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Category Archives: change of career

Happy Birthday to the Yax Man

The soulful Mr. Yaxley just
before his third birthday

So who remembers staring back into those old soul eyes of this fella?

Longtime followers of Raising a Super Dog may get a hit of nostalgia as they meet the gaze of our former pup, the ever handsome, Yaxley. We raised Yaxley for Canine Companions for Independence; the third pup in this puppy raising gig we’ve got ourselves into. After a month in Advanced Training (Service Dog college, so to speak), Yaxley was released by CCI and began his new career in the field of Change of Career Dog.

Yaxley, and his fellow Yuletide Y littermates, celebrate their third birthday today. Each dog has been working in their chosen career field for the past few months. Some in the working dog field of Assistance Dogs and Medical Alert. Others are fulfilling their destinies as beloved pets.

What about the Yax Man, you ask? Our sensitive boy chose the natural career path of a stay at home nanny to a young boy. Just this month we had the pleasure of a visit by his adoptive family and were completely jazzed to see the love and commitment they show for each other.  What a blessing for all.

Yax at two months and fourteen months. Those eyes.

So on this day of celebration, I’d like to share some of my favorite blog posts of our journey with the Yax.

Out of the 70 plus stories on Raising a Super Dog from our year and a half together, these are the Yax-style posts that I still turn to for a smile.

The post for Yaxley’s first birthday is worth it just for the videos. With thanks to Susie, the Y’s breeder caretaker, we can sit back with a cuppa and enjoy watching these little hamsters on their first morning in the world. About three minutes of newborn puppy bliss.

Then we jump ahead in time in the second video to see the Yuletide Y’s experience their first solid meal. Our little Yaxley has a starring moment in this one. It’s an adorable awww moment with a snort giggle.

At the post of A calming influence. And not so much. I share a cautionary tale about showing off. You’d think I’d learn. I don’t.

And finally at Fortunate One you get a dose of the kind of wisdom that comes from Chinese takeout.

Read on … and enjoy our Yaxley puppies memories with us.

Happy Birthday to all the Yuletide Y’s!

Euka, Ella and Yaxley meet for a playdate.  Euka says, hey Yax, I think
your kid is stuck to me or something.
Happy happy.

Wordless Wednesday: Caption This #13

What is Micron saying to Jager?  Worse, what is that look on Euka’s face?

It was likely at this point when I should have been warned that things were about to go awry during last weekend’s Holiday photo shoot.

But of course I was too distracted by trying to put the dogs in a pretty sit while keeping the Santa hat straight on Jager’s pointy little head.

Gotcher your stoopid hats right here, Food Lady!

This top photo feels like a Caption This to me. There’s a conspiracy plan being gelled, a coup in the works, a disturbance in The Force. Or something.

Your thoughts?

Yaxley changes his career path

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Alrighty ladies . . . who played with Barbie dolls when you were a kid.? A show of hands, now. No, it’s ok, nobody can actually see your admission here. Oh hey, remember those GI Joe’s we had in the 70’s? They were the same scale as Barbies and were all manly in their fatigues. These guys sported a fuzzy low fro and absolutely wicked facial scar. Ok, now who had a GI Joe instead of a foppish Ken to marry your Barbie? Oh yeah, it’s this kind of stuff that made us the women we are today.

Hubba, says Barbie.  
Yeah, I’d have his baby.

I actually recall that life changing moment when I realized Barbie’s ridiculous proportions. Stubby tween fingers are fumbling with the tiny snap on her mod pink and orange paisley miniskirt, when it occurs to me that I’ve never met a women who looks like this. With her big perky girls casting a shadow over that wasp waist, she had us believing in something that would never develop.

Not my mom, her friends, my teachers. Not even those cute girls on Hee-Haw.  No woman alive looks like this.  And that means I won’t have a body like this either. Curse you and your sweater-stretching bosom, Barbie. You betrayed us all. 

I don’t remember crying over this coming of age knowledge; this loss of innocence. But I did realize that there would have to be some rework on that trophy wife career plan. Yep, better crack open that pre-algebra text book after all

I still think about what I want to be when I grow up.  I no longer wish for Barbie’s impossible proportions as much as I just want clothes that don’t hurt when I sit down. Oh, and I want to be taller. And thinner, too. Definitely thinner. Ah, if wishes were horses . . . oh yeah, and I want a horse.  A friesian. [sigh]

We can plan all we want and maybe even try to get a preview of our destiny. At ten years old, it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t someday be shaped like my statuesque Barbie doll. At fifteen years old, it became clear I would never reach more than a couple inches over five feet tall. Married at twenty, survival was the word of the day, not college. Those romantic dreams of an exotic career turned into an office job in finance. Yet today, as I slip into what is likely the second half of my life (yikes!), I feel like destiny has been kind to me.

I’m not exactly where I thought I would be. But right here? It’s good. And you know, I rather like it right here.

Yaxley changes his career path

On matriculation day

So our little Lord Yaxley decided after a month at Advanced Training at Canine Companions for Independence that this career as an assistance dog is just not for him.  He said his passion is to be a family dog.  I’m really good at cuddling, he says. And I’m pretty handy with little kids, too. I think maybe I could be a nanny like that dog in Peter Pan.

A dear friend and co-worker has adopted Yaxley. A young family with a little boy that Yaxley can have for his very own. It’s a beautiful arrangement that seems to fit together so very naturally. He’s moving in pre-loved as she has been close to Yaxley as he grew up in the office.

When Luke cries in his crib, she says, Yaxley goes into his room and lies next to the bed. He gets there before we do.

So he doesn’t try to avoid the crying and all the noise? I ask.

No, she says. Yax is by the crib with a concerned look on his face. Like, what took me to long to get there?

But, she adds, he does steal the binkies that Luke drops. Sometimes I find one in the backyard.

The little stinker. Well, that’s just Dog Rules, right? If it’s on the floor, it’s mine. I know, I know. A service dog would retrieve the binkie and give it back with only a hint of dog slobber. But now he’s a beloved pet. We’re back to fundamental Dog Rules.

Micron and I are happy to see Yax on the days he comes into the office. The two fellas started right back up where they left off. Hogging attention and stealing chew toys from each other, the stuff of best friends.

So today Yaxley isn’t exactly where I thought he would be. This wasn’t the destiny I had envisioned. But now that this is where he is? It is perfection. It is peace of mind. It is right.

Yaxley is indeed right where he belongs.

Every day he reminds me

I love the taste of newsprint in the morning

Oh, Mr. Micron, you silly yellow dog.  Every day is a reminder of why he is our pet . . . and that he’s just not made of assistance dog stuff.

Another roundtable meeting at the office this week and we start with the obligatory autobiographical introductions.

Hi, I’m Donna from Finance. I’ve been with the R&D Pet Care group for just about eighteen years. And here under the table is assistance dog in training, Yaxley.  This handsome fella belongs to Canine Companions for Independence [pause while everyone peeks under the table at the yeller feller curled up like a fox and resting quietly].

And this guy? [all eyes move to Micron who’s resting his smiling noggin on the conference table with his tongue lolling out].  This is Micron. He was in training with CCI as well, but he was released from the program and is now my beloved pet.

He didn’t pass? I’m asked. But why?

He, um.  Well you see, Micron just didn’t want to do that kind of work, I confess this to all in the conference room, Mike’s kinda lacking a little in the work ethic department. Micron rolls his soft brown eyes over to me and produces a big doggie smile. 

Ah, it’s true. After Micron came home from Advanced Training (what we otherwise refer to as three months at CCI summer camp), we’ve been giving him chores to do around the house. Because it’s so annoying to come home to a warm TV and Cheetos dust on the sofa.

I have to tell you though, I am totally blessed to be in a dog friendly office and will bring Micron in whenever I can. Some days, though, it just can’t be helped and the mighty Micron needs to spend the day in the comfort of our humble home. 

So, what did you do today while I was at work, Micron?  I cleaned the breakfast dishes with Soap & Water!, he says.  

Which is, of course, his clever nicknames for Yaxley and Jager – Soap & Water.  Ugh, alrighty then. I think I’ll just load the dishwasher and run a sanitizing rinse if that doesn’t offend your canine sensibilities too terribly much.

What to do with this beautiful and intelligent dog to keep him from the distractions of the willingly unemployed? You know what they say – every hour of daytime TV is another brain cell sacrificed to the talk show gods.  Right, for one thing, we’ve tasked Micron to retrieve the newspaper every morning. The Husband likes to review the latest world happenings along with his Life cereal.  It keeps the Tums folk in business, it does.

And this fluffy dog just loves the taste of newsprint. He walks to the end of the driveway to pick the thing up, and carries it back in his maw along with a proud doggie strut. Lookit me y’all!  he says. I gotcher paper! 

That’s right.  I am the Master of News Retrieval.

So there, Yax!

And this job works out pretty well. Sure, for the most part anyway. There are the occasional mornings when Micron has determined the paper has developed a self-awareness and needs to be summarily destroyed before it can take action on its evil plans to take over the world.

But fortunately, that’s not every day.  Some days I even have enough left to do the crossword.

Another job that Micron has shown an interest in is helping to carry in the groceries.  Groceries is rather a broad term and what I really mean is that Micron likes to carry in the paper towels.  And that’s it, really.  Just the paper towels.

So on grocery days, we’re met at the door of the Toyota by the mighty Micron.  Need help? he asks, smacking his lips, so, which bag has the paper towels? And so, like idiots, we hand him a roll.

In a well-intentioned, but disastrous, attempt to demonstrate this feat, here’s a photo recreation of what happens after our weekly grocery trip.

Yeah, so the play bow is not a good sign that he’s taking this recreation seriously. If I had any sense, we would give up any hope at this point for a happy ending. At least for the Bounty.  But I continue to optimistically click the shutter.

But things take an even darker turn.

Ok, so I’d really like to say that it doesn’t happen just like this every week, but I’d be lyin’ to you.  Because it does. Pretty much just like you see here.  The only twist is when he takes the paper towel roll into the house to show Yaxley (Look what I got and you don’t, Yax!I).  I don’t have photos of that.  And I wouldn’t show you if I did.  It’s too embarrassing.

No dogs were harmed in this photo recreation.
The Bounty roll, however, suffered a bit.

And speaking of embarrasing, don’t tell Micron I showed you these next shots. As we’re going back into the house after my ill fated photo shoot, Mike spies the paper towels on the railing where I had left them. In a fit of impulsiveness (every day is a reminder) he jumps up to grab them, but knocks them off instead.

And here he is trying to get them back.

Ah, hindsight is 20:20, isn’t it?  All he had to do was walk around the railing, instead of giving it the old college try pulling the ten inch roll through the four inch space. But hey, maybe he was just trying to show me he does indeed have a work ethic after all. He is trying really, really hard, you see.

That work ethic stuff.  It’s . . . well, it’s hard work, it is.

Whaja mean there’s another newspaper out there again?  You want me to do this every day?

Turkey in the raw

Sugar cookies made with love by volunteer puppy raiser, Esther.

It’s a rather gorgeous fall morning and we can’t think of anything else we’d rather do this fine day than spend it at Aullwood Farm. Time for the annual Aullwood Apple Fest where the crisp autumn air is heavy with the aromas of apple butter in copper kettles and lamb chili simmering over an open campfire.

Puppy raisers Jerry and Jerri, along with Bud and Esther, have scored some prime real estate right at the entrance of the day’s events for our CCI Meet & Greet booth. 

Jorja, Juley and Yaxley on duty and ready to schmooze.

And it’s the yeller dog patrol reporting for duty. Now Yax and Juley have worked a CCI booth before and they’ve got this stuff down cold.  Indeed, so much so, that they’ve taken it upon their fuzzy selves to mentor young Jorja on the fine art of working the crowds. 

Okey dokey, Jorja, says Yaxley, just watch Juley and me. There’s really nothing to it.  You’ll wanna start with letting the little kids pat you on the head. See, kiddo? Easy nuff.

That’s right, continues Juley, but remember that there’s some young folk out there that aren’t very comfortable with the business end of a dog, so they may start with your fluffy behind. And that’s ok, too.  Just don’t release a blossom, if you know what I mean. And actually, I’m talking to you, Little Lord Yaxley.  You just about knocked out that last kid, you know.

Ha ha, sez Yax, good one, Juley. You’re so funny I forgot to laugh.  Besides, I didn’t think that particular one was so bad.   Heh, you should have been there yesterday at work when the Food Lady was in a budget meeting and  . . .

Gross!, Juley says, ugh, boy dogs! You’d walk around nothing but a cow patty on your head and a smile on your face!

Would not! counters Yax, well, maybe.  But anyway we’re outside, so I get special dispensation. 

What?!, Juley cries, Dispensation my yellow  . . . hey Jorja, wait! Where are you going?  We’re almost done with the lesson.  Pay attention, girl, you need to know this stuff if you wanna be all professional like us.

Now kid, the very last step, Yax says, getting all serious again, is to wait until your puppy raiser is talking to a parental unit, then you very slowly just kinda roll over to your side. Close your eyes, gently lift up your legs and . . . 

Next thing you know, sighs Juley, is you’ve got cotton-candy scented hands rubbing your belly and you are golden.  A special kind of nirvana, it is.  The kids love it.  Um, yeah, because we’re doing this for the kids.  To make them happy and all.

Meanwhile, Micron is watching this exchange from the sidelines and rolling his brown eyes. Of course, Mr. Mike has worked many a CCI booth in his eighteen months of puppy training. He knows all the ins and outs of conning folk into a belly rub and making them feel like he’s the one doing the favor.

But now being a change of career dog (actually a no-career dog, I say), he can no longer represent CCI at the booth. Instead we leave the professionals to do their work and the two of us take a stroll through the farm for old times’ sake.

A stop at the herb garden

So, the usual farm & barn stuff. We visit horses, sheep, pigs and . . . holy cow!

What is this fresh nightmare?, Micron wants to know.

Ah, this is indeed a new sight for the mighty Micron.  In our earlier puppy time together, we may have missed the turkey socialization opportunity.

Here’s a rather personal question for y’all.  You ever been stalked by a turkey?  No?

Well, lemme share what it looks like.

Hmm, this little red-waddled mastermind is thinking, if I walk sideways real slow, then they won’t see me coming. 
Right. Here’s another little known factoid about my previous life that you’re likely to find as compelling as the last tidbits I’ve tossed at you. In my long ago youth, I was indeed a simple farm girl and had spent enough time around smelly feathered fowl to know poultry are about as clever in the head as sheep. No offense to sheep.

I mean, just take a moment to study the head on that bird. Three quarters of the noggin is committed to the beak, with the remaining quarter used up for the eye socket.  So, where do you suppose the brain could be?  That’s right, the bird ain’t got one. Instead it survives on some primitive neurological packet located like a ziploc baggie somewhere around the poultry by-product section. No, it’s true, I looked it up on Wikipedia and everything.

So, I tell Micron, heed this advise from someone who knows. Whatever you do, kiddo, just don’t look the thing in the eye. 

Well, that’s just great.  Now you’re a turkey zombie, Micron.  Ah, no matter, the effects usually wear off rather quickly.  Let’s get back to the booth to check on the pups.

Collectively, they share one brain.

But even turkey brains can’t turn off the Micron charm, it seems. We meet a few families on the way back to the CCI booth that want to give the big yellow dog a pat on the head.

Check this out, newbie pups.  Let a master show you how things are done.

And a bonus dose of lovin’ from a rather young appreciator of fuzzy yellow dogs. That Micron accepted this big wet kiss without reciprocating with that happy tongue of his, well, maybe the big guy is maturing just a little.

You know, I like this next shot so much, that I did some fancy-pants photoshopping with the levels and color. Micron’s gaze upon the toddler, those pudgy little digits gripping all that fluffy goodness, it just makes me smile.


My no-career dog has a calling and we both know it. Now we just need to figure out what he’s meant to be doing.

Next post:  Four paws away from being an animal hoarder.  Or maybe not.

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