she is mine.  There was never a set time when I gave Jack up.  He just started going to Body Fixx more frequently until one day he just stayed with Tom.  Plus I see him all the time around town so that is great fun.  Darby is going to be the first puppy I raised since a baby.  Everything he knows and does is because of me.  

I have spent the past year and half watching this puppy grow.  From the first car ride home:

To spending the first week getting no sleep what so ever, while he slept in the most awkward positions:

To teaching him the basic commands and then cheering him on as he figures out the harder service dog skills.  

I watched him grow from barely filling his service dog vest to seeing him turn into a magnificent young adult dog:

As this puppy’s puppy raiser, I am the lucky person who gets to experience all his firsts; first Christmas, first trip to Disney World, first snow:

Sure there were moments when I wondered how many things can this puppy get into? Like when he thought he was a guinea pig and joined them in their cage:

Or when he proudly brought me my bra while we had friends over and having to say “bring it here, give, YES!”    

Or when he found the one mud patch in the yard and tried to become a black lab:

But then there were many more moments that make me want to dance for joy.  Like when I dropped my keys and before I could say anything there he was holding them up for me wagging his tail with sheer glee.  Or even the simple things like just having a cuddle buddy while watching Sunday football: 

Or when he finally figured out what “speak” meant after I spent months waiting for someone to walk by the window so I could run into the room going “Yes! Speak!” when he barked at them.  It is a miracle I didn’t get kicked out of my apartment doing that. 

After a year and a half you learn all your puppy’s little quirks and habits.  Like that he loves going down slides. 

Or that he snores very loudly while you are in class. Or sitting like a statue staring at you with laser beam eyes means “get me outside now because I am trying really hard not to move because if I do I will pee.”  I constantly am trying to remember all these things so I can tell his forever mom or dad everything but then I realize that whoever his mom or dad is will learn them too and oh so many more that I didn’t know. 

So “is it hard to let them go?” Yes.  Probably one of the hardest things I have done.  But that puppy that you raised turned into a dog that will change the world for one person.  I say that is pretty freaking awesome!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Getting back to blogging

Boy it has been awhile! I am hoping to get this blog up and going again.  Tons of things have happened with the dogs but posting them all right now from memory probably will take forever and would get super boring so not going to do that.

The biggest thing that is happening is Mr. Darby Doodle is going to final training in a week.  I can't believe it has been a year and half since that fat yellow ball came home.  Looking through old videos and found this from his first day of training.

I am going to be a blubbering mess when I say goodbye to him but I am freakishly excited to see who he is going to be paired with.  Whoever it is I know he will make them smile.  

I know this is super short but I will ramble about random things during the next couple of days.  

Friday, May 4, 2012

Going to Florida

Serena and I are currently at O'Hare airport waiting for our flight to Florida. I used my dads frequent flyer miles to get a free ticket to go get Serena temperament tested at the My Angle With Paws facility. They are hosting a temperament test and it sounds great! I don't really know what they will test but I will let you know. If Serena passes we get a certificate and she gets a title after her name. So far, today has been interesting. I made sure to get to the airport freakishly early. This was the first time that I didn't have to check in Serena beforehand. While booking my flight, American Airlines had an option for traveling with a service dog. They called me a week before my flight to confirm I would have a dog and then transferred my seat to bulkhead. All I had to do was print out my boarding pass! It was so weird being able to walk right into the airport and go to security. I am used to sitting in line for an hour then arguing with people until I get a seat. The line for security was super long so I was prepared to wait for awhile. Next thing I know, a lady pulls me aside into a special assistance line. I walked through security with Serena in a stay then called her to me through the scanner. Her collar always sets the scanner off so I always tell TSA that they can pat her down. Sometimes the TSA agents don't know what they can do to a dog so to save them the questioning I just tell them to pat her down. They sent me to a guy and instead of patting her down he swabbed my hands. I passed the swab and he sent me on my way. Then he realized he should have checked serena and her vest pockets. Whoops dude! I opened her pockets and showed that she wasn't carrying anything illegal. I was trying not to laugh at how I knew the procedure better than he did. Serena and I then walked to our gate and have been chilling for awhile. Our plane leaves in about 45 min!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Serena won!

A couple weeks ago I stumbled across a contest being held by Cesar Millan (the Dog Whisperer) to win a $100 American Express card sponsored by Heartgard.  You had to say why your dog deserves 12 months of heart worm protection.  I entered Serena for the hell of it, not expecting to get anything.  When the 24 finalist were chosen, I went to his website to see who beat out Serena.  While I was clicking through I found that Serena was a finalist!!!  She already had over 100 votes from complete strangers.  I shared her page on Facebook and her total "likes" took off.  The contest ended yesterday and this morning I go to Cesar's website and find this: 

Serena had won the contest with over 700 votes!!  This is a screenshot of the home page of Cesar's website.  I couldn't believe it.  Thank you to everyone who voted.  I am such a lucky person to have such an amazing dog.  

Here is the link to her page on his website with what I wrote and her command's video:

Edited to add:

Serena is now on Cesar's Facebook Page.  WOO HOO!!

I sent this to Cesar in a message.  Corny?  Yes but I am really really thankful/ in complete shock that she won.  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Darby turns 1!

My little yellow ball of sunshine turned 1 on Monday! I, of course, threw him a mini birthday party.  Darby's birthday unfortunately was the day before taxes were due so he didn't get a huge party but he seemed happy with his quick celebration before I had to run off to work.  

First we had to take pictures with his birthday hat...

He thought I was a little silly doing this

He tolerates me oh so well

Before cake we opened presents.  He was curious about the stuff inside the bag but really was more interested in the treats I was holding.

So after presents I pulled out his birthday cake...

Darby making a wish
Wondering why I am not letting him eat his cake
I allowed him to lick the frosting a little

Serena was then allowed to join the party.  She was not too happy that she had to wear a hat.
Then they each got to eat their slice!  (Though Darby snarfed his down and snarfed most of Serena's)

 I can't believe that Darby is already 1!  We are more than halfway done with his training.  My little man is growing up!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Serena visits a Daisy Troupe!

A couple weeks ago, I was asked to come talk with a Daisy Troupe about people who do good things.  My good thing was training service dogs for people with disabilities.  I brought Serena along for a demo.  She was so happy to get to show off.

Talking about service dogs
  We talked about how a person in a wheelchair can't pick up things from the floor so how the dogs are trained to pick up everything from the floor.  Serena showed picking up phones, keys and wallets.  The Daisy's clapped and cheered every time she did something which of course made Serena want to do more and more.  
Serena going to pick up something

They were an amazing audience and asked amazing questions.  Serena did great with them too.  She let them all swarm her and pet her.  This would have NEVER happened a year ago.  She has come so very far.  

Serena being swarmed

They also all wanted high-fives so they lined all up and Serena went down the line gave each one of them high-fives.  It made them very very happy (and their squeals of joy made Serena very very happy).  

Asking very good questions

Group photo... love it!!

Thank you Daisy Troupe of Lake Bluff for letting us visit you!!  We had a great time.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Florida- Part 2- Dog headshots

While in Florida I took pictures of some of the house dogs and some of the puppies in training at the My Angel with Paws Facility.

First we have Dixie.  She is a breeder for MAWP.  She had her first litter in July (the F litter).  She is a complete ham!

This is Murphey.  He is Chris's cocker spaniel.  He is such a sweet little guy.

This is Tabbris.  She is Chris's ambassador dog.  She is such a good girl!

Next we have Twix.  She is Val's pet dog.  She thinks she is the queen of the world.

The next pictures are of puppies in training.  This is Devina.  She is a yellow lab.

The above photo is Devina and Hawkeye.  Hawkeye is a rescue lab mix.  He LOVES to play fetch.

The next one is Hoodlum.  He is a lab/border collie cross rescue.  I am absolutely in love with him and his brother Hudson.  They both have a brown eye and a blue eye!

This is Hudson.  He is the brother of Hoodlum.  What a sweet, loving dog!!