Final count down.

It’s the last 24 hours before I go on class for my third guide dog.

I have everything laid out but for some unexplainable reason I can’t bring myself to pack.

Maybe it’s emosional. 

 

Brandt Lilo and Gilmore will be fine at home.{Gilmore is my sister’s Yorky I’m dog-sitting.]

Ive been getting these weird panic attacks throughout the week. Other times I can’t wait because a new chapter of my life awaits.

Heart burn has also been a big problem.

It’s unbelievable how stressful something like this is.  

I guess by tomorrow this time I will be able to share more. By Monday I will have my dog.  Throughout this 2 weeks I’m on class and even the aftercare I’ll try to update this blog regularly.

Now however, I should really publish this so I can actually start packing. The dog’s bag is finished. It’s my own that is the trouble.

 

I wonder…

I wonder what it is like to walk in a shop and look through the products to see what you want.

I wonder what it’s like if something beautiful catches your eye. 

I wonder how it is to push a trolley through people and to know when to turn or swerve. 

I wonder why the person hooted at me today when I was walking straight towards the road and trailed with my cane to see where the kerb was so I could do a right turn. Did he really think I was that stupid to cross right in front of a moving car?

I wonder what the houses and cars look like I walk past every day.

I wonder what my sister looks like, or my mother. Or even my husband. How did I look on my wedding day.

I wonder what a sneer looks like. Or a smile or a tear.

I wonder what food looks like. Does it look like it tastes?

I wonder what a photo looks like. Or even a drawing or painting.

I wonder what it would be like to have depth perception by using your eyes. To judge the distance for you to walk between people or cars.

I wonder what shapes look like. Do they look like they feel?

I wonder what it would be like to drive. To leave 5 minutes before an appointment and know you will be on time if you could only get parking.

I wonder what the moon looks like. That cheese thing has confused me. The moon cannot look like a huge wheel of Cheddar.

I wonder how labels look.

I wonder what facial ticks look like.

I wonder what body language looks like.

I wonder why I first had to walk in to your trolley before you moved it. You could see I was going to hit it and still you kept on talking to your friend. Fake appologies followed.

I wonder why the nice man stopped his car in the middle of the intersection to jump out and help me accross the traffic light. I could do it but appreciated the kindness.

I wonder why you think it’s funny to let your toddler grab my dog while it’s in harness.

I wonder why your school child has to tell you to please not touch the dog because it’s working.

I wonder why people always assume there’s transport waiting for me outside the shop when I have heavy packages.

I wonder why you’d think someone picks my clothes for me.

I wonder why you always talk to the person next to me.

I wonder why you assume I can’t sign for a purchase.

I wonder what it’s like to cycle indipendantly.

I wonder what it’s like to walk through a strange place and to just look at everything new.

 

These are all things that went through my head this morning while I was trying to get a shop assistant’s attention. It made me start to think and wonder.

All dried out.

For those of you who know me well, know I like to be as natural as I can concerning my dogs.

This afternoon I decided today is a good day to start making my own dog treats. I went outside and got a packet of chicken  giblets from the freezer. I had to work quickly in case I changed my mind to do this. It’s quite a daunting task to cut up a kg of giblets into 1 cm cubes. At least I had company. There were 3 very attentive pups lying quietly at my feet. 

 

After 2 hours of cutting I finally had 1 large baking tray packed with cubed meat. You have to be careful so they don’t touch each other otherwise they won’t dry evenly. You also have to make sure the pieces of meat is about the same size and hight.  

There’s still a tub of cut up meat in the fridge for tomorrow morning. Jus in case this batch didn’t turn out well at least nothing got wasted.

 

I read the meat has to stay in the oven for about 4 hours at 70 degrees celsius. I left mine for an extra hour just to make sure they were done. You don’t want the treats to go rancid. The dogs did quality control at the 4 hour mark, and again after 5 hours.  They didn’t mind which ever way. 

 

Later tonight I also read you had to put the treats in a 150 degree oven for about 10 minutes. We’ll see how they are after they have cooled. It’s amazing how much drying meat shrinks. I never realised.  

I’m sure this will actually work out cheaper than buying expensive 1 ingredient treats at a shop or even online. 

These treats are such high value. Everyone was willing to work for them. Let’s hope there’s a future for me in dehydrating my own dog treats.

There’s no use crying over spilt milk

Ever since I have seen the topic for this ADBC it has caught my attention.

For the longest time I had no idea what I wanted to write about. There are so many regrets and so many good things about having a guide dog. There’s no point in focusing on the bad because you can’t do anything to change life. However, the further it circled in my mind the more it became clear how different things could have been.

 

Lilo is my first real dog. Yes, I had dogs while living at home but in my mind I knew if I didn’t feed them someone else would always be there to check up on me. 

I was never one who put my responsibilities on someone else. It was a big thing for me though. This hit home very hard when one morning I wanted to fill the water dish and found it completely dry. It wasn’t just empty, it was dry. It is seven years down the line and I will never forget the fact I was to lazy or preoccupied to give my dog fresh water. I don’t think I have ever forgiven myself.  It’s these little things that make you wonder if you should have ever gotten a dog in the first place. 

 

The only other real regrets I have is not enjoying my dog sooner. It was so important for me to get everything just right. I conveniently forgot the fact she was and would always be just a dog. Yes a dog with a very important job, but first a bouncy, wagging, barking, always happy pup.

Come-on she is a Lab after all. 

 

The next one is that I didn’t try to understand her sooner. Li is a very strong willed dog. If she wants to go somewhere she goes there. I always tried to match her temperament with my own. If she didn’t want to sit I made her. If she wanted to walk fast I slowed her way more than was necessary. If she walked me in to an overhead branch I’d make her work it again and again after I gave her a correction. This was the way I learned to teach dogs. It was everywhere so It was right. Wrong. After I came across  and learned more about positive reinforcement and clicker training our lives turned around. It was brought home to me the day she walked me in to a tree again. I wasn’t going to give her a correction because I had convinced myself there were better ways. She didn’t know this and was expecting one. So when she walked me in to the branch, she immediately sat down waiting for the worst. Needless to say, I sat down right next to her, hugged her, and just cried.

 

From that day our lives turned around. It didn’t happen overnight. There was so much to undo. We built a stronger bond than ever before, for one. I taught her so many things with positive reinforcement. Once she learnt that a click meant a treat and she could make the click happen the sky was the limit.

 

Lilo is turning 10 on the 26th of June. Many people thought she wouldn’t make it past 7 due to her HD. I’m just glad we have managed to enjoy these years we had together. My dog will do anything for me. It shames me because I feel I don’t deserve such a very good and brilliant dog who put up with so much. I understand she probably half forgotten. I haven’t. It will stay with me forever. But I’ve made a choice to handle my animals with the love, respect and kindness they deserve. It is not always the quickest because it might take longer for them to learn. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar after all. As long as we remember that, and live one day at a time, everything will turn out for the best.

She can never be “just a dog”

About this time 7 years ago Lilo and I finished our 3 week class together at Sa Guide-Dogs.

It was probably the greatest thing I’ve ever accomplished in my life. To know I was going to be responsible for my very own dog who was not a pet was wonderful, amazing, exciting and thrilling all at once. 

 

Everything had to be just right. Whenever we went somewhere I couldn’t wait to show off my wonderful dog. What she did for me was something new every single time. 

 

Fast forward quickly through 7 years. 

We moved 3 times. We got a job. We made so many new friends and stayed in touch with old ones. Everyone who knows Lilo loves her. I don’t think I speak to anyone on the phone or via e-mail who don’t ask after her. She was on TV and Radio. She saved my life by breaking hard for turning cars. We got lost together. Once even with a GPs and a broken harness. She learnt tricks and found mine and friends lost objects. Someone still owes her a steak. 

She climed on my father-in-law’s furniture. She also walked across the pool net because they wouldn’t take it off quick enough. She sat in my cousin’s fish pond and refused to get out. She also tried to save a Jack ruse from drowning. He was to heavy and almost pulled her under. She raised my sister’s Yourky and my friend’s kitten. Until today she has a mark on her nose where Lana gave her a swipe across the nose. She stayed with us when Lucky died. She got kicked by a horse. She stole Wesley’s steak off the breakfast counter. She got permission to go in to a restaurant even though she was retired.. She was the only Labrador at a German Shepherd show.  She snuggled under the covers with me when I was running a temprature

. Afterwards she was so hot that she had to drink water. She was with Rigby on the same bed when he ad a seiczure. She never bit him when he thrashed and kicked her. She was kind enough to share me with many different people and animals through the years. 

She taught me patience and to be kind. She taught me there is never just one way to get something done. If you can’t get something out by shaking, chewing or digging, maybe sitting on it might work. All of these things are going through my brain like some freaky slideshow. 

 

Maybe it’s because I realise her time is running out slowly. She tries to be her old self. Every once in a while she’ll let it slip that she’s getting old. Maybe I won’t notice that her trip upstairs is a bit slower. Or maybe I won’t think anything if she jumps on to our bed when it’s thundering. When we come home she doesn’t always wait at the door. We will be inside when she makes her way downstairs. However even with all these things, she will still play. She’s still food crazy and loves to snuggle. 

 

I’m just realising more and more some day all the herbal medicines and powders in the world won’t help any more. One day we’ll loose this battle we’ve been fighting for almost 8 years. Because she can never be just a dog this fight was worth it. Every x-ray or different food or expensive pill is counter balanced by her good and kind heart and her willingness to work, and live and survive. She can never be just a dog. She is “the dog”.  

One day we will have to say goodbye, Until then we will live and play and exist and count every single moment. I’m saving them to look back on. Lilo deserves it.

Happy heart day.

So tomorrow is Valentines day. 

 

 

As you can see I don’t care about the spelling of the name because the doesn’t mean much. 

 

But this day of love is special in a different way. It’s my Rigby’s birthday!!

He’s turning 5. That means he has been with us for 3 and a half years already. I can’t believe how the time flies. 

The older he gets, the better he works. 

 

 

There’s not much I can say about my golden man. He’s not very brave. He’s scared spittless of drains. But he’s really got a golden heart. And he’s so loving and kind. He is patient to. Who can willingly stand in a bus for an hour, then walk about 2 KM home. 

 

All this with his head up and a wagging tail. I checked. I just hope he realises how much I love him and no matter what I’ll stand by him. We’ll do the best we can for the Rigger man because he deserves it. We know he’s the best he knows how to be. That’s plenty good enough for us. 

Happy hearty birthday my gentle one. I thank God every day that we didn’t loose you in August. 

Farewell fluffy Farrel

Last week I found a podcast which I can’t stop listening to. It’s called “A doggy-dog world.”

 

Those who know me will know I’m pretty outspoken about what I believe in. As specially with dogs. These ladies are wonderful. It’s like I’ve found long lost friends. 

 

Anyway in case you’ve been wondering what a podcast has to do with this blog entry, keep reading.

 

In July Brandt had to retire Farrel due to a couple of reasons. This was so very hard for us because we had to decide if we could keep him. 4 dogs in a complex. Will it work out? What about feeding walking and giving appropriate attention to everyone and so on.

 

We had a week of lots of “what if’s and “how would we’s” but in the end we decided he’s not going anywhere.  And so we lived happily ever after. We could leave the 2 retired ones at home if we had to go out and everyone was happy.

 

About a month after this Rigby through a spanner in our wheel by getting Epileptic fits. We had to start all over again. Can we keep 3 special needs dogs? Do we have the money space and can we run our live s like this? In the end we decided we could and life goes on. Everyone’s happy. Rigby’s on meds and no more fits.

 

About 2 weeks ago Brandt found work. All is well. Lots of excitement.  There is only 1 problem. Darrel cannot handle the fact that Brandt isn’t with him any more. Last week I still texted a friend and she asked if we are going to keep him now he’s retired. I loudly exclaimed “of course!”” Who thought only a week after we’d say goodbye to our boy. Granted he went to his puppy walker who love him just as much as we do. However I’m sure we’re going through the greeving process just as we would have if he had died. 

The guilt is there in buckets. denial is quite big to. We can wait a while. He’s not stressing so much is he?

Then there is the anger. Why always us. Yes it’s not thinking logically but why do we have to get broken dogs.

 

The acceptance. He’s happy and they love him and as much as we tried I cannot give him what they can. Even knowing this, we are sad. A piece of our hearts are missing. I miss his dreaming. Counting seems to be a problem. I still catch myself getting 3 bowls or treats and then having to chuck 1 back in the container. Lil clearly misses him. She and Rigby doesn’t play as much as she and Farrel did. The house is quiet and miserable. Even as I write this, I know we’ve made the right choice for the golden goof.  

So here we are back to the beginning. The podcasts.  I’ve realised nothing is cookie cutter. Sometimes life doesn’t work out as you planned it. It’s up to you to handle the way it did. 

 

So hopefully my boy doesn’t feel thrown away and I hope he never stops playing with his big brother. When he sleeps, I hope in his dreams, he will remember just what life used to be with us. He is one of the lucky ones. His family loves him just as much as we do and they were lovely to have taken him back. We will never forget him. He’ll visit us and his paw prints will stay forever etched in our hearts.

Wedding plans

I haven’t written in such a long time. Due to my Mac getting stolen everything was lost and I had to scrape together so many things that were lost.

Thank goodness for back-ups. 

 

We have finally started and finished our wedding plans. 

The venue is sorted, as well as the menu. 

There are only the little odds and ends that still need to be tied up. 

We are keeping it very simple and my aunt, mom, sister and Brandt’s family have just been so helpful. My friends have been great to. Everyone is so excited and keep on giving these little suggestions I would never have thought of.

 

Of course my idea of my wedding would be for me to pitch up. All else must be done. Maybe it’s just me who can’t get excited about colours and which candles should go where. 

I’m more worried I’ll forget something crucial like Rigby’s food for the wedding night or his pills. Or that my dogs won’t feature in the fotos enough. 

 

So many people ask wheather I’m sure of this or that or if this is all right or to my liking. 

 

Yes it’s our wedding, but I’m way more interested in my marriage. The awesomeness of waking up with my man for the rest of my life and sharing joy, sadness and just plain silliness with him every single day. Getting lost in a parking lot together. Someone who laughs at you because you accidentally switched on the mixer while it wasn’t in the bowl yet and the kitchen ended up being dusted in flour. Welcoming a new animal in to the family. Or sitting up at night with a sick dog knowing at least there is someone with you who can call people because you’re to busy cleaning up and keeping the dog calm and can’t handle the phone as well. 

 

My point is, I love my wedding day planning. I love the excitement of picking a dress and deciding on the menu. Spending that day with all my friends and family is great. But tonight when everything is over, the cake eaten and the people gone it will only be me and him. Our love, devotion and trust will then hold and keep us forever and always. Until death us do part.

Serious saving for your pets when living in SA

Hi all,

I haven’t written in ages.  My apologies.

People will probably have my head for this so here it goes.

 

While going through my tweets I came across a very interesting link. It was about 10 tips for saving money and still giving your pets the best you can.

 

Is it only me who realised that we here in SA don’t really have coupons? Or once a year sales? Surely if you have a shop or chain of pet accessories you would want your product sold?

How come they don’t really have specials. Or 2 for the price of 1.

 

Saying this, SA has some growing up to do in regards to their animals. Most of the people here either have outside guard dogs or handbag puppies.

So they will either buy everything they can for fluffy  or Max has to sleep in the yard like a man and he’s lucky to have a proper food dish.

I can’t help thinking people will change their minds about buying quality for their pets if the prices came down a bit. Or if you got free shipping for your dog house made from some indestructible material for Max who hasn’t left the yard since you brought him home.

 

Even training will benefit from this. If some of the big shops could say ok, if you use this trainer or parlor or dog walker you can have discounts every month.

These discount can very. For instance you can have food on discount now. Next month it can be the indestructible toy to go with your indestructible dog house you bought for Max. Or maybe 3 walks from your local dog walker for the price of one.

 

My point I think is just this. People need to realise that dogs have ivolved since so many years ago. So your dog hasn’t got a job like in the past any more. They actually need toys and walks and stimulation or they will go out of their minds. So maybe it’s a good idea to spend some money on something chewy or to play with until the accesseries stores decide to put these things on special. Your pet will thank you for it. And you won’t even have to break the bank. 

Lessons: My entry to the assistance dog blog carnival.

Our friends over at ruled by paws, are hosting the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival.

 
When I found out the topic for this round was going to be “lessons”, I thought long and hard about what I was going to write.
 
Both of my current dogs, Lilo and rigby, have taught me tons over the years…
 
But, I believe the most important lesson I’ve learned did not come from Lilo or rigby, but was given to me by a young Golden named Nuri.
 
Nuri was a tiny little thing, she Only weighed about 26 kilos. She was given to me after Lilo retired. Her guiding was flawless. She was a fast little girl. When I let her loose in my room at the training centre for the first time, she ran around the room 3 times. On her hind legs! I called her my little circus dog.
 
I had visions of us working together forever, and conquering the world.
 
Unfortunately, this was not to be the case. Nuri was only with me for 5 days.
 
On one of our training walks, a pick up truck drove over a speed bump and abruptly ended our time together. The pick up was carrying planks and made a loud crack when it hit the speed bump. That was it for Nuri. She got such a fright. And couldn’t bounce back. The trainer had to walk us back to the training van.
 
We agreed to give her a chance and monitor her for sound sensitivity, but Nuri became worse and worse as the time went on. The decision was made to remove Nuri from the training program two days later. Just before our first group walk we were waiting for instructions, There were cars driving past, and Nuri got so frightened that her trainer had to pick her up and put her back  into the bus.
 
Nuri may not have made it as a guide, but her puppy raiser adopted her, and she works as a therapy dog.
 
No one gave up on Nuri, we just realized she wasn’t meant for guide work and needed to be something different.
 
I ended up being matched with Rigby which I feel is exactly what was meant to happen.
 
Nuri taught me that this is not a cookie cutter world, there is always another, perhaps better, option.