September 29, 2010

200th Post And A Great Giveaway!

Blogger tells me this is our 200th post, which I find astounding, and WOOHOO! I'm never one to turn down any reason to celebrate! Pop the champagne – it's Party Time here at Raising Ruby and you're all invited! Let's also raise a toast to our fantastic guest posters/photographers, Mr. Raiser, Barb and Raven, and D. Cheers to all!

Just for fun, go ahead and turn back the clock, scroll down the sidebar over there on the right, and enjoy some puppy posts from July and August 2009. Zombified by the 24-hr excitement of housebreaking, I posted that first shot, got the whole family involved in training, and assessed our progress. Even then, I knew this was going to be a fantastic ride, but I never could have imagined the friends we'd make along the way and the incredible support of our readers.

Thank you. For riding shotgun with us and for sending your love and encouragement from across town and across thousands of miles.

And it's not a party without presents, so here's ours to you: A Great Giveaway courtesy of Kyjen! I've been a fan of their products for many more years than I'm even gonna tell ya, and I bet they're some of your favorites too: Plush Puppies toys, Outward Hound gear, and lots more.

My two experts agree, the gift for our lucky Giveaway winner is a classic:


"Best Toy Ever! Fun, Challenging, Mentally Stimulating!" – Kiva Dog


"Best Squirrels Ever! And I Do Know My Squirrels Inside And Out!" – Ruby Dog


To enter, just leave a comment telling me what your pet is an expert in! (I love to read about everyone's pets!) Or you can enter by email, just click here. Emails come straight to me and your address will only be used to let you know if you've won!

Good Luck!!!

Beaglese: Entries must be received by Sunday, October 10th. Winner will be announced Monday, October 11th or Tuesday, October 12th if I'm exhausted on Monday. Contest open to residents of the USA and Canada. Winner will be chosen at random from all comments/emails received. Drawing will be supervised by the Dog Firm of Kiva & Ruby and method may or may not be something like this.

September 26, 2010

Guest Post: Ruby And A B(r)unch Of Scientists

This past Sunday, I attended brunch with some of my colleagues, accompanied by Ruby. It was Ruby's first brunch, and her first time among science geeks. Here is Ruby with my friend and grad school professor Jim, and two more friends, Emily and Ruth. Even though Ruby is wearing a cape, she is still studying for her Ph.Doggy.


Ruby was (fairly) well behaved while we all enjoyed a fantastic brunch. There was a lot of discussion about actinides, natural organic matter, and colloids (topics that make most non-scientists' eyes glaze over), but Ruby took it all in stride. Here is a photo of her in a very nice "down stay," worthy of a Nobel Prize:


Of great interest to Ruby during the course of our science brunch was the Law of Gravity. Wanting to make a contribution, she re-enacted a scene from the past, her tribute to Sir Isaac Newton and his great discovery:


This led Ruby to happen upon her own great discovery, also involving a fallen apple:


Thanks Jim, for a wonderful brunch. Ruby not only enjoyed learning about field-flow fractionation, and participating in a heated discussion about hematite colloids, she also found the plums in the back of your garden most intriguing!

– Mr. Raiser

September 21, 2010

Ode To Ruby's Long-Gone Puppy Bed

(What can I say, I'm starting to get sentimental.)

O Puppy Bed, how well you served.
Our wee Roo loved your hugging curves.


You were her favorite spot, no doubt.
For curling up or hanging out.


The finest place for little Roo
to have a snack or just a chew.


She loved you, Bed; her turf, her space.
Your tenant with a tough-girl face.


But all were welcome in her lair,
She had so many parties there!


When fun was done, she'd go to sleeps,
while settled in with all her peeps.


'Til one bad day. Things went awry.
To Puppy Bed, we said goodbye.


We had no choice, you got the boot.
It started with a tiny poot.
Then all was lost. You were corroded,
when Ruby's little butt exploded.

September 17, 2010

Nipping That Right In The Bud

The plan was to pose Ruby next to this sweet tiny rose, a nice Friday photo to kick off the weekend.


Of course, she had her own idea.


Ha! The rose is fine. Ruby's really good with her "Leave" command.


I never did get the shot, but initiative counts way more than a pretty picture. For hijacking the post, showing mercy on the rose, and giving me the giggles (with yawning supervision by Kiva), cheese was had by all!

September 14, 2010

National Cream Filled Donut Day II

We don't get to celebrate many holidays twice with Roo; she'll be off to Advanced Training by the age of 18 months. So, we make the most of the holidays we do get to spend together, and this one's a tradition here at Raising Ruby – National Cream Filled Donut Day!

Ruby was just a 4-month-old puppy when we celebrated NCFDD '09:



Sigh. Look at that baby. Forget the donuts, I could just eat her up.

This year, Mr. Raiser took Ruby on the same outing. Official NCFDD '10 Report:

1. Store was packed. A little girl shrieked with excitement when Ruby walked in. Roo, unfazed, walked right by.

2. Ruby sat quietly at the counter as Mr. Raiser ordered a couple of coffees and four donuts. (Yes, two people, four donuts. What? It's a holiday!)

3. Floor-level donut crumbs were tempting, glanced at, but ignored.

4. Unable to carry two coffees, four donuts, and a leash from the counter to the milk station, Mr. Raiser walked Ruby to the milks, put her in a "Sit/Stay," dropped the leash, walked back through the crowd to the counter, then returned to milk station. Roo stayed put.

5. Roo continued to stay put throughout the whole milking hustle and bustle, Mr. Raiser bagged up all the loot, rustled up Ruby, and successfully exited the store.

6. Mr. Raiser and Ruby returned home, were greeted by Kiva, and all three presented a sleepy Mrs. Raiser with a much-needed coffee and sugar fix. A successful NCFDD '10 was toasted with two gigantic bavarian cream-filleds, and tasty, celebratory snacks for the pooches.


Happy National Cream Filled Donut Day To All!

September 12, 2010

Back From BlogPaws!

Had a fun Thurs-Fri-Sat at BlogPaws here in Denver, it was a great event! I want to thank all of our friends and readers who brought us a nomination in the Petties Awards. The winners of "Best Cause Related Blog" were the dedicated bloggers at ILoveRescueAnimals.org – congratulations, Ashley and Nikki! Ruby and I were so happy to have met you and look forward to working with you on your mission!


We may only have finished as runners-up, but Ruby and I could not have felt more like winners! People from every aspect of this conference – session presenters, fellow bloggers and attendees, vendors, hotel and event staff – expressed incredible interest in Ruby and her training. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to answer some really excellent questions about service puppy raising and to meet some wonderful and caring people. Thank you to everyone who came up to us and spent some time learning about our journey and the role service dogs have in the lives of individuals with disabilities.

But most importantly, how did our Roo behave during her first conference? Well, all in all, I can definitely give her a solid "B." Was she marvelous? NOPE! Did she get restless and do things the likes of which I haven't seen since she was a baby? Ohhhh, yes.

Typo or eerily accurate prediction of a wriggly Roo?

During our first hour-long session, she expressed her displeasure by pawing and rubbing at her Gentle Leader, swimming (yes) across the floor, snuffling under a tablecloth like a pig on a truffle, and chewing on her leash, while giving me the "HAH! What are YOU going to do about it?" eyeballs.

A rare break in the action.

And some of those behaviors kept popping up throughout the three days. But I wasn't really worried. This was a weekend of firsts for her. Crowded rooms with large audiences and loud talking and applause and food and microphones and huge video screens and music and other dogs, cats, small animals and birds in attendance. And the expectation that she had to ignore all of these thousand distractions and just be quiet and still? A lot to ask.

But here's what happened over the three days: with a little help from me, she learned to calm herself. When we were seated and she'd start to go nuts, I'd quietly begin puppy pushups -- softly giving her the "Sit, Down, Stand" commands in rapid succession -- to help her channel that nervous energy and gain her focus. Once she locked in to me, I'd gently rub her snoot or her rump, her favorite places to be petted, so she'd feel that secure and familiar sensation in this unfamiliar place. As she relaxed, I'd put her in a down and make sure to treat her frequently as she gave me the desired behaviors.

Would she stay in that down? At first, no. She'd pop back up and we'd start the cycle again. But each time we went through it, her downs lasted longer. First it was a few seconds, then it was a few minutes. By the last day, during the long lunch and awards session, she started out fidgety (and a million thank yous to the awesome gals who sat on either side of me -- one whose legs got licked and another whose foot was used as a pillow) but Ruby wound up calming herself and eventually going to sleep.


As always, it's the constant repetition of the training that makes all the difference. And, on that note, I have to say how utterly bursting-at-the-seams proud I am of her when it came to interaction with the other dogs at the conference. No lunging, some curiosity and pulling and sniffing, but many times, she'd just out-and-out ignore 'em and walk right by. Can you believe it? She was so good, I put her in a sit next to an unfamiliar dog (with his owner's permission), and snapped a few pix. She couldn't care less. In most of the photos, she's not even looking at him.


Two more things really encouraged me. First, she responded very well to the "Heel" command, like, almost military style. Second, she made some great progress with "Under." She's not got it fully down pat yet, so instead of adding another challenge to the already challenging conference rooms (and to give her a break from all the din), I kept taking her into the bathroom to practice. We were in and out of there so often, people must think I had some sort of near-fatal bladder issue, but who cares! Look at my girl! Settled under and stayed while I'd wash my hands, walk around the room, freshen the make-up, chat with other gals in the ladies' room...she didn't move a muscle till I released her.


Oh, and how 'bout this? "Sit/Stay" with dropped leash while waiting in a busy line. Didn't budge.


It really was a win-win – we met some great people and had our most unique and challenging training experience yet!

September 8, 2010

Preparing For BlogPaws

Teenagers. She wanted to go to BlogPaws as a brunette.


I reminded her how much fun she's had so far as a beautiful blonde; she couldn't argue with me!

So, as Ruby and I get ready to attend the BlogPaws 2010 West Conference here in Denver, I am thinking about this word, "Conference." I don't know where I've been, but it has just dawned on me that I am bringing Ruby to her first conference. Conferences are fun places where one chats and mingles and socializes, but one also needs to sit quietly and still for very long periods of time. And...AND...at this particular conference, there will be many other dogs attending the sessions.

Hmm.

"Quietly," "Still," "Many Other Dogs," and "Very Long Periods of Time" are words I haven't yet put together in one place in the course of Ruby's training. Well, we have to start somewhere, right? This is going to be...interesting! A fantastic training opportunity! Oh my dog, what am I in for?!! As always, you'll be with us – see you there!

September 7, 2010

Hidden Treasure

It always happens, right? You're looking for one thing and you invariably get lost in something else. I was going through some files this weekend and found a tiny, brightly-colored packet of construction paper notes in a stack of completely unrelated papers...hmm, now what was it that I looking for...oh, who remembers...

This is one of the little thank you notes that smiled up at me. I had received it after a presentation Ruby and I made to a group of children last fall. Ruby was just a youngster herself at the time, but she did very well, responding to all the cues she knew, working the room, charming everyone. This note from a little girl in the class was so sweet, I just had to share it. It's a great drawing of Miss Roo, the ears are just right and her paws are perfect! I love the heart at the end of the arrow, too. All the kids in this class were awesome; I remember they had a lot of excellent questions and comments, and really kept me on my toes!



On a separate and serious note, a significant fire has hit Boulder, CO this weekend. As we try to get specifics on the extent of the fire, our thoughts are with all of our friends in Boulder. We are hoping everyone is safe and our hearts are with all who have had to evacuate and who have suffered losses.

September 4, 2010

Always Entertaining, Everywhere She Goes


"...so then the bartender says to the horse, 'Any friend of yours is a palomino!'"



"Hey Trout, why did the whale cross the road?" "I don't know, Dog, why did the whale cross the road?" "To get to the other tide!"



"Thankya ladies and gentlemen, I'll be here all week! And let's hear it for my band, The Roo-Tones!"