Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Six Weeks

Over the last six weeks I have sat down to write on my little blog more than once.  Sometimes I got a few sentences in and erased it all; sometimes I couldn't bring up any words at all.  These past six weeks have brought a lot of change.  Some good, some hard, but all God's perfect plan. A post like this will never be how I envisioned chronicling these events, but life doesn't always play out how you envision it either.

Before turn in, Moray had one last adventure with my family.  We did some traveling which included a visit to New York City, and his first flight to Orlando:

November 7th was my last day holding Moray's leash as a puppy in program.  That afternoon, I gave my little buddy one last kiss goodbye as he entered Professional training.

Two-and-a-half short weeks later, on the day before Thanksgiving, our puppy program manager called with the news no puppy raiser wants to hear.  Moray's release from training was not a complete surprise, but much of what she had to say was hard to process.  Moray decided that being a service dog just was not for him, and has been adopted by my grandparents to live as a spoiled Change of Career pet.  
From when he was still a PIT
You were a joy, always.  The sixteen months that I was blessed enough to have you were some of the best in my life so far.  I don't know all that God has in plan for you or I, but I know it's going to be pretty amazing.  Thank you for loving so freely and always knowing how to make everyone around you laugh.  I will always be proud to have been your puppy raiser.  I love you forever.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Oh, the Places You'll Go

Today is your day.
You're off to great places!
You're off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose. 
You're on your own.  And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.

You'll look up and down streets.  Look 'em over with care.
 About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there."
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
You're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
You'll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
You'll head strait out of town.

It's opener there
In the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
And frequently do
To people as brainy
And footsy as you.

And then things start to happen,
Don't worry.  Don't stew.
Just go right along.
You'll start happening too.


You'll be be on your way up!
You'll be seeing great sights!
You'll join the high fliers
Who soar to high heights.

You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you'll top all the rest.

You'll get mixed up, of course,
As you already know.
You'll get mixed up
With many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact.
And remember that Life's
A Great Balancing Act. 
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes!  You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)


Be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
Or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea
You're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting.
So... get on your way!

**All text taken from "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" by Dr. Seuss.  Copyright by Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P. 1960**

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Week of Lasts

Moray and I have had a busy, busy semester.  He has been on many an adventure lately, despite my lack of writing.  
Field trip to the Fire Station
We have been to a puppy raising workshop, group trips to the fire station and airport, we have done promotional events for Canine Companions, and many other training outings.  
Checking out the ambulance
Airport exposure 

Getting ready to go through security

The TSA were fantastic to help out Moray and Hardy in their training! This is hopefully the beginning of a long relationship with them and our Canine Companions puppies!
The Week of Lasts is always an emotional week.  Yesterday was Moray's last outing with his local Canine Companions friends.  Today was his last day of Community Bible Study, tomorrow will be his last day of class with me, as well as his last puppy class, Friday will be his last day of Awana...the list goes on.  
My chest tightens and my eyes fill as I think that next time I am at ____, there will be no bouncy black lab at my side.  My hand won't be nudged by a jovial puppy who knows I still carry the occasional treat for especially good boys like himself.
I can willingly go through the heartache of goodbyes a million times over because it means that I have gotten to share the last seventeen months with an amazing creature who has taught me more than I have taught him.
Excuse my dorky face, and know that we laugh together...a lot. And it makes me smile.
And there's something even better coming ahead.  This week of lasts is needed.  It's essential in order for Moray to make a new set of Firsts.  Firsts with his new trainer, Firsts with his forever human in whatever career he chooses.  And that is a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014



Today marks fifty days until Moray says goodbye to Tennessee.

Today marks fifty-eight days till I say goodbye to my best little buddy.

Today is the day that those first tears have slipped out from under my eyelids.  

When you pick these bouncy, rolley-polley puppies up at not-quite-eight weeks old, eighteen months seems like a lifetime away.  Before you know it, they finally can hold their bladders until you get them outside, they learn not to howl in their kennels, they "sit," "stand, " "heel," "jump," "roll," "under," and so much more with only the whisper of a word.  They prance next to you with that coveted "J" in their leash, not even tugging at that grown man whistling at them across the isle, rather, looking up at you as if to say "take that.  I'm so good, aren't I mom?"  All the while they are wiggling their way into the deepest parts of your heart.

And all too soon, you find yourself with an email glaring at you in your inbox entitled "November Matriculation is Approaching."  


Just no.

I'm not ready for this.

But then you look down at the almost-seventeen month old puppy snoozing on your feet and you realize that he is ready.  

All his commands have been learned (more or less).

All your worries about his behavior in public have disappeared, and he can handle just about anything with confidence and ease.

But most importantly, he knows how to love.  He knows how to laugh.  He knows a simple game of fetch should be the highlight of your day.  He knows he can make friends wherever he is.  He knows mornings are greeted with wiggles and happy dances, and nights are ended with a kiss.  

He's ready.  

You just need to catch up.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Moray's Nemesis

Every Monday for the last fourteen months, Moray and I have sat in the driveway to do his grooming.  He cradles to trim nails, stands to have his shiny black fur brushed out, and sits to flush his ears with cleaner before it's back inside to clean those pearly whites.  

But every time the bottle of ear cleaner comes out, Moray does the same thing.  He looks at me, back to the bottle, and jumps back to the end of his leash.  
 Of course I'm armed with kibble.  And believe me, kibble is a step-down from having used pieces of cheese for a while.

Moray looks at the bottle.

"Yes!"  I mark his behavior.  Moray locks eyes with me, pleasantly surprised for the praise.  I deliver a treat.

Moray looks at the bottle again.

"Yes!  What a good boy! This is fun!"

He's not quite believing me, but hey, there's food so he's in.  

Moray looks at the bottle again, then back at me.  By this time he's gotten the rules of this game, which means it's time to take it a step further.

I wait.  Moray shifts his focus back and forth a few times before taking a hesitant step toward the bottle that sits a few feet away.

"Yes! Nice job!"  More treats.

A few more reps, and he is touching the bottle with his nose before receiving his precious piece of kibble.  Time to amp it up some more. 
I pick up the bottle.  Moray steps back.  

I hold a treat about a foot away from the bottle, give Moray the "okay," and he steps forward, able to push the limits of his comfort for a single piece of food.  He's certainly a labrador through and through.

"Yes! Oh you're so brave, Moray Man!"

A few more minutes and I touch the bottle to the outside of his ear. Several more, and ear cleaning in over with.  'Till next time...

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Short, Sweet, and...Fun!

I have been writing on this little blog for over two-and-a-half years.  Not only has it been a place for recording and remembering my journey of puppy raising, but it has also been a means by which I have "met" many wonderful people from across the country who also are hooked on this volunteer gig.  Over the last year especially, there have been several people who I originally met because of this blog that I now consider dear friends.

My parents, Moray, and I recently headed up to Missouri to visit a college.  While we were there, we had the privilege of meeting up with Lisa and her Canine Companions puppy in training Liza!  They live a couple hours away from where we were going, but graciously agreed to meet up with us!
We first met up at a castle that touts to being haunted.  It was a fun place to work both pups together!  Liza is a complete sweetie!  She is so beautiful and dainty, and she and Moray hit it off instantly and were completely in love.  When Moray meets new dogs, he usually just tries to play with them.  Not these two.  They worked very well together, but just wanted to be together and would lean over and steal kisses every chance they got!
They not only fell in love in one day...
Uh oh!
...but also got married...
...and honeymooned! ;)
We went up stairs...
...and down stairs.
We worked on various commands like "up"...
...and jump.
And although no ghosts were seen, it was soon time to head out!

Pretty Liza!

"Let's go!"
We headed to downtown Springfield to walk around some more, but also got to spend time talking to people all about Canine Companions!  Of course Liza and Moray were excellent representatives!

Soon it was time for a water break!  Its good to have polite puppies who don't mind sharing!

After some dinner where these two smooched under the table...
...We switched puppies and worked through some basic and advanced commands and obedience!

"Jump" and "under" and more kisses!
Liza does a "let's go!"
Handsome boy if I do say so myself!

"Down" of different surfaces.

Liza mid "heel"
They even practiced holding "downs" and "stands" with major distractions -- each other!

Another stop for rest for the pups and some dessert for the humans, and we had to make our goodbyes.

Lisa with Moray and Liza and I
Moray was out cold on the way to our hotel that night, and I would put money on the fact that his good behavior the whole next day was due to the pure fun and excitement he had!
Sleepy head!
It was such a fun day spent with dear friends, and I know I can speak for Moray when I say he was exhausted all the way home!

**Most photos here were taken on Lisa's camera by herself of my mom**