The five service pups I've raised...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Dinner with Jan and Bob

A top favorite activity for me is dining with friends...good company over good food and there's not much better.

My "California Mom" Jan, who is also my "Scorpio friend" (as our birthdays are just a few days apart in November) had me over for dinner recently for yummy lasagna.

I love Jan and Bob's home. They have a wonderful yard and we sat out back and caught up and visited over appetizers before moving inside for pasta and vino.

Pool side I admired the golden sunset beyond the trees. Jan is a busy realtor although she's at a point in her life she c/should taper off the work load and spend more time enjoying activities more important than working. Especially with a wonderful husband to spend doing those things with!

Bob is retired and he is my role model for how I want to be living my life in my 80's.
It's so nice having friends that although they are a couple, they invite me over to get together - when often times folks that are married don't consider doing this for those of us who are not coupled.
I've had them over for dinner and sometimes Dad and I dine with them- often for holidays as they are generous to include us in their holiday celebrations such as Easter or the like.

I adore their company and find them both so interesting - the places they've traveled, the people they've met and their views on the world.

Here are some self portraits photos I took of us while I was there. My arms are too short so Bob took the other (better) one since his arm is longer. I told him he should have smiled though! ha.

They supplied me with a new stock pile of lemons from their tree which I LOVE.

Yum. Here's to friends!!!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Welcome Home New Vets

Sometimes I want to blog about something that happened, and well I just don't get to the computer for awhile. So it goes in this case, as it went with yesterday's post.

Back in August I experienced some things I'll share here;
days filled with appreciation and wonder.

I volunteered at the CCI booth for "Welcome Home New Vets" at the local VA Hospital.

This was a privilege. An information fair was put on to help returning injured veterans know what resources are available for them. The hallways were filled with vendors promoting what they offered that could help with various injuries.

I worked the booth with Jim and two pups in training, which are always a natural draw for folks.

CCI launched an initiative last summer to actively outreach to military veterans so that they know the benefits that a trained service dog can provide them. See this link here:

I’m used to volunteering to work CCI booths when most of the questions are about donating time or money or answering questions about puppy raising. This booth duty was different. As it was quite sobering to meet these young men; men that have given so much for the benefit of others; soldiers working for freedom in the world. What was so remarkable was seeing these young men with their various disabilities just going about getting on with their lives.

I saw a dad in a wheel chair with his wife and two little kids, one wanting to climb up on his lap to "ride" as he had just parked his wheel chair van and was wheeling into the hospital from the parking lot as I came out to toilet one of the training pups. I thanked him for his contribution. (I have stopped using the word “sacrifice” when thanking veterans I see now). For I realize most don’t consider it a sacrifice. They truly consider it a service to their country. It makes me so proud, so honored to live in America.

As an additional note ~ ~
On Saturday 8/22 CCI had their largest graduation ceremony to date with 23 people/dog teams (two classes- June and August) graduating. Normally there are 4 classes, one each quarter, so this was awesome to see so many new teams going out into a new world - a world filled MORE independence, thanks to four paws trotting along side of them. Three of the graduating teams were Iraq veterans – they all received standing ovations.

It was very moving.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Puppy Progress - How Francie is doing in training


Little Francie did her first public CCI presentation in July. It was at Rancho Coastal Humane Shelter in Encinitas. Linda and I took her and I did a brief presentation to an Animal Camp group. They were a group of 9 girls in age from 10-13 years. At five months old, Francie’s commands were limited as to what I could demonstrate with her, but she did great at her “sit”, “down”, “shake”, and “wait” (for permission to eat a treat). I told them about CCI’s mission although many of the girls had heard about CCI previously through a school presentation. This summer camp was focused on careers with animals. So I focused some of my presentation about the various jobs in place at Canine Companions for Independence such as trainers, Vet Techs and the like.

After the presentation, I took Francie’s cape off and allowed her to just play in the room with the girls. She chased and fetched her ball for them. I outlined appropriate play for a service puppy in training. I gave them CCI flyers and book marks. It was a good first outing for the little one. Here is a photo above of us with the group, at the camp. And a video of her playing with the gals at the bottom of the text.


Francie has completed her kindergarten (KPT) puppy training, passed her exam and has advanced to Intermediate level. Here are some photos from class with a video from when Mike, the class instructor, had us do the “here” command. It’s funny, as the tile floor is so slick, Francie looks like a cartoon character running in place until she gets a grip and bolts over to Linda. But she was tested and passed so she now advances to intermediate level training for the next 6 months. She demonstrated that she knows, let’s go, sit/stay, here, down/stay, leave it ignoring food on the ground, and wait.

In our most recent (intermediate) class we are introducing “stand” and will soon instruct the “heel” command. I love this age as the dogs understand what’s really going on and that they are learning so they start tuning in more to see what it is exactly, that we want them to do. They try so hard to please us and get it right – for a treat of course.
Francie is quite food motivated but Lyn and I balance it carefully as this can actually make her more distracted knowing I have a treat. So for stand she gets lots of verbal praise. I use the treat more for “heel” where it helps to lure her through the maneuver until she learns the proper placement. Francie is a quick study and picks things up easily. At one class recently, I introduced "out" to her (passing through a threshold ahead of me, turning to face me, then sitting to wait for the next command) right before the class began and it was the first she had been exposed to this command. Later in class when it was her turn, she demonstrated "out" as if she had known it for weeks. Good girl Francie!