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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Joys!

Grace digging into her stocking!  Every year she
gets her nose stuck trying to reach the bottom!

Shelby has been with us almost 15 years.
 She is a pro at posing for holiday photos!

Handsome Owen shows off his stocking before eating all the goodies!
What a good boy he is!

Miss Treasure, the Queen of Pink, with her new pink stocking,
Santa hat, and pink polka dot blankie.

We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with your family and friends.  Hopefully Santa Paws brought you everything you wished for!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Growing Up Deaf

Jasmine is growing like a weed!  Things are getting easier now that she recognizes the signs for good girl and stop that, both of which are very helpful in changing and reinforcing her behavior.  Because she’s been on the road with me since she came home, she is very comfortable in the car.  It’s like her second home now and she settles very quickly and quietly in her crate for the ride.  She has learned to potty fairly quickly on the leash when let outside and in different areas, which is a very handy skill for a puppy to learn. 
Jazzy is learning how to do long flights of stairs.  Each stair is still a small mountain for her, due to her size and going up is definitely easier for her than coming down.  Going up, she gets a running start and just keeps running up until she runs out of momentum.  Then it takes a bit for her to get moving again.  Coming down, I have to make sure the stairs are well lit and I’m not so sure how much depth perception she has, or if she’s just cautious because that’s what puppies do, but she's careful to feel for the edge and how far down the step goes. 
Jazzy loves to play.  She brings toys back very well now and she loves to play tug!  I’m trying to teach her a give cue by grabbing her collar with one hand and pulling slightly towards me while holding the toy in my other hand.  She’s learning to be more careful with her teeth on my skin and will stop herself most of the time.  She has trouble finding her toys if they are more than a couple feet away if they are not moving.  If I toss them, she can track them where they land and runs right to them, but if she doesn’t see them move, she can’t always see them. 
She enjoys her food puzzles and toys, which have also helped to keep her occupied on our trip.  She has also discovered the joys of rawhide and pork chewies, which she had never had before.  Her tiny baby teeth allow me to not worry too much about a chunk getting bitten off and swallowed.  I just give her the bigger sizes of bones.  They are lasting her a long time, and they are great for keeping her occupied when I want a few minutes to type or watch TV. 

She seems to recognize her tactile go potty cue, and she’s even starting to ask to go outside, which is amazing to me because we’ve not been in the same place for longer than a week since she came to me.  Jazzy is learning that being woken up is a good thing and that there’s no reason to startle and jump away.  I give her a treat or a toy or a quick ear scratch to distract her from the startle of it, and she is startling less and less.  This is important to teach any dog, but especially a deaf dog who won't be able to hear you approaching while it is asleep. 

Jasmine is enjoying her first walks.  I am always prepared with a supply of good treats that I can break into very tiny pieces.  I use moist treats so they can be swallowed quickly and I can break them up very tiny.  Puppy teeth often take a long time to chew crunchy treats, and too big of a treat will fill up a tiny puppy very quickly!  I feed her for everything to make sure she is making good associations with her world - feed for walking on a loose leash, anything that is sudden (noises if your puppy can hear, movement, etc), moving things like bicycles and flags flapping, still things like large scary looking trash cans and garden statues, feed for lured sits and downs on different surfaces, feed when you meet new people and children, when you see another dog or cat, for checking in with me, for any new surfaces puppy walks on, etc.  By taking some extra care and time now, while she’s young, I can help her to think all of these things are good instead of taking the chance that something will scare her.  That being said, she is an amazingly outgoing and confident puppy already!
Of course, Jasmine is still a puppy and does puppy things.  Zoomies are still fun to watch, but stay back or you might get run over!  She is starting to respond to a sit signal alone without a lure or toy being held over her nose.  Down still needs a bit of a lure with hand, food, or toy.  Spins are coming along and she jumps over my leg, or crawls under my knee held barely off the floor.  I’m starting to teach her stay by delaying her reward when she sits so she has to sit longer each time.  She’s getting better about staying calm for cuddle time and letting me check her teeth, nails, etc.  Now that she recognizes the good girl signal, it is much easier to mark the moments in which she is calm, and then release her to go play again. 
She will sometimes try to play keep away when I reach for her, so we are doing some hand targeting and me grabbing her collar for a treat, toy or petting, so she sees it more as a thing to look forward to.  She is not afraid to come to me, but she loves to play chase with the other dogs, so wants me to chase her too and will try to start a game. She drags a leash in the house sometimes so I can stop her and not feed into her game, which she thinks is extremely fun!  She has a come signal, but right now I only use it when she is extremely close and coming to me to get a toy or treat.  I don't want to risk using it and have her take off running trying to play keep away! 
One other fun tidbit pertaining to deaf puppies is that you can create your own puppy snooze alarm.  Because Jasmine gets most of her information visually, covering her crate allows me to sleep a bit longer in the morning.  She can't hear me moving in bed, but she can sure see me if she's not covered.  In puppy language, any movement means it's time to get up and play!  So by covering her, I may get to sleep a bit longer.  I taught her that a tap on her crate meant I was still there, by tapping and then sticking my finger through the crate door to comfort her.  She can feel the vibration of me tapping the top of the crate. Now she knows that the tap alone means I am still there.  She hasn't figured out that I need to be awake in order to tap, and I'm not about to tell her!  So, if she starts peeping in the morning, I can just reach over and tap the crate from my bed, and she will settle back down to sleep a bit longer ... puppy snooze alarm! 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Light Show

What a lovely clear evening we had to go enjoy this Christmas Light display in Peoria, IL.  My mother, niece, nephew and I drove through the park to see all the displays.  Everywhere we looked there were lights.  Each display was different based on the unique creativity of its sponsor.  Some, like the cars and other vehicles, have moving wheels and parts.  Some tell a story, like the skier that comes down the slope and jumps over the road on his way down the  hill.  Or the two seals tossing a ball back and forth between their noses.  Or the reindeer in the forest practicing flying across the road as cars drive below. Fireworks of lights illuminate the spaces between exhibits.  A volcano spews lights up into the night sky while lighted dinosaurs stand nearby.  All in a lighted wonderland!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Friends - Old and New

Yesterday, I travelled some more, headed for Missouri, to reunite Treasure with some of her old friends.  It was a very rainy and cold day, but I was full of excitement.  While I knew some of these women through email contact, I had never actually met any of them.  These were the women who had rescued Treasure from a less than ideal situation, who had cared for her, and who had believed that there was someone out there who would love her as she deserved to be loved.  I knew there was no way I could even begin to thank them for the wonderful blessing that Treasure has become in my life.  But I knew I was ready to try!

Requi (above) met me as I got out of the car.  She was one of the people who was there at the original rescue, who actually helped to bring Treasure back to the humane society.  I felt like I was greeting a dear friend, even though we only knew each other through emails.  It warmed my heart to see how much Requi still cares for Treasure, as she greeted her for the first time since her adoption in May 2010.  She made many comments about just how perfect Treasure is, but, of course, I already knew that!  And, she was right!

Tracy was the only other shelter worker there who had known Treasure during her stay.  I heard through the grapevine that she wasn’t supposed to be working on Mondays, so I can only surmise that she was there just to see Treasure and I!  Treasure snuggled into her arms like she remembered her.  In fact, I was pleasantly surprised at just how relaxed Treasure was!  I had been concerned that she might remember the smells of the shelter and be upset that I might leave her there again. 
But I needn’t have worried.  She snuggled in with everyone and enjoyed all the attention.  We even posed her in front of the decorated Christmas tree in the corner!  I had brought Treasure’s scrapbook to share.  And, of course, Jasmine was with us to delight us all with puppy antics!  Like pulling ornaments off of that Christmas tree!

I got to meet Julie, the woman who had first noticed that Treasure and the other dogs needed help.  She had called to ask someone to please go check on the dogs.  I had not planned on meeting Julie.  In fact, she had never been mentioned to me.  But, being the true compassionate rescuer that she is, Julie was bringing in a stray dog that she had finally been able to catch after three weeks of trying.  What a wonderful surprise that the dog had allowed itself to be caught today – of all days! – while Treasure and I were visiting!  And we were able to meet Julie!  And she was able to see and take pictures of Treasure!

And then I met Charlotte (above).  She had also been there that day they rescued Treasure.  She, too, greeted Treasure as if she was a long lost friend.  I could see immediately how much Charlotte cared for her.  We sat together by the Christmas tree and looked at Treasure’s scrapbook.  I felt like I had known her for so much longer than just a few minutes.  To prove just what a likeable person she is, Charlotte actually told the hostess at the restaurant where we had lunch the story of Treasure's rescue and reunion, and convinced her to let us take a group picture inside the lobby between the two sets of doors, where we could get out of the rain! 

It was amazing to meet so many people who were such an important part of Treasure’s journey, and to see where that journey began.  I have been able to put so many pieces into the puzzle of her past.  And, still, all this time later, I am finding more and more pieces fall into place.  It was truly a very special day for me.  I made some wonderful new friends, and I got to share their joy at seeing their old friend again.  My mind and heart are still trying to digest the magnitude of the day.  It will remain one of my very special memories.  Thank you so much ladies, for everything you've done and a great visit!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Take A Hike!

The weather has turned cold and rainy, with a bit of snow thrown in for good measure.  But we were able to take a wonderful hike late last week.  It was a bit chilly, as the sun was setting, but we were able to see some wildlife up close. We saw some deer, and a very brave possum who actually stopped and posed while I took his picture.  We even saw a small flock of wild turkeys take flight in the woods.  It was neat to see such a large bird flying so gracefully through the trees without hitting any!  And, of course, I can't forget the troll ... well, we never actually saw the troll himself, just his bridge and this sign telling us to pay the toll for using it!  I hope we get more nice weather to go hiking there again before it's time for us to leave.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Road Trip!

Ahh, some peace and quiet at 7am.  Jasmine has been up running around and is taking a nap! Time to update the blog!  Traveling with a blind-deaf dog, and a puppy to boot, does bring with it some challenges.  Overall, the puppy has been extremely good!  She's been with us for a week now and the changes are apparent.  She is growing like a weed and I had to move her to a taller puppy pen, as she can now reach the top of the other one.  It was just a matter of time before she figured out how to go over!  I'd rather that she didn't know about that possibility!  She traveled very well ... a 14 hour car ride is enough to make anybody stir crazy!  We stopped often to let her potty and run around and she rewarded me by sleeping most of the way.  Of course, once we got here, she was wide awake and ready to run zoomies everywhere while I was very tired and wanted to go to bed. 

Treasure is always a great traveler, always ready for a new adventure that riding in the car brings.  Even though she knows her touch commands well, she was very distracted by all the new smells along the way and often chose not to potty at our stops.  She smelled every new inch of every rest area and gas station along the way and got annoyed with me when the leash wouldn't allow her to proceed as far as she would have liked. 

Treasure has decided that she is no longer amused by puppy antics.  Jasmine barks at her and tries to get her to play, bouncing on top of her head.  Treasure has become a bit more jumpy when touched now, jumping up and expecting to have it be Jasmine.  Overall, though, she is still very tolerant. 

There are some dangers here that I don't have to worry about at home, so I have to be vigilant.  There are many steps here with a railing on the landing.  Treasure is used to her small set of steps to get to my bed, but we do not have a longer flight of steps at home.  While it would be easy to gate off the steps, the railing has openings that are big enough for her or Jazzy to fit through, and knowing Treasure, she would need to go investigating!  But Treasure is quite content to hang out in the big guest room with my large suitcase gating off the doorway.  It is her new home away from home.  She has an open crate and her blankie, and bones and food puzzle toys to keep her busy.  And she gets lots of cuddle time, too, of course. 

Treasure is really enjoying the big bed here, that she doesn't have to share with any of the other dogs!  Although I did put Jasmine up on it last night to pose for pictures.  Jazzy does not yet understand the concept of height, so ran off of the edge a couple times.  I was right there and caught her, but also let her gently tumble to the floor so she might learn to respect drop offs.  It worked and after the second tumble, she stopped herself at the edge each time.  I'm not sure how much of a drop off she can see, but she did start to feel for the edge with her foot and then stop herself. When she couldn't get to me and there was nothing else left to do, she finally settled down near the edge where Treasure was lying, and I got a cute picture of them both. Oops, Jazzy's up, gotta run!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Puppy Paws

It’s been a little while since puppy paws have pattered through my kitchen.  Meet Jasmine (Jazzy).  She’s also a double merle sheltie.  She is able to see, but it’s hard to know exactly what at this point.  She can see to follow us and play with toys.  But if we get too far away she seems to not know we’re there.  She appears to be deaf, as I have not found any sound yet that she responds to.  And she’s 12 weeks old. 
I have had gorgeous weather for the end of November to start her housetraining.  It’s been close to 70 degrees every day since I brought her home!  And sunny!  All that is supposed to end tomorrow, so I’m thankful to have had four days of nice weather to get her started on a routine.  She now knows to potty quickly once outside, which is nice.  I’ve introduced the touch cue for go potty, now that I know she will go quickly. 
We’re making progress with leash training.  I’m teaching her to come along with light pressure in various directions instead of fighting me at the end of the leash.  This will hopefully translate to wonderful loose leash walking later on.  She’s learning to accept sleeping in the crate quietly and staying alone in her puppy pen.  The first couple days were pretty rough with many temper tantrums on her end!  But today she actually slept quietly in her crate for a nap, and once in her pen as well.  Progress!
She’s learning which of the dogs will play with her, and in what manner.  She likes Brinks who plays and wrestles all day long.  She is also playing with Treasure, but doesn’t understand yet that she has to continue to make contact with her or she won’t know where Jazzy went.  She follows Grace, but Grace is not so sure about why this fuzz ball is following her everywhere, so isn’t playing with her yet. 
Now that the tantrums are lessening, she’s really a delightful puppy.  She entertains herself with bones and toys and then takes a nap wherever she is.  She will chase toys, but has no interest in bringing them back to me, so we are working on that.  She will play tug.  In fact, she will tug things around that are much larger than she is!  And of course, there are puppy zoomies!!  I love puppy zoomies! 
More to come of Jazzy’s adventures!  Stay tuned …

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wow!  How did it get to be Thanksgiving again already?  These dogs keep me very busy, and it seems like time just flies!  We have much to be thankful for this year, as always ... good health, a wonderful son who is growing into a fine young man, the best of friends, and an abundance to fill all our needs.  I hope you and your family find time to be thankful for each other this year.

This is my beautiful girl, Grace.  When she's clean, she is so very white.  But, her absolutely favorite thing of all is to play in the mud puddles in the yard, which right now are VERY plentiful!  (I am not so thankful about that!)  I hold my breath every time I let her back inside.  I never know just what I am going to find! Here are some pictures of her ... happy and muddy; and, did I mention happy??

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Healing Through All The Senses

I'm home today.  I haven't been feeling well and need to take a couple days to recover before my job gets busy again for the next month.  My day started as usual.  I got up early, now before it is light outside, to let the dogs outside.  I checked my email while they ran and played in the yard. 

But then, when I let them back inside, I laid back down in bed for a bit.  The puppy bounced around on top of my various body parts and played in the covers.  His enthusiasm was at first less than appreciated, but soon he had me smiling at his abundance of energy.  Treasure found me right away and came over to snuggle, trying to find a safe place to avoid being bounced on by Brinks.  She nuzzled her head into my arm and my chest and gave me a few licks on the chin.  I lost myself in time, as I laid there with her, both of us connected in the moment, and I started to feel better.

I really didn't feel like going out, but I had library books due today, so I made myself get in the car.  My thought was to get it done earlier in the day, so I could come home and sleep.  But a marvelous thing happened as I was driving to the library.  All my favorite songs seemed to be playing on the radio, so I was singing along.  And the landscape had exploded with every color imaginable!  It is autumn and the trees are so incredible to look at, that it's important to remind myself at every opportunity to pay attention to the road in front of me. 

I had no schedule, nowhere I had to be at a certain time, no one I had to answer to.  My day has been one small moment of healing after another.  It's easy to forget to notice those moments when we get caught up in our routine and our schedules.  Those small moments where, if we allow ourselves, we can rejuvenate and connect with ourselves.  Where we can experience healing. 

It occurred to me that healing happens through all of our senses when we allow it to.  The touch of a special dog's head resting on my chest, feeling her breathing, being encompassed by her loving energy.  The sounds of music and meaningful lyrics of my favorite songs.  The birds singing in the new morning light.  Singing along with those songs; a form of expression.  Seeing the bright vibrant colors of the trees spreading everywhere along the horizon.  Feeling the cool crisp autumn air.  Smelling and tasting the healing power of food as I prepare and eat my lunch, and then on to a nap. 

How nice it was to be reminded of these things today and to be able to slow down and appreciate them all.  I hope every one of you will experience your own moments of healing today and every day.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

In Her Likeness ...

A huge THANK YOU to our friend, Mary Beth Genter, for creating this perfect likeness of Treasure on her new bag!  Everyone loves the bag, especially me - and Treasure!  

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Learning to Heel ... Finally!

Another beautiful picture of Treasure from the sheltie picnic! 

It's been a year since taking Treasure through obedience classes.  I had started teaching her to heel then, but it just wasn't happening the way I had hoped.  I wanted her to learn to lean into my leg, so she could feel it moving and know which direction to come with me.  Treasure tends to want to walk slightly away from my leg, and she cues very well with a slight jiggle of the leash, but keeping her in heel position with a loose leash is tricky because she can't see to reference where she needs to be in relation to my leg.  I've been wanting to try using a solid leash to give her more feedback as to my position, speed, etc. 

Well, today I finally made a solid leash ... I know, I know, what took me so long?!  I let her sniff it before putting it on her, just to let her know what this new thing was.  It worked like a charm!  Of course, she had already learned to walk in the direction that she feels very light collar pressure, either from a leash, or from my hand lightly guiding her by the collar.  This made the transition to the solid leash very smooth.

We walked short distances, after which I stopped to give her a treat and a pet.  I kept a very light contact between Treasure's collar and the solid leash.  It was nice to be able to stand up straight and walk in a normal manner, but I was still able to guide her on her level through the leash snap.  An about turn went well, but slowly.  As she gains confidence, I'm sure her speed will return.  She walks much faster with the solid leash on a straight path than she does with a regular leash.  I think this is because she is getting more information from the contact on the solid leash, so she feels more confident stepping out. 

When I touch her collar, she will scoot forward very quickly, knowing that she can trust me not to run her into anything. When she walks on her own, she goes much slower to avoid smacking her nose on things.  So it makes sense that having a light contact on the leash gives her that same confidence.  

I also introduced her to a collar cue for sit, as in sitting when I halt.  I moved the solid leash at a slight angle and at the same time lifted very lightly under her chin.  I gave the cue immediately before giving her the sit cue she already knows of touching her rear end.  By the third time, she sat with only the collar cue before I could touch her.  Good girl!  Of course, she is a very smart girl and she does love those treats!! 

In other training, we are working again on stays ... sort of got lazy working on those.  She will now roll over, but she prefers going to her right side.  She will roll the other way, too, but only after she first rolls to the right.  She is learning to sit up and beg.  When we first tried it, she was very off balance, but now she is starting to balance for short periods of time.  We continue to work on shaking hands.  Sometimes she will lift a paw, but not consistently. 

We continue to work on K9 nosework.  She did a demo and amazed everyone at the sheltie picnic last weekend!  I am pairing odor with her hides now.  The first couple we did with odor, she definitely realized something was different and took a few extra seconds to sniff the odor before eating her treats.  Our official nosework training kit came yesterday, so ... happy scenting! 

Shelties and Fall!

Treasure, Owen, and Grace

Last weekend was Northern Chesapeake Sheltie Rescue's annual sheltie reunion picnic.  Grace and Treasure were both adopted through NCSR, and Owen, being a sheltie, was able to come join the fun too!  After a week of heavy rain, the weather cooperated and the rain held off for the afternoon.  There was so much delicious food shared by all!  The dogs enjoyed some bites of my hamburger at lunch time!

Games galore!  Musical sits, popcorn catching, biscuit on spoon race, trick contest, costume contest, who came the farthest, and more, but I can't remember them all right now.  Grace won the costume contest with her Halloween dress. Owen won the trick contest with his going to hide in the suitcase trick, among others.  Treasure got third in the trick contest by showing how she can respond to touch cues for sit, down and spin.  She got second place for smallest sheltie ... beat out by a tie between a puppy and her new brother, Timmy!  (Yes, we adopted a new boy and brought him home with us from the picnic!)

All in all, a very fun day.  We all went home tired, but happy.  Here's our newest family member, Timmy!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Please Adopt!!

September 17-25th is Adopt-A-Less-Adoptable-Pet Week, sponsored by  It’s a very important week for me, since my Mom found me for the first time through, and of course, I am considered by some to be less-adoptable because I was born both blind and deaf.  My mom knew from the first time she saw my picture that I was meant to be with her forever and ever.  Maybe you can find your own forever friend at as well.  There is even a special tab you can check off to only see the animals that are considered to have special needs, like me!  It makes it a bit easier to search for us very special dogs.
If you’ve been reading my blog and you think you want to adopt a double merle, like me, please contact my Mom at because she knows about several around the country who are looking for their forever homes. 
I recently celebrated my one year anniversary in my new home!  Mom called it my New Life Day celebration.  It was lots of fun.  My human and dog friends all came to celebrate with me!  We painted and then had the most delicious cake and ice cream!  Please think about adopting today, so that many more deserving dogs can celebrate their New Life Days as well! 

Happy Day to Me!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Eat Da Carrots!!

This past weekend Treasure helped out at our dog club booth at a huge horse show/fair.  She was part of the meet the breeds tent, helped tell people about therapy dogs, and she had a blast.  We educated a lot of people about the dangers of breeding double merles.  The kids especially loved her, probably because she was small and fluffy and white and perhaps didn't appear as threatening as some of the larger dogs.  But one small boy kept staring at her eyes.  When he found out she couldn’t see, he looked up at me very seriously and said, “She needs to eat da cawwatts (carrots)!  Day help de eyes!”  and he pointed to his eyes.  Too precious!! 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Year of Firsts

Wow, Treasure has been with us one whole year already!  Have you ever stopped to think about a significant period of time?  Sometimes it seems the year has gone by so very fast.  I find myself surprised that it's been that long.  It seems like just a short time ago that I made that drive to pick up Treasure for the first time.  But sometimes I find myself surprised that it's only been one year.  It seems like she's been part of the family for so much longer than that.  Does this happen to you, or is it just me?

It really starts to sink in when I look at the puppy Brinks and realize that he's no longer a little puppy. He's now becoming all grown up.  If you remember, Brinks came home the very next morning after I picked up Treasure.  He has grown up with her.  When Brinks was small, Treasure wrestled and played with him all the time.  He napped next to her.  She taught him how to find the air conditioning vent and lay on top of it when the unit kicked on.  Together they learned where they fit into our family.

Now, Brinks is bigger, stronger, and a bit more enthusiastic than Treasure.  He would rather run and chase and tumble with the other dogs who aren't as calm as she is.  But he watches out for her and always greets her by licking her face all over enthusiastically.  She graciously tolerates these face washings.  Every once in awhile she will engage him in a short wrestle.  But it doesn't last very long before he overpowers her and she tires of the game.  When Treasure doesn't realize that we've moved to the next room or that the dogs have all come inside, Brinks will run back to her and touch her to let her know which way she should come.  I never taught him that; it's just something that he does. 

Treasure and I have had our year of firsts now - first class, first bath, first therapy visit, first snow, first road trip, first holidays, and so on.  It seems that passing each of these milestones has brought us into a kind of comfort - a familiarity perhaps.  She is completely at home here.  She is so full of confidence.  There is nothing we can't do together. 

I watch her run up her set of steps to my bed every night, trying to be the first to get her bedtime cookie.  Was it really that long ago that she waited cautiously for me to help her go up and down them?  Now, if I look away for a second, I miss it she's so fast! 

She gets impatient when I spend too much time at the computer and pokes me with her nose.  If that doesn't work, she puts her front feet up on my leg.  Usually, that will do the trick.  She will get a pat and an ear rub just because she's so darn cute! 

Treasure's favorite time of day (besides anytime she gets food!) is floor time.  I lay on the floor and all the dogs crowd around me.  Some just to lay by me for belly rubs.  Some bring toys to be thrown or tugged with.  Treasure comes and plays with me by pushing me with her head and pawing at me.  Sometimes she plays King (or Queen!) of the Mountain by climbing on top of me.  She's quite content to be right in the middle of the crazy dog pile! 

Happy One Year Anniversary Treasure!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

White Dog Lessons

Well, my Mom's been pretty busy with work lately, but now things have finally settled down and those lazy dog days of summer are finally here!  My favorite thing to do in the evenings if I'm not doing therapy visits is to putter around the shady back yard and find just the right place to lay and enjoy the breeze.  My Mom and my friends are all around me and the grass is so cool.  Sometimes I nibble on a salad while I'm there. 

Mom is back to teaching me new things now that she's got some free time.  We always do all the tricks I already know like sit and down and all that.  Spin is my favorite 'cause it's the easiest one for me to do!  I don't really see the point in shaking hands.  That's something that humans do, not dogs.  But Mom keeps tapping my elbow and then lifting my leg, shaking it up and down and giving me a treat.  I eat the treat, of course, but it all seems like a waste of time to me! 

I amaze my Mom by stepping through a hula hoop held off the ground a couple inches.  Usually I get all the way through, but sometimes I step the front legs through and then forget the back ones are still on the other side.  But she is always so happy and gives me treats, so I do it just to amuse her.  She thinks one day I may surprise her and do a little hop through ... but I will keep her waiting awhile for that one! 

I still like to play in my tunnels, and now Mom is teaching me some new tricks which are really fun.  I'm learning to lay over flat on my side and then to roll over on my back in both directions.  At first I was afraid, but now I know I am not falling and I will get treats at the end.  It's kind of fun!  And I am learning to crawl to reach that goodie.  Mom makes me work on down stay too, and sometimes I get confused and will try to crawl when I am supposed to be staying. 

Mom has it in her head that I would look really cute if I learned to sit up and beg.  But that's another one - I just don't get it!  I can stretch my nose really high and I can almost reach that treat, but it keeps moving just another fraction of an inch so I can't quite get it.  Mom helps me lift my front legs, but I think she is going to pick me up, so I move to help her, but then I just fall over.  I wonder if she'll just stop trying.

Mom has been fostering again for sheltie rescue, so I've had some new foster brothers and sisters around lately.  At first, I got worried.  I thought maybe she was going to keep the new dogs and send me away.  I started making messes on the floor to tell Mom how I felt.  Well, Mom would clean up the messes, but then she would tell me how SHE felt.  Oops!  She was not happy.  She told me I was not going anywhere and that I needed to help to show the new dogs how to keep the house clean and dry.  So now I try my best to show them the right place to go in the yard. 

Here are some funny pictures of me doing french fry k9 nosework!  My instructor would be proud!  I knew exactly where Mom put the bag and pointed right to it.  Mom got the message and hid a french fry for me to find in the empty bag!  Finders Keepers ... losers ... well, that's Grace watching politely as I grab my prize!!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Please vote for Treasure!!

Please vote for Treasure in the AHA Hero Dog awards contest.  She is listed under the therapy dog category and you can vote once per day per email address/password account.  You will need to create an account so you can vote every day.  Click on Treasure’s picture (it looks like the one above!) once you get to the page and it will take you to her story and you can vote!  The contest runs through July 31st!  You can vote every day!  Thanks for your supportJ

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Take Me Out To The Ball Game!

Treasure at the Blue Rocks game last night.
There was a nice breeze and she loved all the new smells!

She met the mascots. 

Looking chic in the sun!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dog Model?

Who me?  A dog model?  Yes, Treasure was named a finalist in America's Top Dog Model 2011 contest!  She will appear in their 2013 calendar as Miss May!  Visit the overall winner and the other finalists here
Watch their website for more info on how to order the 2013 calendar as the time gets closer!  Congratulations to the overall winner and all of Treasure's co-finalists!  Thank you to the judges and those running the contest!  Treasure says WOOF! 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Beautiful - Imperfections and All ...

I visited a Butterfly House today and took WAY too many pictures!  How amazing each one of them are!  While I was there, I overheard one of the staff members telling people that it was a shame that this or that butterfly was not a perfect specimen because it's wings had been damaged in some way.   I commented to her that they are still so very beautiful to look at, even if they are missing a wing tip here or there.  She stared at me blankly.  I continued on with my visit. 

Yes, there were many near perfect-looking specimens to look at in awe and to photograph.  I got some truly amazing shots.  But this one was my favorite.  This butterfly had landed on the brick walkway right near the entrance door to welcome us in.  It stayed in place while large human feet landed all around it.  Some saw it and marveled at it for a moment before passing on by.  Others did not notice and I warned them before their feet got much too close!  They looked surprised, glanced down quickly, and kept on walking past.

I watched for awhile.  No one really took the time to stop and look at this butterfly, even though they had to go out of their way to avoid stepping on it.  It was not as bright or flashy as some of the others.  It's wings were tattered and plain.  But as I sat on that brick walkway and took its picture, I noticed how the colors and the patterns on its wings were all perfectly aligned together.  I noticed how content it was to sit and bask on a warm brick, to gain some "me" time for itself, ignoring threats from the outside world. 

For a moment, I was reminded of how beautiful and perfect we each are, imperfections and all.  I was also reminded of how infrequently we take the time to notice that about ourselves and others.  I've become much more aware of these things now that Treasure is in my life.  I see how some people treat her just because she does not appear to be a perfect specimen.  I should not have been surprised that they would do the same with this butterfly.  Yet it saddened me for a moment.

This butterfly is most likely coming towards the end of its life cycle.  The younger butterflies are more vibrant and have full beautiful wings.  But thanks to its imperfectness, I found true beauty and was reminded of some marvelous lessons.  And thanks to photography, now I can remind you of those lessons as well.  Thank you, Butterfly! 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

May Happenings

Treasure and I have been busy working on her new tricks - jumping through a hoop, rolling over, and shaking hands.  I've been lazy and haven't been working with her on her stays too much, so we've started working on them again.  I'd like to get her CGC certificate, but we need to get her stays longer and so I can go farther from her.  I am also designing a new leash for her which I hope will allow me to give her clearer signals when we're walking together.  My first version didn't turn out exactly how I expected, so it's back to the drawing board.

We're continuing to practice K9 nosework, which she still loves!  We are continuing to make community appearances and do regular therapy visits.  Right now, she is trying to convince me that I should stop typing and come snuggle with her.  She is putting her front paws up on my leg to get me to pet her.  So, I will sign off for now, leaving you with some fun May pictures of us just fooling around enjoying the nice weather. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter, from Treasure the Easter Sheltie!  Easter is a great time to practice outdoor k9 nosework using plastic eggs!  Some of the eggs actually have little tiny holes in one end to allow a bit more scent out.  I hid one of Treasure's favorite goodies, vienna sausage, inside some of the eggs and scattered them in the pretty field in front of our house.  The little wildflowers add a pretty background. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Check this out!

Thank you to Lila Arnold for featuring Treasure this week on her website!  Check it out!

Also please take a moment while you're there to vote in the poll.  Should the AKC allow deaf dogs to compete with other dogs in their many performance events?  They already compete in many different dog sports and venues, but the AKC is currently not open to the idea of including deaf dogs. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Happy Spring!!

Wow!  It's been a little while since we've posted, but we've been super busy!  Treasure has been very popular this month making community appearances in addition to her regularly scheduled therapy visits.  The picture above was taken in front of the assisted living facility where she visits.  We were visited by a reporter from the Avon Grove Sun newspaper and we hope to see a great article soon! 

We attended the Reading Pet Expo where we met our friends from sheltie rescue.  Treasure got to hang out with some of their dogs on a pile of dog beds and accept attention from all her adoring fans!  She rode around in her stroller and was very well behaved.  She met some more pot-bellied pigs.  I think she is amused by them.  We kept our distance from the tiger, however! 

Treasure has been busy with her k9 nosework.  She did her first vehicle search and her first outdoor searches this month. I found out she likes salmon-flavored cream cheese!  And her instructor gifted her with a new stroller.  This one has a front panel made of mesh, so it can actually be zipped up to keep her inside.  The only place Treasure will not stay in her other stroller is at class, where she knows that her job is to find food!  When the new stroller is zipped up, it resembles a soft crate on wheels and it works like a charm!

And April will be here soon!  Treasure will be attending some Healing Touch for Animals' classes to help the attendees learn new techniques.  She will continue with her regular therapy visits, and we hope to join some fun community events as well.  Stay tuned for more of Treasure's adventures...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Three Little Words

I was watching a movie recently and I was reminded how powerful words can be.  We use words to communicate many things, but I think we sometimes forget their impact.  When we stop to consciously think about the words we hear and the words we use, I think we can be surprised by how carelessly we use them. 
The movie is called “Temple Grandin.”   It’s the story of an amazing woman’s life.  Maybe no more amazing than each of our own lives, except for the fact that Temple has allowed us into her life.  You see, she lives with a condition called autism that has mystified many people for a long time.  Temple is able to answer our questions and give us a glimpse into what her world is like and how she functions.  This has made things much easier for children living with autism today, for adults with autism who spent so much time being misunderstood, and for the animals that she also helps. 
The woman is even more fascinating than the movie, but I would encourage you to watch it if you haven’t already.  This is not an advertisement as much as it is a reminder.  The words that we choose can hurt, but they can also heal, educate, and persuade.  How we use our words can help to open someone’s mind to new ideas. 
There is a line in the movie that really struck me.  Just three little words that I think everyone needs to learn and remember.  Temple’s mother in the movie was talking to her teacher.  She was frustrated that Temple never seemed to fit in anywhere with the other children.  The teacher said to her, “We know how different Temple is.”  And the mother’s reply was very powerful.  She said simply, “Different – not less.”
I love those three words.  How powerful they can be when said together with compassion.  I spend a lot of time trying to explain to others how my life with Treasure and Grace is no better or worse than my life with my other dogs.  Yes, my interactions with them are different, but they are not better or worse than the others.  Nor are they easier or harder.  They are just different.  Now I have a very simple way to explain with only three words.  “Different – not less.”

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Vote for Grace this time!!

Grace is now in the Bissell most valuable pet contest trying to win the money for sheltie rescue.  Please vote for her starting today and every day through next Wed!!  Treasure is already in the running for the final prize.  Now let's double our chances and get Grace in that final running too!!

Monday, January 31, 2011

K9 Nosework Demo

Good job Treasure!

Treasure and I were lucky enough to take part in a demo yesterday showing various activities that people can do with their dogs to help improve their quality of life.  Treasure demonstrated her favorite activity - k9 nosework!  She found the right box very quickly and enjoyed her snack of chicken.  I'm sure everyone in the crowd was very amazed!

But that wasn't enough for Miss Treasure, who spent the next hour trying to figure out a way to jump down from her stroller and do more nosework!  She was being quite opinionated and would not stay lying down.  But after about an hour of only getting petting when she did lie down, she drifted off to sleep.  Just in time for the next break when everyone wanted to come up and visit with her!  Oh well, that's the price she pays for stardom I guess. 

Dreaming of more chicken!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A New Level of Learning

Snow, snow, and more snow here in PA!

I've been playing around with using the clicker with Treasure to see if perhaps she could hear it if I held it right next to her ear, or maybe she would even respond to the vibration of it.  I've tried it next to both ears. I've tried extra loud clickers. She is not associating the click with food, and she loves to eat!  She is also not even flinching her ears in response to the click.  So, I'm assuming it is not recognizable enough to her either in sound or vibration to be a useful training tool for us.  This was more for my own curiosity than anything else.  She does respond to some other sound vibrations in certain situations, so I thought, perhaps she might sense the click as well.  But it's not meant to be.

I taught a tactile marker to Treasure previously.  I tap twice quickly behind her ear.  But I find that this is not as clear as I would like.  She responds to it, yes, but it is not something that stands out to her in the environment. The other dogs often touch her behind the ear during play, etc.  I wanted something that would also allow me to mark and reinforce behavior when I wasn't close enough or in the right position to get those taps in behind her ear quickly.  Timing was also an issue.  I had to keep my hand out of her space (or she was constantly searching for it to see what it was holding or doing) but get it in there quickly enough to mark that exact moment of behavior I liked. 

I thought about using a vibrating collar as a marker signal.  It would accomplish my goal of being able to be farther from her.  Many people who have used vibrating collars with their deaf dogs told me there is quite a delay in pressing the remote control button and the actual vibration.  Most vibrating collars that are sturdy enough to last are bigger than what I want to put on a fifteen pound dog, and they don't work well with long-haired dogs.  Hair has to be continually shaved around the neck so the collar sensations can be felt properly.  Plus they are expensive! 

Then, the observant dog trainer that I am, I realized that she responds strongly to camera flashes, or to a sudden change in light/dark, such as turning a light on or off when it's dark otherwise.  I use a small flashlight as a clicker for my other double merle Grace with good success.  But it hadn't occurred to me until now to try it with Treasure.  How silly we can be sometimes.  Grace watches closely to see the light, but with Treasure, she is only able to see high contrasts in light and dark. 

Treasure knows she gets bedtime treats every night, so I started then.  I dimmed the lights so I could see her and her reactions, but it was fairly dark in the bedroom.  I flashed the light into her face and then fed the treat.  She was very engrossed in getting the treats, so it was hard to see any reaction to the light.  I kept at it anyway, trying to be patient, and over time I began to see that she was putting the two together.  Normally a flash or a change in light would cause her to spin repeatedly in an excited manner.  Now that was diminishing and she was beginning to show that she was sniffing to look for the treat.

Tonight, after several nights of flashing bedtime cookies, we had our first training session using the flashlight.  I was teaching my puppy to bring me a Kleenex out of the box when I sneeze (crazy dog trainer to actually TEACH a puppy to play with Kleenex!), and Treasure was trying to climb onto the coffee table to get the treats (again, crazy dog trainer to teach your blind and deaf dog to search for and find treats!)  So I put the other dogs away and turned out the lights in the living room.  The kitchen had a small light on in the next room, so I was able to see what was going on.  Plus the TV was on (nice that blind deaf dogs are not distracted by sounds in the environment!) so we had the glow from that as well.

We practiced some things she already knows with the flashlight as a marker - sit, stand, down, come to a stomp on the floor, spin and twist.  It was obvious that she was responding to some of the flashes and anticipating the treats.  We worked on getting her to step up and put her front feet on my leg while I sat on the floor, and we started working on a play dead behavior.  I was trying for a roll over, but she offered me a flat on the floor behavior instead, so we went with it. She was so proud of herself for figuring out how to get the treats!  She is very smart and will do things that I cue her to do, but she never really got the idea of offering those things on her own. 

I have a feeling she and I are both going to have a lot of fun with this!  And I'm getting used to training in the dark!  Not very feasible for long term, but great to be able to teach new behaviors.  Once they are on cue, then it won't matter anymore.  I can use the double tap or just petting with the treat.   

Monday, January 24, 2011

Time to Vote Again!!

Vote for Treasure again this week 1/26 through 2/1!!  Help her win some money to help sheltie rescue be able to help more shelties like Treasure!  It only takes a minute of your time to vote and once you’ve signed in the first time with your contact information, you only have to supply your email address every day to vote for her!  You can vote once every day per email address, so please tell your friends to vote for her too!!  I put it on my calendar so I remember to vote every day.  You might want to too.  If you or your friends are worried about getting junk mail or emails from Bissell, there is a box to uncheck as you are registering so you won’t receive updates from them.  I did the contest last year as well, and I have not received any unsolicited emails or junk mail from Bissell, so I do believe they take that seriously.  We just missed getting into the top 5 in week one, so please tell everyone you know to vote for Treasure this week!  Put it on your facebook pages, websites, twitter accounts, … everywhere!!  Help spread the word!  Thank you to all for your support of Treasure and sheltie rescue!!  Here's the new link

Treasure says WOOF!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Nosework week three ...

Wow, we're moving right along with our nosework classes!  If you remember, we had some trouble using the leash last week, so this week we tried something new that worked very well.  Instead of giving Treasure the entire room to search in, we used ring gates to section off a smaller area to give her a more defined area.  She has a hard time knowing where she is in space when she's some place new because she doesn't have any mind-map markers to tell her where she is, like she does at home.  She can't see the walls or gates like the other dogs can, and she can't hear sounds around her to give her a clue as to where she is.  By using the smaller area, she was once again happy to be able to work off leash!  She was able to focus more on scenting and less on avoiding her leash. 

At one point, after our turn, I looked up and everyone was crowded around the smaller gated area watching us.  They seemed so surprised and delighted when Treasure found the hide.  I had to remind myself that everything Treasure does is a surprise to them.  I was very confident to allow her to do her job and knew she would find it easily on her own.  But I live with her, so I see her amazingness everyday.  The others do not.  It's nice to be able to bring a little bit of that to everyone's attention now and then.

We used roast beef at class.  I always give her a variety of food when we train.  It's never the same thing as the day before.  This keeps her interest up and offers her more enrichment and variety in her life.  When Treasure seemed to get a bit off track, I used some stomps to bring her back in my direction towards the area I wanted her to search.  I'm not sure how well the vibration carries in a direct way at class.  She seems to be a bit confused by stomps at class even though she always comes at home.  I wonder if the vibrations travel differently.  But it did get her attention and she sniffed until she found my direction and came back that way. 

We worked with open boxes again, practicing for our demo next weekend.  We started using a magnetic clip (like a refrigerator clip magnet) to hold food in a plastic lid.  It could then be stuck to the metal grooming table legs to offer more variety for hiding.  This part isn't as tricky for Treasure, since the other dogs tend to learn to look for the boxes and only hunt there.  Treasure can't see the boxes, so she relies on only scent from the start.  But it's handy to get the food up off the floor and will be nice to use to train my other dogs as well.  The lid we used for class was a plastic lid from a coffee cup and it had a small hole in it for drinking.  When Treasure found it, she came to that tiny hole first and was trying to lick the food out of it.  We also did food hidden in the unzipped pocket of a bag on the floor, which she found easily.

Our next round of classes, we will start adding Birch odor, so we got information about ordering the scent kits.  I will continue with Treasure in the process.  She really enjoys having a job to do and of course, the food reward is fun too!  But I'm not sure she will ever be able to qualify for competitions without some type of accommodation.  If she is expected to search a very large area in a short period of time, most likely that will not be feasible.  She moves slower around a new area than a sighted dog because she can't see where she's going.  She has learned that it hurts less to run into something when you are going slowly than it does if you are going fast!