Tuesday, 20 December 2011

seasons greetings

What a great card! It was nice to receive it from my friends at St John Ambulance. Looking forward to returning to their volunteer program in the New Year!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

December Update

 To the People Who Read My Blog:

I apologize for not writing in so long. Computer troubles, combined with end-of-term madness helped the month of November to fly by without any blogging. I have no excuse for December though, I've just been lazy!

Here is my news for the month December:

1) I officially finished term one of my masters! Only two and a half years left. Sigh. Why did I choose this route again?

2) Willow was recalled on December 2nd, a very sad day for both of us.

3) Last week I visited my parents in the country, and realized that it is actually way less safe than the city! Everywhere I walked Ace, he was at risk of getting shot by stupid hunters or grouchy landowners. Let me tell you, he was all decked out in red ribbon in order to be an obvious pet!

4) My poor little Willow was disqualified from ADS due to her allergies. Although I wish they would have been willing to try her on a better food, I understand that they don't want to place an unhealthy dog with a child who has a disability. My mission over the next few weeks is to find the BEST possible family to adopt her.

Life goes on, as it always does. I am continuing to work at the pet store, which is madness this time of year. I never realized so many people buy their pets Christmas presents.

More posts coming soon!

Saturday, 29 October 2011


After a several month long baking hiatus, I am back in the kitchen! It is longer too hot (my excuse over the summer), nor am I too busy (my excuse for September and October). How long will my free time last? Likely only until tomorrow.

Earlier in the week I made my Grandma's chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, and yesterday I made pumpkin cookies made from a real pumpkin I had cooked last weekend. Currently in the over: Julie's brownies. I've had this recipe for a few years, but had never tried it. Hopefully it turns out, even though I had to make substitutions!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

the littlest thief

I don't discuss my cat very much, and if fact he goes through affectionate phases and independent phases. Some days he follows me around and crawls into my lap at every opportunity, other times I won't see him (except at meal time) for several days. He is my first cat, and I love him to death, but Archie has a problem. He is a food-hound.

He generally makes a fuss at meal times, meowing and running back and forth as if it might make me feed him faster. He opens my cupboards and drawers, licks my dishes, and tries to break into the dog food containers. Very annoying.

I have a metal (impenetrable) container for Ace's kibble, and a plastic one for Willow's kibble. When I moved to Guelph, I kept both containers side by side. However, one afternoon I found Archie half inside the plastic container - he had lifted the lid and had almost succeeded in climbing completely inside.
Archie making himself comfortable on a different plastic container.

New plan: stack the containers. With the metal kibble container on top of the plastic one, there was too much weight for Archie to pry open Willow's food container.

Problem: Ace's container was almost empty. I'd been meaning to refill it, but just had not gotten around to it yet. So yesterday morning as I was brushing my teeth, I hear a scratching noise and look around the corner. Low and behold, Archie was trying to break into the plastic kibble container. I watch him for a moment, thinking he'll never be able to lift the lid with the metal container on top, even if it is empty.

Obviously I was wrong, or this would be a really crappy story. Archie manages to squeeze a paw under the lid, and promptly gets stuck. He let out this horrible yowl, all quavery with fear. I lifted the lid so he could get out, and he promptly ran away. I thought: serves him right, at least I won't have to  worry about him breaking into the container again.

If only. After I finished brushing my teeth and came out of the bathroom, I found Archie half inside the plastic container. Little bugger! I couldn't believe he had the guts to try another attempt, just a few minutes after he'd been stuck! I shouted and he wiggled out, then ran out of the room.

I ended up stacking not only the metal container, but also an old 5 gallon fish tank on top of the plastic container. Apparently brute strength is the only way to keep my cat out of a food source.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

where is the line

...between rough play and dog aggression?

Tonight I took Ace and Willow over to a classmate's house to play with her one year old bluetick coonhound. First impression: absolutely adorable dog, just a little smaller than Willow. Next impression: guarder.

No no sooner arrive than the dog is snarling and chasing Willow away from her toy. The toy gets taken away, and the two girls play pretty well for the next 10 minutes, although it is clear that this dog is fairly dominant. At this point my classmate tells me that she is also possessive of the deck, and the space under the deck. Wonderful.

Shortly after, the snarling begins. Willow is soon pinned and yelping, fights back to get up, and is promptly pinned again. I start yelling and run down to break it up, trying to grab my classmate's dog by the back end (note to self - research how to break up a dog fight without getting bitten). My classmate comes down to get her dog, and I expected to hear something along the lines of "I'm so sorry, she's never done anything like that before!" Instead, she tells me that they just needed to work it out, and not to worry as there was no harm done.

I don't know this classmate super well and I'd never met her dog before, and I didn't want to be rude, although my instinct was telling me to leave right then. We stayed for another 10 minutes or so, but the two dogs didn't really play again until Ace started to play. Willow joined him (as per usual), and I had to step in a few times as they tend to gang up on other dogs. I made it clear through my actions that I did not tolerate humping, and once the other dog was down I called mine off. I believe that bullying between dogs is not to be tolerated.

This situation reminded me of an article I read, off a link on the ARPH website (http://www.ontarioaussies.ca/Aussie%20Links.html). The article is about managing a multi-dog household (http://www.shirleychong.com/keepers/archives/many.txt), and specifically I thought of this section copied below:

Every time pack management questions arise, several people will suggest
that you allow the dogs to work things out alone.  They'll assure you that
this is the only way to go.  Sometimes this can work, but this is dependent
on the breed, individual temperaments and respective sizes of the dogs
involved.  Use your better judgement.  Don't let a Rottweiller freely go at
a Yorkie or a 2 year old pick on a 15 year old.  Often these remarks are
followed by someone telling how they lost a dog (evenly matched in breed
and size to it's opponent) to a dogfight by following this philosophy.
As I left, my classmate suggested next time we meet somewhere else and let the dogs run. 
I agree, but in my head I think "not with Willow". Interestingly, this is the second dog I've 
introduced Ace to in the past month, and he has reacted with indifference. I wonder if this is 
part of the maturing process, or is he just feeling beaten by my constant corrections for 
humping and rough play? Will have to test these theories. 
To conclude, in my classmate's mind the dogs were just playing, however to me it seemed 
an awful lot like a dog fight.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

only sorta broke

Whew, my OSAP money came through today! I am not a fan of living paycheck to paycheck, and having to rely on money from my parents. I managed to get through my undergraduate degree with very little debt, but that is just not happening in my graduate studies.

Some people use this money to take trips or make other big purchases (like cars or horses). My plans? Pay off my computer, put some away for next term's tuition, and use the rest for rent.

Big spender, eh?

Well, ask me next year what I spend my money on... there's a possibility it might be a little more frivolous...

Thursday, 6 October 2011

the saga continues

So, you know how a few weeks ago I posted about being ready for Willow to leave?

I lied.

As health problems arise, I feel a desperate need to keep her with me. Although no decision has been made yet, disqualification has been brought up. And as much as I love her, I cannot afford to keep another dog.

My fingers are crossed that this is just another blip in her life, and that she will go on to become a successful service dog. I hope that making a difference in a child's life will make it easier for me to lose her. Otherwise, what is all this heartache for?

Thursday, 15 September 2011


Ace is not my favourite pooch this week. After leaving both dogs loose during the day for the past two weeks, we had some destruction the past two days. Yesterday I came home from an 8 hour school day to kleenex scattered around the floor, and two pairs of now un-wearable underwear.


This morning I thought maybe it was a fluke (they've been so good lately!), and left them loose for a shorter amount of time, around 6 hours. I lost another pair of underwear and a bag of tortillas which was sitting on the counter.

I was also short a crate today (I gave away a crappy one yesterday, and was not able to pick up my new, but still used, crate this afternoon), so since I suspected Ace was the culprit, he was crated. Willow was left loose, to great success.

1 point for Willow, the foster
0 points for Ace, the pet

I'm going to have to test Ace a bit, to try to figure out if this is behavioral or if he is just not getting enough exercise. Maybe both?
Time will tell.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

re-homing dogs

While I believe that owning a dog is a lifelong commitment, I do understand that there are times when a dog must be re-homed. This does not mean dropped off at a shelter, but it could include working with a rescue organization or your vet to network and find a more suitable home for your dog. Sometimes a dog may have to be re-homed if the family situation changes (increasing number of children often means decreasing amount of time for your dog), financial situation changes, or other unknown factors that crop up. When I was a kid my family had to re-home our dog, because my parents just could not figure out how to deal with her anxiety issues in a humane way.

However, I have met a few people who have re-homed dogs for reasons that I cannot comprehend. For example, people who have re-homed an older dog when it did not get along with their newer dog. And these are pets, not working dogs in any capacity. While I believe that working dogs should still be loved and cherished, I understand that there are different standards for dogs who serve a purpose. For example, I could understand a family re-homing their pet border collie to another family who could guarantee work for the dog. Likewise, service dogs who have been retired and their human was unable to care for them as a pet. 

Oops, better get back on track. The point of this post is...

How can you choose to give up a dog you have loved for the past six years, to keep a dog you have had for the past two months? Shouldn't seniority count for something? If anyone can explain this to me, I would love to hear from you.

I suppose I should remember that we live in a throw-away society, and that our pets are often treated with less respect than our cell phones.

willow at the cottage

Last weekend at the cottage I kept Willow out of the sand and the water, since she had open sores caused by excessive itching. Although not a happy camper, she still managed to relax and enjoy being outside!

Monday, 5 September 2011

happy hikers

Just look at those smiles!!!
If only my camera was fast enough to catch the actual hiking... 
Willow smiling at the camera, tongue hanging out of the side of her mouth.

Ace coming towards me through the field of goldenrod.
Willow and Ace smiling for the camera. What happy dogs :)

Thursday, 1 September 2011


Ok, so when my parents moved to a brand new house in January, it meant big changes for my beasties. Firstly, Willow was no longer allowed to visit - only one dog at a time could enter through the sacred doors. And since Ace is 10x more popular than Willow - which I totally don't understand, since she is more gentle and less work - he is usually the only one invited. However after my first visit with Ace (who promptly gouged out chucks of the staircase with his nails), booties became a requirement for any dog who expected to stay anywhere other than the basement. 

Enter Mutluks. 


With a light rubber for the sole and around the toe to keep from slipping, the booties are held in place by velcro straps around the ankle. Not a bad design. Luckily Ace is one of the most accepting dogs I know, and even though he doesn't like them, he tolerates them pretty well. After only a few verbal corrections, he stopped trying to rip them off. 

Notice Archie investigating his brother's discomfort. Archie has worn Soft Paws for several years now, so he's probably glad that Ace has his own torture to bear.

So the moral of the story is that Mutluks are a great option to keep hardwood floors scratch-free, as long as your dog is as big a push-over as mine is.

And that my parents are crazy. It's a friggen house, not a museum.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

busy days

I've been busy (meaning out of the house approximately 8 hours per day) for the last four days, and Ace has officially become my shadow. Interesting to know that's what it takes, normally he is quite independent.

Home day tomorrow, we shall see if this attachment sticks.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

apartment :)

Well it is official. I have finally moved into my fantastically beautiful Guelph apartment. It is a large one bedroom on Paisley St, on the first floor of an old house. Expensive? Yes, but I have nice big windows, brand new appliances, and old-school hardwood floors... all only a 10 minute walk from downtown!

Still on my to-do list:
          Finish unpacking
          Hang curtains
          Hang pictures and posters

Oh yeah, and sort out my school stuff - scholarships, books, and figuring out how to get to campus from my apartment!

The dogs seem to like it so far, and Ace is now allowed up on both couches. Archie has escaped out the back door a few times, so I will have to make sure I close it tight behind me. Good thing he has a new ID tag with my phone number! I am technically only allowed one dog and one cat, but the landlord says she doesn't mind if Willow stays for an extra few weeks.

I have not met any neighbours yet, but am looking forward to it!
Give me another 2 weeks, and I will be available for entertaining :)

Friday, 19 August 2011


As much as I love Willow,  I am definitely ready for her to be recalled. I feel like I have spent so much money on her this summer (wet food, dry food, treats). Now her constant itching is driving me crazy. Pretty much any time she is awake, she is itching. I have to double check for fleas, but I'm pretty sure it's seasonal allergies. So now I have to decide if I should try getting her benedryl (although I'm worried about her getting sleepy), or a more natural anti-itch supplement.

I will also not miss her whining in the car, how picky she is with her food, and her lack of a bowel movement schedule, among other things. She is unfortunately just not a good match for me, personality wise. However she is not all bad. When she is recalled, I will miss her dependency to sleep on my bed, how cute she is when she plays with Archie, and how she stops right in front of me and stares with her tail wagging. She is a very sweet dog, just not the perfect fit for me.

I am hoping to book her for her spay in two weeks, then she will go directly to the head trainer once she has recovered. I will miss her, but I am ready to move on.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011


Wow, have I been negligent, or what?
I've spent much of the last month travelling, working, and preparing myself for the next phase of my education. I still have massive lists of things to do in the next week. Yikes.
In the meantime, here are some photos of Ace and Willow at my friend's cottage, playing with her husky, Lynx.

Friday, 8 July 2011


My favourite place to hike is a forest in the community of Erbsville, just west of Waterloo. I generally take Ace and Willow for a hike once or twice a week, depending on my schedule. Although they're expanding the subdivision beside the forest, there are still lots of trails left.

I love walking around with the dogs, watching them enjoying themselves. They run back and forth, nose to the ground and tail in the air. It's relaxing for me as well, I get to climb some hills and listen to just the sound of the trees rustling in the wind. I generally go on weekdays, so I have lots of privacy.

We rarely even run into wild animals, however in the past we've seen groundhogs, deer, and a variety of birds. A few months ago Willow almost caught a wild turkey, to my surprise. All of a sudden she shot off the trail and was almost on top on the bird before it flew away. Ace never even saw it. This morning I almost stepped on a little garter snake on the path, I felt the poor thing wiggle under my foot and managed to not squish him. So I was prepared when I saw a second one just a few feet down the trail. My clever dogs jumped right over the snakes, without batting an eye. What was more surprising (to me) is that the snake never moved when the dogs ran past it. I suppose they get lethargic in the sun? I'll have to look it up I suppose.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Good-bye Basil

Basil the bunny was purchased from a pet store in Newmarket when he was three months old, in 2001. He lived with my family for many years, and was the responsibility of myself, and when I left for school, my sister. He was a good bunny, always very affectionate and curious in his surroundings. He ruled the animal kingdom in the house, Toby the dog would move to the side to allow Basil to pass him in the hallway.

When my sister left for school, my Mom looked after Basil for a little while, however she did not really want to. We started looking around to see if we could find him another place to live. Basil was given to my friend Laura, who was looking for a low maintenance pet. With Laura and her roommates, Basil really shone. He hopped around their apartment, keeping them company on late nights and stressful days. They gave him the attention he had been lacking over the last several years.

On June 23rd, Basil died peacefully in Laura's arms. He was 10 years old.  I am so glad that she gave him the love he deserved, and that she was there with him at the end.

Rest in peace Basil, you will be missed.  

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

new collars

A few weeks ago I bought a new collar for Ace. I like his martingale, and he behaves better with it on, however he hates it when I pull it over his head to take it off. I very much dislike making Ace do things he doesn't want to do, so I began looking for an alternative. I decided to forgoe the cute, patterned collars in favour of a more mature option. I bought him a black rolled leather collar, as pictured below.

This collar is great because it doesn't leave a ring around his neck, where his fur normally rubs on the collar. What does this mean? I have a nice, sleek looking dog all the time! When I find/buy a camera, I will post pictures.

Willow also has a new collar, more out of necessity than choice though. Willow and her brother Wizard have very narrow heads, which means they can easily back out of regular flat collars. Willow is also very sensitive to corrections, which could cause problems when she is recalled. I was worried a chain martingale would upset her, so set out to find a soft martingale. Let me tell you, it's no easy feat. After searching a few stores and websites, I finally found a simple red one that ADS was willing to purchase for her.

Appropriate collars are important when training a dog - the wrong collar can invite disaster! Flat collars are preferable, however often dogs will require a collar with more correction, such as soft martingales, chain martingales, chokers, and even prong collars. Personally, I dislike using any collar harsher than a chain martingale (Ace's old collar), however depending on the circumstances more severe collars may be required.

Monday, 13 June 2011

mirror image

                                              Willow and Archie hanging out in my bedroom.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

the best and worst of dog owners

Working in a pet store, I see dog breeds of all shapes and sizes. The same applies to owners. There are those who just purchase their food and refuse assistance of any kind, and those who want to spend half an hour talking about their pet and which toy or treat is going to be the best one.

Many people come to the store to purchase training devices such as haltis, martingales and harnesses. Often they are looking for a quick fix for a dog that pulls. They would rather purchase a $25 halti than spend the time teaching their dog to heel properly. I really hate fitting haltis or no-pull harnesses on puppies that are 14 weeks old... I often wonder how committed the owner is if they feel they cannot deal with regular puppy behaviour.

Once I sold a no-pull harness to a family with a lab/husky cross and showed them how to use it properly (how to give the correction so it was effective). The next time they came into the store, the dog was wearing the no-pull harness - and on a flexi-lead. Clearly not teaching the dog anything.

The worst equipment contradiction I've seen was a lab wearing a prong collar and a flexi-lead. To me, that is cruel. The strange thing is that the owners were very nice. They just clearly did not understand how to use a prong collar properly, and were not educated on how a flexi-lead actually works.

Don't get me wrong, there are some wonderful people who bring their dogs in. One of my favourites brings her golden retriever in every week, we chat about training methods and dogs with disabilities (one of her dogs is going blind, the other only has three legs). There are others as well who are looking to make good decisions for their dogs, and I am more than happy to help them.

I really strive to help people become more educated about their pets, and I am grateful that I have the opportunity to make a difference in a pet's life, however small.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

beautiful joe

Today I pulled a book off my shelf called Beautiful Joe. This book was first recommended to me by a friend in elementary school; it was inspired by Anna Sewell's Black Beauty. Written by Margaret Marshall Saunders, Beautiful Joe follows a mixed-breed dog from his beginnings with an abusive owner to his exploits with the family who rescued him.

In the beginning of the novel, Joe describes some of the heinous crimes committed against animals; "He began to swear because we were so ugly, and said that if we had been good-looking, he might have sold some of us... He took one pup and then another, and right there, before his children and my poor distracted mother, put an end to their lives" (p9).

At a year old, Joe's abusive owner cut off his ears and tail with an axe - Joe's yelps were heard from the road and a young man came and took him away.

Joe then begins his life with the Morris family, and quickly learns to love them. This is a story to encourage humane education; through Joe's own experiences and his conversations with other animals the reader is exposed to many different types of cruelty and the overcoming of it.

Another example of cruelty occurred with one of the Morris' other dogs. Jim had been a hunting dog, and was loaned out to a group of young men. These men tied Jim to a tree and "He fired close to me a number of times - over my head and under my body. The earth was cut up all around me. I was terribly frightened, and howled and begged to be free" (p46).

I love this book, the story is told is a very direct way and gives a good description of how animals were treated circa 1893. It is a children's novel, therefore a very easy read. Although many parts are sad, most events told in the book have happy endings. Highly recommended to anyone who loves animals.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

apartment hunting

This week, my mom came to visit for a few days, and to help me look for an apartment for next year. I decided a long time ago that I wanted to live by myself - I like having a roommate but feel that life is generally easier without one. This means finding a bachelor or one bedroom apartment, guaranteed to be more expensive than my current rent.

My apartment wishlist includes the following:
- pet friendly (obviously)
- outdoor space, either a balcony or accessible yard
- full kitchen
- parking
- half hour (walk or bus) to campus

Yes, I know I am picky. And I cannot really afford to pay anything more than $800 per month, including utilities. But I feel like I've lived in enough dives, and had enough crappy roommate, that I am justified in my search for the perfect apartment. This place will be my home for the next three years, and I want to be happy there.

So far there are two front runners. One is a condo, which my parents would have to buy. It's a half hour walk to school, backs onto hiking trails, and has a huge balcony. Small kitchen but the perfect amount of living space. Between all the fees and utilities etc, my mom and I figured it would cost me about $870 per month to live there. Unfortunately over my budget. And my dad is not on board with purchasing a property.

The other front runner is an apartment on the main floor of a house. It is a beautiful old house, currently being refinished (new appliances, floors, paint, etc). There is a front porch, backyard, and to be honest there is more indoor space than I would need. The landlord was super nice, he said they do not normally allow pets but was fairly agreeable to mine. He could not remember what the rent was, but said it would be between $800 and $825 per month, including all utilities. Plus my internet would be about $860. Over my budget again.

My predicament:
Is it possible to find a nice place to live, with everything on my wish list, for $800 or less per month?
Is it worth it to accrue more debt to live in a place I love?

I will continue to look for apartments, but feel like an opportunity like this will be hard to match.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Willow Meets the Boar

blog carnival

Check out the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival at http://thetroubleisme.wordpress.com/2011/05/03/the-3rd-assistance-dog-blog-carnival/


Time Demands

Last week I started work at Rens Pet Depot in Kitchener. It is a great pet store, selling high quality foods, toys, and other pet products. It is also a great location, about 20 minutes from my apartment in Waterloo, and I think about 25 minutes from Guelph. I also get an employee discount, which will be awesome!

The downside is that it is killing my weekends. Being part-time I will be working Friday nights, Saturdays and Sundays. No more ADS outings, weekends at the cottage, or Rally trials.

I had intended to take Ace to get his Rally Advanced in March... then April.... and now it looks like it will have to wait until June. It's a good thing I'm not in a rush! He is only two, so I have lots of time to do these kinds of things with him. 

But for now, I suppose I will have to spoil him with bones (now that I get a discount) and lots of hikes and attention!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

dog aggression in a multi-dog house

Last week, while my apartment was being renovated, I stayed with my friend and fellow puppy-raiser. Let me tell you, it is quite the production to pack up two dogs and a cat for a week-long visit, and not an experience I care to repeat frequently. My friend was as accomodating as possible, considering the dog drama she deals with on a regular basis.

Her canines include:
1 Belgian Shepherd, Summer, pet - dog aggressive
1 Smooth Collie, Wizard, ADS foster - friendly
1 Labrador, Maggie, Lab Rescue foster - dog aggressive

Since she introduced the Lab Rescue foster three months ago, her life has been one of baby gates, crates, and aborted attacks between Summer and the Maggie. Wizard has learned enough to be able to float between the two, however this past week he joined my pack on the upper floor of the house. Maggie stays in the living room or the car, and Summer now lives permanently in the kitchen. My pack lived on the second floor, so to take them out for a pee, we first had to move Maggie to the car, or through another baby gate into the basement. The animosity between Summer and Maggie is so extreme that a crate has to be placed in front of the gate to ensure there is zero contact between them.

After several days in this house, I was moving Maggie from the basement to the living room, after having put Willow, Wizard and Ace in the car. The crate was moved further back than was normal, but I figured Maggie knew the routine enough by now that if I opened the gate she would move into her regular space. Boy was I wrong. As soon as I opened the gate, Maggie dashed in the other direction, towards Summer. The gate sprang open, and I had to try to pull Maggie off Summer before she could do serious injury. Luckily I was able to grab her collar and pull her away before any damage could be done.

Now, Maggie is a very sweet dog, one on one. She is fun-loving and affectionate, and very food motivated so in principle she should be easy to train. However, she has been in and out of various foster homes for the past year. At one point she was adopted out, but someone stepped on her and broke her back leg, so she was taken back by the rescue. Her original owner bought her at a pet store, and surrendered her to the rescue becasue he didn't realize she would get so big. Maggie has been through about seven homes now, most in the past year. See her story here: http://www.lab-rescue.ca/Adopt_Me.html

I cannot imagine having to live my life constantly jumping over baby gates, crates, and the fear the one dog could injure another. I have heard of pit bull rescues operating like this, and I have a newfound respect for this type of dedication. I have to wonder about the quality of life for dogs who live in such stressful environments - yes they are better than in a kennel, or tied up in a backyard, but when the patience of both dogs and humans is shorter, how much can you really accomplish?

Sunday, 24 April 2011

dogs and family

A friend of mine has been involved with the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival for the past several rounds, and has encouraged me to participate, even though I am a new blogger. The topic for this Carnival is "reactions". I have decided to write about my family's reactions to my foster puppies. My family has always reacted negatively to my fosters, they think it is a lot of work and don't really understand the joy I get from fostering. I live on my own, but like to visit my parents every few months.  

When I brought home my first foster (Honey), she was a year and a half old and pretty much a terror. She stole food, would shove toys in their faces, and generally make a mess. She was definitely a work in progress, but for a dog that had been a rescue she was very loving and outgoing. After the first weekend I took her home, they decided that Honey could not come visit again. I was very disappointed that my family did not support my involvement in the program, and that they were not willing to make accomodations for my foster puppy.

Honey (fostered February - April, 2009)

My second foster followed shortly after Honey (who was disqualified for the reasons above). Ace was an adorable 9 week old puppy, and I was so happy when he was welcomed with open arms. Until he grew up. My parents would get upset when he would get excited and scratch the hardwood floors, pull sticks from the forest and leave them on the grass, and get hair all over the back of the car. When Ace was disqualified for having a health issue, I decided to keep him, so these issues continue today.

Ace (fostered June 2009-Feburary 2010,
then adoped)
When I told my family that I was going to get another foster puppy, they were very upset. Their comments went something like this: "you already have a dog, why do you need another one?" "You are wasting your life with these dogs" "Well it can't come home, so you'll have to think about that". To be honest, if they were not going to support my decision, I decided that I just was not going to come home. Fortunately I found out I was going to get Willow when she was only about 2 weeks old, so I had lots of time to prepare my family. In the 8 week period before I brought her home, they decided that maybe she could come to the cottage, and then maybe she can come home when my dad wasn't there, and finally "ok bring both dogs". Willow was allowed to come home with me from when she was 10 weeks until 10 months, and now my parents have decided that it is just too many dogs (what!?!) and that she cannot come.

Willow (fostered August 2010 - present)

I should mention that my family had a lab/shepherd cross when I was a kid, and currently has a small poodle cross, so overall they like animals. My mother was also an Educational Assistant (EA) for several years, and has a degree in Disability Studies. She is always promoting rights for the differently-abled, but cannot understand why I would want to spend my free time socializing a puppy to help children with autism. She supports service dogs, but just thinks someone other than me should raise them. This type of reaction has always baffled me, as I don't understand how you can support an end result without supporting the process.

Friday, 22 April 2011

the bird who could not fly

On Wednesday night, after returning from puppy class with Willow, I took Ace out for a pee in my backyard. He was wandering around a bit, excited to be off-leash, when all of a sudden something fluttered up between his feet. I called him off and went to see what he had found - a little bird that was unable to fly. I took Ace inside and thought about what I was going to do. Should I leave the bird and let nature take its course, or do I bring it inside and take responsibility for it? Since it didn't fly away from Ace, I was pretty sure it was already injured before he found it.
After calling a friend who occasionally rescues animals I decided to bring it in out of the cold. I put it in a paper box with a towel, some cedar leaves, and a bit of water in a dish, and called a bird-watcher friend. The bird-watcher came over and I convinced her to take the bird back to her house, since I was worried about keeping it safe from Archie and my roommate (who would not be keen on having a wild bird in the apartment).
The next morning the bird-watcher texted me to let me know that the bird was doing fine, fluttering around the floor of her room. It was decided that the bird was a Mourning Dove fledgeling. She called the KW Animal Control, who said that if it was a fledgeling it probably just fell out of the nest, and that we should put it back where it was found so the parents could look after it.
I picked the bird back up on my way home from work and took it to the place where Ace had found it. I tipped the box over on its side so the bird could leave when it was ready. I went back inside to wait and see what would happen. When I returned about 2 hours later, the box was tipped right side up, and the bird was underneath it, dead. I think it was just too cold (there had been flurries in the morning) and the bird had tried to find cover under the box.
Sometimes young birds will fall out of a nest, or try to leave before they are ready. Often there is nothing you can do for these birds who are too young to fly. Maybe if I had been able to take the bird to a rehabilitation place it would have survived.
Current standings:     Nature - 1        Kelly - 0

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Greetings, Blog Followers

Well, I guess I don't have any followers yet. But that's ok. Over the past few months I've been following several blogs, and have been inspired!

I am currently at a crossroads in my life (between my undergraduate and graduate degrees) and thought that it was a good time to record my thoughts, opinions, and adventures for the next phase of my life.

Expect to read about:

Ace -  my 2 year old labrador who is amazingly enthousiastic, often to the point of stupidity. Ace has elbow dysplasia, and his health and wellbeing is incredibly important to me.

Archie - my 7 year old cat who was adopted from the humane society. He is incredibly tolerant of my busy lifestyle and is super lazy, as a cat should be.

Willow - my current foster puppy with Autism Dog Services. Willow is a very gentle smooth collie who I share many adventures with, she accompanies me almost every time I leave my apartment.

Also, I am interested in environmental issues, books, and various genres of art.

I hope you will stay tuned to learn more about my beasties and our adventures!