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Ask me about my grand-dog

Here are my grand-kids, says my sister, holding out her smart phone for all to see.

Ooh, we say. Aaah. The phone slowly passes by in an arc for the benefit of those seated at the kitchen table.

Well, that’s only some of them, she continues. A couple of swipes with an index finger and now we’re provided a look at a few more kids in various poses of eating, swimming, and even one in mid-tantrum.


I sit quietly, as I do at these events, clutching my own smart phone in my lap. If anyone’s ready to see photos of dogs, I’m your girl.

Oh wait! I remember now. I have a grand-dog. Heck yes, people. Nobody leave yet, cuz I have family photos too. Hang on a sec and I’ll pull them up.

My Favorite Kid with Jack and
The Kaiser. About [coff] twenty
years ago.

My personal order for a grand-kid is placed on back-order while we await the processing of things like, say the May 2015 wedding. Having reared an only child, and a boy at that, it seems natural that my request is for a little lady girl to spoil with animal face hats and toy horses and the like.

But there’s no hurry, of course. No pressure, you two. And don’t get me wrong; a baby boy would be pretty darn wonderful, too. My Favorite Kid was one once and I liked him a whole lot.

In the meanwhile, we were gifted a grand-dog to keep those grandma hormones placated. My kid was brought up in the company of dogs and so understands the joys, challenges and high rewards of sharing life with a devoted canine friend.

There was talk about dog breeds, with choices ranging widely from the noble to the warm and cozy. What would best fit their lifestyle? A handsome, lean boxer or the smartest bunny-butt of the bunch, the Pembroke Welsh corgi?

My advice has always been that you just can’t go wrong with a Lab or a golden. But all biases aside, the choice was not mine to make.


Still, they chose well. After several trips to area Humane Societies and rescue groups, because it needed to be an informed decision – not an emotional one, Derek and Samantha brought home Elsa.

Dark and freckled and wagging a plume to rival Micron’s own Tail of Wondrous Beauty, Elsa is a mixed breed of what appears to be a sporting dog heritage.

She’s a lovely thing, if a bit outspoken. It’s been my pleasure to be an occasional sitter for the grand-dog.


He went out to lunch with some friends, Elsa, I say. Barking is not going to bring him back any sooner. 


So yeah, everyone is bonding nicely here. After saying good-bye to her previous family and spending weeks in a kennel environment, Elsa is learning to be comfortable in her forever home with Derek and Sam.

Adopting a rescue comes with a set of challenges as unique as the dogs themselves. If you’re lucky, you might get an idea of the dog’s background, but even that won’t be enough to totally prepare the new family.

Some stuff just needs to be worked through. When we adopted Jager, we discovered he had a real problem with men in blue uniforms. Why? Oh, who knows. He was freaky about so many things, that was just another checkmark on the list. Jager’s better about it now.


And the same for Elsa. Some settling down time is needed for mental adjustments. Patience, understanding and a predictable schedule is as important as a safe environment and good nutrition in building a family.

Our conversations now include the phrase, Elsa is doing so much better now. Because she’s learning again to trust.

We don’t know what brought this gorgeous and intelligent girl to find herself in the care of the Humane Society.

Elsa, of course, doesn’t have a clue either.

Derek grew up with dogs in his life. He saw that that dogs are not disposable. A pet is not like a shirt or something bought at the mall. An item purchased because it felt right, yet once you got it home you find that you don’t like the color or fit. It turned out to be dry-clean only, when you wanted something you could just toss in the washer.

We don’t take pets back just because they’re not perfect.

However else I may have screwed up over the years by having only one kid to practice my parenting skills on, at least I got this one family value right.

But no matter, all of this. Elsa is one lucky dog. And her history is merely that. All stuff that happened in the past and she doesn’t have it in her face to deal with it anymore. What’s there to do about it now anyway?

The mind of a dog is one that lives in the moment.

And at this moment?

She knows she is loved.

Meet my new grand-dog, y’all.

Euka first semester update

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?

Wordless Wednesday: Watch Holly Grow

Here we gotcha Miss Holly’s eighteen week birthday shot. Good grief, how this girl is growing. It’s like she’s burning every calorie we put in her to achieve her quest to be all Grown Up.

Need a comparison for these weekly photos?  Give this link a click to Watch Holly Grow to see the past posts.

And then, people, we have the Jager Bomb. He heard there were dog cookies.

This spotted creature is *not* our Miss Holly. Nor is his tongue.

Heh, it kinda looks like he has eyebrows.  Which gives me a particularly evil idea for a future photo shoot … hmmm.

Wordless Wednesday: Ice Ice Puppy

Today we present to you Miss Holly of the Canine Companions for Independence Hero Litter in her debut video performance.

Ok, ok maybe not her debut, since we need to consider the past eight weeks of Eukanuba livestream.  Which, by the way and all, is still rerunning highlights of that time in California.

So let’s call this her first solo performance, shall we?

Do note the purple stuffed toy that is merely an obstacle to the goal in this video. Even the favorite squeaky toy of every puppy, Jager, is invisible for this minute and a half of Holly action.

Here’s how to entertain a puppy on the cheap.

Enjoy, y’all.


A California Hollygator

All the innocence and purity a girl can muster.

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

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

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

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

Then it’s gone? he asks.

What? I say. Is what gone?

Ah, I think I see where this is heading.

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

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

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

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

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

Jager enjoys a moment of respite.

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

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

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

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

Purity and innocence, says Jager, My spotted …

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

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

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

Moving in

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

Mmmm, chamomile. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Including me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’ll get there.

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

Just ask him.

A hollygator in her natural habitat.

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