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Six Month Interview

It was on this day, two years ago, that the world welcomed eight new yellow packages of puppy goodness.

And our hearts melted at the sight of them.

Remember this? We spent the next eight weeks watching them on the Eukanuba Livestream as the tiny critters opened their eyes and ears to brand new experiences. Then in a blink, they were off to their puppy raisers for socialization and training for the next eighteen months.

This past May, our Extraordinary E’s – Emma, Everett, Ella, Elmo, Euka II, Emily, Ethan, and Eliza – returned to Canine Companions for Independence to enter the Advanced Training program to learn the ways of being highly trained Assistance Dogs.

Euka II ready for
Advanced Training at CCI

When we were nearing the end of our volunteer puppy adventures with Miss Euka, I sat her down for a James Lipton-esque interview. Using those familiar ten interview questions offered up by Mr. Lipton, we got a inside view of our little polar bear celebrity.

Of course we know that Miss Euka needs to focus on her education and so is not available for a follow-up interview on today, her second birthday. There’ll be time for all that later after training has been completed and her destiny determined.

No worries, y’all. Holly has stepped up and said she’d be glad to talk about herself with you instead. You see, she has a birthday coming as well.

The Hero litter, born on March 18 this year, will be six months old on Thursday.

So lessee here … in dog years, the Heros are something around seven years old.


What’s that, you say? How do I figure this? Oh sure, it’s a total WAG, not gonna lie. But here’s what I’m using as my resource. This is from the post The Seven Year Myth.

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There’s a plethora of opinions and resources out there on calculating dog age.  Here’s an article from the Mental Floss website that puts the logic back into my argument. From their story on Fuzzy Math: How do “dog years” work? . . . 

The folks at The Dog Guide suggest that when we think about “dog years,” we have to consider the breed and calculate accordingly. Across the board, they say, you can consider the first year of a dog’s life as equivalent to 15 or so human years. By that time, dogs and humans are approaching their adult size and have reached sexual maturity. On their 2nd birthday, you should add about 3-8 more years to your dogs “human age,” depending on size, and value each dog year as being worth 4-5 human years from that point on.

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What is that for our hooman kids, do you think? Seven years old is first grade or something, right? Primary school, anyway.

So how about some interview questions designed for the young mind. Nothing scandalous that James Lipton would dare to delve into (what’s your favorite curse word), but instead a more whimsical look into the psyche of the delicate creature that is Miss Holly.

When I say delicate, that’s not really what I mean, of course. I don’t have a sarcasm font here.

And we’ll have to toss aside certain other queries that could otherwise be made of a seven year old child. A six month old puppy would be limited in her response to “what’s your favorite season” … um, Summer? Or favorite color … anything not grey?

With that in mind, here’s what we got out of the pup today.

Holly’s Six Month Interview


Food Lady:     Alrighty, kiddo. Let’s get started. That’s right, just sit right there and get comfy. Ok, we know your name is Holly VII, given to you by Canine Companions for Independence. But now that you’ve been living at Sword House for the past four months, have you picked up any nicknames?
Holly:             You mean like, Kiddo? You call everybody that. I think it’s the same reason you call us all Dog. It’s because you forget our names sometimes, isn’t it? But you also call me Holly Polly and Halle Berry.  I like those. There’s the times you call me that other thing, too. 
FL:  What other thing?
H:    Holy-[bleep]-what-is-in-your-mouth-now-spit-it-out-drop-it-drop-it-drop-it-oh-that-is-not-good-why-would-you-even-put-that-in-your-mouth.There’s Hawaiian volcanoes with fewer vowels, you know.
FL:  Right. We’ll cover this more offline, Holly Polly. Ok, next question. Ready? How would you describe yourself?
H:    I love to run! I’m a runner! I need to exercise my legs a lot because when my brains get tired, they leak all the way into my feet. I have to run to get my brains back in my head. And afterwards, I like sleeping in the middle of the room so I can wake up real fast if something interesting is gonna happen. Oh! And eat! Three meals a day! Food is the best stuff ever, I just can’t get it in my belly fast enough. Love, love, love to eat. It could be anything, too. I’m not picky. Bodine says that makes me a cheap date. Food Lady? What’s a cheap date?
Harvest & Holly at five months

FL:  Don’t listen to the cat. We’ve talked about that. And what? You have to run to get your brains back into your head?

H:    Don’t you?

FL:  I think that’s just a puppy thing. Speaking of .. I wanted to talk to you about your face time with a food bowl. This three meals a day thing is just for Little Puppies, you know. Your mealtimes are going to be upgraded to Big Puppy times later this week.
H:    Serious? Four meals? 
FL:  Um, no. But let’s add that topic to the Talk-Later list. Let’s move onto the next question for now, ok? Holly, my love, describe a perfect day.
H:    Duh. I just did. Four meals. Wait, no. Five. Five meals would be perfection plus infinity.
FL:  Don’t say Duh. It’s rude. But really, what else do you like to do? Besides eat all day and burn those calories by running around like your tail’s on fire, I mean.
H:    You know what else is fun? When Micron brings the newspaper in and he’s all [lowers voice] Lookit everybody, I’m a “working” dog and everything. And then I grab the newspaper from him and I run circles around the sofa with it and Micron drops to the floor with a huff-y sound and Jager jumps on the sofa and starts barking and I laugh and laugh and run circles until I get dizzy. Or until you yell at me to stop. Ha! That’s good times.
FL:  Good times. Copy that. Next question … what is your greatest talent as a six month old puppy? Please don’t say eating, running or sleeping. Pick something else, please.
H:    Eating isn’t a talent, Food Lady. Duh … um, duh dee dum dum la lee la. That’s a song. I just made it up. See, that’s talent. My power of eating is a gift. Anyhow, I’m real good at learning stuff. Right? You said so. I can do Visit and Lap now. And I can Shake paws like a boss. You said that, too.
FL:  That is true, Holly. You’re picking up the CCI commands like you knew them already. Good job, little girl. Now, think about this next one a second. What is your favorite joke?
H:    I don’t have to think!  I got one. Knock knock.
FL:  Who’s there?
H:    Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?
FL:  A food joke. Nice. And so efficient, condensing a knock-knock joke into a three-liner. Add a couple more lines and maybe it will actually make sense. Ok, last question, Holly. If you could say anything to your half-sisters and brothers, the Extraordinary E’s, what would it be?
H:    Thanks for saving all the good looks for me, you guys.
FL: Try again.
H:    All the brains? What? You’re making that meanie face again.
FL:  Stop it. Really, kiddo. Seriously. The E’s are doing wonderfully and I know you wish them good luck as we all do. Now, what did I tell you to say to them today?
H:    Ok, ok. I’ll be all seriously and for real. Happy Second Birthday to the Extraordinary E’s! Rock the world, my sisters and brothers!
FL:  Good job, Holly. Thank you.

H:    You’re welcome. Are we done here? It’s hungry o’clock.

Wordless Wednesday: Some dogs want to see their name in lights

Some dogs, with aspirations of celebrity-dom, want to see their name in lights. Other dogs have a different value system.

From Canine Companions for Independence’s Facebook page …

It’s National Dog Day and to celebrate, we are launching the#kibblenamegame! Harpo is calling out some of her siblings from theEukanuba #HeroLitter Hala, Hoagy, Holly and Hudson. Post videos/photos of your dogs and call out their four-legged friends.TAG #ccicanine #NDD

What’s this now, Harpo? A challenge, you say?

Game On, sister, says Holly.

I accept your challenge, she says. And will add my weekly birthday shot to it. 

And…, Holly continues. I will stamp my own style to the event by attempting the splits, puppy style, while Food Lady is fussing around with her stoopid camera. I’m betting this morning’s breakfast that she doesn’t even notice.

Later, as Holly is crunching her breakfast, I recall the Kibble Name Game we did with Euka before she returned to CCI for her Advanced Training. Gotcha a link below for that photo and more.

But here’s even another version of just how good these CCI puppies are.

Here’s our Miss Euka at her Matriculation Party we had at P&G Pet Care back in May.  Euka poses with a section of her face cake.

Not a drop of icing on her nose. Good Leave It, you awesome dog.

Yowza, says Euka. I even
look good in frosting.

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For an earlier collection of Kibble Name Challenges, be sure to click to our link to a slideshow of The Kibble Name Game here at Raising a Super Dog.

Euka first semester update

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Now that, says Euka, was a play session! 

You must really be mad at that little yellow dog, says Bodine. The benevolent ruler of Sword House strolls into the kitchen while I’m putting some sandwiches together.

Ooh, is that roast beef? he asks.

Ack! Get off the counter, Bodine! I say. Take those litter box feet of yours back to the floor. And what? I must be mad at who?

The cat makes a clear, and rather impressive, leap over to the dinette table. He lifts a hind leg and gets down to personal hygiene business.

Let  me know when you’re done on the counter, willya, says
Bodine. I have some important business to tend to. 

I’m talking about that little yellow dog, says Bodine. He’s speaking slowly so I can understand this time. You took her outside hours ago and never brought her back in.

What are you talking about, cat o’mine? I say. The puppy is right here. See? Holly’s on the dog bed in a Down Stay. Right, Holly? Good girl, you. 

Not that tail biter, says Bodine. The other one. Wow, you really don’t remember, do you? Maybe you should start writing this stuff down. 

Wait, I say. Are you talking about Euka? Bodine, you dip, we turned Euka back over to CCI for her Advanced Training. It’s been over two months ago. 

You don’t say, says Bodine. He waves a dismissive paw in the air. Well – a few hours, a few months – it’s all the same around here. If it’s not one dog, it’s another.

He shifts his cleaning efforts to his other cheek. Huh. So you’re telling me, says the cat. That we’ve swapped out yet another yellow dog? Can’t we just install a revolving door or something to speed up the process? Hey, you know what? I’m not even going to bother to learn their names anymore.

Right. Why start now? I say. Anyhow, I’m sure you’ll be glad to hear that Euka is doing well in the Advanced Training program. 

Oh, indeed, says Bodine. Here, look. This is my Glad face. He goes back to his cleaning efforts.

Ok, smarty cat, but she is, I say. Her first semester report card came in and we’re really proud of her. Her trainer says Euka’s taking on the new commands quite nicely.

Ok, I’ll bite, says Bodine. Like what?

Well, it’s nice you care enough to ask, I say. That’s sweet of you to … can you not lick that area in front of me, please? Thanks, dude. So the monthly report card is split into sections. The first part shows the training in progress.

She’s building on the commands she learned with us, I continue. Her trainer will work her on the basic commands from a wheelchair, so a Heel looks different to her now. And retrieve is an enhanced command now, too. Euka will learn to Hold an object for a length of time.  

The Push command is totally new to Euka. She’ll respond to Push to close drawers or doors. Ok, imagine this Bodine … an assistance dog learns how to open a refrigerator door, retrieve a can of soda for her handler, then closes the door with a nose push.  

Gotcha. Imagining that, Bodine yawns.

And a reminder why we’re not talking about assistance cats, I say.  Anyway, here’s the best part. The second section of the report card is for positive behaviors. And Euka’s trainer has checked off every one of them. 

Are you sure you have the right report? asks Bodine. Just sayin’.

Miss Euka, star pupil

You know, it’s funny you would mention that, I say. These first semester reports usually have something that is a head scratcher for a puppy raiser. The dogs tend to show something brand new that they didn’t do with us. After all, it’s a wholly different environment and handler. Of course, we should expect to see some different behavior as well. 

So, you’re surprised that she’s doing so good, huh?, says Bodine. Yeah, I can see that. Yep. If memory serves …

Actually, Bodine, truth be told, I have to admit that our Miss Euka is holding her own in Advanced Training is nothing less than what I expected out of our girl, I say.  What has me surprised is the third section of the report card.

Which is what exactly? says Bodine.  She’s learning how to make sushi? Understands how to use the DVR remote? Got her black belt in Dog Yoga? Tell me, what amazing feat has the golden child accomplished that has you so gobsmacked?

Well, I say. Again, you need to keep in mind that she’s in a new environment. 

Ok, so she’s not an architectural engineer, says Bodine. Got that. So what?

Euka showed a fear response in her behavioral assessment, I say.  Not so much that the trainer is overly concerned. Really, she said she wasn’t sure if it even needed mentioning. Just something to note and watch.

That dog, The Euka, was afraid of something? says Bodine. You have to ask for the right report. You know something got boogered here, paperwork-wise, don’t you?

From the start, Bodine and Euka had
an … interesting … relationship.

I know, it’s weird, right? I say.  Here’s the thing. It was early on and could be simply due to the lifestyle change. If I know that polar bear like I think I do, she’ll shake it off and carry on.  

Which makes sense, says Bodine. So, when’s the next report?

Later this week, I say. It’ll be the second one we get. Then if all goes as planned, we’ll see another four monthly reports after this and before her Advanced Training is completed. Keep your paws crossed for good news.

I’ll be sure to do that, says Bodine. In my spare time. In the meanwhile, Food Lady, you might be interested in this little news flash. 

Oh really? I say. Is the cleaning ritual finally finished? All attention is now back to you, my benevolent ruler. How may I serve you?

Oh, it’s not me, says Bodine, smugly. It’s about the spotted dog.  How long ago was it that you let the Jager outside?

Holy cow! I say. I forgot! Jager! Here! Cookie!

Hey, it’s not like I should tell you your business or anything, says Bodine. But you do really need to start writing this stuff down. I think this might be a two cookie day for the Jagerhund. 

Um. Hello?

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.

7 tips on using a Gentle Leader

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What a big sweetie, she said, giving the mighty Micron a gentle scritching on the top of his noggin.

I’d like to pet that one, too, continues Micron’s new admirer. But you’ve got that muzzle on her, so I won’t.

Oh my.

Food Lady! Make him share his ball!

We do get the comments on the head halter, that handy training tool. And honestly, I don’t mind fielding the questions. It’s much better to have an educational moment than the sly skunk eye we get from those who aren’t familiar. I suspect the muzzle comment is a common theme among volunteer puppy raisers for Canine Companions for Independence.

When faced with the query of why is she wearing a muzzle, we find it easy nuff to give a little shrug and say oh, no that’s a Gentle Leader. A head collar, actually designed a lot like a horse halter. See, the leash is connected under here.

And sometimes that’ll do it. They nod in understanding, which makes me wonder if we’re talking to horse people and they totally get it.

Maybe it’s city folk that ask for more on the philosophy behind the Gentle Leader. But no prob. We got this, too.

Yaxley demonstrates the comfort level
of the Gentle Leader.

Well, we say. Think about it this way. The head halter give us the ability to redirect the pup’s attention if she gets distracted by something. Later on, when the dog is teamed with a person with a disability, it’ll be easier to control a seven pound head than a sixty pound dog.

Lookit, she can still take a treat [crunch crunch] or get a drink of water. The halter doesn’t hold her mouth closed. 

And for these dog lovers, we’ve now got it covered. Checking off good enough so we can all move onto our next thoughts. Things like how lovely Euka is and that’s it’s just not fair to all the other dogs out there since she took up all the gorgeous.

But then you get the next level of thinkers.

We kindly call these folk engineers.

How? they ask. Why?

Um, I will say. Oh hey, we’ve got bookmarks with Euka on them. Just a sec. I’ll getcha one from her cape pocket. 

How indeed. Why do these things work so well, anyway? Hardly anecdotal evidence, we have a proven track record of pups that walk better on lead while wearing a head halter. As well as seeing the Gentle Leader provide a calming influence on an excitable puppy.

It’s been supposed that the halter affects certain pressure points on the dog, similar to how the mom would correct her pup.

Have you seen this interaction? A dog gives a gentle, yet dominant, correction by wrapping a mouth about the top of another dog’s snooter. Not a big deal kinda thing. Like a simmer down there, little missy. Or a similar behavior when the mother dog will grab her pup by the back of the neck.

Is there a spit of truth to this, do you think? I dunno myself. I only live with dogs, it’s not like I talk to them about this stuff.

As if.

We mostly talk about when’s dinner and why are all the tennis balls under the sofa where nobody can reach them and why the heck is the cat allowed on the kitchen counter.

He’s not.

Hey, but I can offer you this. Through trial, error and four puppies I’ve been hit in the head with certain knowledge about how to work with this Gentle Leader training tool.

Suggestions for success with Gentle Leader training:

  1. Follow the directions for the correct fitting. Too loose or too tight – whether the nose loop or neck strap – will cause you a handful of probs. Do this first. Then check the instructions again. It’s that important.
  2. Start the pup young. Eight weeks old, if you can. Just a few minutes at first, then work into longer periods.
  3. Gentle Leader Time is Happy Time. Introduce at a relaxed time of day. Say, like just for a few minutes while watching the tube in the evening. Or slip the thing on and feed a meal. Good things happen when the GL shows up. Euka recognizes hers and know it means Adventure Awaits.
  4. The pup will paw at it. They all do. They will tell you that’s what their dew claws were made for, to hook into the nose strap and tug. Just don’t remove it while the pup is fussing. The puppy brains will match this behavior to this is how to get their way, right?
  5. On a similar topic, the pup may turn to that kind stranger in hopes they might remove the nose loop. Physical attempts by the pup may even stray to the unmentionable regions of said stranger as the pup sees an opportunity for leverage. This will happen. And it will embarrass you in ways yet unknown to you at this point in life. I say to you now – expect it. Anticipate and you may be able to head off the obligatory and strangled apology. I’ve taken this one for the team. You’re welcome.
  6. You’ll come across folk who are vehemently opposed to the use of a head halter. They are different than the muzzle people. They will recount some vague tale of something they heard about that happened to a friend of a second cousin to their neighbor’s college roommate. Merely smile politely and go on about your business with confidence. The GL, when fit and used properly, is a remarkable training tool. And safe, of course. Any training tool can be misused when in the hands of those who haven’t been bothered to learn how to use it.
  7. Do #1 again. Really. Puppies grow, of course.

Do you have a success story with using the Gentle Leader with your beloved four legger? A cautionary tale that trumps the maybe-the-release-button-is-in-this-hooman’s-crotch story?

Please share.

Especially if you’ve been more embarrassed than me.

Go for ride? I call shotgun!
Check out that hot pink GL on our girl.

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The photos at top and bottom are from this weekend’s adventures. 
Top image is our shopping trip for Mother’s Day flowers at Knollwood Garden Center. We paused for a photo op with a fountain that is now on my OMG I Gotta Have This list, but sadly falls short of the Easily Affordable criteria with its suggested retail price of Higher Than a Cat’s Back.

The bottom image with the fancy pants car was taken at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum. Euka wanted to stand on the running board with a haughty look on her face. Your Toyota, she says to me, is so … you. This is how I should be traveling about, you know. We compromised with a pretty sit on the floor and a wan smile.

May the Fourth

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Micron Solo, Jabba and Princess Euka.


I can’t find my tomato stakes, my lamentation for this sunny May afternoon.

Then what’s that you’re using? asks My Favorite Kid.

Bamboo kebab skewer thingies I found in the kitchen junk drawer, I say. That’ll do for now. Maybe.

I’ve got some rebar rods in the garage if you want them, says The Husband.

Which I will be sure to keep in mind when I plant Godzilla tomatoes, I say. I only bought cherry tomato plants for the patio garden this time. Tokyo is safe for now. So thanks anyway, but I think I’ll hang tight and see if I can’t find something more appropriate than cooking utensils and bridge making equipment.

I turn my attention to the herb container.

Lessee, gotcha some dill, sage, 
thyme and copious amounts of
 dog hair. Don’t dare ask me 
what my secret ingredient is.
I’ll never tell.

By the way, I planted some jalapenos for you, too. I say to the kid. I was gonna add cilantro to the patio garden, but it insists on acting like a weed. Last time it took over everything.

What herbs are you planting then? he asks.

The basics. Some rosemary, parsley, sweet basil, I say. And sage.

Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme? he asks. Sounds familiar.

And it does, right? Makes one think of Simon and Garfunkel.

Which then reminds me of Paul Simon and Carrie Fisher.

Carrie Fisher? Best known, perhaps, of her Princess Leia role in Star Wars and how she totally rocked that breakfast bun hairdo.

And holy cow, did you know? Today is May 4th.

The fourth of May, y’all.

As in … May the Fourth be with You.

And the universe just became smaller. Everything is connected, don’t you see?

My patio herb garden has a one degree separation from Harrison Ford.

I’m doing the math here, Food Lady, says
Euka. By my calculations, you’re
completely delusional.

Piece of my heart

golden retriever
Pin this

How old was the puppy when you got him? asked the young man.

Yaxley was eight weeks old when he arrived from California, answered The Husband. Yes? Next question?

What are you training him to do? asks another audience member.

The Husband fields this one, too.  We introduce thirty commands, mostly the basics you’d want to teach any dog. Plus a few that will be used when Yax goes to Advanced Training. And we spend a lot of time socializing him. Any other questions? We have time for one more.

We’re just about to wrap up this presentation to this Bowling Green Chapter of the Delta Chi Fraternity. The members are considering offering a donation to Canine Companions for Independence. With Yaxley, our third puppy with CCI, to impress these fellas we’re working this gig the best we can.

And another hand goes up.

Yes? You in the back, says The Husband.

Is it true, asks this future business leader of the free world. That you replaced your son with a dog?

Ah, there ya go. We got us a smarty pants in our midst.

The Favorite Kid and Yaxley

I see where this is going, of course. This was when the Favorite Kid was Chapter President of his fraternity, which made him the target of his fellow brothers. All in good spirited jest, of course. Well, at least while we were there. Who knows what went on while the boys were making their collegiate memories over those four years.

What happens at the Delta Chi House, stays at the house.

Please.

As with his previous adventures in the scouts, I insist on only hearing the happy stuff.  Like Snow White with a song bird on her index finger, I don’t want to know anything about poison apples or whistling short people with pick axes coming and going from the premises.

So, did we replace the kid with a dog or what?

With a step back and sidelong glance by my other half, I can tell this ball has been slammed into my court.

Ok, I start to say. I will say that it is true that we waited until the Kid started college before we got involved in volunteer puppy raising. And sure, I guess it’s true as well, that we gave the dog his room. 

But! I continued, finger raised. Our Favorite Kid is irreplaceable.

Wow, that sounds lame. It did then and even now I struggle to think of a response that doesn’t sound like I’m a little too vigorous in my denial.

I mean it, though. I really do. You can’t replace a kid like mine with a dog, no matter how awesome the canine is.

It’s possible to add things to life. It’s not always a swap of one for another.

As it is with Miss Euka.

We’ve received our next puppy assignment from Canine Companions for Independence. The timing of Euka’s matriculation into Advanced Training is within days of when Puppy Number Five will be showing up to rock our world.

When asked how we can we possibly give these puppies up after raising them for a year and a half, we quip something like … oh, with a lot of pride and large margarita. But then we also take on another puppy which give us a distraction. 

And all that is pretty much on the mark. Pride, drinking in moderation and a new, furry responsibility to fill our thoughts.

But replace one puppy with another?

Impossible.

I don’t know where this bit of profundity started. Or who wrote it. But it beats to the tune of a puppy raiser’s heart.

It came to me that every time I say good-bye to a dog 
they take a piece of my heart with them. 
And every new dog who comes into my life 
gifts me with a piece of their heart. 
If I live long enough all the components of my heart will be dog
 and I will become as generous and loving as they are.

And that’s it, right?

Euka will leave us, but is taking our love with her. We filled her up with it, to the brim and then some. And she’ll carry that with her along her journey to share.

And our next puppy will come into our home carrying the love she received from her breeder caretaker.

We’re not losing anything here. We’re not less.

Oh no, people. We will have so much more. Our lives are enriched with each little puppy life we meet.

And I can’t wait. Stay tuned for the announcement of our newest golden child.

Spoiler alert:  Oh for … I have to tell you. Make room in your hearts for Holly of the Eukanuba sponsored Hero Litter.  The petite purple-collared beauty should hit Ohio soil somewheres around May 18, give or take.

Photo courtesy of Chris Kittredge Photography

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