July 30, 2010

Denver Botanic Gardens

On a brilliant, not-too-hot Sunday morning, we took our out-of-town guests on a visit to the Denver Botanic Gardens.

When we arrived, we were greeted warmly by the staff who were all smiles upon seeing Ruby. (Any puppy raiser can tell you, we SO appreciate when that happens!) They even had dog biscuits behind the counter – an unexpected treat!

We've spent the summer really working on Ruby's outdoor loose-leash walking (with varied success) and I wasn't sure how she'd do in this Magical Land of a Thousand Smells. Because we had guests, I was a little worried as I didn't want anyone to feel rushed or uncomfortable if things didn't go smoothly. But, as always, the doggies are gonna surprise you – oh my girl, you did me so proud, better than I ever could have expected.

She was fascinated by this fountain as the water raised and lowered, but she never broke her "sit."

She was very patient with me when I would pause,

and of course, from time to time as we strolled, I would let her explore the sights and scents too!

I had really been looking forward to seeing the Henry Moore exhibit, Moore In The Gardens. His monumental sculptures have been installed throughout the gardens and seeing them in this setting was sensational....

and nearly as impressive as Ruby's focus!

While in the Japanese gardens, she had an interesting sensory experience on the stone path. At first she walked tentatively, it felt very strange on her paws! But she checked it out and quickly became accustomed to it.

You know, it was funny; we were strolling through the Japanese gardens, calm, cool, quiet. Then she spied this little structure and it was the only time she pulled me – she wasn't seeking shade, she didn't want to sniff anything, she just wanted to be inside it. Was it zen, good karma, Ruby showing her spiritual side? I don't know, but it was just where she wanted to be. So sweet, one of those moments I'll always remember.

A nice break for cool drinks and some lovin'...

and a little while longer to answer some questions,

take in a few more blooms,

and just enjoy each others' company.

To top off a perfect day, we stopped in the gift shop and continued our tradition of amusing Ruby with funny hats!

Today's outing was made possible by the letters "G" and "L," without which you cannot spell "Gentle Leader," without which I really believe we would not have been so successful!

July 28, 2010

July 27, 2010

Guest Post: Raven At The Natural History Museum

I really, really don't want to look behind me...
because I do, I do, I do believe in ghosts!

Ha, they don't scare me at all!

July 22, 2010

Help Win A $500 Donation For Our Neediest Friends!

Here's a contest we can all really get excited about! DogTime is sponsoring The 2010 Petties, an award contest celebrating pet bloggers. First Prize is a $500 donation to the shelter/rescue of the winner's choosing!

We'd be so grateful if our readers would nominate our blog, Raising Ruby, for this award so we can help assist all animals who desperately need warm, safe homes.

As always, our service pup and our shelter pup, Ruby and Kiva, want to make it more interesting! If we win, Raising Ruby will make a matching donation to Canine Partners of the Rockies in appreciation of the support of all the wonderful Raising Ruby readers who are following our journey.

For the nomination form, please click here.

Nominee Info
Name: Raising Ruby
URL: http://servicepuppyruby.blogspot.com/
(Nominee email is optional)

Category: Best Cause Related Blog

Please spread the word (email, facebook, twitter, etc.) to help Raising Ruby get as many nominations as possible – the four blogs with the most nominations will move on to the voting stage of the contest!

Nominations close on July 30, 2010. Roo and her crew thank you!


July 20, 2010

Where Were We A Year Ago?

Spendin' a lot of time in the basement,

learnin' about piddlin'.

July 18, 2010

Ice Pups

Heat wave in Denver? Dogs in dire need of some glacial refreshment? Their wish is our command!

Glacial lake,

and the snowfield. Frosty goodness!

OK, first a quick dip,

then, hit the slopes!

Ahhhh, nothing like snow in July!

Sure it was fun, but can we count this as a training experience? You bet! Her recall was fantastic, even with these Disneyland for Dogs kinds of distractions. Go Roo!

July 15, 2010

A Cautionary Tale

If you are raising a service puppy and blogging about it, and your husband asks you if he should bring the service puppy on a visit to New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, but he sounds somewhat unenthused about bringing said service puppy because he'd prefer to sample his fresh Belgian brew unencumbered, and you say "hey no worries, she'll stay with me," here is my advice: Rather than acquiesce, tell him he must never, ever leave the service puppy at home, because he may wind up having a beer with Jacques Cousteau's granddaughter and wow what a good blog post THAT would have been!

L–R: Mr. Raiser, Alexandra Cousteau, Sister Raiser

Furthermore, if your sister is visiting from out-of-town and she and your good friend are accompanying your husband to said brewery while you hang out at home with another good friend and your dogs and their cat, EVERYONE INCLUDING THE CAT must always URGE your husband to BRING THE SERVICE PUPPY.

L–R: Raiser Friend Extraordinaire, Alexandra Cousteau, Sister Raiser

Finally, if you attend Alexandra Cousteau's talk later that day with aforementioned service puppy, do make sure to feed the service puppy dinner first (even if she has been snarfing down treats all day long) or else she will impatiently pop up every 30 seconds and give you "let's go" eyes, causing you to have to leave the talk extremely prematurely, i.e., before it even begins.

Heed my words and avoid these rookie raiser errors!

It was such a pleasure to meet Alexandra Cousteau and we thank her for her great commitment to environmental concerns. To find out more about Blue Legacy, her initiative to raise awareness about the world's water issues, please click here and here.

July 12, 2010

Where In The World Is Ruby?

Hmm. The snoot is pointing due south/southeast...

in the vicinity of an indoor Everest...

have to make sure we're properly outfitted...

for the long hike back down...

where we finally reach base camp.

Whew, that was some trek! It's enough to make anydog hungry...

and tire-d.

July 7, 2010

It Takes A Village

As a service puppy raiser, I want to give my dog the most well-rounded education I can. I take Ruby everywhere and expose her to tons of different situations, but it's also good practice for her to take cues from, and listen to, people who are not "Mom."

Whenever Ruby is around our family or friends, I hand over the leash and have them work with her. They'll start with basic stuff such as sit, down, and stand, then move on from there.

Here's Ruby and her Grrrandma working on "Lap" and "Off" and a beautiful execution it is!

Another good opportunity presented itself recently during a walk. Ruby got all jumpy and overly excited when she approached a kid who wasn't familiar to her, but she needs to learn to sit calmly while people (especially children) interact with her. I knew I could just put Ruby in a sit and let the girl (I'll call her Ann and she's probably about 11 years old) pet her, but I thought it would be a good spontaneous lesson for Ruby to have to listen to Ann instead.

With her family looking on, I handed Ann the clicker and a pocketful of treats and let her work through Ruby's rambunctiousness. At first when Ann said, "sit," Ruby kept trying to jump on her, but as soon as Ruby sat, Ann clicked and treated her. Then, while Ruby sat, Ann tried to pet her and Ruby jumped up again. Ann stayed calm (great kid), backed off, and tried again. After a few tries, Ruby sat still with four paws on the ground while Ann patted her head. Click, treat. Awesome lesson. Unfamiliar trainer in unfamiliar surroundings, but our girl went from being a crazy kangaRoo to a chill pup, all under Ann's direction.

One more. Last week, my friend came over with her two young children. As we all sat down to a scrumptious lunch of Mexican delights, Ruby started taking liberties of the begging variety with the kids that she would never try with us. So, I told the kids to tell her to "Down." They did...and she did!

July 3, 2010

Happy Birthday, My Kiva

Today our sweet Kiva is 12 years old. We met her at six weeks...

and took her home at eight weeks old in a cat carrier.

As a puppy, she liked to eat toes,

and socks.

Now, I can't say she's had the same level of training as Ruby, but she's had her share!

Right from a pup, she was very clever with such a sense of humor. She is totally attuned to us and utterly perfect for us. It's funny; someone once told me that when you dream of your perfect dog, you need to be realistic and adjust your expectations. I have to laugh because this black and tan dog so vastly exceeded any expectations we ever could have had.

When Kiva was six years old, she got cancer. To say we were devastated is an understatement. We found a compassionate vet who was familiar with her type of cancer and we asked him what we could expect. We were given a good one-year chance for survival, a not-so-good two-year chance, and he could not even discuss a three-year chance.

She had her surgery and for the first month or so, I wanted nothing but to care for her. As she healed I began to worry about recurrence. For the two years following her surgery, she recovered while I waited for the other shoe to drop.

There are so many lessons to learn from dogs if you just let them teach you.

On her eighth birthday, I finally accepted what she had been trying to show me for the past two years. She was enjoying her life while I was agonizing with worry over when it would end. She taught me the most important lesson I will learn in my lifetime: Live in the moment.

Of course, it's a much easier thing to say than do and as a world-class worrier, it took me two years (and 30 years prior to that) to understand. But she showed me. She showed me.

From her eighth birthday on, I stopped worrying about how many days, or months, or years we had left together and just enjoyed every single second. And while we lived in the moment, we received the remarkable gift of a whole second lifetime with her.

Happy twelfth birthday my precious girl. Your patience, grace, and spirit constantly inspire me. Together we share all our silly secrets, we tackle our troubles, and you have brought me more laughter and happiness than I ever could have dreamed.