A dog’s view

Ever wonder about a dog’s view. Peter and I have and thought what better way to get a dog’s view than to put a GoPro on a dog’s neck. So we seized the opportunity on a spring hike with my parents, Pablo and Scooby in The Pinnacles near Berea. Enjoy Pablo and Scooby views as well as some fun extras from this day of hiking.

Pablo get's the GoPro first.

Pablo gets the GoPro first.

Pablo on the move on the trail.

Pablo on the move on the trail.

A downed tree looks bigger when closer to the ground.

A downed tree looks bigger when closer to the ground.

Pablo and Scooby hiking close to each other.

Pablo and Scooby hiking close to each other.

Dog's really only see our feet.

Dogs really only see our feet.

We encountered a hiker with two dogs, a mud puddle and took a rest break while Scooby wore the GoPro.

On Pablo's right flank.

On Pablo’s right flank following Mom.

Play session.

Play session.

Pablo going in for a bite.

Pablo going in for a bite.

Got him!

Got him!

Wrestling while hiking.

Wrestling while hiking.

Taking a rest.

Taking a rest.

Wow, who goes there?

Who goes there?

Meeting two new dogs.

Meeting two new dogs.

Have a good hike.

Watching new friends continue on.

Peter checking in with Scooby.

Peter checking in with Scooby.

May apple.

May apple.

Ah, wet the feet.

Ah, wet the feet.

Dirty camera lens.

Dirty the camera lens.

Pablo knows something is in this downed tree trunk.

Pablo knows something is in this downed tree trunk.

These two had a great time hiking and wrestling.

These two had a great time hiking and wrestling.

The GoPro allowed us a glimpse into a dog’s view during the hike. Quite entertaining and educational. Probably not the only time we will strap a camera onto pets in our house!

Scooby

Future service dog number three came into our home in February 2014.  A black male aussie doodle about four months old. The extra month in age was super helpful in the house training department when thinking back to Sophie who was only three months when we got her. This little guy came with the name Dexter, but the future owners wanted to name him Scooby, so we changed what we called him and I had the theme song from the cartoon Scooby Doo in my head for the next two months.

Dexter/Scooby

Dexter/Scooby

Scooby bonded strongly with Pablo and always wanted to play with him, follow him around, be with him.  Pablo has been great with these pups – correcting, teaching boundaries, and playing with them.  Pablo got to show his incredible tolerance with Scooby, whether is was being pulled around the backyard or smothered in the passenger seat in a vehicle.

A Scooby blanket.

A Scooby blanket.

When Pablo and Scooby were the same size.

When Pablo and Scooby were the same size.

We had a real winter here in Kentucky and Scooby enjoyed each snow fall and chance to get out in the snow. He would run in the snow and eat mouths full and just be a puppy.

After enjoying a snow fall.

After enjoying a snow fall.

Scooby also seemed to sleep in awkward and crazy positions. Since it was basically the only time he was still enough to get a decent picture due to his dark color fur, I have plenty of photos of him in his crazy sleeping positions. With all this crazy sleeping, he was not a snuggler.  Relax was one of the hardest things for Scooby.

I will crash anywhere.

Scooby will crash anywhere.

Napping on his go place.

Napping on his go place.

Worked his way to the couch.

Worked his way to the couch.

Even the work ladder will do.

Even the work ladder will do.

Scooby often slept in the kitchen while I worked.

Scooby often slept in the kitchen while I worked.

Seriously this dog would sleep anywhere.

Seriously this dog would sleep anywhere.

I am sensing a theme here.

I am sensing a theme here.

One day while I was working at my computer at the kitchen table, Scooby pulled a chair cushion off a chair and curled up on it. He continued to do this through the duration he was with us. I thought it was cute and smart and never stopped him.

Chair cushions are nice beds.

Chair cushions are nice beds.

Even as Scooby grew, he still liked the chair cushions.

Even as Scooby grew, he still liked the chair cushions.

Sometimes repositioning the pillow was necessary.

Sometimes repositioning the pillow was necessary.

Scooby was a bit more challenging than Sophie. He would test me more, check out everything in the house, was more about finding limits than pleasing me, but all in all was a joy and highly entertaining to have in the house.  He fought sleep in the evening and we found he would get crazy and loud and just be a handful – he just needed put in his crate and would fall asleep immediately – like a toddler.

Looking for a good place to bury his rawhide.

Looking for a good place to bury his rawhide.

He was a shoe mover, but thankfully, not a shoe chewer. He would often move a shoe and then sleep on it.  He also knew the box of toys that was all his and he would take toy after toy after toy out of the box to play with.

Shoes = pillows.

Shoes = pillows.

Gotta have a shoe close by.

Gotta have a shoe close by.

Enjoyed his toy box.

Enjoying his toy box.

He was a boy – always wanting to wrestle Pablo, check things out, and ran around the house using the furniture as a launching pad to jump onto Pablo. He even would run around and jump over Pablo on some occasions. It is always fun when pups get to the teeth loosing stage.  Combine that with all the wrestling, I have found teeth all over the house.  With all the play, Scooby wore Pablo out and I think Pablo slept for a week straight after Scooby went to his new home.

Nap after some good play.

Nap after some good play.

We did go through a bought of worms with Scooby. Never fun with the random throwing up.

Scooby, just like Sophie, loved to search out his food. I would hide his kibble around the house or throw it on the garage floor or out in the yard and he would spend so much time smelling out all those kibble.  Great way to occupy him!

As Scooby grew, his fur around his face and on his legs turned gray. He went from a 99% black puppy to a black and gray dog by the time he left us in May 2014.

No longer a black pup.

No longer a black pup.

Scooby’s home originally picked out for him changed and he ended up going to an Iraqi veteran to be his service dog and to volunteer at the VA.  With Scooby’s draw toward males, he preferred Peter, and his fun spirit, he will do well at his job. I am always amazed with these dogs and the jobs they fill.

Scooby's bud.

Scooby’s bud.

Fun spirited Scooby.

Fun spirited Scooby.

Shadow

Shadow came to us shortly after we returned home from vacation in the fall 2013. Her future owners had been picked out, but given her personality, Liz, the trainer, felt she needed to live in a home, away from Liz, prior to going to her permanent residence. She is a doodle, a mix between an Aussie and a poodle. White and brown, with a nubbin of a tail, one blue eye and one brown eye, 25 pounds, and about 14 months old when we got her. She spent about five weeks with us. The first part of her life was spent at a puppy mill. She had already had some pups, the evidence was her swollen teats.

Shadow.

The day before we got her she got fixed, so she was a bit groggy and likely sore the first several days. She was incredibly cautious and timid at first. Several days passed before she decided to eat food rather than go through the motions of burying it. In my attempts at enticing her to eat and find a treat she would work for, I discovered she did not care for peanut butter, but was a huge fan of cheese, even better, cheese whiz! It took over a week for Shadow to work for me. I think she was feeling me out and once she decided I was ok, she would do anything I asked. She was hesitant to sit for a couple weeks. I think this was due to discomfort from her surgery.

Shadow resting her first day with us

The first night she spent in her crate quiet as a mouse. The second night she serenaded us from her crate with a rather large variety of howls, barks, whines, and yips at varying degrees of loudness. It was honestly quite entertaining and we appreciated her variety. She settled down eventually.  In the morning, Peter discovered that she had managed to open the crate door because she was walking around the house. Thinking back, she probably escaped her crate at the time she quieted down.

Shadow didn’t get into much around the house and was most content to be close to me. So we left her out of her crate at night and she was happy to sleep on a dog bed next to our bed.  This ended the serenading. It did not take long for Shadow to become, well, my shadow. She followed me around the house, would howl and cry when I stepped outside to simply get the mail. I could see why Liz wanted Shadow to spend time away from her prior spending a week in training with the new owners. She needed Shadow to bond with someone other than her so the training would be possible.

Shadow definitely bonded to me. She would serenade Peter if I left the house without her. She also grew anxious when I left her. We discovered this one night when I spent the evening with some friends. Peter was still at home. Shadow serenaded Peter for a spell, then quieted down when she found our clothes basket and proceeded to pull out clothes and chew holes in some of them.  Chewing is definitely one of her anxiety actions. One day I put a leash on her so I could ensure she stayed on her “go place.” I gave her a rawhide and she laid down and started chewing on the raw hide, at least that is what I thought. Turns out she chewed through the leash. This little dog is a strong chewer.

One neat thing about our time with Shadow was seeing her personality come out little by little. Each week some additional aspect of her personality would surface.  One of the first things I remember her doing was seeing her reflection in mirrors, front of the dishwasher, in a glass door and giving a deep growl. She is very in tune to noises around the house. Often she would lift her head and cock her ears to a noise.  She didn’t care for loud kitchen appliances – immersion blender, food processor. When I would use them, I’d find her sitting in our bedroom, as far away from the kitchen as she could get.

It took a couple weeks to get Shadow to get up into the car on her own.  This was important because we traveled to training class each week and she would go additional places with me.  I didn’t want to have to pick her up and place her in the car. I wanted her to be willing to get in the car on her own. At first she just froze unsure of what to do. I found I could coax her into the car if I was in the backseat encouraging her to enter. She would climb up one foot at a time. The last week we had her, Shadow found her jumping ability and she jumped into vehicles, she even jumped in the trunk of the car at one point.

Just wanted to make sure you weren’t planning on leaving me.

Pablo and Shadow never played. They came close a couple times, but they never quite figured it out. They lived together nicely, sharing sun and chewing raw hides together.

Two sun seekers.

Snack time, nom nom.

Shadow did decide to fetch her last week with us. She would bound after a thrown toy. It was a joy to see her acting playful.

Shadow is not without talent. Liz taught her to smile (lift her upper lip and show her teeth). She would smile in greeting when we returned home and she would smile on command as well. She has quick little steps and when she was crated this became quite obvious. Like a tap dancer! I did see the poodle prance too, she would grab the food bowl and prance into the living room with it.

Shadow is all smiles.

Shadow is all smiles.

During walks in the neighborhood, Shadow would gravitate toward any child we passed. She loves children and would greet them all, wagging her little nubbin tail. Shadow is truly a people dog. I took her to a dog park several times and she would greet the people and pay no attention to the dogs.

She enjoys a good run. She took to running figure eights in the yard. Just a couple of them and then want to be back in the company of people. Pablo, Shadow and I enjoyed some hiking in Berea one beautiful fall day. It was nice to see Shadow explore on her own some.

Shadow got to take a road trip to PA with us for Thanksgiving. She traveled well and basically slept the entire time. Shadow got to enjoy the snow, a bon fire, an active house, and what I believe was her favorite thing, to make friends with my mom. Shadow enjoyed snuggling with my mom during our time in PA.

Just let me know when we are there, ok?

Keeping her feet dry on the cardboard while watching the fire.

A big change for Shadow came after Thanksgiving. She would meet her new family! She is to provide comfort to a young girl named Carli. I was so thrilled to meet this family and get a sense of what Shadow’s job would entail.  It is simply amazing, the more I learned about this family and Shadow’s role in it, the more perfect I realized Shadow is for her job. Her personality, love of children, her desire to be close to people, and receive pets and snuggles will suit her well in her new home.

Shadow getting acquainted with Carli.

Shadow and Carli.

Shadow’s gentle spirit is something I will always remember. I enjoyed getting to know her and watch her personality bloom over the weeks she spent with us. It was such a blessing to have Shadow as a charge for a short time, knowing she’s got something bigger and better planned for her, then meet her family and hear how Shadow’s has impacted their lives – it just doesn’t get any better than that!

Gentle Shadow.

 

 

Sophie

My first charge, a scrawny, 8 pound, 10 week old, black, double doodle puppy, was literally plopped in my lap on July 9, 2013. This little gal would be my first experience at puppy raising for Pawsibilities Unleashed. She would eventually become a service dog for someone who needed her talents. I sat there with this no-named, squirmy pup in my lap not really sure what to think of her. If you are wondering what I am doing with this pup, you might want to read Combining Passions.

We named her Sophie and she proved to be smart, energetic, dramatic, and endlessly entertaining and nothing phases her. Sophie has beady eyes, like you would see on a teddy bear. Her tail is long and slender and eagerly wags when she works on commands. She has long legs like a poodle and her howl, whine and bark are all overly high-pitched and dramatic. Sophie was with us about three months. When she left us, she weighed about 20 pounds and was taller and longer than Pablo.

One of the first photos of Sophie

Puppies are cute right? And it is a good thing, because they are a lot of work. Pablo came to me basically house trained and healthy at about 3-4 months old. With Sophie, I got many new experiences – house training, an ear infection and a bout of worms. All learning experiences that will help with the next puppy in this house.

With Sophie, I realized you have to take a young puppy outside every hour, if not more often, and make a huge deal when they go to the bathroom outside. Eventually the light bulb goes off and the bladder grows up and can handle several hours inside at a time. Hallelujah!

Her ear infection become obvious when she would scoot the side of her head on the carpet and whine. She never scratched her ears excessively with her paws, but she tried to use the carpet for relief. Sophie’s ears are pretty hairy and a trick I learned was to twirled a Q-tip in her ear several times to pull the inner ear hair out to prevent dirt from gathering and infections from setting in.

Sophie seemed so skinny. She just wasn’t gaining much weight and always ferociously eating her food for the first month we had her. About week four or five with us she started throwing up on occasion. With maybe the third episode, I saw spaghetti-like items in her vomit – worms. She has not been treated for worms since we got her and apparently puppies are very susceptible to roundworms. I was so thankful to get those things taken care of, terminate the vomiting, and get some weight on that dog.

I did learn a lot about puppies with Sophie, and with the work came endless entertainment. She is quite curious and one afternoon I found her in the dishwasher cleaning dishes. I couldn’t help but laugh even if it was a behavior I’d rather her not repeat.

Just helping with the dishes.

Pablo loved playing with her and the two of them romped around the house wrestling and chasing, growling and barking. A result of all this playing and biting was finding baby teeth throughout the house. I think I found the majority of the lost baby teeth from this girl.

 

Sophie has a fabulous nose. I would tether her to a door and she would lay down patiently waiting for me to hide her kibble around the house, in corners, beside furniture posts, under the corner of rugs, and on a bottom shelf. When I let her go she was off and it would not take her long to find all of her kibble. Pablo usually found a few morsels too. I put some kibble in a big box and she jumped right in. Like I said, nothing phases this dog.

See the long tail?

Sophie in a box.

One day on a walk with Sophie and Pablo, I dropped a poop bag on the sidewalk while picking up some additional business. To my surprise, Sophie picked up the poop bag and proudly with the poodle prance carried the bag back to the house. From that day on her job on walks was to carry her poop bag. She took on that task proudly and with enthusiasm.

 

In training class, we learned basic commands, sit, down, stand, wait, heel, among other things. I also taught her some commands just for fun. She could right shake and left shake.

Right shake.

Sophie is a poodle and her coat needs grooming. I recall the first time I took her for a puppy grooming and she came back with a bow in her hair!

So pretty.

I was called up north to work for several days in Ohio shortly after Sophie came to live with us. So she learned how to travel and travel well. She would chill in her crate and sleep during the drive. During our stay in a hotel I discovered the long hallways in hotels are great for practicing heeling. She also accompanied my friend, Stephanie, and I on a road trip to PA, MD, and VA. True to her curious, independent nature, she would explore and enjoy every stop and experience along the way. Sophie’s travel highlights included spotting a lion statue at a job site (she barked at the lion), meeting numerous strangers, family, friends, children, dogs, cats and horses, getting a ride in a wagon, and dipping her paws in the Potomac River.

Let me know when we get there.

New dog friend in VA.

New child friend in VA.

Just going for a ride.

I have to be honest and admit it took months before Sophie made her way into my heart. I think it was partly the Lord shielding my heart, partly the focus and work involved with a puppy, and partly that she was nothing like I expected. I laugh now when I think about telling Peter my guess was that the dog we would get would be white and brown with no black. Oh how often our expectations are way off base! But I remember exactly when I looked at Sophie and thought, this is a dog I am proud of, and my heart smiled. It was a training class in September and Sophie was rock solid. She was focused, attentive, spot on with all the exercises. It was as if she had left the puppy at home that night and boy, was I ever proud of the young dog she had become.

Just enjoying the view.

We had a vacation planned in October and could not take Sophie. So we made arrangements for her to stay at the trainer’s farm. I would be given a second dog after our return from vacation, but was fortunate enough to make arrangements to see Sophie again. She came to training class to meet us. Sophie had filled out some, found a wild side of herself (I imagine farm life would do that to any dog), but was excited to see us and still knew all her commands. Sophie was matched with a family and tasked with rounding up and keeping tabs on a child who has a tendency to bolt. I have no doubt she is providing a priceless service to this family. Thank you Sophie for the introduction into the world of puppy raising.

Farm dog Sophie.

Working at training class.

 

 

Combining Passions

For the past year I had been praying and brain storming about finding a ministry that encompassed my passions.  I had been observing people in ministry, and when you see a person that throws their whole heart and energy into their particular ministry, there is no doubt they were made for what they are doing. I wanted to have that passion and excitement for something.  After thinking about it, I wanted to find a ministry that combined my love of animals, bent toward service, and ultimately helped people.

I recalled a friend of mine who fostered and trained a service dog several years ago. I wanted to run with this idea. I chatted with my friend about her experience, what she liked, disliked, and what challenges she encountered. I could tell in my heart this was something I should pursue. A Google search lead me to Pawsibilities Unleashed, an organization in Frankfort, KY, that among other things, trains service dogs.  One of the great things about this organization is that they will train any breed of dog that passes a temperament test and has characteristics needed for a service dog. Dogs come to this organization by all sorts of paths.

After an interview with the organization and blessing from Peter, I made arrangements to take on a dog in July 2013. I wasn’t sure what all this entailed, only that I was to attend a training class once a week with the dog I was charged with. I had no idea if I would like this, if I could handle it, what all was involved, or whether this was the ministry I had been praying for, but I did know I was excited for this new adventure.