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Wordless Wednesday: Yaxley is treat sized

See Yaxley in the melee? There he is, the little fella, right next to Micron’s gaping maw. It looks like that wee noggin would fit neatly into that dark, slobbery abyss, doesn’t it?

This pack of yeller dogs is, from left to right, Karsen, Yaxley, Micron and Kel. Photo was taken at our old office last year. Yax was about two and a half months old.

Final countdown folks.  Three days until Yaxley’s matriculation into the Advanced Training program at Canine Companions for Independence. 

Doggie nirvana smells like Westie spirit

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Ow!, cries Yaxley. What are you doing? Brain surgery? Hey, I think you missed the frontal lobe this time.

I pause with the cotton ball and level my eyes with his. Will you hold still a second and quit that whining, you pansy flower. Cleaning your ears does not hurt, I tell him.

Yeah, he says. At least it’s not supposed to.  What’s with all this grooming and fussing anyway? I feel like the cowardly lion at the munchkin spa. He lifts his right paw towards me and turns his head . Just buff my nails, will ya? No polish.

Yax, my love, I patiently remind him again as I clean between his webbed retriever toes. We’re entertaining guests today here at the office. I want you smelling your best for your visitors.

His eyes brighten at this news. Right! Yaxley says. My friend Preston is coming in today. Do you think he remembers me, though?  It’s been a few months since I met him at BlogPaws last fall. 

Well, you guys talk online quite a bit, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if he remembers what you smell like, I say. What about you? How well do you remember Preston?

Oh! I do!, Yax closes his eyes and his nostrils twitch. He’s all dog cookies, attitude and adventure. He smells a lot like a terrier, actually. 

Yup, that makes sense. Preston is indeed a Westie, I tell him while brushing out his tail.  A West Highland Terrier. And he’s kind of a big deal, with that blog of his at Preston Speaks.  So I need to see some mature behavior . . . don’t you roll your eyes at me, mister . . . and make Preston and his brother feel at home here, I say.

And as I’m wetting down a cowlick on that yellow noggin, I see that Preston and Elvis are on their way to our cube.

Yep, just a I remembered. The scent of attitude and adventure.

Hey Preston! Long time, no smell!, says Yaxley. Welcome to my work. C’mon in and I’ll show you around. See? Here’s my bed, and my chew bone and my water bowl and . . .

Alrighty, Yax, I say. Let’s give the boys a chance to settle in. We’ll give Preston and Elvis a tour of the pet friendly office area and later we’ll have a pool party for you guys outside.

Elvis has that added nuance of cuddle-bug aroma. Preston, meanwhile, looks a bit violated from the sniff fest.

Southwestern Ohio certainly has not been exempt from the massive heat wave hitting across the contiguous states over the past week. You’ll note in the next few shots that the grass in our pet park is a shade of retriever yellow. Yaxley is darn near camouflaged out there in that crunchy expanse of lawn.*

Our forward thinking pet care team (thanks Jen!) had our guests in mind today and put out a wading pool for the boys. Preston had a great time cooling off, but Yaxley just wouldn’t have any of it.

He would, however, drink some of it.

You know, he kinda tastes like attitude and adventure, too

In a vain attempt to outsmart the yellow dog and get him into the pool, I toss a high value squeaky toy into the Westie bath.

Yax is patient as he awaits the squeaky to float to the edge.

And he grabs the thing and takes off running and squeaking.

And he’s happy. And dry. So who am I to mess with that?

Got me a SQUEAKY!

A parting shot to show that Yaxley says, yes actually, it is all about me.  Yaxley photobombs my shot of Preston in the pool. His tail makes a clever framing for this shot. At least that’s what I’m going with anyway.

Read more about the adventures of Preston and Elvis at Preston Speaks, a blog from a Westie’s point of view.  Preston just finished a tour of the great states and he’ll be sharing all his derring-do in upcoming posts.


*To demonstrate the definition of irony, just as we’re all lamenting about needing some serious rain, we did indeed get exactly that. A massive storm came through later in the afternoon. The high winds whipped areas of Ohio taking out trees and creating power outages in the tens of thousands. So the lesson here is, it’s ok to do a rain dance, people, but let’s keep it to a waltz and not a breakdance or something.

Dogs for a dollar

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Yaxley is ready to do his business at Buehler’s.
No, not that business, he’s selling hot dogs.

“You have dogs for sale?”
That’s right.  One dollar for a hot dog and the brats are a dollar fifty
“Um. I mean the dogs . . . are they up for adoption or something?”

And so begins an awkward segue into explaining our pups in training for Canine Companions for Independence.

Yaxley and I spent a gorgeous Saturday afternoon with other CCI supporters at Buehler’s Fresh Foods in Delaware, Ohio. It was a Grilling Dogs with the CCI Dogs fundraising event located at the wonderfully shaded entrance to the store. A nice little setup with hot dogs, brats, drinks, and chips for sale. And slices of pie fresh from the bakery. Enough good stuff to draw a hungry crowd. 

As food booth volunteers, we were given the options of food prep, running the cash drawer or crowd socializing with the pups. I’m kinda stumped on how to share my job choice without sounding lazy, so I’ll just be up front about it and lay it all out there for you.

Look, I already cook a meal nearly every bleary-eyed evening after a long day at work goofing around with budgets. So thinking I’ll pass on any opportunities involving food or math. Socializing, though?  That sounds easy. Especially since I’ll be holding the leash of an adorable puppy that will be doing most of the work.

So with my work ethic safely stowed away, I pulled up a $29.99 lawn chair and awaited our audience.

Hey, it’s not like Yaxley had to do the work all by himself. He had lots of help in greeting folk. Jones was there to break up the heavy work load, so poor Yax didn’t have the carry that burden of greeting every little kid that stopped by to give a belly rub.

Jones and Yaxley ready to work the crowd
Just a little bit closer, kid.  Almost . . . close . . . enuf . . . to. . . lick

Then just in time as the lunch crowd is showing up, the relief team of Haiku and Dahl are there to assist.  In hindsight, in the photo below I now realize there’s a large red arrow that’s pointed directly at Dahl’s labrador noggin. And then yet another arrow is right there at her, um, tail.  Certainly not intentional and my apologies to Dahl for any loss of dignity. But still — it makes me giggle when I look at it.

Ok, everybody say Cookie!
Yaxley, Haiku and Dahl smile for the camera.

And then, oh the glory of it all, another young puppy shows up. Yaxley makes a seamless and immediate shift change from professional crowd socializer to six month puppy goofball.  Hey there cutie, he says.  What’s your name?

Girly girl Jada.
Check out those soulful brown eyes.

Yaxley meets the glorious Jada, an eight month old CCI pup in training. And his puppy brain short-circuits. Just as the neurons start misfiring and inspiring random puppy behavior, I’m handed Jada’s leash to hold for a minute. And Yaxley announces that it’s now Break TimeHey Jada, let’s rassle!

I unhinge Yaxley’s puppy snout from Jada’s front leg and try to explain that, Yax honey, Jada’s not that kind of girl.

She’s well-behaved.

We gather up some self-control and get back to work.  Then Yaxley tells me enough is enough, Food Lady.  I certainly can’t expect him to work all day.

Aw, can’t I just chew on her leg for a few minutes?

So Yaxley and Jada declare an official nap time for all working dogs.

Dahl shows the youngsters how the pros do it.

Dahl!  Dahl!  Lookit me!  I’m doing it!

TYDTWD Eukanuba style

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Doggy smiles on CCI pups Yaxley & Red

Ok, so how many of you knew that last Friday was the official Take Your Dog to Work Day?


Uh huh.  Yeah, even in my dog riddled world, that kibble of info slipped past me. But then, it’s kinda every day that I take my dog to work with me. I’m rather blessed in that – working in a pet food business definitely has its perks. But apparently, this particular event has been going on for some time now.

The official TYDTWD website officially states . . .

First celebrated in 1999, Pet Sitters International’s Take Your Dog To Work Day® was created to celebrate the great companions dogs make and to encourage their adoption from humane societies, animal shelters and breed rescue clubs. This annual event asks pet lovers to celebrate the humane-canine bond and promote pet adoption by encouraging their employers to support TYDTWDay by opening their workplace to employees’ four-legged friends on this one special day.

Well, who knew? But any efforts to raise awareness of adopting shelter and rescue dogs grabs my attention. And even better, my office celebrated this auspicious event by coordinating some fun lunchtime activities with our fuzzy co-workers.  Now, there’s many of us that do bring our dogs into the office to spend the work day with us, so we get the occasional impromptu play date in our company pet park when the potty schedules coincide.  But since this was an official holiday, on this day we had some creative organized activities.

So, we started off with the Longest Sit/Stay. Ah, I thought, this should go well.  I’ll try to keep my poker face and not obnoxiously gloat when Yaxley knocks the socks off everyone with his solid Sit/Stay.  Right.  Once again, I overestimated my dog handling skills expecting a six month old puppy to have conscious free-flowing thoughts while surrounded by gobs of dogs. Yax’s noggin kinda short-circuited.  While he wasn’t the first to break his Stay, he wasn’t the third one either.

Alrighty then, let’s do a quiet time-out and watch the older dogs do the next activity.

Next up – the Potato Walk. This involved walking a straight line while a potato is balanced on a serving spoon in one hand, the dog on leash in the other hand.  Last to drop their potato wins.  Sure, I tell Yaxley, we could have done that one, kid.  Naw, we couldn’t. Let’s be real. Maybe in another six months.
Last event was a twist on musical chairs. From our vantage point, this may have much more fun to spectate than participate. In place of chairs, pawprints were set about in a circle. Dogs and owners walked around the pawprints to music; when the music stopped, the dogs were to sit on the pawprint.  Now CCI pups are taught to walk, Sit and Down on unusual surfaces.  Many pet dogs are not. That was fun part to watch – utter refusal to place their doggy rump down on that. The rules were quickly adjusted to allow the dogs to just stand on a pawprint. The players were eliminated as a pawprint was taken away each turn, the winner is the last dog standing.
Here ‘s Yaxley and his co-workers burning off some energy before the games.  You’ll see the pawprints on the ground that were so carefully measured out and placed in a circle being scattered about by the excited dogs.
Now check out the faces on these pups. You don’t need to be an expert in canine body language to see that these are dog smiles.
Yaxley and Diamond
Yaxley and his BFF, Natas
Of course we had refreshments for the fuzzies, as well.  A round of Frosty Paws for everyone. Yaxley got a euphoric Zen moment going with his cup.  

We had a bit of a side discussion about Frosty Paws.  Someone asked if anyone thought a person could buy these dog treats by mistake and actually eat it? What would happen?

Well, it ain’t gonna kill ya. But you probably won’t enjoy it as much as your pup does, that lack of sugar and all. Guessing it would be a once in a lifetime experience. Self-correcting behavior, as it were.

Frosty (Paws) Nose

More photos of the event are on the Eukanuba and Iams pages for those of you who partake in the Facebook experience.

A little bromance for Valentine’s Day

Holy cow, but these two dogs are best of friends. I was trying to think of the word for when two guys like each other a lot, but the relationship is completely platonic. 
Ah yes, bromance. 
Micron and Karsen really enjoy each other’s company. And personal space.
I love ya, man

As a puppy raiser, I consider these play dates as very helpful in the training process. Of course, we expect these dogs to follow the basics whether the training cape is on or not. Playing with other CCI pups encourages good play behaviors and we can reward their appropriate interactions. 

These two have grown up together at our office. When the leash is on and the cape on their backs, they can pass each other in the hallway with just a wink and a nod. But when the capes are off and the Release command spoken, then it’s Tag! You’re It!

Two good dogs.

Working for kibble

It’s not hard to make Micron a happy dog. He is, by nature, a glass half full kinda guy. He finds most things in life are pretty good (naps, belly rubs, fresh bowl of water) and other events are wonderful (car ride, getting attention from the Starbucks girls), and then he has his ecstasy moments (I gotcher smelly sneaker!). 

But what is true euphoria for a dog? Anyone lucky enough to have a food motivated dog knows. Both these dogs know when mealtime is around here. We keep things on a tight schedule, because honestly, I really like to keep the #2’s on schedule too, if you know what I mean. So when 7:00 rolls around, there’s some serious restlessness in the household. After the bowl is licked to a shine, Micron will run to the nearest person to give his thanksgiving for the nouvelle cuisine. “Food Lady!” he says, “You’ve outdone yourself again. That was the best bowl yet!” His tail wags so hard that the tip is touching his sides.

It probably doesn’t need mentioning that this dog is really, really easy to train.

But hey, everything comes with a price, doesn’t it? This pup has to work for his daily kibble. In addition to his service dog training, he is an ambassador for CCI. We make the occasional public appearances and work at CCI booths to raise awareness of this amazing human services organization. Let’s look at a couple of our fall outings.

Aullwood Apple Fest

Micron and Bullet.
They’re not exactly manning the booth, 
but dogging the booth doesn’t sound right, either.

 One of my very favorite local events, the Apple Fest at Aullwood Audubon Center & Farm. I love being outdoors on a beautiful fall day with the smell of wood smoke in the air. Apple butter is cooking in kettles and apple pie is baking in the dutch ovens over an open fire. Puppy raisers Jerry and Jerri manage the CCI booth at this annual event. This year they brought their 17th pup, Bullet. Seventeenth puppy. These guys are pros in the CCI puppy raising business –my heroes and mentors.

Also working the booth for crowd control was pup in training, Karsen, and COC Fergo, the big sweetie.

Babe magnet, Bullet

We get a lot of traffic at the CCI booth over the two-day fest. Really, it is essentially non-stop. It’s a great opportunity to allow the dogs to learn calm greetings and talk to folk about the work that CCI does. We answer questions while the pups work on their fan base.

A firm handshake and good eye contact.
I was especially looking forward to this as it would be Micron’s first contact with farm animals. I learned from experience that the goats are not a really great first step as far as livestock goes (sorry, Inga).  A goat will stare a little too long before they go all freak out on you. So we started with just walking around to get exposed to some novel smells.

Hi sheep thing. Nice to smell you.


First we met a gentle, old sheep, which went really well. A sniff, sniff and we moved on. Next was the barn.

Hogs, mini whinnies, an alpaca, and a couple of calves. Nothing we can’t handle. It’s all good. We can check farm animals off the New Experiences list for CCI.

I just got my head around that sheep thing
and now there’s this?

Apple butter a’cookin’.

Aullwood Farm is a good family visit anytime, really. It’s an educational farm for kids to learn about livestock and agriculture. For folk within driving distance of the Dayton area, check out the farm and the adjoining nature center and gardens. Always time well spent.

Micron poses in the herb garden

Jungle Jim’s Fall Festival

Micron and Julie

We spent a chilly afternoon at the Jungle Jim’s International Market. Definitely hoodie weather, but much better than sweating it out on a hot summer day. Micron met up with pups in training Owen and Julie for an afternoon Meet and Greet. Julie is nearly five months old and quite the crowd draw. Owen is 18 months and will be matriculating at the November 12 CCI graduation ceremony in Dublin.

Julie was adorable, Owen was professional and Micron was, well, you can see from the photos. Micron was his usual self.

What is Owen thinking?  Probably don’t wanna know.


Julie and her adorable head tilt

I’m one of those unfortunate people who turns into an idiot when a camera is in my hands. All manner of squeaks, clicks and meows come from me in an attempt to get a dog to lift their ears and look at the lens.

I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t get the occasional reward, such as that puppy head tilt of Julie’s. Just look at that adorable mug. She brought back some wonderful memories of Inga as a pup (sniff).
Long time puppy raisers Steve and Bonnie facilitated the CCI booth for this event. Jungle Jim’s is an eclectic shopping experience, sorta like an amusement park in a grocery. We decided to try out some shopping after working the CCI booth. It was our first time at the place and we found we needed a map to find our way around the international marketplace. Micron did a wonderful job exploring with us, but we knew it was time to put a cap on things when he dropped onto the floor in England and fell asleep. It was a long afternoon, the poor fella.


It was a bit chilly out.
Julie provides a hand warming service.

Micron Dog and Jungle Dog.
Maybe just me, but I prefer food with less personality.
And self awareness.
Do they ever get to be “dogs”?
Questions we get as puppy raisers from concerned dog lovers. Is it all work for these dogs?  Do they have to wear their capes all the time? Don’t they ever get to be “dogs?”
Of course they do, people. We undress these fuzzies, give the Release command and stand back. But you know, it helps to have a visual sometimes. The Gold Rush Champions chapter of CCI put together an excellent video that will relieve some of those working dog worries. Talk about time well spent – if you’re a dog lover, you won’t be asking for these four minutes back. 
Check out the video at:
 Do service dogs get to play?.

Two’s Company, Three’s a Party

Those who know me well respect that I’m not a morning person. Actually, even those who don’t know me well seem to figure that little factoid out pretty quickly. But I gotta say that this past week’s puppy sitting duties brought a change in attitude. 
We had a puppy party every morning in my kitchen starting at the otherwise grim and unforgiving hour of 7 a.m. A fellow CCI puppy raiser had a tight work schedule over these last few days, so he dropped his little furby off at my place. And what a blast we had. The family dog, our CCI pup and this new little guy collided together each morning and ran through the house as a single conjoined fur unit. There was no way I could hold onto the morning grumpies while in the same house as three dogs in the throes of frenzied happiness. It just takes all the ugly out of a day.
Not that I could keep this kind of pace up all day, of course. After I got to the office, I prompty handed one pup over to my BFF cube farm partner. By promptly, I mean that I called her from my cell phone in the parking lot to come out here and get the one of these dogs. Please.
I get the occasional question from folk asking if my first CCI pup, Inga, were to be released from the CCI program, would I adopt her. I think it obvious that I want her to pass and become a skilled service dog for someone, but yeah, I would take her back.  “But,” people say, “then you’d have three dogs in your house.” I would smile sweetly at this naiveté and tell them how much I love dogs and not to worry. “I really think I can handle it just fine,” I say. Reality is a cold and cruel master, however. Sure, I can handle three dogs. Just maybe not at the same time. Check that; I absolutely do believe it’s possible to live with three dogs successfully in a thriving and happy household. 
It’s two young puppies and a terrier mix tearing through my house like a Cub Scout pack tanked on Mountain Dew that is a test of my humble abilities. But would I do it again?  In a heartbeat.
Photos this time around are of Micron and his new puppy friend, Karsen.  On top, they share an eviscerated frog toy, courtesy of the lovely Inga. Next two shots are their separate interpretations of a Sit Stay. And the parting shot is blessed naptime. To be clear, they do both have comfy dog beds and crates.
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