July 28, 2011

True Blue Roo

Just a couple of days left to vote for Raising Ruby in the Petties Awards! Regardless of who takes the prize, Ruby will always be a winner! She is a gold medal girl, raising awareness and touching lives.

A big smile for Sue who surprised me with the adorable shot of our blue ribbon Roo. Here are a few recent pix of Ruby demonstrating service dog skills for the public and working with her awesome advanced trainer.

Petties Update: The polls are now closed, thank you all for voting! Winners will be announced August 26th.

July 20, 2011


Ahh, spending the dog days of summer with good friends. Can you guess who's Roo?

Hmm. Here's a little hint:


Ruby's friends are awesome, both canine and human. A big thanks to all our friends, old and new, who are helping us raise awareness for service dogs by posting about Raising Ruby. Through the Petties Awards, our account of Ruby's training is able to reach new readers...and hopefully lots of potential new volunteers for animal-related organizations including shelter/rescue!

Many thanks to these fantastic blogs:

Farley's World
The Serendipity Factory
Mogley, A Dog's Life
Khyra's Khorner
Stella's World
Brown Dog CBR

Our gratitude to Amanda at the wonderful Kind Over Matter for naming Raising Ruby one of her Friday's Lovelies!

Hey, have you read the Raising Ruby interview at Inspiration to Grow On? A big thanks to Darlene for her kindness and the opportunity to share Ruby's story.

A special thank you to our good friend Tamara at @AAHAHelpingPets for her unwavering support of service dogs, and of all animals.

As always, many thanks to sweet Sue for her phenomenal photos of Ruby in advanced training!

And to all those friends I've not met, but who have lent their support, I'm so grateful for all of your tweets, Facebook posts, emails and votes. Raising Ruby is just a small voice out here, but your support is helping our message grow — like Roo herself — by leaps and bounds!


P.S. Raising Ruby is now on Google+!
P.P.S. Have I missed your post? Please let me know!

Voting continues through July 29th in the 2011 Petties Awards, where Raising Ruby is proud to be nominated in two categories: Best Blog Post and Best Cause Related Blog. You can vote twice daily, in both categories, by clicking here: Petties Award Ballot. The prize in each category is a $1000 donation to the shelter/rescue of the winner's choice — that's a potential $2000 donation we could make! Ruby's a lucky dog, but some of her kin are not so fortunate. In honor of Ruby's retriever heritage, I've chosen Golden Retriever Rescue of the Rockies as the recipient. 

July 14, 2011

A Little Time, A Great Gift

~Today's post is written as part of Blog the Change for Animals~

My dog, Kiva, holds a very important distinction: she's the best dog in the world. And she's in very good company, because there are a lot of best dogs in the world — at least one in every household where a dog is loved. Every dog...and cat, bird, reptile, fish, small mammal, insect, crustacean, amphibian who is loved by a human, is someone's best pet in the world.

There are millions more best pets in the world, too. But you wouldn't know them, because no one's ever given them the title.

I've been volunteering for service dog organizations for a long time. I've worked with puppies bred specifically for the purpose as well as shelter dogs who enter service dog training because they've shown an aptitude and personality that fits with service. Some of the dogs make it through the full program and some don't, but every organization I've volunteered with places all their dogs (graduates,  change of career, and pets) into carefully screened homes with people who pledge to love and care for them.

I've also worked as a part-time photographer and copywriter for an animal shelter. Depending on the season, a dedicated group of volunteers and I might photograph and write bios for hundreds of animals every week. Hundreds. Every week.

For the dogs, I'd advise my volunteer staff to try to photograph them outside in the sunshine whenever possible. Help potential adopters imagine what the dog might look like on a walk in the park or in their own backyard. Photograph the cats on a colorful blanket or in a cozy corner. We'd make sure the bunnies, mice, and guinea pigs always had clean bedding and wiggly noses for the camera.

Sometimes, though — too often — their bodies spilled the secrets of a tragic past. So...we'd capture their spirit. Thousands of animals looked into my lens, and no matter how thin they were, or lonely, or confused, depressed, aged, patchy, damaged, or disfigured they may have been, each one genuinely had a sparkle. With some it was a roman candle, others just a tiny glimmer. But each one knew they were the best pet in the world. They just needed someone to give them the title.

Working with service dog organizations and animal shelters has shown me the extremes of human and animal tragedy and triumph. It's challenging and inspiring and, yes, often difficult. As a service puppy raiser, the question I'm asked most frequently is "How can you give them up?" As a shelter worker, it was, "How can you not adopt them all?" The answer to both questions is strangely the same. I can do my part to help the person who truly needs a service dog, just as I can do my part to help the millions of shelter animals who truly need their person. With both questions, the really important thing is simply the first word: "How?"

Volunteer. Just do what you can, when you can. There's no commitment too small. All the little efforts by every volunteer, every day, add up to one great BIG! You can volunteer with a service dog organization to help a person with a disability find greater independence. Or volunteer with a local shelter or rescue in any number of capacities. Either way, you'll be giving an animal the gift of being called the best in the world.

Go ahead. Click one of the links above to start your search. You'll be really glad you did.


My blog, Raising Ruby, is the chronicle of a little yellow service puppy as she journeys toward becoming a service dog for a person with a disability. Raising Ruby and BTC4A are both nominated for Best Cause Related Blog in the 2011 Petties Awards (Raising Ruby is also honored to be nominated for Best Blog Post). Whichever one of us you choose, please make sure to vote, because everyone involved in this competition is a winner! The Petties offers a $1000 donation in each category to the shelter/rescue of the winner's choice (I've chosen Golden Retriever Rescue of the Rockies), so vote today to show your support for these generous donations. 

Vote twice daily: 2011 Petties Award Ballot

My deep respect and gratitude to all the shelter animals in this post who kindly and willingly let me take their photos.

July 13, 2011

Photo Pupdate: At The Wheel

Part of Ruby's education includes getting comfortable as she keeps pace next to a wheelchair. I imagine for a service dog in training, it's kind of like learning how to drive.

She needs to be close to the wheel...but not too close. With the patience and experience of her advanced trainer, Ruby looks like she's nailing it. I'm sure she can parallel park much better than I can, too!

P.S. Don't forget to vote for Raising Ruby, Best Cause Related Blog and Best Blog Post. Help us raise awareness for service dogs along with the awesome chance to donate $2000 to golden retriever rescue. Just click here (you can submit a ballot twice daily): 2011 Petties Awards

As always, thanks to sweet Sue and Ruby's terrific advanced trainer for the photo.

July 11, 2011

Many Thanks To All, From Ruby's Raiser

Last week, I was notified that Raising Ruby has been nominated for not one, but TWO categories in DogTime Media's 2011 Petties Awards. The saying, "It's an honor to be nominated," has never rung more true.

As Ruby's raiser, I'm just a small voice out here in the blogosphere among the pros and heavy hitters, but the voice of Ruby's readership is compelling and means more to me than I can express. The strength and kindness of your words in the entry process have brought Raising Ruby these two nominations, for which I am boundlessly grateful. Your support in this contest has helped me to introduce Ruby's story to an audience I would not otherwise have reached. For this, and for so many other kindnesses, I thank you.

Thank you for your tremendous loyalty over the past two years. Thank you for your awesome support. Thank you for helping me in my mission to raise awareness.

I write this blog in the hope that a friendly little yellow service puppy can help change society's perception of disability. Through my account of Ruby's journey and training, I've hoped to demystify some of the challenges faced by people with disabilities. With education we gain insight, and ultimately the issue of acceptance will cease to be an issue at all.

Raising Ruby
2011 Petties Award Nominee "Best Blog Post" and "Best Cause Related Blog"
Click here and vote twice daily until July 29:  Enter the Petties

Winners of each category are honored with a $1,000 donation to the shelter/rescue of their choice. Our chosen organization is Golden Retriever Rescue of the Rockies. Many thanks to DogTime Media for this opportunity and their generosity.

July 6, 2011

Photo Pupdate: Flip Of The Switch

Here's Ruby with her advanced trainer, working on the cue for "Light." Look at that concentration—beautiful, isn't it? Even in the earliest days, when she was a bouncy puppy, she was always gentle and deliberate while she was training.

Each day, each photo, brings great joy and admiration at the remarkable dog Ruby has become. I feel so lucky to be sharing this journey with her...and with all of you.

As always, many thanks to Sue for the photo and to Ruby's advanced trainer for the wonderful work she is doing with Roo.

July 5, 2011

Happy Weekend, Happy Birthday

Hope everyone had a great holiday! A special someone had a birthday this weekend and wanted to celebrate with a stick and a swim. Senior ladies of a certain age aren't always up for the rocky streams of youth, though. The spirit may be racing towards the whitewater, but the body just wants to plop on a tube in a lazy river.

So, we needed a soft, sandy beach. In Colorado. With calm water. That was also dog-friendly.


Kiva turned 13 years old on July 3rd, and her daddy found a great sandy dog beach that was easy on her old bones. The minute her paws hit the sand, she remembered "the beach" from her east coast dog days, and gleefully swam out for the stick over and over. It was the best birthday present for all of us.

The old girl's still got it going on at 13—all the young boy dogs wanted to play with her. And she must have really been feeling her oats, because she tried to chase them all back! Good girl, such a flirt.

The icing on the day was an email letting me know that Kiva's mother, Zoe, was happily celebrating her own 15th year with a steak and homemade carrot cake cupcakes! The cherry on top was just being able to spend a beautiful day with my Kiva; diagnosed with cancer when she was 6 years old, each day since has been a precious gift.

July 1, 2011

Sweet William

Well, there goes my heart again! Swiped by another little yellow service pup!

This gorgeous little boy isn't mine, though. William is a Canine Companions for Independence dog being raised by my friend, Jenny. He's the sixth service puppy Jenny has raised for CCI, and he's just about the sweetest, most affectionate, and lovable pup I've ever met. What a personality!

William is 6 months old and Jenny wanted him to gain a little experience being handled by someone other than herself. So the three of us met at the Denver Botanical Gardens (scene of previous awesome outing with my Roo), and Jenny handed me the leash. Wow, I can't tell you how great it felt to have another service pup by my side.

He's just a baby, but a dream to handle. He had a good heel, mostly hanging back in step with me and not much pulling. He's already getting the hang of automatically stopping when his trainer stops walking and he's very good about sitting while being introduced to other people. He's just a great dog. And he has the most fantastic mom.

Jenny Kachnic is the owner of Canine Wellness in Denver, CO. She specializes in canine rehabilitation, natural wellness, behavior training, and end of life decision making. She has a special interest in the health and wellness of senior dogs and is the editor and writer of an upcoming book, Your Dog's Golden Years—Manual for Senior Dog Care.

Jenny and I met through The Grey Muzzle Organization, whose mission is to improve the lives of at-risk senior dogs by providing funding and resources to animal shelters, rescue organizations, sanctuaries, and other nonprofit groups nationwide.

Many thanks to Jenny for sharing sweet William with me!