Dogiversary

Dogiversary? Cassiversary? Cassiusanniversary? Whatever I want to call it happened this weekend! 2 years ago today I spent my first full day post-Team Training with Cassius. I remember being a bit overwhelmed with the magnificent dog entrusted to me and the responsibility that comes with it.

Our first outing was down the street to Peer’s, so of course I repeated that… this time at Starbucks, and with an additional Puppaccino for the dog (tiny bit of whipped cream!) Cassius, being the food lover that he is, enjoyed this immensely:
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We went on a nice leisurely walk around my new neighborhood (stopping at not one but 2 pet stores, one to weigh Cassius and one to buy him an anniversary gift – a Hurley from West Paw Design!) and I thought a bit about our partnership. Cassius has seen me through 3 apartments, 3 different jobs (yeah, sounding a bit like the Liberty Mutual commercial…), each time with an inquisitive demeanor and willingness to adapt.

He’s as happy to go out as he is to spend the day in bed (although he is a great motivator to go out! I’m in better shape thanks to him)! I love his love for me (obviously!), but also for the people who he knows love him… he just knows. His personality is the perfect mixture of calm and a latent bit of goofiness that emerges seemingly when I most need it.

Cassius just radiates his personality… I’m continually told how “kind” and “sweet” he looks, and my response is always “Yes!” He is not an effusive dog (usually, unless you’re meeting after being apart for a bit!) yet just radiates a “ok, I got this!” attitude. I appreciate that. He helps me channel my own”ok, I got this!”

The outward things he does are obvious, he is quite the expert at picking up keys and loves getting and carrying the mail. He helps me walk and not fall. Hr makes me get up and do things even when I hurt. People give me a second chance (and don’t honk at me for walking too slow!) Those things are invaluable, too.

So thank you, Cassius! Much love and thanks to my serious silly boy. I hope he knows how much I love him. I am sure he does.

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Of course the dog needs a Valentine! I Wuff him indeed.

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Spent the morning at puppy class, what can make you feel more loved than a bunch of sweet dogs who just want to snuggle and be loved on?! A great way to spend my pre-dog-anniversary!

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Cassius absolutely loved Friday, the teeny tiny 9-week old puppy! They touched paws and noses and it was adorable. I think he wants a side job as a puppy sitter.

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We did a lot of ups and downs on weird surfaces to acclimate the puppies, my favorite was the random fake rock (christened Mount REI) in the shoe department… we scaled it, too!

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It was a fun, but exhausting, morning and we both had to rest for the remainder of the day. I think Friday did the same.

Wordless Wednesday: Meeting Santa

Had our annual Canine Companions for Independence – East Bay Chapter dog holiday party! Met Santa, played games (and won toys!), said “Hi” to new and old friends, and survived being dressed up in a Santa hat!
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Thankful

I see those things pop up on my Newsfeed like clockwork every morning in November, people listing daily what they are thankful for. I’ve never really done that, mainly because I don’t know if 3/4 of the people reading my newsfeed really even care what 30-something things I am thankful for, and maybe because it just feels a bit too invasive and self-serving for me.

But today as I watched Canine Companions Graduations on breaks at work and when I got home, I felt I should state the (very) obvious: I am so thankful for my dog. Cassius doesn’t make the hard stuff go away or all the painful ness of having a disability go away, but he sure is a help.

I dropped my earbuds on the floor today when I was trying to put them in my drawer after a break and missed. When you are like me and have the combination of eye issues and balance/mobility problems, honestly finding what you dropped is a challenge in itself! But not for CassiusThe Retriever. Picking up things and carrying them places is FUN!

So with Cassius’s help, I got myself out of that annoying situation and got back to work with minimal pain and frustration. For that I am ever-so thankful.

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Canine Companions Graduate Workshop & Halloween Costume Fun

This weekend was the Annual Canine Companions for Independence (I said it right! Trying not to say CCI, at their request, is tough!)

We had a great day and a half saying hi to new and old friends (and when you’re a well-trained Labrador/Golden, everyone is a friend), getting training tips, learning about new programs, and just socializing.

Of course, the highlight of the day was the costume contest! I decided that Cassius had to be something (someone?) literary, and wanted to re-use his costume… so he was Curious George! He was a good sport about it, and won Best Dog Costume! I will enjoy the water bottle and Cassius will undoubtedly appreciate the toys and treat!

That bit of Canine Companions goodness will hold us over for the workweek ahead, which for us starts tomorrow afternoon – No rest for the weary, I guess!

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“Please no closer, mom…”

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My dog is, if I do say so myself, is genetically superior. Descended from long lines of sweet, obedient and wickedly smart Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers, he is smart, devoted, and hard-working (as long as he gets his beauty rest!) He is, however, missing one pretty crucial and breed-defining characteristic: he despises getting wet. If it is raining (which is rare these days, California seems to be in a permanent drought), he eagerly waits for me to put on his raincoat, huddles close under our large golf umbrella (when I can use it, it’s hard with strength and coordination issues to manage both dog and umbrella!) and generally hopes this wetness will be over soon. Somewhere, his water-retrieving ancestors are ashamed. He can lay by the pool on a loose leash with no fears he will jump in. I think he tries to pretend the water isn’t there! I see photos of doggie pool parties, and wonder what would win out: peer pressure or lack of desire to get wet?!

We spent last weekend at the beach, I ventured into the water a bit (mostly the pool, the ocean was a bit cold!), Cassius kept watch from the safety of his blanket, undoubtedly hoping that he would not be required to do anything involving getting wet. Luckily for all involved, he ended his weekend dry and relaxed.

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But his look in the first photo is hysterically accurate “The nice warm sand is perfectly fine – please no closer to the water, mom…”

International Assistance Dog Week

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This week marks International Assistance Dog Week. I think it’s a great idea to make us think more broadly, and more compassionately, about the entire assistance dog community. I recently had a sort-of encounter that made me reconsider this.

Normally seeing other working dog teams out in public is nice. There is the moment of acknowledgement, the admiring of both dogs behaving themselves, and then going on our own separate ways. Often this is done without so much as a word between the two handlers, just a communal acknowledgement. (Unless it’s a fellow CCI handler/raiser/volunteer, then you end up discussing breeding and raising and who trained the dog in Advanced Training!).

Last week, though, I had my first “bad” encounter with another service dog handler, and I was honestly a bit shocked. I was at my local independent grocery store, checking out the prepared food. Cassius was standing between me and the counter. Guide dog and handler come barreling down the aisle behind me (aka, before I had time to react!), dog sticks its nose in Cassius’ face on the way past. Cassius rocked a pretty darn good “leave it”, guide dog got a stern forward. All good, right?

Apparently not. As I was checking out, I heard the handler asking the cashier if they knew there was another service dog (in a blue vest. Hello, if you gave enough vision to see the blue vest, how about seeing the big honking yellow dog in said blue vest?!) in the store… “And if they knew if it was a real service dog?” Sigh. Thankfully I buy a lot from said grocery store and they know I’m almost always there with Cassius, so they stood up for me… But it was rather bizarre.

So what can be learned from this? Education! Education for other service dog handlers (yes, there are indeed other types of service dogs besides the kind that you have!). Education for the public about fake service dogs so that the default question isn’t “are they a faker?” And education for businesses so more can make good judgements like this one did.

And while we’re at it, how about some education for your dog so it doesn’t sniff things on the way past. 🙂

Wordless Wednesday: A Good Dog

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It’s funny how many people randomly say that to me, as they pass Cassius and I. I guess he just sends off “good dog” vibes… or he’s just so darn adorable that people can’t imagine he would be bad! His expression in this photo really captures his personality. He is a very good dog , indeed.