You’ve Got Mail: 2

We were very busy this morning writing a postcard to Doug, Andy, and Dougy. It’s not an easy affair. Once we figured out what we would write, we wrote the card and put a stamp on it. Unfortunately, we didn’t have to lick the stamp. And since we didn’t have to put the card in an envelope either, there was no licking at all. I can tell you that the usefulness of our long tongues is often overlooked.

Next, we walked to the mailbox and made sure that all was in order for the mail(wo)man to pick it up and deliver it to the boys up north. What we wrote and sent? I’m sure you will find out as soon as the boys get our postcard.

Patience is a virtue that will eventually lead to rewards,

Benji 

 

Then and Now: 6

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On my drive home from the shelter (11-3-15)

Remember this picture? Not sure if I have shown it to you before. This is how I used to be transported. No expenses were spared, WOL. The day M adopted me from the shelter (November 3, 2015), she used the big box to bring me home. It was the first big box I ever traveled in. That’s when I learned that big boxes can take you to new worlds, to boldly go where you have never gone before.

I was only 6.5 weeks old when M saw me and she hadn’t anticipated that she was allowed to take me home. But the lady at the shelter said she could and of course M was so smitten with me that she had to take me home before someone else did. Because of zero preparation time, yes this is very unlike the normal procedure at headquarters but I think seeing my picture on petfinder.com threw all caution to the wind that morning, M didn’t have a crate in her car. After desperately rummaging around in the trunk of the car, she did manage to find a big cardboard box and a blue beach towel. Before anyone could argue she had me in the car and drove me home sweet home in the big box.

The first box shrunk at some point. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it was washed too many times. Anyhowls, the box was eventually replaced by, how could it be otherwise, another “expensive” big box. I traveled in that one many more times when the car was full with people and my crate just wouldn’t fit.

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No expenses were spared… (12-3-15)

These days I travel in style on the back seat in a hammock. I was so proud when I was finally allowed to sit in the back seat without the crate. The arrangement is very comfortable and most of the time I sleep meditatively when I am driven to my missions.

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First time without a crate (1-24-16)

Sometimes I can even travel “shotgun” when the backseat is taken by other things that have to be driven around. Those times M drives like a snail on muscle relaxers while she normally tends to drive like a car racer on steroids. Not my words; just repeating hearsay. In her defense, I’ve never seen her drive like a maniac when I am in the car. Either way, we are still trying to find a dependable safety harness for me. Have you found one? We have asked around and researched the topic but the jury is still out on whether there is such a thing as a dependable safety harness for canines.

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Traveling in style (2-14-17)

Wishing you happy and safe travels,
B

Running in Circles

The other day it felt like I was running in circles. I almost got dizzy. Maybe I had too many errands to run. Do you ever feel that way? Anyhowls, it turned out to be a non-issue as I took a long nap afterward. I advise you to do the same.

Benji.

Then and Now: 4

Ahoy! The boat is back in the water, so we are sailing again. It had been at least a half year since the last time I sailed. So understandably, it took a couple of minutes to get my sea legs back. Yummies did help; every sailor knows that you get seasick with an empty stomach! It was fun once I found my sea legs. Of course, they were on the boat in case you were wondering …

Today, I also got a new cape. I haven’t tried yet if it is a magic one, you know the one that opens doors. Ms. Zulu was MIA as she needed her beauty sleep. I will include a photo of her from a while back so she doesn’t feel left out. I was dog tired after all that steering. Luckily I was able to confiscate the only two pillows that were on board. After all the captain always gets first dibs.

Night, night, Benji.

 

 

 

Communication is a tricky business

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Reardon and I philosophizing

Since I came to live with my forever family, mom has shown a renewed interest in interspecies’ communication. It all kick-started with the book “Are we smart enough to know how smart animals are? ”  We, a.k.a. the ZAB team, truly thank our dear friend in Groningen, the Netherlands for this book! The book is a New York Times Bestseller and written by Professor Frans de Waal. He is a Dutch primatologist and ethologist who works at Emory University in Atlanta. Frans’ research shows that animals are a lot smarter than what most people give them credit for. WOOOFFF, high paws for Frans!

We also saw an interesting National Geographic documentary on dog training research. OK I admit, I lost interest as soon as I discovered I couldn’t play with any of the dogs in the video. I did see one of the experiments that showed how dogs empathize with human emotions. We love what they said about a Staffordshire Bull Terrier that was one of the most emphatic dogs in the experiment: “we should never judge a book or a breed by its cover”. We totally agree! Most shelter dogs in our part of the world are part Pit Bull Terrier and that is the reason why some people hesitate to get a dog from the shelter. While most of us do come with a history, it doesn’t mean that we cannot be great companions! Education (yes, one important component is educating the humans) and working with excellent dog trainers are key. But the same holds true for any dog that is adopted from a breeder. Of course, stay away from puppy mills. We don’t want to support those awful practices.

During our puppy and animal therapy training, we were introduced to two phawbulous dog trainers: Patricia McConnell and Emily Larlham. We thoroughly enjoyed the book “The Puppy Primer” written by Patricia and Brenda Scidmore and have signed up to receive Patricia’s next book “The education of Will”. I especially love what Patricia’s blog tells humans to do when us doggies do something naughty:  take one newspaper (no doggies, don’t shred this one yet), roll it up and say bad, bad, bad, boy/ girl… then hit yourself (yes people, you read that right, that’s you) in the head for not paying attention to what your dog was doing! Emily posts a lot of “Kikopup” videos on youtube that are educational. Here are two of the videos we recently saw; there are lots more:

1. What not to do to your best friend: 

2. How to be …: 

After some philosophizing with Reardon (many high paws for your input my friend), I have to conclude that communication between species is a tricky business and most humans haven’t mastered our dog language yet. So for now, humans can show us doggies what they want by following these steps:
1. Interrupt the unwanted behavior. No bullying and yelling here! Say something NICE and in an upbeat voice to distract us … such as ‘hey puppy’.
2. Redirect and ask for good behavior. For example, ask us to sit. Again be polite!
3. And this last step is very, and I repeat VERY important: give us TREATS when we sit nicely or do whatever you like us to do! Remember we are people pleasers and you can use this to your advantage. Just saying…

People don’t beat yourself up if you can’t get the above steps right immediately. After all, nobody is purrfect (I learned that word from Andy and Dougy). Although I have to say that the newspaper idea mentioned above has a lot of potential… Anyways, us doggies love your patience and TLC while we are learning your language and you don’t have a clue about ours yet. Oh oh, wait…, Ms. Zulu whispers into my ear… She notes that there is a lot of miscommunication and misunderstanding between humans as well and that seems to cause a lot of terror and destruction. So, you don’t need us for the destruction side of it after all. Too bad, I always love a good chew. Maybe we can help you fight the terror then, hey?? Word is getting around that I’m good with puppy kisses and I’ve heard that love conquers all.

On a final note, I would like to point out with my paws high up in the air, and this is not in surrender but in celebration, that there is hope for the future. Recently, we spoke with Linda Saraco, an animal communicator who follows my blog. She is an animal communicator on a whole different level that is fascinating. While there is still a lot more digging to do on interspecies communication and humans have barely scratched the surface, it seems that we are making progress. Just thinking out loud here but maybe you should let us help with the scratching and digging more. Us canines are renowned experts in the field of archeology a.k.a. digging. Our feline friends can help with the scratching, I am sure. Anyhowls,  we hope that once people learn more about other species it advances animal rights. And remember, communication is a two-way street, so start barking and howling like you mean it!

High paws for always trying your best,

Benji.

General Disclaimer: While mom tries her best to interpret my woofings and put these in writing, some parts may get lost in the translation. 

Flashback: Video 4

canoeAfter our guest left, we are trying to get back on track with some sort of routine. So here is another video for you from when I was just 14 weeks old and went canoeing. Canoeing is always fun! Feeling the wind on my face, my ears flopping…, just heaven. One warning though, you have to stay on top of things. I know I am part Retriever, but that doesn’t mean I should get my paws wet either. After all, I have a standard to keep up. As a therapy dog I should be presentable at all times, so no ragged wet mop look for me.

Stay dry and don’t rock the boat, Benji

The Magic Cape

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Reardon and his magic cape

My CCI buddy has left again with his magic cape. I wished he could have left it behind. He seems to have superpowers when he wears his cape. When he stands in front of a store he can go inside while I can’t.* I asked mom if I could have one so I could go shopping with her but she explained to me that superpowers come with super-obligations. Reardon is expected to leave his temporary home for training once he is about a year old. He then has to go through even more training. Eventually, if he completes all his training successfully, he will live with a person who needs assistance with activities of daily living and thereby improve that person’s independence.

When dogs such as Reardon are unable to complete the CCI training they are adopted by one of the families that are on an adoption waiting list. In that case, they may become a therapy dog like me.  I hope Reardon succeeds in whatever his destination is. It would be nice if we could meet again someday in the future.  I also hope that he has always enough time for playing in his busy schedule. Because you just can’t play enough.

* Click here for a comparison of service dogs, therapy dogs, and emotional support dogs 

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Reardon and I goofing around after school

Benji.

The Wedding

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Proof that we did pay attention in school

While my CCI buddy and I studied hard in school, okay we did play some too, the wedding preparations for Drake and Sol have moved forward nicely. Here are the bridesmaids in their new outfits. Check out Belén Soto’s website Arcilla y fuego for an update. Belén is a very talented ceramist and we love her sculptures!

The ZAB team.

Preparativos de boda – Wedding preparations Las damas de honor – Bridesmaids Lúa y Mar Las chicas también han optado por el color rojo, creo que va a ser el color predominante en la boda, siguiendo las indicaciones de Mar, ambas han realizado sus primeras compras … Los preparativos de una boda son una enorme […]

via Damas de honor — Arcilla y fuego

The CCI Guest

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Reardon (CCI in Training) and me (ES & CTD)

This post is under construction… Please visit me again and I promise to have an update soon. Right now I am way over my head with the CCI guest business to socialize in my blogging world. So this time only a sneak peek. Double WOOFFF, also from Reardon my guest of honor who is staying for three and a half fabulous days. We are both learning tons. Of course, this learning is carefully balanced with play and good food.

Benji

Ex-Shelter & Certified Therapy Dog (ES & CTD)

CCI = Canine Companion for Independence

Code Red 

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Me, after my bath

Dorn, I thought I had dodged the bullet, but no, no such luck. What happened? Well, the other day I had what I thought was a great field day. You know exploring the forest and getting up to snuff with the latest and greatest. There were lots of new perfumes that I had to try out. It helps to get rid of the weird smells that the humans put on me and the ladies seem to like it. So, I had just taken a nice stroll, hmm roll, in the forest when mom pulled me aside for THE sniff test a.k.a. the S-test.  This test is not to be taken lightly and involves several steps that you have to pass before you are cleared to continue your business as usual. I have written down the steps so that you are all forewarned:

Step 1. The first step consists of a good sniff over.  It is a 50-50 chance that I pass this test as mom’s sniffing capabilities are not the greatest. Ms. Zulu sometimes messes up here because if she starts sniffing me in unusual places, mom is on Code Red Alert (CRA). CRA means business or immediately go to step three.  However, if I pass the S-test I am safe and I can go to the last step. If the S-test is inconclusive or directs the tester to some wonderful forest perfumes (for some reason humans call these the smells of death), I have to endure step two.
Step 2. For step two, white doggie wipes are being pulled out. My goodness, do they have to be used everywhere?!  If the plastic gloves come out at this point you might as well give up and put all paws in the air because this means in human terms that you are too dirty to be touched. If the white wipes stay white while I am wiped all over, I am probably good. If the wipes show some, and I mean really some MINISCULE speck of dirt, then I am basically screwed and we immediately end up in the next step. If the second step is inconclusive we also go to step three. So basically I can’t win here.

bath2.JPG Step 3. Step three is the bath of shame, where I am washed with shampoo all over AND that means I get WET everywhere!!!!!*
Step 4. Step four is the good part and can show up right after the second step or during the third one. If I behave well I get lots of treats. I  have conquered this step really well and make sure that this step is never forgotten. P.S.: I have a secret weapon that works like a charm: always put on your most pitiful face while you make it look like you are really trying your best to endure this horrible, horrible act and I guarantee you that you will get more treats than you probably deserve.  

* No, no pictures of me in the bathroom in my birthday suit here. After all, this a decent site.

Modeling: Take 2

I have to say, and I wouldn’t have thought so a half year ago, but my modeling career is taking off very nicely. Maybe one of these days I can even bring up a raise. Here you can see the results of my third paid gig. Just to refresh your memory, this is in anticipation of Drake and Sol’s wedding. So I am happy to report that my treat account is growing. On the other hand, I seem to be using more too so not sure about the balance at the end of this month. I hope I’m not in the red, except for the bow tie. After all, the humans decided that I was too skinny and there is only one remedy for that. So, keep it coming or the tummy will grow hungry.

As you can see, both Ms. Zulu and I are taking the wedding preparations quite seriously and we are putting our best paw forward. -You are correct, that is our right front paw in both cases.- This time I am showing a red bow tie as it was decided by higher authorities that it might look better than the blue ties. My suit will remain the same brindle pattern, decorated with a white front. I have grown quite fond of it, so that stays. Sometimes you have to know when you can put your paw down. There was enough shopping to do as it is. I never knew that weddings would require so much preparation.

So, what do you think of the new addition to my dressing room? How does it compare to the two blue outfits? Light conditions were still not up to par according to my assistant. I hope to finagle another gig out of this. For some reason or another, Ms. Zulu’s pics are less of a problem. I don’t mind though; working long hours means more treats. Besides, I can always sleep in the next day.

Enjoy the good life: make room for play and take lots of naps between work,

B.

Alphabet Soup: I

The letter I stands for Integrity. Integrity means being honest and having good character. This includes connecting with others by offering a listening ear. It also might mean that you have to wriggle yourself in an awkward position without any treats in sight, just to be near someone.

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XXX, Benji

Alphabet Soup: J

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I learned that the letter J stands for Joy. Mom says that I bring lots of it every day. Of course, Ms. Zulu does too.

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Joy means bringing smiles to others by simply being there and wagging your tail. I think I can do that, WOOFFF!

Benji

Alphabet Soup: N

The letter N stands for Nononsense*.  I try to keep a no-thrills attitude and am enjoying the simple things in life. Treats are Numero Uno on that list. I bet you hadn’t seen that one coming. The N also stands for November. That is the month of happy new beginnings for me and my new family as I was adopted into my furrever home in November 2015.

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Me, Benji

* Yes, that looks like drool on that sock. And no, I wouldn’t know how said drool got on the sock. I don’t recall getting a treat that time. And if I did, I would plead the fifth.

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My pretty Sis

May your tummies always be full with yummies,

Benji

Alphabet Soup: E

The letter E stands for Empathy

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Showing empathy means

Holding someone’s hand

As long as it takes

Or giving a kiss

To those in need

Without asking anything in return

Benji

Alphabet Soup: B

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Mom is teaching me how to spell my name. We started with the letter B which stands for Braveheart. She says that I am a braveheart because I am courageous in anxious times. I barked at this lion when I was a pup but learned that when someone else is different it doesn’t mean they are scary. Lion and I are now best buddies and share our treasures.

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Puppy kisses, Benji

In the Field

Another update from the field. We have had lots of foggy mornings this month. A lot of rain and strong winds over the weekend too but that is another story. I much rather have foggy mornings followed by sunshine.

Doug from Weggieboy’s blog was curious how fast I can run with my long legs. So we made a little video for him and his two kitties Andy and Dougy. Thought we would share it with you too. Enjoy, Benji.

Then and Now: 3

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2017: In the car

It’s Arbor Day again, well at least in our state! Last year, when I was four months old, was my first year. I made sure that everyone left with a free tree. There were long lines. Some people even thought they could take me home. Mom made sure that didn’t happen and kept a close eye on me.

This year I helped transport the trees from the nursery to the site where they are handed out on Arbor Day.  These outings are always fun as I am bound to meet interesting new friends like Sunny.

Have fun, Benji

Routine

After returning from my holiday almost two weeks ago, I am slowly adjusting to my pre-holiday routine. I went to doggy play in town last week, but yesterday I had my first playdate of the year at my house. It was a blast. I invited two CCI dogs. My best fur-iend Capone and a new little guy called Reardon.  R. is about 7 months old and a funny one. The good news is that he will stay at my house next week for three days because the CCI puppy socializer he is staying with at the moment has to go out of town.

Unfortunately, my girlfriend Fiona, could not make it to my playdate; she had other obligations. She is like me, quite the social butterfly, so it is not always easy to align our schedules. We emailed each other and hope to catch up soon too in real doggy style. You might not remember, but just like Capone, Fiona and I go way back. We were basically still in the crib when we met.

We played for more than three hours so you can imagine that I was tired and hungry towards the end.  I kept walking to the kitchen, but mom didn’t understand until dinnertime what I was saying. Sometimes you really have to spell things out to her. I am still teaching her the basics of doggie language. My dialect is slightly different from Ms. Zulu’s and that seems to throw off mom a bit. The other problem is that former trainers have said some untrue stuff about us dogs in the past. Researchers are just starting to catch up. You can read some good stuff about dog behavior on Patrica Mc. Connell’s website.  Oh, I see that the sun is starting to come out after lots of rain yesterday, so I am going for a walk. Stay dry,

Benji