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Dogs Just Gotta Have Fun

It’s actually quite surprising how often I hear “does your service dog ever get to have fun?”… common sense would dictate that of course he does, but apparently his serious working demeanor (wiggly tail aside) leads people to believe that he doesn’t get to be a dog.   
I assure you, this dog has more toys than any one dog needs, 3 beds in a one-bedroom apartment (not including the couch and person-bed!) and a ridiculous amount of attention and spoiling. Of course he deserves it all (and more!)

 
Dog parks are a no go for my particular situation, so getting to go to the humongous Gittinger Park after a chapter planning meeting in Santa Rosa yesterday was a treat. He only ran around for about 5 to 10 minutes, but it was a very happy run with some of his assistance dog and breeder friends.   

“Cashie, HERE!”

 

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Chapter Workshop

Cassius & Independence

Yesterday the East Bay and South Bay Canine Companions (note to self: not!CCI) held their annual Chapter Workshop together. This is the first one I’ve attended for some reason, and I’m so glad I did!

You know the day is going to be great when one of the first people you (and the dog) see after getting out of the car is James – Cassius’s trainer and now the Puppy Program Manager for the Northwest Region. Cassius momentarily turned into a goofy wiggly happy puppy, but mostly contained himself and did a somewhat respectable greeting. I love how much he loves all his people, even after many months of not seeing them.

Now to sessions: these included the over-managed and under-managed dog (which reminded me of a few handling errors/shortcuts I tend to make and how I need to be better about them – imagine that, Cassius is a lot less likely to forge when hurrying when I ask him to sit beforehand!), things about loading and unloading from the car (James made me feel better about how we do that/car-riding in general).

We had a little time to visit and say hi to people and dogs alike, including the cutest black fluffy puppy I’ve ever seen. They need to breed more black fluffies! Then we had a session outside on appropriate play and encouraging dogs to play appropriately using rewards without expectations – that was a new concept and it made a lot of sense.

An update on some of the programs going on – PTSD study (including the best video ever of one of the dogs showing off the Search skill!) and the fMRI study – was followed by one on the breeding program, loved hearing about that as I don’t follow it too closely. Apparently there is a huge long waitlist for a dog in the NWR, which is a good problem to have although not good if you’re waiting for a puppy!

We ended the day with more visiting of humans and dogs, and I left as always – inspired by the people and dogs I am privileged to work with.

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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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