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Little Red Wagon

Let’s have Micron pull me!

Hey, wait a minute here, says Holly. Something’s not right, Food Lady.

What? No. No, everything’s fine, I say, lowering the camera. What do you mean, Holly?

So, says Holly. Remember the time Bodine the Benevolent Ruler of Sword House rolled on his back for you? And he wanted a belly rub? And then you said a really bad word and yelled about needing bondage?  

Bandage, I say. Yeah, that or possibly an EMT. Sure, the cat went all bear trap on me when I touched that gourd he calls a belly. Of course I remember that. It was creepy how he never stopped purring.

I shudder with the memory. But what does Bodine have to do with this?

I think, says Holly. I’m being set up here. 

C’mon, it’s not a trap, General Ackbar, I say. Just a wading pool filled with old tennis balls. 

Uh huh. Tennis balls that I can’t play with? asks Holly.

You hoomans are kinda
weird sometimes.

Right, I say. You just walk right through them without picking one up. 

That’s what I’m talking about! yells Holly.  How do I possibly manage that amazing feat anyhow, Ringling? You might have missed the memo about me being only eleven weeks old and all. 

And almost twelve weeks old, I say. Time to be introduced to the world of Self-control. 

Self-control? Holly waves a paw in dismissal. I have no idea what that even means.

A fact that has not gone unnoticed, I say. Whad’ya say we give it a try today, shall we?

Puppy Raiser mixer

And so begins Holly’s first training event with other Canine Companions for Independence puppies and their volunteer puppy raisers.

An awkward start to things as Holly tries to wrap her head around the dozen or cool hunnerd or so puppies in attendance.  The total number depends on who you ask and how well they can count. Then she found herself processing that she’s not good at math while faced with the various challenges presented throughout in the training stations.

But tackle it all, she did.

Holly handled not just a Sit in a weird, wobbly thing, but impressed us with an eye contact bonus.

As did her brother, Hoagy. Well done, big guy. Extra points awarded for being stinking adorable in the process.

Holly and Hoagy were hopeful for a rasslin’ match in the garden cart. And yet somehow were agreeable to try the self-control thing after some encouragement.

We got us a ladder on the ground to walk through. An A-frame for a birds-eye view of the goings-on about the yard. And the odd novel surface to rest the nether regions upon.

I like waffles.

You know, by the end of the afternoon things were going so well with this little pup that, well ..

I just gotta wonder what twelve weeks old is going to bring us.

Does the sun rise and set on me, you ask?
Well ….

Wordless Wednesday: Miss Holly is Eleven Weeks

Not quite two months old, our Heros are still insisting on growing up. The Canine Companions for Independence Hero Litter – Holly, Harvest, Harpo, Hala, Hoagy, Harbor and Hudson – are across the country with their puppy raisers now and ready to rock the world.

Here’s our Miss Holly at her Eleven Week photo shoot, looking all sassy and ready to prey on another inappropriate choice to chew upon in the great outdoors.

While I admit to have lowing my standards on permitting the occasional bug nom nom, we did put the ixnay on sticks and twigs. There’s a certain cringe factor when one imagines how such things could gum up the delicate innards of a growing pup.

Do notice the photo bomb off in the background here. Our little Jagermeister may not have been the subject of the day but, he says, he is a force not to be ignored.

A Jager Bomb, so to speak.

Age of Wonders

What’s it been now, people? About eleven days, give or take, since Holly has moved in?

Sure, not quite two weeks here at Sword House, which is certainly well before the threshold suggested by that old adage about taking twenty one days to start a new habit.

And that means Holly the Wonder Dog is still enjoying the enviable world of puppy discoveries.

So, says Holly. I wonder what this tastes like.

And …

Well, says Holly. What’s this now? Let’s give ‘er a sniff.

And …

I just wanna roll this around [mmph], says Holly. In my mouf for a minute.

So much yet to learn and find and eat and finger swipe out of a puppy maw. With the world as a playground, a puppy raiser finds herself on Yellow Alert whenever things get too quiet.

With one ear perked I go to check. Is she asleep on the dog bed or chewing the thing? Yep, gotta stay aware of where the little girl is.

What are these things you call Stairs?, asks Holly. Yeah, those look a little creepy. 

Under the right paw.  See?
She did eat the ant, too. But you
know. Protein.

But it’s a trick, you know. Just leave your favorite strappy sandals about four steps up where you’re sure they’ll be all safe from puppy teeth and find out later the little monkey indeed found a way to sate that instinctual craving for leather.

Hole? asks Holly. A hole, you say? What hole? Oh, this one! Right. See, there was an ant in there cuz I saw him go in and I knew you wanted him out so I got him for you and because you’re so nice and everything I ate him too.  You’re welcome.  

With every deep sniff and stroll about her environment, Holly’s world becomes a bigger place. She’s learning and experiencing. Absorbing what it is to be a puppy here on dog’s green earth.

So these are our baby steps, so to speak. New experiences to go into the developing canine neurons to be checked off as Yep, done that. What’s next?

And we can build on this. From the backyard to formal puppy classes to full days in the office. Then later to other public venues for the socialization she’ll need as she prepares for a career as an assistance dog.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, right? Holly is merely a tender ten weeks old. Today we’re keeping things to the Simple and Safe.

Say, like downspouts.

And natural treasures of the grassy ilk.

Pondering the mysteries of a tunnel.

And breaking bread with new friends.

Pearson and Holly, both puppies with Canine
Companions for Independence.

A California Hollygator

All the innocence and purity a girl can muster.

Food Lady? yells Jager. Hello? Hey, can you hear me?

The neighbors can hear you, I say. With the central air running. Why all the yapping up there? I’m kinda busy.

There you are! says Jager. Where have you been? I wanted to know if it’s safe to come downstairs now.

Of course it’s safe, I say. And why wouldn’t it be?

Then it’s gone? he asks.

What? I say. Is what gone?

Ah, I think I see where this is heading.

The hollygater you let in here, says Jager. The cat said it’s an invasive species from California and we’re all in peril or something. 

Jager’s too long toenails click on the wood stairs as he trots down to join me in the kitchen.

‘Cuz the cat said if you let even just one in the house, it’ll take over everything, he continues. And that they’re really hard to get …. Gah!  Ow! ow ow ow ow!

I thought you said it was gone! Jager says, licking his tenderized back leg.

I detach Holly from her ambitious effort in deboning Jager’s gluteal region, because frankly, he can’t afford to lose any more brains.

Jager enjoys a moment of respite.

Jager, my little spotted dog, I say. If you can separate yourself from your Professional Victim role for a moment, you may recall that this gorgeous creature is not an alligator at all. This is Holly, who will be staying with us for the next eighteen months. 

We’ll be raising her for Canine Companions for Independence, I continue.  Just like we did with Euka. And well, you helped with all of them so far, right? Inga, Micron and Yaxley, too.

Gads, but another eighteen months! says Jager.  He tries to calculate that in dog years and gives up. I’m getting too old for this sh…

No cursing in front of the little one, I say. Purity and innocence in this delicate package here, you know. 

Purity and innocence, says Jager, My spotted …

Jager!, I say. Enough. Now go play nice with the puppy while I get dinner ready.

Jager sighs heavily, closes his eyes and holds out a front leg.

Upon which Holly goes to town on like an ear of sweet corn.

Moving in

We met Holly, and her litter mates Hoagy and Harvest, after their flight into Dayton from sunny California this past Wednesday. Hail and hearty, the lot of ’em, but happy to be out of their crates and to have a chance to run about for a few minutes.

Mmmm, chamomile. 

Each pup is going to a different puppy raiser’s home and as we collected our charges, we found ourselves catching the wafting aroma of their customized fragrance of ‘Twas a Long Flight.

Holly had only been in Ohio for about an hour when she hit the bath. We had an Oh C’mon moment, then she settled down once discovering the dog soap is totally organic and quite possibly edible.

Now smelling all sweet like a puppy, with a hint of herbal, she was ready to meet her fellow four legged housemates.

And out of all of them, who do you think handled it best? Oh, go ahead, guess.

Bwahahah, wrong! It was the cat. Who saw that one coming? I sure didn’t.

Micron is adjusting to the change in dynamics and Jager is ever comfortable as the perennial victim. But Bodine came tearing up the stairs from the basement with a What’s This, Now? attitude.

Another serf in the kingdom for our benevolent overlord, Bodine of Sword House. All hail and so on.

And bless him, he really did maintain some composure while his left ear was at risk of a toothy puncture. And he did indeed strut right back to the basement instead of run like a gator was on his tail. Heh, rather literally.

I gotta be honest here. I thought I smelled
great before.

But here we are, four days in, and everybody is finding their groove.

Including me.

Yeah, even this repeat puppy raiser forgets about some the puppy antics that go on in those first few days of acclimation.

Oh, like how you don’t need a puppy pre-wash when loading the dishwasher.

Or hey, say you’re multi-tasking like a boss. Dishwasher door is down, a full trash bag is open behind you and you’ve dropped some food from the counter during the post-dinner clean-up.

Sure, this is a fine state of affairs for the Jagermeister. Heck, it was his job to keep me from even touching a broom before we were puppy raising. But now?

Now we have a puppy working towards an assistance dog career. No food freebies. We can’t allow the noshable distractions. Just can’t.

Treats are earned, not a dog-born right, for pup in training.

Friends and fans of the mighty Micron; raise your hand if you’ve seen this dog in action when he knows a dog cookie is coming his way. Good. Now count your fingers. You know what I mean. My lovable gentle giant’s middle name is Food Distraction.

Bonus point to y’all if you noticed my
kitchen floor is golden retriever
yellow.  No accident, that.

Micron is many things, most of them wonderful, but he not made of assistance dog stuff.

Think about this. A well-trained assistance dog can walk into a restaurant with his handler and not have any reaction to food on the carpet. He will be fully attentive to his partner instead. Every time.

And that kind of awesomeness starts right here with the puppy raiser. So with Holly, we carry on as we have the other pups we’ve raised.

Nothing for Free is our motto.  ‘Tis a worthy goal, I say.

Ok sure, that Holly’s a cutie. So what’s next?

We’re all still getting to know each other here, learning personalities and the individual quirks that make us charming.

We’ll get there.

Meanwhile, [Holly! Drop it!] pardon me as I relieve Jager of his puppy-sitting duties. He’s paid his dues.

Just ask him.

A hollygator in her natural habitat.

Wordless Wednesday: Introducing Holly

Introducing the next little ball o’spunk, Miss Holly, of Canine Companions for Independence‘s Hero Litter.

Just arrived on Ohio soil this morning from sunny California.

Actually, I have no idea of today’s weather out there, but in my imagination it’s always a beautiful day. And I’m not going to mess with that by looking it up or something.

Hang loose for more stories and adventures with our newest addition and the fifth puppy we’ll be raising for Canine Companions for Independence.

In the meantime, I’m typing very, very quietly. It’s naptime.  shhh…..

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