Saturday, December 11, 2010

Holiday Madness

This past month has been absolutely crazy!! There are three main factors driving the madness of this holiday season: my health, my church and my puppy raising club.

My health has continued to go downhill and I'm stuck at home these days not working and not going to school. I'm in a state of limbo while we get my records sent to new doctors and try to get all of the appointments set up. The pain that I experience on a daily basis is a struggle that does not subside very often and it, on top of everything else going on, creates an extra stress to deal with during the already busy season.

One of the only things that I am able to keep up with in my life is my church activities. I am very heavily involved in our music program and am officially in our adult choir, adult hand bell choir and a women's octet. I am also working about one day a week in our church daycare which keeps me from going completely insane sitting at my house. With all of the music that I am involved in Christmas is a very busy time. This weekend is our huge annual Christmas at the Cathedral concert. It is a very large, 2 hour production that we put on three times in the next two days. I have participated in this event every year since I was four years old and I can't imagine December without it! However, the rehearsals and warm-ups and concerts and post-concert parties take up a lot of time. On top of that, I have rehearsals for performances in upcoming Christmas services. All of the activity is awesome for Mark. This puppy, who I have had constant struggles with, is finally hitting his stride. I have been working very, very hard with him on his relieving and it seems (knock on wood) that he's finally in a good pattern where he is not having any accidents!!!! He's still a goofball but he is to a point where I am comfortable having out with me all day. This weekend will truly test him since we will be out all day today and tomorrow. Wish us luck!

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, another crazy part of this month has been the changes occurring in my puppy raising group. We are currently going through the process of a change in leadership. Instead of being the background co-leader, I am now a very active leader in our club. My former co-leader, who was the main leader and had most of the responsibility, is no longer involved in the Guide Dog club here and it's been crazy learning all of the extra stuff to be in the leadership position that I am now in. I have two wonderful ladies on board as co-leaders for the Boise area and having them makes all of this seem perfectly doable! While it is a task getting everything sorted out, we are all very excited to get the opportunity to have this level of involvement in such an awesome program.

Well, I have to be off so that I can start getting ready for the rest of the day. If anyone is in the Boise, Idaho area and is a music lover, try to make it to Christmas at the Cathedral. It really is my favorite musical event of the year. And you could watch Mark be a perfectly behaved boy as we go from group to group. Right Mark?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Emergency Vet Visit

When everyone is sitting around the table for the Thanksgiving feast, I have always felt a certain amount of gratuity for food and friends and family. However, to be quite honest, I don't think that I have every really sat down to embrace what it is to be thankful. I have grown up doing things for other people and I was raised to know the value of helping someone. Be it through church, Girl Scouts or Guide Dogs, I feel the spirit of giving surround me almost every day.

This Thanksgiving morning gave me something real to be grateful for.

While my mother was in the kitchen I had Mark and Barley on tie-downs on the couch. Mark started squirming and I was trying to calm him down. All of a sudden his leg got caught on the tie-down, he squirmed away, I heard a popping sound and then he started screaming. As fast as possible I got him off the tie-down and into my lap. For the next half an hour I continued testing his leg to see where it hurt, how sensitive it was and if he would put pressure on it at all.

Mark made a show of being absolutely pathetic and he had us convinced that he had dislocated something. After a phone call to my CFR, we were on our way to the Emergency Vet. Mark would whine and not put any pressure on his leg even when we weighed him before going into the exam room, but by the time the technician came in, he was fine.

That puppy was flopping around on the exam table and walking around the room as if nothing had happened at all.

The technician and my mom and I had a good laugh about their hospital being so good that all you had to do was come inside to be cured and she went to the front desk with our paperwork. As we were walking to the front desk, I couldn't believe that I would be the reason for a bill to be sent to Guide Dogs for absolutely nothing. As I approached the front desk, the lovely girl behind it handed my Vet Reimbursement form to me and wished me a happy Thanksgiving from the staff at WestVet.

In this society, it is a rare thing to walk out of a vet's office or doctor's office without having to pay a fee even if it turns out there was nothing wrong. I truly felt blessed this morning not only to have a healthy puppy, but to be surrounded by a community that cares so much warmed me more than any turkey dinner could.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Two for One

Well, Thanksgiving is only 14 hours away and I had an unexpected guest join me for the holiday! Due to some logistical issues in our club, Barley has come to stay with Mark and I until Monday. Having two GDB pups in the house at the same time is always an adventure. These boys are wanting to play every chance that they get. Especially around the holidays, it seems that we are short on puppysitters. Everyone is traveling or already has a dog in their house. It is difficult to have two dogs so close in age at the same time. Barley is eight months old and Mark is 6 months old. With both of them being at a point in life where they are testing boundaries, they have me on my toes trying to keep up.

A typical morning with two puppies goes like this: I take one puppy outside to relieve while the other stays in the crate. After relieving, I feed the first dog. While that pup is eating, the other dog gets to go outside. We come inside and the boys wiggle and play for a couple minutes and then dog number one goes on a tie-down. Then dog number two gets to eat. After the breakfast craze, both boys are on tie-downs. Right now, we are really having to focus on them being able to be in the same room together without wrestling constantly.

Another exciting development for Boise raisers is the new snow fall. Mark is very much enjoying his first snow and getting to be outside in the cold makes him extra frisky. In some ways, the extra frisky puppy is a lot of fun. Watching him zip back and forth through the backyard is one of my favorite things. However, trying to get him to relieve properly is a bit of a challenge. The snow and ice proves to be a distraction! I think that we're working through it nicely and, hopefully, by Christmas I won't have to stand outside spinning in circles in the 4 degree weather for ten minutes.

My grand parents are coming into town today to celebrate the holiday with us, so it will definitely be a full, busy house for Thanksgiving. Luckily, no matter how crazy life can get, I have so much to be thankful for.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Not-So-Baby Picture

I was looking at Mark last night and realizing that I had not taken nearly as many pictures of him as I have of other puppies. Feeling sad, I took this picture of him and it didn't help.

He's not a puppy anymore!!

What happened? I missed it somehow. Sitting here looking at the picture with my mom I said, "Check out how old he looks in this picture." To which my mother replied, "Yeah, like he's six months old or something." I guess that the Doodle is right on track for his growing, but it continues to throw me off.

I guess that I will have to be taking a lot more pictures of him so that we don't run into this problem again.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sick as a Dog

Poor little Mark is having some indigestion issues. Runny poo is the least fun part to deal with as a puppy raiser. Unfortunately, it seems like the one thing that I have to deal with every time I have a dog. Mark ended up having two accidents at Zamzow's (luckily out of jacket since it was a pet store) which were both so runny and soupy I could only feel bad for him. Luckily, I had Pepto Bismol!

Those little pink tablets have saved my puppies tummies more times than I can count. I love that easy fix but it doesn't make things too much easier on me. Usually Mark would be accompanying me to church this morning and I will most likely have to leave at him at home so that there is no chance of an accident in jacket. Poor little guy loves getting to go to church, but unless there's some solid stool this morning, that is not going to happen. :(

Those of you who read this and are not puppy raisers are probably not thrilled by reading about poop. As a coleader for our puppy raising club here, I have to be comfortable with the topic. Now something that used be uncomfortable for me is just something that I have to talk about and be aware of every day of my life.

You know you're a puppy raiser when.....

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Missing My Doodle

I know that GDB isn't the biggest fan of nick names in the puppy raising home, but I just can't help it. Yes, I always make sure that my puppy knows their real name and I use GDB's name whenever I'm in public or training. I just have always had my pet names for the puppies that I have raised.

Yamaha was Yammer-head (he had a huge, square head and since it wasn't hammer shaped, he couldn't be a shark). Baskin was Baby Baskin(he was the first 8 week old puppy that we had in the house and he never really grew up in our eyes). Donna was Little Miss (she was the first female that I had and she was so cute and petite and feminine). Chantilly was Tilly (it was just too easy to shorten). Gene was Gene-o (he had an underbite and scissorbite and we all thought that he should have been a character in the Godfather). Faulkner was The Nerd (he always wanted to do everything exactly right, he was a little OCD and I started calling Faulk-a-nerd which was just shortened). Jerry was my Jerr-Bear (he's the biggest cuddler on the face of the planet). And Mark is my Doodle Bug.

An explanation: I do not enjoy puppies having one syllable names. They are harder to learn and recognize. Whenever I wanted to get my puppy excited and be lovey-dovey with him, I would call him my Mark-a-Doo. That evolved into my Mark-a-Doodle. Which then became my Doodle Bug. Now I can him either Doodle Bug, Doo, Doodle or just Bug. This puppy has more nicknames than any other dog that has come through my house and I just love it!

The reason that I am missing my little guy is because, once again, it is puppy trade. I have an older dog who is having enough issues that it made me miss Mark a bunch. I'm going to be getting him back tomorrow night and I couldn't be more excited to have my puppy home again!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Doing My Research

I an effort to update some records on a couple of my puppies that I have raised, I discovered a surprising fact. I remember getting my first puppy in training for Guide Dogs, Yamaha, when he was about 10 months old. While digging through files, however, I found a monthly report form that I filled out for him when he was 8 months old!

This discovery makes a lot of sense now that I have studied it, but I guess that it is difficult to remember everything for five years. It turns out I got Yamaha when he was 7 months old. I started going to meetings and puppysitting right before I turned 16, so the time line is a lot easier for me to follow now. I guess that keeping a couple monthlies isn't always a bad thing to do!