November 29, 2009

Ruby On Rails

Ruby's a good car traveler, so I really didn't expect to have any issues on Denver's train system, the light rail. But I took a bag full of extra delicious treats just in case!

Before the train took off, we took a walk up and down the narrow aisle, passing people on the way. One mom felt badly because her daughter reached out and pet Ruby without asking permission. I laughed and said that Ruby reached out and gave the little girl a few sniffs and that Ruby didn't ask permission either!

We got underway and Ruby didn't show any uneasiness with the movement. She just sat and looked around a little, maybe noticing the tops of buildings flying by in the window.

When I saw this next shot, I got a little choked up, but in a good way. She looks so much less like a puppy here. She's beginning to look like...a service dog.

Ah, but she's still a puppy! We moved around a few times and she kept trying to burrow under one of the seats.

We peeked underneath and figured out why. She had hunted down an animal cracker!

The line ends at Union Station; Ruby will give her tour in another post. Since the train was already waiting at the station at the beginning of our trip, it was cute to see her watch it pull in.

On the ride home she was wiped. So was I!

November 26, 2009

Thankful For New Friends

What a lovely surprise to wake up to on this sunny Thanksgiving morning -- we were very honored to receive this award from our wonderful friends across the miles, Murray and Clive in Ireland! Murray is a not-so-little man who brings us all big smiles and tales of adventures with his awesome pal and assistance dog, Clive.

I am giving thanks for so very many things today and the community of my new online friends is certainly a huge part of what I am grateful for. In the spirit of this award, I'd like to pass it along to five blogger friends who have welcomed and supported Raising Ruby (the new blog on the block!) and whose warm stories and photos I really enjoy:

Khyra's Khorner
Sierra Rose
Becky's Blog Spotlight
Tails of a CCI Puppy
A Doggie Life

I started Ruby's blog to help spread awareness for service dog organizations and to serve as a resource for those who may be thinking of raising a service puppy and are curious as to what it entails. Thanks to all the support and friendship we've received, we have been able to reach more people than we ever could have hoped for in such a short period of time.

A Tailwaggin' Thanksgiving to all of our friends and have a great weekend!

November 25, 2009

How To Eat Texas Taffy

Technique K: Anchor treat with one paw, fine-tune position of treat with toes of other paw, gently tear treat into manageable strips. Chew delicately.

Technique R: Let deck do all the work. Devour.

Wishing lots of treats and a Happy Thanksgiving to all!

November 23, 2009

Furniture And Toys

The couch, coffee table, chairs, pillows, shoes, and I, have been very fortunate. Former Puppy Kiva and Current Puppy Ruby have never shown much interest in chewing on anything but their own toys. I attribute part of that good fortune to the fact that they're provided with a ton of toys, especially stuffed squeaky ones, in baskets all around the house. To prevent boredom, I switch the toys around and add to the stash frequently.

The flip side to this constant Christmas morning is that whenever they see something "stuffed" they immediately think it's for them. I know they're able to discriminate -- when I claim a toy for myself in the house (like my little stuffed teddy from Etsy), they leave it alone, even though it's within snoots' reach. But I've noticed when I bring Ruby into a store, all bets are off, so we're working on that.

Of all places, a furniture store recently provided a couple of good stuffed toy training opportunities. As soon as I saw those two little dogs I knew she'd make a beeline for them.

I told her to "leave it" but she went straight for 'em. I tried to get her attention back, aaaaand...

she knocked them down and started to take one in her mouth. You can't see my face but I have to cop to the fact that the sight of this pile just cracked me right up. Giggling, I told Ruby to "drop it" and she did.

So we backed up, waited a bit, and composed ourselves. Then I put her in a sit, gave her a treat for that, and we both attempted some restraint.

This time we were more successful. She sat and checked them out, but didn't try to take off with them. Although, needing to have the last word, as soon as we stepped away she turned around and gave those rotties a piece of her adolescent 6-month-old mind.

Continuing on, we easily made our way through the store, practicing all kinds of maneuvers and cues,

till we came upon a lounging tiger with a delectable, dangling tail.

Ruby went toward it, and being in a public place, I just kind of instinctively held back the leash. But I know I need to trust myself and my dog. As long as it's a safe place, I want her to make her own choices. So I gave the leash slack and let her have a moment to sniff, but before she could chomp a tiger on his toe, I told her to sit. She did.

Which isn't to say that she wasn't still interested in it,

but she showed self-control, which made me really, really proud of her. Because seriously, that toe and tail were totally tugworthy!

November 20, 2009


The "R" herd charges into the weekend. Have a good one!

Video courtesy Joyce.

November 16, 2009

Smashburger Outing

We totally went to Smashburger for the sake of Ruby's education. Totally.

November 14, 2009

November 11, 2009

Night At The Museum

There's alchemy to raising a service puppy (or any puppy for that matter), and the elements are time, patience, and emotion. A kettle full of affection, anticipation, surprise. Bubbling beakers of laughter. A pinch of exasperation. And so much pride.

For me, that chemistry is what makes puppy raising so rewarding. I've realized that Ruby and I ask a lot of each other. We're nearly always together, training and on outings. I know when she's ready to learn and when's she's ready to play and I believe she can read the same signals in me. I give her plenty of opportunity to succeed at a task; sometimes she does and sometimes she doesn't. But we always have fun and always end our sessions on a positive note.

Because we spend so much time together, there is a different kind of connection than I would ever have with my pets. She'll only be mine for a year and a half, but Ruby gifts me with moments I will hold in my heart for a lifetime. Our outing to the museum was a like a glittering string of those moments.

During Denver Arts Week, the museums host free Saturday night programs and I chose the Colorado History Museum. I figured it would be a nice, quiet place to stroll while Ruby practiced patience. Also, I've never had her out on a busy street in the evening, so it was a good training opportunity all around. First, we practiced some loose leash walking. The fast cars and signal lights were all new to her in the dark and she was excited, so there was a lot of pulling. But I put her in a sit at a corner and she completely surprised me by calmly staying in place as an ambulance screamed by. It was really close and bright and loud, but I watched her watch it, and Ruby was unrattled.

We entered with a "wait" at the door, then through to the lobby. I had her practice sit/stay while I chatted with different people,

and put her in a down/stay as I read some signage.

She's been riding elevators since she was tiny, so she's used to that whole song and dance. Speaking of which...

when the doors opened to the lower level, a band was setting up. Not the quiet evening I expected, but an amazing stroke of luck! We haven't attended any concerts, so I was curious to see how she'd react to instruments and loud, live music. The percussionist was a fantastic musician and great guy -- he played a few minutes just for Ruby! I put her in a sit/stay and danced around next to her to add some more distraction to the scene.

She was cool with all of that, but when the bass player started to practice, she barked. I was surprised, since a) she rarely barks and b) she's a total blissed-out groupie down in our basement when Mr. Leash plays his electric guitar. I think it was the deep sound that set her off. Or maybe because he was doing that daddy thing but was Not Daddy. At any rate, I was momentarily mortified at the realization that my dog was barking in a museum. It was like when you drop a book really loudly in a library; for a split second you make that dread-filled sucking-in-your-breath gasping sound. So I gasped, then I had to laugh considering there was a LIVE BAND performing. I calmed her, put her in a down/stay, and took a seat myself to give her a chance to get accustomed to everything. In no time, she was fine. We both enjoyed our private concert!

Enough sensory stimulation? We were just getting started! Beyond the band, a bunch of kids were roping steer. I am totally not kidding. There were these little mini cow cutouts with kids flinging lassos every which way. I would have bet cold hard cash that if anything was going to make her bark, run, bolt, pounce, wreak havoc and get us thrown out, it would be this. Pardner, I'da lost that bet. The dog could not have cared less.

After this abundance of excitement, I gauged her tolerance level. She was still in great shape and I wanted to switch gears to see her reaction. We went back to the gallery for some quiet time.

By the way, the show was "Allen True's West." Allen True (1881 - 1955) has been described as the region's premier muralist and this show was part of a fascinating exhibition throughout Denver. I'll be making a return visit sans Ruby, so I can spend time studying it.

And then we called it a night. The only thing left was to take her outside to see if she would be anxious near the giant statue of a buffalo. She wasn't.

I'll remember this one for years to come.

November 6, 2009

Puppy Training Class: Tennis Balls

We roll 'em...

Bounce 'em...

Fling 'em...

Make a pot o' gold out of 'em...

But most of all, try to keep our dogs' attention so they ignore 'em!

November 4, 2009

Uh, Hello, It's Just Me Starving Down Here

Some time ago, Kiva came up with this little "hint" that she only uses when we're a bit late serving her dinner. That squeaking noise in the background? Me trying not to laugh as we unexpectedly finally caught this on video -- true to form, she reminded us to get going and quit playing around with the Flip cam. Special guest star, Junior Investigative Officer Ruby P. Dog.