August 29, 2009

Monday Morning Fix

For some reason, I'm in the mood for a small iced chai with a sprinkle of ginger.

August 28, 2009


I don't know. Something always seems to come along to distract these two and ruin a nice shot.

August 27, 2009

Hitting The Trail

Well, not yet, she's still just a pipsqueak. But after she crawled into the backpack, she did get a ride around the living room!

August 26, 2009

Trash Day

I gotta admit, I was a little nervous about this one. The truck is loud, the cans are loud, the whole thing is loud and crashy.

We wanted her attention as the truck first came down the street. (You'll notice our nosy ghost is still with us and is hanging around for this adventure.)

Ruby was a little timid as she peeked around the corner to see what was the commotion next door.

But all kinds of curious when the excitement rolled up to our house.

It was a noisy, wild, turbo garbage extravaganza! What's not for a puppy to love!

She was a little bummed when it was all over. Poor Roo.

Nothing a delicious beefy treat won't cure.

August 25, 2009

This Spider

Was so not itsy bitsy.

August 24, 2009


Well, if she fails service dog school, she can always join the Navy.

August 21, 2009

Narcissus in the Fitting Room

Oh, she knows she's pretty. She stayed like that a looooong time.

August 20, 2009

Puppies Can See Ghosts!

How exciting! And who knew I had a ghost-catching camera! It's just like the Madonna of the Toast!

Or, you know, a snoot print on the lens. But don't tell Ruby. She likes to think she's being watched over by a higher power.

August 19, 2009

School Daze

Ruby loves to watch video of herself in training class. She finds that it helps her to troubleshoot weak areas and improve her technique. This level of perfectionism at such a young age gives me very high hopes. Although, to be honest, I've also seen her glued to America's Next Top Model.

August 18, 2009

Puppy Kisses

Ruby with big "sister" Peyton. No air-kisses for these ladies who lunch. Isn't Peyton so pretty? And fashionable! I covet that ruby-red leash.

Watch out next week in puppy class, Judi. The leash WILL BE MINE.

August 17, 2009

Stretching Out

When puppies are very little, we keep a divider in a large crate to help train them. Most puppies will not eliminate inside the crate if the space is big enough to be comfortable for them, but not so big that they would be comfortable having a poop for a roommate.

We're doing really well on that front, plus we woke up to find that overnight, someone had switched our puppy with a baby elephant, so it was time to remove the divider.

Of course, Ruby helped.

August 14, 2009

So, The First Couple Weeks?

Bliss! You know how the beginning of a relationship is. Could this angel do any wrong?

I mean besides the piddles and explosive diarrhea, rabid lunging at the food bowl, annoying of Kiva (eternally patient big sister), shredding of body parts (mine), and screeching like a deranged chimpanzee when put in her crate. But that was Week One. Week Two was much improved! My good girl leads me to the door when she has to pee, we cured the poo problem, and we've made great progress on de-chimping so the neighbors don't think we're waterboarding the puppy.

Our greatest achievement? Now she sits and waits for the go-ahead before devouring the kibble. I didn't think to take a "before" video, but she was like a starving lion cub on a wildebeest. Not anymore!

Magic? Xanax? Nope, just patience and training. The process involves lowering the food bowl incrementally and treating for calmly sitting at each stage. Ruby caught on very quickly, although it did take two or three days to get her to focus complete eye contact on me while she sat. (She kept glancing at the bowl.) Once I had that, we were golden; she'd wait for as long as I requested. Her eyes just lock on mine until I release her.

I think we'll let her stay here a little while longer.

August 13, 2009

August 12, 2009

Booze Hound

Oh yeah, just lead the way sistah.

Hm, a sherry would be nice, but I'm THIRSTY.

Maybe I can get this big kid to buy me a case of beer.

Sweeeet! Way to go, squirt!

OK, who's ready for another one?

August 11, 2009

Going Shopping

Socialization is very important for service puppies. Until they have their complete series of shots, we either carry them in public places or take them to places where other dogs aren't likely to frequent. We've been to a few supermarkets, but Ruby really likes Whole Foods. Maybe it's the selection.

Actually, I think it's the people. When you're a puppy raiser and you have an adorable yellow ball of fur out in public with a cape on, everyone is curious. I was surprised to find that the cape doesn't immediately signal that Ruby is a service dog in training. I knew it wouldn't be much of a deterrent to people wanting to pet her (she's a button, it's nearly impossible NOT to want to pet her), but I thought the cape would instantly identify her as a working dog. Truthfully, I've found that's not always the case.

At any rate, you're with a puppy, you're going to get attention. Most people smile at her, but they'll speak to me first and tell me how cute she is. I thank them and let them know she is a service dog. To other people, I'm invisible and they just reach out and pet her. Some people just ignore both of us, and if I can make eye contact, I know they are aware of her working status and are respectfully leaving us alone.

Ruby and I have visited more than one Whole Foods, and regardless of the location, I really enjoy the reception we get. The salespeople are extremely friendly and the other customers are typically very polite. Whole Foods people just let us do our thing.

(As an aside, holy.....eeesh. I look like the wreck of the Hesperus. Of course, we're still up a couple times a night and she's raring to go at 4:30 am. But if I'm going to keep showing up in this blog, I really need to invest in a mirror. And maybe an iron and a hair clip. Do me a favor, just look at the cute dog. Thanks.)

As we were walking the aisles, an employee came up behind us wheeling a tall load of boxes. Ruby was frightened by it and started to pull away and cower. I asked him if he would mind letting us follow him and watch as he unloaded the boxes so we could work on her skittishness. He said sure, and couldn't have been nicer or more encouraging. I gradually eased her up to him and he talked to her calmly while he was working, making her interested and involved. She was over her fear in no time.

Trainers and experienced puppy raisers have given me great advice for these early outings while the puppy is still so young: "Set them up for success." When we visit public places, I like to take her an hour or so after she's eaten, so she's fed and toileted and calm, and there is less chance of distraction or accidents.

Speaking of which, I always carry a puppy pee/poo clean-up pack with paper towels, bags, and antibacterial wipes for surfaces (this great tip given to me by Raven's mom, Barb, on day one). Let's be honest, accidents are a worry for new puppy raisers! But once you're...initiated...and you have the right stuff to clean it up, it's no big thing. And it doesn't happen as often as you think it will.

Many thanks to all the Whole Foods employees for being so service dog friendly. We appreciate it!

August 10, 2009

August 9, 2009

Oh No!

Will Cruella De Vil escape with Ruby's brother, Raven, and make him into a nice warm pair of earmuffs?!! And does she know there are 8 more fluffy puppies just like him in case she wants to make a matching pair of puppy Uggs?

Raven's not too worried about it; that's his mom, Barb, under there! She's wearing the wig, glasses, and gloves to make sure that Raven is ok with changes in appearance. We'll take our puppies to see people who look different than what they've come to expect, like firemen with helmets and heavy equipment, or sports mascots in oversized and odd-looking costumes.

Here's Raven in his own gear. The boy does like to ride in style.

The sign cracked me up. As Barb said, "But a service dog must be ok!"

Thanks for the photos, Barb!

August 7, 2009

Ruby's First Mexican Restaurant



pleeeeeeeeeezecanihaveachip? plzplzplz???

sulk. meanestmomever.

August 6, 2009

August 5, 2009

Going Up

From a very young age, service puppies in training are exposed to a wide range of experiences. Neurological stimulation exercises began during Ruby's first week of life and sensory activities continued up to the time the puppies in her litter were placed with their Puppy Raisers.

To build on this great foundation, Puppy Raisers introduce their puppies to as many new situations as possible. We want to familiarize them with varied sights, sounds, and sensations so we can begin to teach appropriate behavior and help provide the confidence each dog will need as a partner to an individual with a disability.

At 10 weeks old, the whole world is new and exciting to Ruby. It can also be very overwhelming. So we offer lots of encouragement (and treats!) to make sure these experiences leave her with positive impressions.

As a service dog for someone with a mobility-related disability, Ruby would need to feel very comfortable riding in elevators. That strange sense of movement and enclosure can be frightening for some dogs, so it was one of our first outings.

I love that she's watching me press the button. I told her she might be the one doing that someday!

I had her sit while we waited for the elevator to arrive,

and I treated her as she listened to the sound of the elevator coming down the shaft.

When the doors opened, I let her investigate inside for awhile.

For this first ride, we didn't take photos of the doors opening or closing, or inside while we were traveling up and down, because I didn't want to distract her or have the flash add to any uneasiness. She cocked her head a few times as the doors closed and the elevator started to move, but otherwise she was very relaxed about the whole thing. She had no problem getting right back in for another ride, so I think she thought it was kind of fun!

We took a few rides, tried another elevator, got in and out on different floors, and Ruby was fine.

For Elevator Expedition #2, we'll graduate to a busier location like a hotel, where we can take longer rides with crowds of people.