March 30, 2010

Blog Of Note!

What an absolute surprise, we just found out that Raising Ruby was named today's Blog of Note!

I have no idea how Blogger decides which blogs to feature on their Blogs of Note page, but we are very excited, definitely stunned, and extremely grateful. What an amazing gift to help us spread awareness for service dogs.

If you're visiting for the first time through Blogs of Note, we're so very glad to meet you! We hope you enjoy the story of our little yellow service puppy, Ruby, as she makes her journey toward becoming a service dog for an individual with a disability. If you're interested in learning more about Ruby's organization, please visit Canine Partners of the Rockies.

I received Ruby when she was 10 weeks old and she's been out and about ever since – learning, training, experiencing the world, and being generally amazing and adorable. Here's a few of our favorite posts. Enjoy!

So, The First Couple Weeks?
Booze Hound
Puppy Class: Recall
Waiter, There's A Fly In My Soup
Night At The Museum
Service Puppy...Or Service Bunny?
Santa's Little...Helper?
Puppy Raising Q&A
Home, Where The Buffalo Roam
A Thousand Laser Pointers

March 29, 2010

The Car Wash

I really thought this was not going to be pretty. As a kid, I was kind of afraid of the car wash, so I figured Ruby would think it was the apocalypse. I can't tell you how happy I am to report that I was WRONG! But let's begin at the beginning.

Even Ruby was embarrassed at the state this car was in. Utterly disgraceful. She can't even look at it. The time had come.

I sat in the back with her, just in case. She was totally calm on the approach.

We usually don't get the "Ultimate Wash," but we did today, no expense spared for our puppy's education! Just a friendly little tip – as exciting as it sounds, ultimate really wasn't much different from the basic.

Once we were in, the lights and sounds perked her up.

I had plenty of treats to reassure her in case she got apprehensive or frightened.

Just to give you a better idea, this is what she saw out the window. Scary, right?

Nope. Curious George actually liked it!

The sights didn't bother her but the sounds did affect her a little. And she didn't love the bumps, but that seemed to be more annoying to her than scary. Of course, full disclosure, we did go through half a bag of treats in the 5 minutes we were in there.

She was interested in the daylight as we exited.

Ahh, a clean car, a happy puppy, and another successful outing. Win-win-win! And thank you to Mr. Raiser for driving since Mrs. Raiser is still just a teeny tiny bit afraid of driving through the car wash. I know. Pathetic.

March 28, 2010

Happy Sunday!

The sun is shining in Colorado on this beautiful Sunday, and our friends Erin and Pompei have made the day even more lovely by presenting us with this award! Like Ruby, Pompei is a Service Puppy In Training and he is beyond adorable, check out his blog: Pompei's Progress. So cute, right? In fact...does he remind you of anyone you know?

The rules of this award are to list 10 bloggers who brighten our day and list 10 things that make us happy. The first list is both easy and hard, because our community of bloggers is so large and warm and wonderful! So, in addition to our 10 friends below, we'd like to gift this award to everyone who visits, comments, emails, and follows Ruby each week of her journey. Thank you!

1. Farley's Golden Life
2. Khyra's Khorner
3. Radio Carly
4. Oh...It's Happening!
5. Sierra Rose
6. Assistance Dog For Autism
7. The Chronicle of Woos
8. The Thundering Herd
9. Stuff To Eat
10. In Training

OK, 10 things that make us happy. Everyone wants in on the act, so here goes:

1. Treats! Any kind, any time, any place
2. Snapping on my vest and go-go-going
3. Making a giant mess at Kiva's water bowl
4. Bringing Mommy vile, unidentifiable things
5. Ear scratches and belly rubs

6. Mommy & Daddy
7. The little Frosty Paw tune composed just for me
8. Chicken!!!
9. Hiking, Swimming, Snootling

Me & the Mr.:
10. Kiva & Ruby!

March 27, 2010

Go West, Young Blog

I'm the kind of person who really likes change. So now that Blogger has some new templates, I'm trying one out. I wish they'd implement a feature where I could use my own background image, but the wood was kinda Western-ish, so I thought it would be cute for my Western dog. Also, I was able to get back some of the features I lost on my previous template, like the date stamp.

I'll be playing around with it, so if you find things aren't viewing correctly or something just looks screwy, please drop me a line. Not that I'm techy enough to be able to fix it, but hey, I can try! Thanks!

March 23, 2010

Snow Sisters

Here we go again! Will it be a foot...or tomorrow morning?

March 20, 2010

Field Of Dreams

What a difference a day makes! 65° on Thursday, a snowstorm yesterday, glorious blue skies and a blanket of white for today, the first day of spring. A Colorado puppy's dream come true.

March 19, 2010

Goofy Grin

TDIF, am I right? Have a great weekend!

March 17, 2010

Clicker Training With The Kids

Amid all the March celebrations and get-togethers, I've had my family visiting from out-of-town. New friends in the house? Ruby was overjoyed! (To put it mildly.) Everyone had a lot of fun and it was also a great opportunity for Ruby to get some training in with new people.

My nephews are very quick learners and take to things right away. Like, for example, skiing. They are 13 and 11, and have been skiing a total of three days in their young lives. By that third day they were flying down the black diamond runs, skiing moguls, and making jumps. I am such a non-skier that I don't even know if I phrased that right, but if I didn't, they'll let their ol' aunt know – right, boys?

So, having conquered the Rocky Mountains, learning to master the clicker was a piece of cake. The kids were quick, marked the behavior when they should, and saw how easy and fun clicker training is.

Working on the focus exercise, along with Snoopervisor Kiva.

A nice down.

He's really got her attention.

Great job! I also had him put on a mask to see how she'd react. There was lots of giggling (both human and puppy), so A+ on that one!

Thanks for your help, boys! Ruby had a great time with you and learned a lot!

March 14, 2010

Service Puppy...Or Service Jackalope?

Kiva never even saw it coming.

March 12, 2010

Guest Post: Barb and Raven Visit the Doctor's Office

So I had a quick Drs. visit the other day and bravely/foolishly decided to bring Raven with me to the Drs. office. He and I have gone in several times before, starting when he was a small puppy to practice sitting quietly in the waiting room and ignoring all kinds of well meaning folk who would love to pet a dog, regardless of his vest. This was always a challenge for Blair (my previous service puppy) so I started early with Raven.

Often times the exam rooms are cold and scary for service puppies in training so I went back early and just sat in there with him quietly in a down (implied stay).

He relaxed very quickly, even rolling over onto a hip (no sphinx position here). Then the office visit started and I soon realized that my boy has quite a sense of humor. As soon as I stepped on the scale I realized that I had mysteriously gained 10 pounds (NOT NEEDED). I looked out and lo and behold there was Raven's nose and a PAW sneakily adding those extra 10 pounds. At least I have a good excuse, ice cream anyone?

When we went back to the exam room, I realized that he is also doing really well for 10 months old. With the support of the great staff at the Beacon Clinic we made all the clanks and squeaks and slams that an office visit would entail. The only time Raven looked nervous was at the end when they gave him a blown up latex glove to play with. I have to agree with him, that just doesn't look okay.

But this does bring up an important point. From those of us who raise service dogs in training, I would like to thank all those in our communities who help us with this important socialization and familiarization process. Think of it: You patiently wait behind us as we take forever to get thru a door (waits, through, and treats), good humoredly allow a puppy to sniff and explore a medical office and realize that you only have about 40% of our attention on good days because we are focused on the prime puppy directive. Hardest of all, you try not to distract, love on or treat these adorable puppies because you understand that they have a higher calling.

Well said, Barb! We are very fortunate for all the support we receive in our community. While puppy raisers do encounter people who will pet and distract our dogs even when we ask them not to, the majority of people we meet are incredibly supportive, interested, and respectful of the job we're doing.

March 10, 2010

Snow Golf

While the tiger's in hibernation, the dogs got game!

March 9, 2010

Be Right Back

Thank you all for your birthday wishes! My computer's been in the shop, but we'll be catching up soon. Birthday breakfast was a hit! My girls gave me a beautiful card,

and while I enjoyed my ricotta blueberry pancakes, Ruby enjoyed the ribbon on my gift.

It's the only time we'll all be together like this for my birthday and we really made the most of it; it was a wonderful day.

March 5, 2010

March Comes In Like A Sweet, Delusional Dream

It's a huge month for birthdays here at Raising Ruby. So many of our family members and friends are March babies...including me! Yep, mine's this Sunday and I'll be Sweet Sixteen! I'm really looking forward to taking Ruby to my junior prom and getting my license and whoo, college is just around the corner! PAR-TEE!!!!

So, Happy Birthday March Babies! Ruby and I send you all a virtual card sealed with kisses:

And as an extra-special bonus birthday present, I give you a photo of our very first outing together. That's right, Hallmark, you're where it all began. I call this shot, "Zombie Mommy, The Face Of Housebreaking."

I can't believe I'm posting this masterpiece. At least I airbrushed out the bra strap.

Happy Birthday to all who are celebrating this month and everyone have a fantastic weekend!

March 2, 2010

A Thousand Laser Pointers

Unpredictability. It's one of the most intriguing things about service puppy raising. Taking Ruby to places where I could not take a pet dog is teaching me a tremendous amount in regard to seeing the human world through a dog's eyes. I'm learning to anticipate my surroundings in a very different way than if I were alone.

We were at a store with a section for musical instruments and I thought a visit would be good for some auditory practice. It never occurred to me that the sights in a music store could upstage the sounds. But of course they could. I didn't see it coming, literally or figuratively, but the store had a disco ball.

You know the effect a laser pointer has on most dogs and cats; they'll chase that microscopic dot to the point of madness. Young Kiva was an addict till we chucked that thing out the window, and once it was gone, I forgot all about it. Until here we are ten years later, Ruby and I turn a corner, get hit with the frying pan, and we're seeing stars EVERYWHERE.

Of course, my split second instinct was, OH SH(insertvowelhere)T. Ruby saw this hallucinogenic kaleidoscope on the walls, ceiling, floor, me, herself, and she instantly became...let's just say, DERANGED.

(I know. I'm using a lot of caps. IT WAS A CAPS KIND OF MOMENT. The pictures don't do it justice because the flash kind of bleached those buggers out, but trust me. me.)

When she first hurled herself tail over teacups at the dots, I wasn't quite sure what to do, and to be honest, I was slightly worried about her trashing all that expensive equipment. But sometimes the best training opportunities are the ones you don't expect...aren't prepared for...hadn't anticipated...tremendously wish you had thought of... and I realized that I knew exactly what I had to do to get my dog's attention. I grabbed the clicker and spoke her name. She ignored me and I spoke it again. The very instant she paid me even a fraction of a second of attention, I clicked and gave her a treat. I spoke her name again, she hesitated, I clicked/treated her again. After a few click/treats, even though the dots were still flying, I had her.

And once I knew I could get her attention here at Studio 54 Best Buy, I wanted to begin to teach her how to deal with this calmly. I took a seat; we were going to be here awhile.

Below, no flash. A little blurry, but you can tell that the dots were very bright and very fast. Trippy and zippy!

I've learned a lot from these past two surprise situations (here and at PetSmart). Calmness travels down the leash just as much as nerves do.

I'm also gaining confidence that no matter where we are, or how unexpected the situation, as long as she's safe (and as long as no one is throwing us out), we can just take the time we need to see it through, together.