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Roller Coaster

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It wasn’t to the level of a double dog dare, as no canines were involved in this challenge of machismo vs. tough, yet still delicately feminine character.

The Vortex at King’s Island
Yeah, no problem.

The brother-in-law and I were standing before the Vortex on the first family trip to King’s Island since the ride debuted. Vortex, which is Latin for You Don’t Need Your Spleen Anyway, boasted a claim as the tallest roller coaster in the world with the highest drop.

Not so bad, right? I mean, once you tackle that feat with a hearty scream, you’ll find yourself back in manageable territory of the usual twists and turns expected of a roller coaster.

Oh, but not so for the Vortex. No, this marvel of engineering psychopathy also was also the first thrill ride of its ilk to offer up six inversions.

Inversions?, you ask.

Inversions, I repeat. Upside down, ya’ll. A full loop. Six brain rattling times. 

I believe the max speed of this ride is somewhere around highway speeds of fifty five miles per hour. Vomiting is not an option since even your overpriced amusement park lunch has no idea of which way is out after the second loop.

So here we stand, the BIL and I, watching otherwise normal folk screaming in a tone that could be interpreted as either a wonderful thrill or a curse to their mothers for ever looking at their dad that way, depending on the observer’s point of view*. Neither one of us has the guts to back off now, so off we go to stand in line with the other adrenaline seekers.

The ride lasts a mere two minutes in normal time and about a full life cycle in we’re-all-gonna-die time. It was all up-up-up-up to get to that highest drop thing and then the world as we know it goes upside down. Six times. Real fast.

Afterwards as I step out of the car, the ride attendant reaches out to grab my arm as my knees betray me. The BIL is but a flash in my peripheral vision as he hot steps it to the men’s room.

Wow, what a ride.

So it’s not surprising when a roller coaster is used as a metaphor for life, now is it?  The thrill of anticipation of what is around the next bend, as well as the ups and downs that stress us out to be replaced by pure happiness and relief. And always, the hope that the next drop won’t be as bad as the last one.

As it is with volunteer puppy raising.

Euka is now at the regional training center for Canine Companions for Independence to begin her Advanced Training in the ways of an assistance dog.  We gave her a kiss and hug good-bye on Friday. Asked her to do her best to make us proud. To keep safe the love we gave her over these last months because she’ll want to share it later.

And as our roller coaster car slows to return to the station, we’re reminded of the ride we’ve been on with Miss Euka.

Eighteen months have passed, can you believe it, and we’ve shared over one hundred stories over that time here at Raising a Super Dog.

Let’s remember the journey …

Getting settled in Ohio

In A California Blonde in Ohio we welcome home the delicate flower that is Euka puppy.

Micron: Ow-ow-ow! Holy dog! Really? Ow!
Euka II:  Rawr! nom nom nom

And it begins.

The Ohio E’s have a play session after arriving from California in Furry Blurries.

Euka meets our family in Changes in Latitude, including an obligatory introduction to Bodine, the benevolent overlord of Sword House.

And Micron’s puppy lovin’ patience is put to the test in Adaptation.

Training 

Euka explores Work/Life balance while training to be an assistance dog. With the Ohio’s E’s, she finds Time to Ramp it Up with Nothing to Fear.

A group training and socialization event is recapped in Well, Hello Deer.

With Micron as her mentor, we introduced the Speak command to Euka, giving it one heck of a try in Silence is Yellow.

A little R&R

What do you get when you put three dogs plus three hoomans in one car for a twelve hour trip? A test of wills — and patience, that’s what. But hey, we survived to tell the stories. The dramatic tales of our Odyssean-style  trip to the southern Outer Banks is shared at Save Yourselves and Attack of the Ten Foot Sea Spider.

Euka does her diva thing in Base Tan.  And something fish is happening at Floundering in the Rain.

Celebrating holidays

Seems each holiday inspires another photo shoot that doesn’t quite match the vision I had in my head. Four Point Mutt was the first of these valiant attempts.

Euka channels her inner polar bear in blizzard-like conditions.

Later, Miss Euka offers an open invitation to be her Valentine.

And we get a long anticipated visit by the Euka Bunny and her goldengoober sidekick.

We’ll give you a fer instance of one of those hairpin curves on this roller coaster ride that we didn’t see coming at Then This (ugh) Happened.

Meeting famous folk

We were thrilled to meet Temple Grandin during her visit to Cincinnati, Ohio. Euka got a leisurely belly rub while I learned about Temple’s view of dog harnesses.

Euka was at my side, then at The Bloggess’s, when we met one of my favorite authors, Jenny Lawson.

Our little diva had a chance at fleeting fame at Working Like a …well, not really

Wow, what a ride!

Thanks so much for being with us on our journey with Euka over these months. Dunno about you, but I’m struggling to find myself prepared to see this ride pull into the station.

But you know what?  Euka’s ready.  She’s getting in line for the next adventurous set of twists and turns. What’s next?, you ask. Well, that’s the exciting part. Nobody knows yet where this ride will lead her to and so we, as mere spectators now, can’t wait to find out.

These links I’ve offered up are but a few. Hey, I wasn’t kidding when I said we have a bunch of stories here on the dog blog. Browse at your pleasure. To make it a bit easier to filter to the Euka goodness, click her name in the Word Cloud in the right hand panel. And just scroll along, page by puppy page.

A time capsule of adventures.

Did you have a favorite story I missed linking here? Drop a note in the comments to share your memory.

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*Speaking of point of view, here’s a YouTube video of the two minute ride from the front car of the Vortex.

It’s just dog nature

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Holy mother of dog. Please tell me
that’s not what you’re wearing to
the dinner,
says Micron. Don’t make
me call your mom.

Are we doing anything Saturday night? I glance up to see The Husband holding his iPhone to his chest.

I dunno, I say, Just a sec. I fire up my Droid for a quick look at the social calendar.

Nope, looks clear, I say. That task completed, I go back to my laptop and refocus on pinning vintage dog photos on Pinterest (Dogs of Yore board).

Huh. Well, this will be interesting, he says.

Whazzat? I look up in alarm. Did I just agree to something? Darn it, Pinterest.

Looks like the boss can’t attend a dinner to accept an award on behalf of the business, says The Husband. So he asked us to go in his place.

It’s a semi-formal dinner, he continues. For the 445th Airlift Wing of the Air Force. I guess we won a community partner award. Yeah so apparently this dinner is a pretty big deal and we’ll be seated at the front table. Supposed to be a senator there and …

Oh, do stop, I say. You had me a semi-formal.

Lookit, I’m not a fancy girl.


Never a slave to fashion, instead I’m the chick who walks into a one o’clock meeting at work with a poppy seed between two front teeth and a diet Coke stain on my blouse. Honestly, it doesn’t even occur to me to take a quick look in a mirror until after I start pontificating budgets with my colleagues.

So now I’m expected to eat food in front of important and powerful people. Ok, I think, I can do this thing. And then a brief moment of panic as I realize that all of my food has to make it to my mouth. No retrieving mixed veggies from the cleavage whilst in the presence of these fine folk.

That’s right, people. The dog has
more fashion sense than I do.

Wait, lemme think – when was the last time I even wore a dress?

Right, the Favorite Kid’s college graduation. In 2012. And before that?

I think it was his high school graduation.

True story.

So I suppose my style could be described as comfortable. And by comfortable, I mean clothes that don’t hurt when I sit down. I’m totally ok with jeans and dirt on the heels of my boots. You can take the girl away from the farm, but you can’t take the farm gear away from … well, you know it goes.  This chick likes her denim.

Ugh. So nothing to do about this fancy affair but fake being sick. No, I mean buy a dress, of course. A nice dress, too. Which requires the embellishments of pantyhose, tortuous shoes and that modern version of the corset – Spanx. This free dinner is getting rather expensive. I force myself to not think about pajamas and pizza and the season premiere of Game of Thrones.

At the department store, The Husband serves as moral support as I select yet another kind of support in the manner of feminine shapewear.

That looks uncomfortable, says he, wincing a little.

Yeppers, I say. Being arm candy comes at a steep price.

But later, as I get ready for the evening, a pleasant surprise. I find the chastigious* body armor isn’t that bad. I can breathe. I can sit. I can do both at the same time. This goes against everything I’ve heard about Spanx wear.

I do a sanity check with some friends.

Oh my. Such stories of the relocation of vital organs, a singular ability to exhale without the pleasure of inhaling, fits of claustrophobia and dire warnings to plan well ahead for any bathroom breaks. I’m to heed the first inkling of a tinkling. Or else.

It becomes obvious I’m doing this all wrong. You see, being such a weenie about pain, I chose the Medium torture level of this retro-medieval product when I’m clearly in need of Extreme. It would seem I have a case of  Spanxiety.

I’ll just pause here until the groans subside. Oh hey, I think I’ll grab some cheesecake. Be right back.

Yeah so anyway.

The harder I try to be at my best, the clumsier I get. I do so hate that, too.  It’s oh so easy to allow a increased sense of self-consciousness to feel like the spotlight is on my every misstep.

But I suppose that’s just human nature, isn’t it?

It’s just dog nature

We should take a cue from our canine friends. Dogs don’t know when they’re put on the spot. No test anxiety gripping the neurons in those dog noggins to skew results. And they couldn’t care less about their physical appearance. Proof?  How many times have you removed an unsightly eye booger from your dog, then leaned back and said, there ya go. Gotcha all prettified again, Euka. And they look at you with an expression that says Cookie?

Anyway, you know what I mean.

Last week, along with fellow volunteer puppy raisers for Canine Companions for Independence, we had the chance to put our young charges through some training challenges.

The professional trainers would instruct and observe as we performed the tasks before us. So how did our pups handle this high level scrutiny?

Like they’re at any other training session with us, that’s how. The pups simply want to know what will get a Good Dog from their handler. And what doesn’t.

Euka and her littermate, Everett, were all over this thing, taking on each training station as if they were ready to step right into the Advanced Training program.

C’mon, people. Try to give me something hard to do, says Euka, ignoring the dog cookie on the carpet.

As Euka’s puppy raiser, I didn’t worry much about the pool noodle touching the noggin. Our little honey badger isn’t bothered by too much of this kind of thing.

Yeah, mostly I worried that she’d try to grab and eat it.

Everett one upped his sister with wearing no less than two pool noodles. While in a Down.

And remote control cars buzzing about? No sweat off my nose pad, says Euka.

Y’all should know the little guy on the right did a stellar job as well.

Novel surfaces can be a problem for some pups. Sidewalk grates, gravel and non-carpeted areas might encourage a pup to attempt a side step to keep their tender toes on familiar territory.

Which helps to explain the concept behind this next station. Colorful plastic balls in a wading pool come close to the top of the Novel Object list.

Everett accepts this experience with nary a negative thought. He shows off this casual attitude with another Down.

Well done, our young pups.

Oh, but not so young anymore, are they? Eighteen months old now, our extraordinary E litter. What do you think – are they ready? We have only a few weeks left with these amazing creatures.

Almost time for the matriculation ceremony, a formal affair scheduled for May 16, which is included with the Graduation celebration of new assistance dog teams.

Make no mistake, folks. This is big deal stuff now.

I might even wear a dress.

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*Chastigious. An adjective meaning something to do with chastity. As in “when wearing Spanx, all business is closed until further notice”.  And I made up the word, so there’s that.

Wordless Wednesday: Link to Puppy Cam Livestream

Goodnight, fwends

Remember back when …

If you were hanging with us in the autumn of 2012, you may recall that one magic evening when the tiny Miss Euka offered up a goodnight wave to her new fan base.

This was as we were intently watching the Eukanuba Puppy Cam that was livestreaming the ferocious acts of derring do of Euka and her E littermates. The E’s were merely wee pups learning about life with their breeder caretaker.

Euka and her E littermates at dinnertime.
That’s our girl on the bed savoring a kibble of her own.

So y’all, wanna do this again? Our fresh new followers, are you ready for some puppy awesomeness?

Well, I’m in anyway. Oh, but of course I am.

For the next eight weeks, Eukanuba is hosting a livestream of Canine Companions for Independence‘s Hero Litter. Tiny pups with a big destiny, these furries have just shown up to rock our world.

Here they are, people. Introducing the Hero Litter, courtesy of mama Taya and dad Zorba. And half-siblings to our Miss Euka, too, so there’s that for a bonus.


Taya and her Hero Litter, born March 18, 2014
 (Photo courtesy of Eukanuba)

Check out the livestream of these kids on the Eukanuba Puppy Cam at www.ustream.tv/eukanuba from noon to midnight EST. Seven days a week for the next eight weeks.

Plus two other ways to keep up with the Heros.

Eukanuba’s Facebook Page at Facebook.com/Eukanuba

Canine Companions for Independence’s Facebook Page at Facebook.com/caninecompanions

And don’t blink twice, y’all. They’ll be grown up before you know it.

Just like Euka [sniffle]

Wordless Wednesday: A Private Reading

How many dogs does it take to get through a story book?

You know, we pet therapy folk didn’t mind staying a few minutes past our allotted hour at the library. How could we leave when our young reader wanted to finish just one more book?  You have to admire her passion. Well, I sure do.

So after the other readers left, our four Paws to Read canine volunteers teamed up for a special private reading. We should all be so blessed, right?

From Miami Valley Pet Therapy Association we have the dedicated canine volunteers (at top) Char and the mighty Micron.  Also joining us from CCI are puppies-in-training Euka and Emma.

Wordless Wednesday: California Blonde Calendar Girl

Miss March (with sister Ella). And because there’s too much
Euka to handle, she doubles as Miss December.
Just don’t tell her.  I’m already dealing with the ‘tude.

Got a match?, she asks her friend. 

Not since Marilyn Monroe died, the friend answers.

___________________

We pause here just a moment and await the groans to subside.

I’d apologize for the poor taste except for two things.

It’s not my joke. It’s not like I can make up stuff like that on my own.

And I did snort-laugh the first time I heard it.

And, um … there’s something else.

I have to share this with you. Ok, not that it bothers me, but the Husband got a Marilyn Monroe calendar for Christmas. From his brother. A different brother received a Sunsets calendar.


Sunsets.

I’m not sure how to process this information.

But I will say this. The Man Cave concept is starting to look a little more real at our place.

Because I’m not gonna start my mornings with Marilyn’s perky face on my kitchen wall.

And yeah, there’s yet another thing.

I already have a calendar for the kitchen wall.

Every morning as I pad my way to the coffee maker, my sleep bleary eyes will come to rest upon puppy goodness.

2015 will be my calendar year, vows
 Cap’n Windy.
Yeah, good luck with that, says Euka,
tossing her blonde ears back.

Because I scored me a 2014 Limited Edition Puppy Calendar from Canine Companions for Independence and Eukanuba.

But unlike my Cap’n Windy winnings, no need to be jealous, y’all.
It’s ridiculously easy to get one of these way too cool calendars starring the extraordinary E litter for your own.

A gift of $25 to Canine Companions for Independence will net you one of these limited editions. And because CCI is a non-profit, your donation is tax deductible.

Just click on this link for the 2014 Limited Edition Puppy Calendar to be included with us beautiful people.  I feel prettier already just telling you about it.

Wordless Wednesday: Furry Blurries

Holy cow, it’s been a year.

It was just before the Thanksgiving holiday that we puppy raisers welcomed the Canine Companions for Independence Ohio E’s into our homes. Well,I gotta say that went by in a furry blur.

And speaking of blurring by furries, here’s our cuties, Euka II, Ella, Emma and Everett, fresh from California and gamboling about for their first time on Ohio fescue.

And did you notice? Who do you think is that pale pup leading the the pack to new adventures?  Yeah, take a guess, Euka fans.

Wordless Wednesday: Caption This #11

I SAID!, said Euka. YOU SHOULD HAVE PACKED A SANDWICH INSTEAD!

What about this looks so familiar, you wonder.  Right?  There’s that Déjà vu thing again – that ethereal feeling like you’ve already had a microwave meal for lunch every day this week? Or is it because you’re just collecting Lean Cuisine points to get that snappy new lunch bag so you’re willing to down one more pasta conglamerate in a frozen box even though the very thought of it makes you not hungry anymore, but it’s the only thing you packed and you do really want the special edition lunch bag so you have to at least nuke it for the box label?

Is that the feeling? Or is it because you just saw this photo a few days ago on The Ohio E’s Celebrate Their First Birthday right here on the dog blog?  Which may be doubly impressed upon your memory cells because that particular photo of Emma and Euka reminded me of this one below?

And if memory services, I introduced this adorable shot to y’all in Caption This #9.  A post worth a second look just for the caption ideas, by the way.

Hey Emma, says Euka. What do you get when you cross an
elephant with a rhino*?
 [sigh], says Emma
(photo by Chris Kittredge Photography)

And while we’re on the topic of captions, let’s put some thought into the top photo, shall we?

So what d’ya think? Yeah, I know. Euka’s just yawning in Emma’s face, like she’s been raised with no manners whatsoever. So we could take this a couple of ways – build a clever caption making a case for these two very bored dogs or instead, with a squint of your eyes, pretend that our Euka is saying something REAL LOUD.

Inspired now? Drop us a comment with your clever thoughts.





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*What do you get? Elephino.  Sound it out by syllable, y’all.

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